As a girl I first recalled hearing the phrase “bailout” when it signaled my father's escape out the front door, first ritually checking for his wallet, lighter and his cigarettes before warbling in a modified W.C.Fields delivery: “Boy’s in trouble. Gotta bail out Louie” or “Looks like Frankie needs bailing out.” He didn’t mean he was actually going to have to put up money to get any one of the boys who belonged to his drum and bugle corps out of jail. Likely, one of them was in a jam for drinking beer on the street or a girl’s father had caught his daughter canoodling with the reprobate and threatened a charge of statutory rape, not an uncommon occurrence in my day. The beat cops knew my father. He was a life member in the VFW and self-made director of a drum and bugle corps in Astoria called “The Saints.” Playing in the band was an alternative to wayward street life but with my father’s dedication it evolved into a competition-worthy enterprise. The VFW post—a little white brick building on 41st Street in Astoria—was a safe place for boys to gather, learn to play an instrument and know more Broadway musical tunes than they surely ever would have. The boys would call ‘Billy’ before they would their own fathers to come and get them out of whatever scrape they’d happened into. He’d pull on his black wool band jacket (which I still treasure) and head out into the night—me thinking, he’s off to be a hero again and praying it wasn’t one of the boys in the drum line on whom I had a mad crush.
Many years later—unbeknownst to him—my father had a chance to bail me out. Married at the time to a man whose family’s prosperity was earned—a Park Avenue apartment, valuable antiques and a drawing collection of Italian masterpieces inhabited their nouveau riche world—me and the Ex were often offered VIP seats at Madison Square Garden from his uncle Maury, or Maury al Gusto as he liked to be called. A large-framed, gregariously generous Jew, he was a self-made millionaire with a string of printing presses and he fancied himself an Italian mobster. As a young woman, newly married into an alien world, I would cast furtive glances around Jilly’s saloon on West 52nd Street when he took us there, seeking out the celebrity and then any celebrity while Maury, without batting an eye, asked the maître d’ if Jilly himself—best known as Frank Sinatra’s chief aide and inseparable companion—was in the house. No one really knew where Maury’s nickname came from; stories of its origin varied over the years.
At the height of the war known as the Viet Nam conflict the Ex and I were courtside at a basketball game, within popcorn flicking distance of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman if memory serves. The audience stood in a rush for The National Anthem and I did not. The Ex, a self-professed anarchic, had to be prodded with a charged glare from me, a newly formed lefty, into passive seated resistance among a throng of rabid patriots who shouted at us to “Get back to Russia.” The commotion brought the Commissioner of Basketball—a friend of his uncle—to check us out. Needless to say we were banned from complimentary tickets until about a year later when Maury presented us with a pair to a hockey game and informed me, with a knowing nod, that it was a good thing my father was a life member in the VFW—something I had never revealed—and while he appreciated my fervent political protest, could we, from now on, arrive after the anthem had been sung, please?
My parents were not homeowners—far from it. We were one of the first families to move into the newly completed Jacob Riis projects at Avenue D and Ninth Street on the lower east side when I was two. Built by a pioneer for social change, it housed a multi-ethnic brew of humanity. Though I can’t remember witnessing any of it, I recall my dad’s stories about live chickens that ran in the hallways and the bleating kid (animal, not child) he was sure was destined for a ritualistic end and not the family pet. And I think that’s why we moved, for a ‘better life’ in a serviceable ground floor apartment in another housing project in Astoria, Queens. Life there for my unhinged family was played out like reality TV way before there was such a concept and we acted on our tumultuous dysfunction behind the living room window for the eager audience in the courtyard outside who took in every shouty argument. Everyone knew when the electricity bills went unpaid and playmates gathered around our darkened window on the stoop beneath to await my dad and me as I made my shame-faced way alongside him to the housing office.
Later, we followed my father to Hartford, Connecticut to an undistinguished rented apartment in a nondescript yellow-brick box on a street full of crumbling Victorians. Mark Twain’s house—a fanciful Victorian Gothic—sat at the end of the street, neighboring Harriet Beecher Stowe’s smaller, neater Victorian.
Owning a home was an alien concept growing up; still is. I don’t own now—not a house nor a condo. We don’t own a car or a summer getaway. When we can manage it, we escape to Montauk and rent a room with an ocean view having driven there in a rental car. Home ownership is not in my DNA. It just feels inherently grabby. Simpleminded, perhaps, but suited to a simpler life.
Relatives on my father’s side lived in a house in New Jersey—the only homeowners in the family. It was a porch-lined, shrubbery fronted Cape Cod and had all the exterior trappings we witnessed on family television like “Leave It To Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet.” But the inhabitants, despite the moralizing attitude of an insufferably God-fearing aunt, harbored painful secrets.
The Mister grew up in a semi-detached house, one of many in Leicestershire known as Jelson homes. On my first visit to his native village of Huncote I was struck by its smallness, possibly the tiniest house I had ever been in; a home where even the Borrowers living under the floorboards might feel cramped. But to The Mister it seemed just spacious enough for mum and dad and sister growing up.
