Celia in THE PARASITES

Spoiler — because p. 309:

Celia piled more logs on to the fire, and threw the letter from the publisher into the blaze.

Self’s heart gave a lurch, but who is she to judge?

Stay tuned.

The Famous (or Infamous) Daphne du Maurier Jump Cut

If Daphne du Maurier were alive today, she would be an indie filmmaker. Her stories, her eye, her ear — perfect for cinema.

As is this novel self has been reading for almost a month: The Parasites.

She generally dislikes du Maurier endings, but loves her books for the absolute authority of her voice, and for her painterly eye.

If she were to cast the film adaptation, hmmm. Who would be Niall? Someone dark-haired, tall and slender.

Who would she cast as Maria? Someone blonde, tall, and slender, and also pretty.

Who would she cast as Celia? Someone not-blonde, not-tall, slightly overweight, and not-pretty,

These three siblings have self shaking her head; she sees a little of herself in all of them.

The first jump cut in The Parasites was after Lord Charles walks in on Maria disrobed in front of her (step)brother Niall. Suddenly, here we are a year later, and Maria has an infant named Caroline.

The next jump cut has just happened: Last we saw them, the sibs were in their mid-20s. Now they’re in their mid-30s. But self is so happy to see them all alive and together, no matter their age.

Niall is reminiscing about Freada (is she still around? Probably not, she was quite a bit older):

  • This was one of the many things he had learnt from Freada. ‘Carry what you can upon your back,’ she used to say. ‘It all saves time and temper. Have no real possessions. Stake no claim. This is our home, for three, for two nights only. This studio, this lodging-house, this unfamiliar room in a hotel’ . . .  Once they went a bust and took a suite in a palatial kind of palace in Auvergne . . . She got up at eight in the morning and went off to drink the waters or have the waters poured upon her, Niall never really knew which; but he used to lie in bed until she returned in the middle of the day, and he read every one of the works of Maupassant, the book in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other.

The way Niall’s getting all nostalgic makes self worry that Freada is dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Captain Wentworth I

He swans into town, proud and unyielding, and makes mincemeat of Anne Elliott’s heart. While he is surrounded by eligible young ladies, Anne is called upon to play the music for the dancing, “though her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she sat at the instrument . . .” Poor Anne!

Persuasion, pp. 69 – 70:

It was a merry, joyous party, and no one seemed in higher spirits than Captain Wentworth. She felt that he had every thing to elevate him, which general attention and deference, and especially the attention of all the young women could do.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What Kind of Books Make You Cry?

This morning, self answered a Bookshouse tweet that asked: What kind of books make you cry while reading them?

She wanted to say: Almost every book.

Or she could have said: Angst-y books.

Instead, she decided to name a book. No, it was not The Subtle Knife, though that book certainly did make her cry. It was Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods. Because of the character of the wife.

Like Dead Letters (which she compares almost every book to, now), it’s a mystery. While Dead Letters gives us closure on the very last page, In the Lake of Woods doesn’t give us even that much. Read at your own risk! O’Brien executes the wife’s point of view so well.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Angst in Dead Letters and Missing, Presumed

These two books are mysteries. And each has a ton of angst.

Actually, there’s angst as well in Tana French. But French’s angst doesn’t approach the level of angst in either Dead Letters or Missing, Presumed.

Of the two, self much prefers the hysterical, over-the-top angst in Dead Letters. In fact, now that she knows how Dead Letters end, she’s started re-reading, and it is simply delicious: Nadine, the matriarch, pitches wine glasses at her daughter’s head, the same  daughter who has just returned from Paris, leaving behind graduate studies and a nice French boyfriend, all for the sake of grieving for her twin sister, who stole her boyfriend.

In Missing, Presumed, the angst is due to the main character’s being almost 40 and suffering from a bad case of FOMO. The first half of the book gives almost as much attention to her blind dates as to the missing person case itself. Pardon self if she much prefers the angst in Dead Letters. At least, in Dead Letters, the angst is due to having a horrible, living mother and recently deceased sister (burned to a crisp in a raging barn fire — how can this not be the most delicious of set-ups?)

In Missing, Presumed, there is one really bad guy, and it’s not the perp. It’s that horrible, no-good systems analyst from Ely who hooks up with the main character and softens her up by leaving her eye drops (delivering them in person to the police station!) because she’s developed a raging case of conjunctivitis, which — take her word for it — looks horrible during televised press conferences

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Aggravations of Being a Woman Detective

Missing, Presumed, p. 329

“Listen, he’s a prick,” says Bryony, “top totty like you.”

“He might still change his mind,” says Davy, who seems back to his old self.

