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.

 

Favorite Characters (So Far) 2019

In self’s reading, it’s all about the characters. Here are her favorites from her most recent reads (doesn’t look like she’s going to make her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, she’s been so poky — hanging on to her translations, her intricate classic novels, her favorite book companions).

From Current Read, The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry:

CORA SEABORNE. Joanna Ransome. Luke Garrett. Naomi Banks.

Swann’s Way and Anna Karenina are books she’s read before, but her focus shifted surprisingly on second reading.

From Swann’s Way (the Lydia Davis translation), by Marcel Proust:

The narrator. Swann, always and forever.

From Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy:

DOLLY. Karenin. Kitty. Kitty’s father, Prince Alexander Dmitrievich. Seryozha. Vronsky.

It’s strange, self feels no sympathy whatsoever for Anna Karenina. Not on this re-read. Anna seems less like a real woman and more like a construct used by Tolstoy to make a point. Self hated her from the moment she advised Dolly to stick with her faithless, profligate husband. Was crowing for her fall. Wished Dolly were given a more redemptive story arc.

The character who exhibits the most growth in Anna Karenina is, in self’s humble opinion, Karenin. Because he falls in love with his wife’s child with another man. That’s quite an arc! When he shows up regularly at the baby’s nursery, and the governesses don’t know what to make of it? WAAAAH!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Preparing, OSSW Day One

Drove up to Mendocino, which as the crow flies is only 200 miles from Redwood City, but always takes self at least FIVE HOURS.

On the way, she stopped by Yorkville Market and had lunch:

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And then she mulled over the writing exercises she should start tomorrow with.

Should she have the students practice writing one very, very, very long, run-on sentence? With points to whoever can come up with the most run-on sentence?

Or, for fun, should she have them write a piece that’s all bad grammar and deliberately wrong spelling? Hamberder, anyone? Smocking guns?

Should she have them write a piece that’s all dialogue?

Should she ask them to capture every nuance of a piece of reality . . . in one sentence?

Should she have them practice writing a conversation that grows from an association of ideas (like a Harold Pinter play?)

Should she have them practice delaying the outcome for as long as possible?

She can’t decide. She’ll have to sleep on it.

BTW, this is one of the plays being presented by the Mendocino Theatre Company in 2019:

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Mendocino Theatre Company, 2019 Season

Stay tuned.

Black and White 2

Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is BLACK AND WHITE.

Self did an earlier post for this challenge, but today she was cleaning closets. And she pulled out these two lovely objects, which are feather dusters. And she thought huh and what if — ?

So she brought the feather dusters to the light and started taking pictures.

Voila! Black and White 2! Even though the feathers are more Black and Grey!

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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

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Since she is preparing to teach a class at the Mendocino Art Center called One Story, Six Ways, she might ask her students to look at this set of photos for one of the exercises.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Deconstructing Swann’s Way

Self has to resort to all sorts of mental tricks to keep reading Swann’s Way.

She makes the decision, after reading to p. 44, that she’ll consider Combray and Swann In Love as two separate works — two novellas, if you will. And thus, she’s reading them simultaneously. Because if she follows the sequence in the book — she’s finished Chapter 1, and finished reading the part about the madeleine — Chapter 2 is a very long reminiscence about the town. While Swann In Love is about socializing, with all sorts of fascinating words to consider: for instance, the word “bourgeois.” Self, who is so easily exasperated these days (which is just another way of saying she is stressed), may get exasperated enough to stop reading Swann’s Way. And she would consider that a regrettable moral failure.

So, to forestall any such feelings of exasperation, she skips ahead to Swann In Love, resolving to return to Ch. 2 of Combray (and using two bookmarks) after she’s finished Part II.

Maybe she’ll even read Part III, Place Names: The Name before returning to Combray.

What a disgustingly eccentric way to read Swann’s Way, but there you have it. Self would love to extract maximum pleasure and understanding from this book, and this is the only way she thinks she can do it.

Stay tuned.

Really, Proust?

Despite self’s attempt to read Proust with speed, she is stalled, about a third of the way through Chapter 1. She finally realizes it is because the sentences are actually getting longer; some almost an entire page long.

She decides to try and anticipate.

Chapter 1 is not very long; it has the famous passage about the madeleine.

Chapter 2, however, is very very very long, and this translation ends with the words “raised finger of the dawn” which self regards as a terrible affront.

It may be that she closes Proust and moves on to Sarah Perry’s novel, The Essex Serpent.

Apologies, dear blog readers, for her eccentric responses to classics such as Swann’s Way!

(Self ultimately decides to continue Swann’s Way; who knows what mood she’ll be in tomorrow! It is very wet, despite the sun being out)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anna Karenina: Introduction by Gary Saul Morson

Self making mincemeat of her reading list.

First, she abandoned all six books of My Struggle after reading just one page of Book One.