Reading dire news about the current mortgage crisis is almost like reading news of a foreign country, that country of folks who aspired to the so-called American Dream, the very same dream that President Obama tells us is now threatened. Of the 70 per cent of Americans who own their homes, more than a million have been foreclosed and another million or so are facing a similar dangerous fate. Searching the news on the Internet I am struck by how many homeowners refer to their homes as ‘investments’ or ‘speculative ventures’ or ‘equity’ for their retirement. These homes, once castles, have been hit by an angrily destructive economic wave, sliding their owners into a sea of debt and paralyzing consternation.
And where do these homeowners turn? Where do the unemployed turn? Mark Twain, former neighbor: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
In the stimulus bill just passed billions have been allocated for mortgage relief but there is no compulsion on the part of the banks to do the homeowner any favors. This bill, from what I can tell, creates work, and not jobs for the long term. Bridges will be built, and highways repaired but sustainable employment is not necessarily a guarantee. It seems, to me, like a gigantic workfare project. All it will do is get the infrastructure fixed at the expense of the humans deployed (not employed) to fix it. It may not fix the human beings in the long run. Both political parties have whipsawed citizens—homeowners and renters alike—with a faltering economy badly dealt with, threats of terrorism, and an astronomical war debt with no less human and monetary casualties.
I mean, who didn’t see it coming?
And then, to add to the foreboding of already tortured legions of nail biters (of which I am a card carrying member) were the statements made by Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, on a recent episode of Bill Moyer’s Journalin response to Moyers uttering the dread "O" word. "...an un-American term, as you know. It means a government by a small number of people. We don't like to think of ourselves that way."
Bill Moyers: Are you saying that the banking industry trumps the president, the Congress and the American government when it comes to this issue so crucial to the survival of American democracy?
Simon Johnson: I don't know. I hope they don't trump it. But the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they're treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.
Bill Moyers: Geithner has hired as his chief-of-staff, the lobbyist from Goldman Sachs. The new deputy secretary of state was, until last year, a CEO of Citigroup. Another CFO from Citigroup is now assistant to the president, and deputy national security advisor for International Economic Affairs. And one of his deputies also came from Citigroup. One new member of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board comes from UBS, which is being investigated for helping rich clients evade taxes.
Hmm, barn’s burnt down, let’s get the resident arsonist to rebuild it. And there will be no kvetching over the paltry dollars that will pad out your weekly paycheck as a result of the much touted tax cut. You can see the moon now, can’t you?
Christopher Dodd, the Democratic senator from Connecticut stated that, “…it's all window dressing.” Wall Street—those creative aquarium keepers—will still find imaginative ways to feed its sharky execs huge sums of money in the years to come.
At Goldman Sachs, if I recall reading correctly, retention awards are the name of the game now. So, don’t you be calling this no bonus, hear?
"The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than the aristocracy, more selfish than the bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes." Abraham Lincoln 16th president of the USA
when I don’t feel at home then I know she’s not home everywhere I go that isn’t home i feel like a stranger there feeling on my own in a house of empty thought in a house of empty force in a house we’ve been before in a world where madness makes you feel like a man at war feel like we’ve seen it before it makes you feel like it’s everyone’s war and then it’s real love that opens the door
what it is to be loved is the real roof above anywhere I go that she calls home we’ll never be strangers there never on my own in a house of phantom walls in a house of open doors in a house we call our own in a world where madness makes you feel like a man at war feel like we’ve seen it before it makes you feel like it’s everyone’s war and then it’s real love that opens the door
our house casts no shadow this I know to be true our house leaves an impression in a world where blindness makes you feel like a man at war feel like we’ve seen it before it makes you feel like it’s everyone’s war and then it’s real love that opens the door…
“Loving is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939
In the Hallmarkian spirit of “Greeting Card Day” I will aim to deconstruct this thing called unconditional love. What exactly is unconditional love? Does it wield the same clout as unconditional friendship or unconditional hate? Or, for that matter, is there such a thing as unconditional shopping, eating, or even unconditional politicking? Do dogs who are popularly credited with unconditional love for their owners even know what a condition is? Cats, on the other hand, invented the word, having no patience for conditionals of any kind being foisted on them. What in life is absolute or unreserved? A brand of vodka and a table in an under-populated restaurant comes to mind.
My bffwwbbus (best friend forever who was born before urban slang) was married on the same day as The Mister and me almost twenty years ago. I don’t recall why exactly except, as friends, we had a raw artistic connection to our younger darker sides and possibly saw the light at the same time. A judge at his humble home in Yonkers, New York married them before noon. The Mister and I were making jittery vows at approximately the same time before a City Hall clerk in lower Manhattan. My friend has now two brilliant and creative children who were home schooled, a house she and her Sam Shepherd look-alike husband built themselves in rural Ohio, a number of dogs I have stopped counting and an enduring partnership with her husband. She laughed when I told her I was going to write about unconditional love.
“Ha!” she retorted, “Is that what you call what we've been up to these last buncha years? Unconditional love?”
Is it? Because we both know what conditions we have put up, torn down, redrawn, and crashed through with our partners over and over again. There must have been conditions otherwise where did all the battles arise from on that minefield of conditions we’ve negotiated?
