We rearrange

It’s a mistake to think people are creative. They don’t create anything. What they do is rearrange things.

Novelist Mark Helprin interviewed 10-5-17 on the podcast, “The Avid Reader“.

Prior to that, he said, “You have to have models [to write about]. We have only what we are given in creation. We don’t create anything. All we can do is interpret it.

He’s one of those superb writers who’s had an incredibly interesting life, like Louise Erdrich (with her 1/2 German, 1/4 Native, 1/4 French ancestry (talk about a cast of characters!)). Turns out that as a boy, Helprin lived in a Parisian house that had safeguarded a Jewish family in its attic for years. Imagine what those walls had to tell a young child!

It’s important to remind a person like myself that every life is interesting in some measure. And besides, my life, to use his logic, is what I was given.

He also talked about how often writers’ first novels are autobiographical. He didn’t think so at the time but now sees it to be true.

His new novel is the first he’s ever set in contemporary time. I can’t wait to read it.

Meanwhile, my antique-dealing neighbor who sold his house put even more treasures on the curb today. I snagged a triptych — with hinges that work in both directions! I’ve wanted one for years. I mean, years. Our family room has a large opening to the cellar stairs which acts as a conduit for cold air. The temperature issue’s been partly resolved by hanging one fluffy blanket over the cellar door and another over the dog gate. But still, I’m thrilled.

I’m going to make some collage packs for Newton Open Studios and include some of this gorgeous Chinese-scribed paper. If you, dear reader, would like to receive a collage pack, leave a comment below saying so and I’ll draw a name next week.

31 thoughts on “We rearrange

    1. deemallon Post author

      Do you love his work, too? I thought I’d read all his novels but learned of a trilogy I hadn’t heard of in this interview.

  1. RainSluice

    What a treasure of a find! What a super lucky day! Congrats!!! AND YES, put my name in the hat for collage materials! xo M

      1. RainSluice

        oh – what? no! I missed this repy from you, long ago. I have a mega-collage in the collection mode – I’ll make a trade with you: some very old British property contracts (1800’s?) some with seals… very creepy 🙂 lovely old hammered sheep skin.

    1. Jen

      Me too – that paper is amazing. I’d love an envelope of that for collage. What a fantastic find. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

      1. deemallon Post author

        I rearranged the entire living room this morning to accommodate. It’s hiding the ironing board right now

      1. Mo Crow

        your folding screen is such a good score, the old papers lacquered into place would look stunning!
        Loved Halprin’s Winter’s Tale (the movie did not do the book justice)
        PS please don’t count me in on the paper giveaway I have enough things coming into the house this year with The Gathering!

        1. deemallon Post author

          The paper is my favorite part. I had to pull away a lot of shreds, leaving many grids bare so the lacquer idea, while wonderful, won’t work.

  2. fabricwoman

    Obviously, I need to move to a better neighborhood. Please add my name to that hat. I’m visualizing what you will use to cover the triptych…

  3. Tina Zaffiro

    Oh what a fun idea … we are already all winners to have found each other. I have found real treasures along the road. My husband gets a bit embarrassed when I see something and have him STOP the car …. still after 40÷ years. Silly man!

    1. deemallon Post author

      I know that drill : pull over. Pull over. Although truthfully, I’ve slowed down a lot. Full garage etc.

  4. Liz A

    I would love a single, small scrap of the paper to add to my kindred spirit books …

    And the triptych … how it is I never figured out that this would make the perfect, moveable design wall?! Now all I have to do it find one (or convince Don to make one for me 😉

  5. Virginia Mallon

    How I love your posts! Mark Helprin is so great. Did I ever tell you I met him in 2016 at a NYC conference? Winter’s Tale is an all time favorite, I was so disappointed with the movie. I wonder if Dumpf is an very tacky version of Pearly (?) I can easily imagine an apocalypse these days, just or otherwise. Helprin was so nice, even if he is a repubican, lol. I wonder what he thinks of the cheeto. Might have to look that one up. 🙂

    I would love to go on a walkabout with you on trash day, your finds are remarkable…I can’t wait to see what you will do with the screen. It is already a beautiful work in progress. 🙂 I love the notes inside. Any idea on what they say? If you still have any left, I’d love a packet. ❤ Ginny

    1. deemallon Post author

      I’m so happy to hear that others love Helprin as much as I do. He’s really such an extraordinary writer and story teller. I’m not surprised he was nice. Apparently he’s quite an expert in the Middle East, too. Happy to send you some scraps!

  6. annalisasoren

    The paper is beautiful, I can’t wait to see what you make of it and the screen, I’ll put my name in for a scrap… it reminds me of this piece by Jess Rowland

    1. Saskia

      Am i too late?

      Anyway, love that quote. Am great at rearranging……kind of makes up for the limited creatvity.
      Now i want to read his books as well
      Had not heard of him before (or i have


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