Also Reading: THE MANDIBLES, A FAMILY, 2029 – 2047

On March 11, five days ago, self (suffering from post-AWP Tampa exhaustion) decided not to finish reading The Mandibles: A Family. It follows the various members of a (mostly) affluent East Coast family named the Mandibles (What kind of name is that? How can she relate to any character whose last name is Mandible?)

Nevertheless, having already devoted three nights in Tampa to getting through this book, she decided to plough on. After all, it’s about how to deal when all your money is gone. There may be life lessons here, self thought.

She was correct!

Now, five days later, she’s halfway.  One member of the family is beginning to stand out, and he’s just a kid. His name is Willing, and he’s very smart. The more she reads about Willing, the more she sees parallels with the Parkland kids, David Hogg et. al., who have become thorns in the side of Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Mitch McConnell, the NRA, and Fox news pundits like Sean Hannity.

In a section on p. 203, a hapless Mandible named Lowell reflects on what he finds so irritating about his nephew, Willing:

But this Willing kid had slathered on an extra level of crapola, and unless his performance the previous evening was a one-off display to impress visiting relatives, Lowell could be throttling the little bastard within the week. The boy glowed with divine inspiration, as if he had a personal psychic hotline to the late editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal.

lol  lol  lol

Stay tuned.


The Mandibles, 2029 – 2047

Maybe she should blame it on AWP, but she’s on p.32, she can’t tell the difference between various characters and she doesn’t know what the rationale is for setting this novel in 2029, because it sounds just like the present (without the magnetic personalities of Trump and Sessions to lighten up the proceedings). There seems to be a water shortage, because characters are allowed only one bath a week. Gee! Sucks to live in 2029!

Chapter 2 is excruciating: All about the gold standard. Should self be worried about the gold standard? Well, if a characteer in a novel keeps droning on and on about the gold standard, self would assume it is best to be worried about the gold standard. She is so stupid! Duh! Next time you pick up a novel, self, make sure you are interested in its subject matter!

She just thought: wow, it would be great to have characters who actually care about macroeconomics and exchange rates and stuff. Would probably up self’s intelligence quotient!

But, no. After reading 32 pages, self can only say: there is a reason she was not an economics major.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Carlos Bulosan, AMERICA IS IN THE HEART

America is in the Heart is about a Filipino migrant worker who lives in the itinerant camps and moves up and down the west coast, following the harvests.

Chapter XXIII:

I tried hard to remain aloof from the destruction and decay around me. I wanted to remain pure within myself. But in Pismo Beach, where I found Mariano, I could not fight anymore. He and I slept on the floor of a small cottege, where two others were living.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


  • As for women, and everything to do with them, never a word, never; it was as if there were no women in the world. This absolute silence, even between close friends, about everything to do with women was one of the most profound and lasting lessons of my early years in the priesthood. — from p. 185 of Robert Harris’s thriller (about the election of a new Pope), Conclave

The MP (or main protagonist) is reading. Since he is a Cardinal, he reads religious stuff. Like Pope John XXIII’s writings.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vicente Benitez, (Filipino) Archbishop of Baghdad

Self is now at a point in Conclave where a vote is taken for a new Pope. And it reads just like Survivor. She means: everyone rising, one by one, to cast their secret ballots.

Vicente Benitez, the newest Cardinal, previously assigned to a country in Africa (self too lazy to look up exactly which country right now), casts his ballot on p. 157. Props to author Robert Harris for getting self to read this far on a topic she never thought she’d be interested in.

The MP’s inner monologue:

The Filipino had an attractive quality, he thought, not easy to define, an inner grace. Now that he was becoming better known, he might go far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading CONCLAVE, by Robert Harris

p.73: Filipino Sighting

“His name is Vincent Benitez. He’s the Archbishop of Baghdad.”

“Baghdad? I wasn’t aware we had an archbishop in such a place. Is he an Iraqi?”

“Hardly! He’s a Filipino. The Holy Father appointed him last year.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: GRRM’s A CLASH OF KINGS

Very belatedly reading the books, and doing it in very random fashion (but she has a whole year, at least, until Game of Thrones Season 8 airs)

“They tell me you are called Weasel. That will not serve. What name did your mother give you?”

She bit her lip, groping for another name. Lommy had called her Lumpyhead, Sansa used Horseface, and her father’s men once dubbed her Arya Underfoot, but she did not think any of those were the sort of name he wanted.

“Nymeria,” she said. “Only she called me Nan for short.”

A Clash of Kings, p. 694

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



This event is sponsored by the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford. It is free and open to the public.

The Clayman Institute’s Winter Artist’s Salon features novelist and Stanford professor Chang-rae Lee. Lee will talk about the women characters in several of his books, giving a short reading, followed by a discussion with the audience on a range of questions.

He will focus on June, the female protagonist in The Surrendered, and Fan, the female protagonist in On Such a Full Sea.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018
4:15 to 5:45 p.m.
Levinthal Hall
Stanford Humanities Center

RSVP to:


#amreading MOSHI MOSHI by Banana Yoshimoto, p. 15

Her flat, affectless tone still gets to me:

  • “. . .  I’m talking about the lie that you have to live a proper life, or else you’ll be ruined . . . “

2nd Banana Yoshimoto Sentence of the Day

If life is a process of accumulating more and more things you simply can’t bring yourself to make peace with, well, my feelings about this are vast and deep enough for an entire lifetime’s worth of hang-ups.

— p. 4, Moshi Moshi

Despite the fact that self did not make her reading goal of 30 books in 2017 (She got to 26), she signed up again for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and upped the ante: 35 books to read in 2018.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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