Sunday, 10 February 2019: Currently Reading in Mendocino

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View from Main Street, Mendocino, Today (It rained all day yesterday but today was glorious)

“And hadn’t the Kraken been nothing but legend, until a giant squid pitched up on a Newfoundland beach, and was photographed in a tin bath by the Reverend Moses Harvey?”

The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, p. 144

This is self’s first Sarah Perry book. She’s quite enjoying it.

Preparing, OSSW Day One

Drove up to Mendocino, which as the crow flies is only 200 miles from Redwood City, but always takes self at least FIVE HOURS.

On the way, she stopped by Yorkville Market and had lunch:

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And then she mulled over the writing exercises she should start tomorrow with.

Should she have the students practice writing one very, very, very long, run-on sentence? With points to whoever can come up with the most run-on sentence?

Or, for fun, should she have them write a piece that’s all bad grammar and deliberately wrong spelling? Hamberder, anyone? Smocking guns?

Should she have them write a piece that’s all dialogue?

Should she ask them to capture every nuance of a piece of reality . . . in one sentence?

Should she have them practice writing a conversation that grows from an association of ideas (like a Harold Pinter play?)

Should she have them practice delaying the outcome for as long as possible?

She can’t decide. She’ll have to sleep on it.

BTW, this is one of the plays being presented by the Mendocino Theatre Company in 2019:

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Mendocino Theatre Company, 2019 Season

Stay tuned.

Teaching ONE STORY, SIX WAYS at Mendocino Art Center (Feb. 8 – 10, 2019)

A deep examination of process.

A workshop that is as much about reflection as it is about writing.

A workshop about doing it over. And over. Until you get it right.

ONE STORY, SIX WAYS: Feb. 8 – 10, 2019

Instructor: Marianne Villanueva

Mendocino Art Center

42500 Little Lake Street

Mendocino, CA

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Sentence of the Day: Missing, Presumed

  • The more you don’t make contact, the more impossible contact becomes, as if silence can enlarge like a seep of blood.

The writing in Missing, Presumed got stronger, the voice more confident, after about the halfway mark.

Today, self was in Heffers and found yet more books she wishes she could have purchased. But — no, it’s too much. She’s hauling luggage to Durham next.

She had to content herself with taking pictures.

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Heffers, Trinity Street, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

When, oh when, is The Secret Commonwealth, Book 2 of the Book of Dust, coming out? Philip Pullman keeping very mum.

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Waterstones, Sidney Street, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

Can you imagine, Emily Wilson, whose translation of The Odyssey self bought in hardcover from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, earlier this year, is reading tonight in Cambridge?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Travels with Charley: Deer Isle, Maine

Steinbeck has very interesting things to say about Deer Isle.

Digression: Self always wanted to visit Maine, because there is a teacher there — in Bates College — who has taught her story “Lenox Hill, December 1991” in self’s collection Mayor of the Roses, for decades.

pp. 41 – 42:

  • Maine speech is very like that in West Country England, the double vowels pronounced as they are in Anglo-Saxon, but the resemblance is doubly strong in Deer Isle. And the coastal people below the Bristol Channel are secret people, and perhaps magic people. There’s aught behind their eyes, hidden away so deep that perhaps even they do not know they have it. To put it plainly, this Isle is like Avalon; it must disappear when you are not there.

It sounds a little like California’s northern coast. Self always begins writing fables when she’s in Mendocino. Must be the craggy cliffs, the deep forests, the crashing ocean. During her latest trip to Mendocino, early this year, this sentence occurred to her as she was driving through redwoods: They chased daylight into a gloomy forest.

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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, April 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

What’s Available in The Only Bookstore in Redwood City, CA

Self is reviewing her reading list. Really, it’s become almost an obsession. She goes into the closest bookstore to her house, the Barnes & Noble in Sequoia Station, and out of a list of 22 book titles (novels published 2017), she found just these three:

  • As Lie Is to Grin, by Simeon Marsalis
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
  • Mikhail and Margarita, by Julie Lekstrom Himes

She doesn’t wish to knock her neighborhood Barnes & Noble because it really is a good store, with a better-than-average fiction section. Anyhoo, congratulations to authors Marsalis, Saunders and Himes for having their books in the store.

BTW, an island book which was recently published and which self highly recommends is Lillian Howan’s The Charm Buyers, set in Tahiti. She read it when it was first published last year and it is just the most luscious thing.

A week ago, self went back to her B & N, toting along a list of 60 titles, all recommended by her fellow Hawthornden writers in June 2012 (She found this list again just a few weeks ago; it was stuck in a drawer), and all she found in the store were these:

  • The Things They Carried and The Lake in the Woods, by Tim O’Brien
  • Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck
  • The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber
  • Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout

Granted, the Hawthornden list is made up of books at least several years old.

