Currently Reading

Sweet like Sunday morning.

Beginning Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The book next to it is self’s newest sketchbook, cover illustration by Irina Troitskaya, whose work you can find in The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (Chronicle Books, 2010)

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Sunday, 18 September 2016: Sketchbook and Ehrenreich

Every new book is an adventure.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“The Forest” in Potomac Review 59

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Such a beautiful cover! POTOMAC REVIEW 59

There are seven fiction writers whose work appears in Potomac Review 59:

Ron Darian * Shane Jones * Meghan Kenny * Beth Konkoski * Cassandra Powers * Yours truly * Nouri Zarrugh

Self is reading Cassandra Powers’s story, Into the Bright Sun:

I look at my husband, watch him lift his shirt over his head. A kind man, gentle-handed. Five years ago I convinced him to marry me. I still don’t know how I’m so lucky.

Self’s story is The Forest. Here’s a sliver:

“I’m relocating,” George said. “To western Washington.”

“Why?” Thumper said.

“Because the forests are being threatened by Dick Cheney,” George said.

“Who’s Dick Cheney?” Spike said.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Life in Books

In 2013, she read a total of 30 books.

In 2014, to her great disappointment, she managed to read only 7.

Thus far, in 2016, she’s read 18 books. Oh happy happy joy joy.

2013 was a great year for her reading life.

She read:

  • Bicycle Diaries, by David Byrne
  • Anna Karenina
  • Don Quijote
  • Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses
  • Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s Litte Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
  • Sister Carrie
  • The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
  • The Quiet American, by Graham Greene
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • City of Thieves, by David Benioff
  • The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michae Connelly
  • Henry M. Stanley’s How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa

In 2015, self’s great reads were:

  • Silas Marner
  • Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
  • The Act of Love, by Howard Jacobson
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill

This year, self’s favorite books have been:

  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins (which she just realized she’d already read five years ago: She didn’t remember a thing!)
  • Anjelica Huston’s second memoir, Watch Me
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Matsuo Basho
  • Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton

She’s struggling through Northanger Abbey. Really struggling. But she is determined to finish it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Fan Fiction Writer Appreciation Day

Today is Fan Fiction Writer Appreciation Day on tumblr.

YAY!

To show her appreciation, self is quoting from the most recent chapter of a fan fic she’s been following since the start of the year.

“Double turns, Katniss, this isn’t a district company!” Plutarch shouts at her as she drops out of her first turn. Katniss hadn’t even realized she’d singled the piqué and she nods as she goes into her second turn, a double this time.

“They should also be clean, Katniss!” Plutarch sounds exasperated with her. Katniss breathes out, and does the last four piqués into a soutenu, finishing with a pas de chat. She holds herself there, waiting for Plutarch’s nod of approval, then drops her arms when nothing comes.

Oh, down the rabbit hole self goes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Reading (2016)

  1. Memoir, Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies
  2. Brick 96
  3. 2nd poetry collection, John Clegg, Holy Toledo
  4. Nonfiction, Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  5. Walasse Ting, 1 Cent Life
  6. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Actually a Very Good Question

Self has been browsing movie reviews, and binge-watching Ripper Street, and tweeting with fans about it, and beginning yet another fan fiction, which she needs like a hole in the head, but this one’s irresistible, this one’s got a Really Really Dark Peeta, a Peeta who just might be a murderer! Like Jack the Ripper! . . . Sorry! Back to the reason for this post.

From Critic After Dark’s review of The Shallows (which self saw aaaaages ago, at the start of the summer — feels like a lifetime!) starring Blake Lively, whose legs are so on point self can’t even:

Then of course death crashes the party in the form of a humpback whale carcass. Clever way to account for the Great White cruising nearby (otherwise it’s a bit of a puzzler why the shark — which habituates the waters of California, Northeast United States, South Africa and Australia — is hanging around a Mexican beach) but also raises a whole other question: why forego this tasty, properly wet-aged all-you-can-eat buffet of rich blubber and tender meat for a bony surfer who would hardly make up a satisfying snack?

In answer to which self wishes she could insert a hundred “shrug” emojis!

And self  has a question of her own for reviewer Noel Vera: How does he know the carcass is that of a humpback whale? Because it literally is half gone. So there is no possible way to determine whether it really does have a humped back. Har, har, har! Sorry, self just couldn’t resist making a lame joke.

Self will close with a list of the summer 2016 movies she most enjoyed:

  • The Shallows
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Our Kind of Traitor
  • Café Society
  • Love & Friendship
  • Ghostbusters
  • Bad Moms

Oh, summer. Self can’t believe it’s almost over.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Another Sentence of the Day: Self Getting Hungry!

Before school I would go for a run with my dog, Rambo, then make two large peanut butter cookies in the toaster oven and eat them, steaming hot, on the bus.

— Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies

Really enjoying this book. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: August in New York

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New York City Brownstone, Upper East Side

It was the end of August. New York was filled with the sound of small explosions: high heels on pavement, sudden flurries of pigeon feathers, screeching tires, contentious voices.

Military History: 1899, The Philippine Revolution

It is very interesting to read an article (in the American magazine Military History) about Colonel Frederick Funston and how, on 26 April 1899, he led the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment across the Rio Grande in Pampanga to take the town of Calumpit.

On 10 January 1899, Spain ceded the Philippines to America in a dastardly move, and the Filipinos wouldn’t have it, so America was forced to send 21,000 troops to the Philippines to quell the Filipino “uprising.”

The magazine refers to the Filipinos as insurrectionists but Filipinos referred to themselves as revolutionaries. (It must be noted that the Americans possessed far superior firepower to the Filipinos. Among the weapons in the American arsenal: the first magazine-loading rifle, the Krag-Jorgensen)

Anyhoo, the magazine is full of interesting information about the Kansas Volunteers, which is a little disorienting because self’s sole reason for reading the article is to glean information about the Filipino side (who were defeated by, among other things, that high-tech Krag-Jorgensen rifle! As well as by the Americans’ expert use of  “the artillery barrage.” And by the Filipinos’ relative inexperience — most were used to fighting as guerrillas, not as part of a massed assault. The writer of the article maintains that “a third” of the Filipino fighters were without guns or rifles of any kind. They faced the Americans with bolos and wooden spears).

The article is accompanied by many, many detailed illustrations, including this colorized photograph (No photographer cited) of the 20th Kansas lined up on a bank of the Rio Grande:

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Colorized Photograph of the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment Lined Up on a Bank of the Rio Grande in Pampanga, the Philippines: April 26, 1899

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Basho and “The Freeze”

Self is still reading Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

In the poem below, Basho describes entering the province of Kaga:

I walked into the fumes
Of early-ripening rice,
On the right below me
The waters of the Angry Sea.

* * *

The poem suddenly reminds self of her dystopian short story “The Freeze,” which Bluestem Magazine published last year. Sometime while Obama is President, the Russians do something that shuts the whole world down.

Everyone starts dying. A woman decides to walk out of San Francisco and head south. To make sure she doesn’t lose her way, she decides to walk Highway 1, always making sure that the ocean is to her right. She meets a band of teen-agers.

The story begins with the woman chanting the following:

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

And darn if self hasn’t just decided that the story ended much too soon. She has to continue, if only so she can figure out for herself what happens to the woman and her teen-age companions. She’s thinking: sequel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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