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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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.

Anaïs Nin Podcast 4: Anaïs Nin’s final years

There are two mythical diaries that Nin readers have most likely heard of, but know little or nothing about: The Book of Pain and The Book of Music, both begun shortly after Nin was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in late 1974. Having gone through horrific surgeries that left Nin “mutilated,” as she put it, she sought to write out her feelings and describe her tribulations in these two diaries. The Book of Pain was where Nin wrote out the horrors of cancer, whereas The Book of Music was to be the repository for the kind of writing that heals…however, it quickly became an extension of The Book of Pain.

Anais Nin and Brugh Joy at his ranch, 1976

Anais Nin and Brugh Joy at his ranch, 1976

There are two other resources that describe Nin’s illness and death to date: Barbara Kraft’s memoir Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, and Deirdre Bair’s biography on Nin, which includes a chapter on the subject. But we have yet to really examine what Nin herself wrote, what she experienced and how she felt about it. In this podcast, we find out, excruciatingly. The podcast ends with Nin describing Balinese rituals surrounding death, a philosophy she found so comforting that she expressed it in the last sentence of the final volume of The Diary of Anaïs Nin: “Let me think of death as the Balinese do, as a flight to another life, a joyous transformation, a release of our spirit so it might visit all other lives.”

Run time: 15 minutes. Includes a portion of the last known recording of Anaïs Nin.

CAUTION: Some listeners may find the content disturbing.

You can listen to the podcast here.

You can listen via iTunes here.

Press release for Anais Nin: The Last Days

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2011

SKY BLUE PRESS ANNOUNCES THE EBOOK PUBLICATION OF
ANAIS NIN: THE LAST DAYS
A MEMOIR
BY BARBARA KRAFT

San Antonio, TX   “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.”

Thus begins Barbara Kraft’s memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days. With her sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose, Kraft has done what no biographer, no scholar, no film could do: capture the humanity, mortality, and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is available on Amazon’s Kindle, and soon the Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, as well as other e-book-friendly devices such as the iPhone and will be available through nearly every credible device worldwide.

Anaïs Nin, noted for her diaries and erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. Quickly, the two became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Kraft’s impending cataclysmic divorce and Nin’s terminal cancer. The circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and untiring part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of life.

As Kraft observes,

“Illness is the great leveler from which none of us is immune. It flushes out all the old, buried truths and puts us in touch with the essential meaning of things. There is no time, no energy for masks, veils, labyrinths, interior cities, or multiple hearts. Death hovered over her, the one reality that Anaïs could not transcend or transmute or transform or levitate with the magic of words. It was a reality she met with a dignity that tore at the heart of all of us who knew her and were close to her.”

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, Kraft begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer. She describes Nin’s vivid dreams during this period, her many trips to a healer in the Mojave Desert, and her frequent requests that Kraft wear her dresses when she went out, saying, “You will take my spirit with you out into the world.”

Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft captures expertly. 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 to not only those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.

The very personal events in this book can be appreciated by anyone who has gone through terminal disease or know someone who has. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.

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, and the recently published memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, which Nin biographer Noel Riley Fitch calls “intimate and beautifully written.” 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.

Sky Blue Press, established in 1996 by Paul Herron, is “dedicated to the preservation of literature as art,” and strives to achieve this goal with each publication. Titles include Anaïs Nin: A Book of Mirrors (1996); To Purify the Words of the Tribe: The Major Verse Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé (1999); The Winter of Artifice: 1939 Edition by Anaïs Nin (2007); A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (2003-present); and e-book versions of Anaïs Nin’s fiction, including House of Incest, Under a Glass Bell, and A Spy in the House of Love; The Portable Anaïs Nin (2011); and Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (2011).

To purchase Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, click here.

Website: www.skybluepress.com
Contact: skybluepress@skybluepress.com