Posting for Travel with Intent’s One Word Sunday photo challenge.
That look says it all.
If anyone anywhere ever forgets the title of this story in the John Weir collection Your Nostalgia Is Killing Me, it is “Katherine Mansfield”:
“And your Mom ingeniously seated me next to your twelve-year-old cousin, who’s blonde and sulky as the kid in Death in Venice.”— “”katherine mansfield”, story # 6 in Your nostalgia is killing me
Phil, who has a girlfriend, brings the narrator, who has a boyfriend, back to his family’s for Christmas Day (Is it weird that self has not spent Christmas with anyone, not even when son was living in the Bay Area, not since maybe 2014? She can’t even remember what she did last year. Most every year, she manages to be abroad on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. So probably that’s what she should keep doing, for her sanity). Anyhoo, this part of the story is very funny:
Let me just tell ya, passages like the above had self rolling on the floor.
The narrator takes his friend, who is dying of AIDS, to see the literary agent Charlotte Sheedy, hoping that she can help them find a publisher for his friend’s AIDS diary:
She is so smooth, I want her to be my literary agent too, possibly my mom.from the story “scenes from a marriage,” in the collection your nostalgia is killing me
If I kept going back to Armageddon, I thought, it would eventually turn out to have a plot. I saw it six times, and I never did. I was grateful; it was a relief to be spared the pain of cause/effect. Thank God for a plotless world. Watching the scene where Bruce Willis, draped in an American flag, says goodbye to earth from the floor of a crater in a huge piece of orbiting igneous rock was the most satisfying emotional experience I have ever had.
— “Neorealism at the Infiniplex,” in Your Nostalgia is Killing Me
Ruth and Nelson are about to break every rule in the covid lockdown book (while Nelson’s wife is away in Blackpool, spending the lockdown with her diabetic mom). What is wrong with self? She was so quick to condemn Bojo for breaking lockdown social distancing protocol, but she’s cheering this new development in the Ruth/Nelson saga.
Back to the book: Nelson comes over (conveniently after Kate, eleven has gone to bed).
Ruth goes into the kitchen to heat up the sauce and put the water on for more pasta. Flint follows, complaining loudly, probably about Nelson. She placates him with more gourmet cat food and pours two glasses of wine. When she comes back into the sitting room, Nelson is reading the back cover of Kate’s copy of The Hunger Games.— the locked room, pp. 184 – 185
It is not all lemony fluff, however. Ruth notes that Nelson “turns on the television — without asking — and seems mesmerised by some football programme . . . It’s not even a recent match. There’s no live football, or any other sport, because of the pandemic.”
Ruth, you can thank your lucky stars it was Michelle, not you, living with Nelson all these years!
Elly Griffiths sure writes fast. She has published a new Ruth Galloway mystery every year for the last 14 years. I love, though, that I can watch her characters grow. As of this installment, # 14, Ruth Galloway is almost 52, and the daughter she had after a one-night-stand with Nelson — a very fortuitous one-night-stand, because Nelson turned out to be the love of Ruth’s life (even the fact that the feelings are not reciprocated is okay, it is better to have loved and lost etc) — is eleven.
Both mother and daughter are managing quite nicely. And that’s when covid hits. Boris announces mandatory lockdown. After a few days of this:
Ruth is particularly grateful when the postman knocks at the door with a delivery. It’s an Amazon parcel from Simon (her brother). Ruth usually tries to avoid ordering from the online retailer, preferring to shop at local bookshops, but there is something very comforting about being sent a book. It shows that her brother is thinking about her. Maybe it’s a crime novel, something by Ian Rankin or Val McDermid? Fictional murder is oddly soothing in troubled times. Ruth tears open the cardboard. Government Conspiracies and How to Spot Them. Hmmm.— the locked room, pp. 132 – 133
Ruth Galloway sounds like someone I would like to have for a friend, or a next-door neighbor. I am sure we would have lots and lots to chat about: mystery novels, for one. I could tell Ruth about a writer named Elly Griffiths and her MC, a dumpy, fifty-ish academic. I could tell her about Ann Cleeves, my other 2022 discovery. I could tell her about Richard Osman, whose Thursday Murder Club series makes me laugh harder than any mystery has ever done before. Or I could tell her about Chris Offutt’s The Killing Hills, whose mournful Appalachian mysteries have domestic angst to rival that of Elly Griffiths’.
