Book Tour 2014: Reading and Writing

Windy here.  The dust sweeps up off the desert floor so that the sky is hazy.  The moon, as it rises is a bright orange lifting over the horizon and launching into the black night.  

After a walk up into a narrow canyon I settled onto the porch and read my sister's copy of The Sun Also Rises  by Ernest Hemingway.  This fall Jan and I went to Paris, France, for the first time, (as opposed to Paris, Texas, which I still  haven't been to)  so I thought I would give Hemingway another tumble since my high-school reading list.  It was a little disorienting reading about Jake Barnes,  waiting for Lady Ashley at the Cafe Select,  while sprawled out on a cracked concrete floor listening to a dove sing from a smoke tree down the road. Jake Barnes drinking beer and Pernod, and wine...and whiskey...and absinthe and more wine. 

Hemingway was said to write standing up.  He wrote in pencil.  He was quoted as saying he didn't write while drunk but then the longer he lived, he had a difficult time finding those times when he wasn't drunk.  

Writers and drink.  It used to be a self-defining occupational hazard.  The more we've learned about the lives of some of these writers the more the picture gets hazy.  PTSD and classic depression seem to have been a factor.  The Lost Generation writers had seen the First World War, and Hemingway had taken a peek at the beginning of the greatest killing event humanity would ever see.  When I read him now, I don't see him as the bullying alcoholic.   I think he was then, even in Paris, at the beginning, a sorrowful man.  

This is something I know about; sorrow and depression.  My own father was a Hemingway man, a drinker who would not turn against his style or his manhood.  I learned from his example and have sworn to choose another path.  Avoid Self Pity Like the Plague  as Nelson Bentley would teach...but also avoid repression that turns to bile.  

J.P. Seaton the remarkable translator of Du Fu  and Han Shan among other great Chinese Poets describes the wonderful quality of Du Fu's poetry as "melancholy joie du vivre"  this is what I try to capture in the Cecil books.  This is what I tried to capture in Cold Storage, Alaska. 

That's for me:  life is bound by suffering, yet it is over far too soon.  

Warm day, moon rises

becoming a fragrant orange

floating on the Seine. 

jhs--Borrego Springs, CA