Tag Archives: hemingway

Second Wind now at Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Today, along the banks of the Seine, on a tiny street called Rue de la Bûcherie, sits a literary institution: Shakespeare and Company.

9425782709_7f65b8d096_nIn more historical times, the original bookstore by this name occupied a different spot from 1921 until the Nazi invasion of Paris. This creative haven was owned and operated by Sylvia Beach, supporter for the arts and artists of The Lost Generation. She encouraged Hemingway and Picasso, just to name a few, and also published James Joyce’s Ulysses, at a great personal expense to her financial funds.

In 1952, American George Whitman opened an English speaking bookstore along the Seine, catty-cornered from the Notre Dame Cathedral on the opposite side of the river. In honor of Sylvia Beach, he used her bookstore’s name…and, years later, named his newborn daughter Sylvia, too.

As a young lad, George Whitman backpacked over Central and South America long before the activity was as popular as it is now. He was deeply impressed by natives who opened their homes to him, giving him a dry, warm spot to sleep and a nourishing meal. After opening his bookstore, he started the same tradition. Over the years, he provided lodging (a cot stuck in an out of the way spot) and free meals to struggling artists and writers. In return they had to read a book a day and work two hours in the store. It’s reported he helped over 40,000 would-be authors, poets and artists before he died at the age of 91. He called these guests “tumbleweeds.”

Paris-Day 7 026Today, his daughter runs the bookstore, carrying on her father’s legacy. Shakespeare and Company is known worldwide. And I’m proud to say Second Wind has a tiny spot there. My PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS is now part of their inventory and is also included in their lending library on the second floor.  My book. like all those purchased at this Paris institution, will bear the famous stamp of this bookstore visited by travelers from across the globe.

Shakespeare stamp

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Hemingway and an E-book

ID-100101426-1I am sitting here wondering just what Ernest Hemingway would think of electronic media.  My first thought is that he would like the ability to quickly write whatever came to mind whenever, wherever.  Then I thought he must have always had a journal of some sort or Moleskine with him though so he was already doing that.  Electronic writing is only a convenience to those of us who didn’t want to be burdened with having pen and paper at the ready 24/7.  Now we aren’t even bound to our home PC.  In fact I am writing this from a hand-held device.

I believe nearly all of you will agree, it is a wonderful thing to be able to write and edit from an electronic format.  Ultimately I think Hemingway would have gotten used to writing electronically, eventually.  However, I believe he just may have found us a bit lazy as writers who must also be readers.  He and his famous writer friends were all about living in such a way as to have the best “experiences” to draw from in their writing.  They may have seen us as technology whores, waiting for the next post, waiting for the “like” or review; any instant response to our work.  They may have seen us keeping our “eyes on the screen” (nose in book) instead of living and capturing the life happening around us.

Who knows, maybe he would have been the biggest fan.  “Gertrude, you have to see this.  You can hold hundreds of books in the palm of your hand!”

Image courtesy of [adamr] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Donations to Clarity by Noah Baird

Noah Baird’s first blog entry. Star Date: I don’t know how star dates work. It’s August 8th here on Earth.

I don’t want to write a blog. I want to write a book. Even the word sounds unappealing: blog. Say it out loud. Boring, right? “Buhlog”. Sounds like you’re trying to get a spider web out of your mouth. I understand the reason I should blog is to connect with a fan-base, get my name out, promote the book, etc. Blogging just seems counterintuitive to me. Any jerk-off with a keyboard can blog. An author writes books. I’m not implying I’m better than bloggers, or that all bloggers are crap, but there are plenty out there digitally converting the mundane into cyber flotsam.

My mental picture of what writers do is probably skewed. I want to do what Hemingway did: drink, fish, write. Maybe run with the bulls in Pamplona. Papa did not blog (I know there weren’t blogs then; just go with me on this). When my publisher told me I needed to start blogging, I told him I wanted to pull a Hemingway: drink, fish, write. We could negotiate on the fishing, but I was going to remain firm about the drinking and writing. Since I’m sitting here writing this blog (and drinking), we can see who won that little argument.

My other issue with blogging is I don’t know how or what to blog about. What’s the theme? Do I write about my life? My life as a writer? I’m not a good enough writer to think I could teach you anything about writing. Someone suggested I blog as Bigfoot; like a Bigfoot celebrity diary. I have to tell you: after writing a book with Bigfoot in it, I’m fucking sick of Bigfoot.

I still don’t know what the general theme of this blog should be. So, for this entry, I’m going to tell you the things I’ve learned since becoming a writer.

Bookstores don’t have an open door policy for book signings. When my book was released, I checked my local booksellers to ensure they had the book in their inventory. Then I called to offer my availability to sign books in the store. Seems logical, right? Wrong. Some bookstores can be a pain-in-the-ass about letting new writers come in for signings. They either wanted to evaluate the book to see if it’s suitable for a signing, or it was a flat “No” because new writers don’t have a large fan base.

I learned local papers don’t review books. There’s one person in a cabin in Montana who reads books and posts reviews on the internet. Newspapers just link to those reviews.

I should’ve practiced my signature. Sharpies make crappy signatures permanent. To compensate for my poor penmanship (or should it be ‘penpersonship’ in this politically-correct America), I doodle dog turds and monkey faces. It was either that or pretend I have palsy.

If you call the newspaper in Ithaca, NY and mention ‘Bigfoot’ and ‘marijuana’ in the same sentence, you will have a long conversation with everyone in the newsroom about Bigfoot and marijuana. I couldn’t persuade them to review my book, but I did get a great brownie recipe.

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Life Inside the Book

I never really thought about the intimacy of the books in my bookcase until recently. Granted, this epiphany should have popped into my brain after my last post, but somehow, in the chaos of life, it slipped by.

Each and every book carries the author inside. No matter what the subject, there will always be varying degrees of the creator mixed in with the story. I have a host of silent companions waiting for me to open their doors and shares their lives. The most intriguing part is finding the writer hiding (sometimes in plain sight) within the tale.

Some authors purposely reach out to the reader. Like a streaker on a football field at halftime, some writers are so embedded in their own fictional tales I can hear them scream, “Look at Me!”

Others try to steer away from themselves. Those tricky little devils are harder to find, but not impossible. Unless you’re a robot, there’s no way to hide the part of your essence that becomes trapped in what you write.

As I pen this blog, I’m looking at my bookcase. Ernest Hemingway is too easy; he’s entwined in all he wrote (he’s a streaker). John Updike was perpetually wide-eyed in surprise and Dean Koontz adores his dogs. William Porter was constantly searching.

Willa Cather loved. Marlys Millhiser is always alone in a crowd. Carolyn Chute is on every page of her books (another streaker).

Writers pull from life. Joy, sadness, fear, loneliness: our emotions translate into words on the page. The seasons in our lives spring forth with the summer of our youth and the winter of our twilight years. We invest something more, though, as we plug away at the keyboard. A part of ourselves, recognized or not, runs through our stories.

I have no plans to write an autobiography, but I have already started. Every writer does. We put ourselves in our books and it’s sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction. What we write becomes another appendage or, in some cases, a conjoined twin (Hemingway, again). Sometimes, it’s an evil twin, as in the case of James Frey or, in current news, of Greg Mortenson.

It is said we are what we eat. It can also be said we are what we write, we are what we read.

How often have you noticed the personality of the author in his or her books, readers? In the same vein, which book hits closest to home for our writers?

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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