And many thanks to Maudlin House for that. Excerpt? Word.
"He says this as his finger slides down your calf, drops of water from the bath dotting your leg, he eases past the straggly gray hairs, the coffee-colored liver spots, tracing the veins, creeping tributaries, a mix of sun, age and the endless miles run, always one step ahead of death.
"How should you answer that?
"The easy answer is that you were lost in your thoughts, wrapped-up in some mix of memory, regret and time passed, so much time, so many steps taken and not.
"The harder answer is that you haven’t been touched in so long and the shock of his finger on your skin sets off a small explosion in your brain.
"You don’t respond, instead focusing on the sun, which is now slicing across the sky, oranges merging with purples, a hazy mist coating the proceedings.
"Being alone doesn’t happen all at once, nor is it accompanied by some kind of announcement. You make incremental decisions, which seem small in the moment, inconsequential, but they accumulate, piles of leaves in the backyard of your life, first floating free on the wind, dancing and playfully dodging one another, before hitting the ground, where they transform from something vibrant and verdant, to something else, fragile, crushed and ultimately abandoned."
I am happy to let you know that This Book Will Change Your Life is This Never Happened. I also think you so want to check it out.
As the universe inexplicably continues to chug along despite, or is it in spite, of the current state of the world, I'm really honored to support efforts to bring Dancing with Langston by Sharyn Skeeter out into the wider world. To further quote her recent piece in Monkeybicycle:
"If Dancing with Langston were a round white doily, Cousin Ella would find it on the floor next to her dressing table in a Parisian cabaret. She would take a moment to admire the intricate detail of the hand-crocheted star in its center—a reminder of her aspirations as a dancer. Then Jack would bang on the door and tell her she was late for her performance. She’d hide the doily in her bag and rush out on the stage to shake her butt for the drunk patrons.
"The next time she’d hold the doily would be when she’d pull it out of her bag, crush it in her hand like a ball to wipe her tears. She’d be in a Montmartre café, sipping red wine. Across the table, Langston would listen and stare at her face as she tells him she has to go home to Harlem."
And what could be more interesting than all of that?
Nothing I can think of.
Please let me know if you have any questions and/or are interested in reviewing the book, interviewing the author, writing think pieces or generally engaging in the hype we're looking to generate for this most compelling of books. For much more on all things Dancing with Langston please do go here.
*On the occasion of his birthday.
I am happy to let you know that there is new episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life and it stars the Melissa Duclos.
James Gray is such a great filmmaker, and so very interesting, and this is quite an excellent piece on just how interesting and great he is. So, please do hit it and do enjoy some excerpt below as well.
"The filmmaker James Gray taught himself to face the problem of the future through something that he calls classicism: the idea that what remains from the past can provide guidance for making art in the present. He found his models in clear, almost mythical stories and enduring films—most of all, those movies of the nineteen-seventies in which a generation of directors seemed to exercise daring creative control.
"But the assurances of the past are limited; a risk is distancing yourself from the world where you live now. A classicist, like a parent, has the expectation of being understood in retrospect. What remains is the challenge to connect before the delicate human moment has passed."
That rant thing, that's for really real. So, there's that. But that said, please do check out the "IS IT REALLY SO HARD: THOUGHTS AND SEMI-RANTS ON LOUIS C.K., TOXIC MASCULINITY, ART AND VICTORIA FALLS BY JAMES HORNOR" at the BULL Men's Fiction, please share it if that's your jam and most definitely please let me know what you think. Cool? Cool. Excerpt? Always.
"I don’t want to bury the lede, so please note that I intend to write about the new novel Victoria Falls by James Hornor.
"Shortly, I promise, but I have a lot on my mind, including, and adjacent with, but not limited to Hornor’s fine, and timely, rumination on being male, behaving poorly and seeking redemption.
"But first, the adjacent.
"As #MeToo continues to evolve, we find ourselves in the middle, though really just at the beginning, of something new, a dialogue and a reckoning, and some long-held norms and some people will burn as part of this reckoning. At some point we’ll have to debate if there was collateral damage along the way, and yes, this might include some men, men who didn’t behave badly as a practice, but didn’t think about what their behavior meant either. That’s how it works though, and there are so many women over so many years that lost their careers and their sense of safety and identity, that the men who feel victimized by what goes down now will have to make peace with it, because burning things down is the only way it can go with change and transformation.
"Now let me digress, but let’s recognize that it’s not a digression either, because it’s all connected, we’re all connected.
"I saw this Tweet that said something along the lines of, everything you now write about women doesn’t have to start with “in the era of #MeToo.”
"But does this also apply when you write about men during this era, and the eras that preceded it, their behavior and abuse of power, systemic and otherwise, which in this case is similar to writing about women, but is instead about men writing about men in the era of…
"Here’s the thing, we know whose getting it wrong."