Lynchings: AS LIE IS TO GRIN, p. 30

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Very stream-of-consciousness, this novel is. Self likes it. It’s something like Francoise Sagan meets disaffected young black man in the University of Vermont.

It’s been a long time since she’s read about lynchings in a work of fiction. She certainly wasn’t prepared for the subject to be in the middle of a paragraph about the narrator trying to hook up with Delilah. But there it is. The young man’s personal pain conflates with his memory of a particular story in Jean Toomer’s Cane (A reader somewhere detests Marsalis and calls this entire book a pack of lies. Of course it is. It’s fiction)

  • There were little things that I did not know about her, which made me realize that I had not taken a serious interest in Delilah. I tried to remember more of what she had told me about herself, but was distracted by the thought of a story Jean Toomer had written in Cane, called Blood Burning Moon, about a black man (Tom) who killed a white man (Bob) over his continued dalliance with a young black woman (Louisa) whom Tom hoped to marry. It ended with Tom’s hanging by lynch mob. What gave the story life were the horrible questions that went unasked by the narrator. Why had Louisa chosen to continue seeing Bob, why wasn’t Tom given a fair trial, what did Tom truly desire?

After a while, the narrator’s silent ruminations make Delilah uncomfortable and she asks him to leave. “Why?” the narrator asks.

  • Delilah: You are acting weird.

Then Delilah goes to sleep.

Wow! What. A. Scene.

It’s like this fan fiction story self read, where Gendry sleeps with Sansa. After, she turns him out of her bed and he wanders into a very cold dawn.

Here, the narrator ends up welcoming the dawn “in the little amphitheater between Mills and Austin Halls, twenty yards from the footpath, and stared out at the Green Mountains of Vermont.” (Young men always seem to welcome the dawn after being turned out-of-doors by their paramours or ex-paramours, self notices. Welcoming the dawn = angst/unhappiness/disappointment/frustration)

Later, Marsalis delves further into the life of Jean Toomer and finds that he “looked white.” Is this an echo of the narrator, who is attending the University of Vermont while black? Self guesses there aren’t too many blacks in the University of Vermont. At least, that is the impression she gets (so far) from As Lie Is to Grin.

BTW, is it significant that son has kept his cell turned off for days? It doesn’t even finish one ring before it turns to voice mail. That means the cell is turned off. Right? She hasn’t heard son’s voice since Mother’s Day, and he placed that call in the evening. Self thinks a Mother’s Day call that doesn’t happen until the evening is not really a Mother’s Day call. Right? But it’s better than no call at all. Maybe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Amber Spyglass (Pause for Now)

NO SPOILERS FOR THE AMBER SPYLGASS, PROMISE!

p. 248, just halfway. But self was immersed in a wonderful piece of Amber Spyglass fan fiction (and there are very few of those. At least, when compared to Hunger Games. There are six times as many Hunger Games fan fics than there are Amber Spyglass fan fics — of any ship.) Anyhoo, self was enjoying the fan fic hugely until she landed on a chapter where the writer quotes the end of The Amber Spyglass. And — self knows the end already because Twitter is an undisciplined space. But she didn’t expect it to go down like that. It was so awful. Seeing as how she found the ending of The Subtle Knife excruciating, she knew she wasn’t strong enough for the end of The Amber Spyglass. Exhibit A: She put off reading the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games for two years, until the movies started coming out, because she was so sure Peeta would die. But then a niece looked self straight in the eyes and said, “Peeta makes it.”

Oh. He DOES?

Screech!

Self returned home, read the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games, went to the local bookstore, bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and binge-read.

So, alas, farewell for now, His Dark Materials, and on to . . .  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which has zero angst.

The edition self checked out of the Redwood City Library has a neat little intro — Stevenson’s essay, “My First Book.” She’s actually been dipping into it off and on, the past few days. Here’s an excerpt:

I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man, still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see or twopence worth of imagination to understand with!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

A CLASH OF KINGS: pp. 491 – 492

Since self began writing Gendrya, she’s been learning just how different the Game of Thrones fandom is from the Hunger Games fandom.

For one thing, in the Game of Thrones fandom, minutiae matters to an obsessive degree.

