Sylvain Landry – Week 22: TRANSPARENCY

Self enjoys doing Photo Challenges. Since she began doing the WordPress Photo Challenge, three years ago, she’s derived much pleaseure in sharing her travel photographs with blog readers. Photographs can say so much more than words can.

This year, she also became an occasional contributor to the Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge. This week’s SL prompt is TRANSPARENCY. Self thought that theme would be a piece of cake, but it wasn’t. She had to go through all her Florence pictures, all her pictures of the Mission in San Francisco, all her pictures of London, until she finally found this picture of a room in filmmaker and poet Csilla Toldy’s house in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland. Self visited Csilla during the Fiddler’s Green Festival, July 2015. It was a lot of fun:


Csilla was preparing to show self a documentary she made on Bloomsday (celebrated in both Ireland and Hungary!); she had to draw the curtains in her study.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Ampatuan Massacre, Six Years Later: No Prosecutions

Self will never forget the man who stood in a field, looked at reporters and asked, with dreadful composure, “Is this where they found my wife’s body?”

Maguindanao, the Philippines, 2009: 32 journalists and a few innocents who had the bad luck to stumble upon the massacre ended up in a hole in the ground. A massive hole. Pre-prepared. Dug out of the ground with bulldozers. Big enough to accommodate whole cars. All the bodies got dumped in.

Pretty clear the grudge was local, the perpetrators were local (shooting at their own neighbors, how nice), because what outsider would care this much? Seriously?

Self has no words.

What happened in Maguindanao affects the whole. Affects us all. There is no hiding from the shame.





“Lydgate’s hair never became white. He died when he was only fifty, leaving his wife and children provided for by a heavy insurance on his life . . . He had not done what he once meant to do.”

But, he did save his marriage to the fair Rosamond.

Rosamond “continued to be mild in her temper, inflexible in her judgment, disposed to admonish her husband, and able to frustrate him by stratagems. As the years went on he opposed her less and less, whence Rosamond concluded that he had learned the value of her opinion.”

After Lydgate’s death, Rosamond marries again.

She knows contentment, if not happiness.

As for Dorothea, she marries the love of her life, Will Ladislaw. Rosamond wanted him, and nearly wrecked her marriage for him, but Dorothea came along and, well . . .

Self would just like to say, the closing pages of Middlemarch had her in such a state of high tension that she kept biting her bottom lip at every page, saying “No!” or “Yes!” or “You go, Will!” or “Dorothea, you are a saint!”

That scene in Lydgate’s drawing room, where Dorothea stumbles in on Will holding Rosamond’s hands — !!! Dorothea, grievously wounded (She’s been in love with Will Ladislaw all this time!), spends the entire night weeping. Meanwhile, the minute Dorothea is gone, Rosamond puts a hand on Will’s arm, and Will turns to Rosamond and snarls, “Don’t touch me!” Those three words telling Rosamond, more than anything Will might have said, that he returns Dorothea’s love.

That is a scene worthy of the finest Katniss/Peeta angst-y fan fiction. Self knows this is heresy, putting Middlemarch on the same level as Hunger Games fan fiction, but those have been her twin obsessions, for months and months.

It is sweetness itself to learn that, at the death of Dorothea’s uncle Mr. Brooke, Middlemarch passes to Dorothea and Will’s son.

So here’s 2015 in Books:

Self began the year by discovering The Infernal Devices Trilogy. She went to London looking for Shadowhunter sites. She began The Act of Love, by Howard Jacobson, and discovered that she and the characters shared a familiarity with Great Russell Street and the British Museum. She ended the year absolutely in love with the novel Middlemarch. How in love? Her personal copy has so many dog-eared pages, self can’t even. She took this 800-page behemoth with her to Florence and even there she never lost the thread of the narrative, never.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

From George Eliot to Mary Gaitskill

Self is in the closing pages of Middlemarch. Self’s admiration for Dorothea Brooke knows no bounds.

Next on her reading list, Mary Gaitskill’s story collection, Bad Behavior, in which (according to the book’s dust jacket), we enter a world “populated with working-class drug addicts, educated hookers, twisted secretaries, and emotionally stunted professionals.”

Oh, what fun. Self is really looking forward to.

After Gaitskill, self is thinking she might give Philipp Meyer’s debut novel, American Rust, a go. She’s taken a peek and it reminds her a little of Denis Johnson. Uber-Hemingwayesque? There are worse things in life than sounding like Denis Johnson. If American Rust doesn’t work out, she’ll head to the next on her list, a horror book, The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. All this, hopefully, before the New Year. What’s so hard? She used to be able to read four or five books a month. This year was pathetic — it took her six months to get through Howard Jacobson’s The Act of Love — but she feels like she might just be regaining her reading mojo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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