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"If you want to get respect, you've got to give respect. You got to be positive. You can't have no like positive/negative, positive/negative...It's not like a car battery." - Stanley Dural, Jr. (1947-2016)

September 25, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

"I can't follow your banner any more than you can follow mine."

Fascinating: H.G. Wells' 1928 letter to James Joyce. In short, Wells wasn't a fan.

Your work is an extraordinary experiment and I would go out of my way to save it from destructive or restrictive interruption. It has its believers and its following. Let them rejoice in it. To me it is a dead end.

I laughed out loud at the line "You began Catholic, that is to say you began with a system of values in stark opposition to reality." Quite good, Wells. (Via The Paris Review.)

September 25, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

"His face was pressed against a glass that sometimes wasn’t there."

On the short stories of John O'Hara

Instead, he got a more practical and—for his kind of writer—more useful education knocking around, spending marathon hours in speakeasies and working at a series of small-town newspapers. He became, among other things, one of the great listeners of American fiction, able to write dialogue that sounded the way people really talk, and he also learned the eavesdropper’s secret—how often people leave unsaid what is really on their minds.

I like that idea of a "knocking-around education." I've never read O'Hara, but I think I might enjoy his work. Unfortunately, there aren't any of his stories in the handful of anthologies that I own, so I'll need to put some extra effort into this.

September 24, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

"I have a huge set of memories..."

Edward Hirsch writes movingly of his friend William Maxwell, in the Summer 2004 issue of Tin House:

I didn't take long to discover that when he talked about the past, it was vividly, even painfully, present to him. It was if at any moment he could close his eyes and slip through a thin membrane in time. He didn't need a petite madeleine to send him there. I once asked him if he missed the past. He looked at me with some surprise and replied that he didn't miss the past because he was never separated from it. He said, "I have a huge set of memories, which I carry around like a packed suitcase."

I've enjoyed everything I've ever read of Maxwell, who seems to have been an even greater human being than he was a writer. I think Time Will Darken It will be the next of his that I'll read.

September 11, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

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"To be up to the eyebrows in a great work of literature is such happiness." - William Maxwell

September 11, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boy's gotta have it.

Babybrownie

Kodak Baby Brownie, circa 1934-41. Actually, I saw one of these yesterday at the Kane County Flea Market, but couldn't pull the trigger on the $25 asking price - maybe next time. I already own a later Brownie, from the 1950s, but I like the diminutive size and minimalist design of the Baby even more.

September 5, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (2)

"...leaving not a trace behind."

Spitalfields Life, on London's first underground railway:
"...the ancient ways upon which our forefathers stood, made bargains, drank, feasted, and trained their children, are to be deserted, closed, built upon, transformed or utterly destroyed…plastered over with the bills of some authorised auctioneer to be sold as ‘old rubbish’…carted off in a hundred wagons leaving not a trace behind.”
I can't help thinking of old photographs I've seen of the Chicago neighborhoods that were leveled - a two-block-wide span, from downtown to the city limits - in the fifties and sixties to make way for the expressways. Transformed or utterly destroyed, indeed.

September 4, 2016 in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

"...a cap pistol as a Valentine's Day present for his wife..."

A fond remembrance of John Steinbeck, by his friend Nathaniel Benchley:
There was, oddly, a lot of little boy left in him, if by little boy you can mean a searching interest in anything new, a desire to do or to find or to invent some sort of diversion, a fascination with any gadget of any sort whatsoever, and the ability to be entertained by comparative trivia. He was the only adult I have ever seen who would regularly laugh at the Sunday comics; he raised absolute hell in our kitchen with an idea for making papier-mache in the Waring blender with a combination of newspaper and water and flour; and he would conduct frequent trips to the neighborhood toy store, sometimes just to browse through the stock and sometimes to buy an item like a cap pistol as a Valentine's Day present for his wife. To be with him was to be on a constant parranda, either actual or intellectual, and the only person bewildered by it was his children's nurse, who once said, "I don't see why Mr. Steinbeck and Mr. Benchley go out to those bars, when there's all that free liquor at home."
Yes, I had to look up "parranda." It's Spanish, and roughly translates as a party or spree. I finished my Summer of Steinbeck yesterday, and am writing up my thoughts on this great writer.

September 2, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (3)

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"Time itself is a tragedy, and most of us are fighting a war against it. Our victories are only delays..." - Rebecca Solnit

August 27, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

"A letter to my father, who has just killed himself"

The Guardian has a weekly feature called "A letter to..." which publishes anonymously-written letters in which the writers express what they've longed to say to someone but have never found the strength to do so. The letters are all remarkable for their naked honesty, but this one, "A letter to my father, who has just killed himself", is particularly devastating - yet somehow beautiful.

August 27, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)