Reading Laird Barron’s OCCULTAION on Christmas Eve!

Occultation is soooo creepy. The publisher is Night Shade Books of San Francisco. Self bought her copy years ago, from Borderlands on the Mission.

Sorry, dear blog readers, sorry. It is Christmas Eve. Why is self reading horror?

She thought it would give her ideas for writing a Vampire Peeta fan fic of her own.

It’s about annihilation and transformation.

There is a very smart introduction written by Michael Shae in which he says:

To be transformed, to be remade, is not a passive exercise. It is an excruciating eclosion, a branching, fracturing emergence into a much bigger, hungrier universe.

Shae is right. Can anyone imagine that process — even if it’s a familiar trope like turning into a vampire or becoming zombi-fied — isn’t painful?

(About becoming a zombie: to read a story about just how painful it is, read Carrie Ryan’s in the anthology, After: Ninesteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia. In that story, people have discovered a way to un-zombify the zombies. It’s told from the point of view of one of these un-zombified. And the way she describes the process of recovery is awful. So we imagine what it must have been like to turn in the first place)

Self will leave dear blog readers alone now so they can think about holiday good cheer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Gatskill Sentence of the Day (Story # 8, BAD BEHAVIOR)

“Connie, yo!” Franklin appeared with his hair in his eyes and his pores flowing magnanimously.

— “Other Factors” (Story #8 in Bad Behavior)


What if Self Had a BFF Who Said Things Like

“You have a way, you know, of shoving your vulnerability right into people’s faces. Or something that you call vulnerability, anyway. You sometimes do it immediately upon meeting them. You force people to deal with it.”


“No, listen to me. You don’t do it as much as you did. But you used to do it a lot, and it’s kind of strange to be confronted so aggressively with somebody else’s frailty. Some people will want to protect you, as I did, but some people will want to hurt you.”

— “Other Factors,” Story # 8 in Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior


Yesterday on the High Line: A Message

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Story # 8 in Gaitskill’s BAD BEHAVIOR

“Secretary” was over surprisingly quickly!

All self has to say is: the movie took a slight story (one of the slightest Gaitskill stories self has ever read) and made of it a fully realized film.

Who directed the movie? Must find out! He/She deserves kudos!

Self hardly feels anything for the character on the page, but in the movie, her heart went out immediately to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character. Rent it on Netflix, if you haven’t already seen it!

Now to Story # 8 in Bad Behavior:

She remembered something he had said to her sometime before: “Don’t worry, Connie. In fifteen years, I’ll be doing my retrospective at the Whitney and you’ll be publishing regularly in The New Yorker.” He paused. “But by then we’ll be ugly.”


To close, another picture self took yesterday, while walking the High Line:


There is a Museum of . . . Sex? Self learns something new every day!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Gaitskill: “Secretary”

Self said she was going to stop reading Bad Behavior but that was an obvious lie.

She said she didn’t believe any secretary would let her boss spank her and she still believes that but she’s still reading “Secretary.”

Gaitskill’s corrosiveness is so amazing. Just listen to what she does in this single sentence:

In light of their enthusiasm, the only intelligent course of action seemed to be immobility and rudeness.

WAAAAH! Why can’t self nail her mood with Gaitskill’s precision?

Of equal import, today self achieved one of her life-long dreams: to walk the High Line!

It was freezing! Freezing! (She wouldn’t have been freezing if she’d only bothered to dress properly. But she thought she’d be spending the day inside the Whitney. Not walking the High Line. So of course all she had to defend against the elements was a jacket)

Of all the days self had to pick for this historic and groundbreaking walk, why oh why did it have to be the day when New York’s temperature plummeted to the 40s? But, never underestimate self’s stoicism! She made it from the Whitney all the way to about 30th street.

She’s going to be dropping the pictures she took over the next few days, so stay tuned.


Horizon, Sky: Walking the High Line, December 2015


Sky, Glass, WOW! Who are the architects? Stunning.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Advice For Writers: Story # 6 of BAD BEHAVIOR

If you really want to be a writer, then don’t move to New York. You’ll just wind up in some dank little dump in the East Village with bars on the windows, and oh, I don’t know.


