‘A day which lay sly and unseen’

Life drawing (A1 charcoal 2017)

The London Book Fair starts today and my mind is on meetings and future publications and sales forecasts. I therefore offer you a recent life drawing and three excerpts from The Book of Barry*.

First, from Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles:

She philosophically noted dates as they came past in the revolution of the year. Her own birthday, and every other day individualised by incidents in which she had taken some share. She suddenly thought, one afternoon, that there was another date, of greater importance than all those; that of her own death; a day which lay sly and unseen among the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there. When was it?

My admiration for novelist Colm Tóibín knows few bounds. He was one of the many who paid tribute to the painter Howard Hodgkin, who died last week. Unlike most of the other obituarists, however, Tóibín, understood that

[Hodgkin] found a style as a painter that matched who he was as a man, and he stuck with that. There were times, he must have known, when the emotion in the work seemed to exceed its cause. That was part of the risk he took. Each painting was a balance between released emotion and something coiled, concealed, withheld.

And finally, two quotations from writer Ray Bradbury, who died in 2012:

Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies,” my grandfather said, “A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched in some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”

* The Book of Barry is a small Moleskine filled with newspaper clippings and things I read and enjoyed in books or magazines and wanted to keep. Some are mean, some are moving, many are funny – at least to me – and some turn a light on human folly or pretension, while others are simply weird or just too good to forget. I once gave it to someone as a gift but she found it less engaging than I, and kindly let me have it back. Really, everyone should keep a book like this for all those fleeting things one reads online and in print.

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15 thoughts on “‘A day which lay sly and unseen’

  1. Very good blog, I’m a big fan of Hardy and came to it later in life having ‘done’ Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ at school and not really undertsanding much of it. However Jude the Obscure should remain just that, obscure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Especially like those last two quotes and once kept a book of quotes, but not as extensive as your Book. Good luck at the London Book Fair– I have a proposal in with Quarto, fingers crossed for a co- publisher.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this is so exquisite, I love this post! wonderful sketch Michael, with her shyly turned face, lovely 🙂
    in my post I’m planning to mention, link to this! with the quotes too. Thank You for sharing, this is Fantastis! cheers, Debi

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OMG I love the quotes and paired with the sketch, fabulous. I have kept many books like this as well as digital files. I keep thinking about doing more of it in my art journal. Actually, no time like the present. I’ve got to go!

    Liked by 1 person

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