Amos and Holden, CIBOLA BURN

There is an ease between these two characters that makes Naomi almost superfluous.

There is so much good fan fiction about these two. Honestly.

It’s not self’s main ship, but the Amos/Holden fan fiction is mostly better than the Nolden fan fiction (Also, BTW, Naomi/Drummer fan fiction is pretty good)

pp. 144 – 145:

“So,” Amos said when Holden exited the town meeting that night. “How’d it go?”

“I must have done it right,” Holden replied. “Everyone’s pissed.”

They walked along the dusty street together in companionable silence for a while. Amos finally said, “Weird planet. Walking in open air at night with no moon is breaking my head.”

“I hear you. My brain keeps trying to find Orion and the Big Dipper. What’s weirder is that I keep finding them.”

“That ain’t them,” Amos said.

“Oh, I know. But it’s like my eyes are forcing those patterns on stars that aren’t really lined up the right way to make them.”

The scene continues. It’s such a charming conversation, not forced in any way. Love it.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

KUWENTO (Stories), Self’s First Book

A copy is in Green Library.

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“Beyond the Waters of Death,” Joan Acocella’s New Yorker piece on the making of GILGAMESH (14 October 2019)

  • “A young Londoner, George Smith, who had left school at the age of fourteen and was employed as an engraver of bank notes,” was fascinated by artifacts. He spent lunch breaks at the British Museum and “studied the shards for around ten years . . . it was he who found the most famous passage inscribed on them, an account of a great flood wiping out almost all of humanity, with one man’s family surviving. When he read this, we are told, he became so excited that he jumped out of his chair and ran around the room, tearing off his clothes.”

George Smith died of dysentery in Aleppo, where he’d gone to do research, age 36. But not before he discovered the oldest long poem in the world, Gilgamesh.

Everywhere in the world has an ancient flood story. Even Mexico. Even the Philippines. Self thinks this means there must have been an actual climactic event whose effects were felt worldwide.

Stay safe dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

#backreading The New Yorker, 14 October 2019

Found, in a pile of unread New Yorkers, the issue that lauds Jenny Lewis’s Gilgamesh Retold (available now as an audiobook featuring Jenny reading her own work, on the Carcanet website)

 

It’s partly about George Smith, “an engraver of banknotes,” who “spent his lunch hours at the British Museum, studying its holdings.” Eventually, Smith was hired to “help analyze the thousands of clay shards that had been shipped … ” from “Nineveh, an important city in ancient Mesopotamia … the reason so many tablets had been found in one place was that they were the remains of a renowned library, that of Ashurbanipal, a king of the neo-Assyrian Empire in the seventh century B.C.” The script was written in cuneiform, a script “no one could read.”

The article, by Joan Acocella, is very long. But worth noting is that it reviews Jenny Lewis’s new collection, Gilgamesh Retold. Self has heard Jenny read, and her voice — Shohreh Aghdashloo level.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: The Economist, 20 June 2020

When stimulus checks arrived in mid-April, Americans let rip on a broad range of goods. — Leader, p. 7

LOL  LOL  LOL

America is not dead — as long as Americans can shop, there is hope.

During the first week of lockdown, self was very anxious. She worried about stuff like — writing instruments.

Self still writes in longhand, and she needs a special kind of pen. After days of fruitless searching in groceries and supermarkets, frustrated at not being able to find the exact pen she was in the habit of using, she finally found them on Amazon. Sold in packs of 10. They took a bit longer than she expected to arrive, but they did arrive. So that got rid of one of her primal anxieties.

And she makes herself use Door Dash to support local mom-and-pop restaurants (one of self’s favorites, a small Thai restaurant on Woodside Road, closed two weeks after the lockdown, and she was so bereft).

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: Abaddon’s Gate, p. 316

Help! Emergency! James Holden’s been captured by the Martians! And they are taking him to —

pp. 316 – 317:

  • The luminescent surface irised closed behind them . . . The marine flipped him into a wall-mounted holding bar and strapped him in. “I’m out of air!” Holden screamed. “Please!”

They put HOLDEN into a wall-mounted holding bar???

Why does Holden keep getting into these situations? It’s pretty funny how things keep happening to him, book after book.

But then, he wouldn’t be James Holden if he didn’t keep getting into these scrapes. So, carry on, sir.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

PRAIRIE SCHOONER NEWSLETTER, 5 June 2020: The African Poetry Book Fund

We are in awe of the protesters and inspired by their bravery. We’ve seen many countless scenes unfold, protesters putting their bodies on the line in an effort to fight back against the systems of oppression that killed George Floyd. The systems of oppression that have taken so many innocent lives. An evil and malignant force that, if left unchecked, will continue to kill and kill and kill. The people who are fighting back must be supported, they must be celebrated, and they must be empowered. This country and this world must transform, and at this moment it is the protesters who are leading the way.

Prairie Schooner is nearly ninety-five years old, and we exist as part of a land-grant institution with its own sordid history of racism and cruelty. There is no doubt that PS has failed many, many times to offer equal opportunities to Black writers and writers of color. The African Poetry Book Fund originated in response to the lack of publishers engaging seriously with contemporary African poetry. We have worked to amplify the voices of African poets living on the continent and African poets living in diaspora, including African poets living in America. The Black experience is not monolithic or singular, and the Black experience in America is uniquely informed by the wretched particulars of America’s historic and continuing racisms. We are a literary organization, and we are committed to fighting against oppression and for liberation. We lay ourselves down for scrutiny, to be tested, to be challenged to do everything we can to not be complicit in the systemic racism and inequity that lies at the heart of these events. We will examine every area of our operations and our efforts to scrupulously erase any vestiges of racism that may exist. This is no small pledge. We are in solidarity with those mourning the death of George Floyd and committed to doing everything to resist the forces that have led to this moment and the many moments to come.

