Saturday, February 27, 2016

Read, write, paint, pull out the camera, take a look, take a chance

Sometimes you find great art here

Sometimes you find it in more unexpected places
Places that don't exist anymore

By someone you haven't seen in a while

pull out the camera, 
take a look, 
take a chance

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The River Resort in Laos. A great place to write.

Photos from the River Resort near Pakse, Laos along the Mekong River. It was built by a good friend of mine, designed by a Japanese architect with an eye for the environment. A great success, I think. Astonishing beauty. And a great place to write down words.

Infinity Pool looking out onto the river

A quiet moment (that's not me)

A tree that seems to cast a long shadow

 Rice fields anchor the resort

 An afternoon cocktail (following a morning cocktail)

River sunset

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Words - Gabriel García Márquez

Once the stormy years of his early struggles were over, Dr. Juvenal Urbino had followed a set routine and achieved a respectability and prestige that had no equal in the province. He arose at the crack of dawn, when he began to take his secret medicines: potassium bromide to raise his spirits, salicylates for the ache in his bones when it rained, ergosterol drops for vertigo, belladonna for sound sleep. He took something every hour, always in secret, because in his long life as a doctor and teacher he had always opposed prescribing palliatives for old age: it was easier for him to bear other people’s pains than his own. In his pocket he always carried a little pad of camphor that he inhaled deeply when no one was watching to calm his fear of so many medicines mixed together.

- Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Inner Voice of a 13-Year-old Boy with Autism

I discover this book after reading an article about it online a while back. At the time, I am aware of autism but don't really know what to think about it. I have no direct contact with any person with autism, or even with anyone who raises it as a personal topic. But now, after reading this book, I realize that for all the detachment I feel in my life, detachment that serves as a recurring theme in my writing, not once do I consider the idea of physical detachment. My own detachment, of course, is emotional. But the boy in this book describes a normal 13 year-old boy, one who lives his life inside a captive shell, a shell that does not allow him to convey even his most basic thoughts. Given all the times I try but fail to express myself in matters of a deeply personal nature, with the concomitant storm of frustration, I wonder how my experience compares to what this boy must go through on a daily basis. Through arduous effort and a spirit I can only aspire to, he manages to write down his thoughts so that others might understand him a little better. A gift in the form of words on the page. The sealed bottle in which he lives opens for but a brief moment to empower this remarkable boy to record, share his most intimate thoughts, a boy who lives among us, who would otherwise remain invisible, out of sight, out of mind, in this world, a world that rarely digs in to try to understand what does not fit into accepted definitions of normal, acceptable, safe. More than a simple message, this boy gives us an offering, a fiercely personal one, one that has the potential to teach us all something supreme about the world we live in, something we don't think about, really, unless we are compelled to do so. This 13 year-old boy offers to teach us about his world, a world so foreign to most of us that we couldn't possibly hope to understand it otherwise. How often do we truly get a chance to learn about such a distant place on such a personal level? I highly recommend this book.

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Words - Maya Angelou

She turned the light on and said, “Look at the baby.” My fears were so powerful I couldn't move to look at the center of the bed. She said again, “Look at the baby.” I didn't hear sadness in her voice, and that helped me to break the bonds of terror. The baby was no longer in the center of the bed. At first I thought he had moved. But after closer investigation I found that I was lying on my stomach with my arm bent at a right angle. Under the tent of blanket, which was poled by my elbow and forearm, the baby slept touching my side. Mother whispered, “See, you don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking.”

- Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Monday, February 1, 2016

Goodreads 5 Star Review for Syncopated Rhythm

AnnLoretta’s Review

The most razor-sharp prose I’ve read in years. While I loved James Halat’s other two books, I wasn’t prepared for the art and beauty of Syncopated Rhythm.

I work my way through the big books, the prize-listed books, the 600-page books, we all do, looking for a scintilla of the humanity Mr. Halat has produced in this (as far as I can tell) all-but-unknown work. The reader is given a main character unflinchingly self-aware, deeply perceptive of those around him, and descriptions of the world he moves through – textures, sounds, tastes, light, darkness – that are so perfect that I want more. But more would be too much. Somehow Mr. Halat knew that.

I can’t recommend this book strongly enough, especially to a reader who may be running as fast as she or he can to read every book that comes along trying to find something real, something true. A character who lives his own life on his own terms, not always joyfully, but always with an eye for things that make a day worth living.

Here I sit, surrounded by books, and I can’t imagine what I can possibly read next that will measure up to Syncopated Rhythm. I need to spend a couple of hours in front of a Mark Rothko. 

EDIT: Six stars. The more I've read after this, the more I appreciate Syncopated Rhythm, its intricacies, its sensuality, its utter uniqueness. The deeply marled and engrossing solitude of its main character. This book needs to be read.

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