Here’s a random list of life-affirming things I’d recommend.  I’ll add to it from time to time…..

John Stallworthy’s poem, The Almond Tree.

Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe novels – and the sense that he knows he messed up with the last one and is working on something remedial.

The Bridge, especially for Saga Noren, a 21st century artist’s interpretation of Spock.

Mark Danielewski’s book, House of Leaves.

Michael Ondaatje’s poetry.

Joel Meyerowitz.

Early Kandinsky.

Michel Faber’s book, Under The Skin.

Mad Men.

Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert, esp part 2A.  If you’re suffering from writer’s block, here’s your answer.  This has served me well for years.

Sarah Vaughan, esp singing Send in the Clowns live in Paris in 1985.

Jimmy Webb, for most things, but especially The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress (esp Joe Cocker version), Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon (see the bar scene in French Connection), Wichita Lineman,….I could go on…..

Manhattan’s High Line park.  An amazing piece of urban ‘planning’.

Early Netherlandish painting.  Memling, Van Eyck, etc.  All fabulous.

Shakespeare’s “There is a tide in the affairs” riff.  The best pep talk of all time.

The New South Wales coast north of Bateman’s Bay.

Most things written by Clive James.

Clive James’ ability to pack the world into a simple phrase.

Twitter, for adjusting my opinion of my heroes. + and –

Most things that have Nick Cave’s fingerprints on them.

The suspension of disbelief.

Clam chowder.

The Boring Conference.

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia.



Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.

The House that Beebo Built.

Chet Baker, Kurt Elling, Astrud Gilberto, Bill Evans.

Richard Hamilton.

Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay.

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