Attentive readers will have noticed that there was (another) gap of a year during which Oldenhammer-in-Toronto went silent. That's because I am incapable of chewing gum and walking at the same time. To be precise, I am incapable of working on two pieces of writing at the same time. And in the last year, I've had some urgent writing projects that got in the way of my beloved blog.
The good news is that these projects are (1) finished and (2) went pretty well.
My first book was published last November: The Garden of Flowers and Weeds: A New Translation and Commentary on the Blue Cliff Record. This is a book about Zen and meditation. It's based on one of the great works of medieval Buddhist literature, called "The Blue Cliff Record". It might sound dry, but the Record is actually a pretty funny book. There's a lot of absurdist humor (and even a couple fart jokes). Translating the book and adding my own commentary was one of the most delightful tasks of my life.I have no idea how sales are going, but I suspect they're pretty modest. On the upside, the book has been received well by critics. In the past few months, The Garden of Flowers and Weeds won a Gold Nautilus Award, a top prize from Bookfest's International Book Awards, a Bronze Independent Book Publishers Award, and a Silver Benjamin Franklin Prize. Honestly, that's more praise then I could have ever wished for or expected.
If you want to support a brother, please consider buying the book!
I only have one regret. Before I had found a publisher, I asked Zhu Bajiee, the fabulous illustrator and grandee of the Oldhammer movement, if I could commission him to create some illustrations from the stories of the Blue Cliff Record.
Zhu produced a series of superb pen and ink drawings. I think they might have been his best work, and that is saying something. I had really hoped that my publisher would use the illustrations in the published text, but it was not to be. This was a crying shame. However, at least I got to share Zhu's work on my website.
As the book was going to press, another writing project got in the way of this blog. My friend Nathan is a filmmaker, and he asked me to write a full-length script for a Cthulhu-adjacent movie. Our previous collaboration was a short animated film called The Ikon (2019) that premiered at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon. I've never written a full-length script, so it took me many months to complete. The movie is party about non-Euclidean horror and partly about the more common horror of caring for an aging parent. Stay tuned for more information about a movie tentatively called The House on Clareview.
|Still from The Ikon (2019) © Nathan Saliwonchyk|
And then, of course, there was Covid. I don't think anyone had a good pandemic, although some were much, much worse than others. I experienced what I think a lot of you did: a grinding sense of anxiety and stasis as the pandemic stretched into indefinitude. I will add that during the past two years, I sustained some grievous personal losses, although (thankfully) none of them were directly related to the virus. As the dust settles, I'm grateful that I and Mrs. Oldenhammer-in-Toronto have made it out in one piece. And we now have a beautiful puppy:
I hope you're in one piece too. Thanks for reading and letting me update you on what's been going on while the blog has been quiet.
Congratulations on getting the book published, and on the multiple awards it has already received. Hope the film goes well and look forward to hearing more as it develops. I think Covid hit everyone in one way or another, and great to see so many come out the other side, and great to see you blogging againReplyDelete
Thanks a lot for the warm welcome back, Dave. It's been gratifying to hear that people are glad that I'm back.Delete
Congrats for the great results on the literary and cinematographic side. Despite the uneasiness and anxiety that hit everyone more or less directly, I think it is projects like these (in addition to painting miniatures!) that give us an incentive to move on.ReplyDelete
That is extremely true. There were moments during Covid when I was sustained by miniature painting and planning my next big hobby project.Delete
Oh.. I think that was a lot of us.Delete
This is fantastic news! Congratulations and I will be looking for a book in Poland!ReplyDelete
Once again, big CONGRATULATIONS and it's great that you will also blog more often ;-)
You are a source of great inspiration for me.
You are (as always) a gentleman, Michal!Delete
Congratulations on the book and the awards! An excellent achievement!ReplyDelete
Congratulations and welcome back. While blogs naturally go dark over time (and hopefully return!) I have wondered over Covid how much of that is related to illness and worse. Glad to hear you have mostly escaped the worst of things.ReplyDelete
It's true - Covid was a particularly scary time for a blog to go dark. Anyway, it has been really nice to get such a warm welcome back from old friends.Delete
I'm so glad to hear about your other projects apart from this blog, and of course of the completion of such rewarding work as the book :) I love when people can handle these kind of stuff and become so creative at so many different disciplines (and levels) :)ReplyDelete
It is nice to have a diversity of interests! I think they all feed into each other. That being said, I'm sad when one (like writing) keeps me so long away from painting (and posting blogs).Delete
Holy smokes, what an incredible accomplishment! A book that won four awards. And a screenplay. 👏👏. I know that the Covid experience was divided up into the people who suddenly had more time for their projects, and the people who suddenly had no time for their projects, and I'll never judge anyone for what they didn't get accomplished over the last 2 years. Really, we all just survived. But I have to say.. great work!ReplyDelete
Without looking it up, I have to wonder if the "Ben Franklin award" has anything to do with the fart jokes? I mean, he really was a bit of an afficionado in that area 😏. But I'm guessing not.
I'll have to ask my wife about the book, she's the more Buddhist member of the household. Maybe she'll even want a copy 🙂
My wife is indeed interested in your book 🙂. She's not nearly as into Lovecraftian film, but that is her loss, I say 😉Delete
Your enthusiasm really made my day - thanks Allison. If you wife gets the book, I really hope that she likes it. Please let me know what she thinks.Delete
And in terms of the Lovecraft film -- I hope we'll have a screening of the first movie that Nathan and I did ("The Ikon") in Guelph. Nathan lives in Guelph, and so I hope we'll have a showing there somewhere (as well as one in Toronto). We were planning a couple screenings just as Covid hit. I will keep you posted in case you are interested. It would be a treat to meet you in person.