Henry Miller Memorial Library

Big Sur, California
"Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood."

Why are we obsessed with The Great American Novel?

The New York Times asks, “Why are we obsessed with ‘The Great American Novel?’”

Cherly Strayed says, “Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist.”51C5VP4VZTL

Adam Kirsch says, “The more deeply a novel lays bare the darkness in American society and the American soul, the more likely it is to become a classic.”

We say it’s a moot point. The Great American Novel was published in 1964: Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion.”


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Check out this brilliant review of Ping Pong, the Henry Miller Library’s literary and arts journal!

It’s always nice when someone “gets it.”

ping-pong-2014The most recent issue of Ping Pong, the HML’s literary and arts journal deals with themes of censorship, echoing the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that made Henry Miller’s classic Tropic of Cancer legal to read and sell in the United States.

As Editor-in-Chief Maria Garcia Teutsch notes in her opening letter, “speech is not free, someone has paid the tab for you.” And so the journal contains a variety of poems, artwork, short stories, and more — a cohesive appreciation of those who paid the tab and paved the way.

The online magazine New Pages read Ping Pong, and they “get it.” They understood Ping Pong’s goal of subtly merging the serious with the sublime, the “obscene” with the beautiful, all within the overarching framework of censorship and free speech.

Read the whole thing here; in the meantime, this following money quote elegantly capture’s Teutsch’s (below right) editorial and curatorial approach:yourwoman

The issue is not all heavy-handed. Quite the contrary. There are many pieces that are not only thought-provoking, but artfully elicit smiles and laughter, both bitter and mirthful, as well. Yet even these lighter pieces explore themes of censorship and material that might be condemned if not for our forefathers of free speech.

Jeanine Deibel’s poem “A-Team: Swinging the Lead” is a delightful trip through the possibilities of alliteration. Some favorite lines: “My power animal is an antelope / I worship Angus idols / I curse in my alphabet soup.”

Even this—to curse in alphabet soup—is that not a subversion of a comfortable classic? Is such subversion necessary, imperative, even just plausible, to bolster artistic freedom? Throughout Ping•Pong, even moments of levity harbor serious and thought-provoking undercurrents.

Ping Pong can be purchased for $15 here or by calling the Library at 831-667-2574.




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Check out BBC interview with Okey Ndibe, who’ll be leading the first-ever Big Sur Storytelling Workshop Feb 20-22!

Did you know that the inaugural Big Sur STORYTELLING workshop at the Big Sur Lodge is fast approaching (Feb 20-22)?

okeyThe location is reason enough to attend, but it gets much, much better.

The workshop will be led by acclaimed Nigerian author Okey Ndibe, whose work includes, among other things, the critically-lauded Foreign Gods Inc.!

The UK Guardian calls the novel, which depicts a New York taxi driver named Ike heading home to Nigeria to steal a god, a “morality tale for our time,” noting:

It is to Ndibe’s credit that he makes it clear that Ike is not a victim; these are the choices he makes. Here is an antihero who, whatever the circumstances that made him, is dissolute, weak-willed and entirely selfish. There should be no redemption for this man.

Yet, with subtle hints at moral turmoil, a gift for dark humour, and characterisation that is perceptive and neatly observed, Ndibe manages to persuade the reader to root for Ike, even as his haphazard plans begin to unravel.

Click below hear an illuminating interview with Okey on the BBC discussing the novel.


And visit the Big Sur Storytelling Workshop home page here for more information and to register!

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Check it out – it’s the bountiful schedule for the Big Sur Storytelling Workshop, Feb 20-22, with acclaimed novelist Okey Ndibe at the Big Sur Lodge

Now accepting registrations for the Big Sur Storytelling Workshop, Feb 20-22, with acclaimed novelist Okey Ndibe at the Big Sur Lodge.

okey-ndibeBut what, exactly, will registration get you? The short answer: lodging, meals, talks, personalized instruction, and so much more!

Whether you’re a student of the craft or an aspiring storyteller yourself, it promises to be an illuminating weekend in one of the world’s most inspiring locations!

Click here to check out the entire schedule! And for questions, call us at 831-667-2574.

“Spending the day with Okey is like spending the day with the sun,” Matthew Dicks, curator of Speak Up Storytelling.

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Want to escape? Join Hippie Sven on a most excellent surf adventure!

We don’t want to rub anything in, but check out the home page on the ever-histrionic Weather channel’s web site.

