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msarki

M Sarki

Besides being a poet with four collections published, M Sarki is a painter, film maker, and photographer. He likes fine coffee and long walks. 

M Sarki has written, directed, and produced six short films titled Gnoman's Bois de Rose, Biscuits and Striola , The Tools of Migrant Hunters, My Father's Kitchen, GL, and Cropped Out 2010. More details to follow. Also the author of the feature film screenplay, Alphonso Bow.

Currently reading

L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
David Lebovitz
We Learn Nothing: Essays
Tim Kreider
Elmet: LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
Fiona Mozley
Limbo, and Other Places I Have Lived: Short Stories
Lily Tuck
The Double Life of Liliane
Lily Tuck
At Home with the Armadillo
Gary P. Nunn
American Witness: The Art and Life of Robert Frank
RJ Smith
Autumn
Karl Ove Knausgård, Ingvild Burkey, Vanessa Baird
Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd (Reading Edition)
Nick Mason
American Witness: The Art and Life of Robert Frank
J.R. Smith

The Passion According to G.H.

The Passion According to G.H. - Ronald W. Sousa, Clarice Lispector https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/50494424282/lispector-cockroaches-and-bang

My reviews are being removed from goodreads for some reason. Instead, please read them on my blog.

Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard's Journey

Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard's Journey - George Critchlow https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/169347258418/travels-with-vamper-a-graybeards-journey-by

The title of this book attracted me, as well as the writer being a retiree roughly the same age as I. The author decides to take off traveling in a RV as a way to reexamine his working life, raising a family, not to mention revisiting places he had been in his youth and places yet unseen. His objective for hitting the road felt parallel to my own targeted future. Early on George states he is astounded that Donald J. Trump could become our forty-fifth president and the text segues into the impetus behind his sporadic interviews of fellow citizens encountered along the way. The soundtrack behind this literary excursion centers on the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell to name just three. George’s taste in music is broader than my own but nonetheless adds to his engaging story as he rolls into the present while digressively looking back honestly at what got him there.

George courageously attacks our current politics head-on. He candidly examines religion and other ingrained and flawed belief systems. What might have been considered foolhardy in the past while he was engaged in getting a living as a professional in a suit, George Critchlow as a recent retiree now openly takes on these topics eagerly. It is refreshing to witness his indifference to what others might think. George does have something to say. Whether it be an anecdote describing his playing Santa in a Penny’s department store while still coming down on acid, or any number of forays into his past depicting conscious revolts against perceived wrongs being promoted and conducted in this country, Critchlow never flinches. His journey becomes a profile in courage and is refreshingly consistent with reminders of what is still good in our land but what still must be changed. A much better book than first imagined, and one needed for these troubled times. Too bad the Trump Voters won’t read it. But perhaps there is just enough camping and drinking in it to entice just a few. And as far as our perception of lawyers go, Critchlow does much to restore their good name.

I Wrote This Book Because I Love You: Essays

I Wrote This Book Because I Love You: Essays - Tim Kreider https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/169340335638/i-wrote-this-book-because-i-love-you-essays-by

Any serious self-examiner who may consider him or herself a discerning reader, will completely miss out on an uplifting and enjoyable reading experience if caught up in ignoring this book because of its title. Obviously, Mr. Kreider, on surface, could have come up with a better choice. But the hype surrounding it, and all the publisher’s included blurbs, at first made me excited enough to read this book regardless of the corny title. My rather lukewarm reception and relative non-engagement with the very first essay severely disappointed me however. But, in fairness, his second essay, titled Kind of Love, happened and all was forgiven. In it the ex-cartoonist, Kreider, is reversely propositioned by a performance artist doubling as a successful prostitute, and the book definitely becomes for me a potentially interesting read. Her offer of a no-strings-attached appreciation-blow job followed by the fortuitous opportunity of his spending an entire week with her at his secluded cabin seemed to me to be an extraordinary proposition. They spend hours discussing questions of existence and relationships, not to mention a few other experimental behaviors.

…We both suffered from bouts of abysmal self-doubt, and each sometimes lay awake at night wondering O what is to become of me?…

This second essay offered many reasons for self-reflection, and even as I continued on reading Kreider’s further essays, I was astounded by the quality and interest still generated by that amazing second one.

…I’ve often thought that if I’d been impressed into an arranged marriage with one of my old girlfriends I’d’ve been perfectly happy—or at least no unhappier than I am now…

Kreider is so refreshingly honest on the page, and though he makes no excuses nor apologies for his being so forthright, he realizes his flaws and humbly submits them to a meaner reader’s criticism. David Foster Wallace publicly declared, “Kreider Rules”. And the more I read of him I too get what Wallace was saying.

