Jul 29, 2010

Book Swap

Another retreat started yesterday and here are the great books people donated to our living library after crepes this morning:

Tracy Marchini from New York who is here working on her YA novel donated Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan as it reflects the genre she's working in.

Tracy also donated Gare Thompson's Who Was Eleanor Roosevelt? about her "home town" and the Roosevelt estate.

The Londoner Tanya Byrne was up next with her "desert island books," the first being the "first book I read for school that I really loved": To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The novel expressed "racial tension" for the first time for Tanya as a child, as opposed to the "Pride and Prejudice genre of novels I read before it." She especially loves "the strong male role model of Atticus."

Tanya's other selection was Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five, quoting the first line as one of the best she's every came across.

Next up was Dennis Lewis who lives and teaches in Qatar and is here working on his first collection of poetry. Dennis donated The Triggering Town by the Montana poet Richard Hugo which he called "an honest and very helpful book on writing."

Dennis' other book was W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants, a book he said that repeats many of things from Sebald's other works, "all of his books being a combination of different forms and all of them dealing with memory and loss."

New Zealander Jenny Simpson, who is here working on short stories, gave the library Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones as her first contribution. She describes Jones as a very different writer from other writers in New Zealand as he writes about things set elsewhere.

Jenny's other book was the poet Bill Manhire's most recent work of stories and poems, Lifted. For the 25th anniversary of the Erebus air disaster, Manhire composed the poem "Erebus Voices", which Sir Edmund Hillary read at the commemorative service at Scott Base, Antarctica.

Writer Natalie Mera Ford spoke after Jenny about her book An American Story, a collection of Barack Obama's speeches, reflecting where she's originally from, the US.

Natalie's second choice was The Other Side of the Bridge by the Canadian writer Mary Lawson. Natalie chose Lawson's book because she is working on a novel herself away from her home country.

Last to speak was another London writer, Martha Close, who is here working on a novel much like the first book she donated, Grahame Greene's The Quiet American which she has "kept on her desk while writing my novel based in Cambodia" because of its' "meeting of East and West" but mainly because it is so beautifully written.

Martha's other book was How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. She cited specifically page 28's title: Why Your Job is Harder than God."

Thanks again to everyone who donated books!

Jul 18, 2010

Tiziana Stupia post

Tiziana Stupia just wrote a lovely post about us on her TravelBlog about her experience here at La Muse and the surrounding region.

Tiziana, a pagan priestess and writer who was on a journey connecting with sacred sites, the land, shamans, tantrikas, and other like-minded people, was here for two consecutive retreats. She lives in Glastonbury.

Jul 17, 2010

Opening a Bottle of Wine with a Shoe?

Don't know what it does to the wine bashing it against a wall like this, but here you have it, a bottle of wine being opened with a shoe:

Presuming one would need to hold said bottle pretty lightly and use a shoe with an ample sole!

Jul 14, 2010

Potluck pie...

To the left (photo courtesy of Kathleen - thanks for all the onions et al.) is a delicious cheese pie Toni made this retreat for our Potluck last night to send off Mary.

Thanks also to Toni and David for the beautifully "wet drink" of sublime Scottish gin and tonic with cucumber, Sheryl's awesome ratatouille, Mary's succulent shrimp, Daphne's fresh fruit salad, Kerry's burgeoning blinis and Seamus and Fionn's filling zuichini fritters!

Thanks to all the chefs!

Jul 5, 2010

July Bookswap

A new retreat started a few days ago, which means a new slew of books from new residents were donated today.

After we had crepes and homemade dandelion, apricot and fig jams (as well as Kerry's homemade cherry compote!) the writer Sheryl St. Germain donated some of her own books first, talking about the artists who designed the cool covers: Let It Be a Dark Roux (by artist Francis Pavy), The Journals of Scheherazade, and Swamp Songs (by Jacqueline Bishop).

Because she hails from New Orleans Sheryl also brought along Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza, a book "about the world, not just New Orleans," as well as a recent collection of 108 sacred poems, Mala of the Heart, and Sherman Alexi's Face, a writer Sheryl said "writes with a lot of anger and interesting gusto." Sheryl also generously gave the library two books by Paul Guest, One More Theory About Happiness and Notes for My Body Double.

The artist Daphne Leighton talked next, about Israel, a book of photos by Annie Sacerdoti, Meir Shalev's novel The Blue Mountain, and a Sotheby catalogue featuring Israeli art going back to the beginning of the last century.

Daphne also donated two catalogues of her most recent art Images of Thought and unknown familiar land (that's one of her paintings to the left).

Camille Goodison then donated her grandmother's memoir From Harvey River, a book about where she's from, as well as a collection of stories, Creole Folktales, by a writer that inspires her a lot, Patrick Chamoiseau.

Deborah Clarke, an artist from South Africa, who lives in Grenoble and who was here last year too, donated Africa House by Christina Lamb about the Englishman Stewart Gore-Browne because it is "about a house as well as a man" who built it from scratch and helped people in the process even if "the dream turned sour."

On a different note Deborah donated Francis Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun a book she loves because it emphasizes "a new life in a different country" but also because she "includes recipes" that give you a real feel for the place and the people.

Next up was the Australian Mary Delahunty who is here working on her memoir Public Life, Private Grief. Mary donated Colm Tóibín's Bad Blood because it is "another way of looking at the Troubles" starting in reportage that bleeds into "a beautiful story of a walk along the border." Mary's other book was Chloe Hooper's The Tall Man about her homeland as "an unreconciled country, but also a book about why justice can never be served."

Kathleen Smith, a filmmaker and producer, is also "drawn to the Troubles" as Mary put it, and so gave the library her friend Darren O'Donnell's Social Acupuncture, a book about confronting change, no matter where we are.

Then Kathleen donated "a book about where I grew up, but more because of the universal truths in it," Alice Munro's Dance of The Happy Shades

The jewelry designer Toni Freitas came next donating The Vintner's Luck, (she compared it to Marquez's magic realism) a novel by Elizabeth Knox about a guy who meets an angel.

Toni also brought along 1000 Years of Annoying the French, a funny repackaging of history from the same man who wrote A Year in the Merde.

And finally came the writer and designer David Trujillo-Farley's cool children's book This Is Edinburgh by M. Sasek, about the city he and Toni live in.

David's second donation was Ilustrating Children's Books by Martin Salisbury, which "talks about structure, characterization and many other things" that David says are "a lot more useful than many of the pretty books on the subject."

Again, THANK YOU to everyone for the books!