Letter 17: May 26, 2022

What’s on my desk right now? Like the author interview questions in The New York Times Book Review: What books are on your nightstand?  You know it’s been years since I was a late-night reader. As if all that writers like to do is read other writers all the time. During 2020 and 2021 I was in fact obsessed with any book I could read on my phone. This ranged from Sherlock Holmes mysteries, to Charles Dickens and Jack London, to David Eddings and Frank Herbert. I found myself wanting to end each day by immersing myself in something fantastical, in which feats of great heroism led to a release from tyranny, and a newly realized freedom would follow with the beginning of a new day. We all want the same thing. To sleep and be transformed. To wake like a new person, fresh to the promise of the world. These days I want sleep as soon as I turn off the light. If there’s something I am pressed to read, the morning is the best time, with a cup of hot Café Bustelo to sip.

What else? Well let’s talk about heroism in the art world sense. I decided recently that having tom deal with all the people online who obsess over Andy Warhol as an icon of success, that the real facts are finally appropriate. I own David Bourdon’s 1989 biography WARHOL, a 400 plus page tome by the art columnist of Life Magazine, and a family friend in my youth. It may be the only book on Warhol worth reading. I will have to read it at a table, which means dedicated reading. When it’s finished it will appear in these letters. I did encounter Warhol’s actual work in galleries during his lifetime, works such as Green Coca-Cola Bottles, Double Elvis, and Lavender Disaster. I also encountered the man himself once in a cinema where I was watching Teen Wolf with a friend, and he walked into the theater with an assistant handing out free copies of Interview magazine. There was no mistaking Warhol. I’d like to make him real in these pages.  

Another book that I just picked up, with the vague presentiment that I have bought it before and it inhabits some nether corner of my deepest shelves, though it’s possible I gave it away or never even bought it in the first place, is Ann Douglas’ Terrible Honesty, about the growth and diversity of culture in the pre-Depression 1920’s. Despite being an avowed fiction reader in the past, I find that by comparing the opposite sides of my library shelves, that the nonfiction and criticism and sourcebook material is overtaking the novels, plays, and poems. There is so much to read and write about, and I need to feed my inner vocabulary. It has to come from books that have something to teach me.

Until later, more writing and reading.