The Connectedness of Everything

It is nearing the end of Mother’s Day.  It was a beautiful Sunday.  Bella came in, out, in, out.  And the Iceberg rose that self planted in the front yard a couple of years ago chose today to go into sudden and spectacular bloom.  Perhaps if self has more time tomorrow, she will post a picture.

She is reading these three things simultaneously:

  • The AWP Writer’s Chronicle
  • The Women’s Review of Books  (She just renewed her yearly subscription)
  • The Economist

The husband put the TV on to the J. J. Abrams “Star Trek,” and then left the vicinity.  Declared he needed to water.  When self peeked out to see what he was doing in the backyard, he was having a smoke.  A glass of red wine was next to him.  Of course, he also had the sprinkler going.  Good one, husband!  He announced that the watering would take at least “an hour.”  Self went ahead and fed Bella, and then herself.

Self knows she has enough material for a fourth collection of stories.  But how to approach it?  Should she be joining contests?  She doesn’t think she’ll ever win, her stories are too strange, too hard to categorize.  She nearly got published by Grove/Black Cat.  That is, she spoke to an editor twice.  But all came to naught.

Perhaps she should be applying to more residencies.  The very last one she applied for (Hawthornden) is coming, and after that she has nothing for 2013 and 2014.  She deliberately stopped applying because she felt she had work to do in Bacolod.  She still feels she has work to do in Bacolod, but she also needs to get another book published.  What to do, what to do?

Mark Zuckerberg is turning 28.  28!  And Facebook is going public.  But self decides not to buy the stock.

She almost bought Apple stock, she is such a believer.  She still has her 1995 Apple laptop, which she had with her in Mojacar, Spain.  Though it weighs a ton, it is still running!

As of this moment, self has three working laptops, all Apple.  She worships at the Apple Store, yes.  Even though, when she was in DC last month, one of the trio of gals she got to know said, as they passed a bar:  “All white!  Looks like an Apple Store!”

When Steve Jobs passed away, she went right away to the Mother Ship, on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, and the plate glass windows were covered with post-it notes, in all colors of the rainbow.

Now, self hears that Eduardo Saverin, who was portrayed in “The Social Network” by a riveting Andrew Garfield (the new Spiderman), is renouncing his U.S. citizenship.  Purportedly, “for tax purposes.”  But self feels this news is connected to Facebook’s going public, in some way.  And perhaps also to Zuckerberg becoming a billionaire before he even turned 28.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Two Most Interesting Books (From Women’s Review of Books, January/February 2012)

This morning, self decided to bite the bullet and discontinue her decades-long subscription to the New York Times Book Review.  Why?  Because she plans to do a whole lot of traveling from now on, and she won’t have time to properly appreciate the weekly mailings.

Of all the regular contributors to NYTBR, self thinks she will miss Liesl Schillinger the most.  Here’s a link to her website, wordbirds.

Since they charged her in December 2011 for a full year, her subscription doesn’t actually end until December 2012.  In the meantime, she can ponder her decision a bit more.  It’s entirely possible that self will relent and call them back to re-instate her.

This morning, self perused the latest issue of the Women’s Review of Books.  Self absolutely loves this publication. Here are two books whose reviews led her to want to read them.  Both are nonfiction:

  • Reimagining Equality:  Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home, by Anita Hill (Beacon Press), reviewed by Renée Loth, former editorial page editor at the Boston Globe

“Hill writes movingly of the messy, complicated reality of her family’s history, which included violence, unplanned pregnancies, illiteracy, and debt.  Hill’s grandparents were prominent members of their Arkansas community, founders of the area’s Baptist church, and in 1895, proud owners of an eighty-acre farm.  But they lost the property to a series of bad loans and then fled to Oklahoma, their three-year-old daughter —  Hill’s mother —  in tow, to escape a threatened lynching.”

