The following pictures are, in self’s estimation, self-explanatory.
This is from Tin House Vol. 5 Number 1:
by David Lehman
It seemed nothing would ever be the same
This feeling lasted for months
Not a day passed without a dozen mentions
of the devastation and the grief
Then life came back
it returned like sap to the tree
shooting new life into the veins
of parched leaves turning them green
and the old irritations came back,
there were life, too,
crowds pushing, taxis honking, the envies, the anger,
the woman who could not escape her misery
as she stood between two mirrored walls
couldn’t sleep, took a pill, heard the noises of neighbors
the dogs barking, the pigeons in the alley yipping weirdly
and the phone that rang at eight twenty with the news
of Lucy’s overdose we just saw her last Friday evening
at Jay’s on Jane Street she’d been dead for a day or so
when they found her and there was no note
the autopsy’s today the wake the day after tomorrow
and then I knew that life had resumed, ordinary bitching life
had come back
Manhattan in the 1980s was a gritty place. I used to think of it as having dark glamour but no more. A few years before, I had come to Manhattan like someone drawing close to a fire. I wanted to be warmed, enlightened. But nothing turned out the way I hoped, not love, not work, not life. I pictured myself a waif huddling along in a bleak neighborhood, bringing her own pasta to dinner. The image was so pathetic that I savored it, a fragment of a modern Dickens tale.
– Tracy Cochran, “The Night I Died” (in Parabola, the Heaven & Hell issue, Summer 2013)
Since self thinks the cover of this issue – Summer 2013, the magazine’s 150th (Congratulations, Parabola!) is pretty fine, she snapped a picture of it:
It did remind her vaguely of the work of a Flemish artist, she wants to say Brueghel but isn’t sure.
Later, she comes upon the title of the second piece in the issue: “Emanations of Divinity: The Cosmology of Hieronymus Bosch,” by Lee van Leer.
Yes, of course, that’s whose work she thought of when contemplating the cover. Bosch, not Brueghel. Accompanying the essay by van Leer are details of Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.
The Bosch work is a triptych. It hangs in the Prado in Madrid. This is an astonishing piece of work, dear blog readers. The left and right panels, especially.
There are many things about the David Denby article in The New Yorker of Feb. 11 and 18, 2013 that are worth quoting.
For one thing, it’s about Side Effects, a move self wants to see (The other new movies are A Good Day to Die Hard, which is supposedly terrible, Identity Thief, which is also supposedly terrible, and Safe Haven which self wouldn’t see even if it got rave reviews, which it didn’t)
Denby begins his review by saying that Steven Soderbergh “has made twenty-six feature films in twenty-four years, has just turned fifty . . . and says that, after his new film, Side Effects he wants to leave movies behind in order, mostly, to paint.”
Self heard about the retirement announcement, nothing official, just trills on the Read the rest of this entry »
Self has been reading In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays, by Katie Roiphe, for the past three days. She must say, she finds the book fascinating.
Here’s Roiphe on the Didion style:
Didion seems at first glance to be revealing so much about herself because of her mental fragility. Certain temperamental qualities of hers — her paranoia, her morbid sense of impending disaster, and her distrust of all stated realities – were particularly suited to the 1960s and ’70s. Take the moment in The White Album when she writes about the “attack of nausea and vertigo” that led her to a psychiatric clinic. On the surface, this might seem like an intimate revelation about her inner life. And yet she ends the passage with “such an attack does not now seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1998.” This is typical Didion. It’s as if her body were a finely tuned instrument for channeling the jittery mood of the country in flux. Her sense of doom, of highly calibrated alarm, is always in the service of some larger point; her stunned disbelief is always a commentary, on the times, on a murder, on the water supply, on Hawaii, on the bewildering state of California. It is never simply emotion for the sake of emotion. There is no pleasure in frankly exhibitionistic exposure; there is none of the blinkered narcissism of some of our more recent personal writing.
