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FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2007

Creative spirits

December 09, 2007|Kristina Lindgren

Innumerable literary giants have wielded brush and ink to great effect, Donald Friedman shows in "The Writer's Brush" (Mid-List Press: 458 pp., $40), a lush collection of images by more than 200 writers, from Apollinaire to Yeats.

Joseph Conrad sketched women in erotic poses. Antoine de Saint-Exupery worked out his stories in drawings. Henry Miller gave in to "the treat of painting" every day before dinner. And e.e. cummings painted for "exactly the same reason as I breathe."

Some (Sherwood Anderson, J.P. Donleavy, Sylvia Plath, Ralph Steadman) channeled their creative spirit visually first; others used blank canvas to unleash the writerly imagination. "In the Beginning / wasn't the Word / since we name an image / after we see it," poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote in "A Far Rockaway of the Heart." Fellow Beat Allen Ginsberg had no illusions about his skill: "If you're famous, you can get away with anything!"

But in William Blake, poetry and painting merged. Blake, writes Friedman, "saw art in all forms as prayer . . . as inseparable from life, and all life as God."

-- Kristina Lindgren

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