Growth: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 3 January 2018

In this first week of the year, many people anticipate beginnings, changes, and opportunities for growth. Share with us an image that evokes this spirit of change and newness — the smile of a new friend, a freshly planted garden, an empty journal waiting to be filled.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Self is in Manila for the first time in a number of years, and what she loves most about it is the fact that even in the smallest pocket gardens, the plant life is so fecund. Below, three examples:





Self is in the City of Light. Just a block from the Arc de Triomphe, which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON IT: No wreaths, no technicolor strobe lights, nothing.


She took a long walk this morning, in light rain. No umbrella because it would be just one more thing weighing her down.

She took the metro to the Tuileries. Then, crossed the Seine on a bridge near the Musée d’Orsay. Big Bus Tour buses and Day Tour buses stopped every couple of minutes in front of the museum. They seemed to be almost empty. But, whenever she was within steps of getting on, the buses would pull away from the curb. She decided to turn it into a little game: Let’s see if they’ll  pull away if I actually have my hand on the door handle. But those bus drivers were too suave to play. They’d see her lumbering slowly across the sidewalk, pupose in her gaze. She’d even raise a hand, catch the glance of the driver, but stoically — even, scornfully — they’d pull away, maintaining eye contact with her the whole time. A guide on a passing river barge says, over loudspeaker: “And here to your right is the famous Musée d’Orsay, which was a former railroad station.”

She was walking down the entire length of the building to get to the entrance (The French never make it easy) when she saw a taxi rank with one cab. Like it was waiting just for her. In less than 10 minutes, the taxi dropped her off at her hotel.



The Tuileries, 24 December 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

nth Draft, Novel-in-Progress

Mebbe this novel will never see the light of day? Mebbe it was ever meant to be a long short story? Like, 50 pages long?

Here’s a conversation that was in the very first draft, three years ago. And survived today’s mad pruning. So, this is the kernel. The nut. The Ground Zero:

“Describe it,” the Archbishop says. “Did it descend from the heavens? Or was it walking along the street? Was its countenance clearly visible? Did it seem expressive?”

The Archbishop’s deep-set, green eyes focus intently on Matias’s face. He presses one slender forefinger against the side of his aquiline nose and waits for Matias to answer.

“It was a creature. Earthy. Very like a cow.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Heartfelt Thanks to These Intrepid Tweeters For a Year’s Worth of Sanity
























More from Joan Acocella on Martin Luther (The New Yorker, 30 October 2017)

Still reading the Joan Acocella essay from a month and a half ago. It’s a great essay which somehow also manages to call up Freddie Krueger and his origin story (but self will not mention that here, as it’s getting close to Christmas).

In addition to fascinating examples of Luther’s ripe way with speech, it brings up Luther’s anti-Semitism (which was not uncommon at the time).

Acocella on the Jews: “Luther despised them dementedly, ecstatically.”

Then follows many scatological references. Also, this:

  • “what makes Luther’s anti-Semitism most disturbing is not its extremity (which, by sounding so crazy, diminishes its power)”

which recalls the present day (calling 45 “mental” thereby diminishing him — which does our country no favors because, after all, 45 is a dangerous guy, and probably NOT crazy)

Martin Luther lived to “an old age”: 62. But “the years were not kind to him . . . He spent days and weeks in pamphlet wars over matters that, today, have to be patiently explained to us, they seem so remote.”

This is sad!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Martin Luther: Importance

Excerpts from The Hammer: How Martin Luther Changed the World, by New Yorker critic-at-large Joan Acocella (The New Yorker, 30 October 2017)

The crucial text is his Bible: the New Testament, translated from the original Greek and published in 1523, followed by the Old Testament, in 1534, translated from the Hebrew. Had he not created Protestantism, this book would be the culminating achievement of Luther’s life.

*     *     *

Luther very consciously sought a fresh, vigorous idiom. For his Bible’s vocabulary, he said, “we must ask the mother in the home, the children on the street,” and, like other writers with such aims — William Blake, for example — he ended up with something songlike. He loved alliteration — Der Herr ist mein Hirte (“The Lord is my shepherd”); Dein Stecken und Stab (“thy rod and thy staff”) — and he loved repetition and forceful rhythms.

*     *     *

The books also featured a hundred and twenty-eight woodcut illustrations, all by one artist from the Cranach workshop, known to us only as Master MS.

*     *     *

The three-thousand copy first edition of the New Testament, though it was not cheap (it cost about as much as a calf), sold out immediately.

#amwritinghistoricalfiction: The English Arrive on Isla del Fuego

p. 243 of self’s novel-in-progress:

An English officer stands on the beach, waiting at attention. Matias gapes.

“England has attacked Spain, sir,” the man announces. “We have 5,000 soldiers in Manila. Colonel Chisholm.”

Detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy of the Dublin Murder Squad, p. 91

We had been looking for the thing they had done wrong. Now we were looking for the thing that they could never have guessed they were doing wrong.

Broken Harbour, by Tana French


Best Female Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Self is reading her first Tana French, Broken Harbour.

She’s pretty stoked, as she’s been hearing so many good things about Tana French, for years now.

The last mystery self read was almost a year and a half ago, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (which she liked very much; Emily Blunt and Luke Evans were in the movie adaptation, sorry she missed seeing it)

Other favorite women mystery writers:

  • Morag Joss (for Half-Broken Things)
  • Karin Fossum
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Sarah Waters

Over on goodreads, there’s a list of “Best Female/Crime/Mystery/Thriller Writers.”

On this list, Broken Harbour is # 21.

The Girl on the Train is # 42.

Holy Cow, Fingersmith is #50 (No way. There’s just no way)

The list doesn’t even include Fossum or Rendell (As Septa Mordor on Game of Thrones would say: Shame! Shame! Shame!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




Sentence of the Day: Tana French

  • If you put your energy into thinking how much the fall would hurt, you’re already halfway down.

— p. 1, Broken Harbor, Tana French

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