“Slowly, a brace of air coalesced around the wand. That’s the only way I can describe it. I know more, today, about what was happening, but I’m trying to describe what it felt like at the time, which isn’t terribly difficult because the mix of shock and elation I experienced is still with me to this day. This was magic, plain old simple magic, something I historically couldn’t have cared less about, any more than I did about symphony orchestras or French cuisine, and yet I was entranced, fixated, engrossed.”
Last week I plumbed the then-in-progress modern Decameron at hilobrow.com for its sonic content, from field recordings to overheard conversation to the sound proximate to the shore. I had a vested interest in that trajectory because I was, myself, slotted to have something appear in the Covid-era series a few days later. Edited by Peggy Nelson, the Ten Days sequence at HiLoBrow introduced, once per day, a piece by a different individual (and in one case creative team), not just tales and poetry, like the original Decameron back circa 1353, but sound, and image, and memoir, and more. The contributors included Vince Keenan, Scotto Moore, Puzzlepurse, Vijay Balakrishnan, Jimmy Kipple, the duo of Russell Bennetts and Colin Raff, Joshua Glenn, Andrew Sempere, and Tom Nealon. My piece (excerpted above briefly in italics) doesn’t have a lot of sound or music in it, though music was very much on my mind in its development. The material I published last Thursday at HiLoBrow is the opening roughly 5,000 or so words of a novel I’ve been working on. It’s a story that occurs in a world where most people, especially young people, consider magic to be old-fashioned and utterly boring, and about a teenager’s chance apprenticeship and cultural awakening. Read it at hilobrow.com.