View: Main Street, Mendocino

There is nothing on earth so vast, so glorious, as the southern heavens. In the ordinary world a man measures himself against the height of buildings, omnibuses, doorways; here, scale blown to the four quarters, he’d be a fool not to recognise he’s no more significant than a raindrop on an ocean. Standing there, it seemed irrelevant where Amundsen was — we were both cut down to size.

The Birthday Boys, p. 109

Quote of the Day: Petty Officer Edgar (Taff) Evans, June 1910

There’s a trick to holding attention, to keeping interest at full pitch, and I learnt it as a boy from Idris Williams, the preacher in the chapel at the bottom of Glamorgan Street. It’s a matter of knowing which way the wind blows and of trimming sails accordingly. All the same, I’ve never found it necessary to alter my description of the cold, or of the ice flowers that bloomed in winter along the edges of the sea.

The Birthday Boys, p. 8

Farewell, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors; Hello, The Birthday Boys

Opening Sentence:

  • We left West India Dock for Cardiff on the first day of June.

Past Squares 13: Philippine History

Self is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines. Her Dear Departed Dad’s province was an island in the central Philippines called Negros (yes, really, the Spanish named the island after its inhabitants, who were dark-skinned)

For today’s Past Squares post (many, many thanks to Becky at Life of B for hosting the Squares Challenge), here are two books on Philippine History that she’s found invaluable while doing research for her current project, a novel about a 16th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines to fight demons:

2020 Reads: The List So Far

The books below took her through a tumultuous year. Books are listed in the order in which she read them:

  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, by Jia Tolentino
  • Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang
  • 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 OJ Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • TheChildren of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
  • Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey
  • Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us, by Frans de Waal
  • Caliban’s War, by James S. A. Corey
  • Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker
  • Abaddon’s Gate, by James S. A. Corey
  • The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells
  • Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey
  • Her Protector’s Pleasure, by Grace Calloway
  • The Snakes, by Sadie Jones
  • The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste
  • First: Sandra Day O’Connor, by Evan Thomas
  • Colonel Chabert, by Honorée de Balzac
  • The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal
  • In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow
  • Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye
  • Your House Will Pay, by Stephanie Cha
  • Heaven, My Home, by Attica Locke
  • Bread and Salt: Stories, by Valerie Miner
  • The Prince of Mournful Thoughts, by Caroline Kim (Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize)
  • Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, by Edward Ball

Beginning IN WEST MILLS, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

The Charterhouse of Parma: Five Stars

In terms of her reading life, August was the bomb. All the books she read were library check-outs (YAY! Library’s back, it’s back, it’s back!)

She read, in addition to The Charterhouse of Parma: Colonel Chabert, by Balzac; First: Sandra Day O’Connor, by Evan Thomas; and The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste.

Excited to begin a new novel (and discover a new writer). Opening Sentence of In West Mills:

In October of ’41, Azalea Centre’s man told her that he was sick and tired of West Mills and of the love affair she was having with moonshine.

Well! That is some opening.

The author bio on the book jacket says that De’Shawn Charles Winslow is from North Carolina. He is a 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Political Reads for This Fall

These are exciting times. Self is reading The Charterhouse of Parma (Brilliant and funny and moving).

Five on her ‘To-Read’ List

  • The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
  • Surrender, White People! Our Unconditional Terms for Peace, by D. L. Hughley
  • Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye
  • In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Wilson
  • The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, by Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner Caroline Kim

Hilarious Stendhal Quote of the Day

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

The Charterhouse of Parma has reached a turning point. Fabrizio is recognized by a former servant as he tries to cross the Po River. From loneliness, Fabrizio tells this servant, right away: I killed a man this morning.

Ludovic promises to help Fabrizio. They manage to evade the police, but during “the long intervals” of hiding, Ludovic decides to make Fabrizio listen to his sonnets.

Who knew this former coachman always had a deep desire to write poetry!

Fabrizio’s reflections on Ludovic’s sonnets:

  • Their feelings were true, but somehow blunted by their expression, and the verses were scarcely worth transcribing; oddly enough, this ex-coachman had passions and visions that were lively and picturesque; they turned cold and commonplace as soon as he wrote them down.

Poor Fabrizio, hiding in the willows on the banks of the Po River, forced to listen to his companion recite his bad poetry!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Stendhal Quote of the Day

Chapter Eleven, The Charterhouse of Parma:

As we see, Fabrizio was one of those unfortunates tormented by their imagination, this is frequently the defect of intelligent men in Italy. A French soldier of equal or even inferior courage would have ventured to cross the bridge immediately, without brooding in advance upon the difficulties, but he would also have proceeded with all his composure when, at the end of the bridge, a short fellow dressed in gray said to him: “Go into the police office and show your passport.”

At this point, 1/3 of the way through The Charterhouse of Parma, self sincerely hopes dear blog readers adore Stendhal as much as she does. Otherwise it’s going to be a long September.

Interesting side note: In Chapter Eleven, Fabrizio’s height is revealed. He is five foot five. Wow, that is short! Somehow, she imagined him as tall and lean.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Your Daily Dose of Stendhal, Here

Sometimes her eager imagination concealed things from her, but she never entertained those deliberate illusions produced by cowardice.

— Chapter Six, The Charterhouse of Parma

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