…I suspect the more unsettling truth is that there are quite a lot of people out there you could fall in love and spend your life with, if you let yourself…The romantic ideal whereby the person you love, the person you have sex with, and the person you own property and have children with should all be the same person is a more recent invention than the telescope.

The essays keep getting better and better. Even if a reader believes he or she is involved in what could be considered a healthy relationship, Kreider provides ideas and anecdotes that further the discussion and examination of one’s self. An amazingly intelligent and interesting read. Not myself a cat lover, Kreider even suggests that feline romance might be looked into as well as he goes into great detail regarding his own nineteen-year relationship with a once-stray cat.

…having been given up at birth…It wasn’t until I found myself still single in my forties, long after all my friends—even the most obvious misfits, womanizers, sots and misogynists—had successfully mated and reproduced, that I started to wonder whether it hadn’t had some more significant effect.

Kreider’s adoptive mother volunteered him at John Hopkins University for a psychological study as an infant. His brilliant and charming essay, The Strange Situation, goes into great detail over his search for answers over why he is the way he is and his investigative research into a study that had been previously kept secretly protected.

…“Whereas if I was securely attached as an infant”, I told Margot, “it would mean that I’m not a victim of some primal loss or trauma but just another dickhead.”
“My point exactly,” she said. “Even if you were traumatized, and even if you had some scientifically documented evidence for this, you are still ultimately responsible for any dickhead behavior.”…


Refreshing today to actually hear somebody state existentially that we are responsible for our own behavior, and our lives. So much blame on our mothers these days. Not to mention the trashing of our dads. A reminder that without these flawed characters reproducing we wouldn’t have had the opportunity of a lifetime. I am forever grateful my parents had me. Of course, things could have been better, but here I am working out my own existence, attempting to evolve, and struggling through my nagging frustrations.

…Church was boring, make no mistake—the drawings I did in bulletins could fill a multivolume set of notebooks—but at least it wasted far fewer hours of my life than school…Ceasing to believe what your parents and all the other nicest grown-ups you know have always taught you, and still believe themselves, is initially liberating, but it’s also alienating. It makes you feel secretly snobby, and sorry, and alone.

Kreider especially touches a nerve in this second-to-last essay in the book. There are so many relative points he makes in his always entertaining and enlightening prose. He is funny even when deathly serious. It also becomes obvious throughout that Kreider is simply a pretty good man, still single, but who maintains a growing number of close friends. Relationships that might be rightfully construed as long accomplishments similar to a good marriage.

…Although Lauren doesn’t love the idea of dying any more than the next person, it doesn’t especially upset her to believe that life is meaningless or the universe indifferent. She thinks people like me, taught as children that a just and loving God is watching over the sparrows, feel bereft, cheated of something promised. Which is why we’re the ones who suffer these chronic cases of existential despair.

How to Live, What to Do: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens

How to Live, What to Do: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens - Joan Richardson https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/168887258208/how-to-live-what-to-do-thirteen-ways-of-looking

This slim study is much more than what is blurbed and marketed by the publisher as a concise primer to the poetry of Wallace Stevens. Instead, the greater primer is to simply read his work. And if his poems resound, or connect to you in any way, further study may be warranted and result in your seeking out this book. But to begin here would be a grave mistake.

It is not ‘how’ things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.

Wallace Stevens is in the realm of American greats the like of Emily Dickinson. He too can make one’s head explode. He also makes sense.

Nonsense in grammatical form sounds half rational.

Stevens, through his poems, shaped a new language for us. He fashioned an instrument adequate in describing how to live and what to do in this strange new world of experience.

…’ditherings’ accompany each and every predication, the undertones and overtones of every color of the mind.

Steven’s ditherings see what was always seen but never seen before. Elicited as our necessary angel he offers individual solutions to the riddles of our existence on this planet. Having read and studied everything Stevens wrote and even read himself, Joan Richardson provides an advanced course a scholar might take in discovering an even better way into the mind and work of Wallace Stevens. But this is not the book to initially begin with. Too much would be lost on the unspoiled and uninitiated among us.

By reading through Stevens’s body of work we learn to become pragmatists…

How refreshing it is to be practical, to see things as they are. And the mystery, and joy, in imagining what could be. When perceived as dogmatic one becomes a bore. Wallace Stevens opens us to a more expansive, and much wilder, world.

