Barbara Kraft reads from Henry Miller: The Last Days

Barbara Kraft, author of a new memoir on Henry Miller, recently gave a reading at a Santa Monica library, which was video recorded and is now ready to be viewed.

Kraft not only speaks of her close relationship with the literary titan during his final two years, but also reminisces about her friendship with Anais Nin during the years just before her death–a relationship that was independent of that with Miller. Kraft’s gift to Miller and Nin fans are her two beautifully written memoirs:

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Each book is the perfect companion for the other.

To watch the video, click here. (Run time: 49 minutes)

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Sky Blue Press and Swallow Press team up for a new Anaïs Nin diary

Sky Blue Press has just signed a deal with Swallow/Ohio University Press to co-publish Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947-1955. This partnership is a continuation of the one formed for the publication of the previous diary, Mirages (2013), which was the first Nin diary published since 1996.

Anais Nin and Rupert Pole, 1950s

Anais Nin and Rupert Pole, 1950s

Mirages begins when World War II forced Nin and her husband from Paris, and, as the title suggests, her post-Paris life isa series of failed attempts at both literary acceptance and romance. After a seven-year crossing of what Nin called a “desert,” she finally meets the man she feels will be the “One” for her, the young out-of-work actor from California, Rupert Pole.

Trapeze deals with the life Nin has chosen for herself—the double life, living part time with her husband Hugh Guiler in New York, and part time with Pole in Los Angeles. It is a brutally honest look at what seems to be an impossible arrangement, the maintaining of two lives, two men, two homes, and the lengths to which Nin went to keep her most audacious secret yet. What kept her from choosing one man over the other? Did she find true happiness? What sort of physical and psychological toll did this lifestyle have on her and her two men? And how did she handle the complete collapse of her writing career in the austere 1950s America? All of these questions will finally be answered.

Trapeze will be released in Spring 2017 in both print and ebook formats.

Call for Papers

A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal is seeking contributions for its 2017 issue.

Articles (both academic and non-academic) on Nin, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, or anyone within Nin’s literary circle, are welcome. We also accept photo essays, poetry, short fiction, travelogues and book or event reviews.

Articles are generally around 2,500 words, but we are extremely flexible, depending on the theme.

All styles (Chicago, MLA, etc.) are welcome and will be modified to our house style.

Poetry and short fiction do not have to necessarily be about Nin per se, but should have a certain quality that evokes her spirit.

We do accept short erotica, but we ask that the style be somewhat in line with Nin’s.

You can contact us a skybluepress@skybluepress.com with proposals or queries.CafeVol13-CoverLarge-1

Podcast 17: Barbara Kraft Interviews Henry Miller

At about 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon, June 7, 1980, rebel author Henry Miller died in the arms of his caretaker in Pacific Palisades, California, which marked the end of an amazing era, one that saw literature turned upside down, saw the draconian obscenity laws of the US taken apart after long court battles. Few had heard of Miller before his Tropic of Cancer was finally published after a nearly 30-year wait, but he rose to instant stardom in the twilight of his life.

Henry Miller

Henry Miller

Miller moved into a seemingly bourgeois neighborhood, 444 Ocampo Drive, Pacific Palisades during the 1960s, but what went on there was anything but bourgeois. A constant parade of people came and went, some staying for a while, others coming on a regular basis to cook for Miller and to make conversation. One of these cooks was Barbara Kraft, who became an intimate friend during the last two years of Miller’s life. She has just published a memoir, Henry Miller: The Last Days, which chronicles her experiences with Miller and his entourage.

To commemorate Miller’s 88th birthday, Kraft recorded what would be the last substantial interview of his life. In it he speaks about his philosophy on life, writing, women and men, religion, politics, sex, love, marriage and spirituality. He mentions his hero Blaise Cendrars, his Paris companion Alfred Perlès, his meeting with Emma Goldman, Stroker publisher Irving Stettner, and, of course, Anaïs Nin.

The interview was broadcast on December 26, 1979 on KCRW, and to commemorate the passing of a literary legend, we are presenting it in its entirety for our podcast.