Read more on Prairie Schooner’s website.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #98: Delicate Colors

As many countries are opening up a bit from lock-down, and I was inspired by the soft glory of spring nature in my part of the world, I thought we would indulge in some Delicate Colours! They are everywhere in nature, but also to be found anywhere you look, in for example fashion, art and architecture.Leya

Self is always happy to participate in a Photo Challenge. Anything to distract from Shelter-in-Place, entering the third month here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

First: HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

To everyone who has a loved one in this fight, or has lost a loved one, blessings.

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Hydrangeas on Front Porch: May 2020

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Iceberg Roses in Front Yard, May 2020

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Looking at the Garden from the Kitchen Window, 24 May 2020. The curtains were from World Market, which has since closed.

Look at these beautiful galleries:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Youngest Son

As her sons start to come apart (inexorably, with no let-up), the father, who internalizes everything, and never talks about the disintegration of the family, suffers a stroke and is hospitalized for six months. At this time, the mother has her youngest son, Peter, committed. He was in hockey camp and started to act out. He was sent to Brady Hospital, “a private psychiatric hospital in Colorado Springs.” (How long, self wonders, did it take for Robert Kolker to collect these masses of material? Because the research is incredible, the kind of thing that she can easily see someone spending 20 years compiling.)

  • In early September, Mimi finally visited and saw Peter wearing only underpants, strapped to a bed with no sheets on it. The whole room reeked of urine …

The mother pulled him out immediately (During all this travail, her husband was still in the hospital: he was “paralyzed on the right side of his body”). She puts Peter in the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. Doctor’s note: when patient became “more provocative” (whatever that means), his “family thought that was his normal level of functioning.”

p. 134: When boy # 6, Joe, visits boy # 10, Peter, he was “able to tell the patient’s therapist that at times in the past he has had symptomatology similar to Peter’s.”

At this point, five boys have shown signs of personality disturbance. Self knows from the reviews that there’s one more boy who gets diagnosed schizophrenic. Which one? This shell game is agonizing for self, imagine the feelings of the parents (well, the feelings of the mother, because the father was pretty much out of it after his stroke).

So, drugs. There were a lot of drugs around. Four boys “into LSD” and one “into black beauties and other uppers.” The youngest child “smoked pot at age five.” The mother was deeply, observantly Catholic. She cared. Nevertheless, this is what happened to her. And on p. 135, a panel of doctors sat down and told Mimi that in their findings, she was the cause of her son’s disintegration. (Maybe she was, who knows. The jury’s still  out. But she was cut off from her own parents, and her grandparents, though concerned, felt helpless)

Stay safe, dear blog readers.

Reading About Stonehenge

Self saw Stonehenge for the first time in 2014. Her only souvenir from that time was an English Heritage Guidebook she found in the gift shop. All these years later, while dusting her bookshelves (which haven’t been dusted in probably a decade, she’s a very bad housekeeper) she finds it again and sits down to read it.

Stonehenge consists of a ditch, some animal bones (which in some cases pre-date the ditch, by hundreds of years), and a mixture of rock types.

The largest stones, “some of which weigh over 35 tonnes, are known as sarsens … a type of extremely hard sandstone.” The most likely source of these sarsens are 19 miles to the north, in Wiltshire.

The smaller stones, “known collectively as bluestones,” come from Wales, over 150 miles to the west. “There were originally at least 80 bluestones at Stonehenge, some weighing up to three tonnes.”

How did these stones get to Stonehenge?

Start with the sarsens: “… experiments have shown that stones this size can be dragged on a simple wooden sledge by a team of about 200 people. To drag a stone from the Marlborough Downs to Stonehenge, using a route that, wherever possible, avoided steep slopes, would take about 12 days.”

But why on earth — ? This is, for self, the real mystery of Stonehenge: not the origin of the stones, but why people would dedicate themselves to such a project.

It must have been during a long period of peace — for Stonehenge took time to assemble. And the society must have been fairly organized — or maybe they used slaves? The community that built them must have been fairly large, to spare the use of 200 men dragging stones for 12 days. Maybe they had hundreds of slaves?

Not only that, the stones were worked over, shaped into their current forms. Self can’t even. The strength it must have taken. Perhaps they used the equivalent of a wrecking ball. Did any workers die from accidents during the pulling upright of those stones? Maybe if some of them slipped … self’s imagination goes into such strange places!

What about the smaller stones, the bluestones? They were transported from much farther away (150 miles!) There is evidence that the sarsens were in place starting from around 2500 BC, and were subsequently never moved (Ha!), but the smaller stones were re-arranged several times.

Self remembers that she chose very carefully what kind of tour to take: she found a small group tour, led by a retired military officer, which left Southampton at sunset (since she arrived in London only a few hours before, and had to make a mad dash to Southampton after dropping her suitcases off at her hotel, she kept falling asleep on the bus and nearly missed the tour) and arrived at the stones by walking over a sheep meadow littered with sheep dung. She hadn’t slept at all on the plane from San Francisco and it was bitter cold on that tree-less plain. Her first sight of the monument was a very small bump on the horizon that grew ever larger until it began to resemble a claw against the sky. The approach was almost religious in feeling? The last big tour bus had pulled away. And suddenly: the stones! Approaching them on foot was the right thing: it’s how the earliest people would have approached. In fact, there would have been a long procession of people. Since there were no signs of human habitation in the vicinity, it’s clear the site was considered a place for one activity only: worship.

But worship of what?

Hopefully there will be an answer before she finishes reading the guidebook!

Stay tuned.

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