Howard Jacobson’s THE ACT OF LOVE, p. 186

This novel has taken self to places she could never have imagined going before. Such as The Wallace Collection.

The Act of Love is about jealousy. And obsession. And it is very, very funny.

Jealousy, as I have remarked before, is incalculable in its ferocity and reasoning. Though I had imagined them in each other’s arms a thousand times, the thought of them joined in Baudelaire disgusted and upset me. Did she have to cuckold me in literature as well? The word-fucker she was! I breathed hard, as green-eyed as the next man.

Which brings to mind that yesterday (or the day before), while self was visiting with the McGavins in Southampton, she saw a present John’s teaching colleagues had given him: a sixteenth century plaque, carved out of a kind of wood called “sweet chestnut” (which has fragrance, a fragrance not musty but — sweet? Even after all these centuries, imagine that, dear blog readers!), of a little green man. These kinds of faces popping out of the greenery, a strange English impulse of the imagination. Like faeries in the woods.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close-Up 3: Joan and John, Abigail and Pigeons

Dear Joan and John McGavin, are you ready for your close-up?

Here, dear blog readers, is a portrait of the hip-pest couple in England, on their wedding day:

Joan and John: We are the Cool-est!

Joan and John: We are the Cool-est!

Dear Abigail: Are YOU ready for your close-up? Because you are the most entertaining eight-year-old in all of England:

Abigail sang for us Sunday. Oh my goodness! Paging Simon Cowell!

Abigail sang for us Sunday. Oh my goodness! Paging Simon Cowell!

Russell Square is a beautiful little square with a café and benches and a fountain. Self has taken many pictures of it. But this was the first time she zoomed in on the birds. Thank you, WordPress Daily Post, for providing the prompt! Here are pigeons, ready for their close-up:

A Confabulation of Birds at the Russell Square Fountain

A Confabulation of Birds at the Russell Square Fountain

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”


Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE: Demon’s Ball, Chiswick, Part 2

Ah, supernatural fiction. Ah, changelings and demons and faerie glens.

Self is still reading about the Demons Ball at the Lightwoods (interspersed with her other reading: Howard Jacobson’s The Act of Love, set on Great Russell Street of all places; The Guardian; and Lucifer Princeps, the book about angels and nephilim and the netherworld, which has NOT, despite all self’s anxieties, been keeping self up at night, thank goodness!)

Today, self is off in search of a really neat supernatural bookstore, one she found on the web, which is a long way from her usual haunts. So she’d better off. She plans to walk there. London yesterday was wet, wet, wet. But today is as beautiful as summer. So, walk. When her feet give out, she’ll duck into the nearest tube station.


Tessa, still masquerading as Jessamine, has managed to distract Nate enough so that she didn’t actually have to kiss her own brother. Which would have been YUUUUCK!!!

She finds herself conversing with a faerie:

“Did you know your mother had eyes just like yours, gray sometimes and blue at others?”

Tessa found her voice. “Who are you?”

“Oh, my kind doesn’t like to give our names, but you can call me whatever you like. You can invent a lovely name for me. Your mother used to call me Hyacinth.”

“The blue flower,” Tessa said faintly. “How did you know my mother? You don’t look any older than me — ”

“After our youth, my kind does not age or die. Nor will you. Lucky girl! I hope you appreciate the service done you.”

Tessa shook her head in bewilderment. “Service? What service? Are you speaking of Mortmain? Do you know what I am?”

“Do you know what I am?”

Tessa thought of the Codex. “A faerie?” she guessed.

“And do you know what a changeling is?”

Tessa shook her head.

“Sometimes,” Hyacinth confided, dropping her voice to a whisper, “when our faerie blood has grown weak and thin, we will find our way into a human home, and take the best, the prettiest, and the plumpest child –and quick as a wink, replace the babe with a sickly one of our own. While the human child grows tall and strong in our lands, the human family will find itself burdened with a dying creature fearful of cold iron.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books Self Is Interested After Perusing The Guardian’s Summer “Text on the Beach” Issue, 23 July 2015

Self used to do this. A LOT. Post about books she was interested in reading after picking up a copy of The New York Times Book Review (which she used to subscribe to. Until last year), The New York Review of Books (which she also used to subscribe to), The New Yorker (which she still subscribes to, but hasn’t read in six months) and The Economist (which she no longer subscribes to)

Anyhoo, after that very lengthy introduction, here is self with The Guardian’s Summer Reading issue, and after going through the whole thing, self has culled just three books. She must be in some kind of slump?

