Museum at Purgatory

Bantock, Nick. The Museum at Purgatory. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.

Reason read: I am on another one of my cat kicks. Meh. Can’t be helped. Can’t be stopped. I’m just going with it.

Meet Non, Curator of the Museum at Purgatory. First, pay attention to his name. Non, the absence of anything and everything. He facilitates the acquisition of collections in that place between heaven and hell. Wait for it. Non is dead, too. He curates the collections of other dead artists, archaeologists, and collectors while they all figure out where they are ultimately going to end up, Heaven or Hell.
If you are familiar with Bantock’s work, you know his books are always filled with explosive art and imaginative words that only fuel curiosity to cult-like proportions. I am a fan of everything, and I mean everything, he does.
Favorite rooms: It’s a tie between the Gazio Room, with it’s shrines and navigational boxes, and the Delancet Room, full of lost post. As an ardent letter writer, I think Delancet has the slight edge over Gazio. Just saying.

Book trivia: I love the dedication for The Museum at Purgatory.


On Not Being Able to Paint

Field, Joanna. On Not Being Able to Paint. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1957.

Reason read: Field was born in the month of February. Her birthday is one day before mine. Read in her memory.

On Not Being Able to Paint is divided into five sections, the first four all relating to Free Drawing. The fifth and final section is focused on painting. Words like “psychic creativity” and “moral education” are thrown around, which makes me think I’m in for the psychobabble ride reading of my life. I wasn’t disappointed. There is a fair amount of deep psychology in On not Being Able to Paint. Even though the slim volume is less than 200 pages, it took me forever to read. In the end, I questioned if the obstacles which prevent one from painting are not the exact same “blocks” writers sometimes complain of experiencing when unable to write. Sure enough, Field is connecting free drawings with the self conscious.
As an aside, the first edition of On Not Being Able to Paint was written for educators. The second edition (my version) includes an appendix and Anna Freud’s foreword. I appreciated that Field was able to recognize that emotional drawing is not completely devoid of influence and that she shouldn’t be so fixated on depicting beauty for beauty’s sake.
Confessional: I was a bit disappointed by Field’s “art.” The illustrations were childlike and well, for lack of a better word, weird. As Field explains, and I said earlier, they are “free drawings” that helped her connect to the self conscious. I hope she was successful.

Quote to quote, “And the result was a sense of false certainty, a compulsive and deceptive sanity, a tyrannical victory of the common sense view which always sees objects as objects, but at cost of something else that was seeking recognition, something more to do with imaginative than with common sense reality” (p 76). Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Whatever that means!

Author fact: Joanna Field was the pen name of Marion Milner.

Book trivia: Illustrations are by Joanna Field, aka Marion Milner. Forward by Anna Freud.

Nancy said: Pearl said On Not Being Able to Paint was a later favorite of hers.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the cheating chapter called “The Book Lust of Others” (p 33).


Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied

Happe, Amanda. Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied: a Book for Anyone Wondering if Life is Giving You Magical Gifts or Just Messing with You. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2018.

Reason read: this is the March selection from the Early Review program of LibraryThing.

At first glance, you think Deeply Grateful should only take you ten minutes to read. At second glance, you reconsider. Maybe thirty minutes in order to give the illustrations a proper scrutiny. But. But! Once you get into Deeply Grateful and really read it (like reeeallllly read it) you realize you want to say to hell with time. It is simple and complex all at once. Yes, the illustrations are a little repetitious. You’ll see a lot of straight lines that look like rays of sunlight and curly lines that resemble snakes. Then there are the ribbons and pipes and boxes. Circles and science projects. Never mind all that. It’s really all about the words. Some will have you thinking more. Some will have you wishing you thought less. Even way, Deeply Grateful makes you think.

Author fact: Happe runs Three of Wands, “an independent creative practice.”

Book trivia: Deeply Grateful is Amanda Happe’s first book.


Spring Sprung Titles

What to say about April? I ran my fastest 10k while ill (go figure). I met two new runners and may have convinced someone to at least try. I don’t know where this acceptance to run with others is coming from. To share a conversation I had with someone: I asked where she runs. She replied she doesn’t have my pace, “nowhere near it” were her exact words. I answered I don’t have that pace all the time either. Me & my pace visit from time to time but we don’t make it a thing. She laughed and I saw myself ten years ago talking to someone who face-times with friends while running. I worried about her relationship with pace. But, this blog is turning into a thing different from reading.

