Breaking Down Self’s 2019 Reading List

Most of Self’s favorite reads so far 2019 were novels (six out of 10).

Three of her favorite reads of 2019 were memoirs written by doctors.

One of her favorite reads of 2019 was a book about the environment.

Five of her six favorite novels were written by women.

This year she attended the Fowey Festival of the Arts (in honor of Daphne du Maurier) and during the festival, she bought a copy of Jane Austen‘s Northanger Abbey from Bookends of Fowey. She loved loved loved it.

None of the books she read in January and April ended up making much of an impression.

One of her six favorite novels has been optioned for the movies by Lawrence Kasdan.

One of her six favorite novels won a prize.

One of her six favorite novels is a finalist for a Kirkus Prize.

Her 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge was to read 34 books.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Woe: Milkman, p. 97

Mammy! The heads! They took the heads! Where are the heads? Where’s Lassie, mammy? Where’s daddy? Have the brothers found Lassie? Where’s daddy? Where’s Lassie?

This novel, which won the Man Booker, fully deserved to win.

Graywolf Press has now given self two books that absolutely shattered her: this one, and the translation of Liu Xia’s poetry collection, Empty Chairs.

That is all.

Milkman, p. 7

  • At the time, age eighteen, having been brought up in a hair-trigger society where the ground rules were — if no physically violent touch was being laid upon you, and no outright verbal insults were being levelled at you, and no taunting looks in the vicinity either, then nothing was happening, so how could you be under attack from something that wasn’t there?

Having watched Christine Blasey Ford’s agonizing and humiliating recounting of her experience with Brett Kavanaugh, self would like to say that, on the basis of how Ford’s evidence was handled, even if there had been violent touch and verbal insults and taunting looks, the victim still wouldn’t be believed.

It turns out there was at least one female listener who had her own private experience of assault, but did not speak up. US Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ), months later, revealed she had been raped by a superior while she was in the Air Force. McSally was the first American woman to fly in combat.

Thinking about McSally now, even if she had spoken up during the Kavanaugh hearing, it might not have changed the outcome. But, jeez, it would have made Christine Blasey Ford feel less alone.

Stay tuned.

Currently Reading: DEAD LETTERS

Self finished All Systems Red two days ago, which marked the end of her science fiction cycle and the beginning of a mysteries/thrillers cycle. She’s currently reading Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach, which is full-on family angst, involving twins. Talk about upping the ante.

She likes clustering her reading — sometimes by genre, sometimes by author.

For a few years, she read only books by women.

Another few years, she read only memoirs.

Another few years, she read only travel books.

Another few years, she read only books by African American writers.

One summer, she read only Henning Mankell.

There was a period of reading just history books.

And so forth.

For 2018, she read mostly novels. But these ranged from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials to science fiction. She adored reading science fiction, which she hadn’t done in a while. She read The Hunger Games, sure — but they don’t really count as science fiction, do they?

Anyhoo, she is sorry to let the science fiction genre go. It’s probably the most rapidly expanding literary genre at present. And, because in August she attended a talk by George R. R. Martin in Redwood City’s Fox, and picked up a few copies of Oakland-based Locus Magazine, her attention was immediately captured by an announcement of the World Fantasy Awards. One of her newly discovered favorite authors, Fonda Lee, whose Jade City self just finished reading, was a co-winner with Victor LaValle for Best Novel (Yay, Fonda Lee!)

They even had a category for Best Short Story, for which Fonda Lee was a finalist.

And there was also a category for Best Artist (Winner: Gregory Manchess). She really enjoyed looking up the finalists art.

Now, back to her reading/writing.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Poetry Sunday: Luisa A. Igloria

Cascade

What I want is immediacy, the nub
of the moment processed without doubt
into my side, the tremor that comes
sometimes before sight, before taste
or touch. Whatever might be lost, don’t
take that away from me: stars pouring
out of the firmament, not ever holding
back the flood over my small ladle.

— included in the collection The Buddha Wonders If She Is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing, 2018)

Luisa A. Igloria is a poet, a creative writing professor (Old Dominion University), a 2014 winner of the May Swenson Prize and, most recently, the 2018 winner of the Center for Book Arts’ Letterpress Chapbook Competition.

MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA, pp. 138 – 139 mentions Gogol

Loving this book because of all the writerly mentions. In addition to Bulgakov (Must watch the movie with Charlotte Rampling), there are Osip Mandelstam, Mayakovsky, Anna Akhmatova . . .

All tortured, sent into exile, heartbreaking. But at least their words survived.

On p. 138, there’s a mention of Gogol (Self has to type on the floor, sitting on throw pillows; sitting at a desk gives her hand and wrist cramps. But the other day, she noticed spiders crawling over her legs and feet and she’s like constantly on the alert with Off! spray).

p. 138:

In his later years, Gogol had become convinced that God had abandoned him. Tortured, half-crazed, he burnt his remaining manuscripts only days before he died. As though the promise of man’s redemption must perish with him. He claimed the Devil had tricked him into doing so. He’d been only forty-one.

p. 139:

In 1931 when Gogol’s body was exhumed he was discovered to be facing downward. The writer had had a terrible fear of being buried alive, so much so that he’d willed his casket be fitted with a breathing tube as well as a rope by which to sound some external bell if needed.

As the grimness gathers around Bulgakov, the novel can only get more depressing. But so far, self has been able to persist.

This novel won the 2017 First Novel Prize from New York’s Center for Fiction, “the only literary center in the United States devoted to the art of fiction.”

Kudos to Ms. Himes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

First Story of Self’s New Collection, “Magellan’s Mirror”

Self’s story was first published in J Journal, 2012. She just decided it will be the title of the new collection she’s completing. Thanks to the editors at J Journal, who published it and nominated it for a Pushcart.

Read the excerpt below:

And if our Lord and the Virgin Mother had not aided us by giving good weather to refresh ourselves with provisions and other things we had died in this very great sea. And I believe that nevermore will any man undertake to make such a voyage.

— Antonio Pigafetta, Chronicler of the Magellan Expedition

The crew encountered the giant during the winter, after months of battling the water just south of Brasilia. He was described by the sailors as being twelve or thirteen palmos tall, which is to say, over eight feet.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Looking Back: George Saunders

Self blogged this on 25 December 2013 (Christmas Day, self only just realized after writing the date). Title of post: 2013 Top Ten Books of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Saunders won this year’s Man Booker. He’s the Keynote Speaker at the next AWP, in Tampa, FL:

  • Tenth of December:  Stories, by George Saunders (Random House):  Ever read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline?  Self thought that book was a game-changer.  In one stroke, changed the landscape of the contemporary American short story, which until then had been Raymond Carver/Lydia Davis.  She will read anything by George Saunders.  Anything.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday, September 2017: Joanne Diaz

Excerpt from “Pyrrhic”

from My Favorite Tyrants, winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry

Art can make war look wrong, but most of the time
it doesn’t. Consider this terracotta jar, once filled
with olive oil to anoint the dead, now a souvenir
of fire, clay, and spittle standing in the back
of the Ancient Wing. Look closer: some dancers
are clothed in robes, others are naked, and all
wear helmets while the musician plays a double flute
and taps his toe. First, they join hands, then the delicate,
ceremonious footwork begins.

“Magellan’s Mirror”: Self’s Pushcart-Nominated Story, 2012

Magellan’s Mirror

  • Note: In this story, The Philippines is the home of giants. In the history books, Ferdinand Magellan is credited with their discovery.

During the next week, no natives appeared on the shore. The beach was empty as it had been on the first day, before the crew had sighted Enrique. The men looked up at the sky, cloudless and blue. Under their breaths, they cursed their leader.

dscn0513

The Beach at Capitola-by-the-Sea, late December 2016

In the middle of the third week, four of the giants were seen gesticulating on the shore. The sailors shook their heads. The natives importuned them with tragic gestures. Finally, the tribesmen boarded a massive canoe and began paddling towards the Trinidad. Magellan ordered his men to welcome them warmly. The crew offered the visitors their fill of wine. Just as the giants were sleepily dozing off, Magellan had his men shackle them.


Thanks to J Journal for nominating self’s story for the Pushcart. Self took the historical journey of Ferdinand Magellan and included magical elements. She has a Part II, called “Vanquisher.” And a third story, called “Residents of the Deep,” which she began at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, 2014, which takes place centuries later (1840s)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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