The Implications of Feminine Curiosity: Reading the Women’s Review of Books (Mar/Apr 2014)

Jan Clausen reviews Curious Subjects:  Women and the Trials of Realism, by Hilary M. Schor (Oxford University Press, 2013).  Clausen writes that Schor takes “curiosity” — specifically women’s curiosity — “to mean several different things” and then cites several fascinating examples, such as:

Isabel Archer (from The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James) — Self actually tried re-reading last year, before she went to Venice, but soon tired of James’s labyrinthine sensibility.  But now she thinks she might try giving it another whirl, especially after reading “while severely constrained by a social order productive of endless marriage plots,” the characters “gain access to a crucial measure of choice in deciding the marriage question — an outcome with distinct advantages for their development as conscious subjects, even when, as for Isabel, the wedded state brings misery.”

The Bloody Chamber, “Angela Carter’s feminist retelling” of the Bluebeard tale, showing “how the bride’s defiance of her husband’s injunction against entering the locked room becomes the crucial occasion of curiosity, affording a true knowledge of self and situation.”

Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot, feature “brides whose costly access to authentic subjectivity is won by way of their disastrous marriages.”

Louisa Bounderby, née Gradgrind, who chucks “her heartless capitalist keeper in Dickens’ Hard Times

Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, “a Creole riff on the Bluebeard story that functions in relation to Jane Eyre as both prequel and (post) colonial critique.”

Self also discovers (in another review) that Claire of the Sea of Light, Edwidge Danticat’s new novel, grew out of a short story published in the anthology she edited for Akashic Books, Haiti Noir (2010).  Self now adds Haiti Noir to her reading list.

And she encounters this quote from, of all people, Norman Mailer, in a review by Rachel Somerstein of Fools, Joan Silber’s short story collection (W. W. Norton, 2013):

Short fiction “has a tendency to look for climates of permanence — an event occurs, a man is hurt by it in some small way forever” while “the novel moves as naturally toward flux.  An event occurs, a man is injured, and a month later is working on something else.”

Self is amazed that she encounters the quote from Mailer –  the most uber-macho of macho writers — in the Women’s Review of Books.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Inside 7: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Wow, self continues to be madly inspired by the WordPress Photo Challenge this week:  INSIDE.

Heartfelt thanks to The Daily Post for the fantastic prompts!

Here’s a picture of one of self’s Stanford chums, Penny Jackson, as she emulates a Yoga pose in front of the Asian Art Museum. Her arms are pressed together above her head, she is INSIDE the pose.  Get it?

It is always a lot of fun hanging around with Penny.  She is so spontaneous, pure Nitro.

It is always a lot of fun hanging around with Penny. She is so spontaneous, pure Nitro.

Self has always had an enduring fascination with snow globes.  Here’s one she bought about 30 years ago.

Christmas is a great excuse for nostalgia . . .

Christmas is a great excuse for nostalgia . . .

2013 was a special year:  Manila Noir, a collection of “dark” stories about the city of Manila, and edited by Jessica Hagedorn, was published.  Self has a story in this anthology:  The story is called “Desire.”

She’s not a big name, like the others in the collection, so her name didn’t get listed on either book cover.  But, still.  Open to the Table of Contents, her name is there.  She is INSIDE the book.

Manila Noir (Akashic Books, 2013): The covers of the U.S. and Philippine editions

Manila Noir (Akashic Books, 2013): The covers of the U.S. and Philippine editions

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Announcing the release of:

Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets (Meritage Press:  San Francisco and St. Helena)
edited by Eileen R. Tabios

Paperback, 220 pages, $20

(People:  Yolanda=Haiyan. Filipinos use “Yolanda,” everyone else uses “Haiyan.” You know, at some point self thinks that Filipinos cannot escape comedy, even within tragedy. So if you are a potential donor, and the only thing stopping you is the confusion over which typhoon you are actually making a donation for, note that Yolanda and Haiyan ARE ONE AND THE SAME TYPHOON.  Of course, mebbe you don’t care about WHICH typhoon, in which case, there was also ONDOY several years ago.  It doesn’t matter.  Give, that’s all that counts)

Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

In response to Yolanda’s devastation, Filipino poets in the homeland and the diaspora rallied to create a fundraising anthology entitled Verses Typhoon Yolanda:  A Storm of Filipino Poets.  Edited by poet Eileen R. Tabios, the anthology of 133 poems is released by Meritage Press.

All of the book’s profits will be donated to relief organizations and others helping the typhoon survivors.  Meritage is willing to send books at cost to fundraisers who then can sell the books at their individual retail price of $20 each.

For more information, contact Eileen R. Tabios at

*     *     *     *

“Emptiness of Air,” the piece self wrote for Vela, the women’s travel website, is included in this anthology — because self is ALL about TransGenre.  YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The 10 Books Self Keeps Near

Self loves surveys of reading habits.

This one’s from Kepler’s Books Facebook page:

Name at least five books you’d keep near.

Self can’t possibly keep it to five.

