Fiction

Excerpt from To a God Unknown – John Steinbeck

Joseph’s horse raised its head and sniffed the air. On top of the ridge stood a clump of giant madrone trees, and Joseph saw with wonder how nearly they resembled meat and muscles. They thrust up muscular limbs as red as flayed flesh and twisted like bodies on the rack. Joseph laid his hand on one of the branches as he rode by, and it was cold and sleek and hard. But the leaves at the ends of the horrible limbs were bright green and shiny. Pitiless and terrible trees, the madrones. They cried with pain when burned.

Joseph gained the ridge-top and looked down on the grass lands of his new homestead where the wild oats moved in silver waves under a little wind, where the patches of blue lupins lay like shadows in a clear lucent night, and the poppies on the side hills were broad rays of sun. He drew up to look at the long grassy meadows in which clumps of live oaks stood like perpetual senates ruling over the land. The river with its mask of trees cut a twisting path down through the valley. Two miles away he could see, beside a gigantic lonely oak, the white speck of his tent pitched and left while he went to record his homestead. A long time he sat there. As he looked into the valley, Joseph felt his body flushing with a hot fluid of love. “This is mine,” he said simply, and his eyes sparkled with tears and his brain was filled with wonder that this should be his. There was pity in him for the grass and the flowers; he felt that the trees were his children and the land his child. For a moment he seemed to float high in the air and to look down upon it. “It’s mine,” he said again, “and I must take care of it.”

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Commentary

Death Day – A Tribute to John Steinbeck

Celebrating the Life of John Steinbeck

On December 20, 1968 John Steinbeck passed away from heart disease in his humble abode located in New York City. Steinbeck was best known for his literature on California, the working class and the land that ruled them. He was a Stanford student without ever completing his degree. He worked, wrote, and inspired American writers for ages to come.

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I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. – Steinbeck

Favorite Quotes: 

“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”

Incomplete List of Suggested Reading:

  • Cup of Gold (1929)
  • The Pastures of Heaven (1932)
  • To a God Unknown (1933)
  • Tortilla Flat (1935)
  • In Dubious Battle (1936)
  • Of Mice and Men (1937)
  • The Long Valley (1938)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1939)*
  • Sea of Cortez (1941)
  • The Moon Is Down (1942)
  • Cannery Row (1945)
  • The Pearl (1947)
  • Burning Bright (1950)
  • East of Eden (1952)
  • The Winter of Our Discontent (1961)
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962)**
*Pulitzer Prize Winner
**Nobel Prize for Literature

Interesting Fact:

Steinbeck visited Vietnam in 1967 to report on the war where he spent a night on watch for his two sons and the platoon to sleep.

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Music

Drunken Library’s Album of the Month – November

DRUNKEN LIBRARY’S ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Because we hesitated to highlight an October album – we are featuring two for the month of November.

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Our first recommendation for the month is The Fight by the french duo Lilly Wood & The Prick.

If you’ve heard the Robin Schulz Remix of “Prayer in C” then you’re already familiar with the female vocals of Lilly Wood & The Prick. Nili Hadida & Benjamin Cotto create a cool electro-pop vibe with a twist of funk in The Fight. Unlike popular pop, this has experimental alternative flavors that indicate stale feelings of teen angst. On every track there’s jamming instrumentals paired with brooding contemplative lyrics, like “I’ve been trying to get myself to be quiet / I’ve been trying to get myself better.” The band sings “give me back my youth, my strength, my happiness” as if the album ought to bring them back to a happier place. As avid music listeners and fans, we nod along swaying our hips because we agree with truth when we hear it.

“If you expect too much of things and people in general you can only be disappointed.”

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Listening suggestion: Play on vinyl at a holiday get-together with warm beverages and tinseled decorations.

Our second recommendation is Golden Echo by Kimbra.

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Kimbra caught worldly attention first with her duet in Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Now on her own album she comes out with surrealist and transcendental vibrations that get you lost in a whole new world. We get lost in her beyond catchy tunes that are just littered with funk influence. You will be transported back to the “heat of the moment” in “Teen Heat” and you’ll feel like “tearing up the streets” in “90s Music”. Our favorite track is (so hard to choose) “Waltz Me to the Grave” because of the three part trip it triggers. The slowed tempo with the echoing high-pitched chorus really dances you “down to the ground.” You’ll enter a place of “love and disarray” as you drown in a psychedelic high from Kimbra’s metallic voice.

Listening suggestion: Blast “Madhouse” during that time between slipping out of the shower and sneaking out of the house.

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Downtown Los Angeles, California

The second edition of Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair kicked off last night in The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA as the fledgling of the famed NY Art Book Fair.

Over 250 international outfits are taking part in the assembly, and the range of offerings is highly impressive. Everything is egalitarian, sharply presented and extremely tempting.
Hometown heroes Ooga BoogaKesselsKramer, and Arcana — who are making waves on the international scene — are paired with their out-of-town peers, simultaneously repping their work and acting as ambassadors.

The fair is going on until Sunday and is free to enter and enjoy, thanks to the selfless contributions of many. For more information and for the full schedule for screenings, panels, lectures and special events visit laartbookfair.net.

Art

LA Art Book Fair 2014 – Printed Matter

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