RIP Christopher Tolkien

It took self all of December to read one book, The Annotated Hobbit.

That book was the only copy in the San Mateo Public Library system, a label on the cover said: DO NOT RETURN IN THE BOOK DROP.

If only the library knew what far-flung places she had taken this copy to!

A few days ago, on 15 January, she heard that Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien’s youngest, who was “a devoted curator of his father’s work,” had passed away. Amazingly, none of the nightly news remarked on it. Philistines!

Here’s a piece in The Guardian about Christopher Tolkien’s legacy.

Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: Dorothea Lasky

Excerpt from The Green Lake (in The New Yorker, 9 December 2019):

What work will you leave behind
I ask the tailor
Who has sewn the button upon my shoe
I can walk again

Yesterday everything felt so hopeless
Now I have the energy to sit in the sun
All of the damned seething baths
Now I am finally on my own


Dorothea Lasky is the author of six books of poetry and prose, including, most recently, Animal

Reading Manuel D. Duldulao’s THE FILIPINOS: PORTRAIT OF A PEOPLE

20200113_104006

In ancient times this was a land-track to Indonesia and even now one can see at night the quivering lights of Borneo towns from some of the Sulu islands. The Batanes Islands, off the northern coast of Luzon, sprinkle 18 tidbits to within 65 miles of Taiwan.

To this close proximity must be added evidence of early linkage with the “chain of fire” that once ringed the vast unbroken continent. One chain of volcanoes leads north from Borneo through Palawan and Mindoro to western and northern Luzon. Another line simmers from the same start but this time through the Sulu Archipelago and western Mindanao into Negros where Mount Canlaon still stands in turmoil after having poured out tons of lava that were to become fertile layers for the growing of sugar.

The eruption of Taal Volcano in 1965, after being quiet for 50 years, showed once more the hold of nature’s wrath on life in the Islands. The volcano, rising on an island in the middle of Lake Bonbon, 40 miles south of Manila, roared for three days, and blasted out untold tons of ash, mud, and glowing pumice. Steam shot 1000 feet aloft, spreading debris so thick that it buried houses and killed 200 out of the 3000 people who lived on the island.


Manuel D. Duldulao was a Filipino journalist and art commentator.

Five Best Heroines Self Encountered in 2019: One Real, Four Fictional (Stay Tuned for Part 2: Heroes)

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting, My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (memoir)

Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (novel)

Cora Seaborne, The Essex Serpent (novel)

Nora Gerraoui, The Other Americans (novel)

Rita Sunday, Once Upon a River (novel)

All of self’s favorite heroines were in books written by women. Coincidence?

Kathryn Ferguson: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, A Woman’s Journey

Half the time, self is reading this book with deep anxiety. Why? Because the author is a woman and self’s background is conditioning her to expect an ‘incident.’ But, so far, Ferguson’s encounters have been refreshingly free of ‘Bad Hombres.’

p. 54:

One of my first faux pax in the Sierra is to tell Hiram, a Norogachic vaquero and friend of Santiago’s, that I like his horse while he is saddling up a mule. Politely but firmly he explains the difference. Mules and horses look alike. Except mules have long ears. I have since become a great observer of ears. I don’t want to call someone a jackass who isn’t.

Stay tuned.

Self-Regard

Since finishing The Hobbit, a week and a half ago, self has read two books by women: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, by Kathryn Ferguson (University of New Mexico Press, 2015) and Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino (Random House, 2019).

Ferguson undertakes an exploration of the southern border, with a vague hope of making a documentary: she doesn’t have funds, doesn’t know anyone, but stumbles around, talking to whoever will talk to her. And she IS lucky: nothing bad happens to her.

Jia Tolentino is lucky. The daughter of Philippine parents who became Canadian citizens, she is smart as a whip, in-your-face, and funny. Her style is to sit back and analyze everything that happens to her, and everything she does.

In Essay # 2 of Trick Mirror, she recounts her time as a reality TV contestant (She was 16. Never one to miss an advantage, she packs a lot of pocket-sized mini-skirts. Points!). After analyzing her fellow castmates (one was “a sweet guy,” another was “the all-American girl,” still another was “the wacko,” etc.), she asks her castmates what they thought she’d been cast as:

Though I’m sure they would’ve answered differently if someone else had been asking, my castmates guessed I was the smart one, or the sweet one, or the “fun Southern one,” or the prude.

(It is amazing that someone would ever think she’d been cast as “the prude,” given the pocket-sized minis!)

But then she writes, disarmingly, that reality TV “is a narcissist’s fantasy come true . . . everyone likes to have an audience. Everyone thinks they deserve one.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Jia Tolentino

White nationalists have brought white people together through the idea that white people are endangered, specifically white men — this at a time when 91 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are white men, when white people make up 90 percent of elected American officials and an overwhelming majority of top decision-makers in music, publishing, television, movies and sports.

The I in the Internet, Essay # 1 in Trick Mirror

Hedgebrook to Self: There’s Always Centrum

Years ago, when Calyx Publisher Margarita Donnelly was still alive, she told self about Hedgebrook. She said, It’s the most magical place. But you can only go once. So don’t waste it.

Self had Hedgebrook, that tantalizing lure, in the back of her mind, for decades. Eventually, she started writing a novel. Then she thought: This could be finally be the project I can apply to Hedgebrook for.

She did not hear back on her application, for almost a year.

Wow, they must have tons of applications, self thought.

Finally, because her landlady was pressuring her to extend her lease, and self didn’t want to do that if she was going to Hedgebrook, she decided to call Hedgebrook.

“Umm, hello,” self said. “Have the results of next year’s residencies already been released?”

Impactful (maybe also painful) silence.

Who is this?

“Marianne Villanueva.”

Another long silence. “The results were announced six months ago. We’ll have someone call you.”

And that’s when self’s gut fell all the way to the bottom of her shoes.

Sure enough, someone did call to tell self she’d been rejected. Not wait-listed. Just flat-out rejected. “There’s Centrum, if you like the area,” said the caller.

“Oh,” self said. “Thanks so much for the recommendation.”

Stay tuned.

Sunday Reading: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, p. 22

  • Later I will see Wenders’s film, Paris, Texas, written by Sam Shepard. Watching … in a dark movie theatre, I will experience in advance what I will later come to see on a desert trail — that we are all the myth of America. The playwright’s American dream of abundance is a fragile thing lined with longing, alienation, and rage, things that … we in the country know, and foreigners who adopt our country come to know.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 77: 2019 FAVORITES

Great theme!

In 2019, self traveled the world. Her life triangulated between home in Redwood City, California, to England and Ireland, to the Philippines. Side trip to Prague with her niece, Irene!

Here goes, all the images that mattered most to self in 2019, arranged from most recent — December 2019 — to the earliest, January 2019: Starting with her home in Redwood City in early December; to London’s Blackfriar station; to Manggapuri Villa in Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental, Philippines; to Prague; to Oxford University’s Exam School for Alice Oswald’s first reading as Oxford’s first woman Poet in Residence; to Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park; to the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig; to the fire pit in Manggapuri Villas; to the Daku Balay in Bacolod City, the Philippines; to self’s bedroom; to the Blue Room in CafĂ© Paradiso in Cork, Ireland; to Fowey in Cornwall; to Courthouse Square, Redwood City; to the cover of last winter’s issue of Prairie Schooner, which included her story Things She Can Take

Stay tuned.

« Older entries

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

CSP Archives

Archive of the CSP

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor

Kanlaon

Just another Wordpress.com weblog