Finally, he (Stevens) noted,

It is not an artifice that the mind has added to human nature. The mind has added nothing to human nature. It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of words, helps us to live our lives…

Joan Richardson has produced for us a most distinctive and valuable tool in which to help us view the world through the eyes of Wallace Stevens. And in essence, Stevens provides us new glasses in which we may see for ourselves the possibilities that will always exist if we maintain the courage to keep looking.

Stevens’s poems are exercises in meditation, designed to loosen inherited, outworn habits of thought inappropriate to honoring the life of all things on the planet of which we are a part…




2017 on Goodreads

2017 on Goodreads - Various https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/168888179758/best-books-i-read-in-2017

The year 2017 motivated my wife and I to consider making new and enormous changes to our daily lives. In light of this upheaval, it proved to be a rather good year for serious reading. Returning to Florida after a summer in northern Michigan somehow provided a balm for all that ails us, even while facing the nagging memory of dealing in September 2016 with hurricane Matthew, our first hurricane, and then being freshly attacked by that beast of a lady Irma in 2017. Because of having to repair our wooden fence again, re-staking a few dozen trees, and performing extensive debris cleanup, my wife and I decided to list for sale our little renovation project, buy a travel trailer, and hit the open road. Our new home on wheels went into production on December 21 and will be ready for us to retrieve come March 6 of 2018. The house has been listed for sale since Thanksgiving.

In 2017 I did manage to read my fair share of good books, but again woefully lacked the number of five-star reads I historically have grown accustomed to procuring. I restrict my annual year-end report to only those books that garner a five-star ranking from me. This does not mean the lesser seventy or so books I read were not worthy of my time or trouble. I often remember segments from minor works more vividly than those worthy of five-stars. Notable authors whose books I did read that surprisingly failed to warrant that coveted ranking included Thomas Bernhard, Per Petterson, Henry David Thoreau, Raymond Carver, Sam Shepard, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Berger, Deborah Levy, Michael Perry, Adam Phillips, Christine Angot, Eric Clapton, Nick Mason, and Karl Ove Knausgård. I did enjoy reading these authors, and a few of them even more than once. For example I read the entire oeuvre of Wisconsinite [a:Michael Perry|4078172|Michael Perry|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/m_50x66-82093808bca726cb3249a493fbd3bd0f.png] and at least three additional titles by my favorite contemporary philosopher [a:Adam Phillips|33751|Adam Phillips|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1363466197p2/33751.jpg].

The first of my five star classifications for the year went to [b:A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand|32714100|A Really Big Lunch Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand|Jim Harrison|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1481113198s/32714100.jpg|53293835] by Jim Harrison. Regardless of Harrison’s periodic poetic dirges of drivel, he is an American treasure. An iconic figure cut of gluttonous gourmet and storytelling of the first rank. That is, when his writing centers on food, friends, hunting, and fishing. A sad day indeed when it was reported he had died. But we who read him for over forty years knew it was coming. He drank too much and lived too heartily to have lasted even as long as he did. And this fascinating and rewarding book proves it. Quite an amazing and captivating read.

A courageous new fiction title produced a year ago that has yet to receive its rightful due is my own [b:Ailene Nou|33965272|Ailene Nou|M. Sarki|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1485082711s/33965272.jpg|54945677], a novella of the first rank regardless of its rather sporadic and spotty readership. I am certain that one day the book will be discovered. Meanwhile, I am happy simply to continue living my life as I read and I write.

Damion Searls produced not only a riveting study on the man Rorschach and his Inkblot Test, but what was to come from his labor and where it might be leading us now. [b:The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing|30746292|The Inkblots Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing|Damion Searls|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1474661517s/30746292.jpg|51290999] is a work crafted by a master wordsmith obviously willing to delve deeply into his subject. I could not recommend a book more highly than I do this one.

For probably the fourth time since its publication I again read [b:Pond|25333047|Pond|Claire-Louise Bennett|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1428656359s/25333047.jpg|45069198] by Claire-Louise Bennett. Such an amazing book, seemingly about nothing, but brimming with meaning. Every chapter feels as if you had been sitting there in the kitchen as she relates perhaps insignificant details about her life to you but makes them full and always clever, charming, and extremely interesting. The more she shares her travails and proclivities the greater involved I become and thus grow more than enamored with her as a person of interest to me. Never do I deem her choice of words pretentious or out of place with what she is accounting. Needless to say, I love her style.
 
