Gary Kamiya Again

  • Hundreds of giant bison, weighing two tons and standing more than eight feet high, headed through the Golden Gate on their seasonal migration, next to the roaring river . . . At the top of the food chain stood the American lion and the short-faced bear.

— from The Alcatraz Triangle, Ch. 3 of Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco

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San Francisco, Viewed From Point Richmond: February 2015

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View of the Mendocino Headlands from Main Street

Tomorrow, straight to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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.

Rachel Cusk Sentence of the Day: KUDOS, p. 135

Been reading Kudos since 18 December. Bought her hardbound copy from the London Review Bookshop. The cover had big, black, bold letters against a pristine white background. This very minute, the book sits on her lap, and the white background has acquired a greyish tinge.

p. 135:

That tribe was one to which nearly all the men in this country belonged, and it defined itself through a fear of women combined with an utter dependence on them; and so despite her best efforts it was only a matter of time, she realised, before her son’s questions about right and wrong found their answer in the low-level bigotry with which he was surrounded and to which everything was encouraging him to submit.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Writing is Process: KUDOS, p. 54

The narrator has an interesting conversation with a fellow writer:

  • “. . . every day, when he sat down to write, he would think of an object that didn’t mean anything to him and would set himself the task of including it somewhere in that day’s work. She asked him for examples and he said that in the past few days he had chosen a lawnmower, a fancy wristwatch, a cello and a caged parrot. The cello was the only one that hadn’t worked, he said, because he had forgotten when he chose it that his parents had tried to make him learn the cello when he was a child.”

Love it.

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.

Self’s Top Three Reads of 2018

How did self end up selecting these three?

The books may have been far from perfect — self thinks, in particular, of the first two — but they were the books she found herself re-reading, despite their flaws:

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  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach: Bravo, Dolan-Leach. Self has not been able to dislodge the dysfunctional Antipova twins and their yummy boy toy, Wyatt Darling, from her thoughts since she read this, Dolan-Leach’s first novel, mid-November.
  • Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz: Beat out a host of other science fiction self read this year, including All Systems Red, Book 1 of The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells; and Jade City, by Fonda Lee. The book lived because of a character named Threezed.
  • The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman: Vol. 2 of His Dark Materials killed self in every way. If not exactly perfect, it was close. Will Parry forever. The book did such a number on her that she went to Oxford to see Will and Lyra’s bench, in the Oxford Botanical Garden.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Academy in JADE CITY: Hogwarts in Janloon

The Year-Eights graduate. Anden, self’s second-favorite character. Well, probably her first now since . . . WAH!! Don’t make her say it.

Anyhoo, Anden is a Year-Eight. He passes all his graduation pre-trials, one by one, handily.

Now comes the test called the Massacre of the Mice (Self keeps thinking of that Dave Sedaris story about how hard it is to kill a mouse), p. 348:

At Pre-Trials the Year-Eights stood behind a table in the packed Gathering Hall and each was given a cage of five white lab mice. They were not allowed to touch the mice with anything but one finger, and the judges disqualified anyone trying to cheat by using Strength or Deflection on the small creatures. Various attempts had been made over the years to try to upgrade the popular event to be more exciting — who didn’t want to see a man try to Channel into a bull? For practical and budgetary reasons, the proposals were always overruled . . .  When the bell went off, he didn’t bother to try to touch the mice with his fingers. They were too nimble for that. He hovered both hands over the cage, quickly Perceiving all five tiny throbbing lives burning like tea lights.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Rare Sighting of Husband: THE DOOR

The husband in The Door is an ineffably mysterious presence: He is there but rarely speaks, somewhat like the father in Tove Jansson’s elegiac, beautiful novel set on a Scandinavian island, The Summer Book (Self discovered Jansson just this summer).

In The Door, while the narrator becomes increasingly emotional, and Emerence becomes increasingly unpredictable, the husband provides a tantalizing comfort. He is in bed with the narrator when Emerence bursts in one morning, singing a song. Once, he runs angrily out of the house, upset that Emerence has put a garden gnome in front of his English classics in the library.

He is ill in the beginning. The housekeeper tells the narrator he is going to die, which strikes self as cruel, but he seems to get stronger as the novel progresses.

He and the narrator visit a Greek island called Glifada. It’s Good Friday; they stop at a church. There’s a dead Christ on a bier by the entrance. The villagers invite them to “join them in mourning the Saviour.” They put a bell rope into the husband’s hands.

The narrator watches:

  • “I can still see him ringing the bell, his thick blonde hair, already shot with grey, tugged by the sea breeze.”

Wow.

This is almost the end of the book; will this be the last, the only time, we see him? Why is self so relieved that he does not die? (Although, she still has about 20 pages to go)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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