Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Colors That Start With the Letter S

Self’s color: SLATE

The sky, the ground, the glass pyramid: all slate colored.

This picture was taken outside the Louvre, a few days ago.

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Outside the Louvre, a Few Days Before Christmas 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Tana French, THE TRESPASSER, p. 425

SPOILER ALERT

Detective Breslin to Detective Conway: I spent twenty minutes sitting in the Top House before the penny dropped. Fair play to you, Conway: you make a very convincing South Dublin airhead.

#novelinprogress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

This novel is going to live and die on the strength of the voice. It doesn’t matter that it’s set in the 18th century. All self knows is that if the voice isn’t true, it will never work.

She writes things set in the distant future, and those too are voice-driven. Like her story, This Is End, where the hero’s Friends-With-Benefits, Her, tells him: He ended me. Big ended me.

Or when she wrote about the Legazpi expedition of 1571 and crammed her story full of Spanish: De las Islas Filipinas. Paganos. Esta tierra fué la primera. La primera misa.

So of course, Blue Water, Distant Shores is voice-driven. Hard to sustain for 300 pages. Took her three years. Flash is really her jam.

pp. 7 – 8:

  • By the eighteenth century, Spain is already exhibiting signs of exhaustion, its sulky mind tossing and turning, preferring already the deep, fathomless sleep of history’s graveyard to the turbulence of exploration. In the Islands, the Church suffers grievous wounds. Perhaps there is no saving it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: Bronwyn Lovell, “Advice for the Cold-Blooded”

Met Australian poet Bronwyn Lovell at Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig in 2015. A mutual friend, Jacinta Oreilly, gave self her chapbook, Chrysalis, last week, and self has been reading it in Paris.

Thank you, Jacinta! What a lovely present.

Advice for the Cold-Blooded

When wings are the largest
part of your body

you rely too heavily
on the weather.

Listen, then.
You need to know that

the sun will not
always provide.

You must steal heat
from those warm places,

let it take you
to the next blossom

then wait for sunshine
to lift you again.

On days when every
surface is shaded

(however paralysed)
you must force

yourself to move.
Produce your own heat

in tiny increments. Shiver
until you are no longer cold.

NOTE: Chrysalis was shortlisted for the Doire Press International Poetry Chapbook Competition.

#amreading THE TRESPASSER, p. 311

Suspense just kicked up a notch!

Self is beginning to realize this about her response to a Tana French book: her level of enjoyment depends on how engaging she finds the main protagonist’s partner.

In Broken Harbor, self was really taken by Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy’s rookie partner, Richie Curran. To a lesser extent, she was also taken by Scorcher’s mad sister, Dina.

In The Trespasser, there was absolutely no one self could relate to, not until the main protagonist’s partner, Steve, began to acquire fairly duplicitous shadings. Then, the tension ratcheted up. Waaaay up.

Excellent. It’s a very cold and blustery Paris evening, perfect for cocooning with a book.

Kudos to Ms. French for p. 312 also.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Memoriam, Liu Xiaobo, Dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Discovered the poetry of Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, through a bilingual translation from Graywolf, Empty Chairs.

Liu Xiaobo passed away earlier this year. Self can imagine Liu Xia’s pain.

This morning, in Paris, reading Liu Xia’s “One Bird and Then Another:”

One Sunday, the sky was
overcast, but it wasn’t raining.
We went out together and you bought
me a blouse from a boutique.
When it got dark, we went
to a crowded restaurant
and each ate two bowls of dumplings.
On the way back we
were quiet, not saying a word,
feeling slightly uneasy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading THE TRESPASSER

When, a year or so ago, The New Yorker published a review of The Trespasser, by Tana French, self knew she had to read it.

Because of many, many distractions in the almost two years since, self is only getting around to reading The Trespasser now. In Paris.

Not that self thinks this is necessarily a bad choice of reading matter for Paris. It’s really cold outside, and the skies are grey. And the bathroom is enormous. The bathtub could sink a body. An entire body. The building opposite has a harp store, a beauty salon, and a wee grocery (open until 2 a.m.). To the right there is a five-star restaurant. To the left is a four-star restaurant. On one corner is a brasserie (packed to the gills with young Asian customers; self makes a note never to eat there. The only authentic brasserie, in self’s humble opinion, is one where most of the patrons look like they are locals), a block away is a pharmacy.

The last book she read before The Trespasser was also by Tana French: Broken Harbor.

Ms. French’s mysteries feature a constantly changing main narrator, but all are set in Dublin. Broken Harbor’s main protagonist was Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. The Trespasser’s main protagonist is a woman whose name self can’t even remember, even though she’s on p. 154.

