“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.

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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.

Kelly Link: “Summer People”

Context: The story is about the budding friendship between two high school girls, Fran and Ophelia. Ophelia drives a Lexus, is very tender-hearted, and has been tending Fran through a bad case of the flu, since Fran’s Dad took off for a couple of weeks to attend a religious revival meeting he learned about on the internet. Before Ophelia came along, Fran was self-medicating with Nyquil liqui-gel, four a night.

“The door you slipped my envelope under,” she said, finally, “you oughtn’t ever go in there.”

Ophelia looked interested. “Like Bluebeard,” she said.

Fran said, “It’s how they come and go. Even they don’t open that door very often, I guess.” She’d peeped through the keyhole once and seen a bloody river. She bet if you passed through that door, you weren’t likely to return.

“Can I ask you another stupid question?” Ophelia said. “Where are they right now?”

“They’re here,” Fran said.

Fran suddenly tells Ophelia she has to go (Oh NOOOOOOO!!!!!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of The Day: Kelly Link’s Story “The Summer People” (Which Link Read at the Cork International Short Story Festival)

Self’s idol! Ever since self read her story “Stone Animals” in Best American Short Stories (2005?)

When self found out that Kelly Link was reading at the Cork International Short Story Festival, she became immensely excited and determined. So off she went to the Triskel Art Centre, and did she ever make the right choice or what? Never mind that it was cold, that she’d just had a humongous dinner, and she just wanted to veg out in her room. No, self! Get your shit together!

Even though self swore, swore she would not buy a single book (Her arms are so sore from lifting: she’s taken at least 4 trains in eight days), she did buy Kelly’s just-published Get In Trouble: Stories (blurbed by none other than Sarah Waters, who calls it, quote unquote, A brilliant, giddying read.). Kelly wrote this on self’s copy:

For Marianne: Here are some terrible ideas. Love, K D Link.

BWAH. HA. HA. HA!!!

When, after the reading, self went up with the book of Kelly’s short stories encased within her trembling hands (The use of hyperbole would not be completely unwarranted in this situation), Kelly was speaking to a very enthusiastic Irish lad. Self waited patiently.

Then, before signing self’s book, Kelly asked for self’s name.

Self demurred, saying, Oh you’ve never heard of me.

(Self! YOU IDIOT! QUIT MUMBLING!)

Finally, Kelly managed to worm it out of self. Whereupon Kelly said, with great sincerity, “I think I’ve heard of you.”

In response to which self said, “No you’ve never heard of me. I’m so small press, I’m not even.”

(GAAAA!!!!)

Anyhoo, here’s an excerpt from “The Summer People,” the first story in Kelly Link’s collection:

  • Fran had the flu, except it was more like the flu had Fran. In consequence of this, she’d laid out of school for three days in a row. The previous night, she’d taken four NyQuil caplets and gone to sleep on the couch while a man on the TV threw knives.

Unf. Self just loves the unexpectedness of the last sentence.

Plan for tonight: meeting up with playwright Barbara Guilfoyle. Going to hear Jaime Nanci Barron sing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Hunger Games! Fan Fiction! Self’s New Chapter!

An excerpt from self’s magical realist, Haruki Murakami-inspired, multi-chapter Hunger Games fan fiction:

There’s a sharp knock on the door.

A voice he doesn’t recognize calls his name:  “Mr. Mellark! Mr. Mellark!”

Then, the door seems to open by itself. Peeta turns. There, standing in his apartment, are two ordinary men. They are somewhere between the ages of 50 and 60, and Peeta is sure they aren’t from the Capitol because of the clothes they’re wearing.

“Who are you?” he blurts out.

“We are your friends, Mr. Mellark,” they say in unison.

“No, I don’t know you,” Peeta says. “It’s a trick.”

“We’re here in answer to your call,” the taller of the two says. “Do you recall, about a month ago, speaking to Greasy Sae at The Hob?”

Peeta gapes.

“Mr. Mellark, did you or did you not go to Greasy Sae at The Hob? About a month ago. Think, Mr. Mellark, think.”

It’s a bone-chilling day in New York City. Self spent part of the day on Columbus Avenue. But now that she’s back in the apartment, which is warmer than anywhere in California, she refuses to leave again. Cancel everything! Dinner plans, meeting plans. She’s going to finish reading the latest installment from one of the writers she follows, Fanfiction Allergy. And also write a little bit.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Amazing! Wonderful!

Giants won tonight!  Self made it home in time (from tutoring at Notre Dame Writing Center) to catch the last two innings.  Lincecum pitched all the way to the end!  He threw 135 pitches!  Self will never complain about neck or shoulder pain again.  All she needs to do is think: 135 pitches in one night!  How that young man’s arm managed to remain still attached to his shoulder at the end of the game is something that simply defies comprehension.

Driving home, self was glad she’d had her brakes fixed today.  Because three deer suddenly materialized on Alameda, and if she’d still had the rotten brakes, she might have hit them.  What were three deer doing, wandering across Alameda de las Pulgas this evening?  There was one big deer and two little ones.  After that, self’s heart was racing.

