“Our Gracious Dorotea”: from Self’s Novel-in-Progress

To help self write a love scene set in 18th century Spain, she turns to poetry.

The title of the chapter she is working on today is Our Gracious Dorotea. The poem is this:

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies.

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, transl. from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More From the Novel-in-Progress: A Conversation

Matias, the fighting priest in my novel, bids farewell to a woman cousin before heading off on The Great Voyage to the Philippines, where he will fight demons. Conversation is occurring in the 18th century, not sure if I’m getting something wrong, but what-the-hey:

“And that is where you will live out your days — in some far-away country. How like a book it must seem to you. Now I see it all clearly: it was never your intention to grow old.”

“You deem it fanciful,” Matias said. “You doubt my sincerity.” Now there was anger in his voice. “I do God’s work. To dedicate my life for the salvation of many.”

“And by so doing, you forget your own life.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Novel-in-Progress

The priest, Matias, is being sent to the Philippines to fight demons. Before he leaves Spain, he has a conversation with the Archbishop in Madrid:

“You are no dissembler, Matias. I know. It is all there in your eyes. You have suffered, but — the past is past. I have got you now!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More from the Novel-in-Progress

Excerpt from a letter Matias writes to his Superior in Madrid, dated the 29th of October, 1757:

Your Reverence,

The ship lumbered forward, like a mighty beast. Finally, we sailed into a beautiful natural harbor. I was eager to be down the gangplank and standing on the pier. The Archbishop of Manila sent his carriage to fetch me to his residence, which sits directly behind the magnificent Augustinian church. The Archbishop has informed me that there are representatives of many religious orders within the walls of the Old City: There are Franciscans, Dominicans, Recollects, Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites, as well as the Society of Jesus. In other words, within this very small city, there are enough priests and nuns to tend to the souls of the natives in the most meticulous fashion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading, #amwriting

The book self is reading is The Ship, by Bjorn Landstrom (Doubleday).

On p. 102, there are a series of diagrams about the Santa Maria (“With the exception of Noah’s Ark, Columbus’s flagship is surely the most well-known ship in the world, and there are many, many thousands of models to be found today which are supposed to represent the Santa Maria.”)

DSCN0235

And now, an excerpt from self’s novel-in-progress, which is about a fighting priest, an Augustinian, sent by Spain to establish a mission on an island in the central Philippines.

The priest, whose name is Matias, arrives in Manila and is granted an audience with the Archbishop. And they somehow get off on the wrong foot:

“They only send the worst sort,” Archbishop Hontiveros grumbled. “Mutant mores. Have you heard the expression? Men change according to circumstances. One could be taken for a saint there but a devil here . . . ”

The Archbishop paused and abruptly changed his tone. “How long have you been in the priesthood? You are very young.”

“I am not young,” Matias said, struggling to keep a note of deference in his voice. “I am twenty-six.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Unforgettable Ketchikan

The way Jonathan Evison describes it, it’s a really depressing place to end your Alaska cruise:

  • A working-class town smelling of barnacles and rust, wood rot, and diesel smoke, wet dog hair in heaters, and fish nets hung out to dry. Despite civic-minded efforts to splash some vibrant color about, there’s no disguising the town’s blimp gray underbelly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

You Should Not Have Gone On That Cruise, Harriet Chance!

Nearing the end of Jonathan Evison’s novel, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!. Self began reading it in, of all places, Paris. It’s been very entertaining. Only wish there had been more of Rudy, the Filipino cabin steward.

The Alaskan cruise which is the “frame” for this novel about Harriet Chance’s entire life, isn’t such a good idea. The views are breathtaking, but the people are anything but. Self is so glad, because now the novel has cured her of the desire to go on an Alaskan cruise. All you do is gain five pounds and spend dinner talking to strangers.

p. 266:

“Y’all mind if I join you?” says a morbidly obese fellow, who has materialized suddenly at the end of the table. He’s clutching a Caesar salad and wearing a black T-shirt that says I SEE DUMB PEOPLE.

What is Harriet’s obsession with other people’s weight? As if to oblige her, most of the people she meets on the cruise are overweight.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

Hugely enjoying this Jonathan Evison novel from a few years back, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Turns out Evison isn’t even remotely close to being the age of his protagonist. That is what happens when you have imagination!

pp. 94 – 95:

“I feel so strange,” says Harriet. “Am I . . . dead?”

“Not yet,” he says, examining the television remote. “Trust me, you’ll know.”

“Should I be frightened?”

“Won’t do you any good,” he says, setting the remote aside. “Don’t bother planning.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

  • She never mentions her husband, but that diamond must be four karats. Likewise, she never enquires about Bernard, or your children, or your home.

p. 31, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

#amreading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

Yes, we’re getting ahead of ourselves again, but hey, it happens . . .  The reflective mind is a pinball, pitching and careening, rebounding off anything it makes contact with.

— p. 29, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

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