Here are the 10 books self keeps near (on a shelf right above her MacMini):

  1. 50 Stories From Israel:  An Anthology, edited by Zisi Stavi
  2. The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene
  3. Myths and Symbols:  Philippines, by F. R. Demetrio, S.J.
  4. Drive-By Vigils, by R. Zamora Linmark
  5. National Geographic’s Field Guide to the Trees of North America
  6. Going Home to a Landscape:  Writings by Filipinas, edited by Marianne Villanueva and Virginia Cerenio
  7. Pinoy Capital:  The Filipino Nation in Daly City, by Benito M. Vergara
  8. Another Kind of Paradise:  Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific, edited by Trevor Carolan
  9. Flannelgraphs, by Joan McGavin (Met Joan at Hawthornden, which was part of the reason self enjoyed Scotland so much)
  10. If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly, by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

Lists are fluid; the books rotate per self’s mood.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Gemino “Jimmy” Abad on Language

Two momentous things happened on the way to the USF lecture in the City.

  • Jennifer Lawrence, self heard on the radio, wants to take a break from acting, would love to work with Animal Planet as a narrator on some of its programs. (Can self tell dear blog readers how much she adores J-Law, who in spite of making oodles of money is still so diffident –  about money, about fame.  Sure, she might have clawed her name to the top of the acting heap, but in spite of everything, she wears her anointed titles (“America’s National Treasure” one British daily called her) so lightly.
  • There was an Amber alert. Child abduction by someone in a red Infiniti SUV.  Self began to look around at the passing cars.  The Amber alert even got sent to her cell phone.

Got home, decided to resume reading Upon Our Own Ground:  Filipino Short Stories in English 1956 to 1972, edited by Gemino “Jimmy” Abad.

We say that is land and that “sea,” that “grass” and those “waves.”  It is illusion that “land” is land, yet in language real, for when we read what is written, or interpret what is spoken, we deal not with meaning in the abstract but with meaningfulness: the living become word.  The farmer speaks, Buntis na ang palay.  The meaningfulness of . . .  what he says is an act of the imagination.  For words do not have their meaning from themselves, but from lives lived.  Meanings — of words, as of anything else in human affairs — aren’t fixed once and for all, even as the lives of the speakers and writers of a given language change through their history . . .  it isn’t meaning that language carries, it carries you –  you and your generation . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Forthcoming, Spring 2014: VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA

NOTE:  Typhoon Yolanda and Typhoon Haiyan are the same typhoon.  Yolanda is how it’s referred to in the Philippines, Haiyan is how it’s referred to everywhere else.  Do not ask for further explanation, as even self finds it a tad confusing.

Here are excerpts from the press release published a few days ago by the anthology’s editor, Eileen Tabios:

In response to Yolanda’s devastation, Filipino poets in the homeland and the diaspora rallied to create a fundraising anthology entitled Verses Typhoon Yolanda:  A Storm of Filipino Poets.  Edited by poet Eileen R. Tabios, the anthology of 132 poems is released by Meritage Press, and will soon be available on-line through the press’s Lulu account.  All of the book’s profits will be donated to those helping the survivors of Yolanda.  Recipients will be listed on the book’s website as they become known.

Meritage Press will work with fundraising organizations or individuals wishing to raise funds for Yolanda’s survivors.  Specifically, Meritage Press is willing to send books at cost to fundraisers who then can sell the books at their individual retail price of $20 each.

For more information, contact Eileen R. Tabios at

Pairings Battles: Who Will Win?

This is total fluff, but anyhoo, since self seems to be on a roll, she will just keep on posting (that is, until The Man gets home and imposes some order on self’s abysmally dis-ordered mental state):

Hypable’s Battleships Pairings Tournament is down to the semi-finals, so if you feel inclined to pitch your hat in favor of either of the following pairings:

  • Bella/Edward
  • Brienne/Jaime


(An early round had Nick/Gatsby and Frodo/Sam.  At some point, did any blog readers wonder if Haymitch and Effie could possibly have some outside-of-the-games romance?  Honestly, the way Haymitch rolls his eyes at Effie leads self to think the man has got to be in love — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)

Apologies, dear blog readers.  Once again, self has gotten side-tracked from the original impulse which caused her to think of posting.  Which is that:  After much slogging, self has clawed her way to PAGE 214 of Henry M. Stanley’s 536-page How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.  YEEESSS!  In between p. 1 and p. 214, self:

  • Ate a whole lemon meringue pie.
  • Watched her Netflix movie rental, Boy A, and developed admiration for Andrew Garfield.
  • Found out her short story “Sofia” will be in Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. 9.
  • Got very, very sick.
  • Attended a New Year’s Eve lunch in Menlo Park.
  • Watched Stanford lose in the Rose Bowl.
  • Went to town on take-out from Sam’s Chowder House in downtown Palo Alto.
  • Saw “Frozen.”
  • Read five back issues of The Economist.
  • Discontinued her subscription to The New York Times Book Review.

