#amreading memoir: BARBARIAN DAYS by William Finnegan

Self loves that she is in California, that it is summer, that GoT Season 7 is about to begin (with Gendry, no less, lol — it’s been sooooo long!), and that she’s reading a book about a surfing life, William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days.

Aside from giving her lots and lots of beach feelz, the book has some pretty choice things to say about UC Santa Cruz:

UC Santa Cruz was an exciting place, but it was easy to leave. It was a new campus, a hotbed of academic experimentation. There were no grades, no organized sports. Professors weren’t authority figures but coconspirators. Maximum self-direction was encouraged. All of this suited me, but the place had no institutional gravity.

Funny to hear about a university’s lack of “institutional gravity” from a surfer boy, but anyhoo. It’s an interesting description.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIT’S END: A Novel About a Novelist and Her At-Loose-Ends Niece

Self is on pp. 172 – 173 of Karen Joy Fowler’s Wit’s End.

She has been enjoying it, not least because the characters are Democrats (They wear their political affiliations on their sleeve. But of course they do: they live in Santa Cruz, CA).

A character owns a pair of dogs named Stanford and Berkeley. Self almost dropped the book because of that but she’s so glad she didn’t.

Anyhoo, the book makes her all sorts of nostalgic for Santa Cruz, CA. For its wooden roller coaster and its Boardwalk and its blue and pink cotton candy and the Ripley Believe It Or Not hall of funhouse mirrors.

Sample dinner conversation between a famous mystery writer and her niece, Rima:

“I remember once when you were about four years old. We went out to eat and you told the waitress you wanted a petite filet mignon. She just about dropped her pencil.”

“I was always saying something cute after you left. Hardly a day went by.”

“This puts the Democrats in very good shape for 2008.”

“There’s even corn in the toothpaste now. Did I mention that?”

Something wet landed on Rima’s ankle. Stanford was drooling; it brought her back to the moment.

Regarding that petite filet mignon: when self still lived in Manila, Dearest Mum’s youngest brother married a nineteen-year-old. The first time self met the prospective bride was at dinner in San Mig Pub in Greenbelt Park. And the teen-ager ordered — steak tartare. Dearest Mum was so impressed she couldn’t stop talking about it.

Until that moment, self had never laid eyes on a steak tartare. And she’s never had a yen to order it, either. That means self will probably end her days without ever tasting this singular delight, boo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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