A small leather ball stuffed with the hair of a dead queen is batted back and forth by two of Europe's most innovative artists. They're hung over, Caravaggio probably still drunk; Quevedo, the Spanish poet, seeks victory to maintain his reputation in the eyes of his royal confidante. Across the world, Hernán Cortés, with the help of his indigenous translator, lover and advisor Malinalli, is bringing about a political and religious revolution. Meanwhile, popes and bankers vie for control of land, art and artifacts, their machinations and desires bringing forth a newly vicious historical era. "Never were the connections among politics, money, art, and semen so tight or so murky," Enrigue writes. "Or so unashamedly happy, tolerant, and fluid."
We at Diesel are still mourning the passing of one of our poetry heroes, C.D. Wright. Earlier this week The Paris Review posted Wright's eulogic poem Our Dust and we found it so stirring that we wanted to share.
I am your ancestor. You know next-to-nothing
There is no reason for you to imagine
the rooms I occupied or my heavy hair.
Not the faint vinegar smell of me. Or
the rubbed damp
of Forrest and I coupling on the landing
en route to our detached day.
You didn’t know my weariness, error, incapacity,
I was the poet
of shadow work and towns with quarter-inch
phone books, of failed
roadside zoos. The poet of yard eggs and
jobs at the weapons plant and the Maybelline
factory on the penitentiary road.
A poet of spiderwort and jacks-in-the-pulpit,
hollyhocks against the tool shed.
An unsmiling dark blond.
The one with the trowel in her handbag.
I dug up protected and private things.
That sort, I was.
My graves went undecorated and my churches
abandoned. This wasn’t planned, but practice.
I was the poet of short-tailed cats and yellow
Of satellite dishes and Peterbilt trucks. Red Man
Chewing Tobacco, Black Cat Fireworks, Triple Hut
Creme Soda. Also of dirt dobbers, nightcrawlers,
martin houses, honey, and whetstones
from the Novaculite Uplift. What remained
of The Uplift.
I had registered dogs 4 sale; rocks, dung,
I was a poet of hummingbird hives along with
The poet of good walking shoes—a necessity
in vernacular parts—and push mowers.
The rumor that I was once seen sleeping
in a refrigerator box is false (he was a brother
who hated me).
Nor was I the one lunching at the Governor’s
I didn’t work off a grid. Or prime the surface
if I could get off without it. I made
out of sticks and string. On side B of me,
experimental guitar, night repairs and suppers
such as this.
You could count on me to make a bad situation
worse like putting liquid make-up over
a passion mark.
I never raised your rent. Or anyone else’s by God.
Never said I loved you. The future gave me chills.
I used the medium to say: Arise arise and
Free your children. Come on everybody. Let’s start
Believe me I am not being modest when I
admit my life doesn’t bear repeating. I
agreed to be the poet of one life,
one death alone. I have seen myself
in the black car. I have seen the retreat
of the black car.
Our Oakland bookseller, Brad, is an unabashed cheerleader for the East Bay. Unsurprisingly, he also knows a thing or two about the bookstores in the area. In this recent piece for Literary Hub, he provides a whirlwind bike tour of some of the funkiest ones Oakland and Berkeley has to offer.
We are but days away from Halloween, and while it is nearly too late for me to make the changes to my get-up that will adequately distinguish James Joyce (circa, the Eyepatch years) from a bog-standard pirate, it's never too late to read for you to some good horror! I'm quite fond of this recent list by Flavorwire, discussing the new wave of "Cosmic Horror": "There is something about the material fear of the ineffable, the strange, the alien that chimes more with the sad music of my soul."
Our luncheon with Jojo Moyes in Oakland was a blast! Jojo moved to different tables for each course so she could chat with all her fans ... we loved that!
Thanks to Marica Restaurant for preparing an excellent meal and providing excellent service. And so many more thanks to all who attended this memorable luncheon! Be on the look out: more luncheons on the horizon.
This Flavorwire list -- 33 Must-Read Books for Fall 2015 -- is fantastic, and contains many of our favorites for the upcoming months. So much good stuff coming out. Come! Tell us, finger dug deeply into the binding of the new Ferrante, marking your place, what you’re excited to begin reading!