Howard Jacobson’s THE ACT OF LOVE, p. 186

This novel has taken self to places she could never have imagined going before. Such as The Wallace Collection.

The Act of Love is about jealousy. And obsession. And it is very, very funny.

Jealousy, as I have remarked before, is incalculable in its ferocity and reasoning. Though I had imagined them in each other’s arms a thousand times, the thought of them joined in Baudelaire disgusted and upset me. Did she have to cuckold me in literature as well? The word-fucker she was! I breathed hard, as green-eyed as the next man.

Which brings to mind that yesterday (or the day before), while self was visiting with the McGavins in Southampton, she saw a present John’s teaching colleagues had given him: a sixteenth century plaque, carved out of a kind of wood called “sweet chestnut” (which has fragrance, a fragrance not musty but — sweet? Even after all these centuries, imagine that, dear blog readers!), of a little green man. These kinds of faces popping out of the greenery, a strange English impulse of the imagination. Like faeries in the woods.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”

Fragonard's

Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books Self Is Interested After Perusing The Guardian’s Summer “Text on the Beach” Issue, 23 July 2015

Self used to do this. A LOT. Post about books she was interested in reading after picking up a copy of The New York Times Book Review (which she used to subscribe to. Until last year), The New York Review of Books (which she also used to subscribe to), The New Yorker (which she still subscribes to, but hasn’t read in six months) and The Economist (which she no longer subscribes to)

Anyhoo, after that very lengthy introduction, here is self with The Guardian’s Summer Reading issue, and after going through the whole thing, self has culled just three books. She must be in some kind of slump?

Here are her three:

  • Grey, by E. L. James — What what what? Self actually read the first two pages in Hodges Figgis in Dublin. And what do you know, she liked it! But The Guardian review is so silly. “Come again, if you insist . . . ” Self still wants to read it.
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante — “The first part of the Neapolitan trilogy in which almost nothing happens.” (OK, these reviews are one-note and boring. Sorry, Jim Crace, Reviewer. Self will read in spite of)
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins — Let self dispense with the utterly dispensable: i.e., the review. And let’s just say, if this novel is indeed a riff on Gone, Girl, she likes. So “Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl On the Train” is a barrel of laughs.

Just for that, self is popping over to the London Review of Bookstore (Hey, last AWP Book Fair, in Minneapolis, she actually saw a table for the London Review of Books! She’s not sure if they’ve been coming every year, but this year was the first time she noticed them)

Side Note:  Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is in every bookstore window, all over Dublin and London. So happy for her. Promise to read the book, at least five years from now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Gale or Peeta: Who Is a Better Dystopian Boyfriend?

This is a matter of grave import, dear blog readers, for the last Hunger Games movie (Mockingjay, Part 2) is coming out in November, and the fandom is just about to burst.

That now-familiar trope, the Dystopian Boyfriend, is going to have such a field day.

Dear blog readers already know where self lies on this gradient.

This discussion has to do with the movie version of The Hunger Games, not the books! For you lame ones who have never seen a Hunger Games movie, Gale Hawthorne is played by Liam Hemsworth, and Peeta Mellark is played by Josh Hutcherson.

Going in to movie # 1, self had no love for J-Hutch, as she’d only seen him in The Kids Are All Right and he struck her as — all right but he definitely was not her first choice for actor to play Peeta (Her all-time favorite HG character) Now, four years later, after reading the entire trilogy, watching 3 movies, and becoming a fan fiction writer of Everlark (??? Can you believe it ???), self is all like, WHO IS LIAM? WHO IS GALE? There can only be ONE Dystopian Boyfriend! Don’t even mention! Self can’t even!

Let the Decider.com analysis begin! (Ummm, the discussants are both men. Nevertheless. Posted March, 2015)

P.S. It is Friday. Please feel free to be super self-indulgent. No trigger warnings. Definitely the PG version.

Excerpts of choice:

  1. Pro-Liam: The chiseled Hemsworth jaw. The woodsy hunter look. The delicate, elderly aunt’s name. (Self didn’t know that Gale was an aunt’s name? Does Collins say this in the books?)
  2. Pro-Josh: I could probably carry him around on trips with a little Glad container of hummus.
  3. Pro-Liam: “Hey, babe, calm down. No one is thinking about this nearly as hard as you are. Let’s go hunting.”
  4. Pro-Josh: I’m very attracted to tiny boxes of feelings that are likely to explode like a pressure cooker.
  5. Pro-Liam: Peeta would come back after the seventh time I fake-break up with him, while Gale would call my bluff . . .
  6. Pro-Josh: I’m gonna snatch it/him right up! And then carry him around on my back, like a human Yoda.

Had enough, dear blog readers?

A long, loooong time ago, when self was still having meaningful discussions with Niece Georgina (who was at Stanford), she declared herself unable to see the attraction in J-Hutch and Georgina said “No. It’s Josh. Definitely. Hotter.”

And the rest is history.

How self could ever have considered Liam Hemsworth anything more than a limp dishrag when contrasted with the all-over hotness of J-Hutch (His miniscule height strangely adds, rather than detracts, from the appeal — people, don’t ask self to explain, it just IS) is simply confounding.