So far, one murder: a 26-year-old woman who “lived a boring life.” Nevertheless, she had “a true-crime library” and “read a lot of fan fiction. The sappy kind, not the sexy kind; my guy was sort of disappointed by that.” She didn’t even do “dating sites,” my God what is wrong with this murder victim? With a life so boring, self doesn’t know why she’s still reading. But reading she is. It’s p. 154, and all we’ve uncovered is a boring life.

Self misses the puck-ish irony of Muriel Spark, the twisted point-of-view of a Ruth Rendell.

Ms. French’s novels are dense with procedural detail. But, please. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

Yesterday (Christmas Day, lest one forget), self did absolutely nothing except watch CNN all day. The ticker tape at the bottom told of various Philippine disasters (It’s almost as if CNN knows the person watching is Filipino): flooding, a bus crash in northern Luzon, a fire in a call center that killed 38 people. Trump was at Mar-a-Lago (of course), posing for happy family pics with Melania, and trying to recover from the stress of holding public office (while being paid peanuts) by playing yet another round of golf.

On a more positive note, self was able to update one of her Gendrya. And today, she learned her story earned her six kudos. Not bad for one day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

First Draft, Blue Water Distant Shores

The novel’s now in Draft # xx, but self found a print-out of the first draft and started to re-read a week ago. It’s like an undiscovered country. It’s been three years since she even looked at this first draft.

The Bishop of Manila Writes to His Catholic Royal Majesty

Junio, 1755

Most Powerful Lord,

When you assign someone to come to govern this land, Your Majesty should take into account that you are not sending a person who will have to face investigation but an absolute king who does not have any superior, nor anyone to be accountable to but who should be solely motivated by fear of God, the service of Your Majesty and the zeal for the popular good . . .

(and that sentence goes on and on and on for quite a good bit longer)

Reading this first draft is almost like discovering a different self: Who was that long-ago person who said, I am going to write a story about 18th century Phiippines. I am going to make up correspondence between the Bishop of Manila and his Most Powerful Lord, His Catholic Royal Majesty, the King of Spain?

Because if she were to start a novel today, 18th century Philippines would not even be a remote possibility, she doesn’t have that fearlessness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Merry, Merry

DSCN0303

4th Floor, near Charles de Gaulle. The first floor of this building is a store that sells harps. The window stays lighted at night, and she loves to look at the harps on display.

Self was planning to walk along the Champs Elysée. She’s had a big breakfast and is now back in her room, writing her novel-in-progress.

Last night, she walked a few blocks to the Arc de Triomphe and got off this moody night-time shot:

DSCN0292

Christmas Eve, 2017

This morning, she went down for breakfast, and eavesdropped on the other guests: they talked of reading books, falling asleep at midnight, taking a leisurely stroll.

She will spend Christmas Day writing.

(Oops, not quite. She remembers the artists in Tyrone Guthrie telling her that things do not all close down on Christmas. She looked up the Louvre. It is open today. The hotel has been asking her to let them clean her room because she’s been inside most of the last two days. So that’s what she’ll do: she’ll take the metro to the Louvre)

Stay tuned.

MERRY, MERRY!

Self is in the City of Light. Just a block from the Arc de Triomphe, which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON IT: No wreaths, no technicolor strobe lights, nothing.

YAY!

She took a long walk this morning, in light rain. No umbrella because it would be just one more thing weighing her down.

She took the metro to the Tuileries. Then, crossed the Seine on a bridge near the Musée d’Orsay. Big Bus Tour buses and Day Tour buses stopped every couple of minutes in front of the museum. They seemed to be almost empty. But, whenever she was within steps of getting on, the buses would pull away from the curb. She decided to turn it into a little game: Let’s see if they’ll  pull away if I actually have my hand on the door handle. But those bus drivers were too suave to play. They’d see her lumbering slowly across the sidewalk, pupose in her gaze. She’d even raise a hand, catch the glance of the driver, but stoically — even, scornfully — they’d pull away, maintaining eye contact with her the whole time. A guide on a passing river barge says, over loudspeaker: “And here to your right is the famous Musée d’Orsay, which was a former railroad station.”

She was walking down the entire length of the building to get to the entrance (The French never make it easy) when she saw a taxi rank with one cab. Like it was waiting just for her. In less than 10 minutes, the taxi dropped her off at her hotel.

PEACE AND LOVE, ALL!!!

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The Tuileries, 24 December 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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