“Child Support Office” from FINGERPRINTS OF A HUNGER STRIKE, by Tony Robles

At the entrance was a very large security guard chatting with another man who referred to him as Dinnerplate. Having recently been employed as a security guard, I felt a connection with my uniformed brethren. “Excuse me . . . uh . . .  Dinnerplate,” I said. “Can you tell me where I can give my updated contact information?” He gave me a stern look. “My name is Officer Fortune,” he said, “William A. Fortune, and you will address me as such!” I looked at the tattoo on his neck. It read Dinnerplate in cursive, although he may have been better served had it read Thinnerplate. “OK,” I replied, heading to the customer service windows where I was told — in so many words — to sit down, shut up, and wait my turn like a good boy . . .

Four Weeks In Hawthornden, Scotland, June 2012

The benefactress Drue Heinz passed away recently, and there was outpouring of sadness from all Hawthornden alums. The impact she had on writers around the world was amazing.

June 2012, self availed of one of Ms. Heinz’s enduring legacies: the Hawthornden Retreat for Writers, near Edinburgh (40 minutes by public bus from). Four wonderful weeks, with five other writers: Allison Amend, Richard Lemm, Jenny Lewis, Marylee McDonald, and Joan McGavin.

One of us volunteered to write down every book recommendation, every movie recommendation, every poem recommendation, every television series recommendation and every short story recommendation. Self completely forgot about this list, until today.

She’s going through her house in Redwood City, inch by inch. At the back of a drawer, she pulled out this list. She didn’t have time to look at it in Redwood City, which must be why she brought it with her to Mendocino. Here are some of the book recommendations (The list is three pages long, double-sided. Self has no time)

FANTASY

  • Guy Gavriel Kay: The Fionavar Tapestry

MEMOIR

  • John Steinbeck: Travels with Charlie

NONFICTION

  • Jim Rosenberger: High Steel

NOVELS

  • Bhira Backhaus: Under the Lemon Trees
  • John Banville: Doctor Copernicus
  • Andrea Barrett: The Voyage of the Narwhal
  • Joseph Boyden: Three Day Road
  • Michael Byers: Percival’s Planet
  • Sarah Shun-lien Bynum: The Ms. Hempel Chronicles
  • Michael Crummey: Galore
  • Richard Flanagan: Wanting and Death of a River Guide
  • Katherine Govier: Angel Walk
  • Eleanor Henderson: Ten Thousand Saints
  • Guy Gavriel Kay: Under Heaven
  • Larry McMurtry: Hud
  • Howard Norman: The Bird Artist
  • Marge Piercy: Gone to Soldiers
  • John Steffler: The Afterlife of George Cartwright
  • Elizabeth Strout: Abide With Me and Olive Kitteridge
  • Rosemary Sutcliffe: The Eagle of the Ninth
  • Adam Thorpe: Ulverton
  • Sigrid Undset: Kristin Lavransdatter

NOVELLAS

  • Josh Weil: The New Valley (3 novellas)

POETRY

  • Tamar Yoseloff: The City With Horns

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

  • Andrea Barrett: Ship Fever
  • Evgenia Citkowitz (Hawthornden Alum): Ether: Seven Stories and a Novella
  • Michael Faber: The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories and The Fahrenheit Twins
  • Tim O’Brien: Going After Cacciato, The Things They Carried, The Lake in the Woods
  • Tobias Wolff: In the Garden of the North American Martyrs

The Guardian’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

There is very little overlap been self’s reading list and the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time by The Guardian.

Below, books on The Guardian’s list that self has read:

2. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

5. Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama

9. Dispatches, by Michael Herr

15. The Double Helix, by James D. Watson

20. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

23. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and EB White

33. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child-care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock

42. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

44. Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

65. Roget’s Thesaurus

83. A History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

92. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys, via Claire Tomalin’s excellent biography of Pepys’ life

Sentence of the Day: J. D. Vance

Self has decided to tackle Hillbilly Elegy. Even though she’s not sure she can relate. Makati being as far as one can imagine from the Appalachias.

p. 15: Even knowing what a pistol-packing lunatic Mamaw was, I find this story hard to believe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: The New York Review of Books on Oliver Sacks (21 May 2015)

You will notice, dear blog reader, that all the magazines self has been quoting this week are three years old. That is because 2015 is the last year she had much leisure time. She thinks it’s a very good sign that she saved all these past issues of New York Review of Books. Like she knew, she’d be getting back to them one day. Even if that day was three years later.

Moving on.

