The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: DNF

Shorthand for “Did Not Finish.”

First of all, it was so big. When it was mailed to self at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, she couldn’t believe how big it was.

Two English cities (London and Oxford) later, she was still just on p. 21 and it looked like she’d be lugging this book to Cambridge.

Which then led to her asking the crucial question: Is this big fat heavy book that seems well written but doesn’t have a single character self feels she knows (though why should she know them? They’re from rural Wisconsin, for heavens sake!), worth the shoulder strain? Despite fantastic Stephen King blurb on back cover?

The answer, after yet another frustrating evening reading about dogs, was no.

So she’s moved on to an English mystery, Missing, Presumed, which has a very interesting title, much more interesting than the book self just finished reading, Dead Letters. Titles do not, obviously, say everything because Dead Letters turned out to be a fascinating read.

The front cover of Missing, Presumed (which was mailed to her from Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway) shows this:

Missing, Presumed

72 Hours to Find Her

Ooh!

The first scene is a blind date which is very pedestrian but the main character is so lonely that she sleeps with the guy anyway.

Will this woman turn out to:

  • be a self-hating alcoholic?
  • be facing misogyny  in her (police) department where she will undoubtedly turn out to be one of only two, at the most three, women detectives?
  • harbor a deep, dark secret — incest? murder? Or something never before written about in the 101 mysteries inspired by Gone, Girl (which self never read)?

And will the missing really be dead, or just pretending to be dead, in which case would this be similar to the book self just finished reading?

Whatever. Self needs Missing, Presumed to be interesting for at least four hours: the length of the bus trip to Cambridge.

Stay tuned.

 

Still Reading THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE

Haven’t reached the dog point-of-view chapters yet. When self does, that may very well spell The End. But David Wroblewski’s writing style is quite lyrical. And very spare. For the first time in her life, self understands that a dog obssession may not be the worst thing to spend a week reading about. Who knows. She’s still on the fence about dog point-of-view.

To help her along, she re-reads wicked letters from Zelda Her Malevolence in Caite Dolan-Leach’s over-the-top but strangely magnetic novel, Dead Letters. (What Follows Is Not Really a Spoiler, Since Zelda Could Just Be Pretending To Be Dead) To show you how fabulous this Zelda is, her funeral photo (selected by her father) shows her in a see-through caftan, an image of pure, feral Untameability. Picture of course taken by her strait-laced sister, the one whose boyfriend she stole. Do you see how over-the-top this novel is? Why isn’t it set in some British stiff-upper-lip society drawing room?

When self started this trip, she thought she’d be unloading books as quickly as she went, leaving them behind after she’d done reading them. But oops, she found herself wanting to re-read Emma (Jane Austen). Then Autonomous (Annalee Newitz). Then All Systems Red (Martha Wells). And now, Dead Letters.

What. Is. Going. On.

Stay tuned.

Suggested Places in Oxford for His Dark Materials fans (Courtesy of Twittagazze)

All locations in Oxford (or adjoining):

His Dark Materials locations:

  • Exeter College (Jordan College in the books)
  • The Bodleian Library
  • Oxford Botanical Garden (Lyra and Will’s Bench is here)
  • The Pitt-Rivers Museum
  • The Covered Market
  • Christ Church
  • Story Museum (to see Philip Pullman’s head-of-chapter drawings from His Dark Materials)

The Book of Dust locations:

  • Walk Paths Along the Isis
  • Port Meadow
  • Wolvercote (a 1-hour walk from Port Meadow): The Trout and the nearby priory
  • Jericho area: Juxon Street and The Butterfly Tattoo
  • The Ashmolean
  • The White Horse Pub next to Blackwell’s

It was a spectacularly beautiful day. Self started out from Oxford City Centre and made it all the way to the Oxford Botanic Garden:

DSCN0047DSCN0048

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Morning After: WOO HOO!!!

It’s November 7. And self is in a good place.

So different from the day after Election Day, November 2016.