For me, Lily Tuck’s [b:Sisters|34496928|Sisters|Lily Tuck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1492215685s/34496928.jpg|55620015] was a barn burner. I first learned of Lily Tuck in a fiction-writing class Gordon Lish was conducting during the summer of 1995 in Bloomington, Indiana. Tuck was another of the many writers Lish had acquired in his writing stable as editor for seventeen years at Alfred Knopf. Lish loudly championed the skills of Lily Tuck and brought her to the attention of perhaps hundreds of his students. And because there were so many writers the great Lish published in his tenure at Knopf, and for the most part commercial failures amounting to a high percentage, Tuck has gone basically unnoticed by the mainstream, even though she won the coveted 2004 National Book Award in fiction for her novel [b:The News from Paraguay|77691|The News from Paraguay|Lily Tuck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1410132758s/77691.jpg|1325348]. Her first book however, [b:Interviewing Matisse, or The Woman Who Died Standing Up|574202|Interviewing Matisse, or The Woman Who Died Standing Up|Lily Tuck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1410136148s/574202.jpg|561204], published by Knopf and edited by Gordon Lish, was a tiresome and rattling drivel inaccessible to me which felt somewhat pretentious. But after reading this five-star wonder titled [b:Sisters|34496928|Sisters|Lily Tuck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1492215685s/34496928.jpg|55620015] I am intent now on a sufficiently renewed attack on her other books as soon as possible. Tuck is certainly sophisticated, obviously born of the cultural elite. And few writers can make you feel you are with them in the room. She plays her instrument adroitly, disregarding the consequences of infidelities, and making them all feel worth it.

[b:The Book of Dolores|17288756|The Book of Dolores|William T. Vollmann|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1364251239s/17288756.jpg|23909942] by William T. Vollmann was one of three titles written by him that I read this year. Though very good, the other ones did not measure up to this book. Vollmann put his heart on the line here, and shared with this reader the greatest demand placed on it; his agonizing need to belong. How many of us are brave enough to say it, and strong enough to thrive in spite of it? Meanwhile, I am slowly plowing my way through some of his other literary offerings, which amount to many.

[b:To the Lighthouse|59716|To the Lighthouse|Virginia Woolf|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1346239665s/59716.jpg|1323448] by Virginia Woolf is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Not much to offer in the typical plot-driven genre, but a generous array of dream states in which only the best hallucinogens could induce. Hard to believe it took this long for me to pull this book off the shelf.

Nate Blakeslee in [b:American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West|34427982|American Wolf A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West|Nate Blakeslee|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1490727269s/34427982.jpg|55499725] is a riveting history of the wolf, long-hated and feared for centuries due to myth and innuendo, and its re-introduction to protected lands once eradicated of them. The feature story throughout this sad but fascinating book centers on its main characters, good and bad, both man and wolf. Uplifting and at times defeating, this fine work brings important focus on a subject well worth our time. The fact that Congress and our bureaucracies continue to enable and sell-out to the corporate hunting and ranching industry at the cost of the treasured wolf is a travesty. Every year our government agencies, established to serve and protect us, destroy thousands of wolves on our tax dollar. There is detail galore in this book to help us learn more about the social behavior of wolf and man. And it is sad that wolves prove themselves more humane and conservative than humans are.

[b:Why Bob Dylan Matters|34217589|Why Bob Dylan Matters|Richard F. Thomas|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1505745082s/34217589.jpg|55268465] by Richard F. Thomas ranks at the top when it comes to being scholarly. Part of a long-standing Harvard class taught by Thomas, this distillation dissects no few examples of Dylan’s now-classic role in producing great works by stealing from others. More importantly, however, Bob Dylan makes what he steals his own. No small task and something only a very few distinctive artists can pull of successfully. But the great ones in fact do exactly that. What interests me most is Dylan’s process of creation based on the studies, experience, and knowledge of the professor’s obsession with great Classic art. It is no stretch to state that Dylan is one of the best in the business and well-deserving of his 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.

[b:Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Bookmarked|34381187|Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Bookmarked|Brian Evenson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1512187183s/34381187.jpg|55469573]
by Brian Evenson is a multi-faceted memoir and critical review focusing on the work of Raymond Carver as well as the writing career of the author [a:Brian Evenson|48355|Brian Evenson|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1237495626p2/48355.jpg]. This engaging work highlights the parallels and genesis devolved within both their somewhat parallel literary relationship with the infamous editor Gordon Lish. Evenson details similar editing practices in his own personal relationship with the editor Lish. To Evenson’s credit he admits to sometimes happily, and at times reluctantly, accepting a Lish revision, but he also had the courage to resist him. Carver did not exhibit the same courage in confronting the great Lish until Carver was already famous. [a:Raymond Carver|7363|Raymond Carver|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1201118985p2/7363.jpg] holds his own personal place setting strapped into the yoke and hardware of sin of their collaborative endeavor. And as much as I love and admire the fiction of Raymond Carver, he was not exactly honest in his portrayal of what really did occur. This book chronicles a most fascinating piece of literary history.

