Today Was a Good Day: On the Narnia Trail in Rostrevor

Self has never read C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

She has visited Rostrevor, in Northern Ireland. Which, according to Csilla Toldy, a Hungarian poet who lives in Rostrevor, was a place particularly close to C. S. Lewis, a place Lewis has said was the source of much of his inspiration.

The day self arrived in Rostrevor, Csilla took her to The Narnia Trail. This is the first time self had even known there was such a thing.

First, Csilla and self walked through a dark wood.

Then, a great expanse of meadow:

Walking to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Walking to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Then, the door of a wardrobe suddenly popped up out of nowhere:

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

And a number of trees with tiny doors:

The Land of Narnia

The Land of Narnia

And — voila! — Narnia!

Beautiful trail.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: 3rd Wednesday of August 2015

I don’t think writers are much smarter than other people. I think they’re more compelling in their stupidity.

— David Foster Wallace, quoted by Anthony Lane in his review of James Ponsoldt’s film about Wallace, in The New Yorker August 10 & 17, 2015

Self has never read David Foster Wallace. She resolves to add Infinite Jest and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Stay tuned.

War, Literature & The Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities

In a few weeks, it will be time again to remember 9/11.

Self is so glad she bookmarked War, Literature & the Arts, which she’s been dipping into for a very long time now.

Today, she read Donald Anderson’s essay on Phil Klay’s story collection, Redeployment.

It begins:

I’ve long guessed that serious students of “war literature” are not war lovers, that love of war is not why they turn to literature.

Anderson’s first Phil Klay quote is this:

We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose, and we called it Operation Scooby. I’m a dog person, so I thought about that a lot.

Honestly, that was truly, shockingly painful to read. But she believes every word. That is, she finds it entirely plausible.

She thinks she may just look for Klay’s collection, next time she’s in a bookstore.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: 3rd Monday of August 2015

Step one, you say, We need to talk.
He walks, you say, Sit down,
It’s just a talk.
He smiles politely back at you,
You stare politely right on through.
Some sort of window to your right.
He goes left and you stay right.

— The Fray, “How To Save a Life”

Self loves these lyrics. They are so, so — insouciant? Nonchalant? Diffident? What?

Dare self say — American?

That’s an entire flash fiction. Right there.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2 Quotes of the Day (2nd Saturday of August 2015)

Kate McKinnon in August 2015 Marie Claire:

“I like to play characters who are trying really hard to be normal. I’m hoping something Dickensian will pop up soon — Victorian London hasn’t figured into my repertoire yet. Other than that, the greatest challenge would just be acting normal.”

Howard Jacobson’s The Act of Love, p. 247:

The novel’s protagonist turns 21. To celebrate, his dad brings him to a London brothel off Baker Street (“not far from Sherlock Holmes’s” address), whereupon they have the following conversation:

Father:  “You can have a thrashing or a cake.”

Narrator:  “I’ll have a cake.”

Father:  “That settles it. You’ll have a thrashing.”

They viewed it as therapeutic, like going to a barber’s for a hot towel or having a foot scrub.

It occurs to self that there probably really is an upscale London brothel near Baker Street — since all the other settings in Jacobson’s novel (for example: Great Russell Street, the antiquarian book dealer across from the British Museum, coffee shops on High Street, The Wallace Collection on Manchester Square and so forth) have been real-world.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Colm Toibin, The New York Review of Books, 9 July 2015

Self used to have a subscription to The New York Review of Books. Oh how she mourns, mourns, mourns that absence, it was her go-to publication for really good writing, such as the one in the 9 July 2015 issue, Colm Toibin’s essay “The Hard-Won Truth of the North.”

In describing poet Elizabeth Bishop’s move from Nova Scotia to Worcester, Massachusetts, Toibin writes: “. . . the sudden disruption, the end of the familiar, came as a rare and ambiguous gift to the writers. Despite the pain involved, or precisely because of it, they found not only their subject, but their style.”

In discussing the Swedish writer Stig Dagerman (d. 1954, at the age of 31), Toibin writes: “Dagerman was in possession of several tones.”

Isn’t that such a beautiful sentence? It says it all.

Dagerman had “a gift for writing sharp and cool declarative sentences that is close to Hemingway.”

His short stories use “a tone close to that in the early stories of James Joyce’s Dubliners, which Joyce described to his publishers as a tone of ‘scrupulous meanness.’ ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Inspired in Yorkshire: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

There are so many photographs from this summer that self can use to illustrate this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: INSPIRATION.

