Wednesday, August 11, 2010


It's that time of year – time to return home from the "vacation" & gird one's loins for the upcoming semester, which begins in a couple weeks' time. I had high hopes for substantial blogging, at least during one leg of our trip, but all of my writing energy got channeled – quite productively, thank you – into the project at hand.

A scattered six weeks, all told. We spent the first four & a half dividing our time between Manhattan & Fire Island, where I got lots of sun, ate badly ("badly" in the sense of limited offerings at the general store & an unfamiliar kitchen), & powered my way through 2 score pages on Guy Davenport: a biggish essay (in the old sense) – a bit of memoir, a smidgen of criticism, a trifle of reviewery, & a good deal of patch-elbowed tweedy appreciation. It was immensely fun to write, & enough fun to read that you should be seeing some version of it in Parnassus fairly soon. Now, thankfully, save for a brief review or two my writing responsibilities have tapered off.

Then the better part of a week visiting my mother in Tennessee, a visit fractured by an unexpected and rather traumatic hospital visit (everybody's okay, thanks). Then the girls' first real road trip: one day we drove to Cincinnati, where we were entertained royally by Norman & Alice Finkelstein, got to spend some quality time with Lisa and Bill Howe (& even ran into the too-long-since-I've-seen-him Keith Tuma), & admired the beautiful architecture & topography of the city, which I'd never visited before. The next day, on to Cleveland for a couple days with some old friends of J.'s – a lovely & restful windup to the whole whirlwind excursion.

We caught a flight at the crack of dawn today, & got home midday to find the house in pretty much pristine condition, thanks to a really sterling house-sitter. Golly, but he deserves laurels, for the upstairs air conditioning has been pretty much nonfunctional the whole time; the final round of repairs got done – you guessed it – this very morning, just in time for us to come home & throw him out.

I joke about coming back from New York as being something like Christmas, given the number of cartons we always end up mailing home. This time was worse than ever: SIX cartons, mostly of books. Of course, a large contingent of poem-books from The Strand, as always. And of course all of the books we shipped up there in order to work on our own projects. And a huge bundle of things that fell into my lap by way of a dedicated Ruskin-collector friend who's outgrown his own shelf space. Not that I have shelf space for all this. But I'm making plans (few of which, alas, actually involve getting rid of books.) Do I really need all those poetry anthologies in my study? Couldn't they go to my office on campus?

(I always have space for your new poetry collection, however.)


tyrone said...

Welcome home, Mark--Sorry I missed you in Cincinnati.


E. M. Selinger said...

Welcome back! Just saying hi to let you know I'm reading--


plainwater said...

I'm never lucky in the poetry section of the Strand (tho the art, photography, and architecture sections have always been goldmines, sometimes even financially).

The one exciting thing I've found in the poetry section is David Shapiro's After a Lost Original.