A Long Strange Trip by Dennis McNally

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”

Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell

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”

Another Roadside Attraction, 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”

The Mythic Image, Joseph Campbell

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”

The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton

From the mat to the world–a break from yoga to plan a trip to NYC and get some de Botton civility.

I was thinking of going into some yoga-spiritual related books after the four yoga books I’ve just finished, such as Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, which was one of the first second-hand books I ever bought when I moved to San Francisco after college. Or Joseph Campbell, or Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume or Even Cowgirls Get the Blues or Still Life with Woodpecker, all of which influenced me so much in the late 1980s. But since I have a travel bug and am planning two or three trips (NYC next month, Jacksonville,  Florida and for Thanksgiving, Kauai with high school girlfriends in February), I thought I’d better reread The Art of Travel. Continue reading “The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton”

Hatha Yoga Illustrated, Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, Daniel DiTuro

Quickly, before I dip into the more daunting Iyengar, I read this book that I don’t remember buying. It’s a nice paperback with a good basic introduction to yoga and a lot of the same information as Swenson’s Ashtanga book Continue reading “Hatha Yoga Illustrated, Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, Daniel DiTuro”