Looking Back: George Saunders

Self blogged this on 25 December 2013 (Christmas Day, self only just realized after writing the date). Title of post: 2013 Top Ten Books of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Saunders won this year’s Man Booker. He’s the Keynote Speaker at the next AWP, in Tampa, FL:

  • Tenth of December:  Stories, by George Saunders (Random House):  Ever read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline?  Self thought that book was a game-changer.  In one stroke, changed the landscape of the contemporary American short story, which until then had been Raymond Carver/Lydia Davis.  She will read anything by George Saunders.  Anything.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 2017

After the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, people have taken to social media to identify or “dox” the participants in order to shame them. The criticism doesn’t just land at the feet of participants, but often extends to their employers, leading to lost jobs over the exposure. Some people see this practice as violating one’s freedom of speech. Yes, this country is based on freedom of speech, but not freedom of consequences. It’s not a slippery slope. People are marching to intimidate and oppress other Americans.

There’s a real difference between disagreeing over politics and hate speech. No one is obligated to walk on eggshells for those who call for oppression. If you’re concerned with privacy, don’t show up to a public protest spouting racism — and then be surprised if people want to identify you.

— Spencer Whitney, Assistant Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

Sentence of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle, 26 January 2017

In a review of Silence! The Musical by Lily Janiak:

Lambs don’t actually appear in the 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs; they’re a metaphor for the lifelong inner suffering of Jodie Foster’s character, FBI agent Clarice Starling.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle (26 January 2017)

  • “We’re still a sanctuary city.”

— Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle Editorial on Immigration Policy (“His wall won’t work”)

San Francisco Chronicle, 13 November 2016

From Willie Brown’s weekly column in the SF Chronicle, WILLIE’S WORLD:

  • For Democrats, Tuesday was more than an election defeat. It was in the words of local Democratic consultant Sean Clegg, a “Trumpocalypse.”

Stay tuned, Dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The $40 Burger in San Francisco

OK, you know what, dear blog readers? Self is suddenly so repulsed at the idea of a $40 burger anywhere in San Francisco that she won’t name the place. The San Francisco Chronicle says “it’s a good burger, if nothing life-changing.”

And self thought the $24 she ended up paying for a cheeseburger in Manhattan was outrageous!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Good Review: Steven G. Kellman (San Francisco Chronicle) on Paul Theroux’s DEEP SOUTH

Self loves Theroux’s absolute adherence to his crankiness, and his courage. His youthful curiosity is still very much alive and present in him.

She remembers a scene in Dark Star where he has to ride in a jeep with various native Africans and they regard him with contempt because why would a man his age still be doing stupid things like taking the most uncomfortable way to get between Point A and Point B, riding with people who have no clue who he is and therefore focus on his age as a point of ridicule. To make things worse, Theroux himself is having the same kind of thoughts: Why is he sitting in this jeep/van with these rude people? Why? But then he goes on to put the scene in a book. That’s what makes him one of self’s favorite travel writers.

An excerpt from the Steven G. Kellman review in the Chronicle:

Theroux spends a year and a half meandering along the backroads of Dixie, primarily the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. He does not venture into either Florida or Texas, and Virginia is merely a stretch to traverse on his way south from his home in Cape Cod (Now self feels like embarking on a pilgrimage to Cape Cod). Theroux has no interest in the “New South,” the prosperous metropolises of Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville that draw bankers and tourists. Instead, he deliberately seeks out the most neglected and squalid pockets of the region: the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the Black Belt of Alabama, the Mississippi Delta and the Ozarks of Arkansas, finding that its inhabitants, the “submerged twenty percent” are poor in their way — and less able to manage and more hopeless than many people I had traveled among in distressed part of Africa and Asia.

He is a travel writer after self’s own heart, one of the best.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday 18 January 2015

“Two great talkers will not travel far together.”

—  Spanish proverb

Quoted in Quotable Traveler by Larry Habegger, p. L3 of the San Francisco Chronicle (18 January 2015)

California’s Drought, 2014

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 25, 2014:

California is pumping itself dry.  As the drought deepens, desperate farmers are turning to groundwater, using the supply at nearly double the normal rate. It’s a short-sighted practice that needs thought and planning, not the open-tap treatment groundwater now gets.

*     *     *

In ever-watchful California, groundwater is an oddity, unmetered and uncontrolled, with landowners free to pump without limit.  This is the only state to take such a laissez-faire attitude, a vestige of the Gold Rush era.

As the drought heads into its third year, the policy is a disaster. Groundwater now accounts for 60 percent of the water usage, up from 40 percent. Well drillers are among the busiest workers in farm country, as agriculture pushes ever deeper to supplemental supplies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Surprise!

Self loves blogging because each new day presents a clean slate of things to write about, and she never knows which subject will strike her fancy.  What she actually ends up posting is as much of a surprise to self as it is to her readers.

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, she reads about the latest criminal activity of a notorious gang of kidnappers called the Abu Sayyaf.  The Abu Sayyaf last week abducted three aid workers in the province of Sulu, in the southern Philippines.  The aid workers were eventually released because the Philippine government “withheld the cash grants to thousands of poor families” in Talipao, a town in the province of Sulu. “More than 4 million families across the Philippines have received cash under a government program that requires the poorest of the poor to get regular medical check-ups and ensure their children attend school classes in exchange for financial aid.”  The possibility of not receiving the funds dismayed Talipao town officials so much that they put pressure on the kidnappers, who eventually “freed their hostages this week without any ransom payment.”

Good one, Philippine government!  Self’s feeling is that the town officials knew the identity of the kidnappers all along and thus were able to put pressure on, not just the kidnappers themselves, but also their family and friends (Everyone must have known each other in that small town).

She remembers hearing a story, long long ago, of how a kidnapping ring was foiled in the southern island of Basilan.  A man wearing t-shirt, shorts, and rubber slippers attempted to deposit 3 million US dollars in cash at the small bank in Basilan’s capital.  Self wonders what item of clothing constituted the last straw.  She thinks probably the rubber slippers.  In any case, the bank became mighty suspicious of this scruffy millionaire and called the police. End of story.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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