Northanger Abbey: Men

Self must confess that the reason she started reading Jane Austen again is the movie Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman, and starring the delicious trifecta of Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, and Xavier Samuel (She would name more of the actors if she wasn’t so very short of time today). The movie was based on Austen’s unfinished novella, Lady Susan. Anyhoo, it’s quite a good movie, one of self’s favorites so far in 2016.

Northanger Abbey is not as self remembered. There are very long discussions of novels whose titles make them sound “genre” (See her previous post). And nothing happens other than: breakfast, tea, dances, and sitting in bed to recover from dances.

Since self writes fan fiction, she doesn’t mind genre. She doesn’t mind any kind of writing, as long as it’s good.

Anyhoo, the plot of Northanger Abbey concerns — as far as self can make out, the narrative is very circomlocutious — two young, unmarried women who meet at Bath, become fast friends, and then share opinions on everything from novels to keeping up appearances, to men. The novel thus far is just a series of conversations. Time is passing but who cares? The smallest detail of daily life is not too mundane to receive meticulous attention.

One of the young ladies (self forgets which) states that men “are very often amazingly impertinent if you do not treat them with spirit, and make them keep their distance.”

Her conversant protests that “they always behave very well to me.”

Upon which, the first lady responds:

  • Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited creatures in the world, and think themselves of so much importance! — By the bye, though I have thought of it a hundred times, I have always forgotten to ask you what is your favorite complexion in a man. Do you like them best dark or fair?

To which the other lady responds that her preference is for “brown skin, with dark eyes, and rather dark hair.” The other says that she prefers her men “sallow.” (Pardon, self always mixes up “sallow” with “hepatitis B” or consumption or ill health)

Which is so fascinating, self wonders how old Jane Austen was when she wrote this, she is so looking forward to reading more! This would be considered chick lit if the sentences weren’t so very very very long and if something more were at stake than how to pass an indolent holiday in Bath.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Reading, in Bath: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

“Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.”

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warning, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

Austen: In Defence of Novelists

Quicker than you can say SQUASHED BANANA, self whips through Swimming Studies and begins the next book on her reading list, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

She’s pretty sure she’s read this before, but has no memory of the plot.

Somewhere in the early chapters, Austen goes on a riff about the status of novelists in English society. Self did not know you can get exercised this way, and go on to write what is essentially an argument, and plop that in the middle of a novel. Where is the scene? Where is the narrative arc?

Clearly, the English novel in Austen’s day was a very accommodating genre.

Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers.

Jane, Jane, Jane. Deep breaths.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SWIMMING STUDIES: About Pools

Maybe because self is reading Swimming Studies, she starts looking up information on Land’s End and the Sutro Baths.

The magnate who developed Sutro Baths was named Sutro (Duh, but of course!).

Sutro Baths was the centerpiece of a resort bordering the Pacific. San Franciscans could get there by paying 5 cents for a trolley ride.

In a way, self understands what Sutro was aiming for, because her very own grandfather built a resort, right in the middle of sugar cane fields in Barangay Granada in Negros Occidental in the Philippines.

Self’s grandfather, like Sutro, was a populist. The most loyal patrons of Santa Fe Resort are workers. The entrance fee is still ridiculously low because self’s family understands the demographic: the patrons come from the surrounding fields, workers wanting a break. It was called Santa Fe because her grandfather loved American westerns. In addition, he had a huge crush on the American swimmer/film star Esther Williams, so there’s a statue of her in Santa Fe, in Barangay Granada.

Self’s grandfather built an Olympic-size pool which remains a major draw to this day: It was the first, and possibly still the only, Olympic-size pool in the Philippines.

Who does that? Who has such a crush on Esther Williams that he builds an Olympic-size pool in the middle of an island. Not only in the middle of an island, in the middle of sugar cane fields.

When journalists come to write about self’s island, they never mention Santa Fe Resort. It’s such an eccentric thing, the location. The fact is, it’s nowhere near a beach. Consequently, there is no tourist traffic. There are no Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, American or Europeans. In Santa Fe Resort, you will encounter Filipinos. Just Filipinos.

It is a resort built by a man who only got a high school education. A resort for the people who live within a few kilometers, who are from that place.

Self spent every summer of her childhood there.

Sometimes she wonders if those summers were the reason she is a writer now. Because, her grandfather showed her: you can do anything, if you use your imagination.

It is a terrible thing is to have no imagination, to have your dreams stay small.

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.

Sentence of the Day: Leann Shapton

  • A talented butterflyer named Doug, who has long blonde bangs and will become a Buddhist, lives there, as does Duncan, whom I have a thing for.

— Leann Shapton, in her memoir Swimming Studies

“Something That Stands Out From the Everyday”

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is RARE: Post a photo of something you regard as “scarce and singular.”

Here are some rare things:

Dedication from a novel by Irish writer Maeve Binchy:

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To “dear good Gordon . . . such a supportive and kind person”: That degree of love and support and respect is indeed rare.

Here’s a one-woman press from Boston, MA: Kattywompus Press. It takes guts to run a press, anyone can tell you:

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Independent Publisher, AWP Book Fair, Los Angeles Convention Center: March 2016

Finally, a must-see for book-lovers everywhere. It’s called The Last Bookstore, and it’s on S. Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles. Part of a vanishing breed. Their logo says it all: “What are you waiting for? We won’t be around forever.”

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More Than a Bookstore: A Magic Trip

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

On-line Now: Self’s Newest Pieces

On-line now, August:

“The Future” in Monkeybicycle

“Spores” in decomP

decomP also posted a link to Morgan Cooke (Tyrone Guthrie friend!) reading “Spores.”

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.

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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