Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Mentions of Buddha on the Backstretch

As of tomorrow, I'm off to Los Angeles to lecture before a college class about Buddha on the Backstretch. It's a class taught by the book's editor, so it doesn't exactly mean that I'm suddenly a hot commodity on the lecture circuit. But it will be fun, and a lovely break from the East Coast winter.

In the meantime, the book has earned a few more mentions. It's really gratifying to see them pop up now and again -- just today I found a blog entry and a tweet by another writer saying he was currently reading it and finding it "very interesting." His is a Buddhist blog, so I'll try to figure out how to link them.

One of my favorite bits of press comes from Monte Dutton. Monte's covered NASCAR for many, many years and is a great guy who has become a friend. He said,

Has there ever been a more off-beat topic for a book on NASCAR than Buddha
on the Backstretch: The Spiritual Wisdom of Driving 200 MPH
(Macon, GA:
Mercer University Press, $27)? Honest to gosh, Arlynda Lee Boyer is both
"a race fan for most of her life" and "a practicing Buddhist for more than ten
years." The book offers "personal improvement via popular culture."
Perhaps a few championship contenders should read this book; perhaps it would
give them an edge Jimmie Johnson hasn't ever even thought about."

Tricycle: The Buddhist Review is, along with Shambhala Sun, one of the two largest Buddhism-related magazines in the world. They let their readers know where enlightenment comes along with the roar of engines:

You don't normally think of Buddhists as NASCAR fans, but why not?
Arlynda Lee Boyer, a lifelong NASCAR aficionado, has been practicing Buddhism
for the past fifteen years. She tells Auto Racing Daily ("Where
you get your auto racing news") that she sees plenty of similarities between the
Buddha's teachings and the NASCAR lifestyle -- both NASCAR drivers and
Buddhists, she says, "have to live in the moment." She's even written a
book about it: Buddha on the Backstretch: The Spiritual Wisdom of Driving
200 MPH.

Finally,, the legendary and beloved NASCAR site, took quotes from the blurbs above to let still more fans know about the book.

I'm considering whether or not to write a NASCAR-related follow-up book. I'm planning to start grad school in August, so timing is a big question. From NASCAR and Buddhism, I plan to plunge into a lengthy and intense study of Shakespeare.

Ever since working at the American Shakespeare Center as a grantwriter, Shakespeare has been an interest of mine, particularly Shakespeare scholarship. Within the past 20 years, ASC's Blackfriars Playhouse has opened, Shakespeare's Globe in London has opened, and scholarship has emerged into Shakespeare's religious beliefs and how Elizabethan culture influenced his work. One could easily argue that this is the most exciting time in at least a century for Shakespeare scholarship.

I hope to add to that by working on the source materials, the books, pamphlets, plays, etc., that provided sources for Shakespeare's plays. Much of that source material survives in the form of priceless antique books housed in museums and archives. I want to work on re-publishing it, so that scholars can have on their bookshelves some of the same books that Shakespeare would have had on his.

This way, scholars can see not only what he used in his plays, but also what he read but did not use. They can compare the sources to see if there are patterns to Shakespeare's use of the material: did he consistently not use some things, or consistently change others, or consistently use some without change? Right now, this kind of research is not available. I hope to make some of these books available for the first time in 400 years, so that this research can be done.

Now I've mentioned, at least in passing, some of the great passions of my life: NASCAR, Buddhism, Shakespeare, history, and I managed to work in a quote from my all-time favorite TV show, Futurama. Someday I'll manage to work in one of my favorite quotes from the show:

"Listen, this is going to be one hell of a bowel movement. Afterward,
he'll be lucky if he has any bones left."

Hey, I did it!

Until next time, live in the moment and don't believe everything you think.