Insomnia & The NYTBR of 13 September 2009

Self had another awful bout of insomnia last night. She told herself she would not allow herself to read any more of the Alice Munro collection after a certain time of night, because then she’ll want to stay up reading, so enthralling are the stories (Runaway). But it didn’t work last night. In the wee hours of the morning, self was still wide awake, the only difference from nights previous was that she was now reading The New York Times Book Review of 13 September 2009. So, here are the books self thought she’d be interested in reading, in the wee hours of this morning:

1. After reading Liesl Schillinger’s review of a new novel by E. L. Doctorow, Homer & Langley:

E. L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley

2. After reading Dexter Filkin’s review of Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman:

Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

3. After reading Lisa Scottoline’s review of Ethan Brown’s Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder That Rocked New Orleans:

Ethan Brown’s Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder That Rocked New Orleans

4. After reading Louisa Gilder’s review of Graham Farmelo’s The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom:

Graham Farmelo’s The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

5. After reading Andrew Ervin’s review of Nigeria-born fiction writer Helen Oyeyemi’s third novel, White is for Witching:

Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching

6. After reading Caryn James’ review of Philippe Claudel’s latest novel, Brodeck (translated from the French by John Cullen):

Philippe Claudel’s Brodeck, translated from the French by John Cullen

7. After reading William Giraldi’s review of Terrence Holt’s first story collection, In the Valley of the Kings:

Terrence Holt’s In the Valley of the Kings

8. After reading Jonathan Lethem’s end-paper essay, “Poet of Desolate Landscapes,” about the stories of J. G. Ballard:

The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard

Exhaustion, and a Movie

Dear blog readers, take note: Since no one read last night’s post, “Nostalgia Post I: A Brother’s (Short-Lived) Restaurant,” it has now vanished into blog-world ether, though self must hasten to assure readers that it still lives (somewhere in self’s brain)

Thursday night, self got maybe two hours sleep. Perhaps it was all the excitement of the week: the start of spring quarter and meeting a new class of students — a number of whom were apparently eager and willing to discuss AndrĂ© Dubus’ short story “Killings,” and it was only the first assignment of the quarter (!!!) — and the Wednesday night reading at Book Passage in the Ferry Building (The store’s setting is to-die-for, not to mention there is a really good gelato place in the Ferry Building where self treated herself to a mango/lychee/banana smoothie)

In addition, hubby stayed up until 3 AM. Since self was so consumed by curiosity about hubby’s web habits, she herself could not sleep, even after hubby shut the light (His laptop remained on, a blue cube glowing in the darkness)

So, self resumed reading E. L. Doctorow’s Welcome to Hard Times. And, since she was liking it so much more than Billy Bathgate, she decided to read all the way to the end. And, wouldn’t you know, the ending was the most violent, horrific set-piece self has read in any novel in decades. And, after finishing it, self was so angry at its lame-brain protagonist that she wanted to throw the book against a wall (Only, it was a library book, so she had to restrain herself). And, scenes of mayhem and violence kept re-playing in self’s head every time she laid her head down on the pillow. Which meant that self could not sleep at all.

Still, yesterday was not bad. First of all, it was hot. To self’s way of thinking, any day that recalls heat of self’s beloved home country is already halfway good.

Then, self got to check out another book from the library: Jane Smiley’s novella and short stories, The Age of Grief (Upon reading the purchase date, stamped on the inside front cover, self had to do a double-take: 1977??? Jane Smiley is a lot older than self thought!)

Then to the real highlight of the day: During a brief stop at the Redwood City Nursery, self splurged on a two-gallon ‘Pieris Flaming Silver,’ the mere sight of whose reddish leaves set her insides to glowing. Self carted it to the side yard and then went all over the back and front yards, watering. (Her roses are getting enormous! That is, most of them are way taller than self! And the red freesias under the loquat are blooming!)

Late last night, after hubby returned from the office, we watched “Check, Please! Bay Area” and saw ourselves. That is, the backs of our heads. For the camera was really more interested in cuz Maitoni and her son Enrique. And we were very tickled to hear the restaurant critics say how good the food at New Kapadokia was, and how lovely the Redwood City downtown area is (as if self needed to be told — !!)

Then, hubby went on webcam to converse with his Mum, and self overheard him telling her about self’s recent trip to Tel Aviv, upon which self came out of the bedroom and handed him her (crap Nikon digital) camera, and hubby did a slide show of the pictures and described them for his Mum.

Then self fell asleep. And she awoke five hours later (at 3:40 AM or thereabouts). And she immediately checked her blog stats. And her e-mail. Cuz Maitoni says she bawled like a baby while watching old Redford flick, “The Way We Were.” In fact, cuz informs self, she bawled so hard — she was all alone in the house — that her blind dog Flora grew quite agitated.

Self tells Maitoni that if she likes weepers, she should watch “Once,” which self had to force herself to return to Netflix yesterday (otherwise, she would watch it a third time this weekend, and she has no time, as she still has to send back her contract to the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. And take Gracie for her annual physical. And hubby and she have a concert to watch in Davies tonight).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

7:24 PM, Redwood City

Self fell into bed, finally, at 2 PM. Now, it’s more than five hours later, she doesn’t know what happened in between, only that she was dreaming, and when she woke up and went outside to the living room, hubby was sitting in front of the television set, smoking.

The garden had changed. Now all the trees that were bare before self left are in full leaf. Self sees that one of the maples in the front yard is being bothered by something, because the leaves have come in on only one side.

Self had to throw away a small 4-inch pot of lamium maculatum, and some woodruff that had expired in its ceramic planter.

The dogs were fat.

The weather was cold and overcast.

Self had to spray her roses: the Sunflare was absolutely over-run with small green aphids.

This morning hubby accompanied self to the Mountain View Farmers Market. There self purchased: bok choy, green snap peas, new potatoes, green onions, apple cider, onions, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and a 10-lb. bag of navel oranges. Afterwards, hubby took self to a new Vietnamese noodle place, which was more bustling than old haunt Pho To Chau, and he appeared distracted and in a hurry to leave and self couldn’t finish her pho. Then, on the way home, he was very upset because they seemed to be hitting each and every red light, and then he slowed down considerably, perhaps he was testing the glide mechanism of the car who knows, but self was already halfway out: that is, her head kept falling over and her eyes kept closing.

At home, self declared she was in need of a nap. A five-hour nap, it turned out.

Only two rejections in the mail. In the wee hours of this morning, because self could not sleep, she finished Penelope Lively’s The Photograph and began E. L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate and is now almost halfway through it.

It was self’s first time to read Penelope Lively, and maybe her third time to read a Doctorow (the first and second times were way back in the early 80s), and though self remembers being astonished by everything Doctorow did, once-upon-a-time, she now finds his writing fussy and predictable.

But she’ll probably finish the novel, what the heck. Self thinks it is absolutely amazing that tomorrow is already the first day of spring quarter at xxxx community college. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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