Here are her three:

  • Grey, by E. L. James — What what what? Self actually read the first two pages in Hodges Figgis in Dublin. And what do you know, she liked it! But The Guardian review is so silly. “Come again, if you insist . . . ” Self still wants to read it.
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante — “The first part of the Neapolitan trilogy in which almost nothing happens.” (OK, these reviews are one-note and boring. Sorry, Jim Crace, Reviewer. Self will read in spite of)
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins — Let self dispense with the utterly dispensable: i.e., the review. And let’s just say, if this novel is indeed a riff on Gone, Girl, she likes. So “Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl On the Train” is a barrel of laughs.

Just for that, self is popping over to the London Review of Bookstore (Hey, last AWP Book Fair, in Minneapolis, she actually saw a table for the London Review of Books! She’s not sure if they’ve been coming every year, but this year was the first time she noticed them)

Side Note:  Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is in every bookstore window, all over Dublin and London. So happy for her. Promise to read the book, at least five years from now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is CLOSE UP.

Which is a prompt self finds quite easy to post about, because her camera is always on the macro setting. She loves examining detail.

So, here goes!

While on a “Jack the Ripper” walking tour of Whitechapel, self found herself getting distracted by, of all things, doors! Honestly, there were a number of times self found that the tour group had rounded a corner while she was taking random photos like the one below:

Door, Somewhere Around Whitechapel

Door Knocker, A Street Off Whitechapel

And here is a close-up of a fabulous dessert self had in the town of Rostrevor, in Northern Island. Irish cream (sigh), self could drink it by the bucket!

Dessert! Rostrevor, Northern Island (Self was with poet Csilla Toldy, who was performing at the Fiddlers Green Festival with Irish singer Fil Campbell)

Dessert! Rostrevor, Northern Island (Self was with poet Csilla Toldy, who was performing at the Fiddlers Green Festival with Irish singer Fil Campbell)

And here is a picture she took in St. Stephens Green, last week. She’s always amazed by the water in that lake. It has a very heavy, almost mineral quality. She thought it might have just been a trick of her imagination. But the ripples on that water are so clearly defined. Well, that’s Irish water for you!

It was a sunny day in Dublin (though you'd never know it from the photograph!)

It was a sunny day in Dublin (though you’d never know it from the photograph!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sandra Bland, p. 17 of The (London) Guardian, 23 July 2015

Self is just going to post the excerpt without comment because the article speaks for itself.

(It’s just beneath an article about Jon Stewart and Obama exchanging FEELZ for Obama’s final appearance on The Daily Show)

Bland was arrested in Prairie View, Texas (near Houston). The article was filed from Prairie View by Tom Dart.

Video footage of the arrest of a black woman who died in Texas police custody shows a police officer threatening to “light her up” with a Taser, in an encounter that has sparked national outrage.

The Texas public safety department (DPS) released the footage amid questions surrounding the arrest and subsequent death in a county jail of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old who had just moved to Texas from Chicago to start a new job but died three days after her arrest this month by trooper Brian Encinia.

The video shows an initially routine traffic stop for failing to signal a lane change turn into an aggressive encounter as Encinia, apparently furious that Bland refuses to stop smoking, repeatedly orders her to get out of her car, yells at her, says he will “yank” and “drag” her out, then appears to draw his Taser and shouts, “Get out of the car. I will light you up. Get out. Now.” Once out and restrained, Bland complains off-camera that she is in pain and has been “slammed” to the ground.

Stay tuned.

Gale or Peeta: Who Is a Better Dystopian Boyfriend?

This is a matter of grave import, dear blog readers, for the last Hunger Games movie (Mockingjay, Part 2) is coming out in November, and the fandom is just about to burst.

That now-familiar trope, the Dystopian Boyfriend, is going to have such a field day.

Dear blog readers already know where self lies on this gradient.

This discussion has to do with the movie version of The Hunger Games, not the books! For you lame ones who have never seen a Hunger Games movie, Gale Hawthorne is played by Liam Hemsworth, and Peeta Mellark is played by Josh Hutcherson.

