While I struggled through BASS 1978, I came across a story, that in my mind, was the finest that I had read up to that point in the anthology. It was entitled “The Conventional Wisdom” by Stanley Elkin. I gave it my normal treatment in a review...meandering sentences, dodging the actual pint of the story, and attempting to relate to the message the author was trying to impart through his writing.
I Scored it 10 out of 10.
As I stated, it was a story that would stay with me forever.
I know that I will come across others that rate as high and will probably surpass it in my rankings.
Stanley Elkin is the guest editor for BASS 1980. I feel that I have done ample research on him as an author through readings of interviews in such publications as “The Paris Review”, and listening to a couple of his interviews on “Wired for Books”, which is the Don Swaim radio interview show.
I also ran across references to meetings that JCO had with Elkin in her Journal.
The problem with doing so much research on him was that I started to construct a character Elkin and determine the types of stories he was going to select before even reading the introduction.
I suppose the best message that I received from Elkin in his introduction, was that he flatly stated that he chose the stories based on his taste. That the stories may or may not have been the “Best” but they were the “Best” according to his taste.
Well- that’s about as honest as you can get I suppose. I wouldn’t think that any of the guest editors would base their selections on much more.
I think that Elkin was fortunate enough though to come along early in the “guest editor” position and was able to get by in the introduction with almost stating the obvious. I’m not going to fault him for that in the least. It needs to be said and the reader needs to keep this in mind.
I think I also need to put something right out here before I continue writing about the introduction and the BASS of 1980.
I am intimidated by this particular collection. I have a strange feeling about the combination assembled.
That’s all I need to say about that.
I just wanted to get that out there. I hope that this feeling doesn’t shade my feelings about the individual writers or their works.
How could it not though?
There was a word that Elkin uses in his introduction and sometimes all it takes is a word for the mind to start churning.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about transcending my mind, my consciousness, my reality. I have been looking at my behavior – everything from my dreams, my inner dialogue, my conversations with M, my selected podcast subscriptions, my running and finally, how in interpret what I am reading.
I’ll address my running first because I feel that this action is what is taking me to a “different level” of consciousness.
When I run, I ascend to a different level of consciousness. I know that there are all sorts of chemicals being released into my body triggered by my brain to manage what I am physically putting it through.
I run without headphones because I feel that this allows me to focus deeper on everything that I am going through. The sounds, smells, temperatures, changes in perception, etc.
An interesting thing happens though while I run. I do not “zone out”. I am hyper aware of my surroundings. At the same time, I am deep into my mind. I am solving problems, creating and discovering, and on my longest runs, this is where the most interesting things happen. I am almost guaranteed that I will hit the “High” caused by running. What I do with that “High” is what counts.
I feel that my entire outlook on life, my life, our life, has changed since I have taken on the long miles. I feel that it adds to my reading life as well.
So, as I have taken the “long miles” route in this introduction, I hope that the tastes of Elkin allow me to transcend my mind and help me along my journey.