On My Reading List: In the Slender Margin

Remember the interview I did with the wonderful, talented writer Eve Joseph?

Her new book In The Slender Margin was released this April, and I’m really excited to read it.

in-the-slender-margin

Okay, so a work of non-fiction with a subtitle that reads “The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying” may not be typical fodder for a summer reading list, but if this excerpt from Eve’s award-winning essay “Intimate Strangers” is anything to go by, her ability to write about death in surprising, compelling ways is going to keep me turning the page, no matter what season it is.

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My Almost-Published Love Story

Last spring, one of my favourite writers/bloggers/inspirational women Danielle LaPorte, best-selling author of The Fire Starter Sessions and The Desire Map, announced she was starting a magazine. And calling for submissions.

Danielle Mag image

This was the lowdown:

We want your stories, your wisdom, your light. This is our first round of submissions for the inaugural issue of DANIELLE Magazine. This magazine-meets-journal will be unlike anything you’ve seen or read. High-minded, full-hearted, gorgeous — both in PRINT and digital!

I immediately wanted to be a part of it, of course.

Submission categories included “The Best Thing I Ever Did”, “Kindness You’ve Encountered”, and “I Used To Be…Now I Am”, all of which evoked some cool ideas. But there was one theme in particular I felt compelled to write on…

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Confession: I’ve been spending my nights with Keith Richards

Keith Richards book cover Life.08-10

It starts around midnight–I settle in under the duvet, adjust the lamplight, take a sip of water. Then I flip open the page.

We’re currently in the middle of ’76. Richards has brought his seven-year-old son, Marlon, on tour through Europe–the two of them drive to the gigs, Marlon holding the map, Richards at the wheel. Marlon has been instructed to tell his dad when they’re 15 clicks away from the borders. Then it’s time to pull over, so Richards can “have a shot.” (After, he either dumps or re-sorts his stash, before crossing into the next country.) His heroin habit is very, very bad by this point in “Life,” but it never stops him from missing a show–though sometimes he arrives three hours late. He’s also taken to sleeping with a gun under his pillow.

I’m not a massive Stones fan–not that I don’t like their music–I just never took to the songs in the same immediate way as those of the Beatles, The Doors, Hendrix and Joplin. But I’m fascinated by the era they lived through. I used to think I was born in the wrong time. I wanted to be like Jenny in Forrest Gump (before she gets messed up.) I wanted to move to San Francisco with my friend Stu. (I still dream of living there.) I remember my mom belting out Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and thinking it was one of the best songs I’d ever heard. (Eventually I learned how to play it myself, on my little red guitar.)

I bought “Life”–Richard’s 2010 autobiography–last November as a belated birthday gift for my dad, who is a Stones fan. So when I moved into his and my stepmom’s house in March for my temporary stay and spotted it, I decided to give it a go.

Reading the book is like swinging back in time as Richards’ silent sidekick, then watching him fight, stride, and stumble his way through the chaos that makes up his days. You’re with him as a kid-in postwar Dartford, England, where he was frequently beat up on his way home from school. You’re there when he discovers records and Elvis and Chuck Berry, and in the sweaty London clubs where the Stones first performed, trying to become the best blues band in London. You’re with him in a smoke shop in Tangier, Morocco, and along for the acid-fueled road trip he took with John Lennon. You’re in a police chief’s office in Arkansas and in the back of a blue Bentley driving through Spain with his bandmate’s girlfriend.

In one chapter you’re in a prison in England called Wormwood Scrubs, another you’re on an Italian speedboat called Mandrax, pulling into Monte Carlo with Mick and the boys for lunch. All this is conveyed against the backdrop of rock and roll’s thundering sweep over Britain, the U.S., and the generation that viewed its message as a ticket to another existence.

But beyond the drugs and the stage, the women, the road, the feuds, the houses and hotels, the arrests and the exile, lies the central theme of Richard’s life–his relentless, life-sustaining passion for music. He writes:

“What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.”

If you play guitar, read this book. (Richards will teach you his tricks.) If you’re fascinated by what makes up a life, the characters that inhabit it and the passions that fuel it, read this book. It will make you grateful you haven’t made the same reckless choices as the man named No. 1 on a list titled Rock Stars Most-Likely-To-Die. But it also might make you gaze down your own winding path, and wonder if the adventure could be amplified.

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Richards and Jagger on their 1969 U.S. tour. Image via: time.com

 

p.s. Funny 1964 footage of the Stones, and a powerful piece by Russell Brand on heroin, abstinence and addiction

THE NINE: Eve Joseph on The Irrational Madness of Writing

“. . . I want to know about blindness. I want to

ask poetry where the birds went when they disappeared and how it

was they reappeared in cursive loops like a new language above the

daffodil fields one afternoon in late March.”

~Eve Joseph (from “Questions”, The Secret Signature of Things)

Eve Joseph

Ask Eve Joseph if it’s day or night, and she won’t be able to tell you. At least, not when she’s consumed by writing.

The author of two books of poetry: The Startled Heart (2004) and The Secret Signature of Things (2010), and the recipient of multiple awards and nominations including the CBC Literary Awards shortlist for Creative non-fiction, Eve calls her writing process a “compulsive, irrational, self-absorbed kind of madness.”

She explored this compulsion in her interview with me for The Nine, opening up about what drew her to language as a young girl, the years she didn’t write, and the ways in which writing surprises her.  Read more

My new website! Open-hearted + ready for you.

Hello, friends.  I’m so excited to share with you my new home on the web! Plans for this baby have been in the works for the last year, and pulling back the curtain today feels exhilarating, timely, and so right.

I invite you to take a wander through the pages.  Learn about working with me. Check out the deets on my new interview series THE NINE, and read the very first NINE interview below—with Vancouver-based writer + filmmaker Garfield Lindsay Miller.  (He gives it to us straight.)

If you like what you see, I hope you’ll share with your people, and subscribe!  That would be lovely.

Big, big thanks to:

~Ben Moore at Signal Creative for his tech + coding savvy.

~My fiance Joe for his support through my hair-splitting creative decisions on colours, fonts, and text.

~All of you reading this, for your love and interest in what I’m up to.

I’m done formatting now.  (Yay.)  It’s time to write!

xo ~Courtney

THE NINE: Writer + Filmmaker Garfield Lindsay Miller on Motivation, Filming the Dalai Lama, and What Scares Him

Garfield Lindsay Miller

Photo credit: Sioux Bonderove

  

After taking a History of World Cinema class at Wesleyan—a small liberal arts college in Conneticut—when he was 20, Garfield Lindsay Miller began to experience film as an art form.  This discovery led him to Sweden, England, and Morocco, where he worked on student films assisting with everything from moving equipment to shooting and production management.

Later torn between the pursuit of a law degree or becoming a storyteller (a decision he considers one of the most difficult of his life), Garfield chose film—a path that has brought him a Gemini nomination and the Wilber and Silver Chris Awards for the documentary The Fires That Burn, a TIFF premiere and AIFF award for the feature film A Stone’s Throw, a meeting with the Dalai Lama at his compound in Dharamsala, and most recently, a stint in the Writer’s room for Bitten—an upcoming werewolf-themed TV series.  He still wonders if he made the right choice.

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