Oliver Sacks is no longer with us. Nevertheless, his ouevre remains. Jerome Groopman, in his review of Oliver Sacks’s memoir On the Move: A Life, quotes Sacks’s description of himself:

of “vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.” A talented student drew a contrast with Ivan Ilyich, who was passionless and shaped his behavior to strictly conform to others’ expectations. Tolstoy judged Ilyich’s life as “most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

Which is why self is sharing this photo (taken at the San Carlos Auto Pride carwash):

DSCN0148

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Recommended Reading: Women Writing (Comics, Nonfiction, Novellas)

Essay:

Skinning the Rabbit, by Jane Eaton Hamilton (The Sun, July 2017)

The Cone of Uncertainty: Parenting on the Edge of Climate Change, by Sarah Grey (Salvage Quarterly, 28 November 2017)

On Yoga, Diversity Lite, and the Empire of American Wellness, by Namrata Poddar (CounterPunch, 3 November 2017)

The New Bad Girls of Contemporary Literature, by Myriam Gurba (Literary Hub, 1 December 2017)

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? by Debbie Weingarten (The Guardian, 6 December 2017)

Comics:

DC New Talent Showcase 2017

Food-Related:

In Search of Lost Butter Chicken, by Sukhada Tatke (National Geographic Traveler: India, June 2017)

Novella:

Day of All Saints, by Patricia Grace King (Miami University Press, November 2017)

I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do), by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books, September 2017)

 

 

#amreading Travel Writing: Lawrence Durrell on Alexandria

Going ashore in Alexandria is like walking the plank for instantly you feel, not only the plangently Greek city rising before you, but its backcloth of deserts stretching away into the heart of Africa. It is a place for dramatic partings, irrevocable decisions, last thoughts; everyone feels pushed to the extreme, to the end of his bent. People become monks or nuns or voluptuaries or solitaries without a word of warning. As many people simply disappear as overtly die here. The city does nothing.

— Lawrence Durrell in An Alexandria Anthology: Travel Writing Through the Centuries, edited by Michael Haag (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press)

#amreading #amwritingfantasy: Inspired by Ian McEwan’s SATURDAY

The first time self read Saturday, by Ian McEwan, was in 2009. She only knows for sure because she did a Search on this blog. And up it popped, complete with spoilers.

But, since she believes she has more time to appreciate reading while she’s in Ireland, she’s going to give Saturday another go.

Amazing how ‘interior’ it is. Also amazing: that it’s about a surgeon. And she just got through reading Do No Harm, by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. She swears, that’s just coincidence.

What Saturday‘s already succeeded in doing, even though self is only a few pages in: it’s gotten her to add a few more lines to the story she began three days ago, after arriving at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. Working title: Transporter 2118

“As a matter of fact . . . ” I thought, but why mince words when she could read minds.

Tu-an Ju rose from the bed.

Oh. I didn’t realize she was that tall.

Looks like the transporter might have a problem.

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

DO NO HARM: p. 171

Self just joined a Doctors Book Club. So she can participate in the book club discussion on Do No Harm. She even sent a link to her nephew, William. The one who got married in September. The one who works at Columbia-Presbyterian.

Henry Marsh is doing his round of the spinal theatres. In one theatre, he asks the operating: “Why such a large incision? And why are you using the big bone rongeurs?”

Marsh goes over to the operating table.

“I’ll have a look.”

He picks up “a pair of forceps and” looks into the wound. “A long shiny white thread, the thickness of a piece of string — four or five inches long — came up out of the wound . . . ”

“Oh Jesus fucking Christ!”

SELF (Flapping her hands about): OH NO The student’s just cut someone’s spinal cord.

Marsh: The “registrar had completely misunderstood the anatomy and opened the spine at the outer end rather than the inner edge of the spinal canal and hence had immediately encountered a nerve root, which, even more incomprehensibly, he had then severed.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Red Book: DO NO HARM, p. 72

Dr. Henry Marsh visits the Bessarabian Market, Ukraine:

Igor was later to tell me that the Bessarabian Market was still functioning only because it had become something of a tourist attraction. He suddenly became quite excited and pointed at one of the fish stalls.

“Very rare!” he said, pointing at three long, smoked eels in a glass cabinet. He bought one of them and gave it to me as a present. It smelt rather awful.

“Very unusual!” he said proudly. “They are in Red Book!”

“What’s the Red Book?” I asked.

“Book of animals soon dead. None left. You are lucky to have one,” he said happily.

“But Igor, this could be the last Ukrainian eel!” I said, looking at the long and once beautiful creature, who had been swimming, glittering, in some remote Ukrainian river and was now smoked and dead and wrapped in a Giorgio Armani plastic bag.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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