constance: (*lives the high life*)
It's a good thing I am a woman of Inner Resources, also one of Fortitude, because otherwise this business of patchy pirated internet with no immediate chance of affording my own connection would probably be killing me. It's funny how dependent one gets on these new-fangled, notional search engines. Example: I'll be writing and think of a specific word but am not quite sure I want to use it until I have its allusions and connotations perfectly in order, and fume at not just being able to google it or type it into a bartleby search, and then I remember, oh, yeah, there's that complete OED taking up space on the bookshelf. Why don't you use that, dunderhead? So stuff gets done regardless, is what I'm saying, but that doesn't mean I don't think first of filtering everything through the Internet.

And that's not to mention the fact that I really have to think hard about what I link to and where when I do have a connection. I can check some things from work or cafes, but not all of them, and so I have lists of things to look for or save for offline reading whenever I have a few minutes of clear connection, and gone, for now, are the days when I could click on every link and be surprised at the places the links took me to.

:::

I've been reading Blue Balliett's The Wright 3 on my lunch hours this week, and I liked her first novel, Chasing Vermeer, but I like this one so much more. Working from my memory of Vermeer, which I read a couple of years ago, it feels as though Wright, a children's mystery built around Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, is more complicated and at the same time subtler, in both the relationships of its three protagonists and in the detective story it sets forward.

But maybe it's not. Maybe it's just her subject matter; in spite of the fact that I spent four years writing papers about paintings, it's architecture that's my real love, and architecture that speaks to me in the most seductive whispers (as viscerally as some paintings have struck me). What I mean is: I love Wright--as an artist, a character, and a figure at the center of a mystery--better than I love Vermeer, and maybe I love Wright better than Vermeer because my love is affecting my perception of the novel more powerfully than I'm willing to admit.

Or it could be that, taking the artists themselves out of the equation, one of the several themes the book weaves so cleverly together is a favorite of mine I've discussed here before: the idea of architectural space as somehow animate, full of intent or attitude. In the land of bulletproof kinks, this is maybe one of the kinkiest, for me.

Balliett writes so beautifully about architecture, though, that I'm tempted to say that my liking Wright better than Vermeer is simply a matter of recognizing and taking delight in someone's else's particular fascination, regardless of whether or not I share it. Because you know what? I can't think of any recent author, whether she's writing books for children or adults, who's written more sensitively or movingly about what a house, when it's designed and built properly, can be.

Oh, and I have kind of a crush on the kids themselves (plus, a 12-year-old geometer in an art-historical novel named Calder, how spiffing is that?), and I could talk about them too, or the illustrations by the ever-charming Brett Helquist, but I think I'll leave it here, because something--my vestigial work ethic, perhaps, or maybe my recently-developed instinct for hit-and-run-style surfing--is telling me it's time to post and get on with this actual work I'm supposed to be doing. Pirating, it ain't all it's cracked up to be, I'm telling you. Yaaaar.

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constance

March 2012

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