In [b:I Married You for Happiness|10898878|I Married You for Happiness|Lily Tuck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1328824056s/10898878.jpg|15814817] by Lily Tuck, Nina’s husband Phillip is dead. By holding his gradually cooling hand, Nina, for one entire night, remembers the defining moments of their long life together as husband and wife. Private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys. How to connect with someone, even after living forty years with them? All are individuals. Best we can hope for are momentary connections. Memories. Challenges. Threats to what we deem secure. Imagine spending the entire night alone with your dead spouse. Touching, but more importantly, something she needs for closure. And for those contiguous moments she remains too shocked to grieve. Lily Tuck in 2017 has twice bought me all out with her sophisticated prose.

I finished this five-star year with Joan Richardson in [b:How to Live, What to Do: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens|36376800|How to Live, What to Do Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens|Joan Richardson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1510180358s/36376800.jpg|58064492] which produced for us a most distinctive and valuable tool in order to help us view the world through the eyes of [a:Wallace Stevens|42920|Wallace Stevens|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1208891582p2/42920.jpg]. And in essence, Stevens provides us new glasses in which we may see for ourselves the possibilities that will always exist if we maintain the courage to keep looking. Richardson provides an advanced course a scholar might take in discovering an even better way into the mind and work of Wallace Stevens. But this is not the book to initially begin with. Too much would be lost on the unspoiled and uninitiated among us. Instead, the greater primer would be to simply read Wallace Stevens. And if his poems resound, or connect to you in any way, further study may be warranted and result in your seeking out this book.

Stevens’s poems are exercises in meditation, designed to loosen inherited, outworn habits of thought inappropriate to honoring the life of all things on the planet of which we are a part…

To all my friends, please enjoy a happy and safe holiday.

I Married You for Happiness

I Married You for Happiness - Lily Tuck https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/168850911423/i-married-you-for-happiness-by-lily-tuck

Phillip is dead. By holding his gradually cooling hand, Nina, for one entire night, remembers the defining moments of their long life together as husband and wife. Private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys. How to connect with someone, even after living forty years with them? All are individuals. Best we can hope for are momentary connections. Memories. Challenges. Threats to what we deem secure. Imagine spending the entire night alone with your dead spouse. Touching, but more importantly, something needed. And for those contiguous moments, too shocked to grieve.

Lily Tuck has bought me out. I am all in. Years ago, she writes, before they met, her husband accidentally kills a woman riding in his car with him. And later, her Nina has an affair with Phillip’s best friend. And then she has another with a son of a mutual friend, hiding both of these men from him. She also conceals the necessary abortion. Now Nina wonders to herself how many secrets Phillip had, and perhaps he had other hidden lovers as well. Now neither spouse will ever know due to their marital deceits.

For a long time after, Nina is convinced that the migraine headaches are a punishment for her lies.

It is understandable that Nina suffers. The truth is often hurtful especially when it remains in hiding. She is confessing this on the page. Too late for it to benefit Phillip, or to find out what it is Nina knows is missing. Series upon series of events meant to enliven and enjoy. Never a thoughtful concern at the time for consequences. Only careful methods managing to remain concealed. These episodes blended within periods of general satisfaction.

Tuck’s writing is comfortably relaxed and warm in its feeling. No complaints about that. She is gifted and extremely sexy. Sensual to the degree my imagination soars. It is easy to want to be with Lily Tuck in every possible pose. To want her to get naked too. She even explains the difference. But intimacy ends as soon as you get inside her. It then it becomes just sex and something dogs simply do with no conscience.

She sleeps with Jean-Marc only three or four times. Not enough to qualify as a proper affair.

As morning nears and the dawn of a new day Tuck’s prose quickens. Nina hurries. Her manners choppy and seeming nervous in some way. Phillips remains dead on the bed. Nina perhaps unsure of what she truly is.

How long ago everything seems to her.
And how unreal.

Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Bookmarked

Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Bookmarked - Brian Evenson https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/168266456393/raymond-carvers-what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk

What a multi-faceted memoir and critical review focusing on the work of Raymond Carver as well as the writing career of the author [a:Brian Evenson|48355|Brian Evenson|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1237495626p2/48355.jpg]. This engaging work highlights the parallels and genesis devolved within both their somewhat parallel literary relationship with the infamous editor [a:Gordon Lish|232097|Gordon Lish|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1267719924p2/232097.jpg]. Learning the history of Evenson’s development as a writer and scholar, and being privy to a few of the trials he sustained while maturing to become the elder Evenson of today, by turns, is an interesting story. And much will still come to be written of Gordon Lish. Other writers who have worked under the tutelage of this great teacher and editor will also add their personal experience to an already growing oeuvre.