Tonight, barely a month into the Fall semester, self’s dance card was full.  That is, she had student after student after student, one after the other, for over two hours.  She had to help out with someone who wanted to know the difference between a compound and a complex sentence (Why?  Self asked herself.  Why is it important to know?  Self went through her whole life not knowing the difference, and it hasn’t hindered her any!  Until now!)

Then there were three students who needed help deciding whether to write a paper on Bernard Malamud’s story, “Angel Levine,” or Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral.”  What a choice!  Self loves Malamud, but in the end all the students decided to write about Carver (In retrospect, self shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Malamud’s magical realism is altogether harder for students to comprehend than Carver’s seemingly straightforward —  but actually deeply mysterious —  story)

The last student was writing a paper on “The Marriage of Figaro,” an opera self knew absolutely nothing about.  But now she knows a lot!  For one thing, she now knows the opera dealt with the cultural and political relationships in a European country!  In the 18th century!  (Once again, self digresses)  The student left after an hour, professing to feel quite confident in his paper-writing abilities.

Today, as well, self managed to garden.  She watered, and did some light pruning of the apple and magnolia.  October is a wonderful time to be in the garden.  For one thing, it is cool, and self feels less manic about the watering.  Today, in the late afternoon, when self looked at her garden, and saw everything so fecund, and new buds starting to open on her Fourth of July, and the Japanese anemones covered with pretty white flowers, she was happy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Deaths of Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s 17 Sons

Self still lost in the dream of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Reading prevents her from thinking over-much about Dearest Mum (a call came in from Citibank today, alleging that Dearest Mum opened an account in the branch near Daly City uncle’s home, but she neglected to give them a mailing address. When self called Dear Uncle to see if he knew anything about it, turns out he had accompanied Dearest Mum to the bank, but was extremely reluctant to say anything further: the mysteries of Dearest Mum and her tortuously complicated financial machinations drive self crazy), besides which self adores, simply adores Garcia Marquez, who seems to know everything about irony, pathos, wit:

Aureliano Serrador had left his girlfriend at his parents’ house after having taken her to the movies and was returning through the well-lighted Street of the Turks when someone in the crowd who was never identified fired a revolver shot which knocked him over into a cauldron of boiling lard. A few minutes later someone knocked at the door of the room where Aureliano Arcaya was shut up with a woman and shouted to him: “Hurry up, they’re killing your brothers.” The woman who was with him said later that Aureliano Arcaya jumped out of bed and opened the door and was greeted with the discharge of a Mauser that split his head open . . . Fernanda ran through the town like a madwoman looking for Aureliano Segundo, whom Petra Cortes had locked up in a closet, thinking that the order of extermination included all who bore the colonel’s name. She would not let him out until the fourth day, when the telegrams received from different places along the coast made it clear that the fury of the invisible enemy was directed only at the brothers marked with the crosses of ash. Amaranta fetched the ledger where she had written down the facts about her nephews and as the telegrams arrived she drew lines through the names until only that of the eldest remained. They remembered him very well because of the contrast between his dark skin and his green eyes. His name was Aureliano Amador and he was a carpenter, living in a village hidden in the foothills.

The passage goes on for quite a bit longer, but now self has to go to Walgreen’s to pick up some bilin that one of her sister-in-laws requested: several tubes of Johnson & Johnson Blister Block, a product which self is hearing about for the first time. But people in Manila are so “up” on all the latest products! When self was in San Luis Obispo with Dearest Mum, after Dearest Mum began to gently snore, self took a peek into her toiletries case (Bad daughter, bad!). There she saw a wonderful profusion of Clarins skin products. Self was so tempted to try the “anti-aging emulsifying cream,” which probably cost several hundreds of dollars, but she desisted and instead made do with her homely pot of L’Oreal “Deep Action” night cream ($16.99 from Long’s).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The Death of Colonel Aureliano Buendia

From Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magnificent One Hundred Years of Solitude:

Instead of going to the chestnut tree, Colonel Aureliano Buendia also went to the street door and mingled with the bystanders who were watching the parade. He saw a woman dressed in gold sitting on the head of an elephant. He saw a sad dromedary. He saw a bear dressed like a Dutch girl keeping time to the music with a soup spoon and a pan. He saw the clowns doing cartwheels at the end of the parade and once more he saw the face of his miserable solitude when everything had passed by and there was nothing but the bright expanse of the street and the air full of flying ants with a few onlookers peering into the precipices of uncertainty. Then he went to the chestnut tree, thinking about the circus, and while he urinated he tried to keep on thinking about the circus, but he could no longer find the memory. He pulled his head in between his shoulders like a baby chick and remained motionless with his forehead against the trunk of the chestnut tree. The family did not find him until the following day at eleven o’clock in the morning when Santa Sofia de la Piedad went to throw out the garbage in back and her attention was attracted by the descending vultures.

No matter how many times self reads this passage, that pulling of the head in, so that the Colonel resembles “a baby chick,” always gets to her, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Garcia Marquez’s Santa Sofia de la Piedad

She was a virgin and she had the unlikely name of Santa Sofia de la Piedad. Pilar Ternera had paid her fifty pesos, half of her life savings, to do what she was doing. Arcadio had seen her many times working in her parents’ small food store but he had never taken a good look at her because she had that rare virtue of never existing completely except at the opportune moment. But from that day on he huddled like a cat in the warmth of her armpit.

    — from One Hundred Years of Solitude

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