Blair & Robertson’s THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 1493 – 1803

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1000 sets were printed of this massive series.

Self has Copy No. 179 on her MacBook Air.

60 volumes.

She does all her writing in son’s room, where daily she looks at the map of the Philippines that’s been hanging there for over two decades. She doubts if son even knows the names of the two main islands, Luzon and Mindanao. This is self’s failing.

No woman is mentioned in the first nine volumes.

Later, there is a decree about educating the sons of Spanish civil officials. And in volume 10, a mention of nuns.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Explorers of the North

Self has always been fascinated by explorers, which is why she’s writing her novel about 18th century missionaries. She also has a very long story (32 pages currently, and nowhere near done) about an alien invasion in the Bering Sea. That story is all about Ice, but every day she reads various scientific reports about the disappearing glaciers so she feels mild concern that if she takes too long to finish this story, the context of the physical setting will cease to make any sense.

Today, she reads about the Penny and Barnes ice caps on Baffin Island, and about the Laurentide ice sheet that once covered much of North America. She learns that Baffin Island was known to the 11th century Norse of Greenland and Iceland, and that Baffin Island is postulated to be the Helluland of Viking sagas.

She also reads up on Sir John Franklin. The two ships that were lost during his fourth and final Arctic expedition were named the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus. The HMS Erebus was a 372-ton Heclaclass bomb vessel, built in Wales in 1826. The wreck has been located, in Queen Maud Gulf. The wreck of the HMS Terror lies under the water of Terror Bay. (Who names ships Erebus and Terror? Isn’t that like asking for trouble?)

She reads that Georgian Bay has 30,000 islands. Fresh in her mind is the fate of Kat, in the novel she just finished reading, Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods. Who sets off alone in a small boat and becomes lost and lost and more lost.

She learns about the Jesuit mission of Saint-Marie, founded on Lake Huron in the 17th century.

She reads about Lewis and Clark and about rivers like the Columbia and the Hood, which she has seen, long ago, on a driving trip north that started out in San Francisco and hugged the coast of Oregon and Washington.

And she also reads about Celtic and Norse mythology, in a book she found in son’s room.

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So many books, so little time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Jane Austen, Process

  • On March 18, 1817, Jane Austen stopped writing a book. We know the date because she wrote it at the end of the manuscript, on January 27th of that year. In the seven weeks in between, she had completed eleven chapters and slightly more than nine pages of a twelfth — some twenty-three thousand five-hundred words. The final sentence in the manuscript runs as follows: “Poor Mr. Hollis! — It was impossible not to feel him hardly used; to be obliged to stand back in his own House and see the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir H.D.”

— Anthony Lane, Last Laugh: Jane Austen’s Final, Surprising, Unfinished Novel

(The New Yorker, 13 March 2017)

To read:

  • Sanditon (her last novel, unfinished)
  • Persuasion
  • Northanger Abbey

Work-in-Progress: “Losing a Body” (Genre: Fantasy)

Self has been working on flash. This story’s been growing by accretion, to four pages now:

There had been moments of deep humiliation, as well as moments of anger and sadness. He realized that most of these had something to do with a physical shortcoming.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Writer’s Kitchen: How To Let Yourself Fall From the Frying Pan Into the Fire, by Rosario Ferré

Translated by Diana L. Velez

Feminist Studies 12, no. 2 (Summer 1986)

Throughout time, women narrators have written for many reasons: Emily Bronte wrote to confirm the revolutionary nature of passion; Virginia Woolf wrote to exorcise her terror of madness and death; Joan Didion writes to discover what and how she thinks; Clarice Lispector discovered in her writing a reason to love and be loved. In my case, writing is simultaneously a constructive and a destructive urge, a possibility for growth  and change. I write to build myself word by word, to banish my terror of silence; I write as a speaking, human mask. With respect to words, I have much for which to be grateful. Words have allowed me to forge for myself a unique identity, one which owes its existence only to my own efforts. For this reason, I place more trust in the words I use than perhaps I ever did in my natural mother. When all else fails, when life becomes an absurd theater, I know the words are there, ready to return my confidence to me.

Mother of All Lists (May 2018)

  • Best book self has read so far this year: The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, Book 2 of His Dark Materials
  • The book it has taken self the longest to read so far this year: Banana Yoshimoto’s Moshi Moshi (33 days)
  • The longest story self has written so far: Alex (27 pages)
  • The number of literary contests self has joined so far this year: 7
  • The fastest rejection self has received so far this year: Rhino (8 days)
  • Number of pieces self has placed so far this year: 1
  • Number of novels self has read so far this year, including the one she is currently reading (Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea): 10
  • Most Fabulous Food Discovery of the Year: Hot Buttered Popcorn, Stanford Theatre, downtown Palo Alto, CA

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Amber Spyglass (Pause for Now)

NO SPOILERS FOR THE AMBER SPYLGASS, PROMISE!

p. 248, just halfway. But self was immersed in a wonderful piece of Amber Spyglass fan fiction (and there are very few of those. At least, when compared to Hunger Games. There are six times as many Hunger Games fan fics than there are Amber Spyglass fan fics — of any ship.) Anyhoo, self was enjoying the fan fic hugely until she landed on a chapter where the writer quotes the end of The Amber Spyglass. And — self knows the end already because Twitter is an undisciplined space. But she didn’t expect it to go down like that. It was so awful. Seeing as how she found the ending of The Subtle Knife excruciating, she knew she wasn’t strong enough for the end of The Amber Spyglass. Exhibit A: She put off reading the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games for two years, until the movies started coming out, because she was so sure Peeta would die. But then a niece looked self straight in the eyes and said, “Peeta makes it.”

