I had never heard of

the bombing of Hamburg, not until I read this book.

I knew about Dresden. I had read Victor Klemperer’s diaries, decades ago but that kind of thing tends to stay with you.

But why hadn’t I heard about Hamburg? It seems so awful. The attacks were concentrated and relentless: four separate raids. I was amazed the city managed to rebuild.

To be fair, as Lowe points out, the British were only returning the favor. They learned from the Blitz, when the Luftwaffe “rained incendiaries down on London and other British cities, causing huge damage.” The British learned from the Germans that fires did more damage than explosions “and began experimenting accordingly.” For instance, they perfected delayed reaction incendiaries and two-step bombs, the kind that would start a fire and then, when someone tried to shovel it out a window, would explode, killing or maiming whoever was nearby.

Hagenbeck Zoo

Self did not know that Hamburg had a zoo. A FAMOUS zoo.

“Four zookeepers died during the struggle to put out the many fires, and five others were killed when the zebra house received a direct hit.” (That’s a lot of people to be killed in one place!)

Inferno, p. 166:

  • But it was the animals that suffered most. One hundred and twenty large animals were lost during the night, along with countless smaller animals. When an 8,000-pound blast bomb landed near the big cat house, several of the cats escaped. Two jaguars and a Siberian tiger had to be shot the next morning. All the big cats that stayed inside burned to death in the fire.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

After Parkland

WILL WE EVER LEARN?

March for Our Lives, March 2108: Courthouse Square, Redwood City, California:

This generation of kids has been through the wringer. How many of them, self wonders, had to start college on zoom?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More Melancholia: High as the Waters Rise, p. 256 (Not a Spoiler)

He sat like that for a long time and felt the air getting cooler, and it made him think of Cantarell, of the gigantic fields, which stopped yielding, little by little. Statfjour, even Brent dwindled, in the North Sea. That someone had taken the trouble to name them all, and that they were now withering, petals and stamens collapsing to leave huge hollow spaces. At some point all that came up was sand and water. And that there was only water over them. That they’d take away the rigs. No trace, like none of it had ever existed.

The North Sea, Petrow had said, is nothing compared to what they’re planning now.

This is an environmental novel, make no mistake. Self is so glad she read it.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Way to Read Melancholy

High as the Waters Rise is so overwhelmingly sad.

It’s the story of a worker on an oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic whose partner (partner in work, but also his lover) gets swept out to sea. There is no grieving. He is sent off the rig at once, as if he has something infectious. So he retraces the steps he and his lover made, the hotels they stayed in, between gigs.

Waaah! Can anything be so unbearably lonely?

As he’s being ferried to shore, the man looks back at the rig, growing smaller in the distance.

He goes to Tangier, and

There was no one. The air hung in the whitewashed alleys, the room lay in twilight behind closed shutters, outside he heard people on scooters, smelled the cloud of exhaust, a bluish smoke, he didn’t move.

High as the Waters Rise, p. 30

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Anthony Huber, 26, Skateboarder

Grew up in Kenosha, attended Lincoln Middle School.

“He loved skateboarding.” — Tim Kramer, ex-classmate

Became one of two men killed by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Self is reading an article in the September 5 – 6 issue of wsj. The article, by Chris Kornelis, is about Tony Hawke, skateboarding icon (picture below, she cropped the wsj photo)

In the first reports of the Kenosha shooting, self read that Huber tried to hit Rittenhouse with his skateboard, but was otherwise unarmed. This detail is what fixed the image of Anthony Huber in her mind.

Last year (Self’s doing a lot of sighing over LAST YEAR), self watched an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Small Island in London’s National Theatre with son, daughter-in-law, and Amy Toland of Miami University Press. After, as the four of us walked towards the Waterloo underground, we passed a skateboarding ramp. It was just before midnight. The skateboarders were out in force. After seeing a play, there is something so mysterious and gripping about the sound of people going up and down a skateboarding ramp — up, down. Up, down. Over and over. The skateboarders’ own private, wordless mantra.

Self remembers finding the sounds almost hypnotic — as expressive, in their own way, as the words she had just been listening to for three hours (It was a long play, she loved every moment)

So there were the four of us, walking. And self remembers being very, very happy in that moment. London is such a great city: who puts a skateboarding ramp next to the National Theatre? Londoners, that’s who!

So she is particularly saddened by the fact that Anthony Huber was a skateboarder. There was no reason for Anthony Huber to go toward the danger of Kyle Rittenhouse. Only something instinctive, maybe a skateboarder’s instinct.

Never forget.

Tony Hawk, 52, Skateboarding Icon (from wsj, Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 5-6, 2020)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Wakanda Forever

RIP, CHADWICK BOSEMAN

Damn. Damn. Damn.

He was just 43.

What is life.

RIP for the Lost

Just recently, self heard The Octopus Literary Salon, in Oakland, where she and friends had all variously read, had closed. SAD! It was a mainstay of the local literary community.

Self was just looking through her pile of contributor copies (for stories she’s published in literary magazines) and realized that there are quite a goodly number that do not exist anymore. Like, The Rambler? This magazine of nonfiction appeared in North Carolina, survived a number of years, and took two of self’s flash.

How about Isotope? A place for creative and science writing. Edited by poet Chris Cokinos. In the same issue as poetry and plays, an essay on math (with numbers!) or biology. This one published out of Utah.

Here are self’s list of The Departed (the ones she knows about):

  • 5_Trope
  • Alimentum: The Literature of Food (Self loved this magazine. It moved to on-line only, and self still loved it. Then, ALAS!)
  • decomP
  • Elsewhere Lit
  • Isotope
  • LITnIMAGE
  • Our Own Voice  (featuring writing of the Philippine diaspora)
  • The Cricket Online Review
  • The Rambler
  • Used Furniture Review
  • White Whale Review (The editor solicited her after reading her blog)
  • Word Riot

Most of these magazines fell into the experimental and/or social justice arena. They were trying to do something different, and their presence in the literary world was exciting (Face it, if self had to rely solely on the big literary magazines, her career would have been over years ago). They were labors of love (as every literary magazine, big or small, is) and their vision was unique.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

RIP Christopher Tolkien

It took self all of December to read one book, The Annotated Hobbit.

That book was the only copy in the San Mateo Public Library system, a label on the cover said: DO NOT RETURN IN THE BOOK DROP.

If only the library knew what far-flung places she had taken this copy to!

A few days ago, on 15 January, she heard that Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien’s youngest, who was “a devoted curator of his father’s work,” had passed away. Amazingly, none of the nightly news remarked on it. Philistines!

Here’s a piece in The Guardian about Christopher Tolkien’s legacy.

Stay tuned.

Recommended Reading: Kate Evans in Hakai Magazine, 6 January 2020

Six men set out from Iceland in a small rowboat. Their destination: Eldey, the nesting ground for the rare great auks.

Jumping ashore, they spotted a pair of the birds guarding an egg. In the ensuing chase, the two auks were killed and their egg was accidentally crushed. The men didn’t know it, but they had just killed the last great auks ever seen alive.

Read the article here.

 

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