Personal Library 15

The Man took us all out to dinner at son’s favorite restaurant, Juban in Menlo Park.

Did you know that on Fridays, between five and six p.m., one can have two plates of a) yakiniku; or b) garlic pork; or c) boneless chicken breast; or d) calamari for the price of one?  And that all cocktails are just $3?

Anyhoo, son has gone off to meet a friend and so self is back to the book tabulation!

Let’s see:  Last she left off, she had reached the third shelf of Bookcase # 2 in the dining room.  This shelf has 47 books.

586+ 47 = 633 total of books tabulated so far

Among the books on this shelf are:  Roger Ebert’s Movie Home Companion; Women’s Tales of Whaling:  Life Stories of 11 Japanese Women Who Live With Whaling (Sample passage:  “How come it is OK to kill cows but not whales?  I think it is more sinful to feed calves knowing that you are going to kill them later.  Don’t you think so?”);  The Sign of Jonas, by Thomas Merton;  China in Disintegration:  The Republican Era in Chinese History 1912 – 1949, by James E. Sheridan;  Monster:  Poems, by Joel Barraquiel Tan;  How to  Beat the Russians:  An Instructive Tour of the Weak Points of the Soviet Chess Style, by Edmar Mednis, International Chess Master;  Wonders and Curiosities of Chess, by Irving Chernev (Dedicated, “with love, to a chess widow” —  How sweet!); Best Chess Games 1970 – 1980, by Jon Speelman.

The chess books are The Man’s, of course, most of them dating from his single days.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library 14

And it’s back to the book tabulation!

So far, here’s the count:

539 + 47 = 586 total books counted so far

Self is on the third shelf of Bookcase # 2 in the dining room.

Books on this shelf include:  Writers at Work:  The Paris Review Interviews, edited by Malcolm Crowley; Becoming the Butlers, by Pamela Brandt!  Self’s dear, dear friend; Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell;  The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution, by Harold R. Isaacs, 2nd revised edition;  Wings of Stone, by Linda Ty-Casper;  Philippine Fiction, edited by Joseph A. Galdon;  A Stranger in This World:  Stories, by Kevin Canty;  Like Never Before, by Ehud Havazelet;  Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garcia;  Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney;  A Passage to India, by E. M. Forster;  Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry;  My Merry Mornings, by Ivan Klima, translated by George Theiner;  Parade’s End, by Ford Madox Ford;  The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton; Mens Rea and Other Stories, by Lakambini Sitoy.

Self is still fascinated by this project.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library 10

Can you believe that 49er/Seattle Seahawks game last night?  The Seattles delivered quite a thrashing.  It was so boring, self began watching 60 Minutes.

Today, while listening to NPR, self got to hear a television critic describing his worst show of 2012.  It’s on TLC, some reality show set in Georgia, where people speak with such strong accents that the show uses subtitles.  There’s “Honeybooboo” somewhere in the title.  “Honeybooboo” is apparently the name of a real person.

Anyhoo, a short clip from the show was aired, and it’s about the mother hiring an “etiquette coach.”  Since self was listening on the radio while driving, alas she could not avail of subtitles, and thus she could not understand a thing the mother said.  The mother was purportedly holding a new baby pig in her arms, which was part of the problem, because —  do dear blog readers know that when a baby pig squeals, it sounds just like a human baby?  And durn, that baby pig never stopped squealing!  It seemed like it would start a new squeal every three seconds.

Back to the Ostensible Reason for this Post!

Lowest Bookshelf (# 4) of Bookcase # 1 in self’s dining room:  43 books

385 + 43 = 428 Total books counted thus far

The shelf includes titles like:  A Mother’s Love, by Mary Morris;  Rickshaw Boy, by Lao She (translated by Jean M. James);  Essentials of Chinese Literary Art, by James J. Y. Liu (Self took four courses in Chinese poetry from Prof. Liu while at Stanford, that is how much she enjoyed Chinese poetry);  The Way of Chinese Painting:  Its Ideas and Techniques, by Mai-mai Sze; Realms of Gold:  Poems from the National Parks and Other Western Wilds, by David Meuel;  On Writing Well, 2nd edition, by William Zinsser;  The Fatal Shore, by Robert Hughes;  Arranged Marriage, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni;  The Collected Stories of Elizabeth BowenDrown, by Junot Diaz;  Marry or Burn:  Stories, by Valerie Trueblood;  Confessions of a Volcano, by Eric Gamalinda;  A Line of Cutting Women, edited by Beverly McFarland, Margarita Donnelly, Micki Reaman and Teri Mae Rutledge;  The Concept of Man in Contemporary China, by Donald J. MunroThe Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen, edited by C. Day Lewis.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library 3

On the lower shelf of the bookcase adjacent to the front door, 45 books.

