SAMMIE (Street Name: Lizard): HINDSIGHT, p. 204

A little over halfway through Sheryl Recinos’s memoir Hindsight: Coming of Age in the Streets of Hollywood. Self is totally enthralled by this world (Admittedly, knowing how it all turns out in the end makes the hard times bearable).

Sheryl set out from North Carolina with two other waifs, Sammie and Hunter, and somehow they make it to Los Angeles and ARE ALL STILL ALIVE. They drift in and out of each other’s paths, making no attempt to stay in touch, but somehow they bump into each other. It’s a really, really casual friendship, but somehow self feels better when the narrator is with these other two.

Sammie and Sheryl spend the day at the beach.

  • Night had come, and we’d been quiet companions for most of the day. Sammie had gotten up to explore a few times, and I could see her looking at a display of sterling silver jewelry across the promenade. She wasn’t good at shoplifting, so I secretly hoped she wouldn’t try.

So, she can’t wait to read the rest of this book, which is sort of Jack Kerouac-y, but infinitely more interesting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Carlos Bulosan, Filipino Migrant Worker

Excerpt, Chapter XXIII, America Is In the Heart, a memoir by Carlos Bulosan:

When I went to the kitchen to wash dishes to pay for my food, the woman threw her hands up and said: “That is enough! Go home! Come again!”

I went again and again. But I had no home that winter. One of my companions died of tuberculosis, so Mariano burned the cabin and left town. The nights were cold. Once in a while I could hear church bells ringing, and I would say to myself: “If you can listen long enough to those bells you will be safe. Try to listen again and be patient.” They were my only consolation, those bells. And I listened patiently, and that spring came with a green hope.

I went to Seattle to wait for the fishing season in Alaska.

And that was where Carlos Bulosan died, a victim of tuberculosis.

Stay tuned.

Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

Global Dickens

Self spent the morning at the Charles Dickens Museum on 48 Doughty Street, checking out the house where Dickens and his wife spent probably the two happiest years of their marriage. The house offers fascinating glimpses of the man’s domestic life, and the audio tour is highly recommended. She came away with a small fridge magnet showing her favorite painting of Dickens: he sits in his study, surrounded by a cloud of his inventions.

She saw a very distressed copy of David Copperfield and read that this copy “travelled with Robert Falcon Scott and his men to Antarctica in 1910. When half of Scott’s men were stranded in an ice cave for 7 months, they read to each other every night for comfort and entertainment. After 60 nights they finished David Copperfield and, as one of the men wrote, they were very sorry to part with him.”

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Dickens also exists in manga form!

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Quote of the Day: Tim Dee

Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene, p. 21:

  • Early morning Bristol. The bars, along the street where I live, recycle their glass empties of last night.

She knew nothing about Tim Dee before she began this book.

His writing is SO beautiful.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Motto For Life

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Beginning a new book deserves some kind of pause, a marker.

The new book would have been Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River if she had managed to snag a copy in Prague (Self has always got to be reading something; she feels bereft if she lets a day go by without having a book she can say she is “currently reading”).

Instead, she’s reading Tim Dee’s Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene. So far, she’s only on p. 1 but she keeps getting distracted (last afternoon tea with Irene! A walk to the Spanish Synagogue for a concert).

She also likes the drawings that start each new chapter. The bookmark she’s using is a quote she copied from a restaurant in Fowey (Dear Fowey: What a special thing it is that she was able to attend this year’s Festival of Art and Literature!). It’s by, of all people, Ernest Hemingway, who she hasn’t read in AGES. But it is written like a prose poem. Don’t dear blog readers agree?

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Looking for Diane Setterfield in Prague

Diane Setterfield was the guest speaker at this year’s Fowey Festival of Arts & Literature which self also attended. Unfortunately, self arrived a few days after Setterfield’s event had taken place. Self was tempted to get a copy of Once Upon a River, Setterfield’s new novel, at Bookends of Fowey, but it was in hardback and, at that time, she still had a lot of traveling to do.

Today, in Prague, self walked from her hotel to the Globe Bookstore on Pstrossova 6, Prague 1. Regretfully they did not carry any of Setterfield’s books.

But, it was a beautiful day. Everyone seemed to be out upon the river.

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Vltava River, Prague: Sunday, 26 May 2019

It was a perfect day for a walk. Nice to see families out and about.

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Near Prague’s National Theatre: Sunday, 26 May 2019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

John Thorpe, Villain: NORTHANGER ABBEY, pp. 48 – 49

Self might as well tell you who the villain is; you will enjoy this novel so much more as you read: That is, you will be so much more aware of the dangers posed by hypocrisy, and insincere flattery, carelessness and a sense of entitlement. Self advises all blog readers to take notes, in case any of your acquaintance or any members of your immediate family exhibit similar behavior (Every family has its own villains, don’t deny it):

“Ah, mother! How do you do?” said he, giving her a hearty shake of the hand: “where did you get that quiz of a hat, it makes you look like an old witch. Here is Morland and I come to stay a few days with you, so you must look out for a couple of good beds some where near.”

This address seemed to satisfy all the fondest wishes of the mother’s heart, for she received him with the most delighting and exulting affection. On his two younger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looked very ugly.

You can always tell who the shallowest men are in a Jane Austen novel because they pass the silliest judgments on women’s appearance.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Jane Austen Feels It Necessary To

Defend the novel.

Northanger Abbey, p. 34:

Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. 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.

Elizabeth Elliott: PERSUASION, p. 212

Self is so energetically barreling on with Persuasion! This is the fastest she’s read any Jane Austen! Last year, Emma took her forever. But Mr. Knightley made up for it.

  • Oh! You may as well take back that tiresome book she would lend me, and pretend I have read it through. I really cannot be plaguing myself for ever with all the new poems and states of the nation that come out. Lady Russell quite bores me with her new publications. You need not tell her so, but I thought her dress hideous the other night. I used to think she had some taste in dress, but I was ashamed of her at the concert. Something so formal and arrangĂ© in her air! and she sits so upright! My best love, of course.

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Stay tuned.

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