Books/ The Economist, 9 February 2019

As dear blog readers can tell from the date, self has a whole pile of Economists to catch up on.

Today is Sunday and the sun is shining and she’s made good on her goal to spend most, if not all, of today reading.

She’s on the 9 February 2019 Books section, and there’s a review of a really interesting book:

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Another book reviewed in this issue (though not positively, lol) is Let Me Not Be Mad, by A. K. Benjamin. Sadly, The Economist does not warm up to its unreliable narrator, but self confesses to being intrigued by this excerpt, quoted in the review:

  • I walked over London Bridge in rush hour, faces thronging around me, and diagnosed each one in an instant: Psychosis . . . Depression . . . Lewy Bodies . . . Panic . . . Depression . . . Sociopathy . . . OCD . . . Cynophobia . . . Panic . . . Guam’s. Everybody has something, and now there’s a name for it, even if it’s fear of having something, of going insane, aka dementophobia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Cost of Living, p. 57: Déja Vu to Rachel Cusk

The main character, Deborah Levy (also the name of the author, lol), attends an editorial meeting in London. She decides to bike there and gets oil all over her hands. Then the meeting commences.

The Cost of Living, p. 57:

The executives sat around a polished oak table in a windowless room. They were intelligent, experienced, groomed, at the top of their game. I was offered a glass of water and accepted it gratefully. After a while, I realized I had an old-fashioned idea of what a meeting such as this one should be like, and I had acquired it from watching too many black and white movies. What I had in mind was an atmosphere in which we sipped negronis in a nightclub in Rome, plotting the main arc of the film while dancers adorned in feathers cavorted in the background.

Gender Politics

It is so mysterious to want to suppress women. It is even more mysterious when women want to suppress women. I can only think we are so very powerful that we need to be suppressed all the time.

— The Cost of Living, p. 49

The Writing Life, from Deborah Levy

  • The writing life is mostly about stamina. To get to the finishing line requires the writing to become more interesting than everyday life . . .

The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography, p. 36

Sunday Read: TAKING MESOPOTAMIA, by Jenny Lewis

Two books self put on hold are waiting for pick-up at the downtown Redwood City Library: one is Milkman, the prize-winning novel by Irish writer Anna Burns. The other is nonfiction by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Leadership.

The rain seems to be holding off a bit. She planted some lilies and spread organic fertilizer around her roses.

She really needs to get on with her writing, always difficult when she’d much rather be planting. To help her, she’s reading Jenny Lewis’s memoir in poetry of her father’s time in the British Army: Taking Mesopotamia (Carcanet, 2014)

This is a re-read. Self has known Jenny for five years. She heard Jenny read at the British Museum. She was there when Jenny read from her new collection, Gilgamesh Retold, at the Woodstock Poetry Festival in Oxfordshire, last November.

The collection begins with two quotes, the first from the epic of Gilgamesh, the second from Lord Grey of Falloden.

Here’s what Lord Grey has to say about the taking of Mesopotamia, 1919:

  • I think the best thing would be if, at the end of the war we could say we had taken and gained nothing. Taking Mesopotamia, for instance, means spending millions on irrigation and development with no immediate return . . . keeping up a large army in an unfamiliar country and tangling every kind of administrative question.

Self loves the idea of an occupying army taking and gaining nothing.

Stay tuned.

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Sunday Morning, First Day of Daylight Saving, March 2019

Quote of the Day: Deborah Levy

I became physically strong at fifty, just as my bones were supposed to be losing their strength. I had energy because I had no choice but to have energy. I had to write to support my children and I had to do all the heavy lifting. Freedom is never free. Anyone who has struggled to be free knows how much it costs.

The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography, p. 17

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Deborah Levy, memoirist

CHARLIE CHAN IS DEAD, Vol. 1

For the workshop this weekend, re-reading some old stories to show different ways of writing memoir. In particular, thinking of a story called Lenox Hill, December 1991, which Jessica Hagedorn included in the anthology Charlie Chan is Dead.

When Jessica contacted self to solicit a piece, self had nothing, nothing, nothing.

Her sister had died just the month before. She did keep a diary, though.

The diary became the story. The first story in what later become a cycle of grief stories: Mayor of the Roses (Miami University Press)

For a while, a course called Ethics in Medicine, taught at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, included the story in their syllabus.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

New Book: BARRACOON: THE STORY OF THE LAST ‘BLACK CARGO’

from the Foreword by Alice Walker:

  • Ours is an amazing, a spectacular journey in the Americas. It is so remarkable one can only be thankful for it, bizarre as that may sound. Perhaps our planet is for learning to appreciate the extraordinary wonder of life that surrounds even our suffering, and to say Yes, if through the thickest of tears.

Looking Back: The New Yorker, 28 May 2018

Self has been subscribing to The New Yorker for over 30 years.

She saves back issues. Obv.

Here’s an excerpt from a Talk of the Town piece published 28 May 2018:

“The Long Fight,” by Amy Davidson Sorkin

  • Among the many matters on which congressional Republicans have failed to press Donald Trump, a joke told by a communications aide may not rank particularly high, but it should have been among the easiest to address. This joke came during a White House meeting, after Sen. John McCain announced that he could not vote for Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for C.I.A. director because, at her hearing, she would not concede that the agency’s past practice of torture was immoral. “It doesn’t matter,” the aide said. “He’s dying anyway.” Instead of apologizing, the White House launched a hunt for the person who had leaked the remark. Some Republicans expressed outrage, but when G.O.P. senators attended a private lunch with Trump, on Tuesday, the incident wasn’t even mentioned.

After reading the piece, self adds McCain’s The Restless Wave, the book the Senator co-authored with Mark Salter, to her 2019 reading list. In that book, McCain writes

  • that he knows that torture can break people, and make them say anything — even tell lies, producing bad intelligence — and that it can rob a person of everything except “the belief that if the positions were reversed, you wouldn’t treat them as they have treated you.”

Stay tuned.

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