The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: DNF

Shorthand for “Did Not Finish.”

First of all, it was so big. When it was mailed to self at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, she couldn’t believe how big it was.

Two English cities (London and Oxford) later, she was still just on p. 21 and it looked like she’d be lugging this book to Cambridge.

Which then led to her asking the crucial question: Is this big fat heavy book that seems well written but doesn’t have a single character self feels she knows (though why should she know them? They’re from rural Wisconsin, for heavens sake!), worth the shoulder strain? Despite fantastic Stephen King blurb on back cover?

The answer, after yet another frustrating evening reading about dogs, was no.

So she’s moved on to an English mystery, Missing, Presumed, which has a very interesting title, much more interesting than the book self just finished reading, Dead Letters. Titles do not, obviously, say everything because Dead Letters turned out to be a fascinating read.

The front cover of Missing, Presumed (which was mailed to her from Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway) shows this:

Missing, Presumed

72 Hours to Find Her

Ooh!

The first scene is a blind date which is very pedestrian but the main character is so lonely that she sleeps with the guy anyway.

Will this woman turn out to:

  • be a self-hating alcoholic?
  • be facing misogyny  in her (police) department where she will undoubtedly turn out to be one of only two, at the most three, women detectives?
  • harbor a deep, dark secret — incest? murder? Or something never before written about in the 101 mysteries inspired by Gone, Girl (which self never read)?

And will the missing really be dead, or just pretending to be dead, in which case would this be similar to the book self just finished reading?

Whatever. Self needs Missing, Presumed to be interesting for at least four hours: the length of the bus trip to Cambridge.

Stay tuned.

 

Poetry Sunday: AINE MacAODHA

Self really likes that the cottage is full of poetry books. Every time she comes, she discovers someone new.

She found a book called Landscape of Self (Belfast: Lapwing Publications, 2015) by Aine MacAodha.

Here’s the first half of a poem called

To My Children When I’m Gone

Some mountains are higher than others
Winter can cause frost bite.
Without a bit of darkness
We may not appreciate the light afterwards.
Remember the good in the world
The take your breath smiles
The smile from a stranger in a strange place
The beauty in a daisy chain
The elegance in a buttercup
The wonder of a webbing spider
The warmth of a heart
When another’s fiery arrow hits it
Love and goodness costs nothing
Hatred causes illness
Treat the nature around you with respect
Treat your spirit with kindness others too
Manners are easily carried.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Ten Years of THE HUNGER GAMES

All Hail to Suzanne Collins, Queen of Everything.

  • The Hunger Games Aesthetic:

 

Stonehenge/Pacifica

In 2014, self went to see Stonehenge.

She signed up for a small-group tour, the only one allowed on the site towards sunset. All the big tour buses had left. The guide, a retired military officer, led the group across a sheep meadow.

This is unquestionably the best approach. It allows the view to unfold gradually. You are reminded that this was how people, in time immemorial, must have approached the monument: in procession. Self could hardly contain her excitement at her first glimpse of the pillars of stone.

The mystery of the site has stayed with her. The fact that no human habitations were ever built around it. What was it used for?

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From this vantage point, we could clearly see the jagged outline of the stones, just above the rise.

Well before she saw Stonehenge, she’d written about it in a piece called Stonehenge/Pacifica, published in Wigleaf, 2012.

It was a dream I had, some restless night. One of those weeks or months or years when we were worried about money.

But when were we ever not worried?

First there was the mortgage, and then the two.

And then your mother got sick, and your father died.

And my mother I think developed Alzheimer’s, but we never mentioned it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dystopia In Progress

Self is going to try, while she’s at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, pulling all her science fiction together into one collection.

What to call it?

She’s toying with the idea of making this the first story:

THE FREEZE (published in Bluestem)

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

Thanksgiving was just a week ago. I served brined turkey with oatmeal rolls and my special fig-and-rice stuffing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

So Much Sadness: MY ANTONIA, Book I, Ch. XVIII

Spoiler Alert!

Mr. Shimerda, Antonia’s father, killed himself because he wanted to go back to the old country, he missed it so much.