Then, she stopped reading Barracoon at the first page of the narrative proper, she just couldn’t agree with the decision Hurston made to write him as he appeared, not as he truly was: a grown man, a man who had endured unimaginable suffering.

Today, she put aside her copy of If On a Winter’s Night a Travel.

What does she want? What is she looking for?

Hopefully it’s Anna Karenina.

From the Introduction:

The lovers live in a realm beyond good and evil. After all, good and evil depend on choice, and where fate governs, choice is out of the question. No matter how much pain the lovers cause, one cannot condemn them . . .

That is the story Anna imagines she is living. As one of her friends observes, she resembles a heroine from a romance . . .  As Anna Karenina imagines herself into the novels she reads, such readers imagine themselves as Anna or Vronsky . . . Anna feels that fate has marked her out for a special destiny, perhaps tragic but surely exaulted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2019: Projected Reading List

2019 will be a great year. Self can feel it in her bones.

First, she’ll start the year trying to read Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series. If she makes it through just three or four of the series, she’ll be happy.

It will be the year she gets back to reading Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal.

She’s going to try re-reading If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino.

Then she’s going to work her way through The Guardian’s Best Books of 2018 list. Which includes:

Almost everything Sarah Waters recommends: National Service, by Richard Vinen; In Our Mad and Furious City, by Guy Gunaratne; The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter; The Vet’s Daughter, a 1959 novel by Barbara Comyn; Swann’s Way by Proust; and (a re-read of) Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy.

Self’s reading list in 2019 will still lean heavy towards fiction. Here’s a partial list from The Guardian’s Best Books of 2018. All the authors are new to self, except for Liz Nugent and Pat Barker.

FICTION:

Ghost Wall, by Sarah Moss; Milkman, by Anna Burns; The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker; Melmoth, by Sarah Perry; Red Birds, by Mohammed Hanif; Friday Black, by Kwame Adjei-Brenyah; West, by Carys Davies; Sight, by Jessie Greengrass; Everything Under, by Daisy Johnson; There There by Tommy Orange; Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; Brother, by Canadian David Chariandy; All the Lives We Never Lived, by Anuradha Roy; Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata; Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk; Normal People, by Sally Rooney; The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, by Hermes Gowar; Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan; The Western Wind, by Samantha Harvey; Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, by Andrew Miller; Painter to the King, by Amy Sackville; Murmur, by Will Eaves.

CRIME:

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton; The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths; November Road, by Lou Berney; Brothers in Blood, by Amer Anwar; Lullaby by Leila Slimani; Skin Deep, by Liz Nugent (who I’ve actually met); Fear, by Dirk Kurbjuweit; London Rules, by Mick Herron; Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh; Tombland by CJ Sansom; The House on Vesper Sands, by Paraic O’Donnell, and The Vogue, by Eoin McNamee.

Many, many more.

Stay tuned.

Last Sunday in London

Self is in her room, reading a copy of The Guardian.

The trial of the “man who drove his car into a crowd of activists who  had been protesting against a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead and several injured,” has begun in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This morning, self returned to the Royal Academy of Art for a repeat viewing of the Oceania Exhibit.

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Royal Academy of Art: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She liked it even more, the second time around. She stayed watching the video for nearly an hour.

The little handout that accompanies the exhibit starts with:

Two-hundred and fifty years ago, in August 1768, four months before George III founded the Royal Academy of Arts, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left Plymouth in command of the HMS Endeavour.

She remembers reading a book by Tony Horwitz: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and, well, that book must have made quite an impression because it fixed Captain Cook’s voyage forever in her memory and now, 15 years later, here she is, in London, having seen the Oceania exhibit twice!

As she left the Royal Academy (still in a daze of cultural overload), she happened to notice that there was a store across the street called FORTNUM & MASON. And the display windows were so Christmas-y! She decided to check it out:

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Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

Self entered through a revolving door and promptly found herself in the middle of a mob scene the like of which she has never experienced in London. What she means: people were grabbing blue boxes of chocolates off shelves directly in front of her, and pushing them into shopping carts. Yes, dear blog readers. English people were pushing shopping carts around a store, the contents consisting entirely of chocolate. There were boxes of dark chocolate, boxes of milk chocolate, boxes of assorted chocolate, boxes of chocolate with nuts, boxes of chocolate with creamy centers — you name it.

Self decided then and there that she would not leave the store without sampling some of this delightful chocolate. A shopgirl told her to take a number. She was # 19. She then asked the shopgirl what were the most popular chocolate purchases, and the girl replied, without any hesitation: TRUFFLES. Caramel Salt.

OMGGGGGGG

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Chocolate Counter, Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She wanted to buy a box of chocolates for son and daughter-in-law, but didn’t know what kind they liked: milk chocolate or not? And this is when self bitterly regretted that her Verizon phone does not work. Has not worked for two months. In fact, Verizon just e-mailed self that she would not be able to avail of their international services. Thank you, Verizon, FOR TELLING SELF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNOWS.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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