95 + 45 = 140 Total Books counted thus far.

The books on the lower shelf of Bookcase # 1 are mostly coffee table-size, hardbound books, and include titles like Hills Beyond a River:  Chinese Painting of the Yuan Dynasty, by James Cahill;  Filipinos:  Forgotten Asian Americans:  A Pictorial Essay, 1763 – 1963, by Fred Cordova;  The Forbidden Book:  The Philippine American War in Political Cartoons, by Abe Ignacio, Enrique de la Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel, and Helen Toribio;  The New Painting:  Impressionism 1874 – 1886, by the staff of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Our World’s Heritage, published by the National Geographic Society;  the Fear of the Feminine:  And Other Essays on Feminine Psychology, by Eric Neumann; Symbols of Eternity:  Landscape Painting in China, by Michael Sullivan (Self took three courses from him while she was a grad student at Stanford); Philippine Hospitality:  A Gracious Tradition of the East, by Lily Gamboa O’Boyle and Reynaldo G. Alejandro;  Choosing Revolution: Chinese Women Soldiers on the Long March, by Helen Praeger Young;  The Quartet of the Tiger Moon, by Quijano de Manila;  The Public Conscience of Jaime V. Ongpin, written by Alfred A. Yuson and Ricardo B. Ramos




In other news:  “Dirty Harry” was admitted to the Library of Congress today, along with 24 other iconic films, such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  And “The Matrix.”  And the Tom Hanks movie “A League of Their Own.”  All hail, Clint, Audrey, Keanu, and Tom!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Saturday Reading (1st of December 2012): The New York Review of Books, Oct. 11, 2012

Self is engaged in the following activities:   a)  trimming clematis henryi, in rather strenuous rain; b) chopping up empty boxes that she’d been storing in her shed “for future use” for at least a decade; c) trolling the web and d) reading the Oct. 11, 2012 issue of The New York Review of Books.

Among the trove of riches contained in this issue of the review, self makes the following discoveries:

  • The Library of America has published a two-volume anthology called American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s, edited by Gary K. Wolfe.  Among the nine are these titles:  The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber; The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett; The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth; More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon; and Who? by Algis Budry.
  • iUniverse took out a large ad, and among the books featured in the ad was this one:  If You’re Gonna Be Stupid, You’ve Gotta Be Tough! by Bob Cole (An excellent piece of advice, which self will take to heart!)
  • Directly beneath that ad is a smaller one by Trofford Publishing, which features this exceedingly interesting book:  Romantic Resumes:  What Graduate School Did For Lovely Young Jane Doe, by Veronica Verity (What a great pseudonym.  That is, if it really is a pseudonym.  A writer can’t really have a last name like “Verity,” can she?  Are there any people in the world with the family name Verity?  Pray tell!)
  • Gary Wills has an excellent review of Through the Eye of a Needle:  Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350 – 550 AD, by Peter Brown (Surely one of the plainest names ever to be sported by a professor anywhere in the world.  Unless there is a professor somewhere with the name John Brown?)  Self is so excited, she immediately decides to add the book to her “To Read” list, until she happens to glance at the number of pages:  759.  Gulp!

Plus, there is an amazingly funny article written by Ian Johnson, on a Chinese writer named Yu Hua, apparently a celebrity in China, who hosted a raucous dinner party with local notables at which Johnson was in attendance.  At the end of the party, “when the wine bottles had been emptied, the prawns sucked dry, and a bottle of grain alcohol lay on its side, the guests staggered out to their government-issue Audi A6L limousines, windows tinted and doors held open by drivers in dark aviator glasses.  Yu saw them off with a wave and then wondered aloud:  Who the fuck are these people?”

And self is not yet done reading!  This issue might take her the rest of the weekend to get through.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

4 Books From The New Yorker’s Briefly Noted, 2 April 2012/ The Travails of a Wednesday

The first two books on this list are novels; the last two are nonfiction:

A Partial History of Lost Causes, by Jennifer Dubois

“An American woman, fleeing a slow and humiliating death from Huntington’s disease, arrives in Russia in search of an answer to a question posed by her dead father:  What is the proper way to proceed when playing a game one is destined to lose?”

