Read and Reread Letters

I'm working on a memoir-novel this month, with a quiet cabin deep, deep in the birch and maple woods. I have a piano to bang on when I'm blocked and I croak Schumann and Poulenc to my own accompaniment. I'm here from 8:15 to four. Then I go back to my sleeping room, shave, nap, and at precisely 5:30 mix myself a massive Tannery martini (6 parts gin, 0.1 part very dry vermouth, and a twist of lemon peel over four cubes of ice). Dinner's at 6:30 and by 8:30 I'm in bed with my Garzanti dictionary or Valery or Renard. The autumn colors are the most beautiful I've ever seen in 15 years. Yesterday I drove 6 miles to visit Willa Cather's grave in a tiny village called Jaffrey center ... 

- from the letters of Robert Phelps to Michael Dirda