Today: Lessing wins Nobel, “Fantastic Five” Reunites, and NYTBR 30 Sept 07

We were the Fantastic Five all the way through grade school, and even through our early teen years. We finally broke up in the latter years of high school. I don’t know what happened, but I think it had to do with boyfriends. Some of us were prettier than the others. The others were late-bloomers who bloomed in college, when we were no longer in touch.

Three of us went to the University of the Philippines, I went to the Ateneo, and one went to La Salle.

One of us became a doctor in Houston. Another became a professor of food nutrition in the University of New South Wales. Another moved to L. A. I moved to San Francisco. And one remained in Manila. From what I have gleaned (was sorry to have completely missed seeing her on my visit home, last summer), she is now deep into grooming her dogs for dog shows.

The one in L. A. got married the same time I did, and had one son who is the exact same age as mine. Hers goes to UC Irvine, and mine goes to Cal Poly/ San Luis Obispo. Hers is in Engineering, mine is in Psychology.

The one who teaches in the University of New South Wales married a lawyer. Her two children, a girl and a boy, are much younger than mine. They are athletic children; the girl also plays the piano and takes ballet lessons.

The one who remained in Manila has two children, also much younger than mine. The kids go to the International School in Manila.

The one in Houston was the prettiest, and of course she had the most boyfriends. She also graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines, whereas I, the most studious and geeky of the five, could only manage a cum laude when I graduated from the Ateneo.

The one in Australia turned into a swan in college, but before she could really stretch her wings or play the field, she landed a boyfriend and this boyfriend became her husband.

The one in Manila had her heart broken shortly after Cory Aquino returned to Manila, because one of Cory’s daughters ended up marrying her boyfriend.

Today I’m going to SFO to pick up the one from L.A. Then we’re driving to the City to meet up with the one from Houston. Then another friend (who wasn’t part of our original five, but OK we said she could join us since she is lonely) is driving in from the East Bay.

I have a class to teach tomorrow. Apologies in advance to my students, for something tells me my head will be in an even worse place tomorrow than it was yesterday.

Now, without further ado, the list of books I am interested in reading after perusing the NY Times Book Review of 30 September 2007:

(1) After reading Carolyn Curiel’s review of Francisco Goldman’s first book of non-fiction, The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? :

Francisco Goldman’s novel, Long Night of White Chickens

(2) After reading Jeremy McCarter’s review of Alan Bennett’s novella, The Uncommon Reader :

Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader

(3) After reading James Holland’s review of Rick Atkinson’s The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943- 1944 :

Rick Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn, his account of the North Africa campaign; and The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943- 1944

(4) After reading Kevin Baker’s review of Andrea Barrett’s new novel, The Air We Breathe :

Andrea Barrett’s The Air We Breathe

(5) After reading Stephanie Zacharek’s review of Irvine Welsh’s new story collection, If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work :

Irvine Welsh’s If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work

(6) After reading Michael Weinreb’s review of Paul Hoffman’s King’s Gambit: A Son, A Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game :

Vladimir Nabokov’s novel about chess, The Defense

(7) After reading Phillip Carter’s review of Robert D. Kaplan’s Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground :

Robert D. Kaplan’s first book on the American military, Imperial Grunts

(8) After reading Neil Genzlinger’s (scathing) review of Michael Gates Gill’s How Starbucks Save My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else :

Michael Gates Gill’s How Starbucks Save My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

* * * *

And, finally, to Doris Lessing, one of the “greats”: All hail, oh cherished mentor, for having finally won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

It rained all night. In the morning, self accompanied Gracie outside and saw the soil dark and wet, and all the plants freshened and erect.

Then self went off to teach her class at xxxx community college: the usual nail-biting search for parking, the usual last-minute grading of papers (sitting in self’s car), the usual unpleasant surprise: copier in the department had its bowels exposed when self walked in, and so self had to run to administration building to use the copier there.

Class was OK, students grinned sardonically, as if quite aware that ostensible topic for the day — MLA format for papers — was quite beyond self’s ability (or area of interest). Pretty soon, self abandoned that topic and moved on to why she did not want to see the word “plot” in any of the poetry papers, due this Friday. And self also showed them New Yorker cover with president of Iran sitting in a bathroom stall, left foot coyly touching man’s foot in the next stall. “Are you allowed to do that?” one student burst out. “What? Make a satirical cartoon? Of course you can!” self riposted. In truth, most of the students had no idea who the bearded personage was, but there is one girl who has just immigrated from Iran, and self caught her smirking in her seat in the back of the room.

Then, self decided to call her dentist and informed her that self’s mouth Read the rest of this entry »

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