Some might say I have too many books. I will beg to differ and do not recognize the concept. I have a lot of books, both actual print books and Kindle books. I'm not under any delusion that I will read all the books I own. Especially when I know that I certainly will buy more in the future. One of the dangers of reading books is that quite a few books will lead to finding more titles to read. Reading Henry Miller, for example, who was a voracious reader. Read any of his later books like Sunday After the War, The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, or, more pointedly, The Books in My Life, and you will walk away with several more books on your "to be read" list.
I don't have too many books. My problem is I am lacking in shelf space. And the books shown here, well, that's maybe a third of the books I have (not counting the Kindle books). I could stop buying books, perish the thought, and I would still be set for life. I am not planning on keeping everything I read. Some books just need to be read once. When I finish a book like that, I either hand it off to someone who might like it or place it in one of the many little free libraries around the area.
Is there a point to this post? Maybe. Maybe I just felt like rambling. I haven't been outside for the last three days. Maybe I'm a little stir-crazy. As usual, I strive to post more often.
I will say here I have a few other projects in the works, book related. More about that later. They are still in the planning stage.
I guess my point is don't let anyone tell you that you have too many books. Just tell them they're nuts and they have no idea what they are talking about. Then, maybe, give them a book or two to read.
Do you have any book recommendations? What is your favorite book at the moment? Let me know in the comments!
Peace and Happy Reading.
I turned sixty years old last Saturday. I see that as monumental, really. There was a time I was uncertain I would make it this far. I spent much of my post-high school youth in a fog of chemicals and debauchery. I drank at every opportunity (which was often), I was a three pack a day smoker. That was the least of it. At the time, I wasn't really sure I wanted to live to be sixty.
But I have gotten this far, and have no plans on stopping for now. Growing older is a privilege some people will never experience. Cliched but true. I have had many friends who are no longer here, at least not physically. In dreams, I still talk to my brother, Marvin, although it's been almost twenty years since his passing. As many people know, he was my role model. Others also, have passed through the veil and there are many I still miss terribly. But I persist in my somewhat charmed life, and my biggest wish is to stick around as long as the universe sees fit.
Valerie, my wife and boon companion, is a huge part of my existence. I'm not sure what I would do without her and I'm not sure I would be writing this of she hadn't entered my life when she did. She is truly my shelter from the storm. We have been together for over eighteen years, and every morning I fall in love all over again.
And what do I plan to do now that I have reached this landmark. I will just keep going. What else is there to do? Why stop now? I have no reason to give up. I have no idea what the future holds. Wouldn't life be really fucking boring if everyone knew what was going to happen to them? I don't really want to know. Do you really want to know what's going to happen? I prefer to look at each day, each moment, with a child-like wonder, despite the cynicism my sixty years has offered me. And I'm not really as cynical as I seem. As George Carlin said, "Scratch a cynic and you'll find a disappointed idealist."
I really offer no advice here, other than to live the life you are capable of, and stop worrying about what others think. They are not you and you are not them. Sure, feel free to seek advice, but feel free to call bullshit on any advice offered.
I hope to look back on this post in ten years and think about what changes have occurred. The future may be uncertain, but right now it looks to me to be terribly bright.
It is morning and it is quiet, except for the constant ringing in my ears. I realized this morning that it has been six months since I have written anything beyond a personal journal. I need to work on that. But it is Autumn and it's the time of year that I am at my best. I sleep better, the morning coffee tastes better, the highs are higher and the lows are not so severe. When September begins, I start mentally preparing for Winter, which is a time for reading and writing and, well, being a hermit.
Yes, about reading. I have been remiss with that also. At first I blamed my vision, I do need new glasses. Now I realize it's more of a mixture of apathy, ennui, and an occasional inability to focus on any one thing. And with the advent of Autumn, that too has changed for the better.
So far, since September 1, I have read one novel and hundreds (maybe) short stories. The novel is Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is an amazing storyteller, adept at magical realism, on par with Garcia Marquez and Borges. I have only read two of his novels, the other one being The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I now want to read everything he has written that is available in English.
Have you ever read something by an author that completely rewired your brain, perhaps sensing a shift in your self-created paradigm? I have, and that author is Charles Bowden. I came across a passage from Bowden's Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America on social media a few weeks ago. I felt it, an epiphany, for want of a better term. Risking hyperbole, I was bowled over, not just in what he wrote about but how he wrote.
"I am an optimist myself, despite all the killings and the desert springs with bad water. I wrote this book because I had a simple, straightforward idea--we've been in a long war and we've lost that war and the war has poisoned us and our ground. If we admit to these facts, we might be able to survive. If we don't, it really won't matter if we survive because we will be functionally dead. Pick up any newspaper, our obituary is everywhere on the pages. I am a member of the last generation that will ever confuse the idea of progress with the accumulation of more and more material things. I may be of the last generation that will be able to say the word progress without a tone of mockery."
I have only read maybe twenty pages of Blood Orchid and I have to read everything. It's like the taste that doesn't whet the appetite, but leaves you insatiable for more. I am grateful he was such a prolific writer.
Bowden was an iconoclast and a libertine. He loved drinking, women, and hiking in the desert. He loved the desert, and made his home as a solitary writer in Las Cruces, NM. He began his career as a crime reporter, and it almost killed him. He left his career and his marriage and moved to the desert to simply write. In his lifetime, he had over twenty books published and was a contributor to numerous publications. On August 30, 2014, Bowden died at the age of 69 after a brief illness.
