Posted: March 5, 2014 Filed under: books, buddhism, people, photography
Here’s one more picture from Bill Porter’s new book, Yellow River Odyssey, which should be released soon by Chin Music Press, a small publisher of elegant books based in Washington state. The caption reads: ”After another hour among the dunes, we headed back to Shapotou, where I cooled my heels in the Yellow River mud and talked with several men who were inflating goat skins and lashing them to wooden frames to use as rafts. Sheepskins, they said, were useless. Goatskins were the only the skins that held air long enough, and they had to be coated on their insides with sesame oil to keep them from cracking and to maintain their flexibility.”
Posted: March 4, 2014 Filed under: books, people, places
Lonn Taylor, my friend who lives in Fort Davis, Texas, has a new book of essays, Texas People, Texas Places: More Musings of the Rambling Boy. It follows up My Texas: Musings of the Rambling Boy, which was published in January 2012, and he continues his stories and essays illuminating the best of Texas geography, history, and personalities. See my essay on Lonn’s earlier book here. Lonn is revered in the Big Bend area of Texas, where he has a weekly radio show on Marfa’s public radio station KRTS, which is the place to go to hear a wide range of music from classical to Texas roots music.
Posted: March 3, 2014 Filed under: books, fiction, interviews, people, writing
Philip Roth may be enjoying his days more now, since it’s going on five years since he said he had decided to still his pen as a novelist. But that doesn’t mean he’s not still making literature, this time in the form of a literary interview conducted by a Swedish journalist, which has just appeared in The New York Times Book Review.
The interview sheds light on his own work and his methods, and also the current golden age of American novels. He spins off a list of American novelists, a paean to the uniqueness of American literature that captures as it does the modern and the universal world, writ large through America’s novelists’ eyes. Even in the face of America’s overpowering popular culture, he says, literature lives:
“What has the aesthetic of popular culture to do with formidable postwar writers of such enormous variety as Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, William Styron, Don DeLillo, E. L. Doctorow, James Baldwin, Wallace Stegner, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Penn Warren, John Updike, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Robert Stone, Evan Connell, Louis Auchincloss, Walker Percy, Cormac McCarthy, Russell Banks, William Kennedy, John Barth, Louis Begley, William Gaddis, Norman Rush, John Edgar Wideman, David Plante, Richard Ford, William Gass, Joseph Heller, Raymond Carver, Edmund White, Oscar Hijuelos, Peter Matthiessen, Paul Theroux, John Irving, Norman Mailer, Reynolds Price, James Salter, Denis Johnson, J. F. Powers, Paul Auster, William Vollmann, Alison Lurie, Flannery O’Connor, Paula Fox, Marilynne Robinson, Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion, Hortense Calisher, Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, Jamaica Kincaid, Cynthia Ozick, Ann Beattie, Grace Paley, Lorrie Moore, Mary Gordon, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty (and I have by no means exhausted the list) or with serious younger writers as wonderfully gifted as Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Nicole Krauss, Maile Meloy, Jonathan Lethem, Nathan Englander, Claire Messud, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer (to name but a handful)?”
Posted: February 25, 2014 Filed under: buddhism, photography, sight seeing, time, space
Monday, 5:55 p.m., February 24, 2014; IPhone photograph
– From A Zen Forest, Sayings of the Masters
Posted: February 24, 2014 Filed under: articles, people, photography
The man on the left has been identified as Robert Johnson, the legendary blues singer and guitarist.
Only two verified photographs of Johnson (1911-1938) existed until now. Eric Clapton once said Johnson was “the most important blues musician who ever lived.” A third, newly cleaned-up and authenticated image has been released by the Johnson estate showing him standing next to musician Johnny Shines.
Work on the photograph began in 2007, when Lois Gibson, who works with the Houston police department, analysed the features of the long-fingered figure holding the guitar. Gibson, who found the identity of the sailor kissing the nurse in the Life magazine photo of Times Square on VJ day during the second World War, said forensic techniques showed a match between this photograph and Johnson’s image in two other photographs, which were previously thought to be all the photographs of Johnson that existed.
Posted: February 21, 2014 Filed under: photography, places, sight seeing, states of mind
Kathmandu, Thursday, February 20, 2014; photograph by Brigitte Lueke; IPhone
Posted: February 19, 2014 Filed under: articles, books, people, states of mind, writing
The estimable The New York Review of Books has reissued William Gass’s On Being Blue, a philosophical romp through moods, colours and much more. Gass is a writer who, one hundred years from now, may emerge as one of the few contemporary writers whose work will enter the American canon. Here’s the NYRB description:
“On Being Blue is about everything blue—sex and sleaze and sadness, among other things—and about everything else. It brings us the world in a word as only William H. Gass, among contemporary American writers, can do.
“Of the colors, blue and green have the greatest emotional range. Sad reds and melancholy yellows are difficult to turn up. Among the ancient elements, blue occurs everywhere: in ice and water, in the flame as purely as in the flower, overhead and inside caves, covering fruit and oozing out of clay. Although green enlivens the earth and mixes in the ocean, and we find it, copperish, in fire; green air, green skies, are rare. Gray and brown are widely distributed, but there are no joyful swatches of either, or any of exuberant black, sullen pink, or acquiescent orange. Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life. Whether slick light sharp high bright thin quick sour new and cool or low deep sweet dark soft slow smooth heavy old and warm: blue moves easily among them all, and all profoundly qualify our states of feeling.”