#amreading: HIS FINAL BATTLE, THE LAST MONTHS OF FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, by Joseph Lelyveld

Skimmed the last 50 or so pages of Submission. Fascinating, densely written. After the President of France is elected, there’s endless amounts of conjecture about Sharia Law. The last paragraph of the novel was brilliant.

And then she began the next book on her reading list, His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt. Self loves World War II history books.  A really good World War II history book can light up her life in a myriad ways. This one had her completely hooked, from page 1.

Self doesn’t know why, but she was completely ready for this book. Against the panoply of war is a sick man who just happens to be the President of the United States. The curtain came “down abruptly” on Franklin Roosevelt in the twelfth week of his fourth term, “on a balmy April afternoon in Warm Springs, Georgia.”

Roosevelt’s fourth term was “the third shortest presidential term” in U.S. history. Shortest was William Henry Harrison’s 32 days, and then the six weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s second term. Roosevelt was, to borrow a term from author Joseph Lelyveld, “plaintive” in his last months.

p. 12:

Mortality is the ultimate reason for feeling plaintive. In our waning hours, we get on with our tasks. Roosevelt was racing, as we all are, against time. If we want to take him in his full measure, we need to see him in his full context, in the round, not just as a dying man in what we may glibly call “denial,” but as an actor playing out his role, simply because he found no alternative; in that sense, a man touched by the heroic. Of all his responsibilities as the war headed into its climactic last year, calculating the date of his own terminus was not necessarily, in that clamorous time, the most pressing.

In other words, people, it’s not always about you. What a contrast to 45, who manages to make even hurricanes seem like personal affronts. 45 addressing the people of Puerto Rico: “Personally, I’m having a horrible day.” Not sure if he said this before or after he threw Brawny paper towels at a roomful of people. Self still doesn’t understand the significance of throwing paper towels to people who are recovering from what @RealRBHJr calls “Big Water”. (A joke, maybe?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading: SUBMISSION, p. 161

Context: France is undergoing deep and rapid change. For one, the newly elected president is Muslim.

Been a long time since self has read a political novel.

Maybe it was too soon to give up after all — witness these two girls, and my father’s surprising late-life transformation. And maybe, if I kept seeing Rachida on a regular basis, we’d end up having feelings for each other. At least, there was no reason to absolutely rule it out.

  • — p. 161, Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Lorin Stein

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: SOLARIS, by Stanislaw Lem

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Stanislaw Lem was self’s first science fiction. She stumbled across it in a bookstore on Harvard Square. This translation (from the French) was by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox.

Opening page:

At 19:00, ship’s time, I made my way to the launching bay. The men around the shaft stood aside to let me pass, and I climbed down into the capsule.

Inside the narrow cockpit, there was scarcely room to move. I attached the hose to the valve on my spacesuit and it inflated rapidly. From then on, I was incapable of making the smallest movement. There I stood, or rather hung suspended, enveloped in my pneumatic suit and yoke to the metal hull.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 128

  • He was born in 1922, if you can believe it. Exactly a hundred years ago. He joined the Resistance early on, in late June 1940. Even in his day, French patriotism was an idea whose time had passed. You could say that it was born at the Battle of Valmy, in 1792, and that it began to die in 1917, in the trenches of Verdun. That’s hardly more than a century — not long, if you think about it. Today, who believes in French patriotism? The National Front claims to, but their belief is so insecure, so desperate.

#amreading Favorite Childhood Book: MISCHIEF IN FEZ, by Eleanor Hoffmann

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While the story-teller’s assistants still beat tom-tom and tambourine to attract listeners, the story-teller himself was looking slyly about to size up the prosperity and generosity of his audience. At last he stood up. The tom-toms rose to final fury, then stopped suddenly.

“One night among nights,” began the storyteller, and the circle became a pool of quiet in the noisy market place. Beggars and judges’ sons leaned forward with equal eagerness.

Mischief in Fez, Chapter 1 (The Household of Muhammed Ali) by Eleanor Hoffmann

More Windows

Self loves windows. She really, really does.

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Sitting by Window, In Reflective Mode

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Watertower View, Chelsea District, New York City

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Home, Redwood City, California

Other Windows:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Alexandria, City of Memory: C. P. Cafavy, “In the Evening”

I picked up a letter again,
read it over and over till the light faded.

Then, sad, I went out on the balcony,
went out to change my thoughts at least by seeing
something of this city I love,
a little movement in the streets, in the shops.

(1916)

2nd Michel Houellebecq Sentence of the Day: Still SUBMISSION, still p. 72

Paris, 201x:

All of a sudden, as I stood in front of the Rapid ‘Jus (whose concoctions kept getting more and more complicated: they had coconut-passion fruit-guava, mango-lychee-guarana, and a dozen other flavors, all with bewildering vitamin ingredients), I thought of Bruno Deslandes.

Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 72

  • Hidden all day in impenetrable black burqas, rich Saudi women transformed themselves by night into birds of Paradise with their corsets, their see-through bras, their G-strings with multicolored lace and rhinestones.

There you have it, folks: Paris in the year 201x.

Stay tuned.

WINDOWS: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 27 September 2017

Self loves windows in general. So she loves this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: WINDOWS.

The prompt was to use the window as a frame. But her post uses the windows themselves as objects.

In the first picture, the windows transform a building in New York’s Chelsea Building into a kind of illuminated box. In the second, the airconditioning units sticking out of the windows were what caught her eye. In the third, the window is a wee cut-out in an expanse of grey wall, the only shot of life in a very industrial-looking room.

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Night, Chelsea District, New York City: September 2017

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More Windows, Chelsea District, New York City: September 2017

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Minimalist: Window of a Mini-Eichler, Palo Alto, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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