The Potato (Peel Pie) Eaters

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If you want to read and enrich both your time and mind, skip The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and read the authors of real literature, whose names are merely mentioned in passing by this pretentious novel:

  • Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights)
  • Thomas Carlyle (Past and Present)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales)
  • Charles Dickens (The Pickwick Papers)
  • Charles Lamb (Selected Essays of Elia, and More Essays of Elia, and Selected Letters)
  • Wilfred Owen (The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen)
  • Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Seneca (Letters from a Stoic)
  • William Shakespeare
  • Oscar Wilde

I’m happy to find justification for disliking The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  in this quote, gleaned from the pages of the very same novel in question:

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”
Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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Turquoise

Reading this week. Ellen Meloy's The Anthropology of Turquoise:  Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky

Just a pretty photo today—a teaser—as I am trapped in the middle of a 6-day, full-time work week, while my manager takes some time off.

Mad with the longing to stay home and paint or write, but just can’t manage any good-sized chunk of time to do it in. It’s driving me nuts.

This book came in the post last Monday. I’ll try to lose myself for a few hours tonight in its pages. Let you know my impressions of the book when I’m through. Not that my impression’re worth a damn *laughs*

Illustrated Letters

Illustrated lettersAs my letter subscription project crosses the half-year line and hits 50 subscribers, I’ve been inspired to go deeper into what a letter can be by exploring the different kinds of art, of writing, and interactive possibilities that can be included in this versatile, remarkable form of self-expression.

Gradually, more books about letters are finding their way into my personal library. Inspired this week by Illustrated Letters: Artists and Writers Correspond,  a collection curated by Roselyne de Ayala and Jean-Pierre Guéno.

Taken entirely from French sources, there are letters by Gaston Chaissac
Illustrated letters
Georges Hugnet…
Untitled

Edouard Manet…

Illustrated letters

Paul Gauguin…

Illustrated letters

Arthur Rimbaud (swoon!)…

Illustrated letters

And this heart-stopping beauty by Victor Hugo…

Illustrated letters

…as well as letters by Picasso, Corbusier, Van Gogh, Turgenev…so many brilliant artists and writers. They’re just scrumptious! If I ever received a letter like Hugo’s, I think I would eat it…

Corrugated Iron Youth

Corros Boab tree

PHOTO, VIDEOS, ARTWORK AND CONCEPT BY LINDA JOY

WOODWORK ON BOAB NUTS AND LEAVES BY SONIA MARTIGNON

The freehand text around the mural’s perimeter was my small contribution to Linda Joy’s mural, commissioned by the Corrugated Iron Youth Arts Organisation, an open and empowering performing arts organisation that has taken many young people into its camps and workshops over the past 34 years, made a place for them in an extended family of passionate circus and theatre performers, given them confidence, training, and an outlet for their tremendous energy. It has nurtured their creative fires, applauded their eccentricities, loved them up, and then sent them into the world as well-adjusted, personable and responsible individuals.

It was a huge privilege to play this small part as a sign-writer of Corro’s foyer mural.
And what an experience it was to be invited into the artist Linda Joy’s practice! Four days and two nights with this Aquarian rock star diva, artist of the Outback’s soul, made me feel like I was 17 again…it’s been decades since I last worried that the cops would come knocking on the door and tell us to turn the music down.  😆

*Thank you, Gorgeous, linda mujer, for the wine, the attitude, the Nick Cave 101, the agony and ecstasy, the no-bullshit business advice, and for passing some work my way!

Monsoon Dervish on ETSY

It only took a month and a half of pleading, nagging, cajoling…

Kris finally opened his own ETSY shop.

Can you believe it?! Oh, he still grumbles about it, but hey, at least it’s up, and you can now purchase physical copies of his four books, as well as the PDF file of his Manual of Sextant Navigation, directly from him.

www.MonsoonDervishBooks.ETSY.com

 

Word whittling

Wrote the letter (it’s a story, really) in one intense day…from 10am through to now (2:30am, March the 1st), from a handwritten rough draft of 3,700 words—whittled and shaved and whittled some more—down to 1,200…hopefully without losing its flavour or story.

It’s pretty good. I know it is. With the kind of knowing that lives wherever my meagre understanding of this craft lives. This knowledge is so elusive that, when it’s absent, you worry that you’ve made it up. But, when it surfaces, it’s so satisfying. That moment when you recognize that what you have done will generate sparks, if only for a few minutes.

I gave it everything I dared, wrote it all down, and then went back over it with a scalpel, and took two-thirds of it out again. I have done the best I can do. Tonight, that is. I can only speak for tonight!

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

I’m allowing myself to gloat a little, now, because I might look at it tomorrow , think, “Oh, it’s crap,” and start all over again. Ah, the writing life…

I’ll bet I can excise another 200 words, tomorrow, if I put my mind to it. That’s still too many words for an A4 sheet of paper. I’ll have to add a second sheet to February’s letter.

It’s so grueling to try and hack a story down to 600 words, and yet still do it justice, give it some depth. There’s a very real danger of trivializing the subject matter. This is probably why I only post photos on twitter!

Of course, something very, very short, the tiniest bite of writing, can hold universes. Haiku, for example. Or W.S. Merwin’s translation of delightful Asian aphorisms, East Window:

Sudden
like a spear from a window

Long way to the law.

Fist right here.

Spits straight up.
Learns something.

Sardine threatens.
Who knows it?

You’ve got an axe but you can’t use it
the other one’s got a needle
but he can

I bought East Window on a whim, never guessing what it would come to mean to me. Every time I pick it up, I discover something I hadn’t noticed before. It makes me laugh, or gasp, or sigh in pleasure, without fail, every single time. The wisdom in it is so tight, so sharp, so loaded, so wry, so observant. Today it is, to my wonderment, one of my favorite books of all time. One that I would grab, at the last moment, from a burning house…or choose to have (along with Coleman Barks’ Essential Rumi and Alain de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy) on a desert island, or take with me on a long journey on foot around the world. Seriously. I know, I was surprised, too. But it does that; each short poem is a little bronze key that unlocks a door you didn’t know existed in your head, and through that door floods the foolishness and the cleverness of humankind.

Or, for a more contemporary example, the entries submitted to the website 8WordStory :

“From 30 October to 24 November 2017, Queensland Writers Centre is giving you the opportunity to publish your work and be seen by up to 300,000 people across South East Queensland.
There’s just one catch.
You can use only eight words.”

My favorite entry (after scrolling through hundreds of 8-word stories) is still Kat Cope’s.

“(Everyone ready?)
SURPRISE!!…..no,
it’s today — isn’t it?”

It’s a magic story. In one deft move it conjures balloons, an explosion of confetti, a bleating of party horns, a cake held aloft, a pile of presents, bright lights, a roomful of friends, a disappointed person trying to be grateful, a swooping descent from being excited and proud…to the sickening feeling in your gut that you’ve really, really messed up on this once-in-a-year opportunity. A tragedy. A comedy. A universe in a grain of sand. A master stroke.

Good night. Good morning.