That’s a word to describe how I feel when I’m happy and peaceful and alive right down to my toes: Toesey. (This photo is courtesy of Stacy Horn, who managed to capture her cat Finney at just the right moment in his own fit of toesey-ness. I discovered Stacy in 2003 with the publication of her first book, Waiting For My Cats to Die, a smart, funny, touching memoir that is what Sex and the City could have been if Tina Fey had written it. It’s newly available for e-readers. She’s also written about the cold case squad at the NYPD and scientific investigation of supernatural phenomenon — her blog is at www.stacyhorn.com.)
It ‘s FRIDAY and it’s a beautiful Spring and I am happy that Winter is over and all good things are on the horizon. I know this mood can not last, so I’m doing everything I can to prolong it.
For one thing, I starting anew art journal! It’s a journal of one page illustrations of my 50 favorite books and poems.
My first favorite book is The Pillow Bookby Sei Shonagan, written in Japan in the 10th century and still read as a classic of Japanese literature. It’s the diary of a very cultured, artful, opinionated, determined woman who was a lady-in-waiting for the Japanese Empress. It was a lusty, cruel, deeply aesthetic time at the dawn of a distinctly Japanese culture that had previously borrowed much of its arts and language from China. It is said that The Pillow Book is the first book to be written in vernacular Japanese.
I got books on Japanese art from the library and searched old prints for scenes and moods and portraits that I could use for my illustration. Here’s what I ended up with:
And here is how I am arranging these images on my page:
(These are color copies of my watercolors, reduced 55% to fit in this setting. )
As you know, I like to leave a lot of white space on a page for text, which in this case is for about 100 words that will sum up this 600-page Pillow Book . Because the text is as much a desgin element as the pictures — never forget that.
I already have my next four books lined up: Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, My Antonia by Willa Cather, Mary Poppins by Mary Travers, and The Silent Traveller in Endinburghby Chian Yee. Come to think of it, I don’t really like Steppenwolf at all, having recently re-read it for this journal, but I loved being 20 and living in Paris when I read it for the first time so that’s why this book is in this list.
This is just a reminder that I’m giving a talk about my new book, Le Road Trip, at the Writers Salon at Hofstra University on Long Island this coming Monday night, April 2. For more information, visit ce.hofstra.edu/writing, email email@example.com or call 516-463-7200.
I’ll be doing a half-and-half at the Writers Salon: half shop talk to the writers in the room, with the other half being me taking advantage of a captive audience to give the world a piece of my mind that I’m calling The Three Biggest Lies and the Two Biggest Truths of Travel.
Stay toesy, everyone, and have a great weekend!