Quote of the Day: Madeleine Albright

“We want to be told where to march.”

— Madeleine Albright in Fascism: A Warning

Katy Waldman’s Review of THE BOOK OF DUST, VOL. 1 Is Everything

This:

Post-flood, La Belle Sauvage becomes an intoxicating and dreamy thing, a mixture of The Odyssey, the Bible, The Red Book, and The Faerie Queene, with its eldritch encounters and wild Englishness. Tender feelings start to unfurl between Malcolm and Alice, who is more complex and gentle than she appears. Meanwhile, the children are pursued by one of the most appallingly hypnotic villains I’ve ever encountered in literature, a handsome madman with a three-legged hyena daemon. — Katy Waldman in The Slate Book Review, 18 Oct. 2017

It’s like Waldman plumbed self’s brain, because the above captures exactly what self was thinking, and why she just had to tear through His Dark Materials — which up until this year, she had absolutely no interest in reading (and for that you can blame the movie)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Honor of Independent Bookstore Day, Saturday, 28 April 2018: LUISA IGLORIA PICKS SOME GOOD ONES

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Luisa Igloria, Poet

Since self is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Mendocino Art Center, this week she’s been writing up a storm (also sending out her work) and adding to her reading list with regular drop-ins to one of the best bookstores in the world: Gallery  Bookshop in Mendocino. Yelp gives them five stars!

She also asked two fabulous writers if they could share their list of Recommended Books with her, and she was so happy when they agreed. (Even if your local indie doesn’t carry the titles, they can always order them. In most cases, they’ll take an average of three or four days to get to the bookstore)

First up, Luisa Igloria

Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. Her latest works include the collection The Buddha Wonders If She Is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2018), the chapbooks Haori (Tea & Tattered Pages Press, 2017), Check & Balance (Moria Press/Locofo Chaps, 2017), and Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015). Her collection Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser was selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize and published by Utah State University Press. Her other collections are: Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press). She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015. Her website is www.luisaigloria.com

Luisa’s Poetry Recommendations:

  • Afterland, Mai Der Vang
  • Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar
  • Carpathia, Cecilia Woloch
  • Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay
  • Chord, Rick Barot
  • Eye Level, Jenny Xie
  • Glasshouses, Lighthouses, Tung-hui Hu
  • Khaty Xiong, Poor Anima, Khaty Xiong
  • Living Quarters, Adrienne Su
  • Night Sky With Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong
  • Some Say the Lark, Jennifer Chang
  • Stereo. Island. Mosaic., Vincent Toro
  • Registers of Illuminated Villages, Tarfia Faizullah
  • The Second O of Sorrow, Sean Thomas Dougherty
  • When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities, Chen Chen
  • Whereas, Layli Long Soldier

Luisa’s Fiction Recommendations:

  • A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki
  • America is Not the Heart, Elaine Castillo
  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  • But For the Lovers, Wilfrido Nolledo
  • Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  • Mayor of the Roses, Marianne Villanueva
  • Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
  • Smaller and Smaller Circles, F.H. Batacan
  • The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal, Brian Roley
  • The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Vagrants, Yiyun Li
  • Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro
  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  • Valiant Gentlemen, Sabina Murray

Luisa’s Nonfiction/Hybrid Recommendations:

  • 100 Demons, Lynda Barry
  • America is in the Heart, Carlos Bulosan
  • Blind Spot, Teju Cole
  • Echolalia in Script, Sam Roxas-Chua 姚
  • Kilometer Zero, Wilfredo Pascual, Jr.
  • On Imagination, Mary Ruefle
  • Silver Road, Kazim Ali
  • The Dark Interval, Rainer Maria Rilke
  • The Kepel Fruit, Tung-hui Hu
  • Too Much and Not the Mood, Durga Chew-Bose
  • Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

Self doesn’t know about you, but she’s itchy to get at more than a few of these books!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Blood, Romps, and Lashings”: The Guardian Review of VERSAILLES, Season 1

Self is watching Versailles Season 2. She is so happy the series was renewed! It has proved extremely addictive.

The Guardian: With ladies in milky baths, ocular torture and piles of flesh, Versailles returns for more pre-revolution rumbustiousness (Shouldn’t that be rambunctiousness? Whatever). But is there depth beneath the bling?

Where were we then in Versailles, which returns for a second series? The palace is still under construction, and 1,000 workers have died so far. Versailles was clearly the Qatar of its day, and those gold gates are very Gulf State chic, no?

The writer is Sam Wollaston.

Self bows to your wicked wit, Sir. She bows.

From her visit to Versailles, May 2017:

DSCN0443

Versailles, 28 May 2017: It was too bloody hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Tomb Raider: Just Okay

This is not a masterpiece. It’s not, even, that much fun. Alicia Vikander’s body is rippling with muscle so that’s certainly an improvement over Angelina Jolie’s (The trouble with Jolie as Lara Croft is that she’s very top-heavy and it gets in the way. Seriously). But Dominic West, poor Dominic West, is so wasted.

Here are a few positives:

  • That ripped body of Vikander’s
  • Walton Goggins having a stellar moment in every action/fantasy movie of the past few years (He was in the final Maze Runner movie, which self would rank higher than this one)
  • There is an Asian man who is kind and also has a ripped bod (Never seen this actor before. Googled. Welcome to the world, Daniel Wu!)
  • Solving puzzles is always fun. Though self did get a little lost when people were tossing all kinds of colored crystals at Lara Croft while balancing on their toes at the edges of a room with a crumbling stone floor.

Was there music? Self can’t remember. Too bad. A score can do so much for a movie.

