Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sunday, March 31, 2019

I started my day by taking a hot bath in what seems to be a very warm day in Los Angeles.  I always read in the tub, and now I'm reading Kenward Elmslie's "The Orchid Stories" published by an interesting press The Song Cave.   I like how Elmslie plays with the language, and I have read somewhere that he is a fan of Raymond Roussel, who I suspect influenced "The Orchid Stories." 

I have spent a lifetime in the bath reading, and not once have I ever dropped my book into the bath water.   Nowadays it would be weird for me to be in the tub without a book.   I can look at my bookcase and remember which title I have read in the bath.  There is something organic and beautiful about being in a body of water and reading.  Not sure if anyone else feels that way.  

Throughout the day I have been working on a small essay on Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and although it's interesting to dwell on the novel, I find it difficult to write on.  It's not the subject matter or the book itself, but more of me wanting to go back to the bath and read more of "The Orchid Stories."  Still, I got back to my MacBook Air and kept on writing, while listening to Kristian Hoffman's radio show on  called "Pepperland Spicerack" and today he's playing the late (and great) Scott Walker.  Which got me thinking of Scott and Oscar Wilde.  I wonder if he read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and what was his thoughts on the book.  For a few moments today I tried to pretend that I was Scott writing my essay.   Actually, it went on for an hour or so, and I did come up with something else.  Still, I need to get back to my character, to write the essay. 

Tonight, as usual, we will be drinking wine at 7 pm, and then have our dinner.  I'm hoping to do our walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir before happy hour, but it's sunny outside, and I have this fear of getting skin cancer and/or my hatred of direct sunlight anywhere on my body. I like seeing a sunny day outside the window, but I dread going into the direct sunlight outside our door. 

Also tomorrow, we are having repairmen coming to the house to fix various problems we are having at this moment.  Our money situation is not so great, so I do worry about that. Then again, all that does is make me go to Rockaway Records, where I want to buy a $50 R.D. Laing album "Life Before Death."  

Thursday, March 21, 2019

"Love Conquers All" by Robert Benchley (The Akadine Press)

ISBN 9781888173710

For the last ten years or so, when I think of writers who are important to me, as a writer, I think of Robert Benchley.  Which may be an odd choice, but the reasons why I like him are very sane to me.  I have to presume that Benchley had to write his essays/reviews regularly and all due to the deadline.  I sense that is what inspired his work (and his paycheck) and opened up his imagination.  He also writes about everything under the sun and stars.  Social manners, theater, eating, family life, and so on.  His topics are vast, yet, he covers it all with his 'character,' and that's important for a writer to have a certain amount of character when one writes. I learned from his books. 

And even more critical, Benchley is a great prose writer as well as a fantastic wit.  I'm a fan of literature that was written in the 1920s/1930s that come off charming, but I damn know well that things were for sure not charming outside Benchley's world or mind.  Yet, he made a choice to write about his subject matters with a strong subjective point-of-view that doesn't show him being smarty-pants, but one with an intense curiosity of how things work.   I think of him often when I type on a blank screen or a pen on paper.  If he can come up with the goods, then so can I!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tosh Berman and Andrew Lampert discuss TOSH growing up in wallace berman...

This is a discussion between yours truly (Tosh Berman) and artist Andrew Lampert on my memoir TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World" (City Lights).  The talk took place at ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 in Queens New York on February 23, 2019.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Thank You from Tosh Berman

First of all, I want to thank everyone who came to my events in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Portland. What I find amazing, is that each event was different from the other one. Great attendance throughout the tour, but the conversations were different. No one asked the same questions as far as I can remember. My book TOSH is very textural, and each reader gets something personal or different from the other person. I can't explain why, but it just happens that way. I'm still high from the tour, and I'm just thrilled to see all of you out there, and such interesting comments from the audience as well. Amazing. Really amazing. - Tosh Berman

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Book Review: "Head-to-Toe Portrait of Suzanne" by Roland Topor; Translated by Andrew Hodgson (Atlas Press)

ISBN: 978-0-9931487-5-0
Roland Topor is very much like my beloved Boris Vian, in that he's mentioned, and thought of, but still a mystery figure, especially to the English reading world.   I know of Topor's work as a visual artist/illustrator, but I also read his novel 'The Tenant" which was later made into a terrific film by Roman Polanski.  Topor's literature/illustrations are a combination of absurdity and physical/psychological dread.  Writing-wise, he reminds me a bit of Kafka, but even more focused on being uncomfortable in social settings.  There are toilet anxieties, as well as sexual fear, or the feeling of being exposed to the public.  It reminds me of my dreams when I walk into a school room full of people or classmates, but I forgot to put pants on and hoping no one will notice my nudity. 

"Head-to-Toe Portrait of Suzanne" is a novella focusing on the dread or the feeling of not being worthy in a world that is harsh and borderline logical in its treatment of the oddities of humans.  This fable-like narrative is about a fat man whose left foot is his lover, or perhaps what he thinks of his diseased foot as - a broken relationship with a woman.   Topor is an incredible presence in 20th-century European literature and fiction.  Another childhood figure who was on the run from the Nazis, and that experience, of course, is tattooed in his existence.  Like Georges Perec and Serge Gainsbourg, the experience of being alienated in Occupied France is a horror show, and all three artists/writers express that dread.  "Head-to-Toe Portrait of Suzanne" is a remarkable little book. 

- Tosh Berman