Recommended Reading: The New Yorker, “Battle Scars,” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (4 December 2017)

Self hangs on to New Yorker issues she intends to re-read. Today, she’s re-reading Benjamin Wallace-Wells’ piece on Confederate monuments in Virginia.

This article is about crucial history:

  • In 1890, the city of Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, installed a sixty-two-foot statue of Lee, the first of five statues that anchor Monument Avenue. When the statue of Lee was delivered, more than ten thousand citizens lined the streets to help pull it into place.

And also has this harrowing sentence:

  • In June, 2015, Dylann Roof, a twenty-one-year-old who had immersed himself in white-supremacist ideology, joined a Bible-study group in the basement of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina and, in the midst of the discussion, rose from his chair and massacred nine black congregants.

And this about General Lee:

  • In 1866, a man named Wesley Norris had described Lee’s reaction to an attempted escape: “Not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine.”

And all this bitter history culminates in Charlottesville:

  • The liberal faction that had coalesced at the hearings of the monuments commission had, in a sense, been proved right: it had said that the monuments were symbols of white supremacy, and now white supremacists were coming to town to defend them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


The Economist Obit, 14 April 2018: Louie Kamookak, Explorer and Researcher

His ramshackle house outside Gjoa Haven, with hot water drawn from a camping stove, also had the best internet connection in town. Here he read and read and read.

Twisted: Belmont, CA Farmer’s Market

Bought $11 worth of cherries.


The Warriors won last night. All’s right in the world.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Madeleine Albright

“We want to be told where to march.”

— Madeleine Albright in Fascism: A Warning

Twisted: A Pink Cat

Detail of a drawing son did when he was maybe five or six.

It’s a big drawing, about three feet by two feet. And almost a third of it is taken up by the cat’s tail:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How a Friendship Can Be Ruined by Bad Hair: The Summer Book, p. 25

Self loves Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book (translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal). Loves, loves, loves. The prose is so simple, yet has such a magical quality.

A little girl (Sophie, who’s six) and her grandmother spend an entire summer on an island. They’re not the only ones on the island, of course. There are farmers, and also the girl’s father, who is always shut up in the house, working. The girl’s mother has just died. But there is no grief, just a series of snapshots of the girl, the grandmother, the island. Love it.

There’s a section called Berenice, about the first time Sophie invites a friend to the island: “a fairly new friend, a little girl whose hair she admired.”

The fragile bond is broken only a little while later:

Sophie: Well, that does it. She’s impossible. I got her to dive, but it didn’t help.

Grandmother: Did she really dive?

Sophie: Yes, really. I gave her a shove and she dived.

Grandmother: Oh. And then what?

Sophie: Her hair can’t take salt water. It looks awful. And it was her hair I liked.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Moss and Islands: from Tove Jansson’s THE SUMMER BOOK

p. 11:

Only farmers and summer guests walk on the moss. What they don’t know — and it cannot be repeated too often — is that moss is terribly frail. Step on it once and it rises the next time it rains. The second time, it doesn’t rise back up. And the third time you step on moss, it dies. Eider ducks are the same way — the third time you frighten them up from their nests, they never come back. Sometime in July the moss would adorn itself with a kind of long, light grass. Tiny clusters of flowers would open at exactly the same height above the ground and sway together in the wind, like inland meadows, and the whole island would be covered with a veil dipped in heat, hardly visible and gone in a week.

Where is this island of which Tove Jansson writes? Self would like to go there.

Also, self would just like to mention, that in the past week, three whale carcasses have washed up in northern California. The latest dead whale washed up in Oakland. This is very worrisome. All were killed by ships.

Stay tuned.

Book List From the Hay (Wales) Festival of Literature

Self is obssessed with book lists. Obssessed!

Found this list today, on the Hay Festival of Literature website. Copying it out below.

No list is not without its shortcomings: WHY ONLY THREE BOOKS BY ASIAN WOMEN.

The highlighted titles are the ones self has read:

  1. A Book of Mediterranean Food, by Elizabeth David
  2. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, by Eimear McBride
  3. A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel
  4. Ain’t I a Woman, by Bell Hooks
  5. Ariel, by Sylvia Plath
  6. At the Source, by Gillian Clarke
  7. Babette’s Feast, by Isaak Dinesen
  8. Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
  9. The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  11. Bonjour Tristesse, by Francoise Sagan
  12. Brick Lane, by Monica Ali
  13. Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
  14. Close Range: Wyoming Stories, by E. Annie Proulx
  15. Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
  16. Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
  17. The Collected Dorothy Parker
  18. Everyday Sexism, by Laura Bates
  19. Falling Awake, by Alice Oswald
  20. Frost in May, by Antonia White
  21. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
  22. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  23. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  24. Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi
  25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azbakan, by J. K. Rowling
  26. Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Revolution, by Mona Eltahawy
  27. Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
  28. Henry and June, by Anais Nin
  29. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
  30. How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran
  31. How To Eat, by Nigella Lawson
  32. How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, by Slavenka Drakulic
  33. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  34. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  35. Into That Darkness, by Gitta Sereny
  36. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
  37. Lullaby, by Leila Slimani
  38. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor
  39. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
  40. Notes on a Scandal, by Zoe Heller
  41. Noughts & Crosses, by Malorie Blackman
  42. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson
  43. Orlando, by Virginia Woolf
  44. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
  45. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
  46. Possession, by A. S. Byatt
  47. Rachel’s Holiday, by Marian Keyes
  48. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  49. Regeneration, by Pat Barker
  50. Selected Stories by Alice Munro
  51. Small Island, by Andrea Levy
  52. Standing Female Nude, by Carol Ann Duffy
  53. Stranger on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith
  54. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain
  55. The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson
  56. The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie
  57. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  58. The Country Girls, by Edna O’Brien
  59. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, by Carole Hillenbrand
  60. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  61. The Female Eunuch, by Germaine Greer
  62. The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan
  63. The Fountain Overflows, by Rebecca West
  64. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
  65. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
  66. The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing
  67. The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson
  68. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  69. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
  70. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  71. The Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt
  72. The Illustrated Mum, by Jacqueline Wilson
  73. The Land of Green Plums, by Herta Muller
  74. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  75. The Moomins and the Great Flood, by Tove Jansson
  76. The Passion According to G. H., by Clarice Lispector
  77. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
  78. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark
  79. The Pursuit of Love, by Nancy Mitford
  80. The Road Home, by Rose Tremain
  81. The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir
  82. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, by Sue Townsend
  83. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
  84. The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein
  85. The View From the Ground, by Martha Gellhorn
  86. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
  87. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  88. Three Strong Women, by Marie Ndiaye
  89. Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters
  90. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  91. Train to Nowhere, by Anita Leslie
  92. Under the Net, by Iris Murdoch
  93. Unless, by Carol Shields
  94. We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
  95. What I Loved by Siri Huvstedt
  96. White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
  97. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
  98. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
  99. Wise Children, by Angela Carter
  100. Women & Power, by Mary Beard

Missouri Review Miller Audio Prize Winners 2018

Self joined this contest with her friend Morgan Cooke, the inaugural year of the prize, in 2014. The story we did was “Spores.” We did not win, but self has always kept tabs on the contest winners.

2018 contest winners have just been announced.

Here’s the link to the Contest homepage.

You can listen to past winners via the link.

Who knows, maybe one day self will feel bold enough to try again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still More Twisted in the Garden


Betty Boop and Fourth of July roses


Self is so fascinated by this twisted vine, which was only revealed after she did heavy cutting back of some overgrown bushes:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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