by AISTÉ ANUSAITÉ - DAUBARAS
photo by LAURA VI PHOTOGRAPHY
Spring is here, at last, with its longer days and budding trees, which always pervade me with an inexplicable yearning to slow down, to switch off the phone for a few hours and just inhale the scent of blooming magnolias. I call it a telecommunication detox, and I think our society needs it much more than a cleanse from sugar or alcohol. And for a reason I can not fathom, those fragrant heady evenings also bring an intangible nostalgia for the time when the world was turning at much slower pace, when life, although, devoid of modern comforts, was lived much more elegantly, more daringly and with a stronger integrity to one’s values. So what if they smoked more, drank more and did not know about the harmful effect of sugar, but they also danced more, loved stronger and looked life boldly in the eye and not through the smart-phone camera lens. Thus my selection this spring is a sprinkling of both new and not-so-new volumes, which might inspire you to try something different, to re-examine your values, to revamp your appearance or ... to set off to Kenya. Intrigued? Have a look!
I HAD NOWHERE TO GO
by Jonas Mekas
This year started with a sad loss, not only for Lithuanian community, but for the art lovers all over the world. Suddenly, the world's press and social media were awash with tributes to Jonas Mekas, who passed away this January. "Godfather of avant-garde", prised The New York Times, whilst The Guardian called him "the film-making legend," who "mentored Warhol, partied with Dali and showed John and Yoko the perfect espresso". Yet, as the art advisor and curator Zané E. Grants-Wolff, very observantly noted in her article for Deep Baltic, his "artistic oeuvre is elusive, and it is a rare person who can name a work by Mekas". So who, first and foremost, was this talented, unconventional individual: a film maker, an art critic, a poet or just a remarkable oddball. Perhaps, a bit of everything, but, as Mekas states in his book, he considered himself firstly - a poet: "I am neither a soldier nor a partisan. I am neither physically nor mentally fit for such life. I am a poet." (I had nowhere to go was first published in 1991 and republished in 2017). A poignant and touching story, narrated in short, laconic sentences, tells the reader about his difficult journey form the idyllic paradise of his beloved rural Lithuania, through dirt and sweat of the Nazi labour camps, heartaches suffered by a “homeless” Displaced Person, challenging first years of a young immigrant’s survival in New York City. As most of his creative legacy, this book refuses to be confined into any particular literary genre. It is a very Meka'usque amalgam of diaries, memoirs and philosophical reflections of the person who, deprived of an option to turn back, had braved the unknown and turned this experience into a new form of art, never compromising his artistic ideas, never selling out for commercial profit, constantly searching and living for art.
by Frances Osborn
Such was this book’s impact on me, that it even inspired me to go to Kenyan safari (and those who know what a creature of comfort I am, would vouch that it counts for something). The fascinating life story of Lady Idina Sackville, the woman who scandalised London’s polite society, makes a more engrossing read than any fiction. A daughter of the 8th Earl De La War she married one of the most eligible men of her day, yet shortly after the Great War, this feisty lady dared to divorce her husband, who no longer seemed to love her, forsook the stuffy security of Mayfair drawing rooms and her two sons... and bolted. She married an impoverished war-veteran and sailed to Kenya, thinking "somewhere there had to be a better life than this one". She braved dust, lack of modern comforts, lived barefoot in tents while her houses were being built, patiently trained staff and partied like there is no tomorrow. Indeed, her legend is still alive in the Kenyan highlands, where the stories of carry-ons of the Happy Valley set (as Idina and her clique of friends were known) are inwoven into the local folklore. And not only that, her story inspired several works of fiction, one of them, White Mischief, was also made into a film (about the unsolved murder of Idina's third husband, Joss, the handsome and much younger Earl of Erroll). All in all, though her life she built four houses (three of them in Kenya), married four husbands and bolted four times, never compromising for just existence and always in a constant pursuit of love, getting heartbroken in a process, but never loosing her charm, elegance and integrity.
UNTITLED: THE REAL WALLIS SIMPSON
by Anna Pasternak
Have you noticed how popular media is relentlessly comparing Meghan with Wallis Simpson. Only time will tell, if the former is indeed a true love of Prince Harry or a cunning social climber, the label which Wallis dragged around all her life. The new book, to be released on March 7, by Anna Pasternak (the author of New York Times bestseller Princess in Love), claims to be the first ever to tell the abdication story from Mrs. Simpson’s perspective. Anna Pasternak argues, that far from being a villain, she was, in fact, a victim. Carefully researched and backed by testimony of their inner circle of friends, this empathetic biography gives readers a rare chance to hear her side of the story, perhaps the story of one of the most misunderstood women in the world who, despite all the grave adversary, managed to maintain her dignity, composure and figure, entering into history as of the best-dressed and elegant ladies of all times. She was never allowed to be styled Her Royal Highness, yet even being “untitled”, just mere Duchess of Windsor, carried herself with admirable grace and dignity till her last breath.
