Earth Day Greetings from Nostalgistudio, where we do the best we can.
First, some Publisher’s Boasting. Two weeks ago for the first time with my Form 1040 I filed a schedule C, the one for Profit and Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). My wonderful accountant Janet at H.&R. Block was helpful and encouraging as ever. I ran at a loss this first year naturally, with set-up, registration, book production and promotion costs that gross receipts or sales couldn’t begin to cover. But those grosses’ running into the mid-two figures was a huge encouragement after a long string of pocket change years to report. As for Nostalgistudio’s future, I’m optimistic. I’m also raising e-book prices this week so hurry and save a dollar before Friday.
And now, a few more book recommendations:
Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf. Presently I’m reading all Virginia Woolf’s books in order of publication. Emptying my mother’s apartment last summer after she wound up in a nursing home, an excellent one, among the stuff I packed to come home to Brooklyn with me was a five-volume set of Virginia Woolf’s diaries, which I am also reading–I’ve finished two so far, taking me through 1924. My project is to read the books in tandem with the related diary years. Next come the two she published in 1925, The Common Reader First Series and Mrs Dalloway, both of which I’ve read before; but those were the earliest of her works I knew. This winter all for the first time, downloaded from Project Gutenberg onto my Kindle, I’ve read The Voyage Out, her first novel, Night and Day, her second, and Monday or Tuesday, the amazing collection I recommended here in January. Then the climax, published in 1922: Jacob’s Room. Where Virginia Woolf felt, rightly, that she broke out as a writer of novels working true to her own perceptions and standards. A hard won fight spanning a tragic war and many personal adversities (along with many time-consuming real estate transactions plus house hunting weekends, I’ve got to note a little sourly) left her with the victory of a perfect and wholly mature individual style. The result a masterpiece that left me awestruck.
What E.M. Forster thought of her novels was the only opinion Virginia Woolf took seriously when she first started publishing them. Learning this from her diaries inspired me to read E.M. Forster. I’d always avoided him out of a bad unreasoning prejudice and now that I’ve finally started reading his books in order of publication, each is for the first time. He was friendly with the Woolfs, who published some shorter works of his at their Hogarth Press. Forster wrote A Passage to India under Leonard’s encouragement, there’d been a gap of almost twenty years since his last novel. The rest pre-date Virginia’s early books by more than a decade. Reading them almost alongside one another, I’m struck by the multitude of echoes, her characters and plot-lines answering his. He was a model and she studied him, worked him over, moved on. She feels a little heartless by comparison. The Longest Journey, Forster’s favorite among all his books, is enormously lovable after a difficult start. I knew nothing about the story (it’s never been filmed) and would recommend all readers to follow my lead, if possible: skip even a single synopsis and just dive in, for the novel is full of plot twists and genuinely moving surprises.
A first-person narrative. Contemporary, new. A prize-winner. I don’t read many books like this but I was so intrigued by the sentences Dwight Garner quoted in his uncomprehending New York Times review that I ordered Milkman by Anna Burns for my Kindle and started it between E. M. Forster novels. I discovered Milkman to be such a good book and above all such a pleasure to read, I kept thinking it should be called Milkshake. Marvelous wit in every line, life bursting out of it, funny and wicked and truthful, with a brave and lovable heroine–all this and crystalline detail brought to an important historical novel about life in 1970s Belfast during Northern Ireland’s Troubles, written by a living witness. Feck Dwight Garner, read Milkman.
Gifted with a review copy of Sallie Tisdale’s Advice for Future Corpses * And Those Who Love Them: A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, I put it right with to-be-reads, near the end of the shelf. Not in the least jumping in; but I never forgot it was there. It called to me, a person with elderly parents, one parent recently dead the other seemingly immortal. It might have been a wish to read best-case-scenarios that prompted me to pull this book out and start it. I discovered a wise, absolutely trustworthy authorial voice, right away this comes through. There could be no better guide through the many upsetting and often frightening facts and scenarios of which such a book is necessarily composed–and it is entirely fact-based. As well as being an accomplished writer, Sallie Tisdale is palliative care nurse and practicing Buddhist who recommends that we all make Living Wills and Death Plans. I finished the book a few weeks ago but so far I am still procrastinating.
Until next time, my thanks to all loyal, kind, and intrepid readers. Please comment if you can, all are invited to share thoughts. To inspire you, here’s my favorite stretch again of my after-work walk down towards the Battery.
Greetings from Nostalgistudio, where winter is a time for gathering creative forces–and for reading! A lot of both happening around here. Thanks, as always, to all stalwart and loyal readers. In the interests of collegiality, for those who like writing by women I offer some book recommendations gleaned from recent enjoyments:
Five Spice Street by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. Hilarity, surreality, and an irresistible femme fatale combine forces against propriety, in a feast packed with pure imagination from one of China’s most interesting writers.
Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf. From 1920, a collection of shorter pieces; significantly for Nostalgistudio, this was the first of her books that Virginia Woolf issued from Hogarth Press, which she ran privately with her husband Leonard. Beautiful from start to finish and available via public domain.
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien. Released from the spell of a genocidal dictator in disguise, a privileged Irishwoman takes her place among contemporary London’s dispossessed and refugees. If you’ve never read Edna O’Brien, here’s some appreciation from Canada to prepare you.
Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral, translated by Ursula Le Guin. A treasure trove of gorgeous thought and imagery from an overlooked (although she won the Nobel Prize!) and much traveled Chilean poet. Offered in the original Spanish with English versions beautifully rendered by the American genius who died last year.
Faith Fox by Jane Gardam. Always this novelist’s stories take strangely unexpected but quite perfect turns. This one had me in tears by the beautiful final pages. Discover Jane Gardam!
And here is a look at winter trees from my favorite after-work walk down the Hudson River to Battery Park. Stay warm out there.
November 2018 / Another personal note from Liz Mackie:
Haven’t updated in a little while, but I’m delighted to say that the print edition of LAMENT is done, on sale at major on-line retailers, and selling. Here are my friend and muse and story-giver Larissa and me at a local cafe, showing it off:
A word of grateful acknowledgement for IngramSparks: a terrific company that puts out a fine product and follows through on distribution. Among my next steps, I’ve put together a press release and will be getting the word about LAMENT out to anyone I can think of. Two generous anonymous readers have left five-star reviews on Amazon.com. This is a big help! Any writer-publisher going it mostly alone like this is 100% dependent on readers to generate excitement about the work. So, if you’re excited, or even merely pleased, please speak up. All are welcome to share the press release as well; download from this site or contact me for copies.
Meanwhile watch these pages for more insight into the world of LAMENT as well as other upcoming Nostalgistudio titles…
And here’s a photo taken on the way between my office downtown and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, one of my favorite walks in Lower Manhattan, taken last month on Halloween.
August 2018 / A personal note from Liz Mackie:
Here we were last Saturday on 8.18.18, me and my friends, celebrating seeing LAMENT in print at last! Larissa Mikhaylova on the left told me the story she’d heard from her massage patient Betya. On the right is our hostess, Lara’s daughter Marianna, who helped so much with translation and research. The book could not exist without them.
This has been a big endeavor, and it’s not over yet. Through my own clumsiness with files a couple of Yiddish phrases didn’t print right. Needing to fix that set me off on a full-scale read-through and proofing. Though I can always find things to fiddle at and polish, the book reads very well, I think. I’m looking forward to being able to offer the finished result on September 15, when print copies of LAMENT will go sale. More on this to come…