“If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth”

Yes, self, is is OK for you to remain all day in your pajamas.  You are a writer.  Writers are allowed to spend all day at home.  When The Man complains why your annual income is only $5,000, cover your ears.  Writers are strange.

Lately, self has added to her daily readings a dose of dystopian (that word again!) fiction.  She’s read and re-read Catching Fire.  She’s crawling through Divergent.

She suddenly remembers a short story from her childhood in Manila.  She remembers the title.  She googles.

There it is!  The entire short story is available on-line!  It was written by Arthur C. Clarke!  Self never knew!

(The only thing about the story is — why does the little boy have to be called Marvin)

The story is comprised of these elements:  the Colony.  The “abyss of space.”  Radioactive aftermath.

It is a very, very short story.  Surprisingly short.

Here’s the link.

Stay tuned.


Self went browsing for on-line reviews of Black Lamb, Grey Falcon (which she always does when she’s wavering), and after reading a couple of meaty ones on Amazon, has decided that she should approach the book as a travelogue.  Because then it works.

And now she also has a word to describe the affliction of a Rebecca West Sentence (henceforth to be known as RWS):  prolixity.

Self’s impatience about Black Lamb, Grey Falcon (henceforth to be known as BLGF) stems from the fact that she just finished reading Jane Goodall.  Goodall is a writer who makes it easy for readers to step into her world because she is vivid without being circumlocutious.

On the other hand, when Rebecca West gets lumped together in a train carriage with German passengers in first class, one simply doesn’t know whether to believe her, because she turns them all into caricatures.  (Earlier, she called them all kinds of names in her head, but now she’s had time to get used to them.  If this is the way she’s going to be writing about each and every person she meets on her journey, then no wonder the book is over a thousand pages):

They were all of them falling to pieces under the emotional and intellectual strain laid on them by their Government, poor Laocoons strangled by red tape.  It was obvious that getting the population into this state the Nazis had guaranteed the continuance of their system; for none of these people could have given any effective support to any rival party that wanted to seize power, and indeed their affairs, which were thoroughly typical, were in such an inextricable state of confusion that no sane party would now wish to take over the government, since it would certainly see nothing but failure ahead . . .  I reflected that if a train were filled with the citizens of the Western Roman Empire in the fourth century, they would have made much the same complaints.

And, just before getting up to make herself some coffee, self reads this (p. 33):

A little while later my husband and I went and had dinner in the wagon-restaurant, which was Yugoslavian and extremely good.  When we came back the businessman was telling how, sitting at his desk in his office just after the war, he had seen the bodies of three men fall past his windows . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Reading List in Flux

Rebecca West’s sentences are like architectural monuments.  They’re so heavy and self can’t make sense of some of the more ornate (literary) flourishes.  And because self doesn’t want to spend the next month or so reading a book whose contents she will probably forget as soon as she closes the covers, she might as well move to the next book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed, who is a professor of Law at New York Law School.

Have spent most of the winter reading non-fiction (In the Shadow of Man, How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa — both enthralling books)  The trend continues with The Hemingses of Monticello.

Next up are two books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth and Namesake.  To rest self’s weary brain, self is also reading concurrently: the YA novels Divergent and Catching Fire.

Still haven’t gotten past p 3 of Divergent  During this scene, the heroine is riding on a crowded bus with her brother, Caleb. And this is what ensues:

He also inherited my mother’s talent for selflessness.  He gave his seat to a surly Candor man on the bus without a second thought.

The Candor man wears a black suit with a white tie — Candor standard uniform.  Their faction values honesty and sees the truth as black and white, so that is what they wear.

Must say, self loves that description of the Candor man wearing “a black suit with a white tie” —  Very clever, Veronica Roth!

And now to Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy.  The two District 12 victors, Katniss and Peeta, must engage in combat again.  Katniss has formulated a rather weird plan that Peeta shoud live, not her:

The beauty of this idea was that my decision to keep Peeta alive at the expense of my own life is itself an act of defiance.  A refusal to play the Hunger Games by the Capitol’s rules.  My private agenda dogtails completely by my public one. And if I really could save Peeta . . .  in terms of a revolution, this would be ideal. Because I will be more valuable dead. They can turn me into some kind of martyr for the cause and paint my face on banners, and it will do more to rally the people than anything I could do  if I was leaving.  But Peeta woud be more valuable alive, and tragic, because he will be able to turn his pain into words that will transform people.

Methinks Katniss sounds a little “mental” in the above passage, but perhaps her 17-year-old-ness makes her susceptible to such large and fantastic notions as “Peeta would be more valuable alive, and tragic . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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