Still Reading: SUBMISSION, p. 161

Context: France is undergoing deep and rapid change. For one, the newly elected president is Muslim.

Been a long time since self has read a political novel.

Maybe it was too soon to give up after all — witness these two girls, and my father’s surprising late-life transformation. And maybe, if I kept seeing Rachida on a regular basis, we’d end up having feelings for each other. At least, there was no reason to absolutely rule it out.

  • — p. 161, Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Lorin Stein

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: SOLARIS, by Stanislaw Lem

DSCN0611

Stanislaw Lem was self’s first science fiction. She stumbled across it in a bookstore on Harvard Square. This translation (from the French) was by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox.

Opening page:

At 19:00, ship’s time, I made my way to the launching bay. The men around the shaft stood aside to let me pass, and I climbed down into the capsule.

Inside the narrow cockpit, there was scarcely room to move. I attached the hose to the valve on my spacesuit and it inflated rapidly. From then on, I was incapable of making the smallest movement. There I stood, or rather hung suspended, enveloped in my pneumatic suit and yoke to the metal hull.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 128

  • He was born in 1922, if you can believe it. Exactly a hundred years ago. He joined the Resistance early on, in late June 1940. Even in his day, French patriotism was an idea whose time had passed. You could say that it was born at the Battle of Valmy, in 1792, and that it began to die in 1917, in the trenches of Verdun. That’s hardly more than a century — not long, if you think about it. Today, who believes in French patriotism? The National Front claims to, but their belief is so insecure, so desperate.

2nd Michel Houellebecq Sentence of the Day: Still SUBMISSION, still p. 72

Paris, 201x:

All of a sudden, as I stood in front of the Rapid ‘Jus (whose concoctions kept getting more and more complicated: they had coconut-passion fruit-guava, mango-lychee-guarana, and a dozen other flavors, all with bewildering vitamin ingredients), I thought of Bruno Deslandes.

Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 72

  • Hidden all day in impenetrable black burqas, rich Saudi women transformed themselves by night into birds of Paradise with their corsets, their see-through bras, their G-strings with multicolored lace and rhinestones.

There you have it, folks: Paris in the year 201x.

Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 35

Submission is self’s third Michel Houellebecq novel (translated from the French by Lorin Stein), and by far the shortest.

What she remembers of the other two is that they had this stream-of-consciousness raunchiness thing going on. So French.

This one is interesting because people actually e-mail and text, there is talk of terrorist attacks around Paris, and the characters seem to know a lot more about mosques, halal, Israel, Dubai, and so forth.

Self’s favorite parts, though, are the ruminations. For example, p. 35:

  • Animals live without feeling the least need of justification, as do the crushing majority of men. They live because they live, and then I suppose they die because they die, and for them that’s all there is to it. If only as a Huysmanist, I felt obliged to do a little better.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Women Writers For the Reading List

It’s taken self over two years to get to an issue of The New Yorker, the issue of 27 July 2015. The Book Review section. Here are her picks to add to her reading list:

Independence Lost, by Kathleen DuVal: An “intrepid history of the American Revolution that shifts the focus from the rebellious thirteen colonies to the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Valley, where Native Americans, African slaves, and Spanish, French, and British colonials were fighting very different battles.” (The New Yorker, 27 July 2015)

Life After Life and A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson: In Life After Life, “Ursula Todd, a young Englishwoman, repeatedly dies and starts her life again.” In the follow-up, Ursula’s younger brother, Teddy, lives “a life of quiet sadness: he is widowed early, has a selfish daughter, and struggles to connect with his grandchildren. Teddy, unlike his sister, lives only one life, but Atkinson’s deft handling of time . . . is impressive.” (The New Yorker, 27 July 2015)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“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.

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