Oh. He DOES?

Screech!

Self returned home, read the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games, went to the local bookstore, bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and binge-read.

So, alas, farewell for now, His Dark Materials, and on to . . .  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which has zero angst.

The edition self checked out of the Redwood City Library has a neat little intro — Stevenson’s essay, “My First Book.” She’s actually been dipping into it off and on, the past few days. Here’s an excerpt:

I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man, still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see or twopence worth of imagination to understand with!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

In Honor of Independent Bookstore Day 28 April 2018: Poet Anne-Adele Wight Lists Her Favorites

What a universe of riches is contained in a writer’s list of recommended books. This is the second article self has posted in honor of Independent Bookstore Day 2018. Everyone who wants to do something special for the day, take a look at Anne-Adele’s books below, then go to your nearest independent bookstore and inquire if they have a copy in-store. If they don’t, ask them to order. It only takes a few days!

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T-Shirt Features a Quote from Shakespeare: “These violent delights have violent ends.”

Anne-Adele Wight is the author of the poetry collections The Age of Greenhouses, Sidestep Catapult and Opera House Arterial, which she describes as “a surreal trickster mythology.” An interview of her can be found on her publisher’s website: BlazeVOX. Her background includes literature, archaeology, and technical communication. She performs widely and has sponsored many events in her home city of Philadelphia.

Here is how she explains the genesis of Opera House Arterial:

In 1983 a friend showed me a postcard she’d received from Quito, Ecuador, the home of a well-known nineteenth-century opera house, El Teatro Nacional. The postcard showed the opera house as something etheral, not quite connected to the ground, because a row of buildings hid the lowest part. Behind it the Andes rose high into the air, looking unearthly. I felt something strike into my brain and know I had to write a poem, but where to begin? I put the opera house aside for many years; it finally surfaced when it was ready. I realized I had not one poem, but many, and started writing. Before long I had a book, Opera House Arterial, and a mythical character, my trickster opera house.

Without further ado, Anne-Adele’s list of recommended books:

 POETRY
  • Sandra Beasley, Count the Waves
  • Sarah Blake, Let’s Not Live on Earth
  • Travis Cebula and Sarah Suzor, After the Fox
  • CAConrad, While Standing in Line for Death
  • Lucas de Lima, Wetland
  • Ryan Eckes, Valu-Plus
  • Lisa A. Flowers, diatomhero: religious poems
  • Geoffrey Gatza, A Dog Lost in the Brick City of Outlawed Trees
  • Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Solar Maximum
  • Lynn Levin,  Miss Plastique
  • Jane Lewty, In One Form to Find Another
  • Jenn McCreary, Ab Ovo
  • MaryAnn L. Miller, Cures for Hysteria
  • Debrah Morkun, Projection Machine
  • Eileen Myles, I Must Be Living Twice
  • Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, Jazzercise is a Language
  • Raquel Salas Rivera, lo tercario / tertiary
  • Amy Small-McKinney, Walking toward Cranes
  • Nicole Steinberg, Glass Actress
  • Brian Teare, The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven
  • Divya Victor, Things to Do with Your Mouth
  • Anne Waldman, Manatee / Humanity

FICTION

  • Isabel Allende, Daughter of Fortune
  • Ann Arensberg, Incubus
  • Margaret Atwood, Moral Disorder
  • Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress
  • Robertson Davies, The Deptford Trilogy
  • Margaret Drabble, The Red Queen
  • Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Doris Lessing, The Grandmothers
  • Eileen Myles, Chelsea Girls
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Manor
  • Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

NONFICTION & GENRE-DEFYING

  • Atul Gawande, Mortal
  • David Harrison, The Last Speakers: A Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages
  • Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
  • Gina Kolata, Flu
  • Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven
  • Kelcey Parker Ervick, The Bitter Life of Božena Němcova
  • Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Now, get on over to your local independent bookstore!

Stay tuned.

 

First Sentence, Work-in-Progress

Get up!

Novel-In-Progress ‘Blue Water, Distant Shores’ Started As a Short Story

An excerpt from the short story (which self is thinking of sending out, after so many years): Apologies, she may have posted this excerpt several weeks or even several months ago. She’s adding a further paragraph.

What’s interesting is, the name of the main character never changed. It was always, and still is, Matias (and she personally knows not a single person with that name). It always amazes her when she finds this story again: because the cadence! She pulled it from the bottom of a pile of stuff, just a few minutes ago.

Matias had no recollection of going back to bed but when he next opened his eyes it was daylight. A last fragment of dream slipped from his consciousness. He sat up, feeling bereft.

He stayed with the Bishop for almost a week, receiving his instructions. It was May; the heat was at its greatest. At night, a servant shuffled into his room and, from a pole running the length of the low ceiling, lowered folds of gauzy white netting around the bed. He had difficulty sleeping. He spent long nights listening to the faint whine of invisible mosquitoes, just beyond the white gauze. In the morning, the Bishop remarked on the dark circles beneath the young priest’s eyes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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