Worth Reading…

Some things (I think are) worth reading:

1. My friends’ new book blog: Take Five. This month, visit them for some summer reading suggestions to hide with in a cool dark room, far from the heat (or alternately to fry with on the beach).

2. This short piece I wrote on Adrienne Rich: The World As It Is: Learning to Read Adrienne Rich. (Also, the other things on JWA’s blog, Jewesses With Attitude, maybe starting with Tara Metal’s piece about Roz Chast’s new graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?)

3. I’m sure someone has told you this already, but Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s novel, Americanah, is probably as good as its best review says it is.

4. Poetry: Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart, Matthea Harvey’s Modern Life, and Peter Redgrove’s Sons of My Skin. Oh and Gwendolyn Brooks. All things Gwendolyn Brooks.

5. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Case for Reparations,” published in The Atlantic a few weeks ago.


Found Poem: Advice on Buying Jeans

Advice on Buying Jeans

I am talking to a friend and she says to me:
Women’s sizes and cuts both are voodoo so I feel your pain.
I mean I don’t even know.
And then she said, as if picking up the offending garment:
So here is a size 28.
That should match to about a size 8 in H&M…
Which is approximately a 6 1/2 in Gap but…
Perhaps a 10 depending on Gap’s mood today.
It’s quite rainy, so perhaps a 9 1/2 in Angry TJ Maxx Language.
Also by size 28 we mean 19.75, good day.

My life.
She says
Every store, literally everywhere I turn
It’s The Worst.

[A deep breath]

Odd numbered sizes don’t usually exist, except in juniors
and sometimes when H&M is feeling a bit bored.
Also depending on the alignment of the stars.

I tell her I usually fall between a 6 and 10.

I think you mean 0 to 18
She says
Because women’s sizes are straight-up nonsense.
You have to hunt at the right time of season.
She offers.
 Now it’s the ‘Summer Fashion All of The Money Time’
I’ve decided to kinda go with Gap sale when I have money
And/or need retail therapy.
Otherwise I can’t.

[A moment’s consideration]

I also have decided to lay off the denim.
At least for a bit.

[a shake of her head]

Jeans are always like-
Too small for your calves
Too big for your ankles
Just right for your thighs
Too small for your hips
Too big for your waist.

And also none of these and all of these at once.
Depending, of course, on star alignment and cloud density on
the 18th of June, 1975.

The Aviation

A month or two ago I invited a friend of mine, whom I’ll call The Liquor Store Angel, to write a cocktail column for The Art of Reading. Being a grad student with expertise ranging from Shakespeare to Teen Wolf, a bad case of insomnia and a passion for mixology, she obviously said, “yes.” Gracing the internets in yet another incarnation, Liquor Store Angel (LSA) will provide cocktail recipes that thematically accompany something or other I’m reading (or paging through) for pleasure at the moment. So, to begin, I’ve been thumbing through Beryl Markham’s West With the Night, and LSA is mixing up an Aviation. Enjoy. And drink up.

West With the Night by Beryl Markham. (1983)

West With the Night by Beryl Markham. (1983)

Being alone in an aeroplane for even so short a time as a night and a day, irrevocably alone, with nothing to observe but your instruments and your own hands in the semi-darkness, nothing to contemplate but the size of your small courage, nothing to wonder about but the beliefs, the faces, and the hopes rooted in your mind — such an experience can be as startling as the first awareness of a stranger walking by your side at night. You are the stranger.

~ Beryl Markham


If you’re one of those people who enjoy staring up into the sky and having a nice cocktail while doing so, the Aviation might just be your ideal drink. The interestingly-hued gin-based cocktail is attributed to Hugo Ensslin, though it’s somewhat unusual to find a bar serving his original recipe. The grey-blue sky color that gives the drink its name comes from the addition of crème de violette, a liqueur which elevates the original Aviation far above the later Harry Craddock adaptation.

For those of us who don’t have the inclination or resources to build up an extensive bar, however, I offer you the Aviation’s bastard cousin, a more low-brow concoction which my friend Adriane has dubbed the Economy Class. To make it, you’ll need the following:

2 ounces gin (New Amsterdam is a good, reasonable option, but if I have the money I’ll usually go for Bombay Sapphire)

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons of liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries

Maraschino cherry and lemon twist, for garnish.

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake (but not too much) to chill well, then strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with the cherry and lemon twist.

NB: A water bottle can serve for a shaker if you don’t have one, however, that is one investment I would definitely recommend making.

The end experience is a little artificial and kind of leaves you feeling like you’ve been cheated, but now you got all that lovely gin in your system. If your destination is Drunkville, a few of these will still get you there, albeit with considerably less style. And hey, it’s still a direct flight.

Of course, you can always choose to upgrade by getting your hands on a bottle of Luxardo, which is always a good decision, but that can lead you down the dangerous path of ever more complicated cocktails, and soon you’ll be seeking out that crème de violette and shaking your head over the price of Chartreuse so you can make Last Words. But that’s a drink for another day.

~ Liquor Store Angel

Found Poem: The Last Great Adventure

My friend composed this found poem from the cover copy of books on a shelf in the corner of her living room. I love it. Hurray for the writers of epic sci-fi/fantasy back-cover blurbs. Now someone should write the novel that this is the back matter for…(ahem…for which this is the back matter).

The Last Great Adventure

No frills
no nonsense,
Just a divided world–
wealthy citizens,
urban poor–
six turbulent months.

Put the pieces back together,
King of endless caverns,
eagly crags.
Night after restless night–
anguish and triumph,
magic and iron–
the art of war
by violence.

This is the story of
a people defeated,
the burden of hope
during the last peaceful days
of the planet.

Led by the future,
she left behind
one hundred souls.

Silver Roses

A year ago yesterday, one of the loveliest men (and best fathers) I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing passed away. I’m posting this poem, a favorite of mine, with love for him and for his family, whom I’m so lucky to think of as part of my family (did I do the grammar right there?). Much Love, Bill. Go Sox!

Silver Roses

The strings, as if they knew
the lovers are about to meet, begin
to soar, and when he marches in the door
they soar some more—half ecstasy, half pain,
the musical equivalent of rain—
while children who have grown up with one stare
steal further looks across a crowded room,
as goners tend to do.

My father loved it too,
warned me at dinner that he’d be a wreck
long before the final trio came
(Ja, ja, she sighed, and gave him up forever);
he found his Sophie better late than never
and took the fifth about his silent tears
but like him I’m a softie, with a massive
gift for feeling blue.

I went with others, threw
bouquets and caution to the whirling wind,
believing that the rhapsody on stage
would waft its wonders up to our cheap seats;
but mirrors can be beautiful fierce cheats,
delusions of an over-smitten mind;
I relished trouser roles until I had
no petals left to strew.

Up, down the avenue
I wandered like a ghost, I wondered why
a miracle is always a mirage,
then plodded home and set back all the clocks,
spent hard-won funds installing strong new locks,
telling myself if violence like this
could never sound like violins, I would
to art, not life, be true.

And I am trying to
fathom the way I got from there to here,
the joy that snuck up when I’d sworn off joy:
we’ve made a sterling start, we’ve got a plan
to watch it on your satin couch downtown
and I’ll be there upon the stroke of eight,
bearing in my trembling ungloved hand
a silver rose for you.

~ Rachel Wetzsteon