Henry Martin ... busy doing art

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By henrymartinhm, Apr 21 2015 02:41PM

For me books are like photographs hung on a wall. When I see a book on my shelf I am reminded both of the book and its contents, but also where I was when I bought the book, how I was feeling, who I was thinking of, what I was hoping for that day, how old I was and much more.


When I look at the books on my shelf I am looking at Paris, Krakow, Boston, London, Dublin, and Galway. I am looking at my parents, my friends, my lovers, and those who are no longer living. I am looking at my achievements, and my failures. Looking at my bookshelves allows me to exist at different times at the same time.


I don’t believe I will ever have possessions popular with a large portion of people: cars, houses, children, pets. There is little I can leave behind other than what I write, or what I’ve read. Books are the closest thing I can give away.


With books, though I purge, I still binge and crave. They are my addiction.

Tonight, when I bought a book in a bookshop in Krakow, and write my name and date on the inside cover I am writing a letter to myself in twenty years’ time, and leaving a letter behind me for someone to question one day.


It doesn’t matter that only I remember that before I bought the book I spent an enchanted hour walking down dim cobbled streets, smelling wood-burning fires, texting a friend on a phone in New York, eight hours behind in time. Or that I downed vodka in a smoke-filled empty Polish bar, and made the bargirl laugh in the way I drank from the over-filled glass. It doesn’t matter that no one will know who I was in love with when I bought Carson McCullers in Paris or that I was surprised and touched by a poetry book my father bought me when I was twenty-one.


All the person who inherits these books will have to do is open them and start reading to make the books their own.


The beauty of a book is that it is foolishly open and indiscriminate, and it loves everybody (even if it is a book full of hate) in varied ways if you are open to it. Books have sweat in them, and skin in them. They are more than just books. They are more than just books. They are very much more than just books.

By henrymartinhm, Apr 21 2015 02:34PM

I started reading Chad Harbach's 'The Art of Fielding' a few weeks ago. There is a passage in the book where a character's thought process on writing goes as below. I think it's an excellent passage that describes the challenges in composition, and in choosing to be a writer from the exhaustion of dedication, to the lack of self knowledge that the below paragraph hints at. I'm sure not I'm not the only one to identify with these...


"It was easy enough to write a sentence, but if you were going to create a work of art, the way Melville had, each sentence needed to fit perfectly with the one that preceded it, and the unwritten one that would follow. And each of those sentences needed to square with the ones on either side, so that three became five and five became seven, seven became nine and whichever sentence he was writing became the slender fulcrum on which the whole precarious edifice depended. The sentence could contain anything, anything, and so it promised the kind of absolute freedom that, to Affenlight's mind, belonged to the artist and the artist alone. And yet that sentence was also beholden to the book's very first one, and its last unwritten one, and every sentence inbetween. Every phrase, every word, exhausted him. He thought maybe the problem was the noise of the city, and his dull day job, and his drinking; he gave up his room and rented an outbuilding on an Iowa farm run by hippies. There, alone with his anxious thoughts, he felt much worse"

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