These Dreams of You, by Steve Erickson

“An unemployed professor and former novelist finds himself ineffectually resisting bankruptcy and foreclosure; his wife becomes obsessed with finding their Ethiopian daughter’s natural mother, who may be alive and in trouble.”

Brave Dragons, by Jim Yardley

“Yardley provides incisive accounts of basketball’s history in China and of the N.B.A.’s desire to monetize its popularity there, alongside colorful portraits of the players and hangers-on.”

Monty and Rommel, by Peter Caddick-Adams

“Near-contemporaries, both men were wounded in the First World War and became Field Marshalls in the Second.  Both, Caddick-Adams suggests, were master communicators, and perhaps should not have been promoted from the battlefield, where they excelled, to a strategic level, where they did not.”

*     *    *     *

This has turned out to be quite a trying week, dear blog readers.

For one thing, the husband has been playing this tiresome charade where he pretends to be sick and coughs right in her face.  This, she knows, is because she is about to leave for Scotland, where he imagines she is going to go wild downing bottles of Talisker (On the other hand, things could be worse:  the man could actually be sick, in which case, it will only be a matter of hours — no, minutes! —  before she herself is laid flat with the viral flu)

Self has told him time and time again that she is going away to work.  Not only that, she has looked up the temperature in that part of Scotland and the lows are 43 degrees.  She decides to compare to Redwood City (which is quite chilly today, self is wearing three T-shirts and one pullover, as well as thick socks, and because the wind is so brisk, she has decided not to step out of the house at all) and feels quite faint when the temperature for her area, right now, is 70-something degrees.  She thinks back to Dharamsala and remembers how she shivered under four comforters, even with the heater right next to her bed and going all night (It was one of those old-fashioned coil ones, it reminded her vaguely of a Westinghouse electric fan, and she dreaded knocking it over in her sleep because she was sure she would end up burning to death), and she’s already decided to pack sweaters and thermals and thick socks and woolen scarves, etc etc etc

She happened to give a call to British Airways and was informed that there are no airports in the vicinity of Cambridge (where she has a friend she’d like to meet), and she’s better off going to London and catching a train south.  “Cambridge is south?” self repeated, rather stupidly, and the British Airways woman said, “You are heading to Edinburgh, which is north.  And Cambridge is in the other direction.  South.”

This reminds her of the time, just a week before she left for her first trip to India, when she ended up asking the husband whether New Delhi was near Calcutta. (Her brain feels like it’s been on hold for the past year, dear blog readers.  Perhaps one day, she’ll put it all down, in a book)

Bella The Ancient One got stuck three times in the doggy door.  But it is The Ancient One’s heroics that truly move self, for the dog is about a hundred-plus years old (in equivalent human years) :  still she crawls manfully through that damn doggy door, up and down a flight of stairs to the backyard, to pee.  Self has suggested to hubby that we put a ramp over the stairs, but he thinks it is good exercise for The Ancient One to go up and down steps.

The vet just called, asking why self had not yet picked up The Ancient One’s pain pills ($86 for a month’s supply)

Son called and mentioned that he wanted to know how much it cost to rent a car for a week, and self replied that she couldn’t remember but suggested he try Dollar.  She reminded him to mention that he is a Triple-A member, for the 10% discount.

What else?  She got form rejections from Third Coast and Tin House.  She persists in thinking that the one from Tin House was slightly encouraging.  It was worded:  “Sorry to have to turn you down this time.”  It’s those last two words, “this time,” that self keeps re-playing in her head.  They must really want her work, self thinks.  Or why would they even bother to put “this time”!!!  Perhaps she didn’t get the standard standard rejection, just the medium standard rejection.  Or the slightly standard rejection.  Whatever it is, self is sure she didn’t get the out-and-out rejection from Tin House.

(Which neighbor is it that keeps trundling trash cans back and forth across the sidewalk?  She swears she must have heard that dragging-the-trash-can sound at least five different times in the last two hours.  Every time she peeks out, the sidewalk is empty, and the trash cans are still in place.  Maybe it’s just some kid, dragging his skateboard across the cement . . . )

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Still the First Wednesday Post-Washington DC Trip: No Longer Cleaning the House

The house is reasonably clean.  That is, the living room doesn’t have any dog hair balls.  But now self notices that the hardwood floor is badly in need of refurbishing.  And the house plants by the window facing the street look a little peaked.

Instead of cleaning further, self will water (Later, when it cools down a bit).  And then she will do laundry.

