It’s Not This Time of Year Without: Fairy Tales, Myths and Magic

The latest Daily Post Photo Challenge is:

IT’S NOT THIS TIME OF YEAR WITHOUT . . .

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Self’s Snuggly Slippers: Take Her to Oz Pronto!

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An Illustration From Hans Christian Andersen’s THE WILD SWANS

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A Most Fantastic Book, SWAN SONG, by Mendocino Artist Mary Ellen Campbell

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Lydia Davis, “Five Signs of Disturbance”

She is watching everything very closely: herself, this apartment, what is outside the windows, and the weather.

There is a day of thunderstorms, with dark yellow and green light in the street, and black light in the alley. She looks into the alley and sees foam running over the concrete, washed out from the gutters by the rain. Then there is a day of high wind.

— from “Five Signs of Disturbance” in Davis’s first collection, Break It Down

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Fall 2016

Self often uses Lydia Davis in her teaching. Something about the crispness of her sentences. Her elegance.

Stay tuned.

Sally Potter’s YES (Potter Wrote the Entire Thing In Iambic Pentameter)

Self’s favorite scene in the movie is when SHE (played by Joan Allen) goes to visit her dying aunt in a hospital in Belfast.

Aunt:

The thing is, no-one told
Me I’d have all this time, but far too late
To use it for the things I dreamed of. Fate
Delivers upside down and back to front.
I’ve more to say than ever, but they shunt
Me back and forth all day from bed to chair
And back to bed again; it isn’t fair.
All this experience I’d like to share.
Not that it all adds up. Not that you care.
I’d better stop — it’s time for you to go
Already, isn’t it? Five minutes — oh,
Well maybe ten . . . you see, I never know
When you’ll be here again. It’s such a blow
Each time you leave, it’s hardly worth your while
To come at all. I mean it! Don’t you smile
Like that! Oh, you’ll be sorry when I’m dead.
I’m only joking, dear. I only said
That for a laugh. Although of course it’s true.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry for After November 8, 2016

Excerpt from “I Copy the Scriptures,” by Liu Xia

Day and night,
I copy the Diamond Sutra
of Prajnaparamita.
My writing looks more and more
square.
It proves that I have not gone
entirely
insane, but the tree I drew
hasn’t grown a leaf.

from the collection Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Fairy Tales and Women

Yes, you know it.

From Maria Tatar’s essay, Reading the Grimms’ Children’s Stories and Household Tales:

“. . . oral storytelling is often affiliated with labor traditionally carried out by women: spinning, sewing, weaving, and cooking. That many of our metaphors for storytelling — spinning yarns, weaving tales, cooking up a plot — derive from the domestic arts suggests that fairy tales were indeed related to ‘old wives’ tales,’ stories told by midwives, nursemaids, female domestics, and others to transmit wisdom from one generation to the next.

“Gossip and narrative are sisters,” the British writer Marina Warner suggests, “both ways of keeping the mind alive when ordinary tasks call . . . “

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Maria Tatar: THE ANNOTATED BROTHERS GRIMM

The Fisherman and His Wife

A fisherman befriends a flounder who can grant whatever he desires. The fisherman’s wife asks that the flounder make her Pope. The flounder grants her request and the fisherman returns home to find his wife “seated on a throne that is bright as the sun.”

“Husband,” the fisherman’s wife says, “If I can’t make the sun and the moon rise, but have to watch them rise and set, I won’t be able to stand it. I’ll never have a moment’s peace . . . go to the flounder. I want to become like our dear God.”

Outside a storm was raging, and the wind was blowing so hard that the fisherman could hardly stay on his feet.

*****

Maria Tatar: The landscape begins to take on an apocalyptic coloring once the wife demands divine powers.

Tatar calls this story “an anti-fairy tale: a narrative that, rather than tracing a rise in fortunes or a reversal, takes the protagonist back to the miserable condition in which they started.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading Life 2016

October 2016

  1. Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission (history), by Hampton Sides
  2. A Short History of Women (novel) by Kate Walbert

September 2016

  1. The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine (nonfiction), by Ben Ehrenreich
  2. Brazillionaires (nonfiction), by Alex Cuadros

August 2016

  1. Northanger Abbey (novel), by Jane Austen
  2. Swimming Studies (memoir), by Leann Sharpton
  3. The Course of Love (novel), by Alain de Botton
  4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Sketches (travel book, poetry), by Matsuo Basho
  5. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (essay collection), by Olivia Laing

July 2016

  1. The Green Road (novel), by Anne Enright
  2. Girl Waits With Gun (mystery), by Amy Stewart

June 2016

  1. The Girl on the Train (novel), by Paula Hawkins
  2. My Brilliant Friend (novel), by Elena Ferrante

May 2016 Read the rest of this entry »

Transmogrify: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 28 October 2016

Transmogrify:  It means “to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; it means to tranform.”

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

And, you know, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are full of these transmogrifications. The iconic illustrations were by Sir John Tenniel.

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Alice in Wonderland: The Queen orders the playing cards to paint the roses red.

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Still Alice in Wonderland: Roses With Faces

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The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon share a couple of sad stories with Alice.

In most Lewis Carroll, reality is a slippery slope. Things are always transmogrifying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Most Amazing

The London Review Bookshop has a film club. Once a month, they show a film, and bring in the director for Q & A. When self was there, earlier this year, she caught a showing of Sally Potter’s Yes.

The entire film is told in iambic pentameter. Self gets goosebumps just remembering. She asked Sally Potter at the reception: “Is the screenplay available?” When Sally said yes, self wanted to do cartwheels. As soon as she could, she ordered a copy of the screenplay.

The heart of the movie is a woman played by a luminous Joan Allen. She visits a dying aunt in Belfast. The SHE in the excerpt below is Joan Allen’s character. The setting is a hospital:

Aunt:

You’re late again. Don’t worry. Never mind.
I know you’re busy. It’s the kind
Of life you lead. But then you chose it, so
I guess you want it. Always to and fro,
You never stop.

SHE tiptoes into the ward and stands looking down at her aunt who lies immobile, her eyes closed, in the bed.

Aunt (cont’d):

Unlike myself. I’m here
To stay. For just how long, who knows. I fear
It could be ages. It creeps up on you,
This funny business. First a creak or two,
Your knees, perhaps, and — bingo! — then you’re old
And in a bed.

SHE kisses her aunt’s forehead gently, pulls up a chair and sits down by the bed.

She (whispering):

Oh, auntie . . .

When you’re watching the film, you’re aware of the rhyme, but instead of distracting you, it helps you concentrate. Amaaaaazing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Lysley Tenorio

“It was always a bogus-looking act, but at some point I just assumed that Filipinos were somehow predisposed to believing anyone who claimed to understand their pain.”

— from the story “Felix Starro” in the Lysley Tenorio collection, Monstress

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