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In this week’s newsletter: living through a slow-motion disaster, art as pointing at things, and more...

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A newsletter from the desk of Austin Kleon
Ginnys little longhorn salon in the snow

Hey y’all,

Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. As I write this, my family is safe and warm, but we’re living through a slow-motion disaster down here in Texas. I’ve never been an evangelist for my state, but out of sheer rage at the schadenfreude towards our suffering going around, I felt compelled to write about what living here has taught me. Now we look for the helpers and wait for the thaw. (God bless the folks at HEB.)
     
  2. If you are having trouble with your art or writing, try pointing at things.
     
  3. Reading: I finished Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song, a totally wonderful posthumous collection of his work. I also read a galley of Far From Respectable: Dave Hickey and His Art, a nice appreciation of one of my favorite critics that made me want to immediately re-read Hickey’s brilliant Air Guitar. Finally, I picked up Patricia Lockwood’s novel, No One Is Talking About This, which an aquaintance of mine suggested should be retitled, Everyone Is Talking About This. (Her memoir, Priestdaddy, was on my favorite reads of 2018.)
     
  4. Some cheer for this icy world: We had a house built for Coconut the Owl!
     
  5. Rob Spillman interviewed me about this newsletter and what’s going on. (The website is a little slow-to-load, give it a minute.)
     
  6. A former student posted a PDF of Denis Johnson’s commonplace book containing 60+ pages of quotes about writing. A great gift to us scratchers and scribblers. (In addition to writing some of my favorite fiction — Train Dreams, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, Jesus’ Son, — Johnson also wrote one of the best things about homeschooling I’ve ever read.)
     
  7. I learned that Debussy’s “smells of the lamp” burn is actually an idiom from ancient times. (As a fan of mishearing as a creative act, I loved this list of words formed by mistake.)
     
  8. Eye candy: I’m loving the work of Karen Carson, especially her posters and bas relief.
     
  9. I spent most of last weekend reading old letters from my grandma and writing her obituary. When I was sixteen, I interviewed her about living through the depression. This is what she told me.
     
  10. “There are three deaths.”
Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap. To show your support, you can forward it to someone who’d like it, listen to the new audiobook trilogy (or get the books in paperback), shop for some of my favorite gear (I get a cut), or buy a t-shirt.

If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.

xoxo,

Austin
step one wonder at something step two invite others to wonder with you
Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is the author of Steal Like An Artist and other books.

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Austin Kleon
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