Don Quixote by Cervantes
These past couple of days have brought two or three Don Quixote references to my ears, which spawned the desire to do another booksketch tonight.
While I don't think this particular illustration is directly taken from any scene in the novel, I could picture ol' Quixote insisting on sleeping in his ratty armor to always be at the ready, should danger or villainy rear its ugly head. Lest any windmills sneak up on him.
Now that I'm thinking of this illustration, I guess there's another layer to it. The novel (or two novels, technically) is mostly about The Man From La Mancha's spiral into his dreamworld, losing sight of reality and becoming enamored with chivalry and knighthood. It's interesting to picture this dreamer actually dreaming, wrapped in his armor. Armor from what? Reality.
The illustration was done with inkwash and Micron Pen.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I first read this novel (Wilde's lone novellular work) in early high school and then again within a couple years of graduating college. I remember my friend Tim mentioning how it was one of his favorite books, which led me to recall how excellent it really was. Please discount any reference to Dorian Gray in the movie version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Blyuck.
Anyways, I'd consider this a "Gothic Horror" work, being that the setting is nice "turn o' the 20th century" London. You know, when people still had names like "Lord Henry" and stuff. Sherlock Holmesy in nature. Goings see many plays and wearing frills and flippery and all that fancypants stuff. I'm doing a great job of describing it, I know. Wait, I have it: The Late Victorian Era. Voila!
Alright, so Dorian "I'm young AND handsome!" Gray has a portrait painted by an artist, and it turns out quite nice. The artist falls in love with Dorian's beauty. Mr. Gray, meanwhile, becomes enamored with the world view of another character: Lord Henry. Henry ol' chap believes that one should only pursue beauty and pleasure in the world. And Dorian readily jumps on that ship.
This is really a classic and you should read it. And I shouldn't spoil it. So I won't. The book does deal with a few topics, the most important being "Inner vs. Outer Beauty." If one pursues worldly pleasures and looks, he may have to sacrifice his soul in the process.
This is a pretty dark book, as you can see! If you've read the novel, the sketch will make sense to you. And if you haven't then it should make you want to read it, right? Or make you have nightmares. This illustration was done with watercolor and Micron Pen.
On a final note, I will say that I wish it were titled "A Portrait of Dorian Gray," because "portrait" has a stronger connotation than "picture." Especially in this case.
Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
Have you ever had a dream from which you wake up disoriented, thinking "Yikes, that felt so real!"? And come to find that your dream actually changed reality to accommodate what your mind had created in its sleep? No? Well, then you might not be able to relate to this story.
But you COULD imagine what it'd be like, right? The main character, George Orr, has the ability to dream alternate realities for the world. And he fears it. Because no one can really CONTROL dreams. Not even under hypnosis. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
The novel opens up with him being busted for using too much sleep-related drugs to stave off his dreams. He is forced into therapy with a dream psychologist, Dr. Haber. After a few hyno-dreamy sessions, Haber actually manages to suggest something to Orr that changes reality. And it doesn't just change the present day. It changes the whole history of the world, in relation to that dream. And only Haber and Orr know of the change. So now they have two sets of memories.
Haber refuses to believe what has happened at first. Once he comes to terms with Orr's power, he sets out to try to "improve the world" through suggesting things to the hypno-dream-induced Orr. Which never really works out the way it is intended because no one can fully control dreams. What you end up is kind of a genie-in-the-bottle effect:
Say you want to stop your neighbor from blaring loud music at all hours of the night. You want to dream that the neighbor stops playing music. In the dream, that end is met by you not living next to that individual. Instead, you now live across town in a penthouse apartment. Or, your neighbor has been struck by lightening when he/she was ten years old. Now he/she is deaf, and therefor can't listen to music.Stuff like that.
Well, possibly much WORSE stuff. Lots of huge effects come out of Haber trying to "improve the world" through Orr's latent power.
And Orr just wants to be cured.
About the illustration:
Through a series of events (and dreams), aliens are introduced into our reality. They are nice, and left a good impression in my head. They are about nine feet tall and their perpetually-worn bodysuits make them appear turtle-ish. They are assimilited into society and everyday life, and have become good salesmen (sale-iens?) and shop-owners!
