Lillian Howan and Veronica Montes: Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Redwood City Main Library

Two wonderful Asian American women writers are coming to Redwood City for reading and book-signings!


By Lillian Howan, Published by University of Hawai’i Press, 2017


A collection of short stories by the great Wakako Yamauchi who recently passed away. Edited by Lillian Howan, published by Hawai’i University Press.

Saturday, 8 September 2018
2:30 pm
1400 Middlefield (corner Jefferson Avenue)
Redwood City

Favorites So Far, September 2018

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (novel)
  • La Belle Sauvage, vol. One of The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman, and His Dark Materials, the entire trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass (novels)
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (novel)
  • In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien (novel)
  • Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (novel in stories)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (novelized biography)
  • Jamaica Inn, by Daphne du Maurier (novel)

This was a great reading year for NOVELS. Which means self has come full circle in her reading life. Until this year, her favorite books were histories and nonfiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


A Hanged Cat

This scene would never occur in an American novel, just sayin’ —

Emerence and her neighbor have a bit of a to-do over her cat killing his pigeons. She refuses to keep the cat confined to the house. So the neighbor

tracked the noble hunter down, grabbed hold of him and strung him up from the handle of Emerence’s front door. Returning home, the old woman had to stand there, under her own porch roof, while he gave her a formal lecture: he had been forced, regrettably, to defend his family’s only guaranteed livelihood, with the instruments of his choice.

Emerence said not a word. She released the cat from the wire, the ‘instrument’ the executioner had chosen over ordinary rope. The corpse was a shocking sight, its throat gaping wide.

What a creepy, horrifying scene! And in a novel whose voice is so quiet!

What other sly surprises are in store?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: THE DOOR

p. 12:

In the fridge I found a cold platter of rose-pink chicken breasts that had been cut into slices and then reassembled with the skill of a surgeon.

The Writer and Her Housekeeper

This morning, self tore through My Cousin Rachel. Of course she knew how it was going to end, but when the end came it was still — a shock. And du Maurier, true to form, leaves the mystery of Rachel and how she ended up where she did unanswered in any definitive way. So it ends on a cliff-y. As did Rebecca. AARRRGH!

Self moved on to Magda Szabo’s The Door.

Amazing: The Door reads like it could have been written by du Maurier. The unreliable narrator, the fanciful dreams (or nightmares), the mysterious Other Person. Self sincerely hopes every novel she reads from here on out — My Antonia, by Willa Cather; Emma, by The Immortal Jane; and a short list of women science fiction writers that includes N. K. Jemisin, Fonda Lee, Analee Neuwitz, and Martha Wells — sound like du Maurier. Because she would just have a rip-roaring time!

Last fall, she read mostly nonfiction. There was a book about the last months of Franklin Roosevelt, and an oral history about Chernobyl, and an essay collection by a British surgeon named Thomas Marsh. She also read Ian McEwan’s short novel Saturday, and even though it left her cold, she can remember it in every particular.

Self is bemused by the reviews of The Door on goodreads. She can’t believe everyone’s getting so attached to a novel about a woman’s relationship with her housekeeper. From the chapter called “The Contract”:

  • So here I stood in the garden, face to face with this silent old woman, since it had become clear that if someone didn’t take over the housekeeping there would be little chance of my publishing the work I’d produced in my years of silence, or finding a voice for anything new I might have to say.

The housekeeper’s name is Emerence.


Stay tuned.


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