Brian Evenson’s fiction was first introduced to me in seasonal increments discovered in the Lish-edited litmag titled The Quarterly originally published by Random House beginning in 1987. That early work of Evenson’s scared the bejeezus out of me as I recognized a budding genius perhaps the measure of another favorite writer of mine going by the name of [a:Cormac McCarthy|4178|Cormac McCarthy|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1414695980p2/4178.jpg]. Unfortunately (and perhaps unfairly) I eventually tired of Evenson’s fiction but always kept his character and personage in high esteem due to his extensive Lilly research into the Carver-Lish relationship as well as his own struggles with the Mormon church. This book not only details his Mormon troubles but eventually describes a segment of his important scholarly research regarding the Carver-Lish relationship. Evenson’s eventual discarding of this critical study he had for so long revised and attempted to have published has now been acquired and stored in academia for other scholars to one day have a go again regarding the primary subject of ethical editing.

If you visit the Lilly Library in Bloomington, Indiana as I did several years ago, it is surprising to see first hand the actual re-writing of Carver’s manuscript by Lish’s own pen. The collection that made Carver a household name, highlighted within the title of this very book, can be fairly credited to the editing and revisions of Gordon Lish. It was perhaps unfair to Carver that Lish did what he did. Perhaps the overzealous Lish had ideas of his own on his way to being famous in his own right. I can attest that Gordon Lish as my editor and teacher never re-wrote anything of mine. However, he did teach me how to more critically read and to write. The most he ever did as my editor was circle a word and tell me to beat it. He may have crossed out a line or even an entire page he felt was not strong enough and marked the spot in which I might start over, or a few times suggest a possible word or two as teacher, but never did he write words for me and let me call them my own. And as time crept on the majority of my submitted poetry was accepted by Lish as written, he adding no marks nor demands for me to better it, just adding his customary ✔︎ as approved or his occasional word of Great! or Yes! written in the margins. It was not long after I had finally gained his predictable approval of my submitted work that I grew restless to try my hand at other literary endeavors. Subsequently our relationship began to evanesce without the constant mutual nurturing that previously existed.

Evenson details similar editing practices in his own personal relationship with the editor Lish. To Evenson’s credit he admits to sometimes happily, and at times reluctantly, accepting a Lish revision, but he also had the courage to resist him. Carver did not exhibit the same courage in confronting the great Lish until Carver was already famous. Raymond Carver holds his own personal place setting strapped into the yoke and hardware of sin of their collaborative endeavor. And as much as I love and admire the fiction of Raymond Carver, he was not exactly honest in his portrayal of what really did occur. His sin of omission exists for all interested parties to witness for themselves. Meanwhile, Brian Evenson lives to tell us his most fascinating story regarding this piece of literary history.

Clapton: The Autobiography

Clapton: The Autobiography - Eric Clapton https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166875778683/clapton-the-autobiography-by-eric-clapton

Eric Clapton takes no shortcuts in his debunking of any possible popular myth that he was in any way special or of good character. His deftness on the guitar came from countless hours of practice and his talent was revered by many involved in the music business. Fans such as myself considered Clapton a better man than he was simply based on the quality of the music he produced and the rock god he portrayed so elegantly on the stage. In page after page Clapton proves how despicable he truly was while in the throes of decades of drug and alcohol addiction. Several hard years laboring to acquire a quality sobriety insisted Clapton make an honest assessment of himself and to make appropriate amends. It helps the reader of this autobiography to be himself a recovering drug addict or alcoholic to fully appreciate the brutal and unrelenting exposure of the truth behind the life of Eric Clapton, and the countless and perhaps tiresome confessions he employs in this revealing book. I would imagine it might be too much for those who have no understanding of addiction and recovery, and thus perhaps it becomes a negative reading experience. For me, as disturbing as it is to read my guitar hero confess his often deplorable sins, it is also an instructive and mesmerizing read, as well as joyful to engage in this experience.

Old bandmate Carl Radle, one of rock’s greatest base payers of all time, was another struggling addict who died through substance abuse. Clapton still feels responsible for Radle’s death. It was Carl Radle who first helped Eric Clapton when he needed it most, and when Radle needed someone to lean on Clapton was not available. Same thing happened to me, and you never recover from this guilt. I was early into my own recovery when my cousin John called long distance from Michigan for help. He asked to come to Louisville and learn firsthand how I was staying sober. I was barely hanging on, and particularly selfish to the degree I believed would insure my own survival. It was, for me at least, every man for himself. Soon after that call for help my thirty-two year old lifetime friend died in a tragic auto accident due to his purported inebriation as he fell into a relapsed use of alcohol and cocaine.