Bernie and Ruth Madoff probably had at least one condition: “If this fercockta scheme of yours goes south, Bernie, you’ll take the fall but not before I withdraw a few million for expenses and I promise I’ll be waiting for you when you get out.”
And we probably shouldn’t be showering our hopeful president with unconditional love. Our president, our politicians should be conditional. "This is what you promised, now get on it already." Okay, so this president can at least pronounce nuclear weapons but I’d like there to be a condition that we don’t build new ones. Seems like the only ones not being handed any conditions are the bankers. "Oooh, Happy Valentine's Day. Is that a stimulus bill in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"
Okay, I had to go there. Now, where was I?
Like "true love" and “man of my dreams” the notion of “unconditional love” never made a helluva lot of sense to me.
The first time I laid eyes on The Mister was in France. Circumstances brought me to his friend’s flat in Paris while I awaited the arrival of my Parisian friends from their holiday in the south. He was immediately attracted to my snarky side, and unlike his friends, laughed at my jokes. I thought his bright green eyes, skin-tight jeans and long hennaed hair adorably rock and roll. Oh, and those Brothel Creepers covered in pony fur! We laughed and drank and laughed and drank; toured the city with our friends. We confounded some, irritated others and proceeded to do what a couple does in The City of Light—we stayed up all night in my room at my Parisian friends’ luxurious hilltop duplex apartment in Belleville, drinking and spilling their irreplaceable gazillion-year-old scotch while making mad love until the sun came up dazzling all of Paris below for our bloodshot eyes. I gave him a little painting of mine, which still hangs in our apartment. The Mister—the bass player in a band called “Swimming In Sand”—returned to London, and after a few more weeks in France, I returned to New York.
Neither of us was especially good at looking before leaping and trusted the fall would never be as bruising as might be. He came to New York to visit me a few months after our meeting in Paris. We rarely got out of bed before nightfall, two romantically entwined vampires stalking the great adventure on the streets of Manhattan. I discovered his green eyes were contacts. His hair had been dyed. The pony fur was fake, and that was a relief. He discovered I had a temper. He went back to London.
This was before either of us had access to the Internet: no e-mail, no Skype, no instant messaging, no—er—blogging. I wrote letters and though he was a self-professed non-letter writer he wrote to me. We wrote often and lengthily. He sent me cassette recordings describing his native village of Huncote in the midlands of England illustrated in an accompanying album with the photos he’d taken. Long distance telephone calls were bravely (or stupidly) made on a whim at any hour and indulged at length. We were reckless with the time difference and there were late night calls from me that lasted until I could hear birdsong in the garden outside his bedroom window. Once we kept up the telephone connection while “The Wizard of Oz” played out on my television screen. Telephone bills landed on my doorstep with a resounding and threatening thud.
His convoluted proposal of marriage—on the telephone from a recording studio in London to me at my job—came out in a stuttering rationalization that, should it all go wrong, we could always divorce. What divorce? What was he talking about? Well, it turned out he was talking about fifty pints of lager so I asked him to call me again when he was sober and he did and I said, “Yes.”
We had two weeks in New York as a married couple before he flew back to London and the band for what would turn out to be a distance of three months. On the long subway journey back from JFK I breathed a freakish sigh of relief.
A few months and multitudinous long distance calls later (that undoubtedly saw profits skyrocket for the utility companies) we took up the cudgel of marriage and started beating a path. He arrived at Kennedy pushing his possessions on a cart. It was then that we discovered we were strangers. About all we really knew of each other were our bodies. Our interview with INS was successful primarily because the interviewing officer had spotted us in the waiting area, arguing she said, “…like an old married couple,” and she casually dismissed the mountain of evidence we had painstakingly accumulated from friends and family and stamped The Mister “APPROVED.” Green cards are not green, by the way; they are pink!
The Battle of the Egos was fought for the next, oh, five years. But, there was also an unspoken pact between us that said, “Right. Married now—for life. Get on with it.” We fully agreed we wanted no children of our own; that I would never be on the front pages of the tabloids having given birth to nonuplets. The Mister spared no effort in helping me take care of an elderly aunt and he became very dear to her. His family came over for lively visits.
“Meant to be” is about the closest phrase that aptly describes our endurance as a married couple. We’ve weathered emotional storms and there have been many of them; big ones that crashed over us and as we picked ourselves up the aftershocks knocked what little wind was left out of us. And just when we thought it was safe, the Menopause Monster galumphed into our house, red-faced, shouty and upsetting the psychic furniture but teaching us how to build stronger furniture.
We’ve written a song called “Perfect Storm.” We’ve written many songs that reflect our love story. Because that’s what it is—a love story with all the elements of a good romance, with mystery, horror, comedy, and drama to boot. Unconditional? I don’t think so. Conditions keep you on the straight and narrow when the path gets rough and seemingly impossible to navigate.
