Wide Sargasso Sea: WHELP!

SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!

Out of the blue, the husband receives a very detailed letter from someone he doesn’t know.

The letter is laced with familiarity and assures the man that he is writing out of a sincere desire to open his eyes. Therefore, this man is bad, the wife is bad, please “come and see me quickly. Your obt servant. Daniel Cosway.” An excerpt from the letter:

  • Richard Mason is a sly man and he will tell you a lot of nancy stories, which is what we call lies here, about what happen at Coulibri and this and that. Don’t listen. Make him answer — yes or no.

Can you imagine the effort and concentration this Cosway put into writing such a letter? What determination he possessed? And what cunning? He knew exactly what words to write, what buttons to push.

Cosway has cunning in spades.

The husband is so weak and so out-of-his-depth that he immediately decides that Cosway must be an ally (and not crazy): It was as if I’d expected it, been waiting for it.

A few pages earlier, the husband admits he does not love his wife, she was a stranger. Self is completely revising her opinion of him. (So what if the wife is a stranger? The letter writer is also a stranger, you stupid stupid man!)

Stay tuned.

Tagged on Facebook: Your 10 Most Influential Albums

Here are self’s first five:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Groom & His New Bride: Wide Sargasso Sea, p. 78

Self will admit, half the time she doesn’t know what’s going on in Wide Sargasso Sea.

It’s supposed to be about the first Mrs. Rochester from Jane Eyre, but self hasn’t been reading it like that, she’s been reading as if it’s a complete, stand-alone work of fiction.

It wasn’t until this morning that she realized Part Two was from the man’s point of view. When she realized that, it was like a big light bulb went off in her head, and she began to read in a state of absolute suspense, wondering when the man would wake up to the fact that his bride was cray-cray.

It seems the man was very unsure about the whole ‘getting-married-to-someone-you’ve-never-met’ business, but after the wedding night “My fever weakness left me, so did all misgivings.”

The Mrs. does remind self a little of Philip Pullman’s Lyra Belacqua, but the man is definitely no Will Parry; he’s too obtuse.

p. 78:

I drank another cup of Bull’s Blood . . . “How did you get that dressing table up here?”

“I don’t know. It’s always been here ever since I can remember. A lot of the furniture was stolen, but not that.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

“Child Support Office” from FINGERPRINTS OF A HUNGER STRIKE, by Tony Robles

At the entrance was a very large security guard chatting with another man who referred to him as Dinnerplate. Having recently been employed as a security guard, I felt a connection with my uniformed brethren. “Excuse me . . . uh . . .  Dinnerplate,” I said. “Can you tell me where I can give my updated contact information?” He gave me a stern look. “My name is Officer Fortune,” he said, “William A. Fortune, and you will address me as such!” I looked at the tattoo on his neck. It read Dinnerplate in cursive, although he may have been better served had it read Thinnerplate. “OK,” I replied, heading to the customer service windows where I was told — in so many words — to sit down, shut up, and wait my turn like a good boy . . .

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.

 

 

The Littleuns in Lord of the Flies

Question: Why is this book called Lord of the Flies when there is not one single fly on the  island? Could there have been flies, only the boys didn’t think it was worth bringing up? That said, it’s a a good title, for sure.

Self really enjoyed Golding’s description of the ‘littleuns.’

  • The undoubted littleuns, those aged about six, led a quite distinct and at the same time intense, life of their own. They ate most of the day, picking fruit where they could reach it and not particular about ripeness and quality. They were used now to stomachaches and a sort of chronic diarrhoea. They suffered untold terrors in the dark and huddled together for comfort. Apart from food and sleep, they found time for play, aimless and trivial, in the white sand by the bright water. They cried for their mothers much less often than what might have been expected; they were very brown and filthily dirty. They obeyed the summons of the conch, partly because Ralph blew it, and partly because they enjoyed the entertainment of the assemblies.

She forgot that there were six-year-olds on the island!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Place in the World 4: Books

Had we but world enough and time . . .

— Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

DSCN0301

DSCN0302

Work-in-Progress: The Rorqual

Word Count: 6,313

The day he noticed the first strange animals, Pitt had been missing over a week. Joshua was looking down at a bird. He couldn’t be sure what kind of bird it was, it had an odd wing structure.

He felt a premonition, a twinge. He got those, sometimes, every year or so. It was always a signal of some change, not always bad.

Katy Waldman’s Review of THE BOOK OF DUST, VOL. 1 Is Everything

This:

Post-flood, La Belle Sauvage becomes an intoxicating and dreamy thing, a mixture of The Odyssey, the Bible, The Red Book, and The Faerie Queene, with its eldritch encounters and wild Englishness. Tender feelings start to unfurl between Malcolm and Alice, who is more complex and gentle than she appears. Meanwhile, the children are pursued by one of the most appallingly hypnotic villains I’ve ever encountered in literature, a handsome madman with a three-legged hyena daemon. — Katy Waldman in The Slate Book Review, 18 Oct. 2017

It’s like Waldman plumbed self’s brain, because the above captures exactly what self was thinking, and why she just had to tear through His Dark Materials — which up until this year, she had absolutely no interest in reading (and for that you can blame the movie)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

TREASURE ISLAND: Epic

Woot Hoot!

No more pirate tropes, probably, for the rest of self’s life!

Seriously, what a great novel. It only started to drag in the last 10 pages. She lost interest the moment the focus shifted to finding the buried treasure.

Self doesn’t give a fig for buried treasure! (Stevenson himself probably wasn’t that interested, or why would he have waited until the very last dozen or so pages to focus on it?)

Now to Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey, which is a big, fat, heavy book and is sure to cause self much wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain (Whatever book she is currently reading gets toted around everywhere. And she does mean everywhere: to the movie theater, to the post office, to the library, etc). The Introduction helpfully informs the reader that the work is over 12,000 lines long.

From the book jacket:

  • The first great adventure story in the Western canon, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty, and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home.

Onward!

Stay tuned.

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