Self Has No Idea Why

Self has no idea why, but there is no love, absolutely no love, in Alain de Botton’s novel The Course of Love.

It’s about the married life of a young couple. They feel this and that, followed by blocks of clinical-sounding text. Little disappointments, which otherwise would be quickly forgotten in the course of a normal life, get toted up like someone’s keeping score. In the beginning, there was a kind of heated intimacy, which is beginning to seem more and more (to self, at least) like desire rather than love.

The couple live in Edinburgh. The husband’s name is Rahib, and the wife’s name is Kirsten. He goes on a business trip:

  • Whenever he’s away, he feels as if she were trying to put an even greater distance between them than that of land or water.

Anyhoo, there is great fun in reading the clinical text. It forces her to read with detachment, as if Rahib and Kirsten were two insect specimens being examined under a microscope.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Novel-in-Progress, WILDERNESS, Chapter 1

  • The old servant woman placed before each of them a white plate on which were artfully arranged four thin, golden slices of ripe mango.

Novel got her into the 2015 Banff Literary Studio, where one of her mentors was so scrupulous he marked sentence by sentence. Things like: WHO IS THE SPEAKER HERE?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wall Street Journal Books, July 23 – 24, 2016

Self found a couple of books to add to her reading list while perusing the Books section of the July 23 – July 24 Wall Street Journal:

  • Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, by Charles B. Strozier (Columbia)
  • The Castle of Kings, by Oliver Potzsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — historical fiction, set in 1524 Germany
  • Abahn Sabana David, by Marguerite Duras (Open Letter) — “minimal, dream-like setting” and narration that has “the bluntness of stage directions.” Self adores Duras.
  • The Brotherhood of the Wheel, by R. S. Belcher (Tor) — Resourceful residents of a small town use a HEXapp — an actual HEXapp! LOL LOL — to show the most recent sightings of the local spectre!
  • Richard Cohen, literary critic and Tolstoy expert, shares his favorite British crime novels: The Cask, by Freeman Wills Crofts; Tragedy at Law, by Cyril Hare; Reputation for a Song, by Edward Grierson; The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Caudwell
  • Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros (Spiegel & Grau) — nonfiction by a journalist

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Really Delightful: Hanna in Anne Enright’s THE GREEN ROAD

The following excerpt could be either funny or sad, depending on your mood. Hanna is an aspiring actress with a drinking problem:

. . .  that evening, somehow, the baby got hold of her little Innocent bottle and spat the stuff out, spilling it all down his front and, never mind the hole in the fucking universe, when Hugh smelt the alcohol off the baby’s Breton striped Petit Bateau, the world as Hanna knew it came to an end.

. . .  The thing was through the washing machine on the instant, so Hugh had no hard evidence. But he had the baby. He was sleeping in the baby’s room. He would not fight with Hanna, he said, but he would not leave her alone with the baby. And when it came to Christmas he would take the baby home.

Hanna said, “That’s a relief. No, really. Childcare at last. Fucking fantastic.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Too Funny! More Anne Enright

  • It was very ageing — fat. It made her daughter look like an old woman, which was a kind of insult, after all the care that was put into the rearing of her. The coat didn’t help. It was like an anorak, almost.

The Green Road, p. 160

Sentence of the Day: From THE GREEN ROAD

Self has loved all the books she’s read so far this year. Some are lighter reads than others, but in general she’s been really lucky in her reading choices. Here are the books she’s read so far in 2016:

  • Road Dogs, by Elmore Leonard
  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins
  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Candide, by Voltaire
  • Watch Me, by Anjelica Huston
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  • Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart
  • The Green Road (currently reading), by Anne Enright

This is a sentence from Enright’s novel. Two “boys,” Dan and Billy, are walking together on a clear Manhattan night, just “after rain.” One of the boys is out of the closet, the other not really:

  • The boys’ winter coats were both open to the mild night, their long scarves hung down, blue and green.

And that’s it! There’s the sentence. Hope you like it as much as self did.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay night.

 

Still More of Anne Enright: THE GREEN ROAD

Self does not know how one can write like this. Where every sentence has such a pitch of intensity.

First there was Ireland and oh the sadness of a Sunday family dinner and people nattering on and seeming to erode to dust, right before our very eyes.

Then, we’re in New York in 1991 which was a terrible year, self can tell you right now, and right and left, people are dying of AIDS, and Enright writes a beautiful sentence about how a man can start reading the classics, later in life, and how he can become “tender of his eyesight and of his time,” and about Achilles’ dream and the dead Patroclus and about how in dreams there are no words and this is what the dreamer misses most because “words are also physical, don’t you think? The way they touch you.”

And self knows exactly what she means.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still On: Anne Enright’s THE GREEN ROAD

The Green Road is taking self to some very unexpected places. Such as: New York City, 1991. Which turned out to be a watershed year for self as well. Just read her story “Lenox Hill, December 1991” in Charlie Chan Is Dead, Vol. 1, edited by Jessica Hagedorn.

Here’s an excerpt from Enright’s novel:

DAN – New York, 1991

. . .  if the question was whether Billy was still sleeping with Gregory Savalas, then the answer was that they had barely slept together in the first place. Billy was a blonde boy, on the sturdy side, with a thug/angel thing going, so there was a line of sad bastards queuing at his door; half of them married, most of them in suits. And Billy hated the closet. What Billy wanted was big, shouty unafraid sex with someone who did not cry, or get complicated, or hang around after the orange juice and the croissant.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anne Enright’s THE GREEN ROAD

If you crossed the long meadow, you came to a boreen which brought you up over a small rise to a view of the Aran Islands out in Galway Bay, and the Cliffs of Moher, which were also famous, far away to the south. This road turned into the green road that went across the Burren, high above the beach at Fanore, and this was the most beautiful road in the world, bar none, her granny said — famed in song and story — the rocks gathering briefly into walls before lapsing back into field, the little stony pastures whose flowers were sweet and rare.

The Green Road, p. 15

Breathe, Self, Breathe!

Here she is, in Calgary, and she doesn’t know what she should read next: Her niece Karina’s next book recommendation (She tore through Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, like white on rice!), Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (The title is pure nonsense; the book is much much better than that. There is NO girl waiting with a gun. Don’t hold your breath), or The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Of course, she is also drinking in Everlark fan fiction like crazy. A lot of stories that languished for months and months (even, years) finally updated in the last week: it’s been a veritable bonanza of good Everlark! (Take your pick: Pride and Prejudice Everlark; ballet world Everlark; Great Expectations Everlark; or vlogging Everlark)

Today, self went to Market Mall with her niece and of course we stopped by Sephora. And there was a brand self had never seen before: Tarte. And when her niece found out self’s current mascara was over three years old, her niece told her, in no uncertain terms: Throw it out, Tita. Honestly, you should be replacing your mascara every six months. (Oh. So that’s why self’s eyes were itching like crazy yesterday)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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