Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 2

Last month, I began this series to share various books I have found helpful for my own writing practice. As I wrote in that first post, these are not necessarily all traditional writing how-to books. However, they do all deal with the art and craft of writing in some way or another. This month, I am sharing three letter collections: Chekhov, Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell, and Vincent Van Gogh. If you have followed my blog over the years, you will know that I am a big fan of letter collections, especially those by writers and artists. It is, of course, a dying art nowadays, where social media has replaced both letters and emails. Continue reading Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 2


The Siesta [After Millet] by Vincent van Gogh

Originally posted on indiatopia:
Van Gogh was a relentless and consummate practitioner of his art, sacrificing much for it, as ongoing myth, legend, gossip and research inform us. A chief approach of his was to do “translations” of the works of other artists whom he admired the most. We say “translated” because he did not just copy their works. Rather, he created his own versions… Continue reading The Siesta [After Millet] by Vincent van Gogh

the element of lavishness

Booknotes: The Element of Lavishness

“The personal correspondence of writers feeds on left-over energy. There is also the element of lavishness, of enjoying the fact that they are throwing away one of their better efforts, for the chances of any given letter’s surviving is fifty-fifty, at most. And there is the element of confidence — of the relaxed backhand stroke that can place the ball anywhere that it pleases the writer have it go.” Continue reading Booknotes: The Element of Lavishness


Marginalia: Letter-writing Practices and Rituals

Still, it seems that there are plenty of us who miss physical letters, along with all the specific rituals that the acts of both their writing and their receiving/reading involve (and that just cannot be duplicated or replaced entirely by electronic communication). One such person is writer and radio broadcaster, Hazel Kahan. Hazel reached out to me earlier this year to have a conversation on radio about our various letter-writing habits, rituals and thoughts on how it has been an integral part of our lives. Last week, an edited version of this conversation aired on her monthly radio program, Tidings, on WPKN 89.5 FM. Continue reading Marginalia: Letter-writing Practices and Rituals

The Siesta [After Millet] by Vincent van Gogh

While not as popular as some of his other peasant paintings (e.g. ‘The Potato Eaters’, with its much darker tones), this one is typical of Van Gogh’s signature style, particularly, the rich, bright blue, violet, yellow and orange hues. There’s also the careful, well-articulated detail: sickles lying next to the male figure in the foreground, the blue cart and dappled animals in the background, the gold-brown shadows that give more depth to the yellow field and the various shades of blue and violet that make the noon sky shimmer bright. Those same blue and violet colors are also mirrored in the clothes of the peasants, completing the chromatic construction that he was perfecting in that final phase of his life. Continue reading The Siesta [After Millet] by Vincent van Gogh