Reads of Julys Past

Self is still reading Cibola Burn. What can she say? It’s been a busy week. Havelock and Naomi are together (She’s his prisoner; they should hook up). But Holden is still Naomi’s titular boyfriend (though he doesn’t think of her much, not for almost 300 pages)

Self does like Havelock. Which is why, if Naomi were to start developing feelings, self would not mind a bit. Besides which, she loves their conversation while she is Havelock’s prisoner.

Did self say caged? Indeed she did! Naomi is in a cage, and she has to do all her business in that cage, including pee-ing.

Perhaps her affection for Havelock developed from the actor who plays him in the series. (He survives a pole sticking out of his chest! He visits a Belter brothel to learn how to speak Belter! He knew Miller!)

Someone on goodreads has written a thesis in the guise of a review on Cibola Burn, and hundreds of people apparently read it and liked it. So Americans do read! Probably as much as, or more than, POTUS!

This post is about all her favorite reads of Julys past. Herewith:

July 2016:  Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart (Is this ever going to be a movie?)

July 2017:  Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan

July 2018:   Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay

July 2019:   Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table, by Stephen Westaby

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

10 Years Ago in Hotel Amerika’s TransGenre Issue

DSCN0042

In that same issue were: Sarah White * Mary Cappello * Elaine Terranova * Kelly Cherry * Jennifer L. Knox * Brian Teare * Ben Quick * Christina Manweller * G. C. Waldrop

GHOSTS

(An excerpt)

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They are all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these guests.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.


Process: As a matter of fact, self did have this dream. Sometimes that happens. If self can get it all down quickly, the story almost writes itself. Which happened here.

Stay safe, dear blog readers.

Filipino Migrant Worker, Central California

Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart, Chapter XXIII:

I felt that it was the end of another period in my life. I could see it in my reaction to the passing landscape, in my compassion for the workers in the fields. It was the end of a strange flight.

I bought a bottle of wine when I arrived in San Luis Obispo. I rented a room in a Japanese hotel and started a letter to my brother Macario, whose address had been given to me by a friend. Then it came to me, like a revelation, that I could actually write understandable English. I was seized with happiness. I wrote slowly and boldly, drinking the wine when I stopped, laughing silently and crying. When the long letter was finished, a letter which was actually the story of my life, I jumped to my feet and shouted through my tears:

“They can’t silence me anymore! I’ll tell the world what they have done to me!”

The Sea, Our Mother

Self has many thoughts about the sea because … well, she comes from one of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines.

When she visited Venice, some years back, she encountered the Maritime Museum (off San Marco Plaza), and first encountered the Venetian expression “married to the sea.”

In the writings about the sea, the sea is referred to as feminine. Also, mercurial.

Perhaps this is why she chose to write her novel. It’s about the sea, of course. And she’s been reading about seafarers ever since.

Two years ago, she was teaching in Mendocino. One of her favorite hangouts was Gallery Bookshop, corner of Albion and Kasten in Mendocino Village (the most fabulous bookstore, with its own resident cat). She found a book written by a retired US Admiral.

She just started reading it (thank you, Corona Virus). Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans

The Introductory Chapter is called The Sea Is One:

It is worth remembering that each of us is, essentially, largely made of water. When a human baby is born, it is composed of roughly 70 percent water. It has always fascinated me that roughly the same proportion of the globe is covered by water — just over 70 percent. Both our planet and our bodies are dominated by the liquid world, and anyone who has sailed extensively at sea will understand instinctively the primordial tug of the oceans upon each of us when we look upon the sea.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

World War II Memoirs, Hoover Archives

When Stanford libraries were still open, self used to go there just to read. Her favorite thing was to read World War II memoirs. There were also transcripts from the war trials conducted by the Americans in Los Baños. These memoirs are all in the bowels of Hoover Archives. She once bumped into the writer Karen Tei Yamashita there! We were surprised, to say the least. She was leaving the archives and self was just entering.

General Yamashita was tried, convicted, and hung within three days. Self remembers reading that his young American lawyer was very green and CRIED when the verdict was announced. He apologized to Yamashita for not defending him better. The lawyer attended the hanging, as a sign of respect. That must have been hard.

Self did photocopy a handful of memoirs, from the single copy machine in the Hoover Archive reading room. She stashed them in her closet and had so many adventures, so many travels, that she did not read them again until today.

First memoir: “Sometimes it seems that you just can’t be doing the things that you find yourself continuing to do.”

