Levin Again: ANNA KARENINA, p. 35

Levin lunching with his old friend Stepan Arkadyevich aka Stiva, whose wife Dolly has just discovered his affair:

Levin: You can’t imagine how it is for me, a country dweller, all this is as savage as the fingernails of the gentlemen I saw in your office.

Stiva (laughing): Yes, I saw how intrigued you were by poor Grinevich’s nails.

Levin: I can’t help it . . . Just imagine you’re me and take a country dweller’s point of view. In the country, we try to keep our hands in a state that makes them handy to work with; so we trim our nails and sometimes roll up our sleeves. But here people let their fingernails grow as long as they can stand it on purpose, and they wear cuff links like saucers so that they can’t do anything with their hands.

Stiva (smiling): Yes, it’s a sign that he doesn’t need to do rough labor. His mind does the work.

Self is fascinated by this glimpse into the foppish fashion of Muscovites.

Stiva seems like a good guy, a good friend to Levin. Ugh, but he’s really so entitled.

Stay tuned.

Hardly Seems Possible: #amwriting

  •  They tested the salinity in the top layers of ocean water left behind by the ice melt. The data was extracted from brine droplets trapped in pockets of glacier ice. The average was 35 kilograms ppt: 35 kilogram parts per thousand. Suddenly, after a month, salinity in parts per thousand had dropped drastically, to just above 20 kilograms ppt.

Would you believe self wrote this?

Reading it over, now, it all sounds like gobbledygook.

She started this particular story in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland (All her best science fiction were written at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig). That was really bold, since she’s never been to either of the Poles, North or South.

In addition, she’s the furthest thing from a scientist you can imagine. Put numbers and other hard data in front of her, and her mind will cease to function. She’ll go into shock.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Monotones (One Single Color)

Cee Neuner has very interesting prompts. This week’s is MONOTONES. Love it.

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Lake Annagmakerrig: 4:30 a.m., 8 November 2018 (Just realized that it’s too light in the photograph for 4:30 a.m. DUH! The photo is time-stamped for California time, which is eight hours ahead of Ireland. The actual time in Ireland when self took the picture was 12:30 p.m.)

It amuses self to think about how the first color that usually comes to mind when one thinks of Ireland is green.

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Clouds, Annaghmakerrig: 7:30 a.m. (California time, which means 3:30 p.m. in Ireland), 7 November 2018

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Fatsia, Backyard, Redwood City: 11 a.m., 26 September 2018

More Hilarity in KUDOS

At home she generally avoided doing housework . . .  because those kinds of chores made her feel so unimportant that she wouldn’t have been able to write anything afterwards.

Kudos, p. 51

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.

 

Angst in Dead Letters and Missing, Presumed

These two books are mysteries. And each has a ton of angst.

Actually, there’s angst as well in Tana French. But French’s angst doesn’t approach the level of angst in either Dead Letters or Missing, Presumed.

Of the two, self much prefers the hysterical, over-the-top angst in Dead Letters. In fact, now that she knows how Dead Letters end, she’s started re-reading, and it is simply delicious: Nadine, the matriarch, pitches wine glasses at her daughter’s head, the same  daughter who has just returned from Paris, leaving behind graduate studies and a nice French boyfriend, all for the sake of grieving for her twin sister, who stole her boyfriend.

In Missing, Presumed, the angst is due to the main character’s being almost 40 and suffering from a bad case of FOMO. The first half of the book gives almost as much attention to her blind dates as to the missing person case itself. Pardon self if she much prefers the angst in Dead Letters. At least, in Dead Letters, the angst is due to having a horrible, living mother and recently deceased sister (burned to a crisp in a raging barn fire — how can this not be the most delicious of set-ups?)

In Missing, Presumed, there is one really bad guy, and it’s not the perp. It’s that horrible, no-good systems analyst from Ely who hooks up with the main character and softens her up by leaving her eye drops (delivering them in person to the police station!) because she’s developed a raging case of conjunctivitis, which — take her word for it — looks horrible during televised press conferences

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

A Walk: Suggested by Missing, Presumed

A typical boy’s walk in Cambridge:

“. . . along Mill Lane to the news agent where he can buy pick-and-mix; to sit on the swings in Sumatra Road; to Fortune Green where friends from his school congregate in the park and scale the wire fence into the play centre. He is about to turn twelve, is well over five foot, and now walks to school alone.”

Sentence of the Day: Missing, Presumed

  • The more you don’t make contact, the more impossible contact becomes, as if silence can enlarge like a seep of blood.

The writing in Missing, Presumed got stronger, the voice more confident, after about the halfway mark.

Today, self was in Heffers and found yet more books she wishes she could have purchased. But — no, it’s too much. She’s hauling luggage to Durham next.

She had to content herself with taking pictures.

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Heffers, Trinity Street, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

When, oh when, is The Secret Commonwealth, Book 2 of the Book of Dust, coming out? Philip Pullman keeping very mum.

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Waterstones, Sidney Street, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

Can you imagine, Emily Wilson, whose translation of The Odyssey self bought in hardcover from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, earlier this year, is reading tonight in Cambridge?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

New Book: ALL SYSTEMS RED, by Martha Wells

With this book, the 33rd on her 2018 Reading List, self has exceeded her Goodreads Reading Challenge (32 books). YES! 2018 so LIT!

Next year, self will up her goal to 33 books.

Opening paragraph:

  • I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

lol

Really liked Autonomous (finished last night) except for the torture scenes.

Next up:

  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski
  • Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: Omagh Freezes

by Aine MacAodha, from her collection Landscape of Self (Belfast: Lapwing, 2015)

It was early November
I remember because of
How cold it was
A mini ice age it was said.
15 below zero; small towns
In the north stood still
Phone lines came down
From the weight of frost and snow
Burst pipes in the hundreds
And the drains unable to cope
Backed up.
I slid on the ice; tore ligaments
In my arm when I was helped up.
I feel the aches again as winter
Loiters like a threat.
Bones shudder under skin
A warning of another ice age to come.
It was the talk of the town all winter season
From the post office in market street
To the butchers in campsite
It was something different to talk about I suppose.

Aine MacAodha is from Omagh in County Tyrone.

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