Run time: 1 hour

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

To order Barbara Kraft’s memoir Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

Podcast 16: Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller with Barbara Kraft

In 1974, Barbara Kraft sent Anaïs Nin, who was offering to mentor writers, a submission that was accepted. Just after Kraft met the famous diarist, Nin discovered she had cancer and began a two-year descent into pain and suffering, but Kraft and Nin forged a deep friendship that helped Nin transcend the illness. Nin’s relentless spirit in the face of death is the subject of Kraft’s first memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days (2011, Sky Blue Press).

FrontCoverEbookSoon after Nin died in early 1977, Kraft attended a talk by Henry Miller and was so impressed that she wrote “An Open Letter to Henry Miller,” which was broadcast on a local NPR station. When Miller heard a recording of the “Letter,” he immediately sought Kraft out, and he eventually asked her to be one of sixteen rotating cooks who would not only cook dinner for him, but engage in conversation. She accepted, and soon she was conversing with the Tropic of Cancer writer on a regular basis about life, art, religion, sex, philosophy and, of course, writing. Kraft became more than a cook, though—she also was Miller’s confidante and, in the end, the one responsible for making sure he didn’t die alone in the chaotic house in Pacific Palisades, all of which is included in her latest book Henry Miller: The Last Days (2016, Sky Blue Press).

Listen as Kraft reflects upon these two intimate, but very different, friendships and how she captures the essence of both Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller.

Run time: 29 minutes

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

For more on Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

For more on Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, click here.

Henry Miller: The Last Days

Barbara Kraft’s new memoir, Henry Miller: The Last Days is available in print now and will be published in digital format May 20, 2016.

FrontCoverEbookKraft met Henry Miller in 1977, only months after her friend—and Miller’s former lover—Anaïs Nin died. Kraft was so impressed by Miller that she reread virtually all of his work and broadcast an “open letter” to Miller on an NPR station. When Miller heard a recording of the show, he invited Kraft to become one of his sixteen rotating cooks.

(Click here to hear Kraft and Miller discussing the arrangement.)

Kraft returned on a regular basis to the Miller household and struck up an intimate friendship with the famous author, recording daily events and conversations in her diary. The operations of the household were anything but normal—they were largely carried out by various individual who came and went, and the person in charge of them was a serious drug addict. It was largely due to Kraft’s intervention that Miller didn’t die of malnutrition and, in the end, didn’t die alone.

To see details of Henry Miller: The Last Days, click here.

To see details of Anais Nin: The Last Days, click here.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 15: Nin’s Editor John Ferrone

When one thinks of Anaïs Nin’s Henry and June, Delta of Venus and Little Birds, one thinks of her “blockbusters,” her most popular and bestselling works, titles that put her on the map. Two of the three books were made into Hollywood films, and Henry and June became notorious because of its first-ever NC-17 rating. The two volumes of erotica, Delta of Venus and Little Birds, propelled Nin’s reputation as a groundbreaking feminine erotica writer. While Nin wrote all of the material in these volumes, the man who made them bona fide successes was John Ferrone, Nin’s editor.

John Ferrone & Anais Nin, 1970s

John Ferrone & Anais Nin, 1970s

Nin met Ferrone in 1969, and by 1973 he was her fulltime editor at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Nin was so impressed with his editing that as she gave him 850 pages of raw erotica, written some thirty years prior for a dollar a page, she gave him the following instructions: “Do anything you like with it. I trust you.” Ferrone wrote “The Making of Delta of Venus” for Volume 7 of A Café in Space in which he describes the great lengths he had to go to in order to sort out the entangled and complicated stories, to craft them into top-notch literary collections.

When Ferrone was editing Henry and June in 1985, he clashed with Nin’s “West Coast Husband” and Trustee of The Anaïs Nin Trust over how the book would appear—Rupert Pole wanted none of Nin’s writing changed, whereas Ferrone recognized the need for significant alterations in order to produce a commercially successful book. Their letters were so incendiary that after the book was done, Ferrone never edited another Nin book. For more on this, read Ferrone’s “The Making of Henry and June the Book” in Volume 4 of A Café in Space. The exchanges are legendary.

I was saddened to learn that John Ferrone died on April 10, 2016 in Old Bridge, New Jersey, due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. There will be a memorial service at the Most Holy Redeemer Church, 133 Amboy Rd., Matawan, NJ on May 24 at 11:30. For more information, visit mostholyredeemerchurch.org.