Going in to movie # 1, self had no love for J-Hutch, as she’d only seen him in The Kids Are All Right and he struck her as — all right but he definitely was not her first choice for actor to play Peeta (Her all-time favorite HG character) Now, four years later, after reading the entire trilogy, watching 3 movies, and becoming a fan fiction writer of Everlark (??? Can you believe it ???), self is all like, WHO IS LIAM? WHO IS GALE? There can only be ONE Dystopian Boyfriend! Don’t even mention! Self can’t even!

Let the analysis begin! (Ummm, the discussants are both men. Nevertheless. Posted March, 2015)

P.S. It is Friday. Please feel free to be super self-indulgent. No trigger warnings. Definitely the PG version.

Excerpts of choice:

  1. Pro-Liam: The chiseled Hemsworth jaw. The woodsy hunter look. The delicate, elderly aunt’s name. (Self didn’t know that Gale was an aunt’s name? Does Collins say this in the books?)
  2. Pro-Josh: I could probably carry him around on trips with a little Glad container of hummus.
  3. Pro-Liam: “Hey, babe, calm down. No one is thinking about this nearly as hard as you are. Let’s go hunting.”
  4. Pro-Josh: I’m very attracted to tiny boxes of feelings that are likely to explode like a pressure cooker.
  5. Pro-Liam: Peeta would come back after the seventh time I fake-break up with him, while Gale would call my bluff . . .
  6. Pro-Josh: I’m gonna snatch it/him right up! And then carry him around on my back, like a human Yoda.

Had enough, dear blog readers?

A long, loooong time ago, when self was still having meaningful discussions with Niece Georgina (who was at Stanford), she declared herself unable to see the attraction in J-Hutch and Georgina said “No. It’s Josh. Definitely. Hotter.”

And the rest is history.

How self could ever have considered Liam Hemsworth anything more than a limp dishrag when contrasted with the all-over hotness of J-Hutch (His miniscule height strangely adds, rather than detracts, from the appeal — people, don’t ask self to explain, it just IS) is simply confounding.

Self is also still reading Howard Jacobson’s hilarious and heartbreaking novel, The Act of Love (Set in London, today. His main character spends a lot of time on Great Russell Street)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE, p. 280: Demon’s Ball, Chiswick


Tessa Gray and Will Herondale do some detective work around the Lightwoods’ mansion during a Demons Ball.

Will is disguised with a half-face mask (Later, he has occasion to remove it, and Tessa Gray notes that the mask has left delicate red marks on the tops of Will’s cheekbones. And very well-sculpted those cheekbones are, do dear blog readers even need self to remind them! Those are Herondale cheekbones, but of course!)

Tessa Gray has changed into Jessamine Lovelace, a blonde flibbertigibbet who has been conducting a secret romantic relationship with Nate Gray, Tessa’s brother.

So, during the ball, there are many whispered, affectionate caresses between the unsuspecting Nate and his sister (disguised as Jessamine). Here’s one. The whole way through the scene, let’s just say: Self. Can’t. Even.

Nate’s hand slipped around the back of her neck. He was wearing gloves, but Tessa couldn’t rid herself of the feeling that something slimy was touching her skin. “My little Jessie,” he murmured. “You behave almost as if you’ve forgotten your own part in this. You did hide the Book of White in my sister’s room as we asked you to, did you not?”

“Of — of course I did.”

“That’s my good girl.” He was leaning closer. He was definitely going to kiss her. It was most improper . . .

At which point, self was all BLEAAAAAH!!!!  PHOOOEEEEY!!!!  BAAAARRRRRFFFFF!!!

If dear blog readers want to know if Cassie Clare (Esteemed Author) actually does go there, read the book for crying out loud!

(Incidentally, she was on Fleet Street again today. She didn’t get a chance to pop into St. Bride’s, but she’ll have to do that one of these days)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Half and Half 4: Views of Rostrovor, Northern Island

Further pictures for this week’s Photo Challenge, HALF AND HALF: “. . . take a  photo with an explicit dividing line, either vertical, horizontal, or diagonal.”

This picture has two distinct sight lines:

Rostrovor, Northern Ireland

Rostrovor, Northern Ireland

And this one has those “two different visual planes” thing going (though it is not neatly split in two, this picture)

Growing by the side of a path in Rostrovor

Growing by the side of a path in Rostrovor

Again, WTH, this last picture is NOT split in half! But — visual planes, dear blog readers. Definitely, two planes!

To keep out -- ? In Rostrovor

To keep out — ? In Rostrovor

Why can’t self just live in Rostrovor? She WANTS to live in Rostrovor!

Can wishing make it so?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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