There are friends who don’t think twice about lending a helping hand. We hit a rough patch after I lost my job, and generosity abounded in our friendships both here and abroad. When The Mister’s mum died unexpectedly two years ago this April we flew back to Leicester. We were broke and what got us there was the friendship that every person deserves. It was not unconditional. It was human and negotiable. “You have done things for us,” they declared and promptly paid for our flights. When his sister’s selfish act left The Mister heartbroken we found comfort in the house on Greenhill Road we’ve also ‘immortalized’ in song.
On a return trip to Leicester some months later we ended that trip at the Royal Oak where we danced to the music of The Leicester Big Band. It seemed a fitting tribute to The Mister’s mum who loved these events and it was possibly the last place I remembered seeing her; nodding her head to the music she loved, smiling and laughing at my jokes. The Mister and I let the sadder bits fall away and while the band played we danced to “The Story of Love.”
You've got to give a little, take a little And let your poor heart break a little That's the story of, That's the glory of love You've got to laugh a little, cry a little Until the clouds roll by a little That's the story of, That's the glory of love As long as there's the two of us We've got the world and all its charms And when the world is through with us We've got each other's arms You've got to win a little, lose a little Yes, and always have the blues a little That's the story of, That's the glory of love That's the story of, That's the glory of love. —Bette Midler
"Virginia Woolf loved to read biography, memoir and autobiography and she set a high value on all forms of life-writing, genres which in her day were considered poor relations in the literary family. Like Freud, however, who was far more hostile to both biography and autobiography, Woolf saw memory as 'selective amnesia', thinking that what we forget is probably as important as what we remember—if not more. The past was only ever sketchy, memory leapt and jolted, confused and sometimes invented; it changed its mind, depending on the 'platform of time' from which it was viewed. Approaching old age she gave a new, more ambivalent account of her parents, allowing for change in her views of them: 'As a child condemning; as a woman of 58 understanding—I shd say tolerating.' Crucially she asked herself, 'Both views true?' Her memoirs resist determinism and romance, including the romance of trauma, as if that were the only significant way in which modern individuals know themselves to be special and real. If life is shaped by the events of childhood, her memoirs imply, it is not railroaded by them. Fixed stars need not govern a life."
“A different language is a different vision of life.” Federico Fellini
A snowstorm was predicted here so I headed downtown to Trader Joe’s for an ample supply of wine. Where some might add to the rush to the market for bread and milk, I have my priorities firmly in order. Actually, being a city rat, the food larder in our apartment is well stocked as I habitually ‘shop for a storm.’
And snow doesn’t cause a meltdown here, as it seems to have done in the U.K.. Snowplows are out clearing the roads at practically the first sign of a flake. Shovels shearing the pavement can be heard in recurrent waves across the city streets. But London came to a standstill! Busses ceased to roll and underground rail service was disrupted. Parents were up in arms at school closings. Snowmen materialized across the country like icy triffids; and what is it with Brits and igloos? The Internet was rife with photos of these snowy caves, little apple-cheeked kids peering from inside freshly built igloos. Methinks with the recession some of these might actually be homes—at least until the spring thaw when cardboard will have to do.
Being a world super power, we here in the U.S. have the snow thing better under control by relying on a chubby groundhog’s special day to predict winter’s duration for us. While the cameras rolled, an irksome peremptory mayor with little patience for Staten Island Chuck’s indolent response to the proffered carrot, reached into the apathetic rodent’s den to drag him out and was rewarded with a finger-chomping from Chuck who was promptly charged with being a terrorist agent of Al Qaeda
On the subway ride downtown to Trader Joe’s I was intrigued by a conversation between three teenage boys, hip-hop from head to toe. Intrigued because for the longest time I could not make out what they were talking about, though they were cheerily audible and unthreatening. Their vocalizing suggested a melodic rap song and their bodies kept to the beat of their conversation. The expression “sofa king” came through again and again, padded by “yo, yo’s,” “ahm a gon” and to the middle-aged white woman—me—the casually delivered and still off-putting, “ma niga.”
At the check out in Trader Joe’s, the First Mate (as the clerks are known—cue eyeball roll) was a spinning, bright-eyed hipster who trilled a chipper, caffeinated discourse that dissolved over me like spun sugar in the rain. Too early in the day for such perkiness, I smiled and nodded at the young woman but would never be able to recall a thing she said.
Before heading into the subway at Union Square I made a quick detour into Virgin for the new Springsteen CD. As I left with my prize I engaged in the first intelligible discourse of the morning, with the security guard. He had seen me go directly to the display and so knew I had bought the CD. A husky Puerto Rican thirty-something guy with a serene manner, he asked did I know his (Springsteen’s) old stuff and flashed a smile, lit by a gold front tooth.
“Of course,” I smiled in return. “I love this guy.”
“Springsteen—he’s a good guy,” he practically hummed. “He’s changed. Some people don’t like that, but it’s good he does. It was that song, 41 Shots, you know about the guy the cops killed…”
“Yeah. Why everyone get so down on Bruce? He hadda write that, you know?”
“I know.” We wished each other a good day, parting with a smile.
Language, like song, is about the music and the lyric. Sometimes I’m attracted to the music of a person’s language and can be drawn to a playmate before I listen more closely to the lyric between us that will prove difficult for a friendship. Our language holds the notes of our histories, our families; the events in our lives that have shaped us, both good and bad. Our bodies move with the dance in our language.
