Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Oracle All Night

Facing a 24 hour void in my schedule, I decided to stay in last night and read a book. There's no escape from a compelling story, and I ended up awake until 3am, reading the whole of Paul Auster's Oracle Night in just 6 hours. I haven't done that in a while.

At 6am I was running round the garden throwing candles at songbirds. I haven't done that in a while either.

Oracle night is one of those books that just stays with you and haunts you, and the only thing I could do was totally surrender to it, and live the story from beginning to end. As ever with Auster, there's stories within stories, and a whole series of images that pop into my head when I least expect it. Of course, with my hold on reality more tenuous than usual at the moment, I was worried this would be like taking an out of control chemistry experiment and tossing it into a vat of nitrogen-based fertiliser for safety. I was wrong, and I feel so much better for losing myself in a book. I also had a few moments of inspiration for things I want to write during my Two Weeks Off.

Unfortunately, I was still thinking about the man who collects telephone books at 3.30am. And at 3.45 I was searching for clues in the text as to whether Orr's imagined reality really happened (I could only think of one).

Around 6am I got woken up by a smoke alarm. I didn't think we had any, but there was a psychotic beeping noise somewhere in my room. I checked on top of the cupboards, I checked all my electronics for disturbances, I even switched off the electricity. Then I looked outside the window. It was a songbird making the strangest noise I've ever heard coming from a living creature. It may have been the same one that had imitated a car alarm a few days ago at 7am.

Which is why I picked up the nearest thing to hand (a handful of nightlights) and hurled them in its general direction until it flew away with a scared "eeeeEEEEEp". These urban songbirds are going to take some getting used to.

I'm not losing it, but between 3-6am the whole city's insane. And now I feel lousy.


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