They haven't mastered communication with humans, but they understand the power of dreams and the trouble Orr is having. Near the end, when things REALLY get crazy, they give help to Orr by means of a gift. It's a vinyl of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends." And it really is a help! You want me to spoil Lathe of Heaven for you? In your dreams!
Sketch done in Micron pen and inkwash. Oh my, I am proud of this entry's title!
Cenotaph is a book of poems by Eric Pankey. Although I wouldn't describe the poems as particularly excellent or earth-shaking, its a nice read. The above sketch was inspired by the poem The Kingdom of God Likened to a Deer Carcass.
I don't know what else to say about it that the title doesn't already explain. Its a short poem that describes the deer's sun-bleached bones to the ruins of an abandoned church, whose pieces are subject to destruction by carrion birds and wild dogs. While I could probably dissect the poem for symbolism and hidden meanings, etc., I just thought the image of a deer skeleton as a church was sort of neat.
Not all of the poems are morbid, but most are sort of dark and resentful of certain things like parents and lovers and religion. There is one about spring, but that one didn't have any distinct imagery that stuck in my head. Besides, I already knew what a deer skeleton looked like.
The Abortion is another Brautigan work. I'm sure that frequenters of this site are becoming quite familiar with Brautigan's work and if he were still alive today, perhaps he would be grateful for so much publicity. I digress...
Despite the controversial issue of a title, The Abortion: A Historical Romance 1966 is a sometimes light-hearted, sometimes pleasantly sad, mostly happy story about a couple traveling to Tijuana for an abortion in 1966. The woman, Vida, is a woman so beautiful, that men have been killed trying to stare at her. She hates her curves and good looks because she doesn't feel like she fits her own body. The man, whom Brautigan modeled after himself, I think, is one of the only men that doesn't stare at her lustily...so they fall in love. She finds out that she's pregnant and they make the decision to have an abortion in a very calm and cool manner and make a very non-regretful trip to Mexico.
They met at a library where the man (if they say his name at all in the book- it's not often and I don't remember it if it was indeed mentioned) is the librarian. He never leaves the library and has lived there every hour of every day for the past several years. The concept of this particular library is that all of the books in it were brought in at any hour of the day, by any author, and about any subject the author desires. One man wrote an entire book about the history of leather clothing on a leather bound book made entirely of leather, a five year old wrote a book about his tricycle, another teenage girl writes a book about her cat- and all are admitted into the library and placed on whatever shelf the author chooses. Once every few months, a man named Foster comes down from the desert in his van, picks up a number of books, and brings them to the "caves" for storage. None of the books are ever destroyed and the whole operation is funded by this organization called "The America Forever, etc.", which is never really seen.
The sketch is inspired by the opening chapter of the book, which introduces the kooky nature of the library. An old woman rings the doorbell at 3 in the morning to submit her book, "Growing Flowers by Candlelight in Hotel Rooms". She's described as old, approximately eight, and very shabbily dressed. She lives in a hotel and walked three hours all the way to the library as soon as she finished after five years of writing her book- in crayon, complete with illustrations. As she turns the book in and its registered, she tells a little story of her life and how she loves to grow flowers- but her hotel room has no windows. After a short chat, her book is registered, she places it on a shelf full of mostly children's works, and leaves at 3 am for her three hour trek back to her hotel home.
I think that this part of the story struck me for several reasons. First, I have a soft spot for old people, especially those that live alone. The old woman seemed to have such a sad life, living in a hotel room with no windows and whatnot. The book that she'd worked on for five years seemed like a sort of validation and a great triumph for her, even though probably no one would ever read it. Her book, like many of the others brought in to the library, was something that meant volumes to the author, but most likely wouldn't matter to any other person. The librarian's job is to make certain that it does matter, or at least make the various and quirky authors feel as though their work mattered. I think thats nice and fuzzy.
So, as the sketch shows, I pictured the old lady sitting all alone in a dark hotel room tending to her flowers growing by candlelight, feeling proud that she'd written an entire book about them. I think that the image inspired by the description of the old woman and her book set the tone for the entire story: a little bit sad, but pleasant and satisfying at the same time. I read the book from cover-to-cover in one sitting, as I've done with a couple of other Brautigan works. Having said this, I will declare this as one of my favorite Brautigan works. Then again I would probably say that about all of them. I will still declare it a favorite, however.