3 Things for THIS Thursday!
It turns out that Louis Armstrong kept visual journals, collages, and scrapbooks, too. Article 11/18/18 NYTimes.
“Armstrong wrote constantly — mostly letters and short stories about his life, but also in the form of limericks and pages-long jokes. He wrote in a galloping, oddly punctuated style, treating literature almost as an outsider art. Commas turned into apostrophes; jive talk collided with standard English; words were underlined all over. His musical originality is matched on the page.”
All told, Armstrong’s is not just one of the most well documented private lives of any American artist. It’s one of the most creatively documented lives, too.
“Posterity drove him to write manuscripts and make tapes and catalog everything,” said Ricky Riccardi, …a noted Armstrong scholar. “He was just completely aware of his importance and wanting to be in control of his own story.”
And it wasn’t just posterity. The same things that drove him as a performer — faith in unfettered communication, an irreverent approach to the strictures of language, the desire to wrap all of American culture in his embrace — course through his writings, collages and home recordings.
I talked about this book in a recent post,
bought it, and am loving it as I knew I would. And lo and behold! it was in the Best 100 Books of 2018 list in the NYTimes on Sunday. (And in Washington Post 10 Best Books of the Year), along with a bunch of others* I hadn’t heard of but looked intriguing. So many books, so little time, eh?
On the ride home (from the library), my mom and I talked about the order in which we were going to read our books and how long until they had to be returned, a solemn conversation in which we decided how to pace ourselves through this charmed, evanescent period of grace until the books were due. We both thought all of the librarians at the Bertram Woods Branch library were beautiful. For a few minutes we would discuss their beauty. My mother than always mentioned that if she could have chosen any professional all, she would have chosen to be a librarian, and the car would grow silent for a moment as we both considered what an amazing thing that would have been. …When I miss my mother these days, now that she is gone, I like to picture us in the far together, going for one more magnificent trip to Bertram Woods.
Memories of childhood libraries remain vivid for anyone who was a reader growing up. The sketch at the top was the library I grew up in. With. At. The Gail Borden Library in Elgin, Illinois. I loved this building. The current library serves a city more than twice the size it was when I grew up there. It is sleek, modern, technologically astute, but this one will always be “THE LIBRARY” to me. It had been an elegant mansion before it was donated to the city with the promise the public city library would always be named after Gail Borden (of condensed milk fame.) More about that interesting tale here.
Other quickies for this Thursday:
If you haven’t ordered the 2019 Calendar yet, let this serve as a little nudge. Your expressed interest and/or order will be quite helpful to me as I debate whether to print another batch or not. At the Shop here. More information here.
November Tub o’ Books posted in next few days.
*a few titles from my notes: The Kites, Gary. Kudos, Cusk. The Friend, Nunoz. Eternal Life, Horn. Property, Shriver. The Witch Elm, French. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Zimmer. Do you know any of these?