What was that fox race through London? She doesn’t get the point, but loved that she saw a section of Tottenham Road, which she knows intimately: Hanway Alley (where her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, is) is just off Tottenham. Moreover, Vikander does a great job as a biker. She has that look of determination, and looks great in capris and bike helmet.

The guy who plays spoiled brat/murder suspect ‘Silver Smile’ in TNT’s The Alienist has a bit part!

Good Lord, she would never place this on the same level as The Last of the Mohicans, even if just for comparison, which critic Matt Zoller Seitz did in his review for RogerEbert.com. The Last of the Mohicans was a masterpiece! It was directed by Michael Mann, at the height of his powers! It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, at the height of his powers. (No, let’s re-phrase that: with Daniel Day-Lewis, there is no such thing as ‘height of his powers.’ Because he is still bringing it all the time! Just watch Phantom Thread!)! It introduced Wes Studi to the world!

Every time Vikander sailed through the air, self was reminded of the Fassbender move in 300. Which he executed so well that now, every action movie has to show its heroes and heroines doing the exact same move, at least once. It’s getting to be a thing! Vikander does it so many times in Tomb Raider that she even out-Fassbenders Fassbender.

Self found Tomb Raider a by-the-numbers thriller, which is to say it was not a thrill ride.

She was so excited, though, to see a preview of John Boyega’s Star Wars movie.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: “The Daggers of Jorge Luis Borges”

From The New York Review of Books, 9 January 2014, a review by Michael Greenberg of Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature, edited by Martin Arias and Martin Hadis, and translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions):

  • Throughout his life, Jorge Luis Borges was engaged in a dialogue with violence. Speaking to an interviewer about his childhood in what was then the outlying barrio of Palermo, in Buenos Aires, he said, “To call a man, or to think of him, as a coward — that was the last thing . . . the kind of thing he couldn’t stand.” According to his biographer, Edwin Williamson, Borges’s father handed him a dagger when he was a boy, with instructions to overcome his poor eyesight and “generally defeated” demeanor and let the boys who were bullying him know that he was a man.

 

 

#amreading: The New York Review of Books on Oliver Sacks (21 May 2015)

You will notice, dear blog reader, that all the magazines self has been quoting this week are three years old. That is because 2015 is the last year she had much leisure time. She thinks it’s a very good sign that she saved all these past issues of New York Review of Books. Like she knew, she’d be getting back to them one day. Even if that day was three years later.

Moving on.

Oliver Sacks is no longer with us. Nevertheless, his ouevre remains. Jerome Groopman, in his review of Oliver Sacks’s memoir On the Move: A Life, quotes Sacks’s description of himself:

of “vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.” A talented student drew a contrast with Ivan Ilyich, who was passionless and shaped his behavior to strictly conform to others’ expectations. Tolstoy judged Ilyich’s life as “most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

Which is why self is sharing this photo (taken at the San Carlos Auto Pride carwash):

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DARKEST HOUR: What’s Up With Joe Wright

2nd full day back in America, 2nd movie: Darkest Hour.

So dull.

Self has seen Atonement, which made her cry buckets.

Not that she expects every Joe Wright to make her cry buckets, just that she likes movies to engage her emotions and this one didn’t.

Well, self did feel bad for the 4,000 British troops at Calais who were ordered to attack the advancing Germans, all to enable the main body of the British army to be evacuated from Dunkirk (almost 300,000 men)

Perhaps self was in a mood because she did not get to see I, Tonya.

Instead she got to watch Gary Oldman do Winston Churchill and his portrayal was rather baffling. Self had no idea that Churchill was such a bumbling, distracted man, whose only skill apparently was a penchant for rousing words and an ability to get the pulse of the British people.

He was a populist! Who would have thought!

The scene in the underground was very, very contrived.

Two stars, maybe?

Kudos nevertheless to Stephen Dillane for making her completely forget Stannis Baratheon in his portrayal of Churchill antagonist Viscount Halifax, and to Samuel West for still being Samuel West, and to Lily James for performing the role of ingenue/typist so flawlessly.

Someone started coughing loud in the last half hour or so of the movie, and a young woman yelled, from way across the theatre: Hey, would you do your coughing outside?

Which surprised self exceedingly because she didn’t notice any young people in the audience before the lights went down. But it is a very good thing to know that young people are interested in watching this movie that has absolutely no battle scenes (i.e.,  more spittle than blood).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Recommended Reading: Women Writing (Comics, Nonfiction, Novellas)

Essay:

Skinning the Rabbit, by Jane Eaton Hamilton (The Sun, July 2017)

The Cone of Uncertainty: Parenting on the Edge of Climate Change, by Sarah Grey (Salvage Quarterly, 28 November 2017)

On Yoga, Diversity Lite, and the Empire of American Wellness, by Namrata Poddar (CounterPunch, 3 November 2017)

The New Bad Girls of Contemporary Literature, by Myriam Gurba (Literary Hub, 1 December 2017)

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? by Debbie Weingarten (The Guardian, 6 December 2017)

Comics:

DC New Talent Showcase 2017

Food-Related:

In Search of Lost Butter Chicken, by Sukhada Tatke (National Geographic Traveler: India, June 2017)

Novella:

Day of All Saints, by Patricia Grace King (Miami University Press, November 2017)

I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do), by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books, September 2017)

 

 

Quote of the Day: Marcia Angell Reviews Atul Gawande’s BEING MORTAL

This is the opening sentence of Angell’s review, which appeared in The New York Review of Books in 8 January 2015:

  • In his newest and best book, the surgeon Atul Gawande lets us have it right between the eyes: no matter how careful we are or healthful our habits, like everyone else, we will die, and probably after a long period of decline and debility . . .  Furthermore, the medical system will be of very little help at the end.

 

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