My Heart, p. 76

For the second day in a row, no prompt from bloganuary. Where are these prompts going? She’s been checking her spam folder. Nada. When she presses on the bloganuary link, she gets a message: YOU ARE ALREADY A MEMBER OF THIS SITE and nothing else. Does any one else on WordPress have this problem?

Still enjoying My Heart, though it is not a novel. It is more a travel book, or a collection of essays. Who knows, maybe Semezdin Mehmedinovic has nothing in common with the main character: Maybe he never had a heart attack, which prompts such loneliness that he contacts his estranged son. Or maybe he did have a heart attack, but not at 50. Or maybe he did have a heart attack at 50, but doesn’t have an estranged son.

Whatever the reason, the book seems merely an excuse fro Mehmedinovic to let his wonderful, supple mind wander — for example, a few pages ago, there was a meditation on the word macadam, which exists as makadam in Bosnian.

Father and son are on a surreal trip through Arizona. There’s been wonderfully quirky insight on every page.

Without further ado:

  • The front bumper of Harun’s pickup truck is broken, which makes it look mistreated and vengeful. Conscious of its threatening appearance, he abused it today on Artists Drive, a narrow one-way road that winds through the hills in the heart of Death Valley; he drove close behind a white Toyota Prius, which evidently alarmed its driver, who stopped to let it pass. In this country people are wary of trucks.

They are.

Illustration from My Heart, p. 74

Quote of the Day: A Promised Land

44 remembers a conversation with his mother!

“You know, Barry, she said (that’s the nickname she and my grandparents used for me when I was growing up, often shortened to “Bar,” pronounced “Bear”), “there are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important.

“Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people.

“So,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye. “Which kind of person do you want to be?”

— Chapter 1, A Promised Land, pp. 6 -7

Voyage: Slaver Ship, 1841

When in sight of the Bahamas Banks, at a place called Old Point Compass, or the Hole in the Wall, we were becalmed three days. There was scarcely a breath of air. The waters of the gulf presented a singularly white appearance, like lime water.

12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, Chapter Five, p. 39

As I read, I keep seeing Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Bravo, what a performance.

New Orleans, 1814

Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, p. 37:

  • Edward Ball’s forebear, Yves Le Corgne, washes up in “New Orleans, a town ninety years old.” Compared with his city of origin, Brest, “rocky, cold, and strict, with a military hardness — New Orleans is new, ramshackle, and steaming. The city counts about twenty-thousand, half of them white, half of them people of color.”

Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, by Edward Ball

pp. 12 – 13

Our Klansman’s story is not just a family story, it belongs to many. I have no first-person testimony for this tale — no letters or diaries, speeches or interviews. There are court records, however. There is thick circumstantial evidence. There are newspaper accounts, victim testimony, wills, property records, sacramental records, interviews by black families struck by Klan violence, supremacist manifestos, and traces of white oral tradition.

It’s pretty balls-y (no pun intended, ha!) of the author to go ahead and write a book on the racists in his family. Self knows that if there happened to be, say, a murderer in her family tree, she probably wouldn’t have the tenacity to go dig around in court records. Props to Edward Ball!

Earlier this year, she read another book about family secrets: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker. The pandemic was just a few months old, maybe that’s what’s coloring her year’s reading choices.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Doreen G. Fernandez: Fruits of Memory

from Doreen’s Introduction to Fruits of the Philippines (Bookmark, Inc.: Manila, 1997):

I remember gathering lemons in our farm: they were large and lumpy and not like the neat American lemons in supermarkets, but they were fragrant, and basketfuls of them made cooling lemonades. Right near these trees were aratiles, which we called seresa, low enough to climb, and almost exclusively for us children, since adults did not usually bother to gather the little berries, although they willingly ate what we shared with them.

During the Pacific war about ten families, all related, lived on the farm, and, guided by a young uncle, we children picked wild fruits called tino-tino and maria-maria, which I have not seen since then and cannot identify. The tino-tino looked like the cape gooseberry, except that it was usually not eaten raw, but sliced and fried like tomatoes. The maria-maria was delicately sweet, but where is it now? The farm never seemed to run out of guavas, which we ate green or ripe, or of nangka, also delicious both green and ripe (cooked into ginatan or eaten fresh).

20190910_143749

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Patient # 4, LET ME NOT BE MAD

For the past two days self has been reading A. K. Benjamin’s Let Me Not Be Mad. She must be in a zone: it’s her third memoir written by a doctor since the start of the summer.

At first, self found Benjamin’s style a little too fraught, but Story # 2 was a shocker. Laid her flat.

Story # 4 is about Michael, 58, who’s recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

He invites his doctor to attend a football match: Arsenal vs. Halifax.

The doc agrees (Self thinks there must be a different level of permissible interaction between doctors and patients in England? In the States, no doctor would accept such an invitation.)

This deadpan sentence has self clutching her sides:

  • He will of course be hyper-litigious in the event of an incident.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Walking Around in a Heat Wave

Bookstores are fine places.

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Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park: That woman is very wisely dressed.

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Staff Picks, Kepler’s Books

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More Staff Picks! Leanne Shapton’s mother is Pinay.

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The order line at Café Borrone, around 10 a.m.

 

 

Back to Work

Below, page 1 of a very, very old work-in-progress. Self was clearing her closets when she stumbled across the hard copy yesterday.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DEAR DEPARTED DAD.

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RISING, DISPATCHES FROM THE NEW AMERICAN SHORE, p. 45

Lately my feeling is that I need time to just be here before I can decide whether to stay or not. My guess is that I will tap into so much gratitude for my life alongside this marsh that I may just become an old lady who drowns right here.

— Laura Sewell, resident of Small Point, Maine

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