2020 in Books

Self had an unbelievable string of great reads, in the spring. Here were the books she read:

  • Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Rafael Bob-Waksberg
  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

After that run, she stumbled on The Expanse, and has so far read four novels in the series (The ninth is supposed to appear either this year or next. Ha!), all of them super-engaging. Highly recommend!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Revisiting Self’s Melancholy/ What Is Going On With WordPress?

Three years ago, a short story called “This Is End” appeared in the Cost of Paper, vol. 5

It was science fiction about a character self kept using again and again, in different stories. The MC, Dragon, had a girlfriend, Her, who’d gone missing.

He doesn’t know what happened to Her (There are finite ways to disappear in space) but his favorite theory was that she was still alive, on another ship:

Floating, off to the right: the remains of the former space station, the Kobayashi Maru.

It caught fire. The wreckage drifted, was lost. Then found. Then lost, and found again.

And sometimes, when the ships drift past each other (literally ships that pass in the night HA HA HA), Dragon thinks he sees Her, gesturing to him from a window.


AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, WHICH IS A VENT ABOUT THE NEW WORDPRESS SYSTEM OF FORMATTING, WHICH IS CALLED BLOCK EDITING.

Suddenly, without warning, right while she was in the middle of typing this post, each paragraph acquired its own frame. Like it was a picture. Which, self doesn’t have to tell dear blog readers, is ridiculous.

BLOCK EDITING WITH THE NEW WORDPRESS SYSTEM OF FORMATTING IS THE WORST.

The text floats in little bubbles, and appears so unstable. One little press of the key, and the entire block disappears.

Oh no! There it is again, but then it disappears again. Sort of like Dragon’s girlfriend, lol

Why mess with a system that worked fine — at least, it did for self.

Now, instead of editing tools being all to the side, they appear in the text, right on top of these little boxes — confusing as heck! She doesn’t need to see extra little visuals on top of each paragraph, what are they doing there, it’s not as if each paragraph requires its own format.

She starts typing and whole paragraphs bloom THAT SHE DID NOT HERSELF TYPE. Oh it’s auto-fill. WordPress remembered that you typed a sentence like this before, so it makes it easy and just copies what you typed before. WHICH MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, because where would the fun be in blogging if you just copied from something you’d written before?

With block editing, everything gets so — jiggy. Like the text needs Xanax. The toolboxes and the blocks and the menus keep floating around on the screen, as if the document were suffering from ADD, and self doesn’t know how to get the words to stop moving because they apparently move in response to every slightest twitch of a finger.

And, self discovers to her dismay, she has very twitchy fingers.

FINALLY: This message that suddenly popped up on her Dashboard: START MAKING MONEY FROM YOUR POSTS!

10 (or more) years ago, she asked a friend (who was a marketing whiz, who was being paid big bucks to be said whiz) whether she thought self could release some of her writings as “extras” for people willing to pay a very small amount — say, a dollar. And this marketing whiz (who is still her friend, believe it or not, just not the type of friend she sees a lot, really just someone she encounters occasionally on FB), gaped and said: Why would you charge for something that’s free? I mean, that’s why it’s on the internet, because it’s supposed to be AVAILABLE. You can’t charge for anything on your blog. People would stop reading. And such was self’s faith in her obviously successful friend, she let the matter drop and never explored the idea of making a little money from blogging.

Until today, 12 years later, when she saw this message.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

#amwriting More Dystopia, With a Splash of Mandarin!

Zheng shi ruci.

“Oh, please.”

“Your Mandarin isn’t that bad.”

I sit down. She approaches. She smells different now. I allow her to stroke my cheek. Soon I’m panting and salivating, like one of those dogs.

Pavlovian theory. I learned that somewhere.

#amwriting Dystopia

You’re not permitted in my brain. Get out!

I root around in my head, trying desperately to reach Albert, tossing aside superfluous data, everything I think I don’t need for future transports. I’m under attack! Under attack! Under attack!

Shut down, Albert says. Abort delivery. Good-night.

In Progress: Guayaquil

Splicing together two different stories to create a hybrid dystopia. Part of it is the same world as the one in self’s story Tu-An Ju, which appeared in Vice-Versa.

Recently, self’s stories have veered between the 16th century or the distant future.

Hector was Peter’s only other friend, apart from Chalida. He lived in Guayaquil, in Ecuador: it was difficult terrain. Just south were numerous uncharted islands, and rebels gravitated to these.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Four

Some years, self reads by theme. There was the year she read only women authors. Another year, she read only memoir. She remembers the summer she decided to read everything ever written by Henning Mankell (That was a very fun summer)

Last year, hmm, she doesn’t think she had a theme last year. Looking at her reading list for 2020, it’s clear 2020 is the year for reading fiction. Just straight-up good literary fiction.

Self read twelve books so far 2020.

Here were her top reads (arranged in the order in which she read them):

  • January: Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  • February: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • February: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • End of March, beginning of April: Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

She’s currently reading her first Liane Moriarty: Big Little Lies.

She’s hoping to get into the Ruth Galloway detective series. She’s just ordered Book # 1, The Crossing Places.

Even if there were no “shelter in place,” self knows she would still be doing the same things she’s doing right now: reading, writing, watching TV, gardening, cooking, laundry.

Sharing a picture of her Fourth of July rose, just starting to bloom.

DSCN0019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

For Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. These are the women (prose) authors on self’s 2020 Reading List:

  • Liane Moriarty
  • Diane Gabaldon
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Mathangi Subramanian
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Jung Chang
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Sally Rooney
  • Peg Alford Pursell
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Dacia Maraini
  • Shahrnush Parsipoor
  • E. R. Ramzipoor
  • Elizabeth Tallent
  • Sadie Jones

Also: Caroline Kim-Brown’s short story collection, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, coming this fall: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts. You can read the title story now, in Ms.Aligned Vol. 3.

Women self has read so far 2020:

  • Dodie Smith
  • Katherine Addison
  • Jia Tolentino
  • Kathryn Ferguson

The Goblin Emperor, p. 353

  • His control was mostly an illusion, especially as he did nothing himself but merely told Csevet what he wished done, but it was better than throwing temper tantrums or going into a decline or any of the other more ostentatious responses to being an emperor that occurred to him.

The Goblin Emperor is 18. He was raised far from court, with his Goblin mother and a caretaker who beat him.

He becomes Emperor upon the sudden deaths of his father the Emperor (an Elf), three older brothers, and the son of one of his older brothers (Not a spoiler. This information is given on p. 2)

The deceased Emperor hated his Goblin fourth wife but such was his cruelty that he forbade her to return to her people. She had to live the rest of her life in a barren outpost, her only companion her half-Goblin son and the abusive caretaker.

Then, improbably, the half-Goblin becomes Emperor Edrehasivar VII. Yet, somehow, he does so much better than POTUS (Self can’t help drawing comparisons; it’s the times). For one thing, he has such great empathy.

Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: Katherine Addison

The emperors of what was informally called the Varedeise dynasty — as if their chosen prefix were a surname — were noted for their isolationist policies, their favoring of the wealthy eastern landowners, and their apparent inability to see anything wrong with bribery, nepotism, and corruption.

The Goblin Emperor, p. 59

HA. HA. HA. HA!

Movement on the 2020 Reading List

Just finished Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and it was glorious.

Now reading The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison.

Self’s next two books are I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, and Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. She found a review in The Economist about great houses in fiction, and those two books came up in the course of. She thinks she read Brideshead Revisited, but so  long ago that all she remembers is a British mini-series of the same name, with an actor with the improbable name of Anthony Andrews playing Sebastian.

Monday is off to an excellent start.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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