Podcast 15 is devoted to John Ferrone and tells the story of how he was instrumental in helping me with the most important project I’d ever undertaken at that point—the editing of 1,600 pages of handwritten diary pages into Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947, the first such diary in nearly twenty years.

To listen to the podcast with iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

To order Volume 4 of A Café in Space, click here.

To order Volume 7 of A Café in Space, click here.

Podcast 14: The Maternality of Anaïs Nin with Jessica Gilbey

Australian scholar Jessica Gilbey explains an often ignored relationship—that between Anaïs Nin and her mother. Nin’s connection with her father has received a lot of intention, and to this day search data for their incestuous relationship on this blog remains among the top five. Searches for Rosa Culmell de Nin? Virtually none.

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Jessica Gilbey

When Gilbey decided to write her doctoral thesis on how motherhood played a major role in Nin’s writing, her supervisor advised her to also explore Nin’s relationship with her own mother, which, at first, Gilbey was reluctant to do—mainly because the mother seemed to be mundane, plain, prosaic. But when she truly began to explore the bond between them, she discovered how much it informed Nin’s decisions, her rebellions, her path in life, her art, and even the other relationship in her life, including her father.

All of these topics are included in Gilbey’s contribution to Volume 13 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, “Our Mother (Re)Born—The fertile treasure of Nin’s matrilineality.”

Listen as Gilbey brilliantly and objectively discusses how Nin became a symbolic mother to many and biological mother to none, and how critics lashed out at her for her life choices, not to mention her decision to write about them.

Run time: 39 minutes

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen to the podcast without iTunes, click here.

To order a copy of Volume 13 of A Café in Space, click here.

Re-Viewing Anais by Rochelle Lynn Holt

Re-Viewing Anaïs (Scars Publications, 2015) is a collection of author Rochelle Lynn Holt’s essays and reviews regarding her mentor, Anaïs Nin, with whom she collaborated in the 1960s and 1970s. Culled from several different publications, the book gives us a good overview of Holt’s regard of Nin’s work. As Holt says in her postscript:

ReviewingAnaisRe-Viewing Anaïs is a semi-academic collection of forty-nine essays/reviews that have been published individually in various periodicals from the Sixties to the present time. They represent virtually every one of Anaïs Nin’s publications in her lifetime and posthumously.

According to the postscript, Holt operated a handpress much in the same way Nin did in the 1940s, and Nin herself mentions Holt’s press in her Diary. Holt earned her MFA from Writers Workshop and her Ph.D. from Columbia Pacific University.

Re-Viewing Anaïs can be viewed and/or purchased by clicking here.

 

Upon the occasion of Anaïs Nin’s birthday

Where Nin was born

Where Nin was born

Today is Anaïs Nin’s birthday. She was born February 21, 1903 in Neuilly, France, near the Bois and the Seine. Her house was in a stately neighborhood where, perhaps, Proust’s characters could have lived. It was a time of horses and carriages, top hats, long voluminous gowns, gaslights and the rare telephone. In such a setting, who would have imagined someone was born who would become one of the leading modernists of the twentieth century, someone an entire generation not yet conceived would admire and look to as an inspiration, a guide, a guru, someone who would break all the rules, both in literature and in life? A little, sickly girl with a stern but musically gifted father, a mother whose own musical career would be stifled, a little girl who would nearly die from a burst appendix, a little girl whose father called “ugly,” whose father would abandon, thrusting her from all sense of comfort and security into a life of struggle and poverty in a foreign land? Who could imagine?

And yet, here we are, 113 years later, celebrating the birth of this amazing icon of feminine literature by reading her work, talking about her, listening to her words recorded long ago, watching Anaïs Nin Observed or Henry and June, or just thinking about her for a few moments. This day in 1903 was a gift to all of us who have somehow been touched by Anaïs Nin, or are yet to be. To you, to us, to Anaïs…I lift a glass of gratitude.

A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Volume 13, is out now. Check it out for the latest on Anaïs Nin.

Episode 13 of The Anaïs Nin Podcast has just dropped. You can listen to “The Music in Anaïs Nin” by clicking here. (14 minutes)

 

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