I saw this Land Rover with the surfboards on the roof at the grocery story and I loved the way it looked. There’s something so alluring about the idea of traveling around the world, looking for great waves (or traveling anywhere looking for great waves). I would never do it. I’m not even a very good swimmer. And all I really know about surfing is that it involves boards and the ocean. But the whole concept is intriguing. In fact, I recently read the memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan and I loved it. It took me into the middle of a world I knew nothing about and let me live and breathe it for a few days. That’s probably as close to surfing as I’ll ever get, but at least I got that far.
I loved this memoir about the relationship between the author, Sheila Kohler, and her older sister, Maxine. It’s so beautifully written, with such soul and intensity, it was impossible for me to put it down even though I knew tragedy was lodged in its heart.
The tragedy comes from what took place thirty-eight years ago, when Maxine was thirty-nine, and her husband, Carl, drove them off of a deserted road in Johannesburg, injuring himself and killing Maxine. Kohler, who knew of the abuse her sister had experienced at [Read more…]
Don’t get me wrong. I love having instantaneous access to the huge selection of movies, television shows, plays, music, and everything else we can get our hands on with the click of a button. But there’s a little nostalgic part of me that remembers the excitement of settling down to watch a movie like The Wizard of Oz, which only came on television once a year. Yes, once a year. From the time I was so young that I covered my eyes when Dorothy and her companions went down the frightening green tunnel [Read more…]
I don’t write every day. I wish I could, but some days other parts of life just get in the way – like paying bills and going to the grocery store and doing errands. When I do write, however, I usually do it in this little nook in our bedroom. (And, yes, our cat, Cinnamon, is a great assistant.) The windows make the area bright and there’s also a French door, just out of the frame, which opens to the back yard. I’ve written two books, mostly while sitting on this banquette, although I’ve definitely logged some hours while traveling as well. Once in a while I’ll take my laptop into the kitchen and write in there – it’s also a sunny space – or I’ll leave the house altogether and find a place to write outside. Anything to keep my brain going.
I love the independent bookstore Books & Books. I’ve been to the flagship store in Coral Gables, Florida (in fact, I did a book talk there a few years ago) and it’s a fabulous place, with room after room of books, a courtyard with a full restaurant, more books, a coffee shop, more books, and a calendar of great author talks and signings. (And more books!) There are three stores in South Florida and several other affiliated stores, most of them in Florida. Today I happened to be on my way to an event in Miami and came across the Cafe at Books & Books at the Adrienne Arsht Center. I had a delicious cup of coffee and bought two books, including a birthday gift for a friend. So glad I happened to be driving by that corner.
I had never read anything by Karen Joy Fowler before reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and I’m not even sure how I came across it, but I ended up downloading it onto my iPad and I’m so glad I did. (By the way, I’m about half and half when it comes to paper books and e-books. I like e-books for travel and prefer them for night reading, but I still really love the good old feel of paper.) Anyway, I loved this book. I think Fowler is an amazing writer. I was hooked from the beginning – the characters (dysfunctional family, but with reason), the plot, the writing style, which is beautiful, and the way the book made me take a different view of the world around me. There’s a big reveal fairly early on – a moment when I uttered an audible, “Oh!” And from that point on, I couldn’t help asking myself (every few pages), how did she do this? It’s a Pen/Faulkner Award winner. No surprise to me.
The legendary singer, Al Jarreau, has just died, and I feel as though I’ve lost a friend. I’ve been a fan of his for years, always loving that great blend of musical styles he delivered. I was fortunate to see him perform four times. Once was in the Napa Valley when I was attending a writer’s conference. Some guests at the inn where I was staying in St. Helena told me Al was giving a free outdoor concert that night at a vineyard. Of course, I couldn’t miss it. He gave a wonderful show to a very appreciative crowd. Toward the end of the concert I made my way to the front and got a chance to see him up close. We will miss you, Al.
Several years ago I was on a Delta flight, going from New York to Florida, and on the last page of the airline’s in-flight magazine I found an essay entitled, “Writing, a Romance,” by author Libba Bray. Although my first novel had not yet been published (that wouldn’t happen until the summer of 2013) or even accepted (that took place in January of 2012), I was far enough into writing it that I understood well what Bray was talking about, and could appreciate her sentiments and her humor. If you’ve ever written anything that’s required a lot of work and many revisions, you’ll probably relate to it as well and find yourself laughing, as I did on that flight. Read Libba’s essay.
I went to an interesting art exhibit today and saw some works by Max-Steven Grossman. He creates wonderful “bookscapes” by arranging digital images of various bookshelves he’s photographed. The end result is one huge photograph covered with glass, with lots of interesting titles to peruse – all tied to a theme.