Book Soup – Audrey Niffenegger book signing
My love affair with books occurred hard and fast, at a very young age. Even before I could read, my mother would read those little Golden story books to me, and I could recite them from memory, simply because I’d heard them so often. I love the pictures that illustrated the stories. They provided just enough fuel for my imagination to launch me into these worlds, making them seem more real, at times, than the one I lived in. My favorite stories were Rumplestiltskin and The Princess and the Pea. I suffered an appendicitis attack during the winter of 1971, and while recovering at the Montreal Children’s Hospital I was accompanied by my whole library of Golden books. Little did I know that they would not be following me back home—my mother had decided that I’d outgrown them and had donated them to the hospital.
I don’t part well with books. I’m sure I’m permanently scarred due to that singular act of goodwill on my mother’s behalf. I gave up borrowing them from the library because I could never seem to bring them back on time… sometimes not at all (and ended up paying a whole lot more for the book than if I would have purchased it outright). So, there began my book addiction, and all that it implies.
Herein began my voracious consumption of books without pictures (or with considerably less than the donated tomes)… Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Archie and Richie Rich comics… Harlequin Romance and other similar syrup (as my mother liked to call them). Thankfully, because I was from eighth grade onward in enriched language arts classes, I got to read stuff that wasn’t normally assigned… like sci-fi along with the usually assigned classics. I started reading Huxley and then moved on to Ayn Rand, Marilyn French, Erica Jong, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Lawrence, Marie-Claire Blais… Anais Nin… D.H. Laurence… Emile Nelligan… and then off into the realms of the mysterious and occult… Ouspensky and Crowley… Jane Roberts… Elizabeth Montgomery… Lopsang Rampa… Edgar Cayce… Shakti Gawain… Jess Stern… and more. On the lighter side, I graduated to The Warlord (for comics) and played D&D with a gang of guys, and started reading lots of fantasy/sci-fi stuff… the DragonLance series… Jack L. Chalker’s Soul Rider series (published by DelRey)… ahhh… and then Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Stephen King, Dean Koontz…
Today my books are mostly non-fiction, how-to books that are largely art related, or related to the process of creating (art or words). I still buy and have a fairly large collection of esoterica… and mythology continues to fascinate me. Graphic novels have become an obsession. And this brings me to my Sunday afternoon visit to Book Soup on Sunset in West Hollywood. Audrey Niffenegger, author (and artist extraordinaire) was present for a book signing of her recently released “picture book” The Adventuress. This book was the last of three books released, and yet was the first she completed. Originally an edition of ten hand printed and bound letterpress books, created during two years of college, it has now been made accessible to the rest of us by virtue of mass printing. I purchased the new book at the shop and brought my previously purchased book, The Three Incestuous Sisters, of similar construct and scope. Widely known for her non-picture book The Time Traveller’s Wife, it was the first of the three books published, though the last one written chronologically.
It was interesting to listen to Audrey speak about the creation of the book (which took approximately two years to complete), whereas the Sisters book took about ten years. She works as a teacher and manages to find time and inclination to write and create works of art besides. We are not so far apart in age, she and I, and I was looking up at her as she stood at the lectern, thinking “That could have been me…” While left-hooking my shadow for my purported “failures” I am given a new sense of hope… that it’s never too late to move toward our dreams. Although, for me, creating “stuff” is an uncontrollable drive that is all-consuming and takes on a life of its own, I find it difficult to stay focused and on-task for long enough to create a completed end product. When I don’t create I reach a sort of critical mass, threatening to explode if I don’t facilitate some sort of exit, though I have yet to build a body of work that is cohesive enough to present to a gallery for consideration. Perhaps it is due to lack of training and knowledge of technique… or perhaps a lack of discipline… perhaps it is somewhat an amalgam of both.
