Tags03 Andrea R. Vaucher Arrowsmith Press Aurelie Sheehan Barry Hannah BOA Editions Briar Rose British cruelty childhood Color is the Suffering of Light Derecktor despair Diamond as Big as the Ritz Dinah Lenney Dr. James Cone Fitzgerald Franz Wright Gargoyle Joseph Brodksy Junot Diaz Kenneth Chord Looking for Love Lynne Tillman Magpiety Melissa Green NZ Books Oxford Patti Smith podcast poetry Resist Richard Peabody Roxane Gay Sean Bernard Siel Ju Stephen G Smith The Comedian Theseus This is How We All Lose TIME weird Fucks Willie Morris Yachting
NEW!: SUBSCRIBE TO RECEIVE BLOG
Here is my old friend Ron Shapiro. I was driving through the deep south, age 22, in a Drive-Away car (you pay for the gas and get to drive the car to a destination) when I landed in Oxford Mississippi to check out Faulkner’s home. After that, I stumbled into Oxford’s Hoka Cafe, owned by Ron, and the dear fellow must have recognized, after numerous cups of coffee and a slice of his cheesecake, that I was sleeping in said Drive- Away car, as he gave me his couch to sleep on that night.
I ended up living in Oxford for a year, working at the ER, then Square Books. Ron, who later became Oxford Mayor, hooked me up with all kinds: Faulkner’s niece, Faulkner’s chiropractor, all the writers in town — Willie Morris, who drove me all around the delta, Barry Hannah who proposed that I marry a then briefly single Willie. Some of this is in 52 Men.
What is not, is that those were lucky days for me, an oasis in the madness of my chemical youth. That’s what Fitzgerald calls it in the story I talked of yesterday, “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz.”
Everybody’s youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.
Though if you want know the damn truth, in my case I would make that life. As in: my entire life has been a dream, a form of chemical madness. Sounds right to me.
Any day is a good day to re-read The Diamond As Big as the Ritz. And today, after four days fighting a vicious cough that I thought was going to choke the life out of me, seemed a perfect one. Mild skies, happy life, good work flow, happiness. And this book!.
First, I love how it portrays what might as well be today’s one percenters. Here is a description of the blithe children of the richest man in the world:
“A chaste and consistent selfishness ran like a pattern through their every idea.”
Doesn’t that just sound like some people you have read about on the news lately? Oh yes, it does. Face it. Read it again. A chaste and consistent selfishness ran like a pattern through their every idea. Fantastic.
Then, there is the delicious pure language, like water falling in the sun. Fitzgerald was just so good when he was good, and he was usually good:
The Montana sunset lay between two mountains like a gigantic bruise from which dark arteries spread themselves over a poisoned sky.
It sounds overdone, but in context it is just beautiful. AND I think I might have found in these short pages a title for short story: “The Gaudy Valley.” Oh, yes.
On the podcast, a woman learns the joy of power by riding in her man’s Big Truck. Can she ever go back? And what is the cost? And how does she suddenly feel about the little car drivers?? Give Me the Truck or Give Me Nothing…. by Aurelie Sheehan
A woman confronts her childhood abuser, with the loving support of her attentive protective husband. Yet over time as that woman speaks about her abuse, and writes about it, that husband becomes increasingly uncomfortable. What to do when support isn’t quite support. Stay silent out of love for the other? Or go and tell one’s story? A fresh take on the outcome of trusting our loved ones with our truths.
Some days it seems that we have seldom lived in darker times. But writers such as Melissa Green, now living in Boston, are here to remind us about history, dark history — and that if others can survive and resist it, maybe we can, too.
Here is Melissa, a revered poet and memoirist, on her friendship with Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky. Brodsky was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 after much persecution. He had been condemned to a Soviet mental institution and spent five years in an Arctic labor camp before and gaining asylum in the United States. Here, at the Dia Foundation in New York City, Melissa Green connects both to him and to history and an entire line of Russian poets who persevered through unthinkable suffering due to the regimes they lived under.
Melissa is the author of three books of poetry, The Squanicook Eclogues, Fifty-Two and Magpiety: New and Selected Poems; and two memoirs, Color Is the Suffering of Light and The Linen Way. Soundings, a book of twenty-two essays about her work by prominent American poets, edited by Sumita Chakraborty and published by Arrowsmith Press, was released in December 2016. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Here again, because it’s, er, timely, is my post on Trump threatening to tear me to bits when I was 20.
I thought I should repost:
It was on the phone. I was twenty and an intern reporter at TIME. Trump was being sued by a hotel chain. I had to call Trump, and ask him about it, and straight away he started calling me “Babe.” It was “Babe” this and “Babe” that. His voice was gold — a veritable sunbath– (or was it a golden shower? let’s add that January 2017).
At any rate, he spoke to me, a 20 year old reporter and he a far older ‘businessman’ as if he and I were oh so close, even intimate. Such is the method of charming insolent un-serious men.
Then I read aloud to him, still on the phone, as a TIME reporter in New York, one of the allegations against him, which I had before me in print in the Affadavit.
You should have felt it. The change in atmosphere — even on the phone — when a man such as he drops his charm.
“You Print That,” Trump told me, “and I’ll Sue You.”
He’d sue me — a 20 year old intern, a Columbia student, an almost girl reading from a legal affadavit that did not please him, did not match his idea of himself….
I wish I could say it was the last time I heard a man turn on a dime, see the flash of virulence beneath the charm. I wish I had learned my lesson, right then.
These men — these charming powerful men of a certain kind – how many times must they reveal themselves before we finally dump them? Keep Trying, I say. Keep trying until it takes.
I had a boyfriend like this once. We almost married, but he always countered his loving remarks with not so loving ones. For example, he told me once, repeatedly, that he wished I would die. Which I just could not get over. A brother of mine remarked that people say things they don’t mean when they are angry. But I guess what’s important is whether or not the person later regrets saying those negative things — or doing certain things — and says they are are sorry. My bf was not sorry about the things that bothered me, and told me so. I regretted leaving him. It was one of the most painful things I have had to do. But I didn’t feel I had a choice.
At any rate, in the latest podcast, writer Siel Ju addresses this in a slightly more subtle way, a way that I think most of us must have have experienced in our lifetimes. In her case, she says, her lover seems to be two different people – so she struggles with knowing which is the real person, and whether she should stay or go?
Here it is: “Acceptance,” with a little advice from me on how to tell whether someone is a “keeper” or not…
Siel is also the author of Cake Time, a novel in stories that will be out from Red Hen Press in April 2017, and two poetry chapbooks. Her stories and poems appear in ZYZZYVA, The Missouri Review (Poem of the Week), The Los Angeles Review, Denver Quarterly, and other places. She gives away a book every month at sielju.com.
Episode 13 of 52 Men the Podcast.
“The Difficulty of Being Good” is a story about the desire and need to help other people — in this case, two separate strangers, both met on the street at different times, and both men. Do we help them selflessly, or to help ourselves? And how do they feel about it? Author Eliza Factor is the founder of Extreme Kids & Crew, a playspace for children with disabilities in Brooklyn. She has published two novels Love Maps and The Mercury Fountain with Akashic Books.
(Akashic, full disclosure) also published my (as Louise Wareham) 2004 Since You Ask, the James Jones Award winning novel about a girl working with her doctor to recover from sexual abuse.
Eliza’s memoir, Strange Beauty, about life with her son, will be published by Parallax Press in the fall of 2017. See her website for more: elizafactor.net. Author photo by Micaela Walker
The newest podcast is close to my heart, coming from a young New Zealand woman — well, 36 — who describes being pushed into playing sports by her teacher and boys. Such a delicious simple explication of the way authority works on our guilt, shame and desire to please despite our wishes to do our own thing.
Interesting in terms of the New Zealand Patriarchy, under which I myself grew up — even though I left New Zealand at age six, my parents were extremely patriarchal in their attitudes and lessons. And also interesting, as I mention above, in terms of school and society conformism.
Will never forget leaving my laced up Australian public school — with uniforms, prefects, assembly, and caning for boys for my raucous new Manhattan private school where kids wore what they wanted, called their teachers by their first names and — often — shockingly to me, swore at their elders…. No wonder my New York teachers said my brothers and I were a “quiet joy” to have in class — not that that lasted forever….