Self is also still reading Howard Jacobson’s hilarious and heartbreaking novel, The Act of Love (Set in London, today. His main character spends a lot of time on Great Russell Street)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Half and Half 3: London and Northern Ireland in High Summer

It is high summer in London. Streets awash with tourists. Self is walking around, trying to find pictures for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: HALF AND HALF (“This week, share an image that has two distinct halves”)

Incidentally, self was very inspired by this blog today, which has a very long name, in French.

Around Great Russell Street

In Front of the British Museum, Great Russell Street

Tea Life, Museum Street, London

Tea Life, Museum Street, London

And this is a picture she took when she was in Rostrevor:

Park Next to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Park Next to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + Waccamaw + 1-800-U-R-Saved =

from “Bridging”, in Waccamaw No. 12:

Introduction: A Filipino widow decides to combat loneliness by volunteering on a Mental Health Hotline called 1-800-U-R-Saved.

“I’ve bought myself a plane ticket,” the man said.

“Where are you going?” Leticia asked.

“San Francisco,” the man said. “To throw myself off the Golden Gate Bridge.”

“Don’t do that,” Leticia said, then stopped. San Francisco! Leticia had never been to San Francisco, though she longed to.

She then broke Rule # 3:  She gave the caller her real name.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Demon’s Ball, Chiswick: CLOCKWORK PRINCE Quote of the Day

Today, self thinks: Must. Get. To. Chiswick.

SPOILER ALERT FOR YOU, OH LAME ONES, WHO HAVE NOT YET READ CLOCKWORK PRINCE!

Here are Tessa and will at a Demons Ball at the Lightwood residence in Chiswick.

They are in disguise, of course: Tessa has changed into Jessamine, and Will is — wearing a face mask.

Tessa’s brother, Nate, has just asked Jessamine aka Tessa for a dance. Nate peers intensely into Jessamine’s aka Tessa’s wide eyes. Tessa thinks she’s going to be sick because she doesn’t want to kiss her brother.

The whole way through this scene, self was on tenterhooks. Are you really going to go there, Cassandra Clare? Are you? Are you? Self can’t even.

“God, I’m jealous of every other man who looks at you,” Nate said. “You should be looked at only by me.”

Good Lord, Tessa thought. Did this line of talk really work on most women? If her brother had come to her with the aim of asking her advice on these pearls, she would have told him straight off that he sounded like an idiot because he was her brother. And despicable.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Emigrant Woman’s Tale, Performed at the Fiddlers Green Festival, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Self met poet Csilla Toldy at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, last year.

Csilla has a fascinating backstory: born and raised in Hungary, she managed to make it through the Iron Curtain when she was just 18 years old.

Sunday, July 19, self got the opportunity to hear Csilla and singer/songwriter Fil Campell interweave their stories of crossing borders (Fil was born and raised in County Donegal) in the Fiddlers Green Festival in Rostrevor, and it was a very moving experience.

The performance grew out of a book, The Emigrant Woman’s Tale, which was published this year by Lapwing Publications in Belfast.

The book is fascinating, but if you have the chance to catch the performances live, self would urge you to do it. Csilla and Fil are performing in Newcastle in Northern Ireland on Aug. 14, 7:30 p.m., at Annesley Hall. And on Oct. 22 they are performing at 6 p.m. in Linenhall Library in Belfast.

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015

An Excerpt from Csilla Toldy’s piece “Growing Up Under the Red Star”:

At age three I graduated into the kindergarten in Gorky Avenue. It was a cold place with high ceilings that got lost in grey mist, teeming with hostile children and hostile wardens. I was wild, and often violent with the children, and resentful towards the adults. I used to bite children, and quite understandably, they did not like me. Nowadays, any child behaving like this could be labelled with some fancy syndrome, but in the Hungary of the 1960s, they had a different practice. Children had to be installed into society, no matter what. It was only a question of time and patience.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Will Herondale

  • “Well, I suppose it’s hard to meddle in someone’s brains if they’ve got no brains to start with.”

—  spoken by Will Herondale to Tessa Gray, the two riding alone in a carriage, on their way to a Demons Ball in Chiswick (from p. 261 of Clockwork Prince, the most angst-y of all Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices books, which means it is one of self’s absolute faves. If your tear ducts ever feel in need of a major workout, dear blog reader, then this is the book for you!)

The Journey of Emigrant Women/ Csilla Tolday and Fil Campbell

Self visited Rostrevor because Csilla Toldy was performing in the Fiddlers Green Festival.

Csilla, a poet from Hungary, and Fil Campbell, a songwriter who grew up in Belleck, on the Donegal border, were telling stories.

Csilla came through the “green border” at 18.

Fil grew up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The two women came together, decided to tell their stories as layered narrative: Csilla’s poetry and short prose, Fil’s memoir and her folk songs. The result was a book, The Emigrant Women’s Tale (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, 2015) that comes with a CD.

Yesterday’s performance: What. An. Event. Self can’t even.

And it happened in Rostrevor.

The two women are amazing.

Rostrevor is amazing.

Also, and self didn’t know this before: C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast; Northern Ireland was his spiritual home.

In Rostrevor there is a trail called The Narnia Trail.

STEP INTO THE WARDROBE!

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

How can one resist?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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