Reading (2016)

  1. Memoir, Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies
  2. Brick 96
  3. 2nd poetry collection, John Clegg, Holy Toledo
  4. Nonfiction, Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  5. Walasse Ting, 1 Cent Life
  6. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Beautiful Passage

This is from Essay # 3 of The Lonely City, a collection of essays which so far are all about New York, and the special loneliness of being lonely in a city of so many millions of people (Self actually appreciates that kind of loneliness; she loves the angst of it).

Self took the picture below last spring. She was looking across Park Avenue from a building on the east side:

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Sunset, Manhattan: May 2016

On East 9th Street there was a café that looked out over a community garden planted with an enormous weeping willow. It was populated almost exclusively by people gazing into the glowing clamshells of their laptops and so it seemed a safe place, in which my solitary status was unlikely to be exposed.

— “My Heart Opens to Your Voice,” Essay # 3 in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Edward Hopper, Jo Hopper, and the Whitney Museum

This passage is too sad. Jo Hopper, Edward Hopper’s wife, was a painter. But she painted very little after she married (She was 41, Edward was almost 42).

. . .  it is almost impossible to form a judgement of Jo Hopper’s work, since so little of it has survived. Edward left everything to his wife, asking that she bequeath his art to the Whitney, the institution with which he’d had the closest ties. After his death, she donated both his and the majority of her own artistic estates to the museum, even though she’d felt from the moment of her marriage that she’d been a victim of a boycott by the curators there. Her disquiet was not unwarranted. After her death, the Whitney discarded all her paintings, perhaps because of their calibre and perhaps because of the systematic undervaluing of women’s art against which she’d railed so bitterly in her own life.

— “Walls of Glass,” Essay # 2 in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

 

 

THE LONELY CITY: Another Chapter

I didn’t stay in Brooklyn long. The friend whose apartment I was staying in came back from L.A. and I moved to the green walk-up in the East Village. The change in habitat marked another phase of loneliness; a period in which speech became an increasingly perilous endeavour.

— Olivia Laing, “My Heart Opens to Your Voice,” Essay # 3 of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

This is really a lovely book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

THE LONELY CITY: Edward Hopper

The Lonely City, by Olivia Laing, is a work of nonfiction.

It’s a collection of essays about lonely people.

Self’s on Essay # 2, “Walls of Glass,” which delves into the work of painter Edward Hopper and one painting in particular, Nighthawks, which can be seen at the Whitney (one of self’s favorite New York museums).

The painting is something the author returns to, again and again, during a lonely fall. She followed a lover to New York and it didn’t work out. Something about Hopper’s painting resonates with her.

Self decided to throw in a photograph of her own. It documents her enduring fascination with windows, her fascination with glimpses of other lives. Photo after the excerpt:

All photographs are silent, but some are more silent than others, and these portraits attest to what was by all accounts Hopper’s most striking feature, his gigantic resistance to speech. It’s a different thing from quietness, silence; more powerful, more aggressive. In his interviews, it functions as a barrier, preventing the interviewer from opening him up or putting words into his mouth. When he does speak, it’s often simply to deflect the question. “I don’t remember,” he says frequently, or “I don’t know why I did that.” He regularly uses the word unconscious, as a way of evading or disclaiming whatever meaning the interviewer believes to be seeping from his pictures.

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Windows are portals. When self looks through a window — any window — her imagination takes flight.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Connoisseur of Loneliness

Self is only on p. 12 of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone but already she’s come across at least 12 passages that she thinks are worth quoting. (Who is Olivia Laing? Writer for The Guardian, The Observer, New Statesman and The New York Times)

The only thing self disagrees with Laing on is her disdain for social media as a tool for getting over the loneliness. Ms. Laing, social media gives self a reason to stay home! Locked up in her room! And feeling happy about it! It does wonders for self’s state of mind! You better believe it!

Self would rather be on social media than out there, on the street, fighting for every possible scrap of attention from salespeople. She’d rather mail-order than go to a store where she’ll waste precious time just hunting for parking or getting shoves from impatient people. She might be a super-slow walker but she’s an absolute Demoness of the Keyboards!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Finishing THE GREEN ROAD, Starting THE LONELY CITY

The last two sentences of The Green Road are killer.

She was not sure how Enright was going to wrap everything up.

SPOILER ALERT

The mother is unchanged, from start to finish.

The kids say she is a horrible, narcissistic person.

Why don’t they give her credit for surviving, though. It is not easy, after all, to grow old.

Self had quite a lot vested in the fate of Hanna, but the novel ended and things with Hanna are just about as inconclusive as things are with the mother.

Self’s next book is The Lonely City: Adventures In the Art of Being Alone, by Olivia Laing.

She also wants to read Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros. It already has five holds in the San Mateo public library. If self wants to read it, she’ll have to buy herself a copy.

Self began reading the latest issue of Stanford Magazine today and thought two books sounded particularly interesting: The Crown’s Game, by Stanford alum Evelyn Skye, and Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two World War II Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific, by Bill Lascher.

About Skye’s novel: “Set in Imperial Russia, this historical fantasy follows two teenagers who wield magical skills in a competition to become the tsar’s adviser. Only one of them will win the prized position as Imperial Enchanter; the other will be put to death.” (Stanford Magazine)

Eve of a Hundred Midnights is the story of two Stanford alums: Melville Jacoby and Annalee Whitmore (who both wrote for the Stanford Daily, as did self!) and how they escaped the Philippines during the Japanese invasion.

When someone asks what self’s favorite book (so far) of 2016 is, she immediately thinks of The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins, which she read in Fort Bragg. Also: The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, which she read while she was driving around the central coast, earlier this summer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Simeon Dumdum, Jr: “Cattle Egret”

Excerpt From CATTLE EGRET

— by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

You’re riding on a carabao
(Oh, what a day and what a life)
As birds would settle on a bough

Light cuts the sky with a long knife
And morning drops its load of dew
(Oh, what a day and what a life)

— from the collection If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2010)

Simeon Dumdum, Jr. is a judge in the central Philippine island of Cebu. His other poetry collections are The Gift of Sleep, Third World Opera, and Poems: Selected and New (1982 – 1997)

The white Cattle Egret is found throughout the Philippines. It perches on grazing cattle and rids them of lice. Its native name is: talabong, tabong, tagak kalabaw.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Quote of the Day

If I meant that, I’d have said it.

— Humpty Dumpty to Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VI (“Humpty Dumpty”)

Quote of the Day: Lewis Carroll

“You alarm me!” said the King. “I feel faint — give me a ham sandwich!”

On which the messenger, to Alice’s great amusement, opened a bag that hung round his neck, and handed a sandwich to the King, who devoured it greedily.

“Another sandwich!” said the King.

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VII (“The Lion and the Unicorn”)

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