As an artist or writer, I often feel like I am merely a vessel, a tool by which the “stuff” manifests itself. Maybe this is how the universe came into being… I think I’m ready to build mine…
Travel Sisters of the Soul Journal
Origami Sisters of the Soul Journal
I know, I know… it’s been weeks since I’ve last posted. Mostly, I’ve led too boring a life to post anything, and my art production has been somewhat sporadic. I finally finished working in the two Sisters of the Soul journals currently in my possession. I need to pick up some boxes tomorrow from the Post Office and send them off. I must say… pretty weak work, but…
For the travel journal, I got to share my admiration of Renoir and comment (here, now) on his fine taste in women… no skinny chicks in his paintings. I felt the same way about Freddie Mercury (i.e., “Fat Bottomed Girls”) and can’t tell you how crushed I was when I discovered that girls’ bottoms were not of great interest to him. I’ve never been to France, but if I went I’d have to spend at least a month traveling around. Paris is a definite destination (I’m told that one can spend a week visiting the Louvre), a dinner cruise on the Seine in a bateau mouche, then off to the south to the Riviera… Nice and environs… and Grasse, where my olfactory senses would most certainly go wild. I’d at one time in my life fantasized about becoming a “nose”. I love the food and the wine, and I’m sure, once out of the larger cities, they’d be happy to hear me spouting the language in my Quebecois French, no matter how provincial it sounds. “Un accent mignon”…
The origami book proved a bit more difficult… I was going to invent a whole story about a mermaid and the hippocampus. I’m about as dexterous folding paper as I am skilled at conversing in Japanese (hi… akudesai… moshi-moshi)… so… those sad looking little fishies are my handiwork. At least the mermaid looks alright… I drew her on vellum, scanned her into Photoshop and printed her out onto a transparency, and then colored her in using Prismacolor and Copik markers and foiling for the scales and boob cups. Not my greatest, nor my most inspired work, but … oh well.
These collaboratives have been somewhat disappointing lately. Everything looks so scrapbook-y and uniform… they lack soul… so I’d hoped that this Sisters of the Soul exchange would be different, but it’s proven to be same-o, same-o. This will be the last collaborative that I sign up for for a long while. It’s time to start working on my own stuff and I’m feeling just about ready… if I were pregnant, I suppose the belly button would be popped out and I’d be at 37 weeks… oh so ready to drop the kid, but not quite.
+ Salsa so hot it makes my eyes water and my nose run…
+ Ditto for a shot of slivovic
+ Foot rubs
+ Bubble baths, with lights off but candles aglow… solo or not
+ The feel of autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet
+ The smell and feel of autumn air, just before it gets too cold to be comfortable
+ The smell and feel of spring air, as the fever of spring settles in after a long winter
+ Sucking on icicles snapped off of the eaves
+ Laying on a cot up in the Laurentians on a summer night, snuggled under a cozy blanket and enveloped by a blanket of stars
+ Sitting on a log around a bonfire so big, you can’t see across to the other side if you’re sitting down
+ A good book… or five, cycled through simultaneously until all are read
+ Riding on the back of a motorcycle, sidled up to someone who rides like he is one with the bike… the faster we go, the better
+ Freesias and tuberoses
+ Christmas lights amidst the white of snow—it’s magical!
+ Ah-ha moments… and being perceptive enough to realize that they’re happening all of the time
+ Digging my fingers in the dirt while gardening
+ Bourbon roses, but particularly Souvenir de la Malmaison
+ The smell of Freon (go figure…)
+ The smell of tar, as in tar on railroad ties (go figure…)
+ Body surfing in the clear, smooth, turquoise waters of the Caribbean (with someone who can be my eyes)
+ Chocolate… milk, dark… but it’s gotta be the good stuff
+ Traveling to places I’ve never been to before, solo or not
+ The ocean… walking on the shore and picking sea shells
+ A hot cup of espresso coffee accompanied by a shot of fine brandy or cognac
+ Perfumes… with essences of vanilla, pine, patchouli, citrus, rose and sandalwood
+ Doing the no-pants-dance (preferably on a linoleum or wood floor, with socks on), when no one is watching… dancing makes my heart soar
+ The sheen of silk, in the gloriously brilliant colors of India (orange, fuschia, purple, emerald, turquoise, etc.), as much a delight for the fingers as it is for the eyes
+ Flannel (to sleep on… to wear…)
+ Ditto for corduroy
+ Hugging my little boy, and kissing the top of his head
+ Being “in the flow”… when the creative process lays itself down onto the medium at hand, without any protest or struggle