Even without the visual proof of voice and body movement, there are signs in the language of the written word. I only communicate in e-mail with a friend in Spain whom I have never met face-to-face. I don’t speak, write, or read Spanish. She can sometimes slip on the wrong phrase in English, which changes considerably the meaning of her words; sometimes hilariously so but sometimes less obviously and I am left wondering what she really meant. I have learned to understand these are times when I can be unafraid to question her because the friendship is the most important thing. And the reverse is true for her. American bellicosity can be questioned.
We can take care of the ‘lamb’ inside each of us.
My sister and I do not speak the same language and I suspect apart from a few moments, sadly forgotten, we never did. She tore at me with words like weapons, her language that of an angry operatic libretto. Our tiny, shared bedroom was cut through with a wall, though invisible, far more impenetrable then the one that used to split Berlin; me on the one side with my messy life of paints and drawings and books and she on the other side stuffing psychic cement into any chinks she spotted in the divide. Custodial memory places me as the one willing to be the peacemaker. But reconnecting with her was like stepping into the ring again and again, dancing around the argument, and the only thing that happens in a ring is a fight. The furious resonance of my mother’s harsh language teetered us all on the edge of war until one of us fell to pieces, victim of her bullet-like anger. My dad had a secret language, wrapped up in his bittersweet comedy. We were a Russian novelist’s dream—or nightmare.
The Mister arrived in New York twenty years ago fulminating confidence that was quickly derailed when the shock of a language he thought he had no trouble understanding turned out to be the English we speak here and not the entirely different English tongue of his native country. I watched as he slipped further inside himself, not really sure what was happening; charmed at first by colloquialisms and then infuriated with something like the curtness he perceived in our verbal shorthand. New to each other, I picked up a completely unfounded intolerance at times when he responded to something I might offer him with, “I’m not bothered.”
Sympathies were extracted from me only when I experienced my first visit across The Pond. This self-possessed New Yorker was quickly out of her depth. The ‘wind-up’ delivered by The Mister’s—and soon to be my—friends, in fact, wound me up. Old lady drivers edged their passive aggressive way into traffic, cutting us off, leaving with a smile and me in a fury. I was all bluster in a land of disarming self-deprecation. A thickly accented bartender in a charming pub in Wales sent me back to our table of friends, having failed at delivering our drinks order, and humbled because, even though he was speaking English, I could not decipher one note of his tune.
So, what do you do in every day life to understand the strangers and friends alike who are on your path at any given time? Well, as one would do in a foreign country you read the signs with eyes wide open. You listen to the music that is new to you with ears unplugged and you appreciate everyone’s individual dance.
A good friend of ours whom we call Fairy Godfather has been helping out a disabled friend and he suggested that you had to understand the lingo, especially when communicating to the psyche of a friend whose psyche has been damaged. “It becomes a non-verbal thing,” he declared. “You don’t want to use the wrong words.”
Words like, “I’m sorry” in English can be said with so many intonations to mean very different things: delivered in anger, sadly, humbly or with sarcasm. Not everyone is a lion who can take it and dish it out. Some are lambs that crave a little more guidance and tenderness. Sometimes we are both the lion and the lamb.
The Mister and I have found our language and it binds us freely to each other. We write songsand tell stories with those songs. From the beginning we have struggled to be aware of each other’s meaning and have stumbled often enough to pick our way more considerately in our collaboration. For us, it results in more satisfying songwriting. So, we have happily been revisiting earlier songs and reworking them in our stronger common language. It results in a better, more satisfying marriage. Our road to generosity of spirit and awareness has come with lots of practice, not without hurt feeling and tears and has still to be periodically revisited as the best way to live a life.
A native New Yorker, I was born on the lower East Side before it was trendy. Way before.
Years ago, when the corporate world of magazine publishing booted me out the door, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and decided after struggling as a painter for most of my adult life that I would struggle as a writer.
The idea for my novel “A Birdhouse In Brooklyn” came from an original idea I had for a screenplay, “The Birdhouse.” While writing that screenplay—a collaborative effort—I felt my story was bigger than a movie and I began in earnest to write it as novel.
The novel is entirely a work of fiction. Names, characters, business organizations, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The use of names of actual persons, places, and events is incidental to the plot, and is not intended to change the entirely fictional character of the work.
A BIRDHOUSE IN BROOKLYN has been registered with the Writers Guild of America, East #R20993 (June 13, 2006). No part of it may be posted or reprinted without permission from the author, Linda Danz.
All photographs, unless otherwise credited, are mine.
Alea jacta est
Foto: *I.N., Nubes de esta tarde, por el norte, 2012.*
Ya hay una fecha y es inminente. Sólo quedan los últimos preparativos y
concentrarse para que todo ...
5 years ago
Books at my side
The Shadow Girls. A novel by Henning Mankell
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
The Secret Life Of Cows by Rosamund Young
Quakeland On the road to America's next devastating earthquake by Kathryn Miles
Arrival. Stories Of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Kennedy's Brain, by Henning Mankell.
