Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Aimless Reading: The K's, Part 25.1 (László Krasznahorkai)


War & War
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Krasznahorkai, László
War & War


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. Sadly, Béla Tarr has not made a film from this novel, which I liked better than yesterday's title.

I recently joined a listserv of artists and writers who are sports fans. We were swapping childhood sports memories the other day and I posted this little story about meeting Maurice Lucas, who died last week, when I was ten.

There was a time when the Northwest dominated the NBA. Portland won the championship in 1977. Seattle lost it in 1978 and then made it back in 1979, beating the Bullets in a rematch. Maurice Lucas was the star forward of the '77 Blazers team.

In 1978 I traveled with my father on a business trip to Oklahoma and California. I was ten. Somewhere along the way we had a stopover in Detroit, where the Trailblazers had played a game the night before. My father was a huge basketball fan, so much so that a decade later he would found what has become a very prestigious high school basketball tournament in DC.

He noticed that the entire Trailblazer team was sitting at a gate opposite our own. He told me I should go get all of their autographs. I was scared, so my he coached me on their names. He had me repeat each one until I had memorized the whole team.

I marched across the terminal to the other gate, walked straight up to Maurice Lucas, and asked for his autograph. He stood up -- goddamn was he tall -- and asked if I knew who he was.

I said, "You're Maurice Lucas."

Then Bill Walton walked over and asked, "Do you know who I am?" I said, "You're Bill Walton."

The whole team stood up and walked over, all smiles and laughter. I found myself surrounded by these treelike men, each asking me to recite his name. One by one, I answered, and with each correct answer their amusement grew.

I got all of them right.

Then this little old white guy came over and they all stepped aside to let him get to me.

"Alright kid, if you get my name right, you can have all of our autographs."

I said, "You're the coach, Jack Ramsay."

The whole team burst out laughing and they all slapped me on the back and then each one signed his name on one of the little white slips of paper my father had given me to complete the task.

I've since lost all of them, except for the Maurice Lucas, which is pasted into a page full of seventies basketball autographs I have in a photo binder, right next to John Havlicek, Doctor "J" and Curly Neal.

from War & War

1.

I no longer care if I die, said Korin, then, after a long silence, pointed to the nearby flooded quarry: Are those swans?

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