Angela Carter: What Is a Fairy Tale?

Someone once asked Angela Carter what her idea of a fairy tale was. She responded:

“A fairy tale is a story where one king goes to another king to ask for a cup of sugar.”

The quote appears on the back cover of Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales, a personal copy of which self purchased in Edinburgh, almost three years ago.

More to chew on: a link to a Salon.com interview conducted by Laura Miller on the publication of The Turnip Princess and Other Rediscovered Fairy Tales.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Metamorphosis Generator

From A Work-in-Progress:

The Jaguar I know is a bit much. Especially for the country. But Wolfgang must have his toys. The Jaguar, the helicopter, the espresso/ice cream machine, the Jacuzzi with 20 different spurt settings, the 80-inch flat-screen HDTV, the four-foot Bose speakers, the laser wrinkle removers, the Do-It-Yourself Botox injectors and hair implantation devices, the state-of-the-art dollar-printing mechanism, the 3D Alternate Universe Hologram, the foot-high platform shoes with the massage feature, the metamorphosis generator . . .

Once, he trapped a fly in the metamorphosis pod, and what emerged was a woman with wondrous, bulbous dark eyes and gossamer hair.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Symmetry 5: The Mendocino Headlands

Such a gorgeous day! Tonight is self’s talk on Flash Fiction at The Mendocino Hotel.

She walked along the bluffs, just to let her mind organize her ideas.

She’s having different people read her short shorts, and then she’s throwing in two more: the piece that appeared in Vela Magazine right after Typhoon Haiyan, and Shirley Ancheta’s piece “Kristine,” in Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx Press, 2003)

In the meantime, here are some pictures she took of the Headlands, with an eye to the WordPress Photo Challenge this week, SYMMETRY.

Standing on the bluffs, just off Main Street, earlier today

Standing on the bluffs, just off Main Street, earlier today

A Wider Perspective

A Wider Perspective

Port of Richmond, on the last day of the Codex International Book Fair, Feb. 11, 2015

Port of Richmond, on the last day of the Codex International Book Fair, Feb. 11, 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Masters of Style: A List

Self is teaching a two-day class on travel writing this weekend.

The great thing about teaching is, it makes you ponder your own predilections.

Because unless you yourself are very clear about the kind of writing you favor, you will never, in self’s humble opinion, be able to communicate anything worthwhile to your students.

These are the writers whose books have stayed longest in self’s head and heart. Some have only written one book. Doesn’t matter. The point is, their names have become part of self’s font of inspiration.

Debra Ginsberg * Kyoko Mori * Chang-rae Lee * Annie Ernaux * Tim Parks * Ron Carlson * Alison Moore * Mo Yan * Thomas Lynch * V. S. Naipaul * Gish Jen * Deborah Digges * Paul Theroux * Kathryn Harrison * Jason Elliott * W. G. Sebald * Nina Berberova * Peter Hessler * Michael Herr * Ruth Reichl * Tony Horwitz * Elmore Leonard * Brian Hall * Nicholson Baker

(Aaargh, list is getting long! Perhaps she’ll do a Part 2 later)

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Reflections, Yesterday

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

It was warm yesterday! While walking around the Stanford University campus, self saw that someone had stuck glittery red hearts around the planter box in front of the Bookstore. The Post Office looked exactly the same. They’re tearing down Meyer. Which means self will have to re-write the stories she’s set there. Yes, she does have stories set in Meyer Library.

The students she spoke to yesterday certainly made her think. Yes, she told them, the stories in Mayor of the Roses were written while she worked at Stanford at various administrative jobs.

Did you ever go to The Bridge (24-hour free counseling service on campus), someone asked. Of course! self replied. Didn’t everybody?

Self told the students that she had a more recent story about the Bridge, but in tone the story is as different from the one in Mayor of the Roses as night and day. In self’s story, which appeared in Waccamaw, the Bridge is a counseling hot-line called 1-800-U-R-Saved. The story is “Bridging.”