Clapton’s tale is quite ugly. It seems as if he felt he had to confess every wrong he ever committed. His list of sins is unimaginable. All the adulteries reported and the mean and awful pranks he played on loved ones portrays him as a very lost soul with an extremely flawed character. The book for me was often painful to read. But he was not bragging about his numerous dalliances as others are wont to do. Clapton judiciously proves again and again how human he is, but he never asks for our forgiveness. He comes clean for himself, knowing he can never make up for what he has missed or the harm he has caused others. In light of the many wasted days and nights in the throes of his active addiction and initial fitful recovery, Clapton still managed to produce some of the greatest music rock and blues aficionados have ever heard. And for this we should be grateful.

In Clapton’s later years he has obviously become extremely appreciative of his friends and family. Perhaps misconstrued as being a bit sentimental at times, he refrains from becoming sanctimonious. Expressed and ebullient gratitude is often too much to bear for the more somber ones among us. But addicts who have regained a strong foothold in life seem to be overwhelmingly relieved and satisfied that their misery is behind them. And the wake never ends.

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West - Nate Blakeslee https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166873595623/american-wolf-a-true-story-of-survival-and

The corporate world conducts business all over this planet and has continually disregarded the environment stretching now beyond the crisis of climate change to the certain eradication of our natural resources. Clean drinking water is increasingly becoming scarce and our wild woodlands threatened along with its endangered creatures. Enter the wolf, long-hated and feared for centuries due to myth and innuendo. Nate Blakeslee produces a riveting history of the wolf’s re-introduction to protected lands once eradicated of them. The feature story throughout this sad but fascinating book centers on its main characters, good and bad, both man and wolf. Uplifting and at times defeating, this fine work brings important focus on a subject well worth our time. The fact that congress and our bureaucracies continue to enable and sell-out to the corporate hunting and ranching industry at the cost of the treasured wolf is a travesty. Every year our government agencies, established to serve and protect us, destroy thousands of wolves on our tax dollar. There is detail galore in this book to help us learn more about the social behavior of wolf and man. And it is sad that wolves prove themselves more humane and conservative than humans are.

Walden: With an Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben

Walden: With an Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben - Henry David Thoreau https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166071074298/walden-with-an-introduction-and-annotations-by

What nature provides is scale and context, ways to figure out who and how big we are and what we want. It provides silence, solitude, darkness: the rarest commodities we know. It provides reality, in place of the endless electronic images and illusions that we consider the miracle of the moment.___Bill McKibben from the Introduction to Thoreau’s Walden

Simply put, I am humbled by the reading experience. Not only was Thoreau a smart and gifted writer, but he had enough courage to experiment and live alone, in the woods, and off the land. Even though the span of two years does seem brief, it was long enough for Thoreau to accumulate wisdom to share. And it seems we all could use a bit of that these days.

…Moreover, with wisdom we shall learn liberality…

There were chapters extremely difficult to stay interested in. At times I doubted the book’s ascribed greatness. But the conclusion found in the last chapter was worth the trouble and the time it took to get me there.

If one listens to the faintest but constant suggestions of his genius, which are certainly true, he sees not to what extremes, or even insanity, it may lead him; yet that way, as he grows more resolute and faithful, his road lies…If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,—that is your success.

A relaxed reading of four to six pages each morning was my practice and my meditation. Rewards, though never frequent, did surprise me and gave me much to think about on any given day.

…We can never have enough of Nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor…We need to see our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander…Compassion is a very untenable ground.

No one can accuse me of exhibiting too much compassion. I am guilty of other transgressions, far too numerous to list on this page. But Thoreau offers us a yardstick from which we might measure our growth as individuals.

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one…I learned this, at least, by my experiment that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…

Here, here. I concur and continue to go boldly for my grave.

Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend

Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend - Steve Paul, Paul Hendrickson There was really nothing interesting enough forcing this reader to finish reading the book. Very boring actually. Disappointed, as expectations were much higher than the actual experience.

Spring Night

Spring Night - Tarjei Vesaas, Elizabeth Rokkan Not for me. Boring, unbelievable, and a waste of my time.