This from a memoir written by the wife of an American mine executive. Her husband chose to stay with the mine, but he sent his wife away, and she caught passage on a boat headed up the Agusan River, a boat packed with fleeing Filipino families. Never once does she bring up the fear and sadness she must have felt at leaving her husband. But she describes seeing the dawn break, day after day after day, so her insomnia must have been terrible. “Someone else made the coffee . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday: Molly Peacock

Among Tall Buildings

from the collection Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2002)

And nothing, not even the girl you love
with the mole on her arm, will be left. Huge
trenches will be dug just beyond the stove
the whole northeast corridor will become
and the dead will be piled in each rude gouge,
even that girl whose left ear always sticks
slightly out beyond her hair. To fix
the names of who died on tape won’t be done
since they’ll dig quick to prevent disease. Nobody
likes to hear this kind of talk. I always
hated to hear it myself until I began
loving the mortar between blocks, that cruddy
pocked cement holding up buildings so a man
and a woman can embrace in the maze
of what they’ve built on the errors of their ways.


Molly Peacock is the author of How To Read a Poem and Start a Poetry Circle (1999) as well as a memoir, Paradise Piece by Piece (1998). Former President of the Poetry Society of America, she was one of the originators of Poetry in Motion, which placed poems on subways and buses. A more complete biography can be found on the Poetry Foundation website.

Still Poetry Thursday: Talvikki Ansel

Eating, from the collection My Shining Archipelago (1996 Yale Series of Younger Poets)

They fed us soft-boiled eggs, six
in a basket covered in a dishcloth. Our mother
with one swift crunch could slice off the tops.
Ralston, grits, cornmeal mush; steel-cut
oats, cooked for a night on the back
of the stove; split-pea soup, heaving
and gumming in the iron pot; cole slaw:

cabbage shredded, peppered and tossed
in mayonnaise; and someone in the kitchen
gnawing on the cabbage stub (for years
I thought it was “costs low”); cod and potatoes,
the fishy-smelling box with the sliding lid
that we all wanted, and the cod soaking
in a bowl, a chunk of dirty snow; the pot
of minestrone our father dropped

coming into the dining room, spectacular,
noodles everywhere, the dog ecstatic, and us
staring down at our placemats not
daring to laugh. And kale, kale
that stayed green and bitter until November,
leaves frosty when we snapped them from
the woody stems. Our mother splitting pods
of cardamom on Sundays and baking
pulla; rowing with our father to an

island where we waded in the chill salt,
pried mussels and periwinkles
from dark rocks, and steamed them in weeds
on a smoking driftwood fire, but that
was long ago, when we crouched
on the beach, sharpening rose twigs
and digging out the meat.

Five Best Heroines Self Encountered in 2019: One Real, Four Fictional (Stay Tuned for Part 2: Heroes)

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting, My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (memoir)

Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (novel)

Cora Seaborne, The Essex Serpent (novel)

Nora Gerraoui, The Other Americans (novel)

Rita Sunday, Once Upon a River (novel)

All of self’s favorite heroines were in books written by women. Coincidence?

Kathryn Ferguson: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, A Woman’s Journey

Half the time, self is reading this book with deep anxiety. Why? Because the author is a woman and self’s background is conditioning her to expect an ‘incident.’ But, so far, Ferguson’s encounters have been refreshingly free of ‘Bad Hombres.’

p. 54:

One of my first faux pax in the Sierra is to tell Hiram, a Norogachic vaquero and friend of Santiago’s, that I like his horse while he is saddling up a mule. Politely but firmly he explains the difference. Mules and horses look alike. Except mules have long ears. I have since become a great observer of ears. I don’t want to call someone a jackass who isn’t.

Stay tuned.

Self-Regard

Since finishing The Hobbit, a week and a half ago, self has read two books by women: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, by Kathryn Ferguson (University of New Mexico Press, 2015) and Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino (Random House, 2019).

Ferguson undertakes an exploration of the southern border, with a vague hope of making a documentary: she doesn’t have funds, doesn’t know anyone, but stumbles around, talking to whoever will talk to her. And she IS lucky: nothing bad happens to her.

Jia Tolentino is lucky. The daughter of Philippine parents who became Canadian citizens, she is smart as a whip, in-your-face, and funny. Her style is to sit back and analyze everything that happens to her, and everything she does.

In Essay # 2 of Trick Mirror, she recounts her time as a reality TV contestant (She was 16. Never one to miss an advantage, she packs a lot of pocket-sized mini-skirts. Points!). After analyzing her fellow castmates (one was “a sweet guy,” another was “the all-American girl,” still another was “the wacko,” etc.), she asks her castmates what they thought she’d been cast as:

Though I’m sure they would’ve answered differently if someone else had been asking, my castmates guessed I was the smart one, or the sweet one, or the “fun Southern one,” or the prude.

(It is amazing that someone would ever think she’d been cast as “the prude,” given the pocket-sized minis!)

But then she writes, disarmingly, that reality TV “is a narcissist’s fantasy come true . . . everyone likes to have an audience. Everyone thinks they deserve one.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

John's Space .....

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

CSP Archives

Archive of the CSP

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor by Catherine Hamrick