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”
As I wrote in my unfinished report about Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God, I encountered Joseph Campbell (who I refer to as “the other JC”) in around 1987 after his death and after he had done the famous Powers of Myth interviews with Bill Moyers. Nothing makes me feel more like a water buffalo in a herd than trending with the rest of America after a PBS special. Continue reading “Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell”
After my recent reread of Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction, I was apprehensive about rereading Jitterbug Perfume. I remembered it as a life changing book that I first encountered at the age of 24 when it was recommended to me by a man twice my age who, wearing a sweatshirt with Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice on the back, also introduced me to wine and food pairing (Chateau d’Yquem with magic mushrooms). He had a gorgeous Georgia drawl and a gold dragon ringed around his right index finger. He was most definitely a righteous representative of Robbins’ work. Continue reading “Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins”
I was really looking forward to rereading the four Tom Robbins novels I’ve treasured since 1988 (Another Roadside Attraction, 1971; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, 1976; Still Life with Woodpecker, 1980; Jitterbug Perfume, 1984). I was never a fan of his later books, which started to seem stale and formulaic to me and so took the magic out of his loopy, genius metaphors and fantastic mix of myth, science, philosophy and magic. So when I started reading my battered paperback copy of Another Roadside Attraction, I was afraid I might have outgrown Robbins, or maybe that the late 1960s-early 1970s hallucinatory hijinks may not have aged well, or that post reading Ulysses and present North Korea/Trump shenanigans might have swiped any patience I have left for linguistic, idealistic antics.
Continue reading “Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins”
Ay carumba! It’s time for Ulysses, a book I have held at arms length (which is exhausting since the book is heavy!) for YEARS. As I tuck into it again, I remember why I quit so early in college–Joyce takes special joy in describing things as “snotgreen” and the words “phlegm” and “bile” come up early too. Such a turn-off to a 20-something girl. 30 years later, it doesn’t bother me so much. Let’s go, Joyce: bring on your “knuckly cud”s and “urinous offal”s and “leprous nosehole”s! Continue reading “Ulysses, James Joyce”
This is an intimidating tome, but JC’s preface made me feel right at home. You know you’re in good hands when even the preface is a pleasure to read. I love how he puts the Mrs, Miss and Mr titles in front of the names of the people he’s thanking–so old-fashioned, well-mannered, civilized. Joseph Campbell was the definitive gentleman scholar. Continue reading “The Mythic Image, Joseph Campbell”