Brooklynites, be apprised: Big Sur Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg’s week-long celebration of all things Henry Miller, began yesterday and will run until May 19th. If you can’t make it out there, I suggest you instead sit down to watch The World of Henry Miller: Reflections on Writing (part two, part three, part four). Shot in the late sixties by the documentarian Robert Snyder, otherwise known for his award-winning films on Michelangelo and the world of insects, the film follows Miller, entering his final decade, as he retraces his steps through the literary places he’s known, and has reminiscence-intensive conversations with the literary people he’s known, reflecting all the while on how both shaped his writing.
Alexander Nazaryan’s New Yorker post, “Henry Miller, Brooklyn Hater,” written for the occasion of Big Sur Brooklyn Bridge, goes into some detail about the Tropic of Cancer author’s loathing for his birthplace. Though he would ultimately find a kind of peace in Big Sur, only on the move in the thirties—especially as an expatriate in France, where he worked for the Chicago Tribune‘s Paris edition, and Greece, where he stayed with British novelist Lawrence Durrell—did his writing take its true shape. Miller himself tells it that way in Reflections on Writing, to friends like Durrell, famed diarist Anaïs Nin, and Lawrence Clark Powell, the UCLA librarian Miller thought “representative of all that is best in the American tradition.” Though Snyder also includes footage of Miller reading his work aloud, you can see a bit more in the clip of a Black Spring reading just above, and hear half an hour more of the book here.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.