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.

Two other books she’s interested in: 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.

Stanford Magazine said, 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.”

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

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”)

Breathe, Self, Breathe!

Here she is, in Calgary, and she doesn’t know what she should read next: Her niece Karina’s next book recommendation (She tore through Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, like white on rice!), Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (The title is pure nonsense; the book is much much better than that. There is NO girl waiting with a gun. Don’t hold your breath), or The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Of course, she is also drinking in Everlark fan fiction like crazy. A lot of stories that languished for months and months (even, years) finally updated in the last week: it’s been a veritable bonanza of good Everlark! (Take your pick: Pride and Prejudice Everlark; ballet world Everlark; Great Expectations Everlark; or vlogging Everlark)

Today, self went to Market Mall with her niece and of course we stopped by Sephora. And there was a brand self had never seen before: Tarte. And when her niece found out self’s current mascara was over three years old, her niece told her, in no uncertain terms: Throw it out, Tita. Honestly, you should be replacing your mascara every six months. (Oh. So that’s why self’s eyes were itching like crazy yesterday)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Quote of the Day: Reality vs. Fantasy

The American Dream: A sudden transformation will bring a total change in one’s fortunes . . .  from poor to rich, sickness to health, misery to ecstasy . . .

The American Dream is just that: a dream, one that nevertheless exerts a powerful hold on the imagination of millions, Americans and non-Americans alike.

  • If you want to tell lies, that will be believed. Don’t tell the truth, that won’t.

— Emperor Ieyasu Tokugawa

  • Promise a great and total change — from poor to rich, sickness to health, misery to ecstasy, and you will have followers.

— Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

As Robert Greene tells it, “Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self-sacrifice, and a lot of patience.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Miguel Hernandez: Been So Long

A creature must grow
From the seedbed of nothing
and more than one turns up
under the design of an angry star,
under a troubled and bad moon.

an excerpt from “Bloody Fate” (in the collection Miguel Hernandez, NYRB/Poets) translated by Don Share

OPPOSITES: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 1 July 2016

There are so many ways to infuse photos with drama, from choosing an unusual angle to focusing on a strong, vibrant palette. One idea I often explore is contrast. No, not so much in the technical sense of shadows and highlights (important as they certainly are), but more fundamentally: I love the power of a single frame to bring together conflicting elements.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

**********

Self has been pondering this challenge for a few days. It turns out she likes taking   high-contrast shots, mostly silhouettes, but on re-reading the prompt, she decided to try something different.

Here’s a picture from an illustrated version of Noah’s Ark. The etchings, by Arthur Geisert, are very fine. Self picked this particular drawing because of the way the straight lines of the support beams and the wooden floors are set off against the ark’s round bottom:

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An Illustration by Arthur Geist for THE ARK (Houghton Mifflin, 1988)

Here’s a sign showing opposite directions:

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Self-explanatory, really: near the Mendocino Headlands

Finally, two sharply contrasting book covers: Another Kind of Paradise is an anthology of short stories from the “new Asia-Pacific” edited by Trevor Carolan. After is an anthology of nineteen stories of “apocalypse and dystopia” edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Wandling. Both books are highly recommended (Self has a story in one of them).

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Two Anthologies: Wildly Different

Hope you like these interpretations of the theme “Opposites”!

Stay tuned.

Get Out of There, Rachel!

Such is self’s empathy for The Girl on the Train‘s Rachel that she can’t help feeling protective about her.

SPOILER ALERT

Rachel (self feels like screaming) do NOT, Do NOT go into that man’s house!

As if to prove that the problems of self and Rachel do not count for a hill of beans in this crazy world, Rachel never disappoints: she goes into the man’s house.

Given her vulnerability and her need and her alcohol dependency, it’s a wonder she’s remained alive this long. Seriously.

“Come and sit down,” the man says. “Have a drink.”

No, Rachel, do NOT accept a drink from that man!

There’s something unkind about the set of his face (Rachel thinks). The contempt that I saw on Saturday morning, after we slept together, is still there.

Rachel takes a drink. In the very next breath: Outside, I can hear shrieking —

“Sit the fuck down.”

Self knew it! She knew it was a set-up! (Quick check of how many pages till the end. About 50. Maybe in those 50 pages Rachel can get to her cell phone and call the police? Maybe in those 50 pages Rachel will find a weapon of some sort and kill HIM? Maybe in those 50 pages the reader will learn that Rachel is actually a karate black belt? Before she turned into an alcoholic, that is? Maybe the man will turn out to be harmless? Maybe the reader will learn that “Sit the fuck down” is meant as a term of endearment?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Still Reading THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Gaah, this book. Doling out the suspense in teaspoon-size increments.

Anna is the current wife of Tom, who used to be married to Rachel. These three live near each other (Can you imagine? Bring on the pain!). The women in the story get their own points of view (Is this a feminist novel?) The male characters are either: a) louts; b) stinking ex-es; c) handsome unscrupulous jerks or d) clue-less. Hey, maybe this IS a feminist novel!

One day, when Anna is stuck at home minding the baby, she feels nostalgia: “I miss being a mistress.”

Yes. One day Anna’s flirting with Tom at an office party. Next thing you know, she’s a lonely stay-at-home mom.

On the idea of mistresses: there are a lot of them.

In Manila, self was included in an anthology of short stories all dedicated to “the mistress.” The title was Querida, something like that. (Suddenly, self realizes she never got her contributor copies. Why?)

This was Dearest Mum’s reaction to a short story self had written: “That’s not realistic,” Dearest Mum said. “There’s no such thing as an ugly mistress in Manila.”

Oh, Dearest Mum, you are hysterical!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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