So boo-hoo Florida went with de Santis instead of Gillum. (Slate Headline: Ron DeSantis beats Andrew Gillum in Florida After Boost from Racists)

And Beto came close but Texas hung on to Ted Cruz. (Cyrus McQueen: I can’t believe over 3 million people in Texas voted for Ted Cruz . . . that’s literally like choosing to eat a slug instead of a hot slice of pizza)

But now Mueller can unleash!

#bigmood

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Currently Reading: DEAD LETTERS

Self finished All Systems Red two days ago, which marked the end of her science fiction cycle and the beginning of a mysteries/thrillers cycle. She’s currently reading Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach, which is full-on family angst, involving twins. Talk about upping the ante.

She likes clustering her reading — sometimes by genre, sometimes by author.

For a few years, she read only books by women.

Another few years, she read only memoirs.

Another few years, she read only travel books.

Another few years, she read only books by African American writers.

One summer, she read only Henning Mankell.

There was a period of reading just history books.

And so forth.

For 2018, she read mostly novels. But these ranged from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials to science fiction. She adored reading science fiction, which she hadn’t done in a while. She read The Hunger Games, sure — but they don’t really count as science fiction, do they?

Anyhoo, she is sorry to let the science fiction genre go. It’s probably the most rapidly expanding literary genre at present. And, because in August she attended a talk by George R. R. Martin in Redwood City’s Fox, and picked up a few copies of Oakland-based Locus Magazine, her attention was immediately captured by an announcement of the World Fantasy Awards. One of her newly discovered favorite authors, Fonda Lee, whose Jade City self just finished reading, was a co-winner with Victor LaValle for Best Novel (Yay, Fonda Lee!)

They even had a category for Best Short Story, for which Fonda Lee was a finalist.

And there was also a category for Best Artist (Winner: Gregory Manchess). She really enjoyed looking up the finalists art.

Now, back to her reading/writing.

Stay tuned.

 

 

New Book: ALL SYSTEMS RED, by Martha Wells

With this book, the 33rd on her 2018 Reading List, self has exceeded her Goodreads Reading Challenge (32 books). YES! 2018 so LIT!

Next year, self will up her goal to 33 books.

Opening paragraph:

  • I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

lol

Really liked Autonomous (finished last night) except for the torture scenes.

Next up:

  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski
  • Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Just Out: PRAIRIE SCHOONER, Fall 2018

Cover piece is by artist Amanda Smith.

The opening piece is Demographic Futures, a short story by Phong Nguyen. Nguyen is the author of two short story collections and, most recently, the novel The Adventures of Joe Harper.

There is also fiction by Nigerian writer Jekwu Anyaegbuna and award-winning writer Cyril Dabydeen.

There is poetry by Cave Canem fellow Mary Moore Easter, Cody Smith, and Osel Jessica Plante, and essays by Sian Griffiths (about San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House!), Caroline Crew, and Evanthia Bromiley.

And so many other fine writers self doesn’t have time or space to list, but go over to Prairie Schooner and explore for yourselves.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

From Kenny’s Bookshop, Galway

Ordered this last week. Can’t wait to start reading.

DSCN0170

But first, self has to get through:

  • Jade City, by Fonda Lee (on the last 100 pages; so far: five stars)
  • Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz
  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells
  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sage Thoughts From Master Shih Cheng-Yen

  • Do not rely on power.
  • Do not rely on social status.
  • Do not rely on wealth.

 

Sentence of the Day: Still THE DOOR

Reading soooo slowly. But this book needs to be savored.

p. 27:

He wasn’t a bad man, although he made me leave school, and the headmaster was very upset about it, but I was needed to cook for the harvesters because Mother wasn’t up to it, and I also looked after the twins.

In this novel, labor is front and center. Whether that labor is writing, or housecleaning, or making things with one’s hands.

All the translations self has read so far this year have been excellent:

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (transl. from the Japanese)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (transl. from the Norwegian)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (transl. from the French)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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