Don Juan

Hello friends. I’m not on the social media much right now, but from what I can see, feelings are very raw due to the Atlanta shootings. I’m not sure what to say about them. I don’t have any stories of being harassed or feeling unsafe, but I believe the people who do! I wish I knew how to fix these problems. One hopes it is the dying gasp of a dying worldview, but who knows?

In my personal life, everything is going really well. Shockingly well. Like so well that I just kinda need to avoid creating problems for myself. I finally understand self-sabotage! Like I’ve been eating unhealthily lately, and I was like, ugh, why am I creating this totally artificial situation where I don’t feel good.

Writing is good. I’m making plenty of progress on the Cynical Guide. It’s looking good! Thinking of putting it up for preorder soon! I also got a copy of my paperback! It’s looking great. I thought it’d just look like the advance reader copies did, but I guess they use a slightly better cover stock. And it’s got this nice blurb from David Levithan in it. So that’s good!

I’m reading a lot of poetry. Have been making my way through Byron’s Don Juan. My MFA thesis advisor would at this point feel forced to add that you need to pronounce Juan with two syllables (so it rhymes with “Who on”) in order to make the meter and rhyme work. I find myself forgetting to do that as I read it in my head, which I’m sure is ruining the poem.

It’s great fun! What a masterwork! I love the Ottava Rima rhyme scheme, which means there are two triple rhymes in each stanza (thus encouraging fancy rhymes, as in one stanza when he rhymed ‘intellectual’ and ‘hen-pecked you all’. I also just like the story. It’s varied and quite melodramatic. There’s a part where they’re trapped at sea and they have to draw lots to see who gets eaten, and Don Juan’s tutor draws the short straw, so they eat him, but everyone who eats him dies because they wash him down with sea water and I guess you also shouldn’t eat human flesh raw.

And there are also long asides where he makes fun of other poets (most notably Southey and Wordsworth), and just generally plenty of good stuff. It’s really fun. I genuinely enjoy the book. And it’s so odd to think I’m reading it in the original language. The style and language feel so continental (it reminds me strongly of Charterhouse of Parma, The Betrothed, and The Count of Monte Cristo, amongst others) that it just feels, intuitively, like a book that’s in translation. But it’s not. An underappreciated work!

Writing continues apace on the literary novel. It’s popping. I’m having fun. I like the characters. Sometimes I do have lingering doubts, like…does this book really matter? Was it really worth three years of my life? But other times I’m like, no, it is an important book! Oh who knows!