So, it’s July 24th.
Here are some things that have happened this summer.
A) Our kitchen went from this
B) We took a (very) belated honeymoon in Paris
A+ scenery, F- roads.
C) Ended our honeymoon in Antibes with the wedding of my college roommate/glorious human Julie.
(I slacked on picture taking and cannot find one that does her dress justice.)
Because of items A-C, we now have $0 and must spend the rest of the summer being very very frugal, subsisting on basil from the planters, etc. But: all very, very worth it.
How are your summers going?
What’ll you have, Mr. Cohen?
CONGRATULATIONS on his publication day to my good friend (and the officiant at our wedding!), Scott Cheshire. His book, High as the Horses’ Bridles, is already getting lots of acclaim.
From Booklist: Josiah Laudermilk is a phenomenon in the Evangelical Brothers in the Lord church in Queens, New York. A preacher since he was 7, he stuns a congregation of thousands when, at the age of 12, filled with the spirit of the Lord, he issues a prophecy about the coming of Armageddon. But his best friend disappears, his high-school girlfriend drowns, his mother dies of cancer, and he loses his faith. Long after leaving his childhood home for California, Josiah at 37 is divorced, his computer store’s business is lagging, and his father, the primary nurturer of his religion early in his life, is in desperately failing health. There’s a lot for Josiah to reconcile, from the love for his ex-wife, Sarah, who’s moving on in her life but remains close to his father, to his core beliefs about God and death. Cheshire tackles life’s biggest issues through the person of Josiah, whose evangelistic heritage is finally revealed, in a narrative studded with gems of insight about the human condition. An impressively crafted literary first novel. —Michele Leber
ALMOST AS IMPORTANTLY: He was the celebrity guest bartender on “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen last night. A ringing endorsement indeed.
Buy the book!
How’s your summer going? Do we call this summer yet? (The academic calendar makes me think of mid-May-onward as summer.)
Mine is good. Once classes are out, I have no—or less—of an excuse to avoid writing my novel, so I’ve been attempting to really beat myself into submission. A thousand words per weekday is my goal. I meet it….usually. Sometimes. 75% of the time? Roughly. Today, maybe not. We’ll see.
Other news: 2.5 years after buying our house, we are renovating the kitchen and bathroom. (The kitchen had red formica countertops that were painted—yes, painted—beige, and the bathroom was a bright-pink South Philly special.) Here, I’ll show you:
(Can you tell this is all pink? It this photo it sort of looks….orange. Trust me: bright pink. Even the toilet.)
(Excuse the garbage bag….we had just finished cleaning the whole thing out pre-renovation. Notice the dot on the counter: that is the red, peeking through.)
I will definitely show you the afters. Stay tuned.
Anyway, this is exciting but disruptive. Because we have no shower, we have been in and out and often staying elsewhere for a couple of weeks, and this means that I have had to be very disciplined about building a routine in the absence of one. But I’m trying, and mostly succeeding. Small victories.
Speaking of: time to write now. I hope any of you who are also trying to write are finding the time, someplace. And that you’re also finding the time to enjoy the summer that we EARNED after our Winter of the Polar Vortex. Remember that guy? Wow.
My little sister’s been living in New Orleans for the better part of a year, so Mac and I decided that this year would be a good year to go to Jazzfest. He’s been before; I haven’t.
This was my fourth time in that city and it grows on me each time. There’s something lonely about it, and something magical, and the beauty of the architecture and the landscape gets under your skin. In April, things are flowering. It’s too hot at noon and just right in the evening.
I hadn’t seen B in too long. The first order of business upon getting into her car at the airport was taking a terrifying selfie to send to our parents:
After that there were donuts on Magazine Street (don’t worry, Federal Donuts, you still have my heart):
And crawfish at Manning’s, where we went to watch the NBA playoffs and torment Mac….
…..who has a major, potentially irrational disdain for all things Manning-related, which he is demonstrating here:
And then came Frenchmen Street, and a night market that was something like an outdoor living room:
And many, many brass bands:
And an annual Moore sister photograph, which we intend to pose for until my arms fail me:
…and, of course, Jazzfest itself, on Sunday. Here is Ms. Ruby Wilson’s tribute to Bessie Smith:
And Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles:
And, because Jazzfest wasn’t enough music, we went to Tipitina’s at the end of the night to see Black Joe Lewis:
And Mac couldn’t help himself (he also bought a T-shirt and an album).
Our last night in New Orleans was dinner at Peche and a Sazerac at the Columns, where an older couple danced (well) down the hallway to a Zydeco band playing in the next room.
In every way, I am a tourist when I go to New Orleans—I experience only the sweet parts of it, not its trouble or its sorrow. And yet those things are right below the surface of it all, making it complicated and haunting. I’m back in rainy Philadelphia now and feeling gloomy about leaving both New Orleans and my sister, whom I miss all the time.
In closing, here’s a picture of Mac looking up at the Tip’s sign. Something about it captures the way I think of, look at, remember New Orleans.
happening around here.
Back in December, I found out I’d been nominated for the Rome Prize, which consists of a funded year of living and writing at the American Academy in Rome.
In December, I was very newly married, very happily working at my full-time teaching job, and generally content. Living abroad, although it’s something that I’ve always had a feeling I wanted do someday, was not something that entered my thoughts about the immediate future.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters, which is incredibly generously funding the prize, needed me to tell them whether I’d accept, if I won. So I spoke to my university—they’re kindly granting me a year’s leave. I spoke to my husband, who told me I’d be crazy if I didn’t accept. And then I spoke to the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and told them that I would.
In February, I was notified that I’d be receiving the award. Last night, at the Rome Prize ceremony in New York, the announcement was made public.
This means that, beginning in September, this will be my view (all photos courtesy of the American Academy in Rome website):
The craziest part: I’ve never actually been to Rome.
Also, I speak zero Italian. (Though Mac and I just signed up for Sunday-afternoon lessons, which I’m pretty excited about.)
Life works in unexpected, wondrous ways. I’ve worked full-time since the end of college, with a brief break for grad school, so a year to write is an immeasurable gift. I’m still wrapping my mind around the luxury of it and dreaming of what I’ll do.
Finally, if you are an expert on Rome, fast’n’easy language acquisition, the visa application process, or all of the above……send your advice my way.
In honor of Flannery O’Connor, who was born on this day in 1925, here are some of her thoughts on the joys and perils of reading and writing.
I write to discover what I know.
Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.
People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them.
The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.
F O’C = The Best
1. Write for 4 hours
2. Catch up on work
3. Catch up on Oscars Homework (tm), a term coined by my first, fantastic boss, who was a movie fanatic with a film degree. She loved and eagerly anticipated the Academy Awards and would attempt to watch every film nominated for every major category. Every year she would ask me how I was coming along with my Oscars Homework.
First up: the end of Dallas Buyers Club, which I’m about 3/4 of the way through. (Speaking of Matthew McConnaughey, are we all watching True Detective? Good.)
Next up: Gravity.
After that? Suggestions?
Telling stories is learning who we are. Donate to @narrative4’s crowdrise campaign today.
Original post for more details.
The Korean translation of Heft arrived today.
I wish I could read it. One of the weirdest parts of having the book translated has been putting my faith in the (very talented, I am certain) people the publishing companies hire to translate. Sometimes—especially when it’s in a language that one cannot easily enter into Google Translate or the equivalent—I think, they could be saying anything. I have no idea what is happening on this page. Anyone speak Korean?
Also, apparently this is how you write “Liz Moore”:
Cool. Weird. Cool.