Arrow Meets Aswang in Denis Johnson’s Novel TREE OF SMOKE

Aswang stories sound different when told by an American novelist. Read on:

He gave the lad a quiver of arrows and a very strong bow and charged him to stay all night in the granary at the bottom of the path, because there he would slay the aswang.  Many cats gathered in the granary at night, one of whom was in fact the aswang, who assumed this form in order to camouflage. ‘But, sir, how will I know the aswang, because you haven’t given me arrows to shoot every cat?’ And Saint Gabriel said, ‘The aswang will not play with its rat when it catches one, it only tears the rat in pieces intantly and revels in its blood. When you see a cat do that, you must shoot him right away, because that one is the aswang. Of course, if you fail, I don’t have to inform you you’re going to feel yourself being torn apart by the fangs of the aswang, and it will drink your blood as you die.’

— p. 51, Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)

Very, very interesting. Self realizes she would rather read more about aswang than about Edward Lansdale. Stay tuned.

Early Bird 4: Window Life

Windows fascinate, as always.

Windows fascinate, as always.

Maybe because they're the first things she sees when she opens her eyes in the morning.

Maybe because they’re the first things she sees when she opens her eyes in the morning.

The early morning light is reflected on these hanging pictures.

The early morning light is reflected on these hanging pictures.

And that is all self has to say on the subject of windows.

Stay tuned.

Still Reading This

The houseboy Sebastian came out of the kitchen and said, “Good morning, Skeep. The barber is coming.”

“When?”

“He’s coming now.”

“Where is he?”

“He’s in the kitchen. You want breakfast first? You want egg?”

“Just coffee, please.”

“You want bacon and egg?”

“Can you stand it if I just have coffee?”

“What kind of egg? Over easy.”

“Bring it on, bring it on.”

*     *     *     *     *

pp. 35 – 36, Tree of Smoke: novel by Denis Johnson, set during The Vietnam War.  The troops go for R & R in the Philippines. It’s not pretty. Stay tuned.

Reading This

“We are centralized. We have an iron structure. We are closed into a single fist that disappears up a sleeve when it has to. Our will is unshakable. The greatest colonialist armies can’t stand against it. We drove out the French, and we’ll drive out the Americans, and we’ll slaughter and bury their puppets. Do they claim victories? Let them. The invaders are fighting the ocean. No matter how many waves they beat down, the ocean of our resolve is always there.”

— p. 29, Denis Johnson’s novel of the Vietnam War circa 1963 – 1970, Tree of Smoke

Early Bird 3: Good Morning, Calgary

It is self’s first time to be in this Canadian city. She’s on her way to the Writer’s Studio at Banff. By chance, she has Bacolod cousins here. Amazing synchronicity! She’s spending a few days with them.

A Prairie Subdivision

A Prairie Subdivision

It is huge. A prairie city.

Self still posting on the theme EARLY BIRD:

This week, I encourage you to set your alarm for the early hours, grab your first (several) cups of coffee, and challenge yourself to capture an outstanding photograph in the early morning light.

Without further ado, Early Bird, Calgary edition:

Good morning, Calgary!

Good morning, Calgary!

First stop of the day, a nearly deserted Calgary Olympic Park:

DSCN9362

The Olympic Flame, Calgary Olympic Park

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Early Bird 2: Calgary

The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week, provided by Brie Anne Demkiw, is EARLY BIRD.

“I love sunsets as much as the next photographer, but I began to recognize a pattern: many of my best photos were taken early.”

Mike V's House

In Cousin’s House, in a Suburb of Calgary

Roses are best when plucked early in the morning.

Roses are best when plucked early in the morning.

Early Morning in a Garden: Happiness!

Early Morning in a Garden: Happiness!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Painful

Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke, 1963 from the point of view of an American G.I. in the Philippines. The next book self reads after this is Mark Twain’s Following the Equator. Which will probably be oh such a blessed relief:

He’d passed all the previous night with the prostitute the colonel had paid for. The girl had slept on the floor and he in the bed. He hadn’t wanted her. He wasn’t sure about these Filipino people.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Reading List Advances — Finally!

Self bid adieu to Roberto Bolaño and 2666 this morning. That was after she spent over a week reading about all the different women who were buried in mass graves around a town named Santa Teresa. That was in Part II.

The writing was so beautiful, she hated to stop reading before getting all the way to the end, and she admires Bolaño for having the fortitude to Read the rest of this entry »

Early Bird: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is EARLY BIRD.

Part of the prompt on The Daily Post website:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a morning person. From early childhood I was up with the sun, and it always came naturally to me . . . when I began taking photography more seriously . . . I realized the benefits that waking early had on my photos.

Gondola Stop, Venice: Before the Crowds Appear

Gondola Stop, Venice: Before the Crowds Appear

In scanning through her photographs, self found a set of pictures she took on a very early morning in Venice. She’d signed up for a tour of the Doge’s Palace, and to make sure she got there in plenty of time (It was a morning tour), she left the apartment she was sharing with Margarita Donnelly in Ca’ San Toma several hours early. And was rewarded with the thrill of seeing San Marco Square practically devoid of people (i.e. tourists)

Can You Believe This is Venice in Late April? Where Are the People?

Can You Believe This is Venice in Late April? Somewhere near the Hotel Danieli

Anyhoo, the Doge’s Palace was all right. But the real thrill, self realized later, was having San Marco Square and environs almost entirely to herself.

DSCN8571

The photographs are time-stamped. With CALIFORNIA TIME. Pardon the confusion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Afloat 6: Butterflies and Birds

One day last year, self trekked to Golden Gate Park to see an exhibit at the de Young, then stopped by the Conservatory of Flowers to look at the Butterfly habitat:

DSCN4040

Golden Gate Park, Strybing Arboretum, and the Conservatory of Flowers are some of her favorite places to visit.

Not sure what this is. Could be a moth, could be a butterfly.

Not sure what this is. Could be a moth, could be a butterfly.

About a year ago, self went to the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum and strolled about the grounds. She was entranced by the flocks of birds on the bird feeders.

On the Grounds of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum

On the Grounds of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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