Back to California tomorrow

Last day of meetings in Frankfurt. Security is high.

It takes a long time to get into the book fair.

The skies are grey here, but it’s been warm.

Outside, they sell stuff. A lot of it comes from Nepal.

The Nepalese stuff is everywhere, I’ve seen it in Athens,

Madrid, at Camden Locke in London, in Berkeley and New York.

Worldwide the Nepalese sell the jackets and jewelry.

I look for something cool and German to bring back,

but I haven’t found anything.  My brain is a pileup of publishers and stories.

I heard all about Catalan last night and why they should be their own country.

Where are you from?

I say California. It sounds so much better than the U.S.

It sounds so much better than America.

California.

Catalan says they have enough to be their own country.

What is enough?

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Published in: on October 12, 2017 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

To the light in Paris

I like novellas.  I read a couple of them in the last few days.

 

Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat was brutal, and fast paced. We meet our protagonist who dresses like a crazy woman, deliberately leaves her passport in a taxi and literally hurdles toward danger. Maybe because I am travelling alone and the protagonist ends up brutally murdered in chapter two, I found myself wishing I hadn’t read this in a strange city at three in the morning.  The story rushes and tumbles over you and you’re left afterward reeling a bit, what just happened? I like thinking through the threads of madness.

 

The story I really liked was Sunday in August by Patrick Modiano.  What a masterpiece.  A thriller. A detective story. A mystery. A wicked journey. A car. Jewels. A man with a false name.  Who did the girl love? Was she married? The sun pours onto the Paris beaches which may or may not be romantic depending on your point of view. Modiano leads you up the garden path, and his writing is a liquid force, not a word you would sever from its thread, not a sentence that begs to be smashed out of existence. A good book pulls the reader into a tall glass of water which you cannot stop until you have drunk it all. To the Marne, to the Riviera, to the dark girl with the jewels, the embassy, the gardener, the leather coat, the gardener’s son. To all of it. To the light in Paris.

Published in: on October 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Frankfurt Book Fair

There’s a cool grey mist in Frankfurt; it’s never bright here, but I like the damp air.   Sunshine lisps in through the grey.  The meetings started today, crowds of book people drinking coffee, vodka or wine in the Hof. The book business churning.  My hotel is close enough that I can see the book fair, and what a beautiful sight it is. I can walk to find Indian food, Thai and Vietnamese. I walked to the Middle Eastern market for grapes and figs.  At the German market, I got some herring.   The silt of thin sun and thick clouds filters through the machinery of Frankfurt, a city at work, a city thick with big ideas.  I work at night in my hotel room. The Germans seem to like Westerns, at least there is always one playing.  There are no channels in English, but it’s amazing how much you can figure out.  This guy is shooting, that guy is yelling. That other guy just fell off the roof.  I can guess he’s not doing much the rest of this movie.  I feel like this is going to be a good book fair.  The excitement about our books is rising.

Published in: on October 9, 2017 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last night’s event

Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Mushroom pie for dinner

The night air is booming with party now that it’s Friday night in Brighton, people walking down the street with paper cones of fries, the fish and chips shops open, the pubs humming. I walk down to the shore again to hear the ocean thrumming on the rocks. The Brighton pier is a storm of light and movement. The reading tonight in the church was lovely.  John Davies reading and acting, the music, the dance, the ripple of excitement.

 

I am waiting to see the scene in Alien where the alien comes popping out and then I am going to bed.  When I first saw it, I was twenty, and I remember I was lying on the couch screaming.  I could not believe what I was seeing.   Off to London tomorrow where I will eat Lebanese food before I go to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Published in: on October 6, 2017 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flying into the Moon

Last night I took off from LAX on my way to London and the moon was rising. We flew out over the ocean and then we wheeled around and we were flying into the moon.  When you run around you’re looking down on the ocean and it curves away from you as the plane rises.

I’m in Brighton meeting with our UK writers and then to Frankfurt. The ocean isn’t big here; it’s lapping along on the shore in small waves.  Apparently there is a surf season in Brighton but it isn’t now.

Brighton is the unofficial gay capital of the UK. There is a Dyke Road that meets Queen Road, lots of little shops, and restaurants.  I like the boats sitting along the shore, the aching beauty of the grey skies slurping the water.  Time/space tilts into my throat, all wrong and twisted.  In a few days the upside down time will uncoil and I’ll wake and sleep on European time.  Just as I get a time correction, it will be time to head back to la la land.

Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sense of an Ending

 

We saw the movie of this book. The book itself is a bit slow, and the movie was too, but Jim Broadbent carried the film on his shoulders.  He was a cruel boy who has become a man who loves his daughter.  As a boy, he was vicious and needy.  But as a man, he spoons along through life with his little cameras, his pregnant daughter; his life is small and unwrinkled. It was ugly when he was young, it is uneventful now. His hands have crushed things/people and now he wants to go back to reach into the sky of his life and be different.  He can’t change the past.  None of us can. I wish that I could, but we can only change the future.

 

In Germany at this time, the leaves are falling, in reds, oranges and yellows. I will see the leaves next week falling. I will collect a few for my room and I will dream of a changed future.

Published in: on October 2, 2017 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Swiping Mr. Right

I saw this play last night, a one man show with Christopher Meehan, about his life and always looking for someone who might fulfill his every dream and make him feel amazing. He takes the audience through his journey of realizing that love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision we make.

 

Whenever I think of someone who’s had an affair and regretted it and said, they were overcome by feeling, I think just that. You made a decision at some point. We aren’t governed by our hearts and bodies wholly, our brain gets a say.  We make a decision to be in love, to stay in love, to create love. I think that’s where he came to in the end. We make love happen by being lovers not by renting a Lexus or taking someone to an expensive restaurant or looking perfect.

 

Chris started the play in his boxers and while dancing, slid into jeans over his shoes.  He made it look easy so I’ve tried it a few times this morning with no success.

 

You’d think that afterward I would have simply congratulated him, but I quizzed him on Beckett and Martin McDonagh, and Eugene O’Neill.  I wanted to know what context he uses to write plays and what playwrights he loves.

 

Watching his play made me think about this libretto I’m writing and how I can slice in some funny parts. A moment to laugh in a play or opera is a moment to breathe.

 

The best acting in the play may have been when Chris went into a rendition of Top Gun which took one’s breath away.  I would see Chris Meehan in a play again in a minute.  Or in a movie for that matter. He’s got a self deprecating side which came through the whole play. One odd thing about human behavior is that if you think you’re the most important person in the room, you are probably alone in that opinion.  In this play, Chris kept poking fun at himself, making the play both endearing and comic.

 

Choose the life you’re living or change it. Be here, not some place else or with your phone. Open your eyes. Love might be right in front of you.

Published in: on September 30, 2017 at 7:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Chasing squirrels is joy for Zooey

When I walk the dog in the morning, she thinks about squirrels and trash talking Huskies and beagles. She has a special hatred for those dogs.  When a small dog barks at her, she averts her eyes, staring at the heavens as if she can’t be bothered.

 

But there is a gentleman we see every day in a rolling chair with a beagle and she loses her dog mind, leaping and struggling on the leash. I don’t know what goes through her head. When she chases squirrels, she often runs to the wrong tree and the squirrel talks smack down to her from its leafy home. I try to think. I try to simply be, but sometimes I make phone calls while I’m walking and then it’s harder to manage the squirrel chasing and beagle hating.

 

A dog’s life is not as relaxing as a cat’s. Our cats have no other jobs than to destroy our furniture which they are tearing limb from limb.  We yell at them when we’re home, and they wait for the hours that we’re gone when they will sharpen their claws on the orange chair, the white couch; they lie on our dining room chairs leaving hair.  Cats aren’t so clean. They fill a house with hair.

 

I’m off to London and Frankfurt next week, and while I’m gone, I don’t worry about the cats, but I worry about Zooey. Will they walk her enough? Will they remember to let her off leash? Her whole life depends on being able to chase a squirrel a day. Is that too much to ask?

Published in: on September 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Hen House

The new Hen House for Red Hen Press is under construction. I spent one day working on construction at the site and found out that I am not really that great at it.  I was on top of a ladder swinging a hammer taking down sheetrock, and I did bring the wall down very slowly. Swinging a hammer is not my top skill set.  The space is emerging, a great set of offices, an amazing community space. The new Hen House is beautiful and in it, we will make books. Books lined up, stacking up along the walls.  Books and stories, like eggs in a basket.

Published in: on September 24, 2017 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment