Books Self Is Interested After Perusing The Guardian’s Summer “Text on the Beach” Issue, 23 July 2015

Self used to do this. A LOT. Post about books she was interested in reading after picking up a copy of The New York Times Book Review (which she used to subscribe to. Until last year), The New York Review of Books (which she also used to subscribe to), The New Yorker (which she still subscribes to, but hasn’t read in six months) and The Economist (which she no longer subscribes to)

Anyhoo, after that very lengthy introduction, here is self with The Guardian’s Summer Reading issue, and after going through the whole thing, self has culled just three books. She must be in some kind of slump?

Here are her three:

  • Grey, by E. L. James — What what what? Self actually read the first two pages in Hodges Figgis in Dublin. And what do you know, she liked it! But The Guardian review is so silly. “Come again, if you insist . . . ” Self still wants to read it.
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante — “The first part of the Neapolitan trilogy in which almost nothing happens.” (OK, these reviews are one-note and boring. Sorry, Jim Crace, Reviewer. Self will read in spite of)
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins — Let self dispense with the utterly dispensable: i.e., the review. And let’s just say, if this novel is indeed a riff on Gone, Girl, she likes. So “Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl On the Train” is a barrel of laughs.

Just for that, self is popping over to the London Review of Bookstore (Hey, last AWP Book Fair, in Minneapolis, she actually saw a table for the London Review of Books! She’s not sure if they’ve been coming every year, but this year was the first time she noticed them)

Side Note:  Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is in every bookstore window, all over Dublin and London. So happy for her. Promise to read the book, at least five years from now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + LOCAL NOMAD + Flash =

The theme of Local Nomad’s Spring 2015 issue is KILLING GROUND.

As the editor puts it:

  • KILLING GROUND — a place to be within, where we go to be other, to be against. Fraught moments, places of fear and striking out: territories, borders, streets, bodies. The barbed line we cross to do harm (or to seek compassion). What we call war, protection, or defense, what we call hatred or expediency.

Here are the stories included in the issue:

  • David G. Tilley’s “Jisei” (“Driving eastward on the way home from the dermatologist, I hear myself singing carcinoma to the tune of My Sharona.”)
  • Self’s revisionist Biblical story “The Ark” (“There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time.”)
  • M. Leland Oroquieta’s “Postcard for Hong Kong” (“The fake blonde who doesn’t love me is in my Jag again, searching for peace and composure in the Prada bag I had bought her recently.”)
  • Leny Mendoza Strobel’s one-paragraph story “Erosion” (“The erosion of desire flows toward the ocean of Nothing.”)

Yeah, quite an array of styles there. One thing the pieces have in common is: they are all dark.

Here’s an excerpt from William Doreski’s poem “The Big Departure”:

The local hospital has collapsed
in a heap of yellow brick, crushing
the nurses with long painted nails

and the doctors who bought Porsches
to overcome midlife crises.
So I’ve come to the city where screams

linger in the jagged night air

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vengeance Is Sweet: More From Part 2, Chapter 1 of THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

14 June 1940

The German soldiers enter Paris, which has become a surprisingly vacant city: “Instead of the usual cacophony of car horns, all that could be heard was the lowing of a herd of cattle, abandoned in the city center by refugees passing through from the countryside farther north.”

Then the ranscaking begins.

“On Hitler’s personal orders, the private railway carriage of the French commander in the First World War, Marshall Foch, in which the Armistice of 11 November 1918 had been signed, was tracked down to a museum and, after the museum walls had been been broken down by a German demolition team, it was moved out and towed back to the spot it had occupied in the forest of Compiegne on the signing of the Armistice . . .  Taking the very same seat occupied by Foch in 1918, Hitler posed for photographs, then departed, contemptuously leaving the rest of the delegation, including Hess, Goring, Ribbentrop and the military leaders, to read out the terms and receive the signatures of the dejected French.”

Self truly appreciates Evans’s wide range of vocabulary. Take that word “dejected.” It is perfect.

Which brings to mind other types of emotional states, all beginning with the letter “d”:

  • disconsolate
  • depressed
  • distraught
  • disappointed
  • distracted
  • discombobulated
  • desperate
  • dissembling
  • damaged
  • desultory
  • diffident

Why, any and all of the above could be applied to the French at the moment of the signing of the Armistice, June 1940.

The relative ease with which Germany accomplished “the greatest military encirclement in history” led the Reich to attempt the invasion of the Soviet Union, the following year.

Hitler was so gleeful that he confided to Albert Speer, his architect, “that he had often thought of having the city razed to the ground.”

And now it is another June, 75 years later, and self is in Ireland, and it’s a beautiful summer day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ROY G. BIV 2: London & Annaghmakerrig & Banff (And The Year Is Only Half Over!)

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is really interesting.

Self had no idea what ROY G. BIV stood for, but now she does. Each letter stands for a color: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.

The Daily Post prompt says:

You can attack this challenge in one of two ways: share an image that contains all the colors of the rainbow (or an actual rainbow . . . or share a multi-photo gallery, one image for each color.

Today, self is going for the multi-photo gallery. First, the color BLUE (She should have begun with RED, her apologies!)

This is Blackfriars Bridge in London. The sky was amazingly blue that day.

Blackfriars Bridge, London. Self particularly wanted to see Blackfriars because it plays such a prominent role in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. The sky was amazingly blue that day.

Next, the color ORANGE:

It was Wednesday. Self's friend Joan McGavin invited self to come along and participate in a demonstration near Lambeth Bridge, asking the government for greater measures to address climate change.

It was Wednesday. Self’s friend Joan McGavin invited self to come along and participate in a demonstration near Lambeth Bridge, asking the government for greater measures to address climate change.

Next, the color YELLOW:

This teapot is yellow (duh). It's in her cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

This teapot is yellow (duh). It’s in her cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

The next color is GREEN:

This beautiful etched glass panel is in the Church of St. Bride's, near Fleet Street (Also known as the Church of Journalists).

This beautiful etched glass panel is in the Church of St. Bride’s, near Fleet Street (Also known as the Church of Journalists).

Next, the color RED:

An Armchair in Self's Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

An Armchair in Self’s Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

Next, the color INDIGO:

Twilight, London: Somewhere Off Great Russell Street, Near the British Museum

Twilight, London: Somewhere Off Great Russell Street, Near the British Museum

Finally, VIOLET:

The Books Self Checked Out of the Library in Banff

The Books Self Checked Out of the Library in Banff

It took self FOREVER to decide on the last photo. She had no idea how little violet there was in the world. Honestly. This entire post probably took her an hour, and finding the last picture probably took her 15 minutes. And now, the book spines don’t really look violet!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ROY G. BIV: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self learns today that ROY G. BIV stands for the following colors:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge involves sharing “an image that contains all the colors of the rainbow.”

Quite Easily Done!

Self has currently been partaking of the glories of the United Kingdom. Naturally, she’s been taking photos like crazy. London and Dublin are extremely colorful places.

Somewhere near Blackfriars Bridge, South Bank, London

Somewhere near Blackfriars Bridge, South Bank, London

A few days ago, self was invited by her friend, poet Joan McGavin, to participate in a demonstration for action on climate change. The gathering took place near Lambeth Bridge on Wednesday, 17 June 2015. Self noticed a young woman wearing the most beautiful jacket.  She asked where the woman had bought her jacket. The response: Camden Market. It only cost 20 pounds.

A Demonstration Calling for Action on Climate Change: Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Demonstration Calling for Action on Climate Change: Wednesday, 17 June 2015

And finally, a shot from the day self spent in Cambridge, visiting ex-classmate Dodo Duterte Stanley:

Cambridge, UK: Punting boats waiting for passengers on the River Cam

Cambridge, UK: Punting boats waiting for passengers on the River Cam

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cadair Idris, Wales

Self plans to visit the places listed in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series — or at least, as many places as she can, when she’s in the United Kingdom: Westminster Abbey (After xx trips to London, she has never seen), Kew Gardens, Hyde Park, Blackfriars Bridge, Kensington Gardens, the Tower of London (seen once, ages and ages ago. She remembers in particular taking son to the McDonald’s near there — holy sacrilege).

The hero of the trilogy is Will Herondale, who grew up in Wales but has spent the past five years in the London Institute of the Clave, training to be a Shadowhunter. (It’s such a great series. Honestly, self highly recommends it to anyone who enjoys historical fantasy. Especially Victorian steampunk fantasy)

Here’s a section from p. 401 of Clockwork Princess (Of course she is bringing all the books of the trilogy with her!) that describes a mountain Will Herondale remembers from his childhood in Wales:

He remembered climbing Cadair Idris with his father, years ago. There were many legends about the mountain: that it had been a chair for a giant, who had sat upon it and regarded the stars; that King Arthur and his knight slept beneath the hill, waiting for the time when Britain would awake and need them again; that anyone who spent the night on the mountainside would awake a poet or a madman.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Shadowhunter London: A Promise, A Plan

Self is shortly going to be in London.

And she’s bringing The Infernal Devices trilogy with her.

And she’s going to go to every single place listed in the three books:  Blackfriars Bridge, Kew Gardens, the Serpentine, etc etc

Self promises you, dear blog readers: Just as her trip last year to London and Ireland became epic, truly epic, because it brought her to Stonehenge and so many other places she had only ever read about, the one upcoming will be epic as well, though for a different reason. (And maybe she will finally get to see more of Wales? Last year, she only got as far as Holyhead)

And so now, the time for SPOILER ALERTS has arrived.

Because self did force herself to read the Epilogue, finally. And here’s a sentence that just about killed her:

ONCE AGAIN SPOILER ALERT!

It still seemed incredible to her sometimes that they had managed to grow old together, herself and Will Herondale, whom Gabriel Lightwood had once said would live to be no older than nineteen.

P.S. Cassandra Clare: Can you please explain why Will Herondale is mortal when his father was a Nephilim? Isn’t the Nephilim blood always dominant? Self just can’t stand the thought that once Will is truly out of the way (i.e., DEAD), Tessa then gets with Jem who very conveniently did not have his mouth sewn shut like the rest of the Silent Brothers and therefore is still available to kiss, etc. For eternity. As he’s immortal. And so is Tessa. AAAARGH!

THE END (of self’s reading, that is. She still can’t bring herself to read about Will on his deathbed, so she’ll just skip the next pages)

Stay tuned.

The Absurdly Visceral Mad Max: Fury Road

YO! SPOILERS.

Bad guys actually make use of a minstrel.

Only George Miller

At times the road melée put self in mind of Cirque du Soleil. Especially the pole riders.

Again, only George Miller

Five ethereal damsels who seem to have walked straight out of the pages of Vogue sit in an oil rig.

Once again, only George Miller.

People spray their mouths with . . . something. Shiny. Seems to make them bat-shit crazy. Self means, crazier than they already are.

GM, genius.

Skullface.

GM, again genius.

There IS, in this movie, mention of the following: Valhalla, breeders, bags of sun, dying “historic” and half-life.

Charlize Theron at the end seems to have lost an eye. Thankfully, the eyelid is closed.

Woman gets shot in the leg. Charlize: “How does it feel?” Shot woman: “It hurts.” Charlize: “Out here, everything hurts.”

Casting Sweet Nicholas Hoult as nihilistic “War Boy” Nux. All hail, casting director.

There is a race of white people. Self doesn’t mean Caucasian white. She means Sankai Juko/ buto white. The albino look somehow giving viewers the FEELZ for this awful future dystopia.

The smearing of black across the cheekbones somehow translates to: I’m coming for you, a**holes. And I will CRUSH you. Exhibit A: Charlize

Because out there in the wasteland, symbolic gestures are everything.