There were also relaxing activities like:  watering, watching birds in the backyard, watching Dr. Oz, and watching Saturday Night Live re-runs.  Self just realized:  things are so much clearer when one is sick.  Self had no idea how beneficial forced home incarceration/rest can be for the mental faculties.  For one thing, she got to read everything about Mockingjay.  Now she knows that Katniss first mentions Peeta’s name on p. 5.  P. 5!  Holy cow, girl!  Can’cha get with the program already!

On p. 214 of How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, Henry M. Stanley develops a severe case of malaria.  While he is feverish and thus incapacitated, his porters take the opportunity to abandon him.  All except for one, an “Arab” named Selim.

I asked Selim, “Why did you not also run away, and leave your master to die?”

“Oh, sir,” said the Arab boy, naively, “I was afraid you would whip me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Poem for the Day After New Year’s (2013)

Poem 53 of the One Hundred Poets (translation from the Japanese by Clay MacCauley)

written by Udaisho Michitsuna no Haha (937 – 995)

Sighing all alone,
Through the long watch of the night,
Till the break of day: –
Can you realize at all
What a tedious thing it is?

The poet was the daughter of Fujiwara no Motoyasu, and became the mother of the imperial commander Fujiwara no Michitsuna.  Self’s personal copy of the One Hundred Poets is the one published by George Braziller in 1989, and edited by Peter Morse.  Each poem is accompanied by an illustration by Hokusai.  Here’s how Morse describes Hokusai’s illustration for Poem 53:

The woman has been awake, for her clothing is rumpled due to her restlessness.  She has come out on the porch with a lantern, presumably at dawn, to look for her missing husband.  We see a pipe and tobacco pouch resting on the pillow within the house, the sign of an absent man.  Around the corner of the house we can see a cistern and water dipper.

This figure of the lone woman appears several other times among Hokusai’s drawings . . .  She is always waiting for a man, a situation generally suggested by the poem.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

New Year’s Day Poem: “Tired” by Maiana Minahal

This poem was in the anthology self co-edited with Virginia Cerenio, Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx Books, 2003)


    by Maiana Minahal

Not demon nor god
just my tired father
who snaps off the useless bulb
burning above me.
Home from another night shift
at the machine shop,
grimy at midnight,
he finds me
half asleep,
face down in a book, tired
from trying to cram
too much in one night.
Too young, he thinks,
to work so hard.
But he wants me to work hard
and ace this American country,
His footsteps fade away
as I try to shake off sleep
to tell him,
no American dream drives me,
but fear,
fear of failing to conquer words
I don’t

“The Axiolotl Colony” by Jaime An Lim

The Jaime An Lim story is the second to last in an anthology that’s taken self almost a decade to finish reading:  The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century, edited by Isagani R. Cruz.

This story, which was awarded first place in the Philippines’ most prestigious short story competition, the Palanca Awards, “explores the life of a Filipino academic in the United States.  The central character has to deal not only with the sense of alienation due to not belonging to the foreign culture, but with the alien nature of many American norms as well.”

Self admires the cool and lucid prose, the unflinching depiction of acute loneliness.  This is how it begins:

After their divorce his wife promptly married her American lover of ten months and moved out of Bloomington, Indiana, to the East Coast, taking their ten-year-old daughter along.

The story moves back and forth in time.  The life of Tomas and Edith prior to the divorce feels very familiar.  Both are graduate students at Indiana University in Bloomington:

Tomas and Edith, of course, never traveled during holidays, like most other foreign students on a strict budget.  The Thai occupants of Apt. 312 were home, catching up on their term papers because you could hear a typewriter thoughtfully going tak tak – tak tak tak-tak.  The Japanese couple in Apt. 301 across the hall were doing their spring cleaning and moving furniture with a lot of scraping.  In Apt. 308, the young El Salvadoran couple, husband and wife, were sobbing again.  Were they homesick?  Did they leave small children behind?  Had something terrible happened in their troubled homeland?  It was ironic that, for all the vastness of America, Tomas and Edith, holed up in Campus View, had seen so little during their long stay in the States.  They had gone outside the state only twice:  once to Louisville to watch the Kentucky Derby and once to Chicago where they visited the Art Institute and the Museum of Natural History and went up the Sears Tower to marvel at the dark choppy waters of Lake Michigan that looked wide as the sea.

Tomas decides to call his wife, in her new home on the East Coast.  The call does not go well; he feels himself begging.  His wife says that perhaps she can take their daughter to visit Dumaguete.  He falls asleep.

Later he woke up in the night, sweating, his left leg dead, his throat dry, as though he had been breathing through his mouth or pleading in his sleep.  When he got up for a drink of water, tiny needles pricked his numb foot.  He looked at his watch.  Three o’clock.  Outside the window, the world lay sleeping.  Lights lined the streets, but in Campus View almost all of the apartments were dark.  Only the insomniac in Apt. 511, pursued by some private demon, was still pacing the floors.  Bluish shadows leaped and scuttled around his room.  The rest were in bed, breathing quietly in the healing dark.

Can self tell dear blog readers how much she loves the writing here?  The descriptions are so utterly precise, the tone so unrelenting and bleak.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

« Older entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 495 other followers