Intentionally spiraling out
10 things worth sharing: a drawing exercise for anxiety, book recommendations, pre-orders for the 10th anniversary of Steal, and more...
Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week:
A little notebook exercise that helps me feel a tiny bit less anxious.
I’m listening to Mel Brooks read his memoir All About Me! It’s funny, but it’s also very sweet. Brooks was born in the same era as my grandparents, and as I don’t have any of them left in this world, I find his voice connecting and calming, somehow. (This Fresh Air episode is a good test of whether you’d like it.) On comedy as a way of survival, he writes: “Laughter is a protest scream against death, against the long goodbye.”
Not calm, but cathartic: I’ve been reading the non-fiction of Joy Williams. Her 20-year-old collection of “rants and reflections,” Ill Nature, which Amy Hempel points out is “not dated in the least,” and her guidebook, The Florida Keys, written during a period in which Williams quit writing fiction after her second novel got bad reviews. The guidebook went through 10 editions, each one “gloomier and wilder.” She says it’s the only book she’s ever made money from. Both books put the good stuff in the back: I loved the essays “Hawk,” “Autumn,” and “Why I Write,” and the searing afterword of the guidebook, in which she wonders why anyone would debase themselves by writing a guidebook. (Curiously, Olga Tokarczuk writes about guidebooks in another good book I’m reading: Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft.) If you’ve never read Williams’ fiction, start there: I loved Ninety-Nine Stories of God, but The Visiting Privilege collects a wider range of her stories.
I’m looking forward to reading Debbie Millman’s Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People, sourced from the deep archives of her podcast, Design Matters. (We spoke in 2019 at SXSW.)
TV: I got sucked into the first two episodes of Severance, which is extremely dark, but twisted in an interesting way. Great casting: Patricia Arquette is terrifying. Watching it, I thought, “This is like a George Saunders story that isn’t very funny.” Then I remembered that director Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films was supposed to make CivilWarLand in Bad Decline years ago.
Next month is the 10th anniversary of Steal Like an Artist. To celebrate, we’re releasing a deluxe limited-edition hardcover, with a fancy ribbon bookmark, endpapers, and a brand-new afterword, written by me. This thing is classy. Pre-orders help a ton with book releases, so I hope you’ll consider buying a copy or two. It would be perfect as a gift for the upcoming holidays and graduation season. If you pre-order from Bookpeople, I’ll sign and personalize your copy, and if you pre-order anywhere else before March 15 (support your local indie bookstore!) and fill out this form, Workman will send you an autographed bookplate. Here’s a peek inside:
Thanks for reading. “Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”