Eating Pizza with a Spoon is a biography of my brother, John Mark Brooks, who took his own life, July 28th, in Nashville, Tennessee. Musician, writer, businessman, comedian, cross-dresser, biographer, economist, he was a remarkable presence in our lives.
Eating Pizza with a Spoon
Walking in the Village was written in New York City, in Greenwich Village and beyond, in May, 2013.
Walking in the Village
Famous Lost Words is a compilation of quotations from famous people who might have had a temporary loss of memory and were forced to invent new ways of saying what they were famous for saying.
Famous Lost Words
Silhouettes is a collection of definitions as one might find in an online search, exploring the origin and uses of everyday language.
Practically Advice is a collection of phrases, lines, and aphorisms. It follows Never Mind, Gertrude Stein in that regard.
The Window Seat is a compilation of three books of journalese, written over a ten year period, from ’75 to ’85, including Savage Amusement, Dear Nadja, and Invisible Lion. These books chronicle the life of a poet from age 33 to 43, before, during, and after booze played its role in his life. The story, moreover, is the chronicle of his consciousness of himself as a poet and as someone living a poet’s life, in one of the most beautiful and welcoming cities in the world.
The Window Seat
Savage Amusement The Autobiography of a Semi-Unknown Semi-Genius - A Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist in San Francisco in 1975.
Savage Amusement Introduction
The Zen of Life Itself is a compilation of interior language, written after I got back from India, after enjoying the presence and the awareness of H.W.L. Poonja, who was a teacher I didn’t seek but found. In his presence, I saw another human being speak what I knew to be true. In his presence, I witnessed doubt, that I didn’t know I carried, disappear. I’m not a disciple of his, and he’d be happy to know that, because he sought no disciples. His teaching, called Advaita, is the practice of no practices. These writings are as close to the kind of language that would exist if there were no religion, as far I am able to make them. Papaji said to me, ‘Nobody has ever been able to describe this, but don’t stop trying. You are a writer. Write from the source.’ He meant that I write as one who was not separate from the source, as the source speaking. I saw him speak, not as one speaking about being to others, but as being speaking to being. In his presence, I saw love pouring out toward itself. I’ve never seen that as clearly, in any other human being, before or since, but I believe it is the natural state of our existence and not confined to the people we hold up as teachers, gurus, and masters. If it’s true for anyone, it’s true for everyone.
The Zen of Life Itself
Café Life is a character study of the “third place.” Not home and not work, it is the café, coffeehouse, neighborhood bar, old style candy store or soda fountain. It is the modern equivalent of the town square or the watering hole where all the animals come.
Café Life is a partial gallery of the characters of one such place, The Owl and Monkey Café, on Ninth Avenue, on the NJudah trolley line, in San Francisco, during January of 1981, just as the Reagan Presidency was about to begin, not long after John Lennon had been shot, but it could be any year in any similar place, where people gather around a watering hole or a fire to warm themselves or refresh themselves, to find themselves, or to avoid themselves.
Such a café is a clearing in the woods that’s safe and unsafe at the same time. Some people will stay too long, and some people will stay away. Eventually, almost everyone will show up. I made a decision to sit still, in one place, for as long as I could, to stop running, to see who would come to me if I didn’t move. Over several years, I met literally thousands of people. This collection chronicles a few of them.
I’ll be forever grateful to The Owl and the Monkey Café and places like it. They are wonderful places, and I celebrate their existence. I’ve been writing, happily, in cafés for nearly forty years.
Joni is an attempt to tell what it was like to live with a woman whose presence was remarkable to all who knew her or met her.