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.

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

Why Volunteer posted on 11-21-2017

  I had finished my Thursday volunteering stint at Urban Ministries and was tidying up when Brittany came back.  “David, would you mind taking one more person?  She says she’s sick.” I said I’d be happy to.  I wasn’t in a hurry. “She’s Read More

People Left Behind posted on 11-16-2017

The Florida Project a film by Sean Baker.  With Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinalte, Christopher Rivera.  ****1/2 The Florida Project is simultaneously a touching tribute to the innocence of childhood and one of the most nerve-wrackingRead More

True Love posted on 11-10-2017

Single White Monk: Tales of Death, Failure, and Bad Sex by Shozan Jack Haubner.  Shambhala.  208 pp. .95. I was not a big fan of Shozan Jack Haubner’s first book, Zen Confidential.  I thought it was overwritten, and that he often seemed to beRead More

Can’t Face It Anymore posted on 11-03-2017

When the Life Force Can’t Fight the Death Wish I was talking to a friend I meet every week for lunch and we were catching up before we ordered.  “I had to go to a funeral this weekend,” Tom said.  “I told you my neighbor died, didn’t I?” “IRead More

Grad Student from Hell posted on 10-30-2017

The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy.  Grove Press.  338 pp.  .00. The Ginger Man was one of the famous dirty books from my youth, published by Olympia Press and occupying the shelves alongside Tropic of Cancer, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and My LifeRead More

The Father and I Are One posted on 10-25-2017

A Buddhist Reads the Bible (and Finds the Buddha): The Gospel of John  One of the more interesting reactions to my piece on Jesus the Jew was from my brother Bill, a scholar of languages and the Bible who reads in both Greek and Hebrew.  He saidRead More

The Whiteness of the Whale posted on 10-13-2017

Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  Library of America.  638 pp. I’ve recently expressed my admiration for the Library of America and its beautiful editions, but I was disappointed by the Melville Chronology in this volume, which seemed positivelyRead More

They Couldn’t Just Run Off in Her Prius? posted on 10-10-2017

Victoria and Abdul a film by Stephen Frears.  With Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard.  *** I found this movie captivating.  The story of an unlikely friendship between an aging Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) and an Indian servantRead More

Hasid from Galilee posted on 10-04-2017

Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels by Geza Vermes.  Fortress Press.  286 pp. ***1/2 “Your God was a jew.  Christ was a jew like me.”  --Leopold Bloom to a group of hecklers, in Ulysses. This book is another suggestion from myRead More