Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Help Me Title My Book

I am continuing to work on the final pieces for a book I have tentatively called "The Color and the Noise" - that's the title of one chapter (piece/essay) in the book about fatherhood, dealing with the sins of the father, and finding your place as a dad, even if you have no idea what you are doing, or why you are feeling or acting the way you do with your own kids. You can read about it on my website -

That particular piece is about my younger son's struggle in school, with family and friends, and yet his absolute LOVE of metal music and how that mad music may have been one of the best things for him.

But the overall theme of the book is about overcoming and reacting internally, even viscerally, to the sins of the father, the biblical belief that we all have to atone, live through, deal with, the bad things our father's, family's have done. In this story, it's the sins of my grandfather I focus on and how my dad dealt with his father leaving the family for a woman who lived down the street; how that event changed my dad, effected him, but also effected me as a father, two generations later. The book is structured to be a series of pieces - essays, stories, snippets - whatever you want to call them - that come together to tell this larger story.

So - the title.

The Color and the Noise
Living with What the Dead Did
Watching the Past
Boxing with Ghosts (there's a significant piece in the collection about how boxing helped my Dad overcome a lot of emotion.)
Punching Air

Just some thoughts. Yours? What do you think, with the limited knowledge you have of the book?

Second -
I've begun a novel, BARELY begun a novel.
The premise: A man goes on an ill conceived, even reckless journey with a friend to find the boy he gave up for adoption with his college girlfriend many years ago. The trip takes him on a journey he never expected with revelations he never would have imagined. Essentially, it's a road trip story, with a twist.


Third Man Road (The "third man" concept is about having a guardian angel that gets you through anything.)
Turn Left When You Laugh
Turn Left When You Cry
Driving Naked
Driving Fast and Naked
Driving with Eyes Closed
Roads with Angels
Driving with Angels

Again, you haven't read the work, but - what do you think of the titles as they stand alone? What evokes an emotion, and what is it?

I would love your thoughts. Think of it as communal titling. :)

David B

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Great Read

Just picked up a new release - A Common Pornography by Kevin Sempsell. Such an interesting approach to storytelling - little remembrances, snippets of time and place. I know it's cliche to say - but - I can't put it down. I love when good stories are told in new ways. Just like The Beatles or Dylan told their new stories in new ways. Kevin, sorry, I don't mean to link you with Lennon-McCartney or Dylan - but, I think you get the point.

Dave B

Monday, January 18, 2010

For Kerouac Fans

Anyone who knows me - students, friends, family - can't miss that I am a Jack Kerouac fan. And no, my favorite is not On the Road. My favorite is The Dharma Bums. But, either way, I think Kerouac - minus the cliches about him and his work - was one of those lightning bolts in literature, art, pop culture that comes only a few times in a century. On the 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Road, I released a personal audio documentary of a Kerouac-like trip I made with a friend - my Dean Moriarty - across the American west. It was broadcast on public radio stations across the country. And recently, at the college where I teach - Columbia College Chicago - I was privileged to be involved in the campus-wide celebration of Kerouac when his original On the Road manuscript was exhibited at the school.

And now, even more great Kerouac stuff.

There's a new CD and documentary film just released called - One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. it is a marvelous collection of Kerouac images and stories, but most importantly it is a collection of new musical works from the indie artists Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Jay Farrar of Son Volt. Big Sur was a post-On the Road work that really is a downer. It focuses on Kerouac's terrible descent into alcoholism and his attempt to dry-up while spending time alone in a cabin owned by Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in California's Big Sur. The book is wonderful, but depressing. The music in this collection - yes, a bit EMO - but in many respects absolutely beautiful. In a way, it captures Kerouac's Big Sur - a novel dealing with the depths of human despair, but also engaging glimmers of hope. Sure - maybe a CD collection based around Kerouac's The Dharma Bums might have been better. (On the Road would have been too much of a cliche, don't you think?) but still, the music is worth a listen, even if you are are not a Kerouac fan.

Dave B

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ode to the Guitar

I've been playing guitar - with varying degrees of intensity - for decades. Played in a band in my 20s, performed at coffeehouses with my acoustic, and lately have enjoyed quite moments late at night to soothe all. My 30-year old six sting, battered as it may be, still sounds wonderful. Clear, clean, and resonate.

A few nights ago, I hooked up with a friend, someone who loves music, loves Jazz, loves guitars, owns several, including a marvelous Martin acoustic. I played it for hours, finger-picking my way around every song I could remember. The music, mixed with good wine, a good woman, good friends, and the warmth of firewood was nearly as perfect as it gets.

I need to play more.

David B

Friday, January 8, 2010

No Idea Why

I've been stymied lately. Couldn't get the good writing mojo going. I was stuck and uninspired, and every time I would try to sit down and write, it was simply awful. My goal has been to complete - at least first drafts - of all the pieces I have in mind for a collection of father stories. All personal stories, memoir, to be gathered into a book that tells the story of how a grandfather's guilt carried its way through my father to me, and how I'm, as a father, trying to make up for a grandfather's misguided decisions, how we all are living the sins of our fathers.

Finally, I've made progress.

In the last couple days, for whatever reason, the writing juices are flowing again. The words are forming, the sentences are connecting, the insight is emerging.

My question is this: Why does this happen? Why does the muse come and go? What dampens it; what sparks it? In Greek mythology, the muse means a "guiding spirit" or a "source of inspiration." But isn't this spirit, this inspiration, always there? Doesn't it just have to be uncovered, revealed? So, what keeps it hidden?

I realize these are questions of a thousand poets, the dreams of artists everywhere. But still, that doesn't mean I can't ask the question - over and over and over again.

David B

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reading on the iPhone

Never thought I would say this - I love my iPhone Kindle application!

I am a lover of books, holding them, smelling them, hearing the sweet crack of a book's binding opened for the first time. I love old books, new books, all books. I have shelves of them.

But, I downloaded a book - A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore - through AmazonKindle onto my iPhone and found the reading highly enjoyable, accessible, and down-right cool. The book is a wonderful read, that is a given here, but the screen on the iPhone for reading is far better than I expected.

Just for kicks, I downloaded my own book, Accidental Lessons, to see what it would be like to read on the iPhone Kindle. And, honestly, I love it.

Never thought is would say this - I'm thinking about downloading more books to my iPhone. And no, I'm NOT getting paid for this!

David W. Berner