The end of the year brings with it a lot of things. New Years resolutions (no more trans fats!), NFL playoffs, and the eerie, discomforting solitude that only winter can provide.
It also means you only have a few more days to donate to the non-profit Henry Miller Library and deduct your donation on your 2011 taxes.
Thanks to your continuous and incredible support, 2011 was the greatest year yet.
Highlights included your generous support in helping us build our new stage, countless incredible live performances including Philip Glass, the Fleet Foxes, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the sixth annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series, which received over 800 films from 35 countries (!)
We realize these are trying times and ask you to contribute only what you can afford. Any amount, from $1 up, helps.
You can make your donation at henrymiller.org or directly here. Your support will help us to make much-needed improvements to our facilities as well as continue to bring world-class music, art, and movies to Big Sur.
So thanks again from the family of Henry Miller Library staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors. We can’t do it without you!
(Clockwise from the top left, the above pic captures the Fleet Foxes show, the HMML staff and volunteer army, the Chili Peppers, and the Big Big Big Sur Fashion Show…)
It may not seem like it, but Andy Warhol and Hippie Sven have a lot in common. They both are artists. They both changed their names: Andy’s birthname was Andrew Warhola; Sven’s was Sven…and his last name, um, had, like, 23 consonants in it. No vowels.
A Warhold piece fetches $100 million, a benchmark price that only Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-August Renoir, Gustav Klimt and Willem de Kooning have achieved.
So, as you know, two years ago, the HML had our nifty little “souvenir book.” Basically, it was an almost-pocket-sized book about the Library. It included the Library’s history, stuff about Miller, stuff about the staff, Miller quotes, and lots of other fascinating stuff. Almost like a scrapbook.
Needless to say, it was a smash. It sold out and now we’re making a new one!
And here’s the really cool part: you can be a part of it by writing a 150-word anecdote or testimonial about the Library. And photos too!!
Simply send your testimonial or whatever to firstname.lastname@example.org. It be about anything: what Miller means to you, your favorite memory, anything.
We’ve gotten some cool stuff, like this one, from Candice Dixon, who ruminated on “her first time” at the HML, which was the May 2010 Edward Sharpe show:
Bodies were crushed together under a canopy of inky sky and burning stars. It was frenetic, wild and carefree. We danced with abandon, our partners all around us.
And then it happened…Kismet. A centripetal force swept over us all, this veiled thing wove through the crowd. We were all on a journey and where it curved, we followed. Everything seemed to shimmer, whether it was from the string of lights swooping low over us, or the sparks that seemed to emanate from the stage. It started off quietly, barely a whisper, but the same chant over and over…Voices all around seemed to surround us, slowly, softly until it began to rise.
It was a swelling sound, an unseen force, burbling up and unable to be contained. And then there was peace. The crescendo hit and washed over us all and in that one moment you felt it, the feeling we long for, the knowledge that in that one perfect moment, all was well and right with the world. “Om Nashi Me. I will love you forever. I’m loving you now.
Our March workshop in Seaside, CA (March 2-4) is still taking registrations! Read more about it here and Like it on Facebook here.
At the least, it will be an incredible opportunity to meet like-minded writers in a gorgeous environment. Specifically, we got this great testimonial from a veteran from early December’s workshop (you can see photos from it here. This speaks for itself!
The December workshop is held at the Pfeiffer State Park in the Big Sur region of California south of San Francisco and Monterey. The Agency has another workshop in March that is held at a different location.
The food at Pfeiffer Lodge is local and organic and wonderful, the smell of the redwoods on the walk from the dining hall up to the conference center is heavenly, and the surroundings are peaceful and inspirational. Lodging is two to a suite in strips of rooms that circle the conference center. The workshop takes over the lodge area of the park for the entire weekend.
All of this adds up to an instructive, productive, inspiring weekend that has been the turning point for many success stories – including Jeff Stone’s. Being able to put “Big Sur” in the subject line of queries to the Agency is a definite plus; however, it provides no guarantee of obtaining representation. Only an exceptional story can do that. And Big Sur helps to give writers the tools to have an exceptional story within one’s grasp if willing to invest the effort required.
A bonus of the weekend was meeting and getting to know so many intelligent, talented people with interest in writing for children. I’ve been corresponding already with one of my critique groups, and we will be there for each other in our journeys as we continue to work on the projects we shared at Big Sur.
(HMML here again)
So yeah, we’re still accepting registrants for the March 2-4, 2012 workshop in Seaside, CA, so act now by clicking here!
Canada is awesome. The women there are witchy and mysterious and emotionally unknowable. Toronto gave us Robbie Robertson. And Martin Short, whose work, in generally, doesn’t jazz me up, but man, that Jimminy Glick thing was pure genius.
Americans are jealous of Canadians for, among other things, the free health care. In fact, once a Canadian bought some books at the Library, and was like, “Wow, only $8 in tax? California is so cheap!”
Can you imagine?
But Canadians are like us in many ways too. They ban books.
For example, they banned “Tropic of Cancer.”
“50 years ago on Nov. 25, the Toronto Public Library Board surrendered its only four copies of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to Canadian customs officials.
Miller’s breathless, semi-autobiographical tale of a licentious, hard-drinking sexual animal — an American expat writer, no less — in 1930s Paris had been banned in Canada since 1938.
After an initial refusal by the chief librarian to hand over the books, which had been in circulation since they’d been slipped into the country illegally from the United States that September, the law-abiding library finally caved.
“Any self-respecting public library shouldn’t have (Tropic of Cancer) on its shelves,” board chairman W. Harold Male said at the time. (Male also admitted to not having read the book.)”
And here are five other books banned in Canada (no one’s perfect, eh?)
* Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer. Based on Miller’s own WWII experiences in the Pacific, the book was banned in 1948. The prose, rife with off-colour language and violence, was “shockingly realistic for the period,” Carefoote said. The ban was lifted in 1949 following an influential expose on censorship by Maclean’s magazine.
* Ulysses, by James Joyce. One day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, the book was banned from 1923 to 1949 because of its “rude depictions of biological and scatological functions of the body,” Carefoote said.
Peyton Place, Grace Metalious. Details social injustice and sexual discovery — abortion and incest included — among women in a small New England town. The book was banned by Customs in 1956 for its vulgarity, then made legal two years later.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence. Published in 1928, the story of an illicit, inter-class affair in early 20th century Britain was known for its frank depictions of sexuality. The book was legalized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1962.
The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence. Published in 1974, Laurence’s prairie novel, which won a Governor General’s Literary Award, about race, poverty and sexuality, was never banned federally, but a series of obscenity challenges in Ontario in the mid-1970s sought to have the book stricken from school curricula. The controversy led to the creation of Freedom to Read Week in 1984.
As George Bush wisely said while most likely clearing brush, freedom isn’t free. What that means, precisely, I can’t say, but here’s one theory: there’s a collective price we all must pay for our collective freedom.
Specifically: since Henry Miller liberated writers to write freely and openly about sex, we – students of literature – also must pay a very dear price by having to read really terrible sex scenes. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.
Such is the gist of the 2011 “Bad Sex Award” (and no, as long as last weekend’s Cuervo-fueled debacle in Fernwood’s tent cabin G is never committed to paper, it doesn’t qualify.)
And here’s a funny thing about this award. Oftentimes the winners aren’t some no-name hack, but some really popular and accomplished writer. Tom Wolfe, for example, won the award for his gnarly sex writing in “I am Charlotte Simmons.”
Example B: one of this year’s high-profile nominees is my man Murakami, who’s been taking a lot of heat for his so-so “1Q84.” Take it away Haruki!
“[Her breasts] seemed to be virtually uninfluenced by the force of gravity, the nipples turned beautifully upward, like a vine’s new tendrils seeking sunlight.”
Hmmm…Yeahh…(looking around, fidgeting…) Sooooo….hey, how about those 49ers, eh?
Ultimately, all this bad sex writing lead us (and specifically, the author of the original article) to wonder: How come since Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Capricorn” and “Tropic of Cancer” few authors have even managed to make sex seem vaguely interesting?