(A Bumper) Bits and Bobs V

“Many times I began a letter, and then put it aside because the piece was not finished. And the drafts of letters piled up, and time lapped on and thickened, putting on skins of distance, and daily, and even more so nightly, I grew more ashamed of my silence and more angry with my procrastination until, at last, I couldn’t write at all. I buried my head in the sands of America; flew over America like a damp, ranting bird; boomed and fiddled while home was burning; carried with me, all the time, my unfinished letters, my dying explanations and self-accusations… These ostrich griefs were always with me, and whispered loudest in the late night when, indeed, I was all sand. ‘Put it off, put it off,’ ‘It’s too late now,’ ‘You can never be forgiven,’ ‘The past is as dead as you’ll be,’ ‘Burn the daft drafts, unwind the half-play in your head so that nothing’s left’… ’’

Greetings, dear reader, and apologies by way of Dylan Thomas (above) for the long absence. I am hoping this bumper edition of Bits and Bobs makes up for it and that you find something here to amuse, delight, ponder, pursue or simply enjoy the putter.

One of my favorite YouTubers and ‘makers’, Simone Giertz, visits a toymaker and fellow inventor at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. All kinds of heartwarming (& heartbreaking).
Dubravka Ugresic, author of Lend Me Your Character (“arguably the best book by Ugresic available in English…it deserves the type of praise that Ugresic is usually uneasy about: sexy, hip, funny”—The Globe and Mail) in 1968.

“I think that the notion of a literary work ethic is extremely important, especially today when practically anybody can write, produce, and distribute his or her own work. This work ethic presupposes knowledge and a deep respect toward—and compassion for—your ancestors and contemporaries, toward your trade. It also assumes a deep awareness of what one is doing, why one is doing what one is doing, what the sense of the work is, what it brings to the cultural context, what it brings to the reader, and so on and so forth.”

Read more about one of the most distinctive literary voices to have emerged from Europe in this wide-ranging interview with Ugresic from 2015. We featured Ugresic in our June Book Box

Ugresic went into exile from Croatia after being labeled a “witch” for her anti-nationalistic stance during the Yugoslav war. And that’s my segue to a recent book I could not put down, did not want to say goodbye to:

Is it ‘witchy’ that while I was reading, a friend alerted me to this BBC Radio 4 podcast, which too, I listened to with rapt attention. 

The witch has held a place firmly in our imagination for centuries—from whispered warnings in folklore to pop-culture driven heights. But what does it mean to be a witch today?

Another podcast I’ve been enjoying—because I adore Seth Meyers? (jackal here) am jealous of happy families?—Family Trips with the Meyers Brothers. Guests so far include the Amys (Poehler + Schumer), Pete Davidson and Tom ‘Spiderman’ Holland. In solidarity with the Writers Strike, which began on May 2, here’s James Oppenheim’s 1911 poem, ‘Bread and Roses’. 

Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim

Entries from the first African American English Dictionary which is being edited by Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a decorated scholar of Black history and culture, whom you might know better as the gracious host of Ancestry’s Finding Your Roots. In a long line of jaw-dropping stories, this episode with Pamela Adlon remains a favorite!
British School, Allegorical Painting of Two Ladies Wearing Beauty Patches(1650s)

The Old Wild Place by David Whyte

Barbie, Portrait of BillyBoy* by Andy Warhol, 1986

In March 1959, the world was introduced to Barbara Milicent Roberts, better known as Barbie. In that first year, 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold. Read more about Barbie’s inception and cultural revolution through the decades in this fascinating piece

Bits and Bobs is brought to you by Simar Puneet, Content and Marketing Director at Boxwalla. Simar has been an editor in publishing for the last fifteen years during which time she has commissioned, edited, and worked with the finest authors in the South Asian literary firmament. Her passion for books is only rivaled by her abiding interest in art, history, and, yes, skincare!

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