And Now Let’s Hear From Christopher Orr of THE ATLANTIC

Self swears, so many times she has almost taken out a subscription to The Atlantic. Never mind that they showed appalling lack of judgment by publishing her fellow fellows from Stanford Creative Writing but never her. Never mind that they have so drastically reduced the number of pages devoted to fiction (They used to have a short story every issue. That was a long time ago. Now they’re down to one all-fiction issue a year).

The Atlantic was where she read her first T. C. Boyle. The story was about a man who turns the hose on his front yard and leaves it on. As he watches his yard get inundated by water, he sits on a lawn chair and ruminates.

This was possibly self’s first experience with fiction that makes no sense and yet makes all kinds of sense.

Today, still trying to process all sorts of FEELZ from the gut-wrenching experience of watching J-Hutch as Hijacked Peeta yesterday at her local Century 20. Self was browsing through Rotten Tomatoes (Mockingjay, Part 1 Rating: 66% fresh) when she encountered this review from Christopher Orr, The Atlantic’s movie critic. Here’s an excerpt:

The Hunger Games novels, by Suzanne Collins, went steadily downhill from the first to the third. As a writer, she simply didn’t have the chops to carry her story along as it became larger and more politically fraught. But the movies, at least so far, have followed a more impressive trajectory. The second installment was already weightier than the first, and in this outing the moral gravity has been ratcheted up once more. The movie’s themes of rebellion and civil war are inherently cinematic ones, and the filmmakers involved — returning director Francis Lawrence and new screenwriters Danny Strong and Peter Craig — lend the story a grim urgency largely lacking from the novel. Most crucial of all, of course, is Jennifer Lawrence, who plays heroine Katniss Everdeen.

You can read the entire review here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Bookends/ The Joy of a Quiet Afternoon

Two days since Thanksgiving ended.  Though self had no one over, the clatter in her head can be quite deafening, a clatter the sole other occupant in this house is always happy to add to.  Every day brings a new spurt of instructions, whether it’s when to mail bills or covering windows with cardboard.  Mother-in-law said it best:  “My son is such a character.”

Now he has stepped out, without any prior warning: A friend of his from Ateneo, Randy, came over.  Self imagined both would want to watch the games.  But suddenly, after she’d bought all manner of chips and snacks and drinks and ham and what-have-you, she arrived to find the two men preparing to go out.  What is self going to do with all this food?  She’ll send it home with Randy, probably.  It’s either that or scarf on chips for days on end.

Anyhoo, after self watered a bit, she settled down in the tiny room she calls her “Office.”  This has all her memorabilia, all her saved literary magazines, all her knick-knacks.  Through the French doors, she can look right into the backyard:

The View From Self's "Office": What a Gorgeous Day!

The View From Self’s “Office”: What a Gorgeous Day!

These bookends were from a consignment store in San Carlos, whose name is eluding self.  It's on Laurel Street.

These bookends were from a consignment store in San Carlos, whose name is eluding self. It’s on Laurel Street.

The Rabbit keeps her literary magazines upright.  One Story faces out.

The Rabbit keeps her literary magazines upright. One Story faces out.

Now self settles down to tackle a huge pile of back issues of The New York Times Book Review.  There’s a “Let’s Read About Sex” issue, and the October 20, 2013 issue, which has more than the usual number of “Women’s Literature” reviews.  Self is bored reading about sex in the staid NYTBR.  It would be much more fun reading books about sex if she were reading something like Rolling Stone.  So she goes for the October 20, 2013 issue.

A short story collection by T. C. Boyle is reviewed in this issue.  Self really loves T. C. Boyle so she is happy to read the review (and would read anything by him, regardless of whether the review was good or bad).  There’s a review of a novel about the forty-ish Bridget Jones, and a review of a Scandinavian novel in which a traumatized woman is plagued by the conviction that her husband is guilty of a heinous crime (Don’cha just love those traumatized women in Scandinavian novels who are so . . . so noir-ishly fragile in temperament!  After all, there can never be another Lisbeth Salander.  That’s over.  That’s done.  Now it’s back to the Scandinavian women of an Ingmar Bergman movie)

Of the four crime novels reviewed by Marilyn Stasio in this issue (Sunday, October 20, 2013), two are set in Florence.  How absolutely fabulous!  That’s Florence, Italy, in case you were wondering.  The third is set in Manhattan (It’s by Jeffery Deaver, who writes about Manhattan like nobody’s business).  And the last one is set in a small town in Connecticut — but in 1956.  Self likely won’t get to the Connecticut novel, as she is easily confused by mysteries that happen in the recent past (Mysteries about the way, waaaaay past are much easier on her nerves.  At least, everything’s different, not like the ones set in the 1950s, where self keeps forgetting the decade and then wonders why she is so confused)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Stanford: Two Remaining Lane Lectures, 2012 – 2013

When Natasha Trethewey, the current U.S. Poet Laureate, read at Stanford last week, self was still in Bacolod.

The remaining two writers are old chum Jeffrey Eugenides (!!), who she hasn’t seen since he gave a reading from Middlesex at Kepler’s, years ago, and T. C. Boyle, who she saw quite recently, when he gave a reading at Foothill.

Wooooo Hoooo!  Self admires both writers exceedingly.  Here are the particulars:

Jeffrey Eugenides
reads Monday, February 25, 2013
8 p.m.
Cemex Auditorium, Zambrano Hall, Knight Management Center
Colloquium next day, Tuesday, February 26, 11 a.m.
Terrace Room, Building 460, Main Quad

T. C. Boyle
reads Monday, May 6, 2013
8 p.m.
Cemex Auditorium, Zambrano Hall, Knight Management Center
Colloquium next day, Tuesday, May 7, 11 a.m.
Terrace Room, Building 460, Main Quad

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The New Yorker of 6 February 2012

The New Yorker of 6 February 2012 (which self just pulled out at random from her still-humongous pile of stuff) has a picture of the singer Laura Del Rey.

The young woman is looking at the photographer from behind a pair of heart-shaped glasses with brownish lenses.  She has long, flowing hair.  She is wearing a white top with scattered orange polka dots.  She is clutching something in one hand, and holding it up before her face:  It says “BAD.”  She wears a heavy, gold chain necklace and diamond-studded earrings.  The caption underneath her picture says:

Laura Del Rey’s music is theatrical, noncommittal, and better on recordings than in person.

At first, self began this post thinking she was going to say something about a book set in North Korea.

But self adores the writing of New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones.  She’s quoted her before, elsewhere in this blog.  Frere-Jones describes Del Rey’s music thus:

Del Rey has managed, like a slow car in the left lane, to make everyone around her angry and over-invested, despite doing relatively little.

BWAH.  HA.  HA.  HA!

She sang on Saturday Night Live and Juliette Lewis slammed her performance on Twitter (which is why self doesn’t tweet — it’s too easy to get lured into writing impulsively, without discretion).

Brian Williams (What would he know?) sent an e-mail to Gawker’s Nick Denton, saying, quote:  that Del Rey’s performance was “one of the worst things in SNL history.”

*     *     *     *

Since self has just renewed her New Yorker subscription to the year 2016 (Again, BWAH HA HA!) she is obviously enamored of their writers.

This issue has a short story by T. Coraghessan Boyle, who she has actually met in person.  At a reading he gave in Foothill.  During which he came off as very relaxed and friendly and cool.

The short story is called “Los Gigantes,” and it has a killer opening:

At first they kept us in cages like zoo animals, but that was too depressing.  After a while, we began to lose interest in what we’d been brought there to do.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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