So, without further ado, here are the finished books:

Fiction:

  • Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee – read in one day
  • Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez – read in two days
  • Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard – read in four days (this book annoyed me and I kept having to put it down)

Nonfiction:

  • Lost Upland: stories of the Dordogne Region by W.S. Merwin – confessional: DNF (bored, bored, bored)
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Henry James: the Untried Years by Leon Edel
  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark – this was cheeky!

Series continuations:

  • “F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton (I’m calling this a continuation even though I read “A” a long time ago.)
  • Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (AB + print so I could finish on time – today!)
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves – another quick read (finished in four days)

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Origami 365

Yaguchi, Taro and Masao Donahue. Origami 365. New York: Race Point, 2014.

Reason read: interesting to learn more about Origami

If you are looking for a comprehensive but short book on Origami, Taro Yaguchi’s Origami 365 is a great place to start. The contents of Origami 365 seem a little more “adult” in that Yaguchi includes a brief history of Origami, the popularity of the art of paper folding today and even the types of paper one could use for different projects. Probably the most interesting aspect to Origami 365 is the Kyu System, a progression of skill levels while mastering certain techniques. You learn a series of fold techniques (like book, blintz and waterbomb) before moving onto actual objects. It is worth it to learn every fold so that one can create turtles, peacocks and frogs to name a few.


Paper Gifts

Sanderson, Jennifer and Jessica Moon. Paper Gifts. Minnesota: Arcturus Publishing, 2015.

Reason read: interesting in learning more about the Japanese art of folding paper.

This was originally designed for children in grades 4-6 but as someone new to Origami, I found it very useful in its simplicity. You essentially learn how to fold six different “gifts” such as a treat holder or bookmark. While I didn’t actually make any of the gifts, I could tell the directions were very straightforward and easy to follow. The color photographs and glossary were a big help.
If I had tried to fold anything, it would have been the gift box.


Lives of the Muses

Prose, Francine. The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired. New York: Harper Collins, 2002.

Reason read: John Lennon married his muse, Yoko Ono, on March 20th, 1969.

Francine Prose covers the lives of nine muses; the women who inspired creativity and passion in their artists. Prose’s introduction sums up the impetus behind the book saying, “The desire to explore the mystery of inspiration, to determine who or what is the “moving cause” of art, resembles the impulse to find out a magician’s secrets” (page 2). Prose begins Lives of the Muses with Hester Thrale. Despite being a married woman, her influence on Dr. Samuel Johnson was profound. Prose then moves on to such well known muses as Alice Liddell, Gala Dali, Lee Miller and of course, Yoko Ono. She also includes lesser known muses (to me, at least) such as Elizabeth Siddal, Lou Andreas Salome and Suzanne Farrell. The residual appreciation I gleaned from reading Lives of the Muses was an education in Rossetti and Miller’s art. I couldn’t read another word without looking up such pieces as Awakening Conscience, Found, Remington Silent and Night and Day, respectively. Attaching the visual to the imagination was a bonus, especially when it came to Dali’s over-the-top creativity and strangeness. The only aspect of Lives of the Muses I found detracting was the myriad of speculative opinions Prose insisted on voicing.

Best lines, “Madmen are all sensual in the lower stages of distemper. But when they are very ill, pleasure is too weak for them, and they seek pain” (p 37) and “The violation of Lizzie Siddal’s grave was only the coarsest and most explicit manifestations of the necrophilia that had tainted her relationship with Rossetti from the start” (p 103).

Convergence: Robert Pyle wrote a book about Bigfoot. Prose wrote a book called Bigfoot Dreams.

As an aside, I did not know that Samuel Johnson obsessively counted his own footsteps. I find myself keeping track, too. Other notes: Natalie Merchant chose a poem by Christina Rossetti for Leave Your Sleep. Christina was Gabriel’s sister.

Author fact: Prose is a year older than my mom and was born in Brooklyn.

Book trivia: Lives of the Muses includes some great photographs.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “People You Outta Meet” (p 185). I definitely would have liked to have met Lee Miller.