THE REAL TRAVIATA: THE SONG OF MARIE DUPLESSIS
by René Weis
For those who loved my recommendation of Alexandre Dumas’s (Fils) The Lady with the Camellias (Londonietė, Winter-2019), I would also like to suggest, just out in a paperback, a real story of Marie Duplessis, the grandest of the grandes horizontales, who managed to shed off her miserable existence of poverty and abuse in Normandy, swapping it for a sumptuous Parisian life of luxury and sin. Such was her fame and beauty that they inspired great talents of the day to immortalise her story into a popular novel and one of the most famous operas of all times. So who was The Real Traviata, a woman who managed to rise above the paltry position of a mere courtesan and to become a darling of the beau monde of the 19th-century Paris. This diligently researched book casts an astutely observant light upon her memory and myth.
THE CUT OUT GIRL: THE STORY OF WAR AND FAMILY, LOST AND FOUND
by Bart van Es
I realise that it is almost impossible for our comfortable IT-generation to comprehend the amount of suffering that the humankind went through less than a century ago. Thus, not only they endured enormous hardships, they were also capable of greater love, sacrifice and unselfishness. The story of a Jewish girl, Lien, who after Holland was invaded by the Nazis, was handed into the care of complete strangers in order to save her from atrocities of Holocaust, who then so grew up safe but feeling "cut out" from her world. This moving memoir, written by the grandson of the family who took Lien in, became the winner of 2018 Costa award for the biography of the year.
Nuo lietuviškų knygų lentynos
Autorius: Juozas Statkevičius
Na ir kaip visada, užsuku į Knygnešio knygyną Londone pašniukštinėti, o kas pas juos naujo. Naujienų apstu, tik rinkis, bet kadangi prakalbom apie pavasarį, grožį ir eleganciją, tai negaliu nepristatyti jums karščiausios Lietuvos mados pasaulio naujienos - Juozo Statkevičiaus kūrybos trisdešimtmetį apvainikavusio leidinio taip ir pavadinto „Juozas Statkevičius“. Netikslu turbūt šią knygą vadinti ‘leidiniu’, tai daugiau nei knyga, nes kaip pats autorius sakė Londonietei, „tai visas mano kūrybinis gyvenimas viename dokumente... jau istorija“. Kaip pasakoja Knygnešio knygyno direktorė Lina, Londono ‘fashionistos’ netgi iš anksto rezervavo sau šį unikalų Lietuviškos mados metraštį.
Į jį kruopščiau sudėti garsiausio lietuvių dizainerio darbai nuo 1988 iki 2018. „Trisdešimt metų - tai didžiulis darbo laikotarpis. Pasikeitė kartos ir laikai“, - dalinosi savo mintimis autorius, kurio visa darbų retrospektyva šiame jubiliejiniame leidinyje kaip ant delno. Ir kolekcijų ‘perliukai’, ir pritrenkiančio grožio teatriniai kostiumai, ir plačiai visuomenei nematyti darbai, ir tie, kurie buvo pamiršti ar pasimetę. Taigi net ir tie, kurie tariasi, jog žino visą dizainerio kūrybą ‘mintinai’, tikrai ras kažką naujo.
Tiesa, tai toli gražu ne pirma Juozo Statkevičiaus knyga. Jis spėja ne tik pristatinėti kolekcijas tiek Lietuvoje, tiek ir Paryžiuje (beje, tai vienintelis Lietuvos dizaineris savo darbštumu užsitarnavęs tokią garbę) , bet ir pasidalinti grožio patarimas („Grožio kirtis“, išleista 2006 ir „Žinau, ko jums reikia“, pasirodžiusi 2008). Ir iš tiesų, kaip gi mums, moterims, reikia grožio ir elegancijos. Kartais būtent toks estetinis įkvėpimas mus paskatina pasitempti, patobulinti save, na o tada ir mes pačios sau ir mus supantis pasaulis staiga tampa gražesnis. Su pavasariu, mielos Londonietės! Šią knygą galite įsigyti Knygnešio knygyne Londone www.knygnesys.co.uk.