Spy of the First Person

Spy of the First Person - Sam Shepard https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166647928548/spy-of-the-first-person-by-sam-shepard

The death of Sam Shepard creates a sudden void in the landscape of contemporary literature. This talented writer, dramatist, horseman, actor, and musician leaves as his final gift to those of us fortunate to have known his body of work a thinly veiled memoir of the first rank. In prose reminiscent at times of his good friend Patti Smith, Shepard eventually recounts the last of his precious days on earth surrounded by his loving family and friends. In one poignant sentence Shepard affirms that in a span of one year he went from being a fiercely independent and private wanderer traveling in his pickup truck to a man in a wheelchair who can barely raise his head and cannot possibly wipe his own ass. There is nothing sentimental or self-serving in this book. Shepard’s honesty on the page remains as seething as his life. A testament to one great artist, and for some, a very good friend.

Frozen Lives: Karl and Anna Kuerner, Andrew Wyeth's Iconic Couple

Frozen Lives: Karl and Anna Kuerner, Andrew Wyeth's Iconic Couple - LuLynne Streeter https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166496157623/frozen-lives-karl-and-anna-kuerner-andrew

…Now it was just her and Karl locked together in a miserable dance of conflict and rage…

A beautiful and striking cover, as well as a quality-constructed cloth-bound book. Magnificence that immediately draws interest. Of course, the great painter Andrew Wyeth already had my attention, and being enamored with his paintings now for quite some time I wished to learn more about what perhaps inspired him to paint such lovely representations of what he saw and felt around him. I was in ways intimately familiar with Wyeth’s Helga Paintings which were the very first works of art I ever viewed first-hand. An opportunity I credit my wife for providing me when we attended together an exhibit of Wyeth’s work at the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky over thirty years ago.

Reading about the life of the Kuerner family was disheartening. The incessant cruelty of father Karl, perhaps typical of the time when immigrants were escaping Europe in droves for a better life in the United States. Mother Anna remained emotionally unstable and her mind reacted violently to a life she did not want in this new country. Plus she had far too many children given her state of mind. But there was not much of Andrew Wyeth in this biography which was a major disappointment. Basically the book was a reporting of negative events and incidents based on the disturbing adult memories of the Kuerner children and other close friends and relatives. Nearing the two-thirds mark Streeter’s exposé becomes tiresome and feels as if there is some vindictive or harmful agenda at play. Obviously Karl Kuerner was guilty of spousal abuse and was extreme in his lording rule over his children. But all the blame and ridicule that emerges as the major impetus driving Streeter’s rhetoric forward eventually makes this biographical sketch not art, but a wounded bore. And a sad waste of the rare publisher who is obviously still willing to produce an elegant artifact to hold in our hands.

To be fair, the last twenty pages did provide a brief glimpse of the Kuerners’ relationship to Andrew Wyeth. But that too offered little to change the tone derived from a perpetual sadness driven by the lives of all who suffered and felt robbed of what is deemed a normal upbringing.

On Flirtation

On Flirtation - Adam Phillips I flirted long enough with this. Nothing instrumental found to enlighten me or add to my life. For the most part, a reading disappointment.

Walden: With an Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben

Walden: With an Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben - Henry David Thoreau, Bill McKibben https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166071074298/walden-with-an-introduction-and-annotations-by

What nature provides is scale and context, ways to figure out who and how big we are and what we want. It provides silence, solitude, darkness: the rarest commodities we know. It provides reality, in place of the endless electronic images and illusions that we consider the miracle of the moment.___Bill McKibben from the Introduction to Thoreau’s Walden

Simply put, I am humbled by the reading experience. Not only was Thoreau a smart and gifted writer, but he had enough courage to experiment and live alone, in the woods, and off the land. Even though the span of two years does seem brief, it was long enough for Thoreau to accumulate wisdom to share. And it seems we all could use a bit of that these days.

…Moreover, with wisdom we shall learn liberality…

There were chapters extremely difficult to stay interested in. At times I doubted the book’s ascribed greatness. But the conclusion found in the last chapter was worth the trouble and the time it took to get me there.

If one listens to the faintest but constant suggestions of his genius, which are certainly true, he sees not to what extremes, or even insanity, it may lead him; yet that way, as he grows more resolute and faithful, his road lies…If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,—that is your success.

A relaxed reading of four to six pages each morning was my practice and my meditation. Rewards, though never frequent, did surprise me and gave me much to think about on any given day.

…We can never have enough of Nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor…We need to see our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander…Compassion is a very untenable ground.

No one can accuse me of exhibiting too much compassion. I am guilty of other transgressions, far too numerous to list on this page. But Thoreau offers us a yardstick from which we might measure our growth as individuals.

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one…I learned this, at least, by my experiment that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…

Here, here. I concur and continue to go boldly for my grave.