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.

Master Craftsman Having Fun posted on 09-22-2017

Four Novels of the 1980’s: City Primeval, LaBrava, Glitz, Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  1010 pp.  .50. Elmore Leonard began to relax into his craft when he entered the decade of the eighties, when he would turn 60.  HeRead More

Can an Authentic Teacher Be Rich? posted on 09-19-2017

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  New World Library.  235 pp. It seems strange to write about a book that not only came out many years ago, but that became an international bestseller and made its author a spiritual superstar.  But a few weeksRead More

Bake a Motherfucking Cake as Fast as You Can posted on 09-11-2017

Patti Cake$ a film by Geremy Jasper.  With Danielle Macdonald, Bridgette Everett, Cathy Moriarity, Siddharth Dhanajay, Mamoudou Athie. **** I should admit up front that I’m not a rap fan.  I’ve tried—my nephew once made me a tape of rap’s greatestRead More

Taking in the Pain posted on 09-04-2017

Wind River a film by Taylor Sheridan.  With Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Kelsey Asbille, Gil Birmingham.  ***** When Wind River ended I turned to my wife and said, “That’s the most violent movie I’ve ever seen,” a statement which I soon realized Read More

Servants of Life posted on 09-01-2017

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman.  Picador.  497 pp.  .00 ****1/2 This is the last book—the last of many—that my friend Levi recommended to me.  He always recommended books as if to say: Go buy this and start reading it tonightRead More

Should Buddhism Be Secular? posted on 08-25-2017

Or Could We, on the Other Hand, See Every Moment of Life as Religious? American Nirvana by Adam Gopnik.  The New Yorker Magazine, August 7 & 14, 2017. I don’t know at what moment I realized that the goofy little practice that I stumbled into Read More

He Showed Up posted on 08-09-2017

Levi G. 1953-2017 I won’t say that Levi was my best friend in the world—I have many wonderful friends—but he was the friend with whom I most resonated.  When I was in Asheville we met every week for a couple hours, having breakfast and drinkingRead More

Living Deliberately posted on 08-03-2017

Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls.  University of Chicago Press.  615 pp.  .00. This is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.  Right at the moment I can’t think of a better one.  And it comes at an ideal moment forRead More

Notes on a Remark by Elmore Leonard posted on 07-27-2017

How He Gave Up Booze and Learned to Relax “By then I was in AA and perhaps not taking myself so seriously.  I do think my writing began to improve at this time, mainly because I wasn’t taking the writing so seriously, either.  I learned to relaxRead More

Lives of Crime posted on 07-26-2017

Elmore Leonard: Four Novels of the 1970’s.  Unknown Man No. 89, The Switch.  Library of America.  809 pp.  .50. I’ve begun to decide—as I read one Elmore Leonard novel after another (that’s one of the advantages of the Library of America; youRead More

The Coma Was a Come-on posted on 07-24-2017

The Big Sick a film by Michael Showalter.  With Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano.  *****  The Big Sick is so much the best movie I’ve seen this summer (I was happy just to find a movie I wanted to see), so unique as a romanticRead More

Only God Is Good posted on 07-21-2017

A Buddhist Reads the Bible (And Can’t Stop Thinking About It) Ever since I read the story in the Gospel of Mark about the man that Jesus loved—the wealthy man who asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life—I have puzzled over Jesus’ statement, “Why do Read More

Going Dutch posted on 07-13-2017

Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag from Four Novels of the 1970’s by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  808 pp.  .50 Elmore Leonard wrote great—I would almost say groundbreaking—dialogue, but the rest of his writing was ordinary, even pedestrian.  Let’sRead More

And Gets Back Up Again posted on 07-12-2017

Empire Falls by Richard Russo.  Vintage.  483 pp. .95. **** Richard Russo has done it again, written a book where I was full of a kind of mild admiration through the first half, seeing how he had set up an interesting situation, sketched in some Read More

Waking Up posted on 07-07-2017

The Thing We Do Every Day.  Not the Other Kind Though I think of zazen as the foundation of my life, and often think and read about it, I sometimes don’t want to do it when I wake up first thing in the morning.  I feel slightly afraid.  In thatRead More

Man’s Search for Meaning posted on 07-05-2017

While Life Goes On All Around When spiritual pilgrims went to visit the great Indian saint Vimala Thakar and unexpectedly got to see her, they asked her the purpose of life.  “To live,” she said. A Zen Master couldn’t have said itRead More

Serve Lots of Wine posted on 06-29-2017

Beatriz at Dinner a film by Miguel Arteta.  With Salma Hayak, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloe Sevigny.  ***1/2 “Why have an ending that negates everything that happened in the whole movie?” my wife said to me as we left Beatriz at Dinner?  I’dRead More

He Cared Too Much posted on 06-28-2017

Stories by John O’Hara.  The Library of America.  860 pp.  .00 John O’Hara was an Irish Catholic and doctor’s son from Eastern Pennsylvania who believed—apparently for much of his life—that he would have been a happy man if he had just gone toRead More

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