pp. 86 – 87 SHUGGIE BAIN!!!! (Do Not Read Unless You Want to Know EXACTLY What Happens)

SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT

The way Agnes leaves:

She rouses her sleepy children, gets them dressed (in their Sunday best), flicks on the light in the bedroom where her husband is fast asleep. He wakes, mouth slack, and stares at the apparition of his wife and his two children staring at him from the foot of the bed. She’s wearing a mink, something he gave her in the hope it “would make her happy and hold her at peace from want, if just for a while.”

She: “Right. Thanks for everything, then. I’m away.”

This is really solid, over-the-top, a-hair-short-of-melodramatic writing.

A chapter or so ago, Agnes’s daddy gave her a solid thrashing. Self rather enjoyed how he did it, with a minimum of fuss. He waited until she was 39 and an outright lush, why couldn’t he have taken action sooner!

There have been other jaw-dropping scenes.

It may surprise dear blog readers to know that despite the rough scenes, highlighting the injustices of the world, self is finding this book enormously entertaining.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

April 18 BRIGHT SQUARES

For today’s BRIGHT SQUARES Challenge, self took pictures at the Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento! Which is just as fabulous as she remembered it being, all those years ago (Then, she was lucky enough to catch a Norman Rockwell retrospective)

(Left to Right):

  • Dale Chihuly (almost identical to the one that hangs in the lobby of London’s V & A)
  • Portrait of the playwright, screenwriter and diarist Christopher Isherwood, by Don Bachardy, American (born 1934). Isherwood wrote the 1964 novel A Simple Man; the movie adaptation won Colin Firth an Oscar.
  • Pacific Ocean, a painting by Jennifer Bartlett, American (born 1941)

What a great museum. Self is so happy she returned to Sacramento for this brief visit. If only the café had been open, she’d happily have lingered the whole day.

For lunch, she stopped at this small pop-up on 16th. The metal chairs had been baking in the sun, which she did not think mattered until she actually sat down. A lady who was sitting at the same table smirked and said, “That’s why I avoided sitting on those.” I took a chair that was sitting in the shade, a bit closer to the lady, and she immediately said, “I’ve had my two shots, don’t worry.”

The lady also told self that there was a “Chinse supermarket” not half a block from where we were sitting, and self got very excited at the thought of loading up on goodies for back home.

In addition to tacos, the pop-up also sold, somewhat improbably, mac’n cheese, and since it’s been forever since she’s had mac’n cheese, she decided to try it. It was good!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The New Jersey City University (NJCU) Center for the Arts Presents

A Conversation with Emily Bernard

Author of Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine

Moderated by Edvige Giunta and Meilli Ellis-Tingle

Tuesday, April 20, 6 p.m.

Emily Bernard is the author of Black is the Body: Stories from My Mother’s Time and Mine, which was named one of the best books of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews and National Public Radio. Black is the Body won the 2020 Los Angeles Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for autobiographical prose. Emily’s previous works include: Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendship, which was chosen by the New York Public Library as a Book for the Teen Age; and, with Deborah Willis, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, which received a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Her work has appeared in: O the Oprah Magazine, Harper’s, The New Republic, newyorker.com, Best American Essays, Best African American Essays, and Best of Creative Nonfiction. She has received fellowships from the Alphonse A. Fletcher Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Arts Council, and the W. E. B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Emily was the James Weldon Johnson Senior Research Fellow in African American Studies at Yale University. She is the Julian Lindsay Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont, and a 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Emily lives in South Burlington, Vermont with her husband and twin daughters.

Free with RSVP.

The End of Life

I have a friend whose elderly mother lives with her and is driving her crazy. Her mother was once a talented artist, an intellectual with myriad interests. Now, my friend says, “she gets up in the morning and makes a cup of coffee and she’s so slow, doing it. I mean, I just watch her sometimes to see how she can possibly be so slow. Then she sits at the kitchen table and talks about what might be for lunch. I just can’t stand it! All she talks about is her cup of coffee in the morning and the weather and what her next meal will be. I really wonder . . . is there any meaning to the end of life?

I’ll Be Seeing You, p. 193

Gah. This is a depressing book. The author’s final reflections are “How young and strong and beautiful they were” and she remembers telling her mom, “I’ll miss you.” (To which self is tempted to say: HA. HA. HA.) To her readers, she says that her parents “belonged to each other more than they did to us.” (Imagine! Incredible!) The last page talks about love and blah blah.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Allegra

“I want you to do some magic to make it tame, but what’s the use of petting a tiger?”

Ballistic Kiss, p. 127

Vidocq

Sandman Slim encounters sees a man named Vidocq who tells him very many things:

  • “You are a Nephilim. The last of your kind. We don’t have any trustworthy descriptions of previous Nephilim. We have no idea if their complexions were smooth . . . your scars are simply part of your divine nature . . . I’m sure this process will continue and that you’ll acquire new scars in the future.”
  • “Nothing is ever the same the second time. It might be worse. It might be better. But it’s never the same.”

Dear blog readers can tell how much self is enjoying this novel. She found out today that it is the penultimate of the series. GAH. She also found out that in the book previous to this, Sandman Slim was in Hell, and readers were generally not liking it as much as the ones set in L.A.

Don’t know whether to go with this opinion or not. All she knows is that Sandman Slim returned to L.A. with a fondness for Malediction cigarettes and a desperate longing to appear normal.

L.A. is the best setting for fiction. Self doesn’t think she’s read a single L.A. novel that she hasn’t liked.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sandman Slim’s Grade A Party Trick Game

I walk to a shadow at the far side of the room and step through it. Come out behind Janet.

“Boo.”

She jumps like she saw a rattlesnake.

“How did you do that? That was cool.”

Sandman Slim Entertains

He has a meltdown. On the way home from the grocery store (He’s bought $500 worth of groceries), he gets involved in a road rage incident (This is L.A.), but the worst part is realizing that he forgot to get beer.

His friend Janet tells him, “You’ll get the hang of parties again. They’re pretty easy when you stop panicking, which you clearly are.”

Smile at a Rabid Dog

The supernatural killer (whose name self can’t quite remember, but it’s easy not to get him mixed up with other characters; he’s the narrator) goes into an L.A. supermarket, determined “to shop the hell out of this place.”

First encounter: “a young guy in a spotless apron” asks him, “Care to try a sausage?”

Narrator (“trying to act like a normal person chatting with another normal person”): It reminds me of manticore tail.

Young Guy: Manticore?

Narrator: You know, those big fuckers that graze along the Styx.

“He smiles at me the way you smile at a rabid dog, hoping it will bite the guy across the room and not you.”

LOL

LOL

LOL

Paris, December 2017

A young couple from China asked self to take their picture, and then returned the favor by taking one of self. So here’s that very, very rare occasion when she is actually IN the picture, rather than just TAKING a picture.

She’s wearing that same exact scarf right now, since she’s been feeling chilled all afternoon. Instead of a coat, she’s wearing a flannel nightgown — hello, pandemic self! She put on her nightgown hours ago, preparatory to spending the rest of the day reading in bed. She feels like she might be coming down with something, but she can’t blame it on Pfizer 1, received Saturday: she’s felt this way for weeks. All Pfizer 1 did was exacerbate those symptoms.

Now her left arm aches. That’s where she got her shot, but it hasn’t ached since the day of. A kind of phantom pain?

Around them, floodlights lit up the magnificent monuments. Vehicles passed by. Distinctive French sirens sounded in the distance. Visitors took selfies in front of the statues.

Armand heard snippets of conversation and bursts of laughter.

All the Devils Are Here, p. 347

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