Letter From a Man Who Has Re-Read GOING HOME TO A LANDSCAPE

I get these letters from time to time.  They are addressed to:  “Author, Going Home to a Landscape, Calyx Books.”  Calyx always forwards them to me.

This one, dated February 6, 2009, reads in part:

Dear Marianne,

I came across your book again and have a renewal of interest in poems and stories with a more in-depth look.

. . .  Your other stories are thought-provoking.  My favorite poems are “We Go Back to Manila” (by Angela Torres), “My Father Has Stopped Eating” (Virginia Cerenio), and Leny Mendoza Strobel’s “The Power of Adobo” (makes me hungry)

I think your book Going Home to a Landscape deserves a wide readership that extends beyond the Asian community.


B. Stafford

*  *  *

Sometimes you enter into a zone.  I was just at AWP, on a panel with Luisa Igloria, Grace Talusan, Angela Narciso Torres, and Karen Llagas (three of whom are writers represented in Going Home), and Angela read part of “We Go Back to Manila in 1999,” which I’ll excerpt below. 

We Go Back to Manila in 1999

    by Angela Narciso Torres

What will our children remember
of the shape of that year? Perhaps
the city skyline, swathed in blue
smog, a plane landing at daybreak,

arms reaching to encircle their small,
flight-weary bodies as they melted
into the waiting crowd. But those
were fleeting glimpses, through eyes

still fogged with sleep. More likely,
the sticky heat and stench of fumes,
a van weaving through early traffic
to the village that housed their mother’s

memories, verdant still, a jungle-green
deeper than California’s silver-sage.
Most certainly, the tile-roof house, where
they learned to call their grandparents

Lolo and Lola, learned to say ulan for rain;
rain filling potholes and gushing in gutters,
drumming on the low eaves, on windows
slammed shut to monsoon winds. Breakfast

of sweet sausage and rice, the clatter of pans
begun long before morning’s hushed light,
punctuated by the calls of a bread vendor
peddling hot pan de sal on a bycicle.

    — from Going Home to a Landscape, Calyx Books, 2003

How can I repay this stranger for his kindness in writing? I turn once again to Sage Master Shih Cheng-Yen, who writes, in Still Thought # 44, “A person’s heart is like a field; if no good seeds are sown, nothing good will grow.”

So, plant seeds, dear blog readers. Plant many, many seeds.

NYTBR 8 February 2009: Meditations on Death, and a Pakistani Short Story Collection

Dear blog readers, Bourdain was great last night.  But this post is not about Bourdain, for self has a lot of reading material to sort through today, and thinks she’d better hurry up.

Below, the list of books self is interested in reading after perusing The New York Times Book Review of 8 February 2009:

(1)    After reading Erica Jong’s review of Diana Athill’s memoir, Somewhere Towards the End:

  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s classic, On Death and Dying
  • Judith Viorst’s Necessary Losses
  • Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards the End

(2)    After reading Dalia Sofer’s review of Daniyal Mueenuddin’s first short story collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders:

  • Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

(3)    After reading Lori Gottlieb’s review of Daniel Bergner’s The Other Side of Desire:  Four Journeys Into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing:

  • Daniel Bergner’s The Other Side of Desire:  Four Journeys Into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing

(4)    After reading Jan Stuart’s review of Marie Arana’s new novel, Lima Nights:

  • Marie Arana’s memoir, American Chica
  • Marie Arana’s “epic” first novel, Cellophane
  • Marie Arana’s Lima Nights

(5)    After reading James Campbell’s end-paper essay, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Ripley,” on the Ripley novels of Patricia Highsmith:

  • the first book in the series, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1954)
  • and the last,  Ripley Under Water (1992)

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