By the way, I always welcome comments. If you have read any Bowden, let me know what you thought. If you have a writer that has rocked your world and changed the way you look at that world, again, let me know.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go read...
Charles Bowden (1945-2014)
I struggle with the benefits and detriments of social media. I understand that most think it's a way to stay connected with others, but is it really? Are connections via social media really connections? I know I am spending an incredible amount of time on Facebook. It's beginning to feel like channel surfing on TV. I spend an hour scrolling through my "news feed" and the only thing I feel is that I just spent an hour that I could have been doing something else. I know I'm not the only one.
Earlier this week, I took steps to move away from social media, even just a bit. I deactivated my Twitter account and took down my Three Dollar Poetry FB page. Being on Twitter was pointless. I found myself getting irritated and angry with the uninformed opinions, the fake profiles, and the click bait posts that litter the feed. It's been four days now and I am happy to report that I don't miss it.
The Facebook page seemed kind of pointless. It's main purpose for many is to promote a business. Yes, I have a business but I don't have my shop on Facebook. Anything I post in my Etsy shop can be easily shared on my personal page. It was duplication and therefore pointless. So down it went.
For now, I will keep my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Instagram has been beneficial for me and my Etsy shop. Facebook, eh, well, I plan on spending less time there. You are probably reading this right now because you followed a link I posted on Facebook. That's totally a good thing, thanks for clicking the link!
Here is where I ask a favor. If you like my posts and content, you can also get notifications of new posts via email. Just go to the Contact page and fill out your information. I will NOT inundate your inbox with pointless emails. I don't post very often, either. I you subscribe I will only send you a notification that says "Hey, I just posted a new....um...post, and it would be really cool if you read it"
I do have the aspiration to post on a more regular basis, but it still won't be daily. I doubt it would even be weekly.
There's also a newsletter form on Three Dollar Poetry, my other website.
I would also love to gain a few pen pals. I love writing typewritten (of course) letters. Do you want to correspond? Email me your address at email@example.com. I would love that.
So, that's it, there is my goal: to fade away and check out from most social media. I will, however, always appreciate the cat pictures, the insomnia-induced posts, and updates on how you are doing.
In Raymond Chandler's final novel, Playback, Philip Marlowe finds himself hired by an attorney that he doesn't know to follow a woman without giving any reason, only to report back to the attorney with periodic updates. Marlowe begins to suspect that he is not being given enough information, so he attempts to dig further. This, of course, brings him into contact with several unsavory characters, along with the woman he is supposed to follow. As one would guess, as they say, the plot thickens.
Playback was published in Great Britain in July of 1958 and the US the following October. Raymond Chandler died the following year. That being said, Playback is not Chandler's best work, perhaps reflecting his ongoing health issues. One senses that Chandler felt he felt an urgency to finish the novel but was unable to give it a final edit.
Despite this, it is still a classic noir tale. Chandler and Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) were the creators and masters of the noir, or hard-boiled, genre. Despite its minor flaws, such as a fairly pat finale, Playback will still be an important part of Chandler's canon.
The novel was reworked from an original screenplay by Chandler. Ironically, Playback is the only novel by Chandler not made into a film.
I recommend this book as an important part of the noir genre, with 4 out of 5 stars.
More books by Raymond Chandler:
The Big Sleep
Farewell, My Lovely
The Long Goodbye
The Lady in the Lake
The High Window
The Little Sister
Trouble is My Business (short stories)
The Simple Art of Murder (short stories)
All links are to Thriftbooks. Of course, check your local used or independent book store.
To read more about Raymond Chandler, follow the link here.
Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested
I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I'd like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty's where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside birdland by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don't give her one we
don't like terrible diseases, then
we go eat some fish and some ale it's
cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don't want to be in the poets' walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so
Francis Russell "Frank" O'Hara was an American writer, poet, and art critic. A curator at the Museum of Modern Art, O'Hara became prominent in New York City's art world.
(I was out of commission due to a visit to the dentist yesterday, so I missed posting this. -Mark)
After the Last Bulletins
After the last bulletins the windows darken
And the whole city founders readily and deep,
Sliding on all its pillows
To the thronged Atlantis of personal sleep,
And the wind rises. The wind rises and bowls
The day’s litter of news in the alleys. Trash
Tears itself on the railings,
Soars and falls with a soft crash,
Tumbles and soars again. Unruly flights
Scamper the park, and taking a statue for dead
Strike at the positive eyes,
Batter and flap the stolid head
And scratch the noble name. In empty lots
Our journals spiral in a fierce noyade
Of all we thought to think,
Or caught in corners cramp and wad
And twist our words. And some from gutters flail
Their tatters at the tired patrolman’s feet,
Like all that fisted snow
That cried beside his long retreat
Damn you! damn you! to the emperor’s horse’s heels.
Oh none too soon through the air white and dry
Will the clear announcer’s voice
Beat like a dove, and you and I
From the heart’s anarch and responsible town
Return by subway-mouth to life again,
Bearing the morning papers,
And cross the park where saintlike men,
White and absorbed, with stick and bag remove
The litter of the night, and footsteps rouse
With confident morning sound
The songbirds in the public boughs.
Richard Wilbur was born on March 1, 1921 in New York City. One of the most lauded and honored poets of 20th century American verse, Wilbur was the second poet laureate of the United States, succeeding Robert Penn Warren.