But she’ll stick to her most recent album: photographs of Yorkshire.

Which means the Hockney gallery at the Salts Mill in Shipley.

Café in the Salts Mill, Shipley, Yorkshire

Café in the Salts Mill, Shipley, Yorkshire

An old high school chum (who self hadn’t seen since high school graduation) drove her around. Fun!

The Salts Mill is a massive place. But the man who owned it was an enlightened being who built subdivisions for his workers and kept them off the drink with strict supervision.

The Salts Mills, Shipley

The Salts Mills, Shipley

And the Hockneys! Incredible. A whole floor is devoted to the first release group of his “The Arrival of Sprint 2011” – David Hockney Editioned Works.

Close-up of one of David Hockney's editioned

Close-up of one of David Hockney’s editioned “The Arrival of Spring 2011” at the Salts Mills, Shipley, Yorkshire

Self had NO idea there was such a museum in Yorkshire. Of course, she knew Yorkshire = the Brontes. And that is reason enough to go and pay homage.

But throw in David Hockney? And a converted mill? Priceless.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close-Up 3: Joan and John, Abigail and Pigeons

Dear Joan and John McGavin, are you ready for your close-up?

Here, dear blog readers, is a portrait of the hip-pest couple in England, on their wedding day:

Joan and John: We are the Cool-est!

Joan and John: We are the Cool-est!

Dear Abigail: Are YOU ready for your close-up? Because you are the most entertaining eight-year-old in all of England:

Abigail sang for us Sunday. Oh my goodness! Paging Simon Cowell!

Abigail sang for us Sunday. Oh my goodness! Paging Simon Cowell!

Russell Square is a beautiful little square with a café and benches and a fountain. Self has taken many pictures of it. But this was the first time she zoomed in on the birds. Thank you, WordPress Daily Post, for providing the prompt! Here are pigeons, ready for their close-up:

A Confabulation of Birds at the Russell Square Fountain

A Confabulation of Birds at the Russell Square Fountain

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Emigrant Woman’s Tale, Performed at the Fiddlers Green Festival, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Self met poet Csilla Toldy at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, last year.

Csilla has a fascinating backstory: born and raised in Hungary, she managed to make it through the Iron Curtain when she was just 18 years old.

Sunday, July 19, self got the opportunity to hear Csilla and singer/songwriter Fil Campell interweave their stories of crossing borders (Fil was born and raised in County Donegal) in the Fiddlers Green Festival in Rostrevor, and it was a very moving experience.

The performance grew out of a book, The Emigrant Woman’s Tale, which was published this year by Lapwing Publications in Belfast.

The book is fascinating, but if you have the chance to catch the performances live, self would urge you to do it. Csilla and Fil are performing in Newcastle in Northern Ireland on Aug. 14, 7:30 p.m., at Annesley Hall. And on Oct. 22 they are performing at 6 p.m. in Linenhall Library in Belfast.

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015

An Excerpt from Csilla Toldy’s piece “Growing Up Under the Red Star”:

At age three I graduated into the kindergarten in Gorky Avenue. It was a cold place with high ceilings that got lost in grey mist, teeming with hostile children and hostile wardens. I was wild, and often violent with the children, and resentful towards the adults. I used to bite children, and quite understandably, they did not like me. Nowadays, any child behaving like this could be labelled with some fancy syndrome, but in the Hungary of the 1960s, they had a different practice. Children had to be installed into society, no matter what. It was only a question of time and patience.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Journey of Emigrant Women/ Csilla Tolday and Fil Campbell

Self visited Rostrevor because Csilla Toldy was performing in the Fiddlers Green Festival.

Csilla, a poet from Hungary, and Fil Campbell, a songwriter who grew up in Belleck, on the Donegal border, were telling stories.

Csilla came through the “green border” at 18.

Fil grew up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The two women came together, decided to tell their stories as layered narrative: Csilla’s poetry and short prose, Fil’s memoir and her folk songs. The result was a book, The Emigrant Women’s Tale (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, 2015) that comes with a CD.

Yesterday’s performance: What. An. Event. Self can’t even.

And it happened in Rostrevor.

The two women are amazing.

Rostrevor is amazing.

Also, and self didn’t know this before: C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast; Northern Ireland was his spiritual home.

In Rostrevor there is a trail called The Narnia Trail.

STEP INTO THE WARDROBE!

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

How can one resist?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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