Self learned today (from reading GoT fan fiction) that the language the White Walkers speak is called ‘Skroth.’ It supposedly “sounds like the cracking of ice.”

So if you’re planning to write Night King dialogue (or inner monologue, or whatever) you’d better know your Skroth. Just saying.

To help give her Gendrya more texture, self has been reading the books. There was one in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and another from a friend’s son’s bedroom. The one she has with her in Mendocino is the one that belonged to the son of her friend. And it’s A Clash of Kings. Which is thrilling as all get-out (She’s also reading Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust, Vol. One: La Belle Sauvage, and that too is pretty exciting, so she’s in the equivalent of Reading Heaven right now)

Conversation between Sansa and Tyrion:

“My guest.” He was wearing his chain of office, a necklace of linked golden hands. “I thought we might talk.”

“As my lord commands.” Sansa found it hard not to stare; his face was so ugly it held a queer fascination for her.

“The food and garments are to your satisfaction?” he asked. “If there is anything else you need, you have only to ask.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

#amreading GRRM’s A CLASH OF KINGS

In preparation for Game of Thrones‘ final season, airing sometime 2019, self has set herself the task of reading the books. She’s read one so far; it was in her cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig two years ago, and it was still there when she returned last year.

Writing dialogue is hard. Writing Game of Thrones fan fiction dialogue is even harder, especially when one hasn’t read the books. George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones dialogue is so on point!

Examples:

Maester Luwin to Bran Stark, p. 442, A Clash of Kings:

“We look at mountains and call them eternal, and so they seem . . . but in the course of time, mountains rise and fall, rivers change their courses, stars fall from the sky, and great cities sink beneath the sea. Even gods die, we think. Everything changes.

“Perhaps magic was once a mighty force in the world, but no longer. What little remains is no more than the wisp of smoke that lingers in the air after a great fire has burned out, and even that is fading. Valyria was the last ember, and Valyria is gone. The dragons are no more, the giants are dead, the children of the forest forgotten with all their lore.

“No, my prince. Jojen Reed may have had a dream or two that he believes came true, but he does not have the greensight. No living man has that power.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Trying, Not Succeeding

Self has moved on from Everlark.

She is still part of the fan fiction universe, only she’s switched allegiances to a new ship, Gendrya.

She is in complete awe of those fan fiction authors who drop Game of Thrones place names (Dragonstone, King’s Landing, Westeros, Highgarden, Casterly Rock, Stormsend, Braavos, The Red Keep, Winterfell, Volantis) as casually as bon bons.

She’s actually attempted doing a one-shot, but her lack of cred is immediately apparent because she’s only read one of GRRM’s books.

She doesn’t like AU Gendrya, it just doesn’t go well with the Bastard identity and Faceless Assassin plot lines. In the meantime, she lurks.

The number of Gendrya fics are about half the number of Everlark fics. But there are new ones appearing every day, because the ending of GoT Season 7 was so inconclusive.

Which brings us to:

The Books section of the Wall Street Journal, 12 – 13 August, 2017.

In Black Ships Before Troy, Rosemary Sutcliff (a rock star in her field) re-tells the Iliad. Now, the 1993 book has been re-issued and so it is with great pleasure that self adds the book to her reading list. It begins:

  • In the high and far-off days when men were heroes and walked with the gods, Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, took for his wife a sea-nymph called Thetis.

What. A. Fabulous. Opening. Sentence.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Fan Fiction: Arya the Assassin

All she had was hot vengeance running through her veins.


Self is pleasantly surprised at how good Arya Assassin fan fiction is.

Most (if not all) of it is rated G and just shows Arya being very ninja-like all over the place.

Revenge stories are the best.

Self would love to be able to write one of her own.

In her exploration of Game of Thrones fan fiction, she’s even stumbled across fan fiction written about Philip II of Spain. Granted, there are only two, but she’s surprised that there are ANY at all.

Are these, self wonders, written by a student who has to write something about Philip II for history class and decides the task will be easier if she can turn Philip II into a character in a fantasy world? If so: points student.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

War, By the Numbers

First order of business: Self has been perusing Gendrya and found a really badass one-shot. An excerpt:

She wielded two swords when she reached the tower. The Red Priestess wasn’t alone.

