2666: Moving BACKWARDS

Today, self awoke in near-dark (pretty much par for the course, the past week).

She reached for Roberto Bolaño.

Decided to quote from the page she’s on.

Checked the last post she wrote on Roberto Bolaño.

Amazing, she’s apparently moved backwards.


Without further ado:

She sat at the windowsill and looked out at the city. A sea of flickering lights stretched toward the south. If she leaned half her body out the window, the humming stopped. The air was cold and felt good.

– Roberto Bolaño, 2666, p. 108

Yesterday, self stood at the bottom of Ukiah Street, staring at the headlands. And it was cold. And there was a chill wind. And she felt it whipping her thin hair practically off her scalp.

The cold that self has felt building up for days finally arrived in earnest. And she can even point to the exact time it hit: Thursday, 8:09 a.m.

She ended up running to Corners of the Mouth Organic Market and telling Vicki: I am going to be extremely busy in the coming week. And I feel something coming on. Can you give me something that will at least keep me ambulatory.

Here’s what she ended up giving self: zinc lozenges; Elderberry Syrup; Lung & Throat Herbal Drops; Macro-Biotic Nasal Spray; two fresh lemons to squeeze into her tea.

But the best, the absolutely best cold remedy? Peeta Mellark. Thank God for fan fiction. Would that she could spend all day in bed, just reading.

You know, she only brought a few books with her to Mendocino. In two months, she’s read exactly 2 1/4 books. (In the long-ago time of her fulsome-ness, she would have whipped through about eight)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2666: “Dream-Like, Epic, Worldly” Says a Reader on Amazon

p. 11 of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño:  “The three met again at a German-language literature colloquium . . . ”

Self is feeling restless. At first she wasn’t sure if she’d wandered into the right novel. Why oh why are we following a bunch of academics as they attend one conference after another and expound on their love of the artist Archimboldi?

Hurry up! She doesn’t have all day!

At first she was rather intrigued by the fact that post-humously famous Bolaño chose to open a 900-page novel with a minute dissection of academics who keep bumping into each other at conferences. Way to go, Bolaño! Self found the tone sly, rather dryly humorous.

But after 11 pages, the novel’s action hasn’t moved forward an inch. We are still in the same milieu: the academic conference (handled very well, but still. There is a reason people refer to universities as ivory towers) And there are 890 more pages to go.

The next book on her reading list is Denis Johnson’s Read the rest of this entry »

Sentence of the Day: BROOKLYN, by Colm Toibin

p. 29:

There was no day that passed without an event.

Starting BROOKLYN, by Colm Toibin

With great, truly superhuman effort, self forced herself to finish reading Silas Marner.

Part of the reason she was so reluctant was — aside from the fact that George Eliot is simply great — she didn’t think she’d be able to get into Brooklyn. The reviews she read on-line led her to think it might be meandering and somewhat dull.

But, that just goes to show how very idiosyncratic self’s tastes in reading are. Because the minute she began reading Brooklyn, she was completely entranced.

An excerpt (pp. 28 – 29):

“Well, I just came to say that I’ll be going to America in about a month’s time,” Eilis said. “I’m going to work there and I wanted to give you plenty of notice.”

Miss Kelly stood back from the counter. “Is that right?” she asked.

“But I’ll be here on Sundays of course until I go.”

“Is it a reference you’re looking for?”

“No. Not at all. I just came to let you know.”

“Well, that’s lovely now. So we’ll see you when you come home on holidays, if you’ll still be talking to everyone.”

“I’ll be here on Sunday,” Eilis said.

“Ah, no, we won’t be needing you at all. If you’re going, you’re best to go.”

“But I could come.”

“No, you couldn’t. There’d be too much talk about you and there’d be too much distraction and we’re very busy on a Sunday, as you know, without that.”

“I was hoping I could work until I left.”

“Not here you can’t. So be off with you now.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Dear blog readers, self is trying her best to finish Silas Marner because it is getting quite ridiculous how often she feels the itch to post about this or that absolutely amazing sentence and oh BTW the last author she expected to be enthusing over in the first month of 2015 is George Eliot who has been dead quite a long time, and writes about rural England which is not exactly the most exciting territory (Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn which she hauled over all the way from Redwood City is feeling quite neglected in her suitcase, because it’s the next book on her reading list and she would hate to have hauled it all this way for nothing)

Without further ado, the sentence:

When we are treated well, we naturally begin to think that we are not altogether unmeritorious, and that it is only just we should treat ourselves well, and not mar our own good fortune.

