Saturday, May 7, 2011

Look for One Book and Find Dozens More to Crave

Upon reading the descriptions of food in Oliver Twist in Literary Feasts: Inspired Eating from Classic Fiction by Sean Brand, I impatiently tore through the rest of the book and then rushed to my room to look for Oliver Twist. I thought I had a copy. I swear I did.

I plunged a hand through teetering stacks of books, to the boxes which contain more stable stacks and serve as makeshift bookshelves. I found Hard Times, Great Expectations, Bleak House. No Oliver Twist. I wanted to read Oliver Twist right away, still do, and moved on to nearby stacks, knocking down many books in the process and giving me cause to reorganize some of them. (I just went to the back door in the kitchen to open it for Tigger to come in from the patio, and on the way back to the computer, I sneezed from some of the dust in my room. It's not overwhelming, just a minor irritant.)

Books about Richard Nixon fell, and so did every single novel by Joseph Finder that I bought in the hope of reading all his works, having been so impressed with Paranoia. An accessible thriller writer is the best kind of writer for that genre and especially crucial when so little seems to be surprising anymore.

Amidst restacking the stacks, I still didn't find Oliver Twist. And there's no chance that it'll appear, because I just remembered that when I was at Barnes & Noble in Burbank late last year, looking to suck all the money out of the two gift cards I received, I went for Bleak House because of the miniseries that starred Gillian Anderson, and Hard Times and Great Expectations because I was curious about them. I looked over Oliver Twist, but decided on the others.

The Valencia library has three copies, at least of one edition, so I hope Meridith will let me check it out on her card, because mine's full and will remain full when I check out more books after returning what I need to return in order to get Dick Van Dyke's and Betty White's new books along with others, and I really want to read it today.

In the midst of the search, I found paperbacks of Playing for Pizza by John Grisham and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I had wanted to read more of Angelou's works a few months ago, and especially wanted to reread I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Sometimes I buy these books and then forget that I had bought them. What a happy instance of it!

The Hotel Still Speaks

I've been thinking a lot about the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach, about the table next to the breakfast buffet where I met The Wall Street Journal Weekend, but didn't shake hands until Meridith and I had reached the pool chairs, and I began reading. I've also been thinking about Meridith and I walking all the floors of the hotel. Even though they looked like the same design, I noticed that the lower floors were more susceptible to room service, based on how many trays we saw. I also was amused at how on some production line, little glass bottles are filled with ketchup and mustard for hotels like this one.

I've also been thinking about what I could possibly want from the Fairmont Hotel now. I remember it as a day of total relaxation which is possible even if you're not a guest and you're just there because your father is a member of the California Business Education Association (CBEA), and they're holding a meeting there. I remember eagerly checking out the vending machine on every floor, seeing the same drink bottles displayed behind a plastic covering (but the actual vending hidden from view). I remember seeing planes take off from John Wayne airport not only from where we were sitting at the pool, but also as we reached the higher floors. I remember, of course, the girl in the red bikini who had brought a book to the pool and impressed me on both counts. Interestingly enough, she doesn't factor into my creative plans for these memories.

I'm not sure yet exactly what I want to write that would be related to this hotel beyond what I've already written twice in this blog. A play set at that pool would be worth thinking about because I loved how self-contained it felt and how, even though those planes flew overhead often, the hotel still felt like its own world and it was true on the higher floors when we saw it surrounded by small business parks and a school. And the shopping centers across the street from the Fairmont were small enough not to overshadow the at-first foreboding nature of the Fairmont entrance, based first on the high shrubs and the high-end cars parked across from the automatic glass doors.

What about a play or an introspective novel set in one of the rooms? As we walked passed the doors of many of the rooms, there were one or two that were open because the maid service was working in those rooms, and we saw a sliver of the inside. Plus there's photos online and I could certainly transfer my feelings onto those and write something. Or maybe something set in one of those hallways, since that's where we spent the most time, obviously.

I know I want to do something with everything I saw there, especially the Disney air they had, that air from the vents in the hallway that let you know you're somewhere truly different. There is a class divide in the hotel but only if you're doggedly looking for it. The vaguely rich are here, but the cars outside don't entirely indicate that. I think the Fairmont Hotel's greatest talent is not telling the world that there's fresh money here, that those who are here can afford a week on what you struggle to pay for a night. In a sense, it's just there. It's not surrounded by malls selling $500 pairs of shoes. It's interesting in that respect.

I imagine that hotels have been used often in plays, though I'm curious to see how often they've been used in novels. I'm sure it's about the same there, too, but just like that area off the lobby of the Grand Californian on Disneyland property, I feel something that I want to articulate. It'll come to me one day.