It is a little-known fact that electronic music pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron supplemented their income by recording avant-garde writers reading from their own work, including Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, and Anais Nin, under the label of Sound Portraits. The Barrons had heard Nin reading and were captivated not only by the nature of her work, but by the author herself. Nin’s 1936 “prose poem,” House of Incest, was perhaps Nin’s most creative fiction, called “surrealist” by some, “French poetry written in English” by others, and “unique” almost universally. Some have devoted theses, articles, and books to the exploration of the meaning of House of Incest, but perhaps the best way to interpret it is to listen to Nin’s masterful performance of reading it aloud. It is then the words come alive and weave together in ways not obvious by merely reading them on paper. Nin breathes significance into each passage, each phrase, each word, masterfully emphasizing and enunciating only as she can. To listen to the entire work in 64 minutes parallels dreaming it with Nin. Her voice is the music, her words the lyrics, both of which precipitate images unique to each listener. This book has no definite and concrete meaning–it is an experience that we each can call our own. That is the magic of Nin’s work in general, and House of Incest in particular.
Adam Barron, the son of Louis and Bebe Barron, has finally released the CD version of his parents’ recording of Nin, and with the modern technology of remastering and digitization, the product sounds every bit as pristine as the original. It is available through his web site, http://www.barronsoundportraits.com for $15.00US, postage included in the U.S., and it includes many extras, such as a facsimile of the original liner notes, a synopsis, and a glossary of some of Nin’s terminology.
The proceeds from the sale of the CD go to UNICEF.
WHEN: Saturday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: BEYOND BAROQUE – 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291 http://www.beyondbaroque.org/ 310.822.3006
WHAT: Barbara Kraft will be doing a reading on her newly published book Anaïs Nin: The Last Days
An insightful memoir – Anaïs Nin: The Last Days
By Pauline Adamek
Barbara Kraft’s sensitive memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, captures the humanity, mortality and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures, employing sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose.
Kraft intriguingly opens her chronicle with this explanatory paragraph:
“I have chosen to reveal the intimacies of Anaïs Nin’s last days as I witnessed them so that the story of her death is not lost. Everything comes back in the mind’s eye. Everything comes back in the crucible of the heart. She remains in my psyche all these years later as the most refined and rarified human being I have ever encountered.”
Anaïs Nin, noted for her intimate diaries and scandalous, deliciously sensual erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. The two women immediately became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Nin’s terminal cancer and Kraft’s impending difficult divorce. These circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and tireless part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of celebrated life.
As Noel Riley Fitch, author of Anaïs: The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin, writes of Kraft’s book: “An intimate and beautiful portrayal of the final years and painful death of Anaïs Nin… This compelling memoir is honest, critical, and full of perceptive insights into the relationships between Nin and her men.”
“Of all the young women I’ve worked with, you are the one most like me,” Nin told Kraft as she lay dying.
Kraft describes her initial meeting with Nin in February 1974, writing that Nin was poetry embodied and seemed to ‘glide’ over the rose-colored carpet of her Silver Lake home ‘like a swan skimming the surface of still waters.’ And in December of that year she begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer.
Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft expertly captures. She poignantly records not only Nin’s stubborn grip on life, but also the heroic efforts that Rupert Pole, Nin’s West Coast lover, made to shield her from the inevitable pain, agony and humiliation associated with the disease. It is a monumental tribute not only to those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.
The very personal events in this book will resonate with anyone who has gone through terminal disease or knows someone who has had to endure that challenge. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.
Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is currently available for purchase on Amazon, and also on Smashwords. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is also available directly from iPad and iPhone (through the iTunes store), Nook, the Sony Reader, as well as other Kindle-friendly devices worldwide.
About the Author:
A former reporter for Time, Washington Post, People, USA Today, and Architectural Digest, Barbara Kraft is author of The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini, with a preface by Anaïs Nin. Kraft’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly, and Columbia Magazine, and among the many radio programs she has hosted and produced is Transforming OC, a two-part documentary on the 2006 opening of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Kraft lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.
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