Monday, August 30, 2004
They brought us gifts from Japan, and from Takeshi's mother a lovely bag designed by a famous Japanese writer named Uno Chiyo who I've now looked up, and ordered a book by. "Most famous Japanese woman writer of the twentieth century."
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Well, it's hot as the dickens, damp hot, sunny hot. The summer we didn't have, and now we are waiting to hear from Takeshi Achiwa and his bride Chiaki from Japan who are arriving-- to visit New York in the middle of the Republican National Convention and the giant demonstrations planned for today tomorrow and who knows what else. Not to mention Fear of Terrorism, changed train schedules, and more.
It's gotten hot at last-- so damp nothing dries, but also sunny, so you really feel it. Takeshi and Chiaki theoretically are now on a van coming from JFK airport to Newark where they will call us and we'll go pick them up. I'm so sorry the weather is like this, also worried because they want to go to New York City.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Thursday, August 19, 2004
But I am feeling tired of the art of the wealthy–I understand that in as far as art is a luxury, there has to be added value in someone’s economy or bankbook to support it-- thus the Church in the Middle Ages, thus people wealthy enough to buy the paintings of an entrepreneurial artist like Hassam in the Gilded Age. Hassam was explicitly avoiding poor people in his later work.
But, exciting and new-to-me was was the photography of August Sander’s huge project of indexing German people. All those face on people in the brown prints. A group called “People who came to my door” included a beggar, a peddler, and a bailiff! Also revolutionaries and the odd Nazi. What an amazing collection. I bought 6 or 7 postcards as samples, butit was the sheer mass of art work as well as the individual portraits that got to me.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Sunday, August 15, 2004
I finished reading Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, which I had picked up in Great Barrington at the Yellow House used book store in the movie tie-in paperback version with the kid actor's face on the cover. I was looking for something gripping to read for vacation, and I had put this one off for a long time, as I always do with best sellers out of reverse snobbishness ("Oh no, I'm not reading the popular best-seller, I'm reading this 18th century pre-cursor to Jane Austen's domestic dramas....")
Not that I ever begrudged Frank McCourt his success: a life long high school English teacher who I may actually have met when I did a Teachers & Writers Collaborative job in the late seventies at Stuyvesant High School. Also, a little earlier, when I was working with Phillip Lopate and the others at P.S. 75 (also through T&W), Malachy McCourt the actor (and next younger brother of Frank) lived in the neighborhood, and we taught his kids, I think.
As to the book-- it was very good, although in the end a comedy in the classical sense of having a happy ending in spite of the extraordinary poverty, detailed with great gusto, and the runaway drunken dad, and the little dead siblings and others. It's told with highly appropriate energy-- that biological optimism of children again-- and with linked anecdotes and tales, structured well and naturally by little Frankie's chronological age, quintessential experiences, and lovely insights and misunderstandings, always right on target agewise and usually highly entertaining to read.
In the end, it is an oddly light book-- or perhaps only told with a light touch. I have this feeling that reviewers and book club people may have mistaken it for a profound and tragic book that wasn't painful to read. Am I being snobbish again? There are infinitely painful moments -- hunger, humiliation, misunderstandings, and disappointments galore-- but there is that determined bouncing back that somehow makes all of us who have survived whatever small setbacks in our own lives seem enhanced by little Frankie's survival.
Well, I liked the book.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Sunday, August 08, 2004
The lake was great this year-- fewer mosquito bites because of the very cold weather, I expect, and with the new roof, knock on wood, no bats.
Got back a few hours ago, and I've been happily doing the wash (sheets and towels from the lake) and freezing beans, making sauce, variously using up garden stuff.