Growth: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 3 January 2018

In this first week of the year, many people anticipate beginnings, changes, and opportunities for growth. Share with us an image that evokes this spirit of change and newness — the smile of a new friend, a freshly planted garden, an empty journal waiting to be filled.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Self is in Manila for the first time in a number of years, and what she loves most about it is the fact that even in the smallest pocket gardens, the plant life is so fecund. Below, three examples:

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First Draft, Blue Water Distant Shores

The novel’s now in Draft # xx, but self found a print-out of the first draft and started to re-read a week ago. It’s like an undiscovered country. It’s been three years since she even looked at this first draft.

The Bishop of Manila Writes to His Catholic Royal Majesty

Junio, 1755

Most Powerful Lord,

When you assign someone to come to govern this land, Your Majesty should take into account that you are not sending a person who will have to face investigation but an absolute king who does not have any superior, nor anyone to be accountable to but who should be solely motivated by fear of God, the service of Your Majesty and the zeal for the popular good . . .

(and that sentence goes on and on and on for quite a good bit longer)

Reading this first draft is almost like discovering a different self: Who was that long-ago person who said, I am going to write a story about 18th century Phiippines. I am going to make up correspondence between the Bishop of Manila and his Most Powerful Lord, His Catholic Royal Majesty, the King of Spain?

Because if she were to start a novel today, 18th century Philippines would not even be a remote possibility, she doesn’t have that fearlessness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Alimentum 2012: “Cake”

Alimentum began life as a print journal, then responded to the growing financial pressures on the small literary magazine by going on-line exclusively.

They punished self’s short story, “Cake,” in 2012.

A story of how a mother’s love lives on.

  • She was stepping in the front door of her own house. She recognized the red door, the brass knocker, the small square of glass through which she peered when someone rang the doorbell.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More from Joan Acocella on Martin Luther (The New Yorker, 30 October 2017)

Still reading the Joan Acocella essay from a month and a half ago. It’s a great essay which somehow also manages to call up Freddie Krueger and his origin story (but self will not mention that here, as it’s getting close to Christmas).

In addition to fascinating examples of Luther’s ripe way with speech, it brings up Luther’s anti-Semitism (which was not uncommon at the time).

Acocella on the Jews: “Luther despised them dementedly, ecstatically.”

Then follows many scatological references. Also, this:

  • “what makes Luther’s anti-Semitism most disturbing is not its extremity (which, by sounding so crazy, diminishes its power)”

which recalls the present day (calling 45 “mental” thereby diminishing him — which does our country no favors because, after all, 45 is a dangerous guy, and probably NOT crazy)

Martin Luther lived to “an old age”: 62. But “the years were not kind to him . . . He spent days and weeks in pamphlet wars over matters that, today, have to be patiently explained to us, they seem so remote.”

This is sad!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Martin Luther: Importance

Excerpts from The Hammer: How Martin Luther Changed the World, by New Yorker critic-at-large Joan Acocella (The New Yorker, 30 October 2017)

The crucial text is his Bible: the New Testament, translated from the original Greek and published in 1523, followed by the Old Testament, in 1534, translated from the Hebrew. Had he not created Protestantism, this book would be the culminating achievement of Luther’s life.

*     *     *

Luther very consciously sought a fresh, vigorous idiom. For his Bible’s vocabulary, he said, “we must ask the mother in the home, the children on the street,” and, like other writers with such aims — William Blake, for example — he ended up with something songlike. He loved alliteration — Der Herr ist mein Hirte (“The Lord is my shepherd”); Dein Stecken und Stab (“thy rod and thy staff”) — and he loved repetition and forceful rhythms.

*     *     *

The books also featured a hundred and twenty-eight woodcut illustrations, all by one artist from the Cranach workshop, known to us only as Master MS.

*     *     *

The three-thousand copy first edition of the New Testament, though it was not cheap (it cost about as much as a calf), sold out immediately.

#amwritinghistoricalfiction: The English Arrive on Isla del Fuego

p. 243 of self’s novel-in-progress:

An English officer stands on the beach, waiting at attention. Matias gapes.

“England has attacked Spain, sir,” the man announces. “We have 5,000 soldiers in Manila. Colonel Chisholm.”

Looking Back: George Saunders

Self blogged this on 25 December 2013 (Christmas Day, self only just realized after writing the date). Title of post: 2013 Top Ten Books of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Saunders won this year’s Man Booker. He’s the Keynote Speaker at the next AWP, in Tampa, FL:

  • Tenth of December:  Stories, by George Saunders (Random House):  Ever read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline?  Self thought that book was a game-changer.  In one stroke, changed the landscape of the contemporary American short story, which until then had been Raymond Carver/Lydia Davis.  She will read anything by George Saunders.  Anything.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Transformations 3: FALL

Snowed two days ago: big, fat, heavy flakes, the like of which self has never seen.

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Found this tiny thing on the floor of my cottage today. Must have carried it in on a shoe or a coat or a scarf. Self was about to throw it in the trash when something made her take a closer look:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Best Female Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Self is reading her first Tana French, Broken Harbour.

She’s pretty stoked, as she’s been hearing so many good things about Tana French, for years now.

The last mystery self read was almost a year and a half ago, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (which she liked very much; Emily Blunt and Luke Evans were in the movie adaptation, sorry she missed seeing it)

Other favorite women mystery writers:

  • Morag Joss (for Half-Broken Things)
  • Karin Fossum
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Sarah Waters

Over on goodreads, there’s a list of “Best Female/Crime/Mystery/Thriller Writers.”

On this list, Broken Harbour is # 21.

The Girl on the Train is # 42.

Holy Cow, Fingersmith is #50 (No way. There’s just no way)

The list doesn’t even include Fossum or Rendell (As Septa Mordor on Game of Thrones would say: Shame! Shame! Shame!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

270 pp

#amwritinghistoricalfiction

Father Leoncio writes to introduce himself, but Matias does not receive the letter, it loses itself somewhere in being passed from hand to hand, it may have lost itself even in the same village that Father Leoncio writes it from, he gave it to a servant who brought it to the larger town where there is a cousin going to Isla del Fuego, and somewhere on the way to the cousin or maybe even before, the letter gets lost. But it doesn’t matter, because when Father Leoncio shows up at Matias’s door, he is overjoyed, he is as happy as if he is greeting a long-lost relative, or a brother, or maybe he is happier than he would have been meeting an actual brother. Well, the long and short of it is, Matias is happy to receive a visitor. And when Father Leoncio asks if he can stay a few nights, Matias is even happier.

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