Tra-La, Tra-La, a New NYTBR Post (from Issue 3 March 2013)

The “By the Book” interview is with Garry Wills.  In keeping with his stature as a heavyweight intellectual, his recommended tomes are mostly tremendously serious books, for example:  Through the Eye of a Needle, by Peter Brown; David Balfour, by Robert Louis Stevenson; and The Acts and Monuments, about the upheavals of Reformation England, by John Foxe.

The Fun Parts, a collection of short stories by Sam Lipsyte, endorsed by Currently Famous Short Story Writer Ben Fountain

Schroder, a novel by Amity Gaige (Self realizes she’s already read a chapter of this novel; it was in One Story)

A couple of novels by chick-lit writer Lucinda Rosenfeld, including the just-published The Pretty One:  A Novel About Sisters.  According to reviewer Emily Cooke, “None of the women have the lives they once envisioned, and they won’t let one another forget it.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Spotlight: The Asian American Literary Review, Part 2

Self knows she spotlighted The AALR already, but one can never have too much of a good thing.

She is so admiring of the tireless energy of its editors. They are now trying to get more people overseas to know about Asian American writers. Bravo!

Kindly hook up with Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis, Gerald Maa, or Cathy J. Shlund-Vials (English and Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut). Cathy will be at the upcoming AAS conference, April 17- 20, in Seattle.

Here’s the beginning of self’s story “Homeopathy,” which was in AALR Vol. 3, Issue 1 (Spring 2012):

On Friday I return from my trip. Laundry is still in the dryer, a jumble of clothes. The food I’d bought before I left is still in the fridge, though the radishes are pockmarked with green fuzz and the potatoes are growing roots. The man sits on the sofa, smoking a cigarette.

Has he even known I was gone? I can’t be sure. Perhaps I’m an alien, teleported into his life.

On TV, Speed is showing. It’s the scene where Dennis Hopper talks to Keanu Reeves and tells him, “Do not attempt to grow a brain.”

Finally, self has succeeded in getting the finest words in the English language into a story!

KEANU REEVES. KEANU REEVES. KEANU REEVES.

But that was so years ago. Now self must figure out a way to get these words into a story:

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT. TIMOTHY OLYPHANT. TIMOTHY OLYPHANT.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading ANNA KARENINA: 20 Days In

This book, thus far, has set a record for “longest time self has spent reading one book,” at least in 2013.

The only other book that’s held her attention for more than a week was Bicycle Diaries, David Byrne’s account of biking in far-flung corners of the world (including Manila), which took her two weeks to finish, in January.  But it’s been 20 days now, and self is still a long way from the end of Anna Karenina.  She just can’t get enough of Tolstoy’s characters, and reads and re-reads and parses his sentences and laughs and cries and —  let’s just say, the book still holds her firmly in its thrall.

Here she is on p. 538 (538!  How could Tolstoy come up with such massive tomes?  When he had so many children and was such a pro-active landowner?  Methinks Mrs. Tolstoy must have been a saint!) of the Modern Library edition:

Countess Lydia Ivanovna had long ceased being in love with her husband, but from that time she had never ceased being in love with someone.  She was in love with several people at once, both men and women;  she had been in love with almost everyone who had been particularly distinguished in any way.  She was in love with all the new princes and princesses who married into the Imperial family; she had been in love with a metropolitan, a vicar, and a priest; she had been in love with a journalist, three Slavs, with Komisarov, a minister, a doctor, an English missionary, and Karenin.  All these passions, constantly waning or growing more ardent, did not prevent her from keeping up the most extended and complicated relations with the court high society.  But from the time after Karenin’s trouble she took him under her special protection, from the time she set to work on Karenin’s household looking after his welfare, she felt that all her other attachments were not the real thing, and that she was more generally in love, and with no one but Karenin.  The feeling she now experienced for him seemed to her stronger than any of her former feelings.  Analyzing her feeling, and comparing it with former passions, she distinctly perceived that she would not have been in love with Komisarov if he had not saved the life of the Tsar,* that she would not have been in love with Ristich-Kudzhitsky if there had been no Slav Question, but that she loved Karenin for himself, for his lofty, misunderstood soul, for the —  to her — high-pitched sound of his voice, for his drawling inflections which she thought charming, his weary eyes, his character, and his soft white hands with their swollen veins.  She was not simply overjoyed at meeting him, but she sought in his face signs of the impression she was making on him.  She tried to please him, not only by her words, but in her whole person.

(And the Countess is a minor character.  One of a whole host of minor characters who Tolstoy brings to life in a mere paragraph or two)

*  Komisarov saved Aleksandr II from being shot by knocking the pistol from the hand of a would-be assassin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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