Thursday, January 6, 2011
Henry Miller + Patti Smith
Do you ever feel that there are so many books to read, it's as if they are falling from the sky? There's an amazing scene in an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," where Jeff and Larry are walking through a health food store. Larry likens it to walking through a bookstore. As always, Larry observes the experience, followed by an unfiltered, honest comment. He says something like, You know how bookstores always make you feel stupid? Health food stores always make me feel unhealthy.
Well, I wouldn't go as far as to say that bookstores make me feel stupid - but Larry's onto something. My take on it would be something more like this: You know how bookstores make you want to read EVERYTHING? Health food stores always make me want to eat HEALTHILY. There. That's more like it.
I recently visited the Henry Miller Library on my New Years trip to Big Sur with my family. It was my first time inside this incredible space - part museum, part bookstore, part archives, part art. Gallery. Whether you enjoy the life and times of Henry Miller or not, one minute walking through this hideaway and you're happy he was born.
After you've walked through the redwood garden of low sunlight, this poster, warped from the misty Big Sur climate, is the first thing you see. On the new year, or any day for that matter, it's not a bad thought.
Swept away, was how I felt. Music played from an old record player. Passers-by nestled on the couch, playing the guitar. I found myself surrounded by books - new and old. I wanted to hold them all, magically - in a way that my eyes could read each word, on each page, from each book. I felt inspired, smart even! Walking down the health food aisle, I feel healthy.
Then, I began noticing a bit of Patti Smith paraphernalia. Having finished the book "Just Kids" on the trip, I was engrossed in her life, her song, her poetry - her beautiful words lingering in the air around me as a walked through these days. How perfect to see her on the walls of the Henry Miller Gallery. I wasn't sure of the connection, but cosmically I expected her there. I eventually learned of her great support of the library, participating in various fundraisers and events. Obviously, she took part in keeping the place alive. A place where thoughts move from off the page and into your heart, and books fall from the sky.