Ian Frazier for The New York Review of Books (Nov. 7, 2013)

Today is a great day. Sun is shining, after two days of almost non-stop rain.

Tomorrow, self is meeting Connie C. for lunch in downtown Palo Alto. Connie was the Program Administrator in East Asian Studies when self was a grad student at Stanford. And she is still the Program Administrator in East Asian Studies. Not only that, she doesn’t seem to have aged at all.

Self is making some headway into her mighty Pile of Stuff. As she mentioned in a preview post, one pile is mostly New Yorkers. The other is mostly back issues of The New York Review of Books (She ended her subscription to The New York Times Book Review this year, which helped)

She’s begun reading Ian Frazier’s review of Cotton Tenants: Three Families, by James Agee and Walker Evans (Published by The Baffler/Melville House). His review is absolutely engrossing. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Amazing to think that in 1936 the editors of Fortune magazine cared enough about the hard lives of tenant farmers in the South’s Cotton Belt that they sent a reporter and a photographer to Alabama to do a story on them. One explanation is that the magazine was going through a weird period. Henry Luce, who founded Fortune as a business magazine with a target audience of tycoons and millionaires, had recently noticed the Depression. The then-widespread notion that straight-ahead, free-market capitalism did not always work had begun to make inroads upon his mind.

It’s a fascinating essay, dear blog readers. Try looking it up on-line.

Stay tuned.

 

Next Heartbreak, EVERY MAN DIES ALONE (p. 221)

In Hans Fallada’s novel, which is set in Berlin during World War II, you have characters running around saying things like this:

“Ach!” she says, trying to calm herself with words of her own. “The thing with the Gestapo can’t be as bad as all that, otherwise you would hardly have spent half the day running around the city!”

You know that Berlin is a city with people boiling with tension inside. But they can’t ever show it. So instead, they quarrel with their spouses or worry about mundane things like cooking dinner.

Self can hardly believe it, dear blog readers, but in between reading Hans Fallada and writing science fiction (a new story yesterday) she actually has begun writing multi-chapter Hunger Games AU fan fiction. She made a discovery, a few weeks ago, that no one’s really made President Snow the central character in fan fiction, so that is what she undertook to do. And now she’s written chapter after chapter. Gee, she is so fascinated by darkness. That is simply the honest truth.

Plus, it is great to have something useful to do when you’re up in the wee hours because you just can’t sleep.

Stay tuned.

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