The first two books on this list are novels; the last two are nonfiction:
A Partial History of Lost Causes, by Jennifer Dubois
“An American woman, fleeing a slow and humiliating death from Huntington’s disease, arrives in Russia in search of an answer to a question posed by her dead father: What is the proper way to proceed when playing a game one is destined to lose?”
These Dreams of You, by Steve Erickson
“An unemployed professor and former novelist finds himself ineffectually resisting bankruptcy and foreclosure; his wife becomes obsessed with finding their Ethiopian daughter’s natural mother, who may be alive and in trouble.”
Brave Dragons, by Jim Yardley
“Yardley provides incisive accounts of basketball’s history in China and of the N.B.A.’s desire to monetize its popularity there, alongside colorful portraits of the players and hangers-on.”
Monty and Rommel, by Peter Caddick-Adams
“Near-contemporaries, both men were wounded in the First World War and became Field Marshalls in the Second. Both, Caddick-Adams suggests, were master communicators, and perhaps should not have been promoted from the battlefield, where they excelled, to a strategic level, where they did not.”
* * * *
This has turned out to be quite a trying week, dear blog readers.
For one thing, the husband has been playing this tiresome charade where he pretends to be sick and coughs right in her face. This, she knows, is because she is about to leave for Scotland, where he imagines she is going to go wild downing bottles of Talisker (On the other hand, things could be worse: the man could actually be sick, in which case, it will only be a matter of hours — no, minutes! — before she herself is laid flat with the viral flu)
Self has told him time and time again that she is going away to work. Not only that, she has looked up the temperature in that part of Scotland and the lows are 43 degrees. She decides to compare to Redwood City (which is quite chilly today, self is wearing three T-shirts and one pullover, as well as thick socks, and because the wind is so brisk, she has decided not to step out of the house at all) and feels quite faint when the temperature for her area, right now, is 70-something degrees. She thinks back to Dharamsala and remembers how she shivered under four comforters, even with the heater right next to her bed and going all night (It was one of those old-fashioned coil ones, it reminded her vaguely of a Westinghouse electric fan, and she dreaded knocking it over in her sleep because she was sure she would end up burning to death), and she’s already decided to pack sweaters and thermals and thick socks and woolen scarves, etc etc etc
She happened to give a call to British Airways and was informed that there are no airports in the vicinity of Cambridge (where she has a friend she’d like to meet), and she’s better off going to London and catching a train south. “Cambridge is south?” self repeated, rather stupidly, and the British Airways woman said, “You are heading to Edinburgh, which is north. And Cambridge is in the other direction. South.”
This reminds her of the time, just a week before she left for her first trip to India, when she ended up asking the husband whether New Delhi was near Calcutta. (Her brain feels like it’s been on hold for the past year, dear blog readers. Perhaps one day, she’ll put it all down, in a book)
Bella The Ancient One got stuck three times in the doggy door. But it is The Ancient One’s heroics that truly move self, for the dog is about a hundred-plus years old (in equivalent human years) : still she crawls manfully through that damn doggy door, up and down a flight of stairs to the backyard, to pee. Self has suggested to hubby that we put a ramp over the stairs, but he thinks it is good exercise for The Ancient One to go up and down steps.
The vet just called, asking why self had not yet picked up The Ancient One’s pain pills ($86 for a month’s supply)
Son called and mentioned that he wanted to know how much it cost to rent a car for a week, and self replied that she couldn’t remember but suggested he try Dollar. She reminded him to mention that he is a Triple-A member, for the 10% discount.
What else? She got form rejections from Third Coast and Tin House. She persists in thinking that the one from Tin House was slightly encouraging. It was worded: “Sorry to have to turn you down this time.” It’s those last two words, “this time,” that self keeps re-playing in her head. They must really want her work, self thinks. Or why would they even bother to put “this time”!!! Perhaps she didn’t get the standard standard rejection, just the medium standard rejection. Or the slightly standard rejection. Whatever it is, self is sure she didn’t get the out-and-out rejection from Tin House.
(Which neighbor is it that keeps trundling trash cans back and forth across the sidewalk? She swears she must have heard that dragging-the-trash-can sound at least five different times in the last two hours. Every time she peeks out, the sidewalk is empty, and the trash cans are still in place. Maybe it’s just some kid, dragging his skateboard across the cement . . . )
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.