Austen: In Defence of Novelists

Quicker than you can say SQUASHED BANANA, self whips through Swimming Studies and begins the next book on her reading list, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

She’s pretty sure she’s read this before, but has no memory of the plot.

Somewhere in the early chapters, Austen goes on a riff about the status of novelists in English society. Self did not know you can get exercised this way, and go on to write what is essentially an argument, and plop that in the middle of a novel. Where is the scene? Where is the narrative arc?

Clearly, the English novel in Austen’s day was a very accommodating genre.

Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers.

Jane, Jane, Jane. Deep breaths.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Something That Stands Out From the Everyday”

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is RARE: Post a photo of something you regard as “scarce and singular.”

Here are some rare things:

Dedication from a novel by Irish writer Maeve Binchy:

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To “dear good Gordon . . . such a supportive and kind person”: That degree of love and support and respect is indeed rare.

Here’s a one-woman press from Boston, MA: Kattywompus Press. It takes guts to run a press, anyone can tell you:

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Independent Publisher, AWP Book Fair, Los Angeles Convention Center: March 2016

Finally, a must-see for book-lovers everywhere. It’s called The Last Bookstore, and it’s on S. Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles. Part of a vanishing breed. Their logo says it all: “What are you waiting for? We won’t be around forever.”

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More Than a Bookstore: A Magic Trip

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

On-line Now: Self’s Newest Pieces

On-line now, August:

“The Future” in Monkeybicycle

“Spores” in decomP

decomP also posted a link to Morgan Cooke (Tyrone Guthrie friend!) reading “Spores.”

Stay tuned.

Jamie Dornan, Who Knew?

Since self broke the ice by mentioning Jamie Dornan in her previous post, she’s decided she might as well go whole-hog and discuss the Jamie. Specifically, the Jamie Dornan in “The Fall.”

(She hasn’t seen “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Only seen huge black-and-white photos of Jamie’s back — he has very nice shoulders — on the sides of buildings in London’s South Bank, summer 2015. Which was enough to send her rocketing to the nearest bookstore to purchase a copy of The Grey. Which she ended up giving away to someone because she couldn’t get past the first 10 pages)

Self has just finished watching all the episodes of “The Fall,” Gillian Anderson’s come-back role as a detective. Gillian plays a sexy, high-heel wearing, sultry detective named Stella. Couldn’t be farther from her X-Files character.

In “The Fall,” she deliberately leaves her top dangerously unbuttoned for press interviews, wears nail polish in the killer’s favorite shade of red (Self is not kidding!) and in general behaves in very un-Scully fashion. Which would make the whole thing ludicrous were it not for the fact that — yes, we do want to see Jamie Dornan come out from hiding! We do! We do! We do!

(No spoilers here. The identity of the serial killer is revealed to the viewer from the start. It’s all a matter of when Stella & cohorts will finally be able to put two and two together and catch him before he kills again)

Jamie’s character is named (of all things), Spector. As in Spectator. Get it?

Stella sleeps with everyone — fellow detectives, bosses. Even the young Merlin detective (Self means, the young boy who plays Merlin in the TV series). From this we are expected to infer (Seriously?) that the sexual predator played by Jamie Dornan would find her attractive. But Stella’s sex life is the weakest part of the series, at least it is in self’s humble opinion.

Coming clean, “The Fall” is the first time self has ever enjoyed looking so much at Jamie Dornan’s face. It’s hidden behind a full beard but it’s the emotionally distant look that makes him so, so magnetic.

There’s one moment where he has a victim completely at his mercy, and he removes his face mask. For the first time, the woman sees his face. It’s a very pretty face but it’s such an awful moment because you realize (as does the young woman) that the showing of the face means that he’s not afraid to be ID’d. He’s going to kill her.

AAAARRRRRGH.

Self will say no more. Watch “The Fall” on Netflix. (Was this guy nominated for an Emmy for his performance? Should have been)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Basho and “The Freeze”

Self is still reading Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

In the poem below, Basho describes entering the province of Kaga:

I walked into the fumes
Of early-ripening rice,
On the right below me
The waters of the Angry Sea.

