New Books for the Reading List

Stanford professors, the editors of Stanford University Press and Bing Overseas Study Program staff were asked to recommend books for summer reading and they came up with some interesting titles:

Books To Shift Your Perspective

  • An Act of Terror, by André Brink
  • Sometimes a Great Notion, by Ken Kesey
  • The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
  • Hadji Murad, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Stoner, by John Williams
  • The Removes, by Tatjana Soli
  • Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta, by Michael Copperman
  • Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, by Bruce Handy

Books on Globality and Migration

  • Brother, I’m Dying, by Edwidge Danticat
  • Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera

Books for Travelers to:

Australia

  • In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson and Ellen Titlebaum

China

  • Age of Ambitions: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, by Evan Osnos

Germany

  • Memories of a Nation, by Neil MacGregor
  • The Reluctant Meister: How Germany’s Past is Shaping Its European Future, by Stephen Green

Italy

  • The Italians, by John Hooper

Japan

  • A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Animé, Zen and the Tea Ceremony, by Hector Garcia

Cape Town, South Africa

  • Keeper of the Kumm, by Sylvia Vollenhoven

Spain

  • The New Spaniards, by John Hooper

Things About the Magritte at the San Francisco MOMA

Self has seen it three times.

The Magritte-themed food in the fifth floor café is so much fun:

In the adjoining sculpture garden, you can pose in front of this sign and you will look fabulous and so ‘San Francisco’:

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Andrew and Jennie, 14 July 2018

There is a great, really great interactive portion at the end: Raise your arms, and YOU’RE the Magritte!

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More later. Stay tuned!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Week 2 Photo (Blue, Pop Art, Vivid Color)

Self’s entry for Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge this week (She invites us to derive what inspiration we can from a new photo every week — quite an interesting challenge!)

You can see the photo for Week 2 here. It’s a vivid picture: a wall mural in bright colors, a vintage truck with a raised hood.

Self chose to focus on the colors. And, as luck would have it, she doesn’t have to search for very long before she stumbles on just the right pictures.

Last Saturday, son and his wife flew up from Orange County and we spent a day in the City. SO. MUCH. FUUUUN! Self had been raving about the Magritte exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art since forever. So that became our first stop.

We stopped for refreshments at the 5th floor café, and posed for pictures in the sculpture garden:

 

 

Here’s one last: Andrew and Jennie having fun at the interactive portion of the exhibit. The screen they’re staring at is bright blue, son is wearing a black sweater, and Jennie’s wearing a blue hoodie. So that’s an acceptable interpretation of the photo challenge, right? Not to mention: the cords for the audio guide are orange!

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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 14 July 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London Walks: Hyde Park

The first time self read The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber, was over a decade ago. She hadn’t much experience of London. Now, however, she knows London, knows its general geography, and enjoys passages like the following:

  • Since moving to the West End, Sugar has taken to crossing Hyde Park, over the Serpentine into Knightsbridge, and paying frequent visits to the two Georgian houses in Trevor Square, which may look like high-class brothels, but are in fact a public library.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 35

  • Follow Sugar now into the great open space, the grandiose vacancy of Regent Street — admire those overtowering honeycombs of palatial buildings stretching into the fog of artificial infinity, those thousands of identically shaped windows tier upon tier; the glassy expanse of roadway swept clear of snow; all of it is a statement of intent: a declaration that in the bright future to come, places like St. Giles and Soho, with their narrow labyrinths and tilting hovels and clammy, crumbling nooks infested with human flotsam, will be swept away, to be replaced by a new London that looks entirely like Regent Street, airy, regular and clean.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 43

Her last trip to London was at the tail-end of October 2017. She dropped by Hyde Park and saw:

1) the Serpentine

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2) a fabulous Pavilion

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The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion designed by architect Francis Kéré

and 3) the Prince Albert Memorial:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Traffic: St. Paul/Minneapolis

The more melancholy John Steinbeck becomes in Travels with Charley — the more he realizes that he is missing certain sights, and perhaps that means missing them forever — the more captivated self becomes with his narrative. (Self has been there! There meaning: emotionally)

He hates traffic. Self completely understands his reluctance to enter cities. Like Steinbeck, self tends to panic and get lost. She feels every beat of the following section, p. 100:

Like a weakening swimmer I edged to the right into a pleasant street only to be stopped by a policeman, who informed me that trucks and such vermin were not permitted there. He thrust me back into the ravening stream.

I drove for hours, never able to take my eyes from the surrounding mammoths. I must have crossed the river but I couldn’t see it. I never saw St. Paul or Minneapolis. All I saw was a river of trucks; all I heard was a roar of motors. The air saturated with Diesel fumes burned in my lungs.

Steinbeck flees. He heads for US 10 and ends up in — of all places — “a German restaurant complete with sausages, sauerkraut, and beer steins hanging in rows over the bar, shining but unused.”

The ensuing scene is A+

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Steinbeck on Traveling (Travels with Charley, p. 84)

I’ll tell you what it was like. Go to the Ufizzi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, and you are so crushed with the numbers, once the might of greatness, that you go away distressed, with a feeling like constipation.

Sentence of the Day: Travels with Charley, p. 58

Steinbeck heads for the Connecticut River:

It is very strange that when you set a goal for yourself, it is hard not to hold toward it even if it is inconvenient and not even desirable.

This is very true. Human beings are SO confused.

Travels with Charley: Deer Isle, Maine

Steinbeck has very interesting things to say about Deer Isle.

Digression: Self always wanted to visit Maine, because there is a teacher there — in Bates College — who has taught her story “Lenox Hill, December 1991” in self’s collection Mayor of the Roses, for decades.

pp. 41 – 42:

  • Maine speech is very like that in West Country England, the double vowels pronounced as they are in Anglo-Saxon, but the resemblance is doubly strong in Deer Isle. And the coastal people below the Bristol Channel are secret people, and perhaps magic people. There’s aught behind their eyes, hidden away so deep that perhaps even they do not know they have it. To put it plainly, this Isle is like Avalon; it must disappear when you are not there.

It sounds a little like California’s northern coast. Self always begins writing fables when she’s in Mendocino. Must be the craggy cliffs, the deep forests, the crashing ocean. During her latest trip to Mendocino, early this year, this sentence occurred to her as she was driving through redwoods: They chased daylight into a gloomy forest.

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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, April 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

On Now, San Francisco 2018

Summer: SO MANY THINGS, from the Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, to the Rube Goldberg exhibit at the Jewish Contemporary Art Museum on Mission St., to the Redwood City Century 20, where we saw Jurassic Park last weekend (Bryce Dallas Howard forever!)

 

In the Lake of the Woods: Finis

Four things:

  • Self got sucked in by the Hypothesis chapters.
  • She liked all the quotes from the transcripts of the court-martial of Lt. William Calley, but the quotes about Custer, then about the British slaughter of American civilians during the war of independence — the lines being drawn across history — couldn’t say she really liked that approach.
  • She will never, ever go to that part of the border with Canada. Never. The Hypothesis section that describes Kath getting turned around, thinking she was going south when she was actually going north, the bitter cold, the running out of gasoline for the boat engine, the vast and empty wildnerness, ugh.
  • Landscape, landscape, landscape. Whether describing Vietnam or a lake or the dense, wooded forests of the border with Canada, there is great precision in O’Brien’s descriptions of physical settings. Compared to them, self’s own (meager) evocations of setting are like the dot dash dot dash of semaphores.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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