Tom Hardy finally gets to give his growl maximum (and welcome) exposure.

Self can’t even.

Stay tuned.

Shut Up, Throat!

Self is soooo soooo tired of the cough.

She’s had it almost a week since Sunday. It’s that wheezing kind, the kind that has your chest heaving in the middle of a very important reading. While everyone is concentrating so hard on every word that falls from the reader’s lips, you’re there in the back trying to quell your . . . explosion . . . of icky phlegm . . . from landing on someone’s shoulders or back.

Today, she apologized again to Dan, her neighbor across the way. Because he must be thinking to himself, GOOD LORD HOW LONG IS THAT WOMAN’S INFERNAL COUGH GOING TO LAST? He swears he doesn’t hear a thing. Not true. Because she can hear when someone’s coughing in the hallway just oustide.

Plus, Dan’s Canadian. Think a Canadian’s ever going to be rude enough to tell self: Will you muffle your coughs with a wet towel or something? Man oh man! How long is this going to go on?

No, Dan being Canadian, he very sweetly assures self that Jesse, down the hall, has been apologizing for the same thing (Self has never actually seen Jesse about. Not since last Wednesday, during a reading at the Wild Flour Artisan Bakery downtown, when we shared zinc lozenges)

She doesn’t know if it’s the dry weather here in Banff, or just general run-of-the-mill tiredness, but man. She swears she’s going to kill herself if she wakes up tomorrow still coughing. And this is only half of 2015. How lovely. The rest of the year awaits.

Having a cough for one whole week during a residency is the equivalent of using a sick bag during an airplane ride: Your airplane seatmate never wants to speak to you again, no matter how many times you gargle in the plane lavatory. Hope you weren’t heading home from an AWP Conference, because you can just kiss that connection good-bye.

She’s trying to write her 18th century WIP, so as a way to distract herself (Can you believe it’s PAST MIDNIGHT? How did that happen?), she makes a list of things she intends to include in the chapter she’s currently grappling with, things sufficiently 18th-century-sounding, like:

  • hourglass
  • wind
  • seawater
  • gust of wind
  • night
  • darkness
  • the shore
  • the sky
  • the sun

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE: Jaw Drop Time, pp. xxx – xxx

SPOILERS, ALL MANNER OF SPOILERS

At this point in Clockwork Prince, Tessa Gray and Will Herondale are still at the stage of making goo-goo eyes at each other, but Jem Carstairs, the skinnier male of The Infernal Devices love triangle (All right, yeah, self knows. This is a love triangle. So? Paranormal love triangles are THE BEST!), has the temerity to punch Will Herondale in the face (If you had broken Will’s nose, Jem, self would never have forgiven you. Never. Never. EVER), plays wild violin music that is sure to get Tessa Gray’s attention — after she’s already changed into her nightgown and everyone else is in bed; how convenient is that, that Tessa’s room is right across the hall from Jem’s and no one else seems to be awake — and they nearly DO THE DEED? IN HIS BEDROOM? With Will Herondale (presumably) passed out from being punched in the face?

Self kept praying, during the whole of that scene, that something would happen to interrupt. Something like mebbe Will Herondale (Self loves writing his full name, she knows not why) walking in and saying “Uh-oh!”

But Will never puts in an appearance. Oh, where is that poetry and drama-spouting boy when you need him? Instead, it’s off-with-the-nightgown time and —

What?

What?

What?

What is the matter with you, Jem? You and Will are supposed to be parabatai. Able to read each other’s hearts, etc etc. You do not, self repeats NOT:

a) Punch your parabatai in the face, thereby causing him to bleed;

b) Play wild, discordant violin music that lures Tessa Gray to your bedroom in the middle of the night;

c) Sleep with your parabatai‘s love.

Never mind if Will never actually professed his love, and keeps pulling the Heathcliff act on Tessa Gray. Jem should be able to tell that Will is in love with Tessa. Isn’t that the point of being parabatai — that you can read each other’s hearts and minds?

Oh, the horror.

Stay tuned.

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