I, Hazel Brown, eldest daughter of a disappearing class, penniless neophyte stunned by the glamour of literature, tradeless, clueless, yet with considerable moral stamina and luck, left my family at seventeen to seek a way to live. It was the month of June in 1979. I was looking for Beauty. I didn't exactly care about art, I simply wanted not to be bored and to experience grace. So I thought I would write. No other future seemed preferable. Let me be clear: I did not want to admire life, I did not want to skim it; I wanted to swim in it. I judged that to do this, I had to leave, and to write. I wanted to speak the beautiful language of my time, but without paying.
This is how The Baudelaire Fractal starts. I'm stunned by it, it's stunning. This is what happens when a poet writes a novel, Lisa Robertson, I should look her up.
It's also beautiful, printed on Zephyr Antique Laid paper, whatever that is, kind of creamy, textured almost lined, makes me want to run my finger along all the words, manufactured acid-free from second-growth forests not far from where I now sit.
Prodigal, undisciplined, with an aptitude for melancholy, I left houses, cities, lovers, schools, hotels, and countries. I left with haste, or I left languidly. Also I was asked to leave. I left languages and jobs. Leaving made a velocity. I left garments, books, notebooks, and several good companions. Sometimes I left ideas. After the leaving, then what? I suppose I would drift. I had no money and no particular plan. Cities exist; hotels exist; painting exists. Tailoring also, it exists, as anger exists, mascara exists, and melancholy, and coffee. I liked sentences and I liked thread. Reading surely and excessively exists; also, convivially, perfume and punctuation. I had a fantasy and my diary. I had my desire, with its audacity, its elasticity, and its amplitude. I carried a powder-blue manual Smith Corona typewriter in a homemade tapestry bag. I was eager, sloppy, vague. I wore odd garments. I carried no letter of introduction, and I knew no one. I was only a girl bookworm. I wasn't to stay. None of this troubles me much. The nervous fluid of a city is similar to a grammar or an electric current. Loving and loathing, we circulate. I myself did not exist before bathing in this medium. Here I become a style of enunciation, a strategic misunderstanding, a linguistic funnel, a wedge in language. Here I thought I'd destroy my origin, or I did destroy it, by becoming the she-dandy I found in the margins of used paperbacks. What do I love? I love the elsewhere of moving clouds.I started reading this while resting in the new park I discovered, a sunny afternoon under cottonpuff clouds. I don't know how I came to stumble on this novel, don't ask so many questions.