Blue Melody. Tim Buckley Remembered by Lee Underwood
Breath Visible. Stories by Linda Danz
After the Fire. A novel by Henning Mankell
1185 Park Avenue. A memoir by Anne Roiphe
Small Hours. A novel by Jennifer Kitses
Down the Rabbt Hole. Curious adventures and cautionary tales of a former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison.
Mayhem. A memoir by Sigrid Rausing
Unacknowledged. An exposé of the world's greatest secret by Steven M. Greer, M.D.
The Delicate Prey and other stories by Paul Bowles
St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street by Ada Calhoun
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
The Men In My Life. A memoir of love and art in 1950s Manhattan by Patricia Bosworth.
Proust. The Search by Benjamin Taylor
Jackson C Frank: The clear hard light of genius. A memoir by Jim Abbott
The Intruder. A crime novel by Hakan Östlundh
Georgia A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe
Eveningland. Stories by Michael Knight
Liars and Saints. A novel by Maile Meloy
Depths, by Henning Mankell
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs
Quicksand. What It Means To Be a Human being by Henning Mankell
The Trespasser. A novel by Tana French
Not My Father's Son. A memoir by Alan Cumming
M Train by Patti Smith
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want it. Stories by Maile Meloy
Tribe. On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
The White Rage. The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, Ph.D.
H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
I Married a Communist by Philip Roth
Good-Bye Columbus and Five Short Stories, Letting Go by Philip Roth
The Prague Orgy. By Philip Roth
JFK and the Unspeakable. Why he died and why it matters. By James W. Douglass
Chasing Lost Time. The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff. Soldier, spy and translator. By Jean Findlay
Meanwhile On a Roof In Chinatown. Ingrid Rudefors
The Noise Of Time. A novel by Julian Barnes
Haunted. A novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Hangsaman. A novel by Shirley Jackson
Little Night. A novel by Luanne Rice
What Belongs To You. A novel by Garth Greenwell
The Hungry Girls and other stories by Patricia Eakins
The Lemon Orchard. A novel by Luanne Rice
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
My Name Is Lucy Barton. Novel by Elizabeth Strout
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
In Another Country. Selected short stories by David Constantine
Brothers. The Hidden History Of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot
Eileen. A novel by Ottessa Moshfegh
A Wailing Of a Town. An oral history of San Pedro Punk and more 1977-1985 by Craig Ibarra
The Devil's Chessboard : Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the rise of America's secret government / David Talbot
In Bed With Gore Vidal by Tim Teeman
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Palo Alto Stories by James Franco
A Drink Before the War. A novel by Dennis Lehane
Empire Of Self. A Life Of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini.
The Heart Goes Last. A novel by Margaret Atwood
The Hour Of Sunlight. One Palestinian's journey from prisoner to peacemaker, by Sami Al Jundi and Jen marlowe
Beautiful You. A novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His years Of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Wind/Pinball Two Novels by Haruki Murakami
Accidental Genius. How John Cassavetes invented the American independent film, by Marshall Fine
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
Stone Mattress. Nine Wicked Tales by Margaret Atwood
Roseanna, By Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
The Secret Place. A novel by Tara French
John, by Cynthia Lennon
Bird By Bird. Some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott
Hard Laughter. A novel by Anne Lamott
The Breaks. A novel by Richard Price.
The Master of Petersburg. A novel by J.M. Coetzee
Lucky Alan and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. A novel by Jenny Wingfield
The Wanderers, by Richard Price
Dodger, by Terry Pratchett
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid
The Weight Of Water. A novel by Anita Shreve
The Skeleton Road. A novel by Val McDermid
The Line Of Beauty. A novel by Alan Hollinghurst
The Mocking bird Next Door. Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills
Rescue. A novel byAnita Shreve
Nora Webster. A novel by Colm Tóibín
The Divorce Party. A novel by Laura Dave
Lucky Us. A novel by Amy Bloom
The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher. Stories by Hilary Mantel
The Safe Place. A novel by Tana French
After Everything. A novel by Suellen Dainty
Between Friends. Stories by Amos Oz
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Childhood Of Jesus. A novel by J.M. Coetzee
Broken Harbor. A novel by Tana French
The Likeness. A novel by Tana French
The Childhood Of Jesus. A novel by J.M. Coetzee
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
The Voice Is All. The Lonely Victory Of Jack Kerouac by Joyce Johnson
The Unwitting. A novel by Ellen Feldman
The Fourth Wall. A novel by Michael Alton Gottlieb
Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
Martin and John. A novel by Dale Peck
The Secrets Of Mary Bowser. A novel by Lois Leveen
Afterwords. Letters On the Death Of Virginia Woolf. Edited by Sybil Oldfield
Nine Stories. J.D. Salinger
The Southern Woman. Stories by Elizabeth Spencer
Daughter Of the King.Growing Up in Gangland by Sandra Lansky and William Stadiem
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour an Introduction. J.D. Salinger
The Catcher In the Rye. J.D. Salinger
The Sociopath Next Door. Martha Stout
A Cup Of Tea. A novel of 1917 by Amy Ephron
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
The Moon Of Innocence by Uke Jackson
The Holocaust Kid by Sonia Pilcer
J.D. Salinger Life by Kenneth Slawenski
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End Of the World by Haruki Murakami
Lab 257. The disturbing story of the government's Secret Plum Island germ laboratory. By Michael Carroll Christopher
The Man From Beijing. A novel by Henning Mankell
The Wasp Factory. A novel by Iain Banks
The Reluctant Fundamentalist. A novel by Mohsin Hamid
New Ways To Kill Your Mother: Writers and their families by Colm Tóibín
A Visit From the Goon Squad. Novel by Jennifer Egan
We Live In Water. Stories by Jess Walter
The Stand. Complete and uncut edition by Stephen King
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Princess Noire. The tumultuous reign of Nina Simone. By Nadine Cohodas.
