Books/ The Economist, 9 February 2019

As dear blog readers can tell from the date, self has a whole pile of Economists to catch up on.

Today is Sunday and the sun is shining and she’s made good on her goal to spend most, if not all, of today reading.

She’s on the 9 February 2019 Books section, and there’s a review of a really interesting book:

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Another book reviewed in this issue (though not positively, lol) is Let Me Not Be Mad, by A. K. Benjamin. Sadly, The Economist does not warm up to its unreliable narrator, but self confesses to being intrigued by this excerpt, quoted in the review:

  • I walked over London Bridge in rush hour, faces thronging around me, and diagnosed each one in an instant: Psychosis . . . Depression . . . Lewy Bodies . . . Panic . . . Depression . . . Sociopathy . . . OCD . . . Cynophobia . . . Panic . . . Guam’s. Everybody has something, and now there’s a name for it, even if it’s fear of having something, of going insane, aka dementophobia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Cost of Living, p. 57: Déja Vu to Rachel Cusk

The main character, Deborah Levy (also the name of the author, lol), attends an editorial meeting in London. She decides to bike there and gets oil all over her hands. Then the meeting commences.

The Cost of Living, p. 57:

The executives sat around a polished oak table in a windowless room. They were intelligent, experienced, groomed, at the top of their game. I was offered a glass of water and accepted it gratefully. After a while, I realized I had an old-fashioned idea of what a meeting such as this one should be like, and I had acquired it from watching too many black and white movies. What I had in mind was an atmosphere in which we sipped negronis in a nightclub in Rome, plotting the main arc of the film while dancers adorned in feathers cavorted in the background.

Gender Politics

It is so mysterious to want to suppress women. It is even more mysterious when women want to suppress women. I can only think we are so very powerful that we need to be suppressed all the time.

— The Cost of Living, p. 49

The Writing Life, from Deborah Levy

  • The writing life is mostly about stamina. To get to the finishing line requires the writing to become more interesting than everyday life . . .

The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography, p. 36

Sunday Read: TAKING MESOPOTAMIA, by Jenny Lewis

Two books self put on hold are waiting for pick-up at the downtown Redwood City Library: one is Milkman, the prize-winning novel by Irish writer Anna Burns. The other is nonfiction by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Leadership.

The rain seems to be holding off a bit. She planted some lilies and spread organic fertilizer around her roses.

She really needs to get on with her writing, always difficult when she’d much rather be planting. To help her, she’s reading Jenny Lewis’s memoir in poetry of her father’s time in the British Army: Taking Mesopotamia (Carcanet, 2014)

This is a re-read. Self has known Jenny for five years. She heard Jenny read at the British Museum. She was there when Jenny read from her new collection, Gilgamesh Retold, at the Woodstock Poetry Festival in Oxfordshire, last November.

The collection begins with two quotes, the first from the epic of Gilgamesh, the second from Lord Grey of Falloden.

Here’s what Lord Grey has to say about the taking of Mesopotamia, 1919:

  • I think the best thing would be if, at the end of the war we could say we had taken and gained nothing. Taking Mesopotamia, for instance, means spending millions on irrigation and development with no immediate return . . . keeping up a large army in an unfamiliar country and tangling every kind of administrative question.

Self loves the idea of an occupying army taking and gaining nothing.

Stay tuned.

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Sunday Morning, First Day of Daylight Saving, March 2019

Quote of the Day: Deborah Levy

I became physically strong at fifty, just as my bones were supposed to be losing their strength. I had energy because I had no choice but to have energy. I had to write to support my children and I had to do all the heavy lifting. Freedom is never free. Anyone who has struggled to be free knows how much it costs.

The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography, p. 17

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Deborah Levy, memoirist

Missing Cora Seaborne . . .

If self had known a Cora Seaborne in her life, she’d undoubtedly be her best friend. She and Cora would read books, argue about them, and get mud on their shoes and under their nails. They’d collect useless stuff on their walks.

Actresses self thinks could play her:

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Rebecca Hall

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Romola Garai

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Emma Thompson

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Olivia Colman

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Characters (So Far) 2019

In self’s reading, it’s all about the characters. Here are her favorites from her most recent reads (doesn’t look like she’s going to make her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, she’s been so poky — hanging on to her translations, her intricate classic novels, her favorite book companions).

From Current Read, The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry:

CORA SEABORNE. Joanna Ransome. Luke Garrett. Naomi Banks.

Swann’s Way and Anna Karenina are books she’s read before, but her focus shifted surprisingly on second reading.

From Swann’s Way (the Lydia Davis translation), by Marcel Proust:

The narrator. Swann, always and forever.

From Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy:

DOLLY. Karenin. Kitty. Kitty’s father, Prince Alexander Dmitrievich. Seryozha. Vronsky.

It’s strange, self feels no sympathy whatsoever for Anna Karenina. Not on this re-read. Anna seems less like a real woman and more like a construct used by Tolstoy to make a point. Self hated her from the moment she advised Dolly to stick with her faithless, profligate husband. Was crowing for her fall. Wished Dolly were given a more redemptive story arc.

The character who exhibits the most growth in Anna Karenina is, in self’s humble opinion, Karenin. Because he falls in love with his wife’s child with another man. That’s quite an arc! When he shows up regularly at the baby’s nursery, and the governesses don’t know what to make of it? WAAAAH!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Orange and Pink: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

You have to look hard in a few of these, but they definitely all DO have Orange and Pink.

Thanks again to Cee Neuner for the Fun Foto Challenge!

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Redwood City, California: January 2019

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London: 3 December 2018

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Heffers, Trinity Street, Cambridge: 23 November 2018

Can you tell how much self loves Philip Pullman? She read all the books on this table in the first few months of 2018. She knew that when she got to Oxford, she would look for as many Philip Pullman-related sites as she could.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 10 February 2019: Currently Reading in Mendocino

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View from Main Street, Mendocino, Today (It rained all day yesterday but today was glorious)

“And hadn’t the Kraken been nothing but legend, until a giant squid pitched up on a Newfoundland beach, and was photographed in a tin bath by the Reverend Moses Harvey?”

The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, p. 144

This is self’s first Sarah Perry book. She’s quite enjoying it.

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