More from the Novel-in-Progress

Excerpt from a letter Matias writes to his Superior in Madrid, dated the 29th of October, 1757:

Your Reverence,

The ship lumbered forward, like a mighty beast. Finally, we sailed into a beautiful natural harbor. I was eager to be down the gangplank and standing on the pier. The Archbishop of Manila sent his carriage to fetch me to his residence, which sits directly behind the magnificent Augustinian church. The Archbishop has informed me that there are representatives of many religious orders within the walls of the Old City: There are Franciscans, Dominicans, Recollects, Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites, as well as the Society of Jesus. In other words, within this very small city, there are enough priests and nuns to tend to the souls of the natives in the most meticulous fashion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More BARBARIAN DAYS: In the South Pacific

The cast of characters in William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days is very New Age-y hippie. It’s been a long while since self has encountered one of these, which means San Francisco has really changed.

Anyhoo, Finnegan and a friend go bouncing all over the South Pacific, searching for good waves. And they have very, very interesting encounters.

With an American missionary who is also a surfer. With locals who take an “anthropological interest” in the author and his traveling companion, Bryan. Finnegan and his friend are so obsessed that when they find a good surfing spot, in Tonga, they surf every day.

Surfing seems magical when you’re just watching. Here’s the reality:

  • My hands and feet were a salad russe of coral cuts, and Bryan had a large, raw scrape on his back, the dressing on which I changed twice a day.

There’s a type of pairing I’ve seen on Boracay:

  • One of Parker’s oil field managers was a big, thick-spectacled Texan named Gene. He had a face like a turkey wattle, a scary smoker’s voice and a local girlfriend who was seventeen. Gene was pushing sixty. His girlfriend was a knockout but not happy. I overheard her telling the wife of a Parker executive that she was a half-Fijian orphan, and therefore a social outcast in homogeneous Tonga. She had turned to prostitution, she said. She was now desperate to get away from Gene. “Help me! Help me!” she pleaded.

As for the king of Tonga, Tupou IV: “He was an absolute monarch who weighed, reportedly, 440 pounds.”

Fascinating stuff.

Stay tuned.

 

 

#amreading, #amwriting

The book self is reading is The Ship, by Bjorn Landstrom (Doubleday).

On p. 102, there are a series of diagrams about the Santa Maria (“With the exception of Noah’s Ark, Columbus’s flagship is surely the most well-known ship in the world, and there are many, many thousands of models to be found today which are supposed to represent the Santa Maria.”)

DSCN0235

And now, an excerpt from self’s novel-in-progress, which is about a fighting priest, an Augustinian, sent by Spain to establish a mission on an island in the central Philippines.

The priest, whose name is Matias, arrives in Manila and is granted an audience with the Archbishop. And they somehow get off on the wrong foot:

“They only send the worst sort,” Archbishop Hontiveros grumbled. “Mutant mores. Have you heard the expression? Men change according to circumstances. One could be taken for a saint there but a devil here . . . ”

The Archbishop paused and abruptly changed his tone. “How long have you been in the priesthood? You are very young.”

“I am not young,” Matias said, struggling to keep a note of deference in his voice. “I am twenty-six.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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