Self did a couple of errands, which took her to Menlo Park (Guy Plumbing & Fixtures, El Camino Real; the dry-cleaner’s), then to Sequoia Station in Redwood City, where she:

  • Looked up Yasmina Reza’s novels in Barnes & Noble:  nope, they don’t carry any of them (Self knows of two)
  • Went to Safeway and bought a bag of mesquite charcoal briquets in preparation for next week’s visit of sole fruit of her loins (She also bought four huge avocados:  $5 for 4.  Self loves these, mashed with evaporated milk and drizzled with sugar.  BTW, there goes self’s diet!)

Self discovered that Safeway no longer stocks The New York Times.  This presents a small problem because now she will have to get her Times from either:  a)  Starbucks, and they only carry about five copies a day:  If self doesn’t go early enough in the morning, they are usually sold out; or  b) Whole Foods, which she has avoided like the plague since getting back from Bacolod, because the cake display is right by the entrance (!!!@@##)

Well, self does make it to Whole Foods.  She believes she deserves a pat on the back for restricting herself to buying only one small dessert (fruit tart), which she is saving for the husband.

And then she opens the Times, and in short order discovers the following:

  • The name of Michelle Obama’s initiative to counter childhood obesity is “Let’s Move.”  The whole country is very admiring of how slender the Obama girls are, and we are constantly reminded of this by Mrs. Obama’s emphasis on how unhealthy fat kids are.  Not to mention:  un-attractive.  Self speaks from personal experience because she was once a Fat Kid herself.  And she had no dates in high school.  Though that may have more to do with the “nerd” factor than with her weight.
  • The Kurds, according to an article by J. Michael Kennedy (p. A6), “are the largest ethnic group in the world without a state.”

Here are the countries featured in the rest of the “International News”:  China (missing persons; a British national dying in Chongqing under suspicious circumstances), Palestine, and Egypt.

Self is mighty interested in the case of the dead British national.  His body was cremated before post-mortem, his friends described him as a “light” drinker (even though Chinese authorities attributed his death to “excessive alcohol consumption”), and the prime suspect is a local politician’s wife, who the British national had inadvertently angered by – – – doing what, exactly?  Self reads almost to the last paragraph, and she never discovers what the British guy did to make the wife of the local Chinese official so angry, angry enough to want to murder him.

And then there is an article about the trial of the Norwegian mass murderer.  Thankfully, this doesn’t show him raising his fist in some kind of Nazi-like salute, which self finds extremely sickening.  In some photos, he is even smirking.  But she has only the utmost respect for the Norwegians, who did not “tighten up” their security restrictions in the aftermath of the tragedy, even though the number of murder victims (77) is horrifically large, particularly for a country whose entire population is only 5 million.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Finally: A New NYTBR Post!

These are the books self is interested in reading, after perusing the 19 February 2012 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

1.    After reading Candice Millard’s review of Gregg Jones’ Honor in the Dust:  Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream (published by New American Library):

  • Gregg Jones’ Honor in the Dust:  Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream — No explanation needed: self is Filipina, after all!

2.    After reading David Leavitt’s (negative, self thinks) review of Olaf Olafsson’s novel, Restoration (published by Ecco/ HarperCollins), about a young Icelandic artist who served as “both apprentice and lover” to a famous (and married) restorer of “Italian Renaissance masterworks,” and how she exacts revenge when it becomes clear that the master has no intention of leaving his pregnant wife for her, two books by a member of “the early-20th-century English colony in Florence”:

  • Iris Origo’s The Merchant of Prato, “a vivid portrait of daily life in medieval Tuscany”
  • Iris Origo’s War in Val d’Orcia, based on Origo’s experiences during World War II, which she spent in Italy on property she and her husband owned, La Foce: “a self-sufficient community incorporating 57 farms, a school and a hospital.”

3.   After reading Allison McCulloch’s short reviews in the Fiction Chronicle, the following novels:

  • Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years, translated by Michael S. Duke (published by Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday), which sounds vaguely magical realist:  The protagonist’s “old friend Little Xi is dissatisfied, distrustful and increasingly disturbed by a strange amnesia that seems to have gripped the population, while another acquaintance insists an entire month has gone missing from the country’s collective memory.”
  • Liz Moore’s Heft (published by Norton), which “tells the stories of Kel and Arthur, two tender, thoughtful souls, adrift in life for want of the anchor of family, slowly being drawn toward each other”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Translation from the Chinese of Mao Dun’s “The Little Witch”

Mao Dun was one of self’s favorite writers.  She decided to translate his long story, “The Little Witch,” for an Asian Languages class at Stanford.  It was the only translation which earned her an “A,”  in her entire time in the East Asian Studies Program.  Here’s one section that has absolutely no suggested edits from her professor, not even a word crossed out:

The old lady on the first floor threw down the furniture and shouted:

“One reaps what he sows!  Offend the Sun Bodhisattva:  It’s all the fault of that worthless thing:  when she entered the door that day, I knew it wasn’t a good sign!  What’s the use of calling a doctor, it would be better to kill her.  Kill her!”