The reading pace has picked up! Self finished Olga Zilberbourg’s short story collection in four days. The stories in Like Water and Other Stories were absolutely fascinating: not just a record of an immigrant mother’s life in San Francisco, but an indelible record of Russian life in St. Petersburg. It was published three years ago by a small press, Why There Are Words, and is a really good example of why we need small presses.
Self’s current read is The Song of Achilles. Anyone who’s read The Odyssey knows about the tragic end of Achilles and his lover Patroclus (Self is wondering how the author is going to pull that off, since the point of view is Patroclus’s, in first person. In The Odyssey, Patroclus gets killed first, so who is going to narrate the death of Achilles, which happens soon after? She also hates novels with a first-person narrator who dies in the end. It seems like the biggest cheat. But for some reason, she is still reading The Song of Achilles)
As usual, the earthiness of the descriptions of gods and goddesses is part of what self finds so arresting about Madeline Miller’s writing. Achilles’ mother, the sea nymph Thestis, is downright scary. Much taller than any mortal, with eyes that are entirely black, flecked with gold. YIIIIIKES. And self always thought sea nymphs were supposed to be delicate and airy. NOT SO!
Chiron the centaur is huge, too, and the place where horse becomes human — that exact point where horse hide becomes human skin — is given such solidity in the descriptions. Achilles and Patroclus spend three years living with Chiron in a cave. Given how huge Chiron is, it’s a wonder he can move around in there, especially after the two boys move in with him, but move he does, because the cave is also his kitchen, and he cooks all the boys’ meals.
In one scene, Achilles is spirited away by his mother (because she knows about the hanky panky taking place between him and Patroclus in Chiron’s cave, after Chiron’s gone to sleep, LOL), and she hides him on an island that is ruled by a decrepit King and a very nubile Princess. Patroclus comes to the island in search of Achilles, and is entertained at dinner by the Princess and her dancing women. The Princess dances suggestively with one of the dancers in particular, and not until the dance is over and the women go up to the guests does Patroclus realize that the tall dancer is actually — yup, you guessed it: ACHILLES!
HAR HAR HAR!
Achilles immediately falls on Patroclus and introduces him to the Princess as “my husband.” Then Achilles reaches up and tears “the veil from his hair,” whereupon the Princess sets up the most infernal screaming, and the old King turns out not to be that decrepit because he looks dangerous, suddenly.
Self honestly does not know how Achilles got away with pretending to be a woman — isn’t he supposed to be covered with muscle, especially his chest? That scene is pure high comedy!
Fortunately for dear blog readers, this quote is NOT by or about Steve Jobs!
Self has decided that, since it’s taking her forever to get to the end of the Steve Jobs biography, she will read another book concurrently. And that book is — DRUMROLL, TA-RA!
Quote of the Day:
Prayers didn’t fix spaceships.— prologue, eyes of the void
Steve Jobs returns to Apple after eleven years. He never so much as set A FOOT on Apple premises during that whole time, it was that traumatic.
He accepts his new position: to act only in an advisory capacity to the Board. But as soon as his position is official, he asks the entire board for their resignation, the same board that kicked him out 11 years ago. (Come on, you invite him back and you expect him to settle for “advisory capacity”? Dream on!)
“The old board met in late July to ratify the transition . . . Jobs appeared dressed in jeans and sneakers and . . . merely offered a pleasant, Hi, everyone.”
— Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, Chapter Twenty-Four: The Restoration
That’s how he greeted the Board! The Board he was about to fire!
LOL LOL LOL