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It's lit with Lindsay: Beast feast

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ALICE LANGFORD | STAFF

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MARCH 03, 2016

March Haul Pt. 1:

  • “Beast Feast” — Cody-Rose Clevidence
  • “The Meursault Investigation” — Kamel Daoud
    (Both of the above are from a stack of books delivered to me by my dad, when he, my mom and my puppy, Ezra, came to visit me two weekends ago. Out of the stack, I picked these two to read immediately. “Beast Feast” because I’ve wanted it since last summer, and “The Meursault Investigation” because I’m trying to read more novels, and the jacket summary really grabbed my attention.)
  • “Greensward” — Cole Swensen
    (Bought last spring and treasured since, rereading now and falling in love all over again)
  • “Unrest” — Simone White
    (Gifted to me by the same kind teacher mentioned in the last blog, at Simone’s reading in Oakland)

Friends, it’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks with lots of intense highs and intense lows and events that were intense because they were both high and low at once. I’m worn out. This weekend, I’m going to watch TV, knit and drink hot chocolate until I drop. Recently, I’ve picked up on how to knit little sweaters for dogs — it’s just as cute as you’d expect.

But, back to the tumult — this installment’s haul actually got a kickstart from one of the aforementioned high-low events. The day that the last “It’s lit with Lindsay” was published, my parents came to visit me in Berkeley, my puppy and a big box of books in tow. My dad had packed almost every book I had mentioned to him in the past month — he’s an expert bargain hunter — and we had a wonderful afternoon walk around Berkeley. After a few hours, they had to leave again, and saying goodbye to my family is always dismal. So the minute they left, I had a long cry, then skulked off to one of my favorite cafes to nurse a hot chocolate and read.

The book I picked — “Beast Feast” — was from the box my parents had brought up, and it was so fantastic I got lost in it a few pages in. Incidentally, I think I’d picked the perfect time to read it because I was too exhausted and sad to try and break down the language the first time through, which turned out to be a good thing.

Sometimes I don’t take the appropriate time to just enjoy a book before I start inspecting its parts, which dulls the experience of reading pretty much anything. And “Beast Feast” in particular is so intense, I’d hate to cotton it over. I don’t have the word count to really get into it, but I do want to note one of the things I liked best about the book: Reading the poems out loud was a really strangely visceral pleasure. I don’t know how to describe it. It was either that it made me suddenly very conscious of feeling the existence of my own mouth, or that it felt as if I was chewing on the poems’ words.

Readers, I’m wary of making any sweeping claims, but I’ve been thinking about how the books I treasure most are the rare books that I can live my life around — the ones that are tough to think about, but also comfortably situate themselves in my personal life. “Beast Feast” sort of strangely foreshadowed the crests and troughs that followed reading it. Maybe not the events themselves, but the elation and fear and deep exhaustion of the next couple of weeks — every moment of that. The book became a sort of caulk sealing together the little spaces in between acts. Am I being dramatic? I hope so.

After all, honestly, my schedule’s been a hot mess, and it’s comforting to just throw a handful of glitter on the wreck. Over the past few weeks, along with school and some messy personal business, I’ve interviewed an artist whom I fell in love with immediately, attended Simone White’s reading at Qilombo and had countless conversations with poets and scholars whom I really admire — and I’ve been fumbling my way through all of this crossing my fingers and sweating. I feel like a pedestrian running through a bumper car ring. I’d like to think that the beauty of “Beast Feast” has washed over my life and done a bit of touching-up here and there.

So, friends, here’s a tip to end the article: Go get a copy of “Beast Feast” and find something to cry hard about. Then start reading.

Extra thoughts:

  • Though my interests make me sound kind of cartoonishly elderly, saying goodbye to my parents always brings me back to kindergarden daycare — it’s still the same feeling: Forlorn and discombobulated, waiting for my parents to come back the minute they leave.
  • One of the most upsetting things about not living with my dog is that almost every time I see him, he’s just gotten a funny-looking haircut — poor guy. He’s extremely vain, so I’m sure it’s hard for him.

 

Lindsay Choi covers literature. Contact them at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

MARCH 02, 2016