nth Draft, Novel-in-Progress

Mebbe this novel will never see the light of day? Mebbe it was ever meant to be a long short story? Like, 50 pages long?

Here’s a conversation that was in the very first draft, three years ago. And survived today’s mad pruning. So, this is the kernel. The nut. The Ground Zero:

“Describe it,” the Archbishop says. “Did it descend from the heavens? Or was it walking along the street? Was its countenance clearly visible? Did it seem expressive?”

The Archbishop’s deep-set, green eyes focus intently on Matias’s face. He presses one slender forefinger against the side of his aquiline nose and waits for Matias to answer.

“It was a creature. Earthy. Very like a cow.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Liu Xia: “June 2nd, 1989” (Two Excerpts)

This isn’t good weather
I said to myself
standing under the lush sun.

* * *

 

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I didn’t have a chance to say a word before you became a character
in the news, everyone looking up to you
as I was worn down
at the edge of the crowd
just smoking
and watching the sky.

(from the collection Empty Chairs, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern, published by Graywolf Press in a bilingual edition in 2015)

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.

 

ASCEND: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 13 December 2017

It’s almost time for self to pack up her books and end another incredibly intense, productive stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

Her last hurrah: in honor of this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, ASCEND, here are shots of the stairs going to her writing studio.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amwritinghorror: The Rorqual

The Mother of All Alien Invasions starts with a foot race.

Setting: the Bering Sea

p. 29:

The pago paws at the hull. Black angels, are they? Wearing coats of water, coats of snow. Wings cutting the air like blades.

The man from Endurance said they’d rolled their dead down slopes. His pregnant wife, he’d filled her mouth with shards of ice and rock.

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Stay tuned.

 

Place in Mystery Fiction: It Is Everything

Self is closing out 2017 with Tana French, and she is also reading Kelly Creighton’s Bank Hurricane Holiday, a super short story collection set in Northern Ireland.

Place is everything in the writing of these two women. She isn’t finished yet with Creighton’s book (just out from Doire Press) but she finished her first Tana French, earlier today: Broken Harbor. And she’s just started reading The Trespasser.

She’s very late in coming to Tana French, but why. She’s been coming to Ireland for years, if she’d had enough sense, she would have read Ms. French years ago.

Self loves mysteries. She especially loves the mysteries of: Henning Mankell, Morag Joss (only one book), Ruth Rendell, and Karin Fossum.

She thinks her love of mysteries in foreign landscapes began with Peter Hoeg’s mesmerizing Smilla’s Sense of Snow. (And now she writes dystopian fantasy set in snowy landscapes, what a coincidence)

p. 4, The Trespasser:

  • Murder works out of the grounds of Dublin Castle, smack in the heart of town, but our building is tucked away a few corners from the fancy stuff the tourists come to see, and our walls are thick; even the early morning traffic out on Dame Street only makes it through to us as a soft, undemanding hum.

Who doesn’t know Dublin Castle. Tourist mecca. Now, in her mind, Dublin Castle is the home of the Dublin Murder Squad. Love.

On to p. 5.

Stay tuned.

 

 

#amwritinghistoricalfiction: p. 101

A conversation between the Archbishop of Madrid and Matias, the MC of self’s (set in the 18th century) novel, Blue Water, Distant Shores:

“Are there testimonies of his cruelty?”

“There are,” says the Archbishop. “And yet, without the cruelty of Juan de Salcedo, none of this would have been possible.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIGLEAF 2012: “Stonehenge/Pacifica”

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California, Winter 2016: Mendocino Headlands

Many stories behind this story.

Self actually did have the dream mentioned in it.

Stonehenge/Pacifica

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 then your father died.

 

 

Quote of the Day: Joan Acocella on Rescuing Luther’s Bibles From a 2004 Fire

The book historian Stephan Fussel, in the explanatory paperback that accompanies the two-volume facsimile, reports that in 2004, when a fire swept through the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, in Weimar, where this copy was housed, it was “rescued, undamaged, with not a second to lose, thanks to the courageous intervention of library director Dr. Michael Knoche.” I hope that Dr. Knoche himself ran out with the two volumes in his arms. I don’t know what the price of a calf is these days, but the price of this facsimile is sixty dollars.

The New Yorker, 30 October 2017

#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.”

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