David Sedaris is one of those writers that has me laughing out loud while I’m reading, even in public places. In fact, I recommend not taking a drink of anything while reading Sedaris lest you end up spitting, choking or having liquid come out your nose. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud behind my anti-virus mask when I was tucked into a comfy chair at the BMW dealership, waiting for my i3 to have its oil changed and I think I made the other people in the waiting area uncomfortable.
Not every essay in When You Are Engulfed in Flames made me laugh out loud and some didn’t even make me chuckle silently. Sedaris can be perverse, gross and even mean, and sometimes his subject matter doesn’t appeal to me. However, since I’ve read that he is an avid roadside litter collector–something I would like to be more avid about, especially since I often find cash while I’m picking up trash–I give him the benefit of the doubt.
Continue reading “When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris”
When I first began my career as a personal organizer I worked with a few hoarders. A hoarder is defined as someone who accumulate so much stuff that their life is unmanageable and several rooms in the house are unable to be used for their intended purpose. I stopped working with hoarders when I realized that the disorder is much more of mental illness than disorganization and, even with therapy, is very difficult to “cure.” But people are fasciated by it and it is usually the first thing someone asks me about when they find out what I do. E.L. Doctorow’s novel Homer & Langley is based on the lives of two men who are sort of the original American hoarders, Homer & Langley Collyer.
Continue reading “Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow”
I ended up loving everything about this book, yet when I first pulled it from my library and looked it over, I thought it might go into the give away bag without a reread and blog entry. The gorgeous, heavy and shagreen-pebbled dust jacket, in shocking pink of course, convinced me to at least give it a try. It had been a long time since I read it and didn’t remember it at all. It hooked me immediately.
Continue reading “Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli and Me by Patricia Volk”
It’s been a while since I’ve chosen a book from my library for this blog. Virus and fire have put the fear of angry Mother Nature into me and my thoughts have been mostly short term and skittish. I haven’t experienced such an undercurrent of dread since I listened to the Beatles Revolution #9, forwards. (I was too scared to listen to it backwards and besides, didn’t want to screw up my turntable.) I’ve been longhand journaling, but on sadly mundane topics like home projects, workouts, finances and what I’ve been putting into my mouth. Food, mostly.
Continue reading “If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland”
Over the last seven or eight months, the man I’m seeing and I made a pact to incorporate some spiritual growth activities into our couples life. We started meditating in the mornings, which we have been very diligent about, and have tried to read spiritual literature aloud to each other in the evenings, which we have been less diligent about. Somehow in the evenings, especially after many months of Covid-19 situational stress, we end up zoning out with an episode of Sons of Anarchy instead. Continue reading “Polishing the Mirror by Ram Dass”
Yo–el Rey. I, the king. Pablo Ruiz y Picasso wrote that three times on a self portrait painted when he was just 19 and about to leave his native Spain for Paris, where he became something more than a king. The funny thing about a grotesquely outsized ego is that very occasionally it is actually representing an equally legendary and outsized talent, intellect, beauty or charismatic personality; the deep flaws of entitlement, narcissism and infidelity such an ego sanctions can be overlooked, even forgiven. Continue reading “Picasso by Norman Mailer”
It was easy to pull Electric Kool-Aid off the shelf after reading the Grateful Dead biography. Tom Wolfe brilliantly describes Ken Kesey’s Merry Prankster scene, of which the Grateful Dead were a major contributor, in this somewhat novelized, novel-length report. Continue reading “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe”
A few weeks ago I found out that a man I’d lost touch with killed himself last spring. He’d been a magnificent influence on me in the early 1990s. We wrote for the same magazine, but his writing was many leagues beyond my work horse prose. Where he would wax romantic, I would wane maudlin, and he wasn’t afraid to tell me so. But he was kind. One late night in his office cluttered with rock specimens, empty bottles of great wines and hundreds of books, he let me recite “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in its entirety. I was nervous, so he handed me a stress ball to squeeze. That’s a good friend. I’d forgotten his kindness. Continue reading “A Long Strange Trip by Dennis McNally”
I read The Last American Man and Kitchen Confidential back to back, which wasn’t planned, it was just that I craved these biographical short books as transitional material after five volumes of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle. I tried to start My Struggle Volume Six, but my brain revolted. What I needed was an all-American male palate cleanser, make that two, and these books served the purpose well. Continue reading “Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain & The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert”
Brene Brown, author of the two self-empowerment books Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, must love Karl Ove Knausgaard. My biggest takeaway from this six volume, 3,500 page autobiography is how brave Knausgaard is, how naked. The books are like a grove of winter trees, dour, stark and beautiful, and, at 3,500 pages, it took at least a grove of trees to produce them. Continue reading “My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard”