True confession, people:
I’m a misery chick.
There are a couple of things I do between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, to keep my spirits from plummeting: practice origami; take walks around the neighborhood to see the houses that are decorated; and double down at my friendly neighborhood public library.
(I also sing, but I don’t need much excuse to do that.)
Recently, I finished reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I had to wait for months on the library queue, and only had two weeks in which to finish it.
I finished it—and an encore reading of A Voice From The Chorus—this past Monday.
That I am an introvert does not really shock me. Large parties wear me out; I feel out of place in huge crowds; and I genuinely, honestly would rather spend an evening working on writing, or talking with one or two people, than pasting on a fake smile and trying to “mingle.”
Ms. Cain’s book has given me a bit more insight into the how and why, and instances where introverts use their strengths to advantage. I also like that she examines introspection outside of American culture, and the “soft power” approach.
It’s refreshing to have it confirmed that I am not “antisocial,” that I am not “isolating,” that, indeed, there is nothing wrong with wanting solitude when others around me are caught up in a hustle-bustle, gotta-gotta-gotta rhythm.
Now: what’s turning your pages this holiday season?
Drop a line and tell me. I’d like to hear.
Want to see and hear authors—such as Junot Diaz, Chris Hayes, and Sandra Cisneros—speak?
Want to catch cool live music at no charge?
Looking for something that will get the kids away from the Wii and off to new adventures?
Are you looking for the ultimate open-air bookseller bonanza, with titles and prices for almost every budget?
Want to see people from all walks of life in Miami-Dade County in one copacetic, drama-free place?
Get over to the Miami Book Fair International—you may just surprise yourself.
Mitchell Kaplan—of Books and Books fame—has brought top-notch authors, pundits, and interesting folk to downtown Miami for 29 years.
I can’t wait to see what he does for the big 3-0. If it’s anything like the bash he threw recently for Books and Books, then it’s sure to be phenomenal…indeed!
All you book lovers in South Florida—from Vero Beach to the Keys—please mark November 3 on your calendars.
Books & Books is celebrating 30 years of bringing great reading, terrific authors, and cool events to Coral Gables, Miami, and beyond.
If you’re not on their mailing list, click the above link and sign up. Brighten up your inbox.
And if you’re in the neighborhood, the Gables store is throwing a bash. Food, drink, discounts, and other delights await…
Here’s to the next 30 years. Cheers!
White meteorite, infinity’s orphan, word
Painwaking particular earth…
Supplicants, tyrants, it doesn’t matter.
It is matter: unbudgeable, unjudgeable, itself.
(January 20, 1937)”
“The Poem,” Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938); translated by Christian Wiman.
By the time Mandelstam wrote this poem—part of his “Voronezh notebooks”—he had experienced poverty, arrest, interrogation, exile. For most people, a fragment of these things would be overwhelming.
That he could craft and create such a precise, heart-stopping poem in exile—and many others—staggering.
On a lark, I checked out David Shields’Reality Hunger: A Manifestoand started reading it last night.
This morning, I whipped out the pen and started copying quotes into my notebook. And I kept thinking of Andrei Sinyavsky’s wonderfulA Voice From The Chorusas I scrivved.
Not that Shields purports to be writing about Brezhnev-era labor camps in letters to his wife, or remarks on art, music, folk legends or the like. It’s, well, the way in which both present their thoughts and opinions: in a non-linear, fragmented style, which gives their words a poignant and terrifying resonance.
I am not an essayist, but I have always loved the practice: how else to get a glimpse into what a writer thinks and feels, what s/he sees?
And I suspect, much as I do with A Voice From The Chorus, that I shall revisit this book many, many times, to glean insights and ideas.
I love the public library system.
There’s something satisfying about loitering in the stacks, finding books that others overlook: the sense of adventure, the scent of paper, the sound of keyboards clacking in the background—other people on notebooks—just adds to the thrill.
And while I deplore the way that Miami-Dade County has slashed funding to the library system (a monstrosity of a baseball stadium for a team that doesn’t even command the loyalty of the Houston Astros? Built with taxpayer monies? Really?!), I do enjoy knowing that I can find recent titles.
Granted, the wait time for books can take weeks, and in at least a couple of instances, months. And not every new title in the bookstores makes it to the library’s catalogue.
When a book that intrigues me comes in, though—I know it’s worth the wait.
I’ve just finished reading Mikey Walsh’sGypsy Boy, and for anyone interested in memoir, Romany life, and life as a gay Romany—or who likes a rollicking read—I say, check it out.
“I want to spit in the face of every writer who first obtains permission and then writes. I want to beat such writers over the head with a stick,…placing a glass of police tea before each one.”
Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938).
While browsing the stacks at the Main Library last week, I found a slender volume, Stolen Air—a selection of poetry by Osip Mandelstam translated by Christian Wiman. The translations were bracing, but the quotes that Ilya Kaminsky included in his Introduction left me floored.
I think it high time for me to look at Mandelstam’s prose…
October is LGBT History Month. That’s right: 31 days commemorating the wit, wisdom, and works of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual people who have moved, shaken, and shaped American history, literature, music, art, and so very much more.
Today is also National Coming Out Day. Whether you are LGBTQQIA, or a straight ally—step forward! Life is too amazing to spend it cramped in a closet—your clothes need the space to breathe…
Who are your favorite LGBT writers? What was the first gay-themed book you read, and how did it impact you?
Forgive me, gentle readers, for my error. In my haste, I bollixed the URL for the Banned Books Week website.
I have just corrected it, and I do hope you find good reading for your pleasure there.
As for me: I recently found a copy of a Russian poetry anthology from the 60s at the Main Library—a dual-language edition, with some uber-cool samizdat, including the late Yury Galanskov’s “Manifesto of Man.” I’m stoked.
Question for y’all: what are some of your favorite obscure and rare book finds?