Books and wild

Circe by Madeline Miller is a stunning book. I couldn’t stop reading the story of Circe.  Everyone should read this book; it’s the dawn of civilization. The beginning of religion.

And then I read Michael Ondatjee’s Warlight.  Of abandoned children; of war and life, of death and winter. Of water and the things we move on the water.  Of dogs and blood and mothers who go away.

And then we watched Annihilation with its brilliance and summer, thick wet and strong light, the ferns and strange creatures, of the girl who wanted. The movie was like the opening of a door into a platform of that transcends everything that’s dull about our world.

Published in: on August 5, 2018 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ashland, Ohio

Ashland is wet, there are fireflies, in the morning the dew waits on the grass.  I’m walking in the woods every day and the clouds come in.  The students here are open like the sky.  I am eating avocados every day.  Writing is a kind of long dive, like a peregrine falcon dives and then you find the earth staring back at you.

Published in: on July 26, 2018 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bad Movies on long plane rides

Nights in Rodanthe—Diane Lane seems to have a knack for romantic comedies.  In this one, she has a thing with Richard Gere.  Stuff I liked:  she puts her kids first.  Once she falls in love, the kids are still the top of her brain, she knows it only works with her new lover if it works for her kids.  I don’t like it when people fall in love, and the kids become secondary.  Also the daughter was a great character.  Mostly the movie was predictable.  Wanker ex. New lover comes into picture predictably rich and best friend who is a person of color.


A Little Something on Your Birthday…

Sharon Stone falls in love with the actor who played the bad guy in Ghost, Tony Goldwyn.  I didn’t even know that guy was still acting.  He is.  Sharon plays a single over the top fashion designer who can’t manage to figure out how to plan a wedding once they are finally together and engaged.  Also in this one, a best friend who is a person of color. Hubby-to-be says that she didn’t want to get married at the Chateau Marmont.  Are you kidding me? Or the Bel Air Club, I’ve been to a wedding there, it’s fancy.  The movie is so exaggerated, so over the top.  Sharon looks great in a bikini, let me emphasize that.  She is in ridiculously good shape.  But the movie slipped off the reality train.  I’d like to see Sharon in a movie about Amelia Earhart.  If I were writing a movie with her as the as the main character, I’d make her the hero.


Published in: on July 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Private Property, Mary Ruefle

In the squash and longing, Ruefle’s language steams up the windows.  I remember being in a car, kissing so long that the heat pushed back.  It’s like that.  Her brain and ideas sizzling along the floor and tendrils coming up the stoop of your house and into the front door and the back.  “When I wander in the forest, I am drawn toward language,” she writes.  The fissures into elegance are everywhere in this book.  A rain of wild.  The only part that confused the owl part of my brain which flies at night and can see the difference between a bat and a bird was the description of menopause which made universal the personal.  I cannot tell you what childbirth will be like for you, but for me, it was quick and painful and the second child, my boy, was born after twenty minutes at the hospital.  It was 8:20 am.  I was home for lunch at noon.  His father brought me bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onions and capers just like I liked my bagels back when I allowed myself to eat bagels which was a long time ago.  But that was me, maybe your birth experience will be different, maybe you’d prefer donuts to bagels.  Maybe you find smoked salmon fishy and capers annoying, their little green selves sliding about the plate.  But Ruefle is in the smoky char of thingness with this book, into the project of sadness and shrunken heads.  I’d follow

Published in: on July 19, 2018 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Jasper loves eggs.

Elizabeth Warren has a dog named Bailey, who, like Jasper looks like he will be big.  She resisted the name Scarapooche suggested by a voter and went with Bailey.  Jasper is larger than expected.  We wonder about his final weight.  Already, it is clear that he could pull a small sled.  In case of the zombie apocalypse (and what other kind of apocalypse is there?) he could pull us to safety.  I want Jasper to see snow this winter, to feel himself bounding through drifts.  I can see his webbed paws floating over huge mounds of white.  Right now his great loves are eggs and digging.  His second loves are shoes and socks.  So far, we always get them out of his mouth in time.  It’s a big mouth. I miss him right now. And my husband too.