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It’s a continent of ice out there!  (If you’re the sensitive type, don’t look at the Big Sur weather to the left.)

Nonetheless, if it’s summer escape that you crave, we have just what you need.- Hippie Sven’s Endless Summer!






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Only a few more hours remain to make your tax-deductible donation (as little as $5!) to the Henry Miller Library in 2014!

Only a few more hours remain to make your tax-deductible donation (as little as $5!) to the Henry Miller Library in 2014!

Click here!Donate-button-web

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. We can’t do what we do without you.

Thanks for your incredible support in helping us enrich lives through the arts!!

See you in 2015 (with the obligatory silly Theo picture of course…)


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What does it mean to “preserve and champion the Big Sur spirit?”

Great news! The Henry Miller Library has been awarded TWO phenomenal grants to help champion and preserve the spirit of Big Sur!

First, the Library recently received a coveted “Community Stories”grant from the California Council of the Humanities!

unnamedThe grant will fund Big Sur Oral Histories a project that will collect, preserve, and catalog audio and film recordings with the aim of creating an archive accessible to the public.
The project will also, and equally important, explore contemporary Big Sur life through extensive interviews with current and former residents discussing, among many other things, the rugged surroundings, the conservation ethic, and the ever- increasing visiting public across the past 100 years.
And then…
…we also received a second grant, this time from the Arts Council of Monterey County, for our “Jeff Norman Bookshelf.” Jeff Norman, a Big Sur historian, naturalist, and educator, died in 2007 at the young age of 56. To establish a “one-stop” location for a Big Sur natural and cultural history book shelf appears to us a good way to honor Jeff. We will share the bibliography and the ‘book wish-list’ with you soon.
The bibliography is growing daily and the ‘shelf’ will soon exceed 250 titles. We are sure it will grow ever more over time and also, in this virtual world, be a reminder of the importance to preserve material/hard copy versions of our heritage.
(Note: these grants cannot be used to pay for our 2015 capital improvement projects.)
So, we ask once again: Do these types of projects preserve and champion the Big Sur spirit?
We think they do.
So if you find this work valuable and beneficial we’d humbly ask, one last time (in 2014), to click here (or on Donate to the left!) and consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Henry Miller Library.
And a heartfelt thank you to those who have already donated this year!
We are tremendously excited about these two projects and look forward to keeping you apprised of our progress across 2015.
Thanks again, and Happy New Year!
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The Ultimate Winter Cookie Recipe, courtesy (indirectly) of Henry!

This is some Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon stuff. Bear us us.


Henry Miller grows up in Brooklyn and lives in the Williamsburg section prior to setting of to Paris.

Despite his hometown roots, Miller doesn’t get much love in his home borough, so the Henry Miller Memorial Library launches the Big Sur Brooklyn Bridge in 2013.

We set up shop in the City Reliquary, a nonprofit museum, a few blocks from where Henry lived. Check it:

We have a week’s worth of exhibitions, concerts, and readings celebrating Henry’s legacy, and in the process, enjoy some unexpected perks.

For example, two doors down from the City Reliquary is a coffee shop called Milk – Momofuku Milk Bar.

Milk, we soon discover, sells what can only be described as the greatest cookies of all time.

Specifically, their corn cookie.

It’s like a sugar cookie, but with a corn vibe. Better yet, the cookies are large, thick, chewy, and undercooked.milk

Best winter cookies ever.

And better yet, you can order them directly from Milk here OR create them yourself.

The recipe is below.

And don’t thank us, thank Henry!

Corn Cookies
Note from The Kitchen: The chefs at Milk Bar make freeze-dried corn powder by grinding freeze-dried corn. You can find freeze-dried corn at Whole Foods, Amazon.com, or JustTomatoes.com. Store leftover powder in an airtight container so it won’t absorb moisture.225 g butter, at room temperature OR 16 tablespoons (2 sticks)
300 g sugar OR 1 1/2 cups
1 egg
225 g flour OR 1 1/3 cups
45 g corn flour OR 1/4 cup
65 g freeze-dried corn powder OR 2/3 cup
3 g baking powder OR 3/4 teaspoon
1.5 g baking soda OR 1/4 teaspoon
6 g kosher salt OR 1 1/2 teaspoons1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

cookie3. Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1/3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat.

Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature– they will not bake properly.

4. Heat the oven to 350°F.

5. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes.

The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center; give them an extra minute if not.

6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.


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