Movement on the 2020 Reading List

Just finished Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and it was glorious.

Now reading The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison.

Self’s next two books are I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, and Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. She found a review in The Economist about great houses in fiction, and those two books came up in the course of. She thinks she read Brideshead Revisited, but so  long ago that all she remembers is a British mini-series of the same name, with an actor with the improbable name of Anthony Andrews playing Sebastian.

Monday is off to an excellent start.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Last Short Story in Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory

More of the You that You Already Are

The Situation: The narrator works in a theme park called (self thinks) PresidentLand, and his job is to pretend to be Chester A. Arthur, which as we all know is not as fun as pretending to be FDR or even Jimmy Carter. Anyhoo, the narrator’s sister is also dying of cancer. And he needs to work because that is how he pays for her medical insurance. One day, his mother calls:

Your sister is going into surgery and she is very scared.

And I’m like, You want to get a job? Cause if not, who is going to pay for this surgery?

And she’s like, You know I can’t work on account of my shaky hands.

And I go, I know, Mom. Could you put Ramona on, please?

I wander into the midway and linger by the McKinley Shooting Gallery.

Ramona takes the phone and goes, I wish you were here. Mom is being so crazy.

And I go, I wish I was there too. How are you doing? Mom says you’re scared?

And right there is when self’s heart breaks into a million little pieces.

Self’s Dear Departed Dad said, before he died, I’m scared.

And self’s Dear Departed sister looked at self with such fear, and then she died (She was 34, she got streptococcal pneumonia)

And then self’s DEAREST Sister-in-Law Ying, who was more like self’s sister, got leukemia Stage IV and told self, I’m scared. And then SHE died.


The narrator manages to sneak out of the theme park (first stashing the head of his President, Chester A. Arthur, behind some bushes) and rushes to the hospital and he’s really upset and asks a doctor if his sister’s dead. The doctor says, “No, not dead, no! She’s just comatose.”

Self really feels for this story because when she was a lowly adjunct professor in Foothill Community College, her Dear Departed Sister-in-Law, Ying, was dying in Tel Aviv. And out of a feeling of terrible desperation, self took one week off and gave her class make-up assignments and flew to Tel Aviv. And when she returned to her class, the Dean was extremely extremely irate. And self never did recover her footing after that. Because Ying died. She died a few days after self had returned to teaching. So that was a really bad time. The worst. Also because the Dean cut her no slack. That was so long ago now that self hardly feels any anger at the Dean when she writes this.

Stay tuned.


Raphael Bob-Waksberg: Your Pain Is My Pain

The short story self is reading today is Lunch With the Person Who Dumped You.

At the rate self is going, she’ll never finish Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s collection, never! Which is a pity, as she’s got two meaty fantasy reads lined up to read next: Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth, and Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor (which was recommended to her by her seatmate on a recent flight to London: a Stanford grad on his way to deliver a paper at a conference in Glasgow)

An excerpt from Bob-Waksberg’s story:

Remember, the one who laughs last laughs longest, so make sure you laugh last and when you do you laugh heartily but with a detached air of none-of-this-really-matters-I-haven’t-been-lying-awake-at-night-staring-at-the-ceiling-regurgitating-all-this-pain coolness.

Which is an attitude that really helps, especially today. Given what’s just gone down in the Senate.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“We Men of Science” by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

We Men of Science, from the collection Someone Who Will Love You In all Your Damaged Glory:

She said: Yoni, it’s Carl . . . he’s dead.

and I said: Oh my God, is he okay?

and she said: Yeah, well, he’s dead, so . . .


We went to the funeral and the shiva call. I said some very nice and accurate things.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Short Story of the Day: “We Men of Science” by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Story # 6 in Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory (which, Holy Cow, self is loving SO. MUCH):

Science will survive with or without our attempts to understand it; science doesn’t care.

Like a callous ex-lover, science won’t miss you, and sure, maybe that’s a little scary, but isn’t it also a little exciting?

Sentence of the Day: Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Two people on the New York Subway. Self was beginning to think this was a rom-com, until:

For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other.

Missed Connection — m4w, Story # 4 in Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory


Love Blurbs From Grandmothers

Before dashing out to get crispy carnitas from El Taco Grullense on Middlefield Road, self would like to leave dear blog readers with a last image from Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s book:


Still on Story # 1 because it’s hilarious!

“Let’s just look at the silver eggs,” I say, a sentence that immediately vaults to the top of the Dumbest Things I’ve Ever Said chart, barely edging out “Can I get it extra spicy?” and “I liked the way your hair looked before.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


This Story, Hitting On All Cylinders

A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion, Story # 3 in SWWLYIAYDG: Stories by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

“We should’ve eloped,” I say. “We could have avoided all this stress and spent the money on a honeymoon.” Even as I’m saying it I know that’s a stupid thing to say, because a) what money?


On Being the Goat-Slaughterer at a Wedding Feast

… my little brother’s studying to be a goat slaughterer at the university, so of course he has a lot of ideas about everything. “You know how much blood that is? You have to do the slaughtering at the end, otherwise you’re going to slip in goat guts while you’re doing the Dance of the Cuckolded Woodland Sprite and the blood will get all over your marriage cloak and the video will end up on one of those wedding fail blogs.”

— from A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion (Story # 1 in Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg(

Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory: Stories, p. 4


Perhaps every can of cashews has a fake snake lurking, but you keep opening them, stupidly, because in your heart of hearts you still believe in cashews. And every time you discover the cruel fiction of the cashew can, you swear to yourself you’ll trust a little less next time, you’ll be a little less open, a little more hard. It’s not worth it, you say. It just isn’t worth it. You’re smarter than all that. From now on, you’re going to be smarter. Well, I’m here to tell you that this time will be different, even though I have absolutely no evidence to support that claim. Open this can and everything will be okay. The salted circus cashews are waiting. They are so savory and delicious.

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