Favorite Characters (So Far) 2019

In self’s reading, it’s all about the characters. Here are her favorites from her most recent reads (doesn’t look like she’s going to make her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, she’s been so poky — hanging on to her translations, her intricate classic novels, her favorite book companions).

From Current Read, The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry:

CORA SEABORNE. Joanna Ransome. Luke Garrett. Naomi Banks.

Swann’s Way and Anna Karenina are books she’s read before, but her focus shifted surprisingly on second reading.

From Swann’s Way (the Lydia Davis translation), by Marcel Proust:

The narrator. Swann, always and forever.

From Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy:

DOLLY. Karenin. Kitty. Kitty’s father, Prince Alexander Dmitrievich. Seryozha. Vronsky.

It’s strange, self feels no sympathy whatsoever for Anna Karenina. Not on this re-read. Anna seems less like a real woman and more like a construct used by Tolstoy to make a point. Self hated her from the moment she advised Dolly to stick with her faithless, profligate husband. Was crowing for her fall. Wished Dolly were given a more redemptive story arc.

The character who exhibits the most growth in Anna Karenina is, in self’s humble opinion, Karenin. Because he falls in love with his wife’s child with another man. That’s quite an arc! When he shows up regularly at the baby’s nursery, and the governesses don’t know what to make of it? WAAAAH!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Preparing, OSSW Day One

Drove up to Mendocino, which as the crow flies is only 200 miles from Redwood City, but always takes self at least FIVE HOURS.

On the way, she stopped by Yorkville Market and had lunch:

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And then she mulled over the writing exercises she should start tomorrow with.

Should she have the students practice writing one very, very, very long, run-on sentence? With points to whoever can come up with the most run-on sentence?

Or, for fun, should she have them write a piece that’s all bad grammar and deliberately wrong spelling? Hamberder, anyone? Smocking guns?

Should she have them write a piece that’s all dialogue?

Should she ask them to capture every nuance of a piece of reality . . . in one sentence?

Should she have them practice writing a conversation that grows from an association of ideas (like a Harold Pinter play?)

Should she have them practice delaying the outcome for as long as possible?

She can’t decide. She’ll have to sleep on it.

BTW, this is one of the plays being presented by the Mendocino Theatre Company in 2019:

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Mendocino Theatre Company, 2019 Season

Stay tuned.

The Reading List: THE ESSEX SERPENT, p. 52

Self has been averaging 10 days a book.

Her last two books were Anna Karenina and Swann’s Way, and her current read, The Essex Serpent, is definitely NOT a book to be rushed through.

(It was a good idea not to push through with Ove Knausgaard. She might still be stuck on Book 1 right now)

The main character of The Essex Serpent (a novel she’s very much enjoying) is a recently widowed woman whose intellectual curiosity is not looked upon kindly by the society of her time (late 19th century England). She has a son named Francis and has consulted with a doctor about his being different from other children:

  • I spoke to Luke Garrett about him, you know. Not that I think there is anything wrong with him!” She flushed, because nothing shamed her as much as her son. Acutely aware that her unease in the presence of Francis was shared by most who met him, it was impossible to exculpate herself; his remoteness, his obsessions, must be her fault, for where else could she lay the blame? Garrett had been uncharacteristically quiet, soft-spoken; he’d said, “You cannot pathologize him — you cannot attempt to make a diagnosis. There is no blood test for eccentricity, no objective measure for your love or his!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading List 2019: Adding Travel Books

Excited to be adding these wonderful books to self’s 2019 Reading List. Self loves travel books. It’s been a year since she devoted a reading year to them:

Alan Booth

  • The Road to Sata

Alexandra David Neel

  • My Journey to Lhasa

Alison Wearing

  • Honeymoon in Purdah

Ann Jones

  • Lovedu

Anthony Doerr

  • Four Seasons in Rome

Best Women’s Travel Writing series

Bill Bryson

  • The Lost Continent
  • Walk in the Woods

Blair Braverman

  • Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

Bruce Chatwin

  • In Patagonia

Dervla Murphy

  • Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

Ellen Meloy

  • Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River

Gabrielle Hamilton

  • Blood, Bones and Butter

Gretchen Legler

  • On the Ice: An Intimate Portrait of Life at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Isabella L. Bird

  • Six Months in the Sandwich Islands: Among Hawai’i’s Palm Groves, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes

Isabelle Eberhardt

  • The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Jamaica Kincaid

  • A Small Place

Jan Morris

  • Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere

Julia Child

  • My Life in France

Katrina Kittle

  • The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

Kira Salak

  • Four Corners: A Journey Into the Heart of Papua New Guinea

Mary Henrietta Kingsley

  • Travels in West Africa

Melanie Bowden Simon

  • La Americana: A Memoir

Peter Mayle

  • A Year in Provence

Rebecca Solnit

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Robyn Davidson

  • Desert Places

Stanley Stewart

  • In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A Journey Among Nomads

Suzanne Roberts

  • Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Chronicle Datebook, 27 January 2019

Loving the cover story:

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In 1969:

Nixon became President, the Beatles released Abbey Road, Sly and the Family Stone released Want To Take You Higher, The Who released Tommy.

Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid premiered. TV’s Star Trek got cancelled.

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Woodstock happened, Chappaquiddick happened, the moon landing happened, Berkeley’s People Park happened, Charles Manson happened, The Gap opened its 1st store, the Vietnam draft lottery was televised, William Calley was convicted of six counts of murder for My Lai.

Self was in summer camp in England. That’s where she heard about the moon landing.

Ferdinand Marcos won re-election as President of the Philippines.

Wonder what groundbreaking books were published that year? No mention in the Chronicle. There must have been some.

Where was Gloria Steinem?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Swann in Love: The Wearing of Monocles

  • The general’s monocle, stuck between his eyelids like a shell splinter in his vulgar, scarred, overbearing face, in the middle of a forehead which it blinded like the Cyclops’ single eye, appeared to Swann like a monstrous wound that might have been glorious to receive, but was indecent to show off; whereas the one that M. de Bréauté added, as a badge of festivity, to the pearl-gray gloves, the opera hat, and the white tie, and substituted for the familiar lorgnette (as Swann himself did) for going out in society, bore, glued to its other side, like a natural history specimen under a microscope, an infinitesimal gaze teeming with friendliness that smiled constantly at the loftiness of the ceilings, the beauty of the preparations, the interest of the programs, and the excellence of the refreshments.

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*****

  • The Marquis de Forestelle’s monocle was miniscule, had no border, and, requiring a constant painful clenching of the eye, where it was encrusted like a superfluous cartilage whose presence was inexplicable and whose material was exquisite, gave the Marquis’s face a melancholy delicacy, and made women think he was capable of great sorrows in love. But that of M. de Saint-Candé, surrounded by a gigantic ring, like Saturn, was the center of gravity of a face which regulated itself at each moment in relation to it, a face whose quivering red nose and thick-lipped sarcastic mouth attempted by their grimaces to equal the unceasing salvos of wit sparkling from the disk of glass, and saw itself preferred to the handsomest eyes in the world by snobbish and depraved young women in whom it inspired dreams of artificial charms and a refinement of voluptuousness . . .

How does one keep that glass firmly attached to one’s face, self wonders?

Stay tuned.

Sunday Read: Philippine Religious Imagery in Ivory (Exhibit Catalogue, Intramuros, Manila, 1982)

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Self’s childhood home in Manila was crammed with santoses (religious statues). Dearest Mum collected them.

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L: San Vicente Ferrer R: San Pedro Martir

The santos carvers were unknown. It was an industry, like making furniture. The head and hands of the figures were usually ivory.

The caption for San Pedro Martir reads, in entirety:

  • Ivory head and hands on batikuling body. A bolo (machete), now missing, the instrument of his martyrdom, was originally embedded in his cranium. He is usually depicted holding a palm of martyrdom, also missing. 19th century.

Batikuling is a Philippine tree, presently listed as endangered.

Stay tuned.

 

2020: The Race

So far, five Democrats have declared their candidacy:

  • Of the five, four are women. FOUR.
  • One mayor, Julian Castro, from San Antonio, TX, a state that is greatly impacted by the issues of the border wall. This Stanford grad delivered part of his speech in Spanish.

It is clear which groups are most angered by Trump.

We are outraged by the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and by the male posturing of the President and his enablers: Senators McConnell and Graham. By the hypocrisy of Senator Susan Collins.

Also clear: Democracy won’t die with Trump.

Stay tuned.

Anna Karenina: Introduction by Gary Saul Morson

Self making mincemeat of her reading list.

First, she abandoned all six books of My Struggle after reading just one page of Book One.

Then, she stopped reading Barracoon at the first page of the narrative proper, she just couldn’t agree with the decision Hurston made to write him as he appeared, not as he truly was: a grown man, a man who had endured unimaginable suffering.

Today, she put aside her copy of If On a Winter’s Night a Travel.

What does she want? What is she looking for?

Hopefully it’s Anna Karenina.

From the Introduction:

The lovers live in a realm beyond good and evil. After all, good and evil depend on choice, and where fate governs, choice is out of the question. No matter how much pain the lovers cause, one cannot condemn them . . .

That is the story Anna imagines she is living. As one of her friends observes, she resembles a heroine from a romance . . .  As Anna Karenina imagines herself into the novels she reads, such readers imagine themselves as Anna or Vronsky . . . Anna feels that fate has marked her out for a special destiny, perhaps tragic but surely exaulted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Which Way Photo Challenge (Week of 27 December 2018)

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Showing the ways people move from one place to another on land: roads, walkways, stairs, elevators, escalators, railway tracks, ski lifts, runways, canals, locks, parking lots, driveways, tunnels.

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The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, Downtown Philadelphia, 5 December 2018

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Crossing Over the River Wear, Durham, 29 November 2018

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Millenium Bridge, London, 22 November 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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