Published in: on July 17, 2018 at 8:04 am  Leave a Comment  

New York

Speaking at Columbia University at Pulitzer Hall on publishing today.  I never thought I would write those words.  After New York, back to Nebraska, then Kentucky, then Fresno, then Ohio. I like the lilt of travel, treading the footbridges that connect airplanes to airports.  In the airports, there is a flow of human travel and much unpleasant expensive food and some good food which is often hard to find. I strive not to eat in the airports. I don’t want my stomach to become a stockpile of sugary carb goodies.  When you travel, you are surrounded by people and yet are completely alone, as if you were a inside your own egg.  You and your seatmates stay in the chalk lines of your tiny pod.  I am going from one lily pad to the next but today is New York.

Published in: on July 16, 2018 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Julian Barnes, The Only Story

Julian Barnes, The Only Story is a love story, a young man’s love story.  Spoiler alert. He loves the woman his mother’s age, and they start an affair over tennis that moves into their living together in a flat.  What they don’t do is create a life together.  He lives there and goes to college.  She just lives there.  When she was married to her abusive husband with her two daughters, she played tennis, ignored the abuse as best she could and survived.  But without anything to do, she becomes an alcoholic and eventually he dumps her back to one of her two daughters and goes abroad. He manages to live a boring uneventful life never finding love again because the fleeting shadow of love he once scrambled to find eludes him.  Considering how strange human beings are, it’s amazing any of us ever find big love.  A lot of people fell in love, got married, fell out of love but manage to keep a strange coexistence together indefinitely.  I know a few couples who are inside a happy love affair, I wish all of us luck on the boat of love, the big love affairs are not easy.  This book didn’t quite do it for me.  Julian Barnes is a fantastic writer, I’ll keep thinking about it, I think it will keep haunting me, and that’s something. What if you made the wrong turn in your life and couldn’t find a good way out until it was too late?  That’s the question of this book, and that is a good question.

Published in: on June 30, 2018 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

The Lemoine Affair

I read Marcel Proust’s The Lemoine Affair, and I wanted to love it, but couldn’t.  What I love is the series of Melville House classics.  I want to own and read every one; they’re exquisite little books.  Melville House does a great job with design.  Proust’s book about a real man, Lemoine, who pretended he could make diamonds out of coal.  Lemoine escaped, but a lot of people lost money on his little scheme.   Proust crushes so many words together, his book is like a little diamond, not something you want to hang around with every day.  I’ve never understand the fascination with diamonds.  How does this expensive rock make you feel important? I’m giving Proust a rest and am on to some short stories.

Published in: on June 29, 2018 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

The Ballad of Black Tom

I read The Horror at Red Hook followed by The Ballad of Black Tom.  Lovecraft’s horror is laced with his fear of immigrants.  The Ballad is a beautiful story, almost a love story between a son and his father.  Everything the boy did was for that father, and when the father is brutally shot by a policemen, he finds a new father.  Cthulhu, Lovecraft’ s King under the Sea becomes a real person in this story, a person you fear will make an appearance.  This King, the inspiration for Alien is possessed of magical powers.  Tom too has magic.  I went on to Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts, which was too much family drama and girl drama for me.  Black Tom felt like a real character, someone I know and could meet again.  Lovecraft’s stories emphasize that we fear what we do not know, and he himself hated immigrants, Jews and Blacks.  He thought Hitler was a swell guy.  The father of modern horror, in his day was considered a kook and a racist.  Hemingway, Pound and Eliot weren’t people you’d want to hang around for long.  They were racists as well.  The writer and the writing and the divide between them.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grinding at the stump of ideas

We’re Frenching through pages, we’re thrashing along the shore, we’re grinding at the stump of ideas, we’re writing.  Each day, threading the needle and getting down to it.  Is that enough metaphors for you?  We read each other’s work, think out the storyline.  We ride the bike; yesterday it rained and we whipped along the curves leaning into the wind and wet coming back from the water.  I swam as far out in the heavy waves as I could, maybe forty minutes, and they were threatening to drown me so I turned back to the dock.  Some swims are two hours, but the writing calls me back.   When we first came here years ago, I would swim for three, four hours every day, but this is a writing retreat.  I swim seven days a week, we write seven days a week. While I swim, Mark drinks coffee, reads and writes.  The sun doesn’t set till 8:30 pm so we write until ten before we break for dinner of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.  We eat the uncomplicated Greek food and write thickly viscous stories.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment