Beginning IN WEST MILLS, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

The Charterhouse of Parma: Five Stars

In terms of her reading life, August was the bomb. All the books she read were library check-outs (YAY! Library’s back, it’s back, it’s back!)

She read, in addition to The Charterhouse of Parma: Colonel Chabert, by Balzac; First: Sandra Day O’Connor, by Evan Thomas; and The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste.

Excited to begin a new novel (and discover a new writer). Opening Sentence of In West Mills:

In October of ’41, Azalea Centre’s man told her that he was sick and tired of West Mills and of the love affair she was having with moonshine.

Well! That is some opening.

The author bio on the book jacket says that De’Shawn Charles Winslow is from North Carolina. He is a 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

SPORES

This story was published by decomP Magazine. Self began writing it during a residency at Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. Weeks later, she found the ending in Dublin.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

In this story of the future, there are Earthstars. Earthstars are permitted to mate with either Silverleafs or Shags. Any other pairing is out of the question.

K is a Common.

The inspiration for this story was a book about mushrooms. Morgan Cooke, who she met at TGC, made an audio recording. Must say, self got a big kick out of hearing her story read with an Irish accent. Many, many, many thanks to Morgan.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The 90s: Those Were the Days

NOTE: WordPress switched self over to the New Block Editing, which she hates. She can’t find a thing. Can you imagine WordPress PAID PEOPLE to study how to make self slower and more inefficient? Where, for instance, are categories and tags? Now self has to hunt for them. Thanks a lot, WordPress! It’s like those apps that keep downloading on her Android, preventing her from making a call (You have to wait for the app to finish downloading; there’s a download a day).

If you press the button for paragraph, you get a menu that has ten items for paragraph. AAAARGH. Who has the time. Can’t a paragraph just BE a paragraph, does self have to pick and choose one out of ten options for paragraphs?

In the 1990s, and especially after the Rwandan massacre, the American Bar Association (ABA) “recruited an astonishing five thousand American lawyers to go abroad and spend months of their time working pro bono publico, free for the common good, drafting laws and training judges. (“Lawers are bored. We were dying to go,” said one of them, Mary Noel Pepys, a land use lawyer from Kansas who went to Bulgaria and slept in her coat in the winter)”

“At a reception in Sofia in 1994, an older gentleman, a professor at the university, walked up to Sandra Day O’Connor “and pulled out a badly frayed copy of the U.S. Constitution and said he had been reading it for 40 years. O’Connor, who always carried a copy of the Constitution in her pocketbook, choked up. ‘It will serve you well,’ she told the man, ‘and guide you as it has us.’ “

First: Sandra Day O’Connor, pp. 288-289

Can you imagine ANYONE in Trump’s White House pushing such a program. Now, everything is ME ME ME, how much can I get, how much can I get away with. Even Melania can’t summon up any energy to start something as simple as a Sister City Relationship with her hometown (Unless she’s really trying not to call attention to how she left it!)

She had plenty of time to start some kind of humanitarian thing with Eastern Europe, who knows? But no. She just didn’t care. Too busy re-negotiating her pre-nup to Dear Donald? (Does my pre-nup say I need to hold his hand in public? Then no, I do not need to hold his hand)

Self thinks the public’s perception of the law profession has forever been marred by association with Trump, the seediest President in American history. Think of the Trump lawsuits to block: a) revealing his taxes; b) suing to stop books like his niece’s from being published; or c) suing Democratic officials to make them look bad, such as the suit Gov. Brian Kemp brought against Atlanta Mayor Kesha Lance Bottoms to stop her from implementing her order to make wearing a mask mandatory in Atlanta.

Self is glad she’s reading a book about idealistic lawyers, for a change.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Lens-Artists Challenge # 110: Creativity in the Time of COVID

Self was inspired by this Photo Challenge (Creativity in the Time of COVID) to give a shout-out to the USPS.

She bought a sheet of first-class stamps commemorating the Harlem Renaissance. Aren’t they beautiful?

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She receives all her literary journals through the USPS. Here’s the latest delivery: the Win/Spr 2020 issue of Calyx Journal, one of the oldest women’s presses in the United States, founded by her friend, Dear Departed Margarita Donnelly (She put the whole thing, she told self, on a credit card):

Cover Art: Dale Champlin’s “Mother Nature.”

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Finally, Filoli Garden, in Woodside, is one of the area’s most beautiful gardens. The current art installation is by Kristine Mays. Here’s a picture self took on a visit to Filoli in July.

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Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

Sentence of the Day: Doreen G. Fernandez

  • The drive from Dumaguete through Bais and Mabinay to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental is an excellent road, past hills and valleys, even a zig-zag portion, through fields and towns, and hardly a billboard.

Self has driven this route. Ten years ago.

Doreen G. Fernandez (self’s second mother) had made an appointment to visit Vicente Lobaton, kinilaw artist. Kinilaw is the Filipino version of sushi. And it’s rather a specialty in the Visayan Islands, in the central Philippines. The number one requirement is that the seafood be freshly caught. And in a country with over 7000 islands, there’s no excuse not to have seafood that is freshly caught. Kinilaw is served with a “dressing” called sawsawan. Want to know more? It’s all in Doreen’s book, Kinilaw (1991) She goes on to describe the meal, which involved kinilaw crab, fish, and shrimp. (SO hungry right now)

Doreen was from the self-same island that Dear Departed Dad was from. It has a very non-PC name: Negros. That’s right, the island is named Negros because its people were dark. It has been named that since the 16th century. It is divided into two provinces: Negros Occidental (where self’s Dear Departed Dad, and Doreen, were from) and Negros Oriental. Negros Oriental has this really cool city called Dumaguete, which became the title for one of self’s short stories (It’s in MsAligned 3, published earlier this year)

Vicente, who goes by Enting, has two restaurants on Negros. One is Enting’s Manukan in Sagay; the other is Enting’s Lechonan on 17th St. near Lacson in downtown Bacolod, the capitol of Negros Occidental.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Playing With Language

Excerpts from self’s story “First Life” that appeared in Juked, 2015. The point of view belongs to a boy named Dragon. He’s sitting in a classroom of the future (Just because it’s the future doesn’t mean people don’t daydream, ha!)

Today I’m thick or something because thoughts are dark as dark.


Sunlight and glass, Prisms and mirrors. My mind is floating out there, beyond the windows. Out there, where swish swish goes something, maybe the wind.

 

Wednesday Backreading: The Haunted Room, Essay by Carole de Santi (Women’s Review of Books, vol. 26)

  • “Give her another hundred years . . . a room of her own and five hundred a year,” wrote Virginia Woolf in 1929, of the woman novelist. “Let her speak her mind . . . and she will write a better book one of these days . . .” — Virginia Woolf, A Room of Her Own

  • Woolf “knew very well that creative and intellectual freedom depend on material resources, and that women have always been poor . . . Despite bestseller rankings and lifestyle features, big advances, and superstardom, many women writers seem to be living hardscrabble creative lives. Even those whose ‘rooms’ are more like palaces are nailing down the floorboards, putting buckets under leaky roofs, and wondering how to keep the lights on, particularly those of the incandescent mind.” — Carole DeSanti, The Haunted Room

The Shadow King, p. 73

Why is self reading so slowly these days? There was a time when she used to average 60 books/year. Anyhoo, she is absolutely enthralled by her current book, a novel by Maaza Mengiste. Set in  1930s (?) Ethiopia. It’s written in impressionistic style, so the dates don’t matter all that much. It feels very much like one flowing river of memory.

A young servant girl feels a strange connection between herself and the man of the house. The cook tries to set her straight. Meanwhile, her mistress rides across the countryside on a horse, dressed in jodhpurs like a man.

We all know that war destroys mankind, and in spite of their differences in race, creed, and religion, women all across the world despise war because the fruit is nothing but destruction.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Currently Listening To

The New Abnormal, podcast launched by The Daily Beast in April.

Hosts: Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson

Money Quote: “. . . between Mary Trump, Demon Sperm, and the world still in chaos . . . ”

Yes. Yes. We are in the Last Days of the Trump Presidency, and it is a wild and crazy time, involving  bad hydrochloroquine sell jobs, threats to end TikTok and the US Post Office (and even the elections), and the U.S. Secretary of Education telling America their kids are “natural stoppers” for corona virus hence they should do their patriotic duty by GETTING OUT THERE, ATTENDING SCHOOL, and SAVING THEIR COUNTRY.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Currently Getting to Know

The enthralling voice of Maaza Mengiste

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Self’s copy is from the Redwood City Public Library.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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