Italian Shoes. A novel by Henning Mankell
Blaze. A novel by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King
The Rabbit Factory. A novel by Larry Brown
Gone Girl. A novel by Gillian Flynn
Less Than Angels. A novel by Barbara Pym
Everything You Know by Zoë Heller
End In Tears by Ruth Rendell
What Was She Thinking? (Notes on a scandal) by Zoë Heller
We Are Taking Only What We Need. Stories by Stephanie Powell Watts
The Believers. A novel by Zoë Heller
Excellent Women. A novel by Barbara Pym
The Savage City. Race, Murder, and a Generation On the Edge by T.J. English
New York Stories. Edited by Diana Secker Tesdell
Making Toast.A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. Stories by Wells Tower
Final Justice. The True Story of the Richest Man Ever Tried For Murder, by Steven Naifeh Smith and Gregory White Smith.
The Innocent Man. Murder and Justice in a Small Town, by John Grisham
Jackson Pollock. An American Saga by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
Seek My Face. A novel by John Updike
Trouble. A novel by Kate Christensen
The Astral. A novel by Kate Christensen
The President. A novel by Georges Simenon.
Tropic Moon. A novel by Georges Simenon
The Widow. A novel by Georges Simenon
The Strangers In the House. A novel by Georges Simenon
Pulse. Stories by Julian Barnes
The Mayor of MacDougal Street. A memoir by Dave Van Ronk with Elijah Wald
The Angry Buddhist. A novel by Seth Greenland
The Furies. A novel by Janet Hobhouse
The Art Of Racing In the Rain. A novel by Garth Stein
The Human Fly and other stories by T.C. Boyle
Monsieur Pain, by Roberto Bolaño
Why Orwell Matters, by Christopher Hitchens
Van Gogh. The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
The Sense Of An Ending. A novel by Julian Barnes
The End Of Normal. A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life. Stephanie Madoff Mack
Red Lights. By George Simenon
Knockemstiff. Stories by Donald Ray Pollock
The Devil All the Time. A novel by Donald Ray Pollock
Down and Out In Paris and London by George Orwell
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley
Jane Jacobs Urban Visionary by Alice Sparberg Alexiou
This Is Not Your City. Stories by Caitlin Horrocks
A Good Hard Look. A novel by Ann Napolitano
Tell All. By Chuck Palahnluk
The Art Fair. A novel by David Lipsky
Leaving Van Gogh. A novel by Carol Wallace
Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. A road trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky
Apathy For the Devil; a 70s memoir by Nick Kent
Writing Treatments That Sell: How To Create and Market Your Story Ideas to the Motion Picture and TV Industry. By Kenneth Atchity and Ch-Li Wong
Nothing That Meets the Eye. The Uncollected Stories of Patricia Hghsmith
The Price Of Salt. A novel by Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Miss Highsmith. The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar
The Death and Life Of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Housekeeping. A novel by Marilynne Robinson
The Lost Art Of Reading. Why books matter in a distracted time by David L. Ulin
What I TalkAbout WhenI Talk About Running. A memoir by Haruki Murakami
Auntie Mame. An Irreverent Escapade by Patrick Dennis
The Empty Family. Stories by Colm Tóibín
Strange Fruit. A novel by Lillian Smith
Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex 'n Drugs 'n Rock n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind
Everyman, by Philip Roth
The Humbling by Philip Roth
The Buddha and the Terrorist by Satish Kumar
The Elephant Vanishes. Stories by Haruki Murakami
Over the Rainbow? Hardly. Collected short seizures by Chandler Brossard
Nemesis, by Philip Roth
The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories by Valerie Martin
The Three-Arched Bridge by Ismail Kadare
The Habit Of Being. Letters of Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor. The Complete Stories
A Recent Martyr. A novel by Valerie Martin
Flannery. A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Giooch
The Confessions Of Edward Day. A novel by Valerie Martin
A Deadly Secret. The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst by Matt Birkbeck
The Distinguished Guest. A novel by Sue Miller
Almost There. The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain
The Lake Shore Limited. A novel by Sue Miller
Waiting To Die. Poems and Short Stories by Lawrence Ghana Hayes
The Shock Doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism by Naomi Klein
Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer
Antwerp. A novel by Robert Bolaño
Watermark. Essays by Joseph Brodsky
Mr. Peanut. A novel by Adam Ross
How Shall I Tell the Dog?: And Other Final Musings by Miles Kington
black swan green. A novel by David Mitchell
The Shallows. What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr
Field Notes On Democracy; Listening To the Grasshoppers. Essays by Arundhati Roy
The Sea. A novel by John Banville
The Visitor. A novel by Maeve Brennan
The Springs Of Affection. Stories of Dublin by Maeve Brennan
The Long-Winded Lady. Notes from the New Yorker by Maeve Brennan.
