Monday, August 24, 2015


the fog days

The end of summer.  Ho hum.  For the past week - or ten days, I've lost count - the sun has emerged so infrequently that I'm starting to forget what shadows look like.  Because around here it's been fog, fog, and more fog, slowing everything down, leaving droplets of moisture on window screens, blades of grass, the cat, us, and all the leaves just beginning to turn from green to... sigh... all those other colors.  Curtains are damp.  Books are damp!  Everything, including my brain, feels a little rusty.  I need to dig up the potatoes in the garden, but am waiting for a sunny dry day, which feels like an impossibility right now.  In short (The Letters of Horace Walpole Volume VII):

"I feel all sorts of feelings, none comfortable..."  (p.43)

However, I did not mean to write today about Horace Walpole, even though my reading in his voluminous Letters continues.  And, need it be said, I would not still be reading them for all these months if I didn't find them utterly compelling, and downright great reading.  But:

"...I will now be methodical, for you want information, not a rhapsody on my sensations."  (p.197)

Instead of more words from Walpole let's mention a few forthcoming books.  Because, for three of my favorite authors, publication is imminent!  An exciting state of affairs!  One that gets my brain working again and even puts a spring in my step, when I think about fall and those most wonderful of all wonderful things, new books.  Lots of links forthwith.

First out of the gate, or rather off the press, is volume one of the new illustrated memoir from writer and artist Susan Branch.  It's being printed as we speak and will be available in a few weeks.  The Fairy Tale Girl (Spring Street Publishing 2015) is available for pre-order right now at a reduced price on her website, and if you leave a comment on her current blog post you have a chance to win a copy.  Volume two of her memoir will be coming out in the spring.  To say I am looking forward to reading this, culled from her voluminous diaries, is a wild understatement.  As I've said here before, her charm factor is off the charts.  She is so charming that she should be totally insufferable!  But no!  Instead, like everyone else who reads her it seems, I adore her - she is real and funny and altogether delightful.  I wrote about her last memoir A Fine Romance two years ago, here.  A self-taught watercolor painter, cookbook author, and writer, great appreciator of wonders small and large, self-publishing her own story in her own way.  I can't wait to read her diaries and find out more about how she got this way.

Next, my other favorite painter-writer Vivian Swift has recently been blogging again, after a long time of not doing so, and her new book is due out in the early spring.  But I mention it now because it too is available for pre-order, and besides, it looks too good not to.  The title alone really gets me - Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler's Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening (Bloomsbury 2016). I loved her other two books (I wrote about her first book here).  In fact I still browse in them, often.  From the glimpses I've seen on her blog, this new one looks equally wonderful.  She too is a self-taught painter, and her blog is full of really good step-by-step tutorials on how she goes about her business.

Finally, this will surely be a huge bestseller because why in the world wouldn't it be - Elizabeth Gilbert's new book is due out in a few weeks.  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Riverhead Books 2015).  I read her facebook page from time to time and love many of the long essays she posts there, along with her little snippets from this book.  I'm really looking forward to reading the whole thing, since I've found that books which bolster creative strength are invaluable when you find yourself, oh, say, facing a blank canvas over and over again.  When I just can't face it (it happens, even though I love it), my favorite thing to do is read about how we humans manage to go on, in art and life, and summon the courage to do the work we are surely meant to do. 

All three of these authors help answer that question, and their books are food for the hungry.  Or, should I say, lighthouses in the fog, to return to the situation at hand...

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