When she was last in Mendocino, she took her list of Island Books to Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, and the salesperson, a very nice young man, told her: “With all due respect, these books are pretty old.” (I’d say! For example, these titles: To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf, published 1927; The Fish Can Sing, by Halldor Laxness, published 1957; A House For Mr. Biswas, by V. S. Naipaul; published ___ decades ago?; Greenvoe, by George Mackay Brown, published 1972)

She found Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey and when she was paying for it, she kept telling the bookstore person who rang up the sale: This is a very good book! Why do you only have one copy?

And the beleaguered staff person had to say: Well, we don’t normally have people come in from the street asking for The Odyssey.

Poor guy! Self didn’t mean to be so insistent but she is absolutely relentless in her quest for the Holy Grail — er, for the books on her list!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Any Camera or Photos of Photographers

Self just loves Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges!

This week’s Foto Challenge is part of a series called Anything Goes. This week, you’re supposed to show a picture of any type of camera, or a picture of a photographer.

It turns out that self has the perfect picture for this week’s Foto Challenge: a picture she took on Saturday, 28 April 2018: Independent Bookstores Day. She had walked into Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino (one of her faaaavorite bookstores in the whole world. She’s bought so many great books from this bookstore over the years, including the book she’s currently reading: Homer’s Odyssey, the translation by Emily Wilson). The staff was posing for selfies with customers and she managed to squeeze off a quick one while they were otherwise occupied.

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Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino: 28 April 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Has Anyone Seen Telemachus?”: Book 4 of The Odyssey

Self can hardly wait until she gets to the part of The Odyssey where someone says:

Daddy, can you paint my wagon …

She thinks it’s about halfway through the book. She read that section while she was browsing in the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.

In the meantime, here’s Noemon (son of Phronius), addressing his fellow rivals (suitors) for the hand of Penelope, Telemachus’s mother (One interesting thing about this Emily Wilson translation is that she makes it clear that the suitors are no older than Telemachus himself. How weird is that? It would be as if son or one of his classmates decided to woo a woman 20 years older. And such is these suitors’ scorn for convention that they’ve been bullying Telemachus, for years. Telemachus brings out all of self’s Mommy instincts. As she makes her way through this section, self wants to yell: Leave my boy Telemachus alone, you dirty rats!)

Noemon

Do we know . . .  whether Telemachus is coming back
. . .  He left with my ship.
I need it, to cross over to the fields
of Elis, where I have twelve mares with mules
suckling their teats and not yet broken in.

They were all
astonished, since they had not thought the boy
was gone to Pylos, but was somewhere near,
out with the sheep or pigs.

This is so, so . . .

Points, Telemachus!

Antinous

Damn! That stuck-up boy
succeeded in his stupid trip. We thought
he would not manage it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Moving Up and Down, Outdoors

Always love it when I can join Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. This week’s is

MOVING UP AND DOWN, OUTDOORS.

Cee’s blog lists a few examples: outdoor stairs, elevators, ladders, hot air balloons, pogo sticks.

Here are some:

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Private beach access for this homeowner along the Mendocino coast

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Water Tower, Mendocino Village

And finally:

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Front Porch, Redwood City, CA

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Adding to the Reading List: A Process

Self is back home in Redwood City, California. About a mile from her house is a Barnes & Noble (in the Sequoia Station shopping center). She spent about an hour in there today, updating her reading list (The list is her ne plus ultra, her be-all and end-all, her secret game plan, and her whole raison d’etre as a writer).

She’s newly arrived from Mendocino, California (which has a pretty fabulous bookstore: Gallery Bookshop on Main Street), and her first stop is, of course, a bookstore.

Gallery Bookshop had on hand: The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway); Lord of the Flies (William Golding); Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys); The Emily Wilson translation of The Odyssey (Homer); Utopia (Thomas More); As Lie Is to Grin (Simeon Marsalis); Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders); Mikhail and Margarita (Julie Lekstrom Himes); and The Summer Book, by Finnish writer Tove Jansson.

This afternoon, in her Redwood City Barnes & Noble, self went in with a long list of about 20 authors who published novels in 2017. She found two of the 20. She moved on to her next list, the list of books recommended by her fellow writers in Hawthornden, Scotland, June 2012. She struck out on all the names on p. 1 (The list is three pages long, single-spaced), except for Tim O’Brien, all of whose books are available in-store. She was kinda hoping it wouldn’t be O’Brien because his books, though very well written, are depressing. Self asked if they had any of Tamar Yoseloff’s poetry collections, but they did not.

So that’s what her reading list looks like for the remainder of 2018. She doesn’t think anything can top Philip Pullman, though. She was such a mess yesterday that a fellow fan fiction writer had to reach out and say, about The Amber Spyglass: It is safe to read “mid-way on p. 419 to 420. Then put the book away forever.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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