Serendipitous: Philip Larkin, THE COMPLETE POEMS

It’s always the bookshelves self ends up perusing first, when she is staying with friends.

This is self’s first visit to Angela’s home, so of course the books are so enticing, an undiscovered country.

In the study, self’s eyes landed on a hardbound copy of The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin, whose poetry she only began to read very recently. While she was in Ireland, earlier this year.

She spends the morning perusing his Complete Poems. Here’s part of one:

Posterity

I wanted to teach school in Tel Aviv,
But Myra’s folks’ — he makes the money sign –
‘Insisted I got tenure. When there’s kids — ‘
He shrugs. ‘It’s stinking dead, the research line;
Just let me put this bastard on the skids,
I’ll get a couple of semesters leave

To work on Protest Theatrer.’ They both rise,
Make for the Coke dispenser. ‘What’s he like?
Christ, I just told you. Oh, you know the thing,
That crummy textbook stuff from Freshman Psych,
Not out of kicks or something happening -
One of those old-type natural fouled-up guys.’

Here’s a review of The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin from The Telegraph.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Murakami: p. 89 of THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE

Whenever she ran out of money, she would do something like fortune-telling.  People would reward her for helping them find lost things or missing persons.  She would have preferred not to take the money. Powers bestowed by heaven should not be exchanged for worldly goods.

–  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, p. 89

Sigh. Self adores Murakami.

This book. Self has no words.

Stay tuned.

First NYTBR Post in Forever: 15 December 2013

Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.  It’s been nearly a year since this issue came into self’s hands. She has since suspended her New York Times Book Review subscription (in case dear blog readers were wondering. It was just too depressing seeing the book review in her mailbox every week, and not being able to read for months and months and months.)

It just so happens that the By the Book interview is with Michael Connelly, and he has many, many interesting book recommendations, which include the following:

  • Act of War:  Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo, by Jack Cheevers
  • The Public Burning, by Robert Coover
  • The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler

This issue also has the list of Ten Best Books of 2013, and since self is well aware that time is a river, and self is disappearing quick, she has to be choosy about which of the Ten she really really wants to read, and it is these:

In Fiction

  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner
  • Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
  • Tenth of December: Stories, by George Saunders

In Nonfiction

  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink
  • Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala

One of the highlights of this issue is a review (by Anthony Doerr) of Brown Dog: Novellas, by Jim Harrison.  Self doesn’t know why exactly but she’s loved Jim Harrison for a long long time. His books are violent, they are pungent, they are precise, and they are very, very funny.

And here’s a round-up of a burgeoning sub-genre, the cookbook as memoir:

  • Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau
  • Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, by Abigail Carroll
  • Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers and Food, by Peggy Wolff

And here’s a sub of a sub-genre, the fate of elephants in America:

  • Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard Thomas Edison, by Michael Daly
  • Behemoth:  The History of the Elephant in America, by Ronald B. Tobias

And one about elephants in Africa:

  • Silent Thunder, by Katy Payne

Finally, much thanks to Rivka Galchen and Pankaj Mishra for recommending (in the end-paper, Bookends) two books by authors self hasn’t yet read:

  • My Struggle, by Norwegian writer Ove Knausgaard
  • Zibaldone, by Giacomo Leopardi

Whew! Finally self has arrived at the end of a monster post. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Mission: Lit Crawl 2014

Tonight was Lit Crawl in San Francisco’s Mission. Self attended a reading of Saint Mary’s College alumna, one of whom was the fabulous Rashaan Alexis Meneses.

Rashaan read the story that was recently in New Letters, a story that happened to be set in Bonnyrigg, near Hawthornden!  (Rashaan should send a copy to Hamish).

But, before the reading, we met up at local fave Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St) for some yummy sopes and guacamole, where self met poet Raina J. Leon and got her to sign a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn:

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

This picture of Rashaan reading was unfortunately a little blurred, but you can still get a sense of her energy:

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

She happened to take a seat facing the sidewalk, so that as the reading progressed, she found herself watching a building directly across the street. There was a FOR LEASE sign on the front. The ground floor had this rather fabulous home furnishings store (with real-looking white sheep), very “chi-chi” for the Mission.

As it grew dark, the rooms of each floor of the building lighted up. And self has always, always been fascinated by windows.

She remembers staring out the kitchen window of her brother-in-law’s apartment in New York City, just staring at parallel rows of windows, and seeing people doing different things: talking on the phone, reading the newspaper. Each little square a story.

Mission Street, Across from Bay Coffee & Tea

Mission Street, Across from Bay Blend Coffee & Tea

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The 48 Laws of Power, pp. 12 – 15

  1. A man spared the guillotine is a grateful man indeed, and will go to the ends of the earth for the man who has pardoned him.
  2. Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels.
  3. There is almost a touch of condescencion in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them. The injury will come out slowly: A little more honesty, flashes of resentment and envy here and there, and before you know it your friendship fades. The more favors and gifts you supply to revive the friendship, the less gratitude you receive.
  4. Ingratitude has a long and deep history. It has demonstrated its powers for so many centuries, that it is truly amazing that people continue to underestimate them.
  5. The problem with using or hiring friends is that it will inevitably limit your power. The friend is rarely the one who is most able to help you; and in the end, skill and competence are far more important than friendly feelings . . . keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.
  6. A person who has something to prove will move mountains for you.
  7. Without enemies around us, we grow lazy. An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits . . .
  8. Never let the presence of enemies upset or depress you — you are far better off with a declared opponent or two than not knowing where your real enemies lie.
  9. A man of power . . .  often has dirty work that has to be done, but for the sake of appearances it is generally preferable to have other people do it for him; friends often do this best, since their affection for him makes them willing to take chances.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure” : A Piece About General Yamashita

This piece appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Our Own Voice,  a magazine of the Filipino diaspora.