She talked about her Creative Writing Program years, and how she felt at the time she wrote the stories in the collection. She really really wanted to take a picture of Professor Miner’s copy of Mayor of the Roses because it was completely marked up. Notes on the margins, arrows pointing every which way. Looked like a piece of post-modern art.

She told the students she was writing science fiction now.

The time was really too short.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Depth 5: About Self’s Attachment to Books

Books, for self, are the ultimate uncharted territory.

The depth of her love for books knows no bounds.

She was running low on her copies of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, but her publisher sent a box of those to Mendocino last week and they arrived safely.

Two other books: Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language, are in Gallery Bookshop on Main Street. Those copies she signed.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading (First Tuesday of February 2015): Luisa Igloria

Fish is much on self’s mind these days.

That’s because she has successfully avoided eating any meat (rib-eye steak* cough* Mendosa’s Harvest Market* cough!) during her stay in Mendocino.

No, that’s not quite true. She has had a roast beef sandwich from Cultured Affair Café; and she tried some lamb from Ledford House.

But for the most part, her daily diet has consisted of: fish and chips; cod; clam chowder; scallops; pasta; ramen and vegetables (She had the most wonderful cod from Ledford House, just last Saturday)

Ledford House, Albion: Saturday, 31 January

Ledford House, Albion: Saturday, 31 January

Given her new eating habits, it is fitting that the first poem self reads this morning, from Luisa Igloria’s collection The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House), is about fish:

Parable of the Fish

A bitter heart, a few little fires
abroad in the countryside. The skeleton
of a life shaved down, both bait and
barb. So here is the fisherman
who never caught a thing, having moonlit
conversation in the reeds. She
is covered with scales and sinuous
as brocade. She listens
but will not grant
a mansion for his wife.
His hair is fading to the color of shells.
Maybe he will cross the river tomorrow.
Maybe he will beg a boon.
Maybe he will take her back
and hide her raincoat in the garage
among the power tools and
rusted lawnmowers.

How beautiful is the language!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Still Reading “After the Cure”

It’s just one short story. But self is dragging it out, sentence by sentence.

Apparently they’ve found a cure for zombies that restores them to their human selves. They then call these rescued the “rehabilitated.”  That doesn’t help the narrator, a “rehabilitated” zombie who makes one friend, a boy named James.

He’s the reason she’s even contemplating attending school.

He visits her in her dwelling, an abandoned house on the edge of the city, the one with the floating body in the pool.

And – guess what. This boy drags a scent of human for the zombie pack to follow him.

What I don’t tell him is that I can already hear the pack pushing against the air outside the house. They know there’s someone pure inside.

I can already feel the way their mouths water for him.

At night, when they race past the house, is the loneliest I’ve ever felt. Except for now.

Oh Heavens to Mergatroid, please don’t let the pack eat James!

SPOILER ALERT — DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU ARE DENSE AND/OR NEVER INTEND TO READ CARRIE RYAN’S STORY!

Self is so slow on picking up clues. Even after she took that Hunger Games “How Long Would You Last as a Tribute” quiz that told her she’d last a day, self keeps forgetting how dense she is. So it comes as a total shock when the narrator decides that it’s too late to evade the rampaging zombie pack, she has to turn James into a zombie. In other words, she has to kill him herself.

Nooooooo !!!!!!!!!

Suddenly James is showing the narrator that he really really likes her (Self, is Twilight simply a distant memory? Apparently so) and — please believe self when she says that this scene is very very poignant, and not the least bit confusing, though she wishes the couple would address the immediate problem! Which is that a zombie mob is in the process of tearing down the door!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Carrie Ryan in AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA

Self has already blogged about this story, Carrie Ryan’s “After the Cure.” It is so bleak and beautiful.

What’s the use of being a “rehabilitated” zombie when everyone still hates you?

Self gets that Read the rest of this entry »

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