Exhibit A and Exhibit B:
Her crying in Chinese laundries becomes “what it’s like to be young in New York.” New York becomes “an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself. In the end, for all the spare, vivid details about her walking down the street peering into the windows of brownstones, about drinking gazpacho when she is hungover, the essay is about moving to New York and about being young – not about Joan Didion moving to New York and being young.”
* * *
Completely unrelated: A Selective List of Authors Whose Acquaintance Self Made for the First Time in 2012:
- John Burnham Schwarz, novelist
- Owen Sheers, novelist
- Adrian Goldsworthy, historian of classical antiquity
- Jerome Groopman, M.D., medical writer
- Colin Harrison, mystery writer
- Jesse Kellerman, mystery writer
- Barack Obama
- Rhoda Janzen, memoirist
- Jeanette Walls, memoirist
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
January 23, 2013 at 1:21 am (anthologies, Books, Family, Filipino Writers, Lists, Personal Bookshelf, Recommended)
Tags: 9/11, book lists, Filipino writers, lists, New York, nonfiction, short story collections, speculative fiction
When will self ever finish this book tabulation project, she wonders?
She is still counting books in the tall bookcase in son’s room.
There are 20 books on the third shelf.
877 + 21 = 898 Total Books Counted Thus Far
Of course, on this shelf, as on the previous ones, there are, in addition to books: an MGM Grand room key; rocks, both shiny and not; corn husk people (obviously, some grade school art project), and many, many video games like Command and Conquer.
So, here are some of the books on this shelf: The Night Angel Trilogy (Books 1, 2, and 3), by Brent Weeks; Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden (Incidentally, his piece on the killing of OBL, in the December Vanity Fair, was more gripping than the Kathryn Bigelow movie, in self’s humble opinion); Before & After: Stories From New York, edited by Thomas Beller (This is a very interesting book: it has two covers, one showing the New York skyline with the WTC towers, and the other showing the day of, with the towers already surrounded by great billowing clouds of smoke. The “Before” contains a piece by Manny Howard called “The Jumper” that begins: “I recently spent an afternoon watching a guy entertaining three of New York’s finest on the eastern parapet of the Brooklyn Bridge.”); Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi; The Men Who Play God, a short story collection by the late, great Arturo B. Rotor; and Scunnered: Slices of Scottish Life in Seventeen Gallus Syllables, by Des Dillon (Sample: “Attitude: Treating every time/ like it’s the very last time/ feels like the first time.”)
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
Self loves Giorgio de Chirico. Loooves him. There was a de Chirico in the SFMOMA yesterday. It was years and years since she’d seen one up close. It was a relatively small painting but, the minute self caught a glimpse of it across the gallery, she knew it was one of his.
Lo and behold, it was mid-afternoon, and walking around the galleries had made self exceedingly thirsty. So she told The Man she would get a drink at the Blue Bottle Café on the 4th floor. And on the way there, she looked out the large, plate-glass windows on her left, and saw square buildings and long, rectangular windows and thought: de Chirico!
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
Three great opening sentences (What, you expected more from self this morning? Excuuuse me! It is Saturday morning and there are ga-zillions of farmers markets, all over the place! And as you can see from the date of the issue about to be quoted from, self is extremely extremely backed up with her reading!)
Without further ado:
- Opening Sentence # 1: “Broadway, like New York City, is a place where petty comforts are fought for but rarely won.” (from a piece by Michael Shulman about the installation of ergonomic seats in Broadway theaters)
- Opening Sentence # 2: “On one of those indecisive early winter afternoons – warm in the sun, nippy out of it – Chucker Branch” (What a great name, by the way: self must use in a story!) “and Christine Lehner, his partner, were on the roof of the Whitney Museum, winterizing their bees.” (from a piece by Calvin Tomkins)
- Opening Sentence # 3: “Given that the area surrounding City Hall has the highest birth rate of any neighborhood in Manhattan, adding a kids’ store to the strip of Park Row occupied by J & R Music and Computer World would seem to be a no-brainer, like wearable speakers for expectant mothers.” (from a piece by Robert Sullivan about the opening of J & R Jr.)