He left a wife, a daughter, and a son to manage the farm by themselves.

Antonia, who at one time had been close to Jim Burden (narrator) became overworked, developed muscles, grew dark in the sun, and lost all hope of becoming a proper lady. One night when Jim Burden stays for supper, he observes that “Antonia ate so noisily now, like a man.”

The Shimerdas quarrel with the Burdens.

And that is the end of the friendship between Jim Burden and Antonia.

So sad!

Anton Jelinek: MY ANTONIA, Book I, Chapter XV

Self is reading My Antonia in Philadelphia.

A very warm, muggy Philadelphia.

And she’s in a section of My Antonia that takes place in the middle of a hard Nebraska winter.

lol

In Chapter XV we meet a new character, Anton Jelinek, who the narrator, Jim Burden, cannot help admiring for his “frank, manly faith.” Jelinek’s business is to make coffins.

  • “The last time I made one of these, Mrs. Burden,” he said, as he sorted and tried his chisels, “was for a fellow in the Black Tiger mine, up above Silverton, Colorado. The mouth of that mine goes right into the face of the cliff, and they used to put us in a bucket and run us over on a trolley and shoot us into the shaft. The bucket traveled across a box cañon three hundred feet deep, and about a third full of water. Two Swedes had fell out of that bucket once, and hit the water, feet down. If you’ll believe it, they went to work the next day. You can’t kill a Swede. But in my time a little Eyetalian tried the high dive, and it turned out different with him. We was snowed in then, like we are now, and I happened to be the only man in camp that could make a coffin for him. It’s a handy thing to know, when you knock about like I’ve done.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Opening Page, an Old Manuscript (244 pp) About World War II in Bacolod

It was mid-April. Honorato was sent to the mountains. He had just turned 18.

His parents worried because he was tall, because he was good-looking, because he was the eldest and bore his family’s hopes on his slender shoulders. So, hide, his father told him. Get as far away from here as you can.

How long must I stay in the mountains, Honorato asked.

As long as the Hapon are here, his father said. And don’t try to come back, not until the war is over. We will get word to you, somehow.

It was still dark when the enkargado knocked softly on the door of Honorato’s room. “‘Toto,” he called softly. “Time to get up.”

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Any Kind of Red

Thank you to Cee Neuner for the Fun Foto Challenge: RED

Red is a particular favorite of self’s.

  • Aug. 14, Redwood City’s Fox Theatre: George R. R. Martin read for a Locus Magazine fundraiser.
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Fox Theatre, Redwood City: 14 August 2018

  • One of self’s handbags: a friend made it for her, using material self brought with her from the Philippines.

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  • Self’s birthday was July 14. Son and his wife, Jennie, flew up from southern CA and we spent the day in the City. Stopped at the Museum of Modern Art to see the Magritte exhibit, then had a snack in the sculpture garden. GREAT DAY! BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Sculpture Garden: 14 July 2018

 

 

 

Cal Shakes’ THE WAR OF THE ROSES: FIERCE

Oh, kudos, Cal Shakes. Kudos for everything. For the chart showing the House of Lancaster and the House of York, for the jumbotron messages above the stage (BOO! and RICHARD IS DEAD! were so on point!)

It was a lovely way to spend a late summer afternoon.

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In choosing the seats, self noticed most of the tickets taken were on the LEFT side of the amphitheatre (Section E). She figured that must be because of the sun. When it strikes directly, and you’re sitting there for four hours (yes, the play was four hours: it passes quickly), it is not fun. So she snagged the last three tickets on the left side, which were in the next to last row.

She’s never before sat so far from the stage, but it worked out perfect because this was a large-cast production, with a lot of comings and goings, and from higher up you can really appreciate how every inch of that stage is put to good use.

Self’s only regret was that she did not spring for a button saying, THOU TOAD! ‘Twas only $3.

Both she and son forked up cash for the donation bucket. (This year’s fundraising goal is $150,000)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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The set for The War of The Roses was amazing, as were the costumes. Kudos to Scenic Designer Nina Ball and Costume Designer Anna R. Oliver.

 

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