While my insides have been in some sort of turmoil, I've attempted to steady the course of my mind. Reality is the new name of my game. No, I haven't been secretly downloading the new season of Beauty and the Geek (eeek). The kind of reality I'm referring to resides in the pages of the 2 autobiographies and one biography that I've devoured in the last few weeks.
I've cuddled snuggly in the genius of Miles Davis and Bob Dylan, both giving me distinct and very different portraits of New York.
Miles conjures up phenomenal images of the evolution of jazz through the 40s, 50s and 60s besides providing candid and canny insights into the musicians, the clubs, the fringe crowd, the women, the racism, the life and the addictions. He details album recordings, shows, people and even his lovers, with a sense of detachment bordering on coldness. Like he was this God on a pulpit consenting to mingle among the mortals.
Dylan on the other hand comes across as your best friend, who's filling you in on his life. The epidsodes don't follow a linear time frame and they are sometimes fragmented and left hanging but there is a sense of detailing, even in aspects of clothes and places that shows the flowing style of the beat generation put in a blender with Bob's own wonderful sense for words. There are many myths that are dashed to the ground, almost no references to the sex, drugs and rock n roll lifestyle (he seems to have sidestepped it entirely preferring a loving family environment) and very little about his most prolific phase as an artist - the 60s. Even the famous Basement Tapes sessions with The Band find no place in his chronicles, the closest being a car ride with Robbie Robertson that he mentions briefly. Stranger still is his complete reluctance to name any members of his family, he even refers to the woman he loved and stayed married to all his life as his 'wife' and nothing more. Actually this is understandable considering that he has always fought hard to keep his family out of the public eye that caused him so many problems during the tumultous 70s. A wonderful read all the same.
The most touching book I've read in ages has to be Mother Teresa's biography by Navin Chawla. Tastefully written with just the right amount of emotion, the author brings to the table almost 2 decades of intimate access with the true saint. Add a whole lot of meticulous research, travel to many outposts of the Missionaries Of Charity and interviews with key figures who made this lasting miracle a reality and this becomes a serious tearjerker. I'm not ashamed to say I wept at many instances. When you realise the kind of work so many people have done for the faceless, voiceless millions, who have no one to care for them, it is a truly humbling experience. I'm glad I read it. It made many things crystal clear in my mind. sigh.
All this has helped me get back my old reading speed, which I thought I had forsaken ages ago. It feels good to be transported by words again. I think some fiction is in order.