January 25, 2007
(Page 2 - Previous Page)For this writer, at a time when literary books no longer hold the general culture in thrall and in a city where many sit alone in rooms wondering, in the words of E.M. Forster, "how to connect," it is reassuring to read a blog where someone cares about literature and those novels that may never make the best-seller lists.
Beyond that, I feel a certain kinship with Sarvas, based on our shared backgrounds. Reading his blog makes me want to call out, much as Baudelaire addressed his reader, "Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon fr?re" -- not only because I want to amortize my expensive education, but also because I am confident that Sarvas would get the reference.
It is easy for me to imagine the two of us in Budapest 100 years ago, scribbling our feuilletons in the corner of a café, rather than in Los Angeles, each in our own corners of the increasingly wide world Web. If any of the Hungarian Jews who came to Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s were young men today, wouldn't they be writing literary blogs? In this way, I look at the whole notion of creating The Elegant Variation as an essentially Hungarian enterprise.
At the same time, it is also very L.A. This is the City of Dreams in the State of Self-Invention (Just consider our governor, for starts). It is also a place where one person can still stand out and stake a claim. In that sense, The Elegant Variation is very much of California and of L.A.
But to really understand why people still come to Hollywood, and why they continue to pitch and write on spec, or still write literary novels and/or start blogs -- and continue to do so in the face of the changing industry -- you have but to turn to Sarvas's favorite novel, "Gatsby" (and let's not forget that Fitzgerald himself ended his days here). Is there a better explanation for the essential optimism that animates our lives and that inspires Sarvas and "The Elegant Variation" than how Fitzgerald concludes his great novel?
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning -- "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Tom Teicholz is a film producer in Los Angeles. Everywhere else, he's an author and journalist who has written for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Interview and The Forward. His column appears every other week.
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