  • The Female King of Colonial Nigeria:  Ahebi Ugbabe, by Nwanda Achebe (Indiana University Press), reviewed by E. Frances White, who teaches in NYU’s Department of History and Cultural Studies

” …  Ahebi helped the British infiltrate the northern Igbo heartland by guiding them through roadways established for regional trade.  As part of imposing colonial rule on the Igbo, the British removed the traditional rulers …  who governed much of Igboland, and replaced them with warrant chiefs —  that is, chiefs who were given a warrant to rule for the British.  In recognition of Ahebi’s loyalty, and sexual connections she established for them, the British made her a warrant chief —  an unusual appointment for a woman.  She eventually became king of Nsukka …  Achebe narrates this story without making value judgments.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Friday Morning, December 2011: Reading Indiana Review, Vol. 33, No. 1 and the Women’s Review of Books

Two more Christmas cards to send today.  These things take self a looong time to write, as she considers it un-friendly not to give a summing up of 2011.  But before self gets started on another long digression, she better get on with it.

On p. 16 of Volume 33, Number 1 of the Indiana Review, a poem by Megan Moriarty:

Facts About Locations # 1

One of the drawbacks of living in a snow globe
is you never know when it’s going to snow.

It could snow wildly every few minutes or
it could not snow at all for years.

The people who live there
use oxygen tanks or have gills.
Some are polite, whereas others are combative.

None of the streets go on for very long.
When it’s not snowing, all of the snow
piles up on the ground and never melts.

Most people make plans to leave.
There are legends of breeze globes and sun globes,
where every time the world shakes it gets prettier.

There are legends that say someone started those legends,
but each person chooses what they’d rather believe in.

Megan Moriarty’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Washington Square, Flatmancrooked’s Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics and Best New Poets 2009

*          *          *          *          *

For dear blog readers who may be at a loss for what to give a beloved niece, daughter, sister, mother, aunt or even brother, son, father or uncle this Christmas, what about a subscription to Women’s Review of Books? (Individual Subscriptions are  $42/year)

Here are some of the books reviewed in the latest issue, Vol. 28 No. 6, the November/December 2011 issue:

  • So Good in Black, a novel by Sunetra Gupta (Clockroot Books)
  • Elegies for the Brokenhearted, a novel by Christie Hodgen (W. W. Norton)
  • An Atlas of Impossible Longing, a novel by Anuradha Roy (Simon & Schuster)

Just looking at the titles above, how can one not conclude that writing from/about India, in any shape or form, is “hot” ?  (But then again, when has writing from/about India ever been not hot? Self still remembers:  E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, M. M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions, and Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance)

Here’s a passage from a poem on p. 14 of the Women’s Review. The poet is Jessica Greenbaum, whose second collection, The Two Yvonne’s, is forthcoming in 2012 from Princeton University Press:

For our sake, here, I’ll say that one book
held all a city and that one day was like my life.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Really Good Ideas for Christmas

Subscriptions are the best!  Subscriptions, or books.  Subscriptions, books, or writing classes.

Buy someone a subscription to Calyx Journal:  beautiful inside as well as out.  Do women of the world a favor and subscribe

Buy someone a subscription to Women’s Review of Books:  consistently publishes the most interesting book reviews in America:  Self knows whereof she speaks, since she’s been subscribing for decades to the New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker, and writes book reviews herself. Why not check out one of the three short story collections self reviewed for them, not too long ago:  Marilyn Krysl’s Dinner With Osama, Jeanne M. Leiby’s Downriver:  Short Stories, and Joy Lisberger’s Remember Love.

Buy Valerie Trueblood’s new short story collection, Marry or Burn.  Self reviewed her novel, Seven Loves, a few years ago.  The stories in this collection are superb.

Buy Jon Pineda’s collection The Translator’s Diary or his new memoir, just out from University of Nebraska Press.

Buy a copy of Zack Linmark’s collection Primetime Apparitions (and stay tuned for his new novel, Leche, coming 2011) and be transported to the city of self’s heart, Manila.

Buy Luis Francia’s newest book, From Indios Bravos to Filipinos:  A History of the Philippines, because you know you want to know all about it —  how Filipinos got where they are, self means.

Buy Karen Llagas’ Archipelago Dust:  your heart will ache, her words are so true.

Buy Barbara Jane Reyes’ powerful new collection, Diwata.

Buy Karen Tei Yamashita’s I-Hotel, recently short-listed for America’s National Book Award, and lose yourself in the language of one of the fiercest experimentalists of our time.