Green Witch. A novel by Alice Hoffman
Here On Earth. A novel by Alice Hoffman
Fall River Dreams. A Team's quest for glory—a town's search for its soul by Bill Reynolds
War Talk by Arundhati Roy
The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett
When You Ae Engulfed In Flames. By David Sedaris
A Fine & Private Place. By Peter S. Beagle
The Mole People. Life In the Tunnels Beneath New York City by Jennifer Toth
The Uncommon Reader. A novella by Alan Bennett
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. Stories by Maile Meloy
Burning Your Own by Glenn Patterson
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Lit. A memoir by Mary Karr
Beneath The Neon; Life and Death in the Tunnels Of Las Vegas. By Matthew O'Brien. Photos by Danny Mollohan
The Uncommon Reader. A novella by Alan Bennett
The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Felix Holt the Radical. A novel by George Eliot
Hollywood Animal. A memoir by Joe Eszterhas
The Blackwater Lightship. A novel by Colm Toíbin
Thelonious Monk. The Life and Times of an American Original. A biography by Robin D.G. Kelley
A Good School. A novel by Richard Yates
Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Why we need a green revolution—and how it can renew America by Thomas L. Friedman
In Praise Of Slowness. How a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed by Carl Honoré
The International. A novel by Glenn Patterson
Half Broke Horses. A true life novel by Jeannette Walls
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. Illustrated by Angela Barrett
The Drunkard's Walk. How randomness rules our lives by Leonard Mlodinow
Damage. A novel by Josephine Hart
Night and Day, a novel by Virginia Woolf
A Paradise Built In Hell. The extraordinary communities that arise in disaster, by Rebecca Solnit
Rhyming Life & Death. A novel by Amos Oz
Betrayal: The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff by Andrew Kirtzman
Buffalo Lockjaw. A novel by Greg James
The Glass Castle. A memoir by Jeannette Walls
Beyond Black. A novel by Hilary Mantel
Disturbing the Peace. A novel by Richard Yates
Netherland. A novel by Joseph O'Neill
Knots. A novel by Nuruddin Farah
Cold Spring Harbor. A novel by Richard Yates
This Is Burning Man. Changing the world through art cars, bone towers, Danger Ranger,smut shacks, fire cannons, Glitter Camp, fighting robots, exploding men, princess warriors, pulsing soundscapes, neon skies, metal dragons, and Dr. Megavolt—the rise of the new American underground. By Brian Doherty
The Collected Short Stories of Richard Yates. Introduction by Richard Russo
Love, Anarchy, & Emma Goldman. A biography by Candace Falk
Firstborn. Poems by Louise Glück
Southern Horrors and Other Writings. The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900
Answered Prayers by Truman Capote
Mrs. Astor Regrets. The hidden betrayals of a family beyond reproach by Meryl Gordon
Conversations With Capote by Lawrence Grobel
Vanessa and Virginia. A novel by Susan Sellers
Blue Diary. A novel by Alice Hoffman
The Easter Parade. A novel by Richard Yates
The Thing Around Your Neck. Stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Tragic Honesty. The life and work of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey
Half In Love. Stories by Maile Meloy
The Complete Stories of Truman Capote.
Strangers. A novel by Anita Brookner
Skylight Confessions. A novel by Alice Hoffman
This Land Is Their Land; reports from a divided nation by Barbara Ehrenreich
Brooklyn. A novel by Colm Tóibín
Waltz With Bashir; a Lebanon War Story. A graphic novel by Ari Folman and David Polonsky
The Healing Touch For Cats by Dr. Michael W. Fox
Dear Genius…A memoir Of My Life With Truman Capote by Jack Dunphy
Crime and Punishment In America. Why the solutions to America's most stubborn social crisis have not worked—and what will. By Elliott Currie
Capote: a biography by Gerald Clarke
Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. by Mumia Abu-Jamal
The Song Is You, a novel by Arthur Phillips
The Story of the Night, a novel by Colm Tóibín
How It Ended: New and Collected Stories by Jay McInerney
Lockdown America: Police and prisons in the age of crisis by Christian Parenti
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian
The Irish Famine; a documentary by Colm Tóibín and Diarmaid Ferriter
A Saint On Death Row; The Story of Dominique Green by Thomas Cahill
Flannery: A Life Of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch
The Foreign Legion by Clarice Lispector. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
Family Ties by Clarice Lispector. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
Murder Chez Proust by Estelle Monbrun.
Assata; an autobiography by Assata Shakur aka Joanne Chesimard; member of the Black Liberation Army given political asylum in Cuba.
Born Standing Up: a comic's life by Steve Martin
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Yellow Wind by David Grossman. Translated from the Hebrew by Haim Watzman.