Durga Chew-Bose

Durga Chew-Bose is a writer based in Montreal

01    Story: What’s the best story you heard this month?

I re-read James Salter’s "Dusk." And there’s a story in there called “Twenty Minutes.” Again, it knocked me out. He writes about isolation in a way that makes me feel less alone. There’s something very elegant about that. Through omission, Salter captures a character’s entire life.

02    Nature: An encounter with the natural world

Purple-pink bougainvillaea’s at Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul. Experiencing that kind of color in February was critical. A joy, really. I’d forgotten about brightness.

03    Art Experience: An encounter with art (in any form)

I re-watched one of my favorite films, Olivier Assayas’ "Summer Hours." There’s a lengthy scene involving the family’s grown siblings, following their mother’s funeral. They're deliberating on what to do with her belongings, her home — an estate in the French countryside. Every time I watch that scene, I’m mesmerized by its construction, by the performances, and how still, I envy big families. I’ve always romanticized grown siblings arguing and testing each other, and falling back into the rhythm of old tensions. I love when brothers and sisters reminisce-fight. As in, fighting that is somehow pleasurable.

04    Change: a meaningful change that impacts the way you live (either that you initiated or that entered from outside)

I’ve started saving money to go on vacations — or, to even consider the prospect of vacations.

05    New Idea: a new way of looking at things or something to attempt in the future

Again: vacations.

06    Object (new): a new object that held significance

I found chairs on Craigslist. The upholstery reminds me of an Agnes Martin painting. Thin stripes in desert shades. I wouldn't say there's anything too significant about that other than it's nice to have chairs that make me think of one of my favorite artists. And then I think of one of my closest friends and how we went to the Agnes Martin show at the Guggenheim last year. And how we both dressed for Agnes, wearing shades of burnt brown, faded peach, and purple.

07    Object (old): an old object that took on new/different kind of meaning

I started using a blockprint bedspread that belongs to my father and stepmom. I'd only ever seen it at theirs and now I see it at mine. I've started wanting more of my parents' things at mine — I've started wanting, not more clutter, but stuff that conjures home as I first experienced it. Busy with patterns, bowls collected over time. Baskets for no reason at all. Brass in every room.

08    Discard: Something you decided to rid yourself of this month.

The bitter cold is hopefully on its way out. That's a relief. This winter kind of broke me.

09    Gratitude: something you have been specifically thankful for this month:


10    Proportion: A specific moment that reminded you of the scale of the universe. That you are part of a greater whole.

My niece, Josephine, took her first steps in February. I watched a video of her wobbling forward, one leg in front of the other, while I was waiting to board my plane home from Mexico City. It was as if she’d invented walking. She doesn’t make it look easy at all. Every step is work, but watching someone so small do anything with so much intention — she kind of leaves me in a daze.


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Remembering color

Remembering color

"Happy Holiday" by Agnes Martin

"Happy Holiday" by Agnes Martin

"Summer Hours"

"Summer Hours"