Friday, May 21, 2010

Back to Blogging

The photo was taken at the Floridita bar, one of Hemingway's hangouts in Havana. It was taken by Dink Bruce (son of Toby Bruce, Hemingway's right hand man). Photography is only one of Dink's many skills.


Dink and Les Standiford and I were in Havana recently. It's an extraordinarily beautiful city, but very sad as well. The architecture is amazing, as richly detailed and varied as Florence or Madrid or Sevilla. But inside those beautiful buildings are tenements. People living in extreme poverty.

As you may have noticed, I've been taking a break, a long break from blogging lately. Lots of things have distracted me. I was finishing up a new non-fiction book on Bestsellers, for one thing. The book grows out of a course I taught at FIU for many years.

I've also been working on the new Thorn novel. More trauma for the guy. More loss, more adventure. This time he'll go a few places he's never been before. He gets involved with a woman who writes for the Miami Herald. He also discovers a couple of things about his past that he didn't know.

I've also been working on another non-fiction book proposal that has something to do with Hemingway. Just got back from Havana where I did a little research. This is a short video along the Malecon in a 57 Chevy on the way back from lunch at the Hotel Nacional.

Also been reading books on my Kindle and other books the Here's a very informative article on the state of Barnes and Noble and the book biz in general as it faces the rising tide of e-books.

Seems inevitable that a great majority of us will be reading on some electronic device in the next ten years or so. I like my Kindle, and lust for an iPad. But just as we couldn't see the iPad coming five years ago, it's unlikely that these will be the forms our ebooks will be taking five years from now.

All this matters to me as a reader, but it matters even more as a writer and friend of booksellers. The downward pressure on price has already started to effect the book biz, shaving away margins and depressing author "salaries." And as the article above makes clear, bookstores are going to have to do even more radical re-inventions if they're going to survive the next wave of change.

Here's a shot of me waiting for my lunch companions to go back downtown.

The car might look cool, but it was certainly showing its age. Noisy gears, rattling engine block, body held together with duct tape and a prayer. It's a credit to Cuban ingenuity and resourcefulness that the old girl was still running.

Here, in no particular order, are some images from the streets of Havana.

A fruit market with two fruits

Art, old and new.

A hotel as ornate as a cathedral.

Woman in red.


C.L.J. said...

Glad to see an update; thanks for sharing! That Chevy may be a metaphor for Cuba itself.
Enjoyed SILENCER; looking forward to the next one.

Lola said...

I have very mixed feelings about e-books. On trips, a kindle would be great, but I will never lose my love of holding a book in my hand. I love the smell of a new book and I love having shelves full of my favortie authors (of course James Hall is one of them along with Sanford's Prey books). I love getting lost in time inside a bookstore and I love the simple task of turning page after page for pleausre rather than going nuts learning more technology. Don't get me wrong, I am an (alternative) student and would be lost without my laptop, but when technology starts threatening my favorite places on earth - book stores - I feel a little sick inside. Bye the way, Mr. Hall, I am the student that wrote to you a few years back requesting your input on the poem, "Maybe Dat's Your Pwoblem Too," for an English paper I was writing for Dr. Douglas Ford's class. Just wanted you to know I made an A.