When the sun had risen overhead, the townspeople were all talking excitedly about the dangerous robbers.  The chamber of commerce made a long-distance telephone call to the county, saying that the director of the Bureau of Public Security, in “seizing the robbers,” had been killed, and that the head of the local militia, in “assisting the arrest,” had also received a serious wound.

Now, if you were to place a sheet of Mandarin in front of self, and tell her to tell you what it meant, she would not be able to do it.  But back then — !  Well, that was a different story.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

First Monday After Thanksgiving 2011

Bella, otherwise known as The Ancient One has become so spoiled on snacking on leftover steak and turkey that when self filled her dish with dry dog food this morning, she turned up her nose and refused to eat. Okey-dokey! No more kernels of popcorn or lamb-flavored biscuits for you, m’dear! Self adores you but she is not that crazy!

Self took son to the airport this morning. She thought his United Express flight left at 9, and she was sweating bullets on the 101, especially when traffic came to a dead stop in San Mateo. But only when she had exited the freeway did she learn that son’s flight actually left at 9:50 a.m. Ha ha ha! The joke’s on you, self!

Then the husband text-ed son that he had checked and son’s flight would be delayed “due to weather.” Oh, that wasn’t so good. Son has to make a 1 p.m. class in Claremont. But son was his usual unflappable self. “I’m sure the flight will leave on time,” he assures his falling-apart Mama.

Anyhoo, the jury’s still out on whether son is returning for Christmas. Everything hangs by a thread: she thinks she did all right, cooking wise. No, she most surely over-did it. Late last night, after son walked in, self kept trying to push apple dumplings, salami sandwiches, and what-not on him, and he finally ended up saying: “Mom, I am going to sleep soon. Stop trying to make me eat, OK?”

That’s what self appreciates so much about son: he is so direct with her! A true American!

Anyhoo, now that self has the house all to herself, she looks in the fridge and finds half of a meat loaf sandwich. And even though it isn’t even 10 a.m., she takes it and heats it in the toaster oven. Oooh, it’s on a roll of sourdough bread, and the cheese is grilled just right, and the meat loaf is — self! No wonder your jeans have been so tight lately!

As a distraction from eating, self begins to read a stack of back issues of The New York Times Book Review. This issue (of 13 November 2011) has reviews by Ligaya Mishan (pinay, self has known about her for ages), Liesl Schillinger (one of self’s all-time favorite reviewers) and Caroline Weber, author of What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. Now self is getting ready to settle on the couch and begin reading the reviews written by these three wondrous women writers, and the half of a meat loaf sandwich is right in front of her on the coffee table. She switches on the TV and sees a blonde and super-skinny Angelina Jolie snarling at a terrified and also super-skinny Winona Ryder. Oh! It’s “Girl, Interrupted!” Self’s Monday is sheer bliss.  She takes a huge bite of her meatloaf sandwich; her gaze is simultaneously directed downwards, to her feet.  The Ancient One’s warm, brown, liquid gaze has never been so intent and pleading.  But, IXNAY!  Bella, if you think your owner is going to part with even one morsel of this meltingly delicious cheese-and-meatloaf-on-sourdough-roll 1/2 sandwich, you are the most deluded pet in the entire United States!  No, in the entire planet!

And now, without further ado, here are the reviews self is clipping and saving from the NYTBR:

Ligaya Mishan’s review of Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words:  Apparently, it begins with an essay in humble self-criticism.  How very Confucian!  Self definitely wants to read this book.

Liesl Schillinger’s review of Julian Bond’s Booker-Award-winning 14th novel, The Sense of an Ending:  Not only does Schillinger’s review end up making her want to read this novel, it also makes her want to read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Philip Larkin’s Jill.

Caroline Weber’s review of Caroline Moorehead’s A Train in Winter:  An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

Finally, on the very last page, the one reserved for guest essays, self reads Leah Price’s “The Subconscious Shelf.”  Oh, she loves, loves, loves this essay.  After finishing the essay, self decides she simply must read French gastronome Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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