How about Charles Tan’s Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009?  It was reviewed in io9.  io9, people.  Part of indefatigable blog creator Nick Denton’s far-flung blog empire.

Buy/register someone for an on-line creative writing class.  Self knows it can change lives.  Try UCLA Extension Writers Program.

Women’s Review of Books: Three Biographies About Marilyn Monroe, All By Men

Never mind the three books. What’s important is what reviewer Lois Banner has to say about them, in a really insightful review. Here’s the first paragraph:

Since Marilyn Monroe died nearly fifty years ago at the age of 36, a multitude of studies of her have been published — close to one hundred by my count. The fascination with her is understandable, given the unsolved mysteries of her life and death, her superstar status, and her image, fixed in our minds as eternally youthful and beautiful. Now we have three more biographies: The Genius and the Goddess:  Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Revealed, and The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. As has long been typical of Monroe biographies, the authors of all three are men, and all are well-known for writing celebrity biographies geared to a popular audience. The tradition of male authorship began with journalist Maurice Zolotow, who published the first Monroe biography, Marilyn Monroe, in 1960, while she was still alive. It was solidified by Norman Mailer’s sensationalized Marilyn, in 1973, which portrayed her as a sex kitten and the lover of Robert Kennedy. The underlying message seems to be that men can best understand Monroe, whose appeal was innocent and erotic, childlike and sexual — the quintessential virgin/whore of the western imagination. There is also the widespread belief that any book about Marilyn Monroe will make money.

The review is a knockout, dear blog readers. Self finds deeply fascinating sentences like this one, about Ted Schwartz, the author of Marilyn Revealed: “Schwartz is often hostile to Monroe, although he praises her ambition.”

Stay tuned.

Self Just Paid $20

So she could blog for an hour.  My, the Denver Airport is just crawling with kids!  In the shuttle to the airport, she rode with six fellow conference attendees, and got into a very pleasant conversation with a poet from Arizona (who knows self’s ex-Stanford classmate, Beth Alvarado!)  The poet’s name is Rebecca Seiferle, and she works for The Art Center in Tucson.

As soon as self gets home, she’s gonna download the pictures she took at the conference:  the pictures of Evelina, Luisa, Brian, Margarita, Rebecca Olson, and Kelsey.  The best times self had at the conference were hanging out at the Calyx table.  It’s too bad Calyx can’t afford to come every year (The charge for a table is $450, and that’s a lot for a small press).  In fact, kudos to all those brave little magazines (like tuesdayjournal.org, and Poetry Flash) who pulled together the funds to make it.  For the Bookfair would be so much the poorer without their presence.

Self noticed that Isotope wasn’t there this year.  Oh, Isotope, what a brave little magazine that is!  And she couldn’t find the table for The Chattahoochee Review.  But she did see John Wang at Juked.  And yes, she did finally get to meet Martha Bates of Michigan State University Press, in person.  And almost just before the Bookfair closed, self got to hug Amy Hoffman of the Women’s Review of Books.

But back to Calyx.  Where would self be in this life without Calyx?  Nowhere, she would be nowhere.  It’s amazing:  Margarita Donnelly and son both attended the same high school:  Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton.  And Margarita is going to attend her 50th high school reunion this June!  That should be a blast!

Beautiful New Generation at Calyx: Becky (Assistant Editor) and Kelsey (Assistant Director)

the lovely Evelina and Margarita hamming it up, AWP Bookfair Day 2

Self also wants to say that Anthony Varallo, who was book-signing with her for The Writer’s Center; and Josh Weil, also book-signing, were absolute gents.  And self can’t wait to read their books.

And, if self weren’t so worried about getting left behind by the last Frontier flight to San Jose, she would make this a much longer post.  And say things like:

Becky Olson (Calyx Assistant Editor)’s favorite poet is Bridget Pegeen Kelly

And self talked to her a little bit about “the new feminism” (This would make a great topic for a panel, self feels!), and Becky talked about a new, “post-gender” type of feminism, which is “less about womanhood” and more like an “eco-feminism”.  She says that in Oregon there is a new coming together of environmentalism and feminism and this excites self so much, she wishes it could be imported to California!

