Archive for the 'books' Category

While I was away…

I learned in Art In America that Lenore Tawney, an artist whose collage work I’d discovered in recent years, passed away. She was 100 years old. She’s best known for a lengthy and honored career in fiberwork, but it’s her postcard collages that caught my eye in her beautiful book, Signs on the Wind. It’s one of my very favorites, and I made sure it was with me during my hiatus. It’s a small publication of quirky, intensely personal treasures that read like richly coded, poetic secrets between she and her correspondents.

I discovered also in Art America the artist Spencer Finch, an artist whose work replicates qualities of light, and therefore, experiences. Sunlight in an Empty Room (Passing Cloud for Emily Dickinson) allows the viewer to pass around it and experience the quality of light during a visit he took to Emily Dickinson’s garden.

I saw Away From Her, Sarah Polley’s directorial debut, starring a luminous Julie Christie as the ethereal, wispy, and slowly fading Fiona. Though I thought it was a bit sacharrine in spots, I’m looking forward to seeing more work from Polley, an actress whose work I’ve loved since The Sweet Hereafter. Overall, this was an honest and empathetic look at commitment.

I’ve sneered at them in the past as some of you well know, but after my arthritic ankles begged me for mercy I broke down and bought ’em. Yes, I am the not quite proud but remarkably pain free owner of a pair of purple Crocs.

walk on…

It’s warming up again around here. The kiddo and I have been doing a lot of walking, examining the drain system on the streets and hanging out on corner wood stumps. Our favorite walking path, the one where she stops and sets up a faux campfire along the way, is still too muddy for investigation.

She’s quite a walker, capable of two miles on foot, though she’ll consent to the stroller when we go on further treks into the town’s center for hot chocolate and a cookie. I love the scents in the air now. Earth. Rain. Pine. Did you know that when the pine scent is strong in the spring, that means the sap is running in the maple taps? Babci passed that along Sunday on our walk around the neighborhood. I think it was their first stroll around here.

Our library was closed for two weeks while they moved into a new, though temporary, location. Since I’ve had the kiddo, my reading has been mostly episodic. It’s difficult to follow a novel with so many interruptions. Poetry and essays fit the situation perfectly. Right now I’m reading Thoreau’s personal journals and a collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. I’ve kind of avoided her for kind of stupid reasons. I just can’t stomach anything from that age. I read it, and I feel a sneeze coming on. Stifled. But there are things about Emily’s poetry, mostly the form, that I like… the spare simplicity, the spirituality and connection to nature and its processes. But, um, so far, I’m most struck by how much attention she pays to death. I don’t know what to make of it, honestly. I’ve not gotten very far though. I’ll be patient.

One book that’s escaped me that’s on my list is A Walk in The Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson. I’m terribly curious about the trail after reading one person’s account of it in a short essay. It’s not something I think I’ll do, at least, not the entire trail; not with the kiddo in my life. But I think there is something about walking or biking, being outside and not in a moving box, that connects us powerfully to our environment. Sometimes sight is overrated. I haven’t owned a car since 1989, though I do drive now that I have the kiddo when I need to. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in places where I didn’t need a car. To get to work, I simply walked, or, as was the case when I worked at Yankee Candle, some 9 miles away from where I lived at the time, I biked. It gave me some quiet time, and the roads were generally quiet. I loved the very early morning especially, when I got out of work and had the chance to note the sun rising. To see the sun is one thing, to feel its warmth building on its way to morning is another. I think the line in the movie Crash about cars isolating us had a point.

I found this cool collection of photography at Gutter Envy via Art for Housewives. These are beautiful and sad still lifes of detritus along city streets. It really struck a cord for me…one of my preoccupations while living in Manhattan was, um, trash. I couldn’t walk down the street without heaving, it affected me so. Anyway, check ’em out.

literary meming

A book that changed my life:
The Tao Te Ching, without a doubt. It inspired me. Calmed me down. Taught me compassion, mindfulness, patience. So many other things. I let go of alot of fears after reading this book, and it brought me closer to terms with issues like death, loss, separation, etc. And opened a door into a fascination with other Eastern religions.

A book I’ve read more than once:
I’ve read A Prayer For Owen Meany many times. I love Owen.

A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island:
Midnight’s Children. It never bores me.

A book that made me laugh:
The Water Method Man, by John Irving. All of his earlier works make me laugh, but this one probably the most.

A book that I wish had been written:
The God of Small Things.

A book that I wish had never been written:
Books need to be written. Even the ones I get mad at and throw against the wall when I finish them.

A book I’ve been meaning to read:
The Tin Drum has been sitting on my shelf for a year and made the move with me. I really should read it. And I want to actually finish The Idiot, all the names confuse me though.

I’m currently reading:
Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk. I could spend some time with Chuck and have fun. Such a twisted boy. Sick, sick, sick.