The girl wielded her swords, blood swiping tracks on the floor.

And he came out of nowhere, wielding a hammer.

Her other reading of the night is of course Waterloo (never mind the subtitle, which goes on forever). The battle is at midday of 18 June 1815. Napoleon has finally ordered his artillery to let loose on Wellington’s forces.

Here are the numbers:

Napoleon has 246 cannon, Wellington 157.

The French had 12-pounder cannon, The British 9-pounders.

Napoleon used his Grand Battery “as an offensive, as against a defensive, weapon.” He had used them this way before, most spectacularly at Wagram in 1809, where 112 French cannon “tore the heart out of the Austrian army.”

Wellington, on the other hand, had scattered his artillery “along the whole of his line” and used them “defensively . . . they were absolutely forbidden to engage in counter-battery fire.” Wellington was serious. When Wellington saw one of his batteries attempting to counter the French  artillery fire by opening up, “he ordered the arrest of the battery commander.”

Here self would like to interject with an account of her first visit to the British Imperial War Museum, two months ago, in June. At the entrance are the biggest long-range guns self has ever seen. They are massive. About as massive as an Egyptian pyramid. She can only imagine a whole battery of these guns firing away. The sound would shatter eardrums.

You have to walk right beneath these guns to get into the museum. It gave self a chill.

Inside the museum is a gorgeous engine called the Merlin. Shined to a high polish. Looks like Geiger art. Manufactured by Rolls Royce. For use in British World War I fighter planes.

Stay tuned.

Re-Reading: Mejhiren’s “When the Moon Fell In Love With the Sun”

Still one of the most beautiful Everlark self has ever read. The author, Mejhiren, updates about once a year. The most recent chapter dropped on December 2016.

Katniss, a poor girl from the Seam, has been whisked away by Peeta to be his servant in a palatial wooden house by a lake. In her utter loneliness, Katniss befriends a dove:

We’re the same color, just as I’d guessed; my skin a dusky dove-brown that matches her feathers as though painted by the same brush. “Are you mine, little one?” I wonder, daring a fingertip-stroke across her tiny head, and she closes her black-bead eyes in unmistakable pleasure.

It’s as inevitable as it is irresistible. I lean in, almost without thought, to brush her head with my lips, and she answers with a hushed, throaty coo that exudes sheer contentment. “Oh, I love you!” I whisper, my eyes beading with disbelief and joy and an overwhelming flood of affection for this first wild thing to reach out to me, to trust and love and care for the huntress who’s killed so many of the woods’ inhabitants for food and furs and nourishing bone broth. I should be more like my patient father but I’m too sad, too eager, too hungry for more, and I curl my free hand around my tiny sweetheart and bring her to my chest, pressing her gently over my heart.

Thankfully, this particular dove has waited a long time to tame me and doesn’t flail or strain or struggle at the sudden intensity of contact; rather, she curls her tiny claws in the weave of my sweater and coos drowsily as I stroke her in wonder, over and over again.

Just beautiful.

Stay tuned.

 

Everlark: It’s Been a While

Her fingers danced across the leather spines like thin spiders . . .

Cato in THE DECLINE AND FALL

Aside from her Real Life, self writes a lot of fan fiction, all in The Hunger Games universe. In her AU, she has come to use the following characters over and over:

  • Seneca
  • Plutarch
  • Cato

Hunger Games Plutarch is manipulative, a consummate politician. Hunger Games Seneca is a tool, pure and simple. Hunger Games Cato is a blonde, physically powerful type who ends up in a battle to the death with Katniss and Peeta. Guess who wins?

Now that she is reading The Decline and Fall, she is reminded that the above names actually belonged to real people.

In The Hunger Games, Cato is very much a bully.

In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon on p. 348 writes “we may learn from the example of Cato that a character of pure and inflexible virtue . . . ” In other words, RL Cato is a good guy.

#what

Self will stop here, as she’s having conniptions over some #APBreaking news about Paul Manafort and it is putting her in a very sullen state of mind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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