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.

Let Me Tell Ya posted on 02-23-2018

Bout the Birds and the Bees I’m sure many of you read the horrifying news in a recent New York Times Magazine that young people are learning about sex from porn that they see on the Internet.  Yikes!  Fellas!  (And girls!)  It’s not like that! Read More

Clint to a T posted on 02-21-2018

The 15:17 to Paris a film by Clint Eastwood.  With Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer.  *** This review will be loaded with spoilers, but the event which inspired it was well-publicized when it happened, andRead More

The Deep Blue posted on 02-14-2018

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.  Scribner.  438 pp.  ***1/2 I was wildly enthusiastic about Jennifer Egan’s previous novel, A Visit from the Good Squad.  That book was aesthetically stunning, every chapter from a different point of view, aRead More

She Got Her Man posted on 02-09-2018

Phantom Thread a film by Paul Thomas Anderson.  With Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville  ***** It’s tough to like a movie when you can’t stand the protagonist.  But I absolutely loved Phantom Thread.  It’s a candidate for my favoriteRead More

Unlikely Hero posted on 02-05-2018

Deepest Practice, Deepest Wisdom: Three Fascicles from Shobogenzo with Commentaries by Kosho Uchiyama.  Translated by Daitsu Tom Wright and Shohaku Okumura.  Wisdom Publications.  318 pp. Last week at our temple a priest gave a talk about KodoRead More

Sex in Heaven posted on 02-02-2018

Call Me By Your Name a film by Luca Guadagnino.  With Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar. ****1/2 First the things I don’t like: Everybody is so good looking.  They’re all so intelligent, and talented.  This is the kind Read More

To Nowhere posted on 01-29-2018

On the Road from Road Novels 1957-1960 by Jack Kerouac.  Edited by Douglas Brinkley.  Library of America.  864 pp. It’s an odd feeling to reread On the Road after just reading The Dharma Bums for the first time.  In a way it’s the same book allRead More

Woman in a Room Full of Men posted on 01-26-2018

The Post a film by Steven Spielberg.  With Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts. **** There’s something irresistible about newspaper movies, the essentially blue collar guys who work there (they’re writers, but liveRead More

Drunken Saint posted on 01-22-2018

The Dharma Bums from Road Novels 1957-1960 by Jack Kerouac.  Edited by Douglas Brinkley.  Library of America.  864 pp. ***1/2 Jack Kerouac is the spiritual father of every whacked-out hippie who ever stumbled his way through the Sixties, headRead More

Choosing Life posted on 01-17-2018

The Light That Shines Through Infinity: Zen and the Energy of Life by Dainin Katagiri.  Shambhala.  229 pp.  .95. Jesus’ Son  Stories by Denis Johnson.  Picador.  133 pp. .00 It was unnerving for me to read Denis Johnson’s excellent butRead More

Is That a Promise? posted on 01-08-2018

Ruminations on Star Wars: The Last Jedi a film by Rian Johnson.  With Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega.  ***1/2 For the critics who are now active and influential, the Star Wars movies were their first epics, theRead More

Samadhi as a Way of Life posted on 01-05-2018

Ramakrishna and His Disciples by Christopher Isherwood.  Vedanta Press.  348 pp. .95.  **** “God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means GodRead More

Ain’t Got One posted on 12-28-2017

The Shape of Water a film by Guillermo del Toro.  With Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer.  ****1/2 The Shape of Water is a tribute to movies from the fifties, men in suits and fedoras, women in dresses, the Red Menace Read More

Problem Solved posted on 12-26-2017

Tishomingo Blues from Four Later Novels by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  961 pp.  .00. No sooner do I complain about a problem in Elmore Leonard’s work—the fact that every novel seemed to feature a monstrous guy who killed peopleRead More

Who You Really Are (You Knew All Along) posted on 12-21-2017

Coco a film by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.  With Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach.  ***** I went to this movie as an act of desperation.  Every day I read in the New York Times about the marvelous movies thatRead More

My Elmore Leonard Problem posted on 12-20-2017

Out of Sight from Four Later Novels by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  961 pp. .00. I’m coming to the end of my Elmore Leonard period.  I never thought, when I decided to look into his Detroit novels because my son now lives in Detroit and Read More

Nights of Terror posted on 12-13-2017

Seven Days of One Long Moment The question—which I’ve asked on this website before—is: what is the nameless dread that I feel before sesshin begins, the fear that periodically grips me in the pit of my stomach?  What am I afraid of? I seemed toRead More

Time is a What? posted on 12-01-2017

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.  Anchor Books.  340 pp.  .00. ***** I’m aware as a writer that many people I read are more talented than I, but now and then I’m pulled up short by a writer who does something I couldn’t even aspireRead More

Bitch on Wheels Careens out of Control posted on 11-28-2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film by Martin McDonagh.  With Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges. ****1/2 If I could sue a trailer for false advertising, I would sue the one I saw for Three BillboardsRead More

Mother Battles Daughter.  Both Win. posted on 11-22-2017

Lady Bird a film by Greta Gerwig.  With Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein.  ****1/2 I was signed up for this movie as soon as I heard it was by Greta Gerwig.  Gerwig is a fundamentally odd performer: her roles are weird, Read More