* * *

The poem suddenly reminds self of her dystopian short story “The Freeze,” which Bluestem Magazine published last year. Sometime while Obama is President, the Russians do something that shuts the whole world down.

Everyone starts dying. A woman decides to walk out of San Francisco and head south. To make sure she doesn’t lose her way, she decides to walk Highway 1, always making sure that the ocean is to her right. She meets a band of teen-agers.

The story begins with the woman chanting the following:

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

And darn if self hasn’t just decided that the story ended much too soon. She has to continue, if only so she can figure out for herself what happens to the woman and her teen-age companions. She’s thinking: sequel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Fun!

Taking inspiration from this:

“. . . the bright colors, the message, the unexpectedness . . . “

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

Examples of FUN:

Self has quite the button collection. She pins them on her blazers and sweaters. Here’s one of her favorites:

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Button from the Whitney Museum Gift Shop: A Keith Haring? Not Sure.

Self read with her writers group at Lit Crawl 2015. The reading was held in Chrome, a bicycle store. It was packed:

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Memento: San Francisco Lit Crawl 2015

FINALLY:

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Too Funny: An Ed Ruscha

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Another Basho Sentence

Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my hat, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the full moon rising over the islands of Matsushima.

— from The Narrow Road to the Deep North, translated from the Japanese by Nobuyuki Yuasa

1689, Basho made three major journeys in his lifetime. The Narrow Road was the result of the third and last. He was 50.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Basho

You’re floating in a sea of tranquil words. You’re lost in reading Basho:

In their ecstasy of a single night
Under the moon of summer.

Nothing can be more tranquil than a Basho haiku.

And then:

  • That rugged mountain in the village of Sarashina is where the villagers in the remote past used to abandon their ageing mothers among the rocks.

Bam! It’s like a sudden blow to the head. You never see it coming.

“A Visit to Sarashina Village” is in Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which self started reading about a week ago and which is going to be — self can feel it — the defining reading experience of the summer, if not of the entire 2016. It is a very, very thin book, but self advances about a page a day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Café Society: Angst, But No Meltdown

Live every day like it’s your last, and one day you’ll be right.

— a character in Woody Allen’s Café Society

Why do Woody Allen’s recent movies end like that?

Why do they just seem to stop — as if the director realized he was running out of time and it would take at least an hour to untangle the mess he’s thrown his characters into but uh-oh, he doesn’t have the time or the budget so, rather than compromise with a manufactured ending, he just stops.

Sometimes, he can get away with it, but not here. No, no, no. Self refuses to accept that this ending “works.”

About the performances: Jesse Eisenberg, it’s almost a physical transformation. Is the actor really that skinny, that stooped, that — plain?

Kristen Stewart — not nearly as convincing as the California object of men’s desires. J-Law could have done this part, in her sleep. And she would have nailed it, too.

Blake Lively — her part was sooo under-written but she did her best with the little she was given.

Steve Carell — okay, you were good. So good that self hated you. Almost all the way through.

And Corey Stoll — Self knows. Corey who? But, what a performance. Scary and convincing. Watch for it.

Cinematography — aced. The settings were so beautifully framed, in almost every shot.

More later.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Basho left Edo in the spring of 1689 and travelled the great arc of the northern routes (Oshukaido and Hokurikudo) in six months, arriving in Ogaki in the autumn of 1689.

He got to the River Oi and wanted to cross but it had rained all day and the river was too swollen to allow it. He continued without crossing the river until he got to the “steep precipice of Sayo-no-nakayama”:

Half-asleep on horseback
I saw as if in a dream
A distant moon and a line of smoke
For the morning tea.

Self was mistaken about the entire work being written in haiku. Here’s a prose passage:

My head is clean shaven, and I have a string of beads in my hand. I am indeed dressed like a priest but priest I am not, for the dust of the world still clings to me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

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