She had to admit that a large part of the reason she was even trying to get a job was for the approval of people she’d known in Illinois, many of whom were living in New York and thought of her as a hopeless neurotic . . .

— “Trying to Be,” Story # 6 in Bad Behavior

It’s after Story # 6 that self decides she will leave the collection. Because Story # 7 is “Secretary,” which was made into an excellent movie about self-mutilation (The main character was played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, a casting choice that was sheer genius) and how much Maggie’s character wants to be whipped by her boss, played by James Spader.

And self doesn’t believe for one moment that there exists in the universe a woman who secretly wants to be whipped by her boss. Of course, this is fiction, and Gaitskill does have a point she wants to make.


Why has this trope proven to be so enduring? Fifty Shades of Grey, hello!

This evening, self went to Barnes & Noble on 86th and had just mentioned to the woman at the Info desk that she was looking for The Strain when the woman said: “Science fiction. Shelved by title. Look under del Toro.” Impressive!

It’s exactly the same type of reaction self got when she was in Hodges & Figgis in Dublin. She barely even had time to say The Bane Chronicles when the saleswoman said, “YA. Look under Cassandra Clare.”

Stay tuned.


Mary Gaitskill Sentence of the Day From Story # 6 in BAD BEHAVIOR

And you thought perhaps self had stopped reading Mary Gaitskill just because she hadn’t posted a quote from Story # 6? Ixnay!

Self is as committed to Bad Behavior as ever.

Self adores short story collections. And really good short story collections are her be-all and end-all.

The last one she really liked might have been The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. Or George Saunders’ Civilwarland in Bad Decline.

Gaitskill, self discovered, has such a feel for women (and men) who adopt alternate lives. Like intellectuals who sideline as prostitutes. Or lawyers who like to patronize prostitutes when their wives are out of town.

Anyhoo, after multiple times checking to see if the Vampire Peeta fan fic she’s following has been updated yet (The author usually drops her new chapters close to midnight), she checks her dashboard and sees — whoa! More hits on her own fan fic, the one about Capitol Peeta. Oh no, what pressure!

She’ll just have to relax by reading more Gaitskill.

Without further ado, the Gaitskill sentence of the day:

They talked about how shallow and fake it all was, and once again Stephanie told the story of the twenty-three-year-old clerk who had driven her to despair with stories of his impending publication in Esquire and his subsequent book contract, until she found out that he was certifiably nuts and on lithium, and couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Words Like a Scalpel (Still More From Story # 5 in BAD BEHAVIOR)

It seemed as though her friendship with Leisha had never been what she would now call a friendship at all, but a complex system of reassurance and support for self-involved fantasies that they had propped up between them and reflected back and forth.

— “Connection,” Story # 5 in Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior

Mary Gaitskill: Still On Story # 5

It is a grey day in New York City. Grey, but warm. In fact, it has been so warm here that self regularly breaks out into a sweat. Yesterday, she walked all around in a T-shirt.

Still reading Gaitskill’s collection Bad Behavior.

It’s very rare that a book coincides with what is going on in a reader’s life. Would you believe, self has wanted to read this book for over five years, ever since she read an article about Mary Gaitskill, might have been in the New York Times Book Review. She has read other books by Gaitskill, of course. Most memorable was Veronica. But why she never got around to reading Bad Behavior until now, she knows not. Perhaps self knew she would need those Gaitskill stories later? Because right now, there’s a beautiful symmetry between Gaitskill’s stories and self’s current situation. It’s almost a miracle.

  • During her first year in the city she gave spare change to anyone who asked her. Eventually she gave money only if she happened to have some in her hand when she was asked.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Story # 5 in Mary Gaitskill’s BAD BEHAVIOR

Two of the fan fic stories self is following dropped new chapters today. Hog heaven!

In the meanwhile, from Story # 5 in Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior:

“I’m so sick and tired of hearing the words ‘directed’ and ‘career,’ I could scream.”

“But you do want a career, don’t you?”

“No, I want to work at Dunkin’ Donuts when I get out of school. I want to get fat. Or be addicted to heroin. I want to be a disaster.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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