Evening Mind


“There’s no other place around here like this, so–this must be the place. ”  Card at Durham’s Ivy Room Restaurant, circa 1966

I’m not especially interested in relating the details of my daily life, so I’m not interested in a conventional blog.  But I am interested in writing about books, and about some of the movies I see, and about writing and literature in general. I have a habit of writing, but no wish to show all of it—even most of it—to the world. What I’ll publish here is pieces that have a shape, because that’s what I like in other websites.  I don’t want to hear from people everyday, just when they have something to say.

I do love to hear about good books to read, and movies to see. That’s what I’ll mostly write about.

Overwhelmed posted on 06-23-2017

The Happiness that Takes Some Time to Ripen We had sat down for the reception at my niece’s wedding—tables of eight arranged all around the room—when I realized how my brother had seated us.  It was the three living siblings from myRead More

The Wonder of Women posted on 06-15-2017

Wonder Woman a film by Patty Jenkins.  With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright ***1/2 Arrival a film by Denis Villeneuve.  With Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker ***** A Quiet Passion a film by Terence Davies.  With Cynthia Nixon,Read More

Academic Hack posted on 06-01-2017

Straight Man by Richard Russo.  Vintage Contemporaries.  391 pp. .00. **** I read this book because of Jennifer Senior’s review of Richard Russo’s latest book, in which she called Straight Man a better academic novel than David Lodge’s CampusRead More

Why Can’t We Live in Paradise? posted on 05-29-2017

Reflections on the Words of a Homeless Man At the homeless shelter where I volunteer, I was interviewing a man who was being admitted, and was following the prompts of a questionnaire. “Do you have any disabilities?” I said. “No.  NoRead More

The Dharma of F.M. Alexander posted on 05-26-2017

The Alexander Technique: A Skill for Life by Pedro de Alcantara.  The Crowood Press.  128 pp. I have never thought of the teachings of Buddhism and Taoism as the esoteric observations of a few ancient teachers.  I think of them as the truth aboutRead More

Same Thing Again for the First Time posted on 05-12-2017

A Few Words About Sesshin I wrote some time ago about my dread of an upcoming Rohatsu Sesshin, and my subsequent reaction to it.  I had no such feeling about our spring sesshin; this was probably the first time I hadn’t felt dread before a retreatRead More

Pip Pip Hooray! posted on 05-05-2017

Purity by Jonathan Franzen.  Picador.  598 pp.  .00. ***** I had an odd and unique experience reading Purity.  I got slightly bogged down in the book’s first section, which focuses on the title character; her name is Purity but she goes by Pip.  Read More

Alcoholics Preposterous posted on 05-02-2017

Colossal a film by Nacho Vigalondo.  With Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell.  *??? There’s a mind state called suspension of disbelief, where we overlook an unlikely aspect of a work of art because it is a premise of what we’reRead More

What’s posted on 04-25-2017

Your Name, a film by Makato Shinkai, based on his novel.  With Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita. I’ve been reading Kobun Chino’s commentary on the Song of Awakening, and the day before I saw this film read the following passage:Read More

The Paradox of Desire posted on 04-19-2017

The 10,000 pages of the Pali Canon  (Most of which I haven’t read) I have spoken before of an Amazon reviewer that I stumbled across some years ago, a woman named Laurie from New Zealand who writes wonderfully informed and opinionated reviews. Read More

Doc, Ya Gotta Level Wit Me posted on 04-14-2017

 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2017 My Lineup: Whose Streets? / Still Tomorrow / The Good Postman / Abacus / Zaatari Djinn / Tribal Justice / Strong Island / Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities / Quest / The Read More

Old Corn-Drinking Mellifluous posted on 04-13-2017

Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner.  315 pp.  .95 I’m obsessed with the subject of telling stories.  I’ve spoken before about how all stories are false, or all stories true; they are, in any case, human fabrications, which may have little toRead More

Absolute Belief in Zazen posted on 03-30-2017

Embracing Mind: The Zen Talks of Kobun Chino Otogawa. Edited by Judy Cosgrove and Shinbo Joseph Hall.  Jikoji Zen Center. Kobun Chino Otogawa came to the United States for the first time to train the novice monks at the Tassajara MountainRead More

Beckett in the Bardo posted on 03-22-2017

The Unnamable from Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. Grove Press. 407 pp. .95. The mystery of Samuel Beckett continues, at least for me.  Some months back, when I had finally tackled his Three Novels—which had been sitting on my shelves forRead More

Stories Short and Long posted on 03-16-2017

Autumn by Ali Smith.  Pantheon.  264 pp.  .95 Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley.  Washington Square Press.  208 pp. .00 There are short stories that seem to have enough material for novels.  Alice Munro’s late work wasRead More

It Sure Ain’t a Science posted on 03-09-2017

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.  Harper Perennial Modern Classics.  123 pp. .99. It’s hard for me to imagine having the nerve, at the age of 56, to publish a book entitled The Art of Loving.  This from a man who grew up with a mother whoRead More

How Long, Baby How Long, Has That Evenin' Train Been Gone? posted on 02-24-2017

The Grass Flute Zen Master: Sodo Yokoyama by Arthur Braverman.  Counterpoint.  148 pp.  .95. How much time should we give to spiritual practice?  It’s a question I often ask myself.  Twenty minutes twice a day, as Maharishi Mahesh YogiRead More

James Baldwin Has a Question posted on 02-23-2017

I Am Not Your Negro a film by Raoul Peck.  With James Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson, Dick Cavett. ****1/2 In a way I wish the title of this film had gone further.  The speech in the movie that it most closely reflects it is one by James Baldwin on aRead More

Distinctly Praise the Years posted on 02-20-2017

Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel R. Delany.  Wesleyan/New England.  212 pp. Every now and then I reread something by Samuel R. Delany because all of his work is intelligent, beautifully written, and unfailingly deep.  The fact that I’ve read itRead More

This Movie Is About You (Put Away Your Phone) posted on 02-16-2017

Paterson A film by Jim Jarmusch.  With Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Nellie. Every now and then people call something a Zen movie, and the candidate this year is Paterson, a film whose script Jim Jarmusch apparently wroteRead More