See what she means?

Now do you see what she means?

It’s like every page is written by Ann Landers, but witty!

Oops! Sorry for drawing parallels between Ann Landers and George Eliot!

And then, one more:

Everything comes to light . . . sooner or later. When God Almighty wills it, our secrets are found out.

Back to the book.

Stay tuned.


SILAS MARNER Quote of the Day (Last Monday of January 2015)

“Well, Master Marner, it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf, and if you’ve never had no church, there’s no telling the good it’ll do you.”

Silas Marner, Everyman’s Library edition, p. 94

This Great Novel: SILAS MARNER, p. 63 (Everyman’s Library Edition)

Silas Marner, where have you been hiding all of self’s life? You’d think self would have encountered this book in high school or something.

Never mind. It’s just as well she’s encountering it for the first time at her advanced age. If it were force-fed to her in high school, she might have developed a revulsion towards all things George Eliot.

She was under the misconception she could finish this book in a week or so (Only 205 pages! If she were operating up to snuff, she’d have polished this off in a matter of days!)

Here’s her great Silas Marner sentence of the day:

Our consciousness rarely registers the beginning of a growth within us any more than without us: there have been many circulations of the sap before we detect the smallest sign of the bud.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

And, Further Along in SILAS MARNER

Silas Marner is a great, absolutely great English novel.

Self doesn’t know why she felt it necessary to qualify “novel” with “English.” It’s not a diminution, it’s not that self thinks you have to be English to appreciate Silas Marner, of course not.

But let’s just say the time is right for her to fully appreciate the strength and tautness of a George Eliot sentence. And all those strengths are on full display here. And part of the strength of the sentences is that they are firmly rooted in the landscape. Which, of course, is England.

And self will even go so far as to say that no novel can be considered truly great unless it grows out of its own particular landscape.

Short stories can get away with being abstract. A novel has to be rooted.

Onward, to p. 41 of the Everyman’s Library edition. A spoiled young man named Dunsey takes a walk through a field:

When a young gentleman like Dunsey is reduced to so exceptional a mode of locomotion as walking, a whip in his hand is a desirable corrective to a too bewildering dreamy sense of unwontedness in his position; and Dunsey, as he went along through the gathering mist, was always rapping his whip somewhere. It was Godfrey’s whip, which he had chosen to take without leave because it had a gold handle; of course no one could see, when Dunsey held it, that the name Godfrey Cass was cut in deep letters on that gold handle — they could only see that it was a very handsome whip.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SILAS MARNER Sentences of the Day

There is something so entrancing about the narrative voice George Eliot uses in Silas Marner.  First of all, it tells a lot (And self has been hearing forever that it’s better for a writer to show rather than tell. Well, this just goes to show that rules are meant to be broken, especially in creative writing!).

Exhibit A:

p. 30 (the Everyman’s Library edition): Godfrey and his brother Dunsey are quarreling.

That big muscular frame of his held plenty of animal courage, but helped him to no decision when the dangers to be braved were such as could neither be knocked down nor throttled. His natural irresolution and moral cowardice were exaggerated by a position in which dreaded consequences seemed to press equally on all sides, and his irritation had no sooner provoked him to defy Dunsey and anticipate all further betrayals, than the miseries he must bring on himself by such a step seemed more enendurable to him than the present evil.

Self wonders: If the manuscript of Silas Marner were submitted to a publisher today, would it even merit a second glance? Or would it be rejected?

Self thinks rejected. In which case, wouldn’t it be a far more productive use of her time to concentrate on a contemporary whose work IS regularly accepted for  publication?

Oh, boo.

Nevertheless, only 170 more pages to go!  Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


SILAS MARNER Quote of the Day

Self is just loving this book, absolutely loving it. That it’s about a weaver, that’s one thing. That the weaver is also a healer, practiced in herbal lore, that’s another thing.

p. 21:

In this strange world, made a hopeless riddle to him, he might, if he had had a less intense nature, have sat weaving, weaving — looking towards the end of his pattern, or towards the end of his web, till he forgot the riddle, and everything else but the immediate sensations; but the money had come to mark off his weaving into periods, and the money not only grew, but it remained with him.

It is an incredible, incredible gift, to have the time and the solitude to devote herself to such a book, dear blog readers.

Late Afternoon on the Balcony

Late Afternoon on the Balcony

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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