Archive | Book Matters

More Advice for the Green-hearted

T. called last Thursday.

She and I don’t talk that regularly but we have each other’s backs no matter how the chips fall. I believe in her work and she believes in mine, and we have known each other since our indignant adolescence, when she was newly arrived from South Africa and I was too mad to rise from any ashes just yet.

That day she’d seen my bellyaching on social media and picked up the phone. She called just as I was sobbing on my bed with the particular hopelessness of someone who doesn’t expect to be comforted.

“What’s going on?” she said with her customary lack of introduction, a trait I find endearing. Continue Reading →

It’s Always Something

Sunday, on the precipice of a new moon and the Jewish New Year, I woke at 4 am, early even for me. Cool air drifted through the window and rain pitter-pattered against the glass as I lounged in bed, draped in an autumn mumu and reading my second Gilda Radner book in two days. I’ve been pretty open about how hard I’ve been finding life, so the peace of that moment was sweet.

I’m not entirely sure why Gilda’s been giving me so much comfort right now. I’ve been reading and watching everything about her and I think partly it’s her guilelessness coupled with that intense mischief. Her intelligence and sense of the absurd were palpable, but so were her huge vulnerability and empathy–it was all wrapped in an enormous, childlike glow. Not a childish one, mind you for by all reports she was eminently kind, and children rarely are. (People who think children are born kind are fooling themselves; kindness is always a learned trait.) But Gilda was surely childlike: playful, present, boundlessly, bountifully enthusiastic. So much so that her voice was extra-raspy and her limbs extra rubbery, as if excitement was constantly stretching her limits. Continue Reading →

Advice for the Green-Hearted

Today I’m sitting down in my writerspace to work on my book for the first time since early August. In the weeks since I last dove into it, I’ve let go of my hometown and my heart has broken. Sitting with this quiet is painful–the solitude of writing feels especially acute–and I keep flashing on something my friend K, an artist of no small repute, said this week as I wept to him in the middle of the night. I had been devastated by how little I felt I or my work mattered and he had exhaled audibly. “No matter who you are, the act of making art is incredibly lonely,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how successful you are, nor how much support you seem to have. You don’t know if anyone will care about it. You don’t know if it matters at all if you do it. You do know you’ll probably go broke before all’s said and done. But you do it because it’s inside you and it needs to be born, and the world needs as much of the light of creation as we can offer it.” He was right. So I ate this morning and slept last night for the first time since Monday, when things fell apart. And today I am trying again. Because, really, as so much cold-heartededness abounds around us, it’s the only thing we can do. Own our actions. Bear some light.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy