Contempt

And, doesn’t this just take the cake? The lone miner who doesn’t take to drink after the mine closes, but who continues to work industriously at any part-time job he can find, then secrets his wages in a kitty under his bed, is the object of the worst contempt. He has no family, he doesn’t drink, so what is he saving all that money for?

Life is like this, and not just in Glasgow.

LEEK, p. 196

SPOILER ALERT but since it seems quite a lot of you have read Shuggie Bain then just a re-cap of the one precious call Leek makes to his sister Catherine, who moved with her husband to South Africa.

(Self almost wished he was calling the Art Academy to say, Sorry it’s taken me two years, but I accept your acceptance!)

“Catherine, it’s me, it’s Leek . . . I’m sorry. It’s Mammy’s phone. Yes. She’s here actually, she’s standing right next to me.” He looked Agnes up and down suspiciously. There was a pause. Agnes could hear Catherine raise her voice in agitation. “Don’t worry, I never. I promised you I wouldn’t. Do you like South Africa?” There was a pause. “Oh, he’s fine. Nearly died up the Pit but he’s fine. Still a bit funny. You know, funny funny.” There was laughter on the other end . . . “Right, anyway, Catherine, is Donald there? No, I wasn’t checking. It’s just, I’ve got some bad news. It’s just, well, Granny is dead.”

Leek reminds self of another stoic kid, Niall in du Maurier’s The Parasites. And that novel almost destroyed self.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Wullie Campbell, What a Prince

Wullie Campbell (Agnes’s dad) returns from the war to find a strange baby in his house, and a high-end pram.

Ah!

  • “the baby’s pink arms reached out to him, like it knew and trusted the deep well of goodness from which Wullie Campbell had sprung.”

His wife:

  • “She had never let Mr. Kilfeather kiss her, she felt she had to tell him that.”

Wullie takes the strange baby out in the pram. Neighbors hear him whistling all the way down the street!

Self rushed all her errands today (even forgave that young Asian woman in the bright blue compact who cut into her lane and gave her the most WICKED side eye — you can bet self leaned on the horn, the loudest bleeaaaeat she could manage. It’s amazing how rude some people can be) just so she could grab her book and read further about Wullie Campbell and the strange baby and the high-end pram and Mr. Kilfeather.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Self’s Favorite Character

A boy goes scavenging for copper in the depths of an abandoned mine. He brings his younger brother along as “grass.” When he’s finally gotten as much as he can carry, he steps “back into the daylight, but it was too quiet. The grass was gone.”

Stuart’s writing is absolutely amazing.

Where has the grass gone? Where is it?

Haiku Tuesday: Des Dillon

SHAVED HEAD

from Scunnered: Slices of Scottish Life in Seventeen Syllables (Luath Press, Edinburgh, 2011)

You don’t understand
because you are fuckin thick.
That’s the art we like.


Galloway writer Des Dillon is an internationally acclaimed award-winning writer and stand-up comic. His novel Me and Ma Gal was shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award and won the World Book Day ‘We Are What We Read’ poll for the novel that best describes Scotland today.

Want To Like This Book

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 307:

What a miracle he has wrought — he, so recently an effete idler in straitened circumstances — now master of this vast farm with its quaint brown workers moving amongst the lavender like field mice.

— William Rackham, heir to the Rackham lavender farms and perfumeries

London Walks: Hyde Park

The first time self read The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber, was over a decade ago. She hadn’t much experience of London. Now, however, she knows London, knows its general geography, and enjoys passages like the following:

  • Since moving to the West End, Sugar has taken to crossing Hyde Park, over the Serpentine into Knightsbridge, and paying frequent visits to the two Georgian houses in Trevor Square, which may look like high-class brothels, but are in fact a public library.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 35

  • Follow Sugar now into the great open space, the grandiose vacancy of Regent Street — admire those overtowering honeycombs of palatial buildings stretching into the fog of artificial infinity, those thousands of identically shaped windows tier upon tier; the glassy expanse of roadway swept clear of snow; all of it is a statement of intent: a declaration that in the bright future to come, places like St. Giles and Soho, with their narrow labyrinths and tilting hovels and clammy, crumbling nooks infested with human flotsam, will be swept away, to be replaced by a new London that looks entirely like Regent Street, airy, regular and clean.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 43

Her last trip to London was at the tail-end of October 2017. She dropped by Hyde Park and saw:

1) the Serpentine

DSCN9992

2) a fabulous Pavilion

DSCN9993

The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion designed by architect Francis Kéré

and 3) the Prince Albert Memorial:

DSCN9999

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Diet Tip: The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 16

Self is sooo glad she decided to re-read this novel. She remembered certain things, vaguely. But her interest in the technicalities of writing a historical novel is so much sharper now.

p. 16:

. . .  if you wake up too early, you’re famished, but if you wake later, you’re all right again, and then later still you’re famished again.

Author Michael Faber was “born in Holland, raised in Australia” and “now lives in the Scottish highlands” according to the book jacket. Wow, fabulous!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Piles and Stacks

Hooray! Self thought of something she could post for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Piles and Stacks

Of course it’s book-related. This first shot shows the books self checked out of her local library, a month or so ago:

DSCN0063

Self’s “To Read” Pile: 8 June 2018

And here’s the stack of books currently checked out from her local library:

DSCN0364

Self’s “To Read” Pile: 5 July 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Status Report: the 2018 Reading List

There was a stretch of months where all the authors self was reading or had read were male: That’s because a lot of the books she read the first half of the year were by Philip Pullman, who she read for the first time EVER this year. Shame! Shame! Shame!

Then she read Treasure Island, then Lord of the Flies.

She finally tackled Jean Rhys (another first, despite the fact that she’s been hearing about this author since the year she entered grad school) and ended up wanting to strangle her male character in Wide Sargasso Sea.

She discovered the luminous Norwegian writer Tove Jansson in The Summer Book.

She read an excellent first novel (by Julie Lekstrom Himes), Mikhail and Margarita.

After she’s done with Travels with Charley, she re-reads Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. She read this book over a decade ago but Faber’s name came up again when she found an old list (from the time she was a Hawthornden fellow, in June 2012) of book recommendations from her fellow Hawthornden writers.

Her next authors are all women:

  • Elizabeth Strout
  • Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • Jenny Allen
  • Magda Szabø
  • Rosemary Sutcliff

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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