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October 2012
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December 2012

November 2012

The purpose of art


“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don't see a different purpose for it now.” - Dorethea Tanning (1910-2012)

Tanning, of course, was one of great Surrealist writers and artists of the 20th century -- and, like Zora Neale Hurston, spent formative years in New York City; she also lived in Arizona and France over the course of her long life. The letter below is from Tanning to her friend and fellow-artist Joseph Cornell. More illustrated letters can be seen on the Smithsonian site. (And for those of you in New York, there's a terrific exhibition of Beatrix Potter's illustrated letters at the Morgan Library right now.)

Dorthea Tanning to Joseph Cornell


Years that ask questions...

Zora Neale Hurston

Today, three quotes from the great author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960):

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

So very true. The last few years have been the former for me, but the wheel is slowly turning. And for you?

“Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

So very beautiful. Like an Edmund Dulac illustration in words.

"I want a busy life, a just mind, and a timely death."

I've certainly got the first at the moment; I'm working on the second. The third is out of my hands so I'll get to work and let the Mystery be....

On partnerships

The Hour of Grace by Edmund Dulac

My husband Howard has joined me in New York (hooray!), but that means the days ahead are very full and posting may become erratic for a little while. (Tilly is home with Howard's mother, having many adventures, the lucky girl.)

Quote of the day:

“A good marriage is where both people feel like they're getting the better end of the deal.” -- Anne Lamott

This applies to good writing partnerships too. And in my current collaboration with my old friend Ellen Kushner (which is the reason I'm in New York this month), I'm definitely getting the better part of the deal. It's been a blast.

Image above: "The Hour of Grace" (an illustration from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam) by Edmund Dulac.

What writing is...

Beauty and the Beast illustration by Mercer Mayer

"We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say -- and to feel -- ‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it.’ You’re not as alone as you thought. "  - John Steinbeck

“If we had to say what writing is, we would describe it essentially as an act of courage.”  - Cynthia Ozick

Beauty & the Beast by Eleanor Vere Boyle

Me and me, October 2012

Images above: Beauty and the Beast illustrations by Mercer Mayer and Eleanor Vere Boyle; and a photo of me and my own little beast, taken last month in Devon by Victoria Windling-Gayton. I'm still in New York, where Howard is joining me today. (Don't worry, Tilly, we'll be home soon!)

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Today, Maya Beiser, whose gorgeous music Ellen Kushner (my host and writing partner here in NYC) introduced me to some years ago. I've loved it ever since. Raised on a kibbutz in Israel by a French mother and Argentinean father, Beiser studied at the Yale University Music School and now lives in New York.

Above: Beiser's version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," from her album Provenance.

Below: Beiser performs "Mariel," composed by Osvaldo Golijov.