There’s a legend about General Yamashita, who the U.S. held accountable for war crimes in the World War II occupation of the Philippines.  Yamashita was executed shortly after the war, after a brief trial.

They say he stashed away bars of gold bullion, and treasure hunters have been trying to find the riches ever since.

Self suddenly recalled this piece after listening to Joanne Diaz, a poet, whose reading in Moe’s Books self attended last night, along with Jay D and Lillian H, who belong to her fabulous writing group.

Joanne Diaz is an AWESOME reader. Self bought the two collections that were on sale last night:  My Favorite Tyrants (which won the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry), and The Lessons.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

He was a shaman. Oh, something very old.

Like the turtle you forgot about that grew to 10 times its size in your mother’s garden.

My uncle looked for the gold bars, you know.

Under the old fort.

Why would they be there?  Why would General Yamashita leave them behind? Underneath an old fort in Manila?

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jade . . .

The rest of self’s piece can be found here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Today’s Words of Wisdom

Self flip-flops between reading fan fiction and Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power.

Today’s words of wisdom are from Greene, p. 10. There’s a rather horrific story about “The Snake, The Farmer, and the Heron.” Everyone in the story stabs each other in the back, until finally the only innocent person in the story, the farmer’s wife, suffers unspeakable violence.

The story ends with this moral:

“When you see water flowing uphill, it means that someone is repaying a kindness.” — African Folk Tale

And from Voltaire: “Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Signs 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Photo Challenge from The Daily Post is SIGNS.

“. . . signs are functional, but can also be decorative. Signs can direct us where to go, but they’re also pieces of art . . . “

Wholeheartedly agree!

Below are some signs that evoke sweet indulgence, or humor:

a chain in southern California: the best frozen yogurt self's tasted, by far

flavors in 21 Choices, a chain in southern California: the best frozen yogurt self’s tasted, by far.

Hamlet's advice to Ophelia on a bookmark! Self bought this at the Globe Theatre giftshop.

Hamlet’s advice to Ophelia on a bookmark! Self bought this at the Globe Theatre giftshop, on a visit to London earlier this year.

Book Cover, Sighted at Vroman's, in Pasadena

Book Cover, Sighted at Vroman’s, in Pasadena. The self-help section of Vroman’s is, like, an acre. Just kidding!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Friday Wisdom

This bit of advice comes from Robert Greene, whose The 48 Laws of Power is self’s “go-to” reading — after fan fiction.

The thing about reading fan fiction is that, if self stays up late reading — which is often the case (Please do not look away, dear blog readers, as it will take self just 1 minute to get past this bit) — her eyes get very red and swollen and she looks like a mess the following morning (Oh the angst, the angst! Self is a furious Read the rest of this entry »

Haruki Murakami Food Hit List

Two days ago self had to return Alan Furst’s Dark Star to the local library. She was 3/4 of the way through, and two weeks overdue, and someone had put a hold on it, boo.

And self realized it was really a very good book.  Probably the best spy story about pre-World War II she’s ever read.

But she had to return the book. And she felt it would be disrespectful to rush through the last 50 or so pages. Or to take a peek at the end. So she simply returned it to the library, unfinished.

So, onward!

She’s reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

Strangely, though this book is static where Furst’s was anything but, she feels much more tension in Murakami’s book.

(She’s also been reading Catherine Dunne’s The Things We Know Now. And re-reading Hunger Games: Catching Fire. And she’s wondering about that new Liam Neeson movie.)

Well, it’s been a long time since she’s read Murakami.  There was a year of her life when it seemed she read nothing but.

So it’s interesting that Murakami appeals to her once again.

And this time, she has a sure-fire way to make sure she remembers what she reads.  She’ll list down every single food Murakami mentions, and throw in page #s.

There are much worse games to play. Thank you, Katniss.

  • p. 1:  “boiling a potful of spaghetti”
  • bottom of p. 2: “a glass of water”
  • bottom of p. 9: the narrator’s wife is “picking out fish bones” from her dinner plate — so obviously they must have had fish for dinner.
  • p. 10: The narrator rips open “a plastic pack of tofu.”
  • p. 14: The narrator removes “a lemon drop” from his pocket and starts sucking on it. It fills his mouth with “sticky sweetness.”
  • p. 17: A girl about fifteen or sixteen offers the narrator “a cold drink”: beer
  • p. 18: The narrator has somehow managed to fill his mouth with another lemon drop, even though earlier he had spit the original lemon drop onto the ground, and in between then and p. 18, there’s been nary a mention of his retrieving another one from his pocket. But all is forgiven when the girl offers the narrator a Coke.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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