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Afterimages of the eclipse
10 things worth sharing this week
Here are this week’s 10 things:
“To get born, your body makes a pact with death, / and from that moment, all it tries to do is cheat—” RIP poet Louise Glück. Poetry is what I turn to in times when words seem inadequate, and Glück left us a lot of it. If you don’t know her work, a good start might be poking around her page at Poetry Foundation. The writer Elisa Gabbert recommended her poem “Landscape”: “I lived in the present, which was / that part of the future you could see.” (I took time this week to re-read Gabbert’s wonderful look at W.H. Auden’s famous poem about suffering and witnessing catastrophe. A gem of close-reading and web design.)
“The easiest way to do art is to dispense with success and failure altogether and just get on with it.” I came to Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by way of Kenny Werner’s Effortless Mastery. I found both books about jazz and improvisation to be quite inspiring for my own practice.
“Listening is how I started. I didn't start when I was a piano player. I didn't start as a composer. I started as a listener.” RIP composer Carla Bley. (Here’s a big Spotify playlist of her music curated by Ted Gioia.)
Both reviews by Dwight Garner and Rachel Monroe of the new Larry McMurtry biography mention his 1972 comic novel All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, so I picked it up and it was a fun, bawdy ride.
I downloaded a sample chapter of Percival Everett’s novel Erasure the minute I saw the trailer of the forthcoming movie adaptation, American Fiction. It’s so good. (Everett won the PEN award earlier this year. In his acceptance speech he said his agent told him when they first started, “You’re never going to make me any money, so just write what you want to write.”)
I got sucked into Ken Burns’ latest, The American Buffalo, on PBS, but then got distracted researching the amazing Native American artwork depicted in the documentary. You can see a bit of it in this multimedia timeline. (I’m currently reading about hide paintings and winter counts and ledger art.)
Deb Chachra’s How Infrastructure Works is finally out this week. My blurb: “You won’t see the world the same after reading this book!”
A weird media mashup habit I’ve taken up this year: playing video games while listening to audiobooks. Currently I’m playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the Switch while listening to Werner Herzog’s new memoir. (Read by the author!)