by Madeline, Giftseller

As I've been an avid reader all my life, and most happily employed at Brookline Booksmith for three(?) years now, I'm ashamed to admit that I hate writing. Expressing myself clearly, and in words others can read and understand, has always been almost borderline... embarrassing? for me. Every year that I grow older and delve into more things is another year I grow more convinced that I don't actually know anything.

So for my blog contribution I thought I would take the coward's exit instead and share something marginally less embarrassing to me: my process for completing my most recent colored pencil project, depicting a scene from the film Still Walking (directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda back in 2008).

A color test to start. I primarily use Prismacolors but I pull from a large hodge-podge collection of brands. I'm fond of Derwent Coloursofts because of how (incredibly) soft they are but can in no way afford a large set of them. For this piece I used just a sheet of classic 300 series Strathmore drawing paper.

Added Ryota's father and darkened Ryota's shirt and face to make up for the different levels of light hitting the two of them. Extended the garden and began the blue hue reflecting off the surface of the table.

Further extended the garden, and filled it in heavily with black and dark brown to create depth and show light. Finished filling in the stone wall and added the tiniest bit of sky peeking through, in between the two rolled up shades. Added the design to the uchiwa fan and further details to his father. Extended the light reflected off the table and added the various items on the table. Began coloring light shining through the glasses of beer, and added the very top of a head, obstructing the view of the large serving bowl.

Added the remaining glasses of beer and blended the absolute hell out of the table with a colorless blender. Added the two sliding shōji doors, with a bit of the garden showing through the farthest one out and adding a subtle lace curtain hanging over the additional heavier weight orange curtain in the door closest to the inside. Wrapped the whole thing up with a tiny bit of tatami mat in the bottom right corner.

Be well, stay healthy. I find myself walking around my apartment unconsciously touching the spines of my own books, a ritual I'm positive many of us have found ourselves inexplicably taking part in. A day will come when we can all go back to browsing the shelves. Here are a few of my favorite titles until then:

Poor Things

Poor Things

I first read Poor Things around ten years ago- obviously it made an impression because for whatever reason it is a book I think back on frequently. At its core, the novel is an absolutely lunatic retelling of the classic Frankenstein story. Filled to the brim with outlandish oddities; wit; deliciously gruesome descriptions; and delightful little etching illustrations that really bring the story to life, you are sure to enjoy the absolute rollercoaster of a ride.
Prisoner of Love

Prisoner of Love

Written by the dying Genet a decade after the events depicted, Prisoner of Love is a record of two years the author spent in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan during the 1970s. Spun together with the same effortless lyrical prose that Genet is well-known (and well-loved) for, this book was his final step on an unrepentant and debaucherous quest for spiritual glory. This edition is beautifully brought back to life by NYRB publishing with an introduction by the Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif. Soueif quotes an interview of Genet's from the 1980s, after spending much of his own life as an outcast - "Obviously, I am drawn to peoples in revolt... because I myself have the need to call the whole of society into question."
Spring Snow

Spring Snow

The first novel (and my personal favorite) in the Sea of Fertility tetralogy; Mishima's masterpiece and easily the most famous in his body of work. The plot centers on the life of Shigekuni Honda, from his modest beginnings as a young law student to his retirement as a wealthy judge. Each book depicts his many failed attempts to save the life of his childhood friend; a friend who is reincarnated several times throughout Honda's life, and who has been seemingly damned by karma to suffer an early death. Spanning love; political and civil unrest; death; rebirth; and a shattering conclusion that challenges the foundation of reality itself, the Sea of Fertility is Mishima's testament to the world, and (in my opinion) the pinnacle of Japanese contemporary fiction. The very morning he finished writing the closing sentences of the fourth and final book of the series—Yukio Mishima ended his life most spectacularly in a planned public protest and ritual suicide. Backordered as of 5/15/20, but you can reserve a copy at our Bookshop page.
The Journal of Albion Moonlight

The Journal of Albion Moonlight

Bonus pick: this one is sadly out of print, but look out for a secondhand copy in our Used Book Cellar once we reopen. Written in 1941, The Journal of Albion Moonlight grasps a surreal observation of the horrors of the second World War with two manic hands. Written in the style of... poetry? Winding stream of consciousness through the tunnels of a mind at war? Diary entries of a madman? Harrowing chants of a narrator trapped within his own tortured soul? Whatever it is, it looks God in the eye, is swallowed down whole and spit straight back out. Truly one of a kind.
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