“Davy,” says Bryony. “Let’s not give the patient false hope.”

lol

lol

lol

Stay tuned.

 

This Scene: Jamaica Inn, Ch. 2

Her aunt, who had not uttered a word since her husband entered the room, was frying bacon over the fire. No one spoke. Mary was aware of Joss Merlyn watching her across the table, and behind her she could hear her aunt fumbling with ineffectual fingers at the hot handle of the frying pan.

Some Thoughts:

  • The frying of the bacon in the middle of the night is a very interesting touch.
  • Joss Merlyn is an utter pig and Mary has certainly landed herself in a pickle, stuck with him and his cowed wife in an inn of uncertain repute in the middle of a nightmarishly stark and unfamiliar landscape.

So far, the novel reads like one of those dark fairy tales where a damsel in distress has to endure trial by fire before she encounters a) a prince; b) a fairy godmother; c) an inheritance.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

TREASURE ISLAND, Chapter XII: “Council of War”

DSCN0175.JPG

This past week has been a great, angst-y week. Not only did self definitively decide that she couldn’t bear to read further than p. 253 of The Amber Spyglass — it would break her — but she saw Avengers: Infinity War, and — she just can’t seem to escape the bloody angst. Because the movie — just ask anyone who’s seen it — has angst to the nth power.

As soon as she got home, she resumed reading Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. (For such a slim novel, it is taking FOREVER for her to read through, maybe because she keeps having to blog about pirate tropes, practically every page)

Today’s reading had mild angst. For one thing, a mutiny has just been discovered by the captain of the Hispaniola, a rather decent man named Mr. Smollett (The name alone does not encourage confidence regarding his eventual fate).

So, what are we to do? asks someone of the captain (He means: what are we to do about the mutiny?)

“First point,” began Mr. Smollett. “We must go on, because we can’t turn back.”

The captain and his mates then begin to try and figure out which members of the crew are loyal and can be counted on. They consider a crewman named ‘Hands.’ (Self loves the names in this novel. First there was Barbecue, the ship’s cook. Now there is a seaman named ‘Hands.’)

“Hands was one of mine,” says the squire.

“I did think I could have trusted Hands,” added the captain.

“And to think that they’re all Englishmen!” broke out the squire.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Amber Spyglass (Pause for Now)

NO SPOILERS FOR THE AMBER SPYLGASS, PROMISE!

p. 248, just halfway. But self was immersed in a wonderful piece of Amber Spyglass fan fiction (and there are very few of those. At least, when compared to Hunger Games. There are six times as many Hunger Games fan fics than there are Amber Spyglass fan fics — of any ship.) Anyhoo, self was enjoying the fan fic hugely until she landed on a chapter where the writer quotes the end of The Amber Spyglass. And — self knows the end already because Twitter is an undisciplined space. But she didn’t expect it to go down like that. It was so awful. Seeing as how she found the ending of The Subtle Knife excruciating, she knew she wasn’t strong enough for the end of The Amber Spyglass. Exhibit A: She put off reading the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games for two years, until the movies started coming out, because she was so sure Peeta would die. But then a niece looked self straight in the eyes and said, “Peeta makes it.”

Oh. He DOES?

Screech!

Self returned home, read the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games, went to the local bookstore, bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and binge-read.

So, alas, farewell for now, His Dark Materials, and on to . . .  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which has zero angst.

The edition self checked out of the Redwood City Library has a neat little intro — Stevenson’s essay, “My First Book.” She’s actually been dipping into it off and on, the past few days. Here’s an excerpt:

I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man, still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see or twopence worth of imagination to understand with!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Golden Compass, p. 376 (Spoilers, Naturally)

After spending almost the entire book struggling to bring an alethiometer to her father, who’s being kept in an ice-bound prison in Svalbard by her evil mother’s henchmen, and after surmounting a host of obstacles — which include evil bears, the Oblation Board, trepanned Tartars and their malevolent daemons — in the process, Lyra meets Lord Asriel for the first time since she learned she was his daughter:

  • Her father was lying back in his chair, lazy and powerful, his eyes as fierce as a daemon’s. She didn’t love him, she couldn’t trust him, but she had to admire him . . .

So real! Philip Pullman, what have you done to self? Turns out Lyra was never meant to bring Lord Asriel an alethiometer. The alethiometer was for her. She didn’t realize it at the time the Master gave it to her because she didn’t think anyone could be as important as her father. So she’s come all this way for, basically, nothing. Not to mention, she realizes her father will be her last opponent. Because he is mad.

GAAAH! Can’t you cut this kid a break, Philip Pullman? So much angst, self can’t even.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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