“Humming the Blues” is Calyx’s newest book.  There was a gorgeous yellow poster on the table (and by the way, the Calyx table had the most books of any table at the Bookfair!  And self isn’t saying that just because she’s a Calyx author!)

Plethora of Books at Calyx

Self asked Margarita Donnelly what she saw as the biggest challenge confronting Calyx in the last decade, and Margarita said, the demise of independent bookstores  (which coincided with the rise of the chains), and also the bankruptcies of former distributors like Bookslingers, Book People, and Pacific Pipeline.

Self thinks we should all write to Oprah, and make a pitch for women’s press books to get on her book club list of recommendations!

There was one feminist panel at the AWP, and it was scheduled for the last part of the afternoon, and on it were supposed to be representatives from The Feminist Press, Seal Press, and others (but they forgot to include Calyx).  At the last minute, the sole feminist panel at AWP was cancelled!  For shame!

People, write to Oprah.  She needs to know.

Upcoming for Self, 2010

Reading with poet Steve Fellner and Jawbox’s J. Robbins: at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, Friday, Feb. 19.  Part of the Story/Stereo series, a program which brings together writers and musicians.

“Witness” appearing in Necessary Fiction, February 2010

“Ghosts” to be published in Hotel Amerika, The TransGenre Issue, Spring 2010

Booksigning at Read the rest of this entry »

Burma and Western Ignorance/ and the Value of Women’s Presses

Self’s article “Burma and Western Ignorance” is on-line now, at Women=Books, the blog of the most excellent Women’s Review of Books.

Why not consider a gift subscription for the holidays? This is such a fab publication, dear blog readers, and not just because it’s for and about women, but because it’s thought-provoking! And cutting edge!

And while you’re at it, why not consider buying a book from Calyx Press?  Because they are one of the oldest women’s presses in the country, and because they have discovered the following women writers, at a very early stage in their careers, and continue to support women, valiantly, from their tiny office in Corvallis, Oregon :

Chitra Divakaruni  *  Jean Hegland  *  Barbara Kingsolver  *  Ursula K. Le Guin

Not to mention the fact that, self still gets royalty checks for Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, self’s first book, which Calyx published almost 20 years ago. Truthfully, if not for that book, self doesn’t know what would have happened to her. To her life, she means.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Self’s Review of Two Books on Burma

On-line now, self’s review of two new books about Burma:

  • Justin Wintle’s Aung San Suu Kyi biography, Perfect Hostage
  • San San Tin’s memoir, written with Carolyn Wakeman, No Time For Dreams: Living in Burma Under Military Rule

at the Women’s Review of Books website.

Aung San Suu Kyi Biography Reviewed in Upcoming Issue of Women’s Review of Books

Self’s review of Perfect Hostage, the Justin Wintle biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, is forthcoming from the Women’s Review of Books in the November/December issue.

Among the highlights of the current issue (September/October 2009) are:

“Anomie in the New China,” Xujun Eberlein’s review of Leslie T. Chang’s Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

    In an intimate, nonjudgmental voice, Leslie T. Chang’s refreshingly rendered Factory Girls opens up the fascinating and gritty world of female migrant workers. While many of the young women find economic improvement, their rudderless lives raise the question of whether this new migration is a progression or regression in Chinese women’s emancipation.

“Sticky Tables,” Rebecca Meacham’s review of Antonya Nelson’s latest story collection, Nothing Right: Short Stories

    My introduction to Antonya Nelson’s fiction began with shooting dogs. Specifically, it began with one dog, a fictional pet in a short story I was revising during graduate school. As a writer, I was itching to try something stark and violent. In my story, a suburban couple required an irrevocable act to divide them. My new ending seemed perfect: in the last scene, for various reasons, the husband would shoot his wife’s dog.

Also featured:

  • “Woman of Valor,” Sherrilyn A. Ifill’s review of Mia Bay’s To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells; and Paula Giddings’ Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
  • “Girl Delinquents,” Miroslava Chavez-Garcia’s review of Catherine S. Ramirez’s The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory
  • “Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?” Martha Nichols’ review of Heather Jacobson’s Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference

Participate in the on-line discussion about these articles on the Review’s new web-blog, Women=Books.

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