Once again, I dip into Woolf’s writings and find treasure, of the wry variety. Here’s the opening paragraph from her essay, “Street Haunting,” collected in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays:
“No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil. But there are circumstances in which it can become supremely desirable to possess one; moments when we are set upon having an object, an excuse for walking half across London between tea and dinner. As the foxhunter hunts in order to preserve the breed of foxes, and the golfer plays in order that open spaces may be preserved from the builders, so when the desire comes upon us to go street rambling a pencil does for a pretext, and getting up we say: “Really I must buy a pencil,” as if under cover of this excuse we could indulge safely in the greatest please of town life in winter–rambling the streets of London.”
Now look at what Woolf has focused her roving halogen beam on in the first two sentences? Continue reading
I have been lax, very lax indeed, in acting on the awards that have been so generously blown in my direction. There was the side trip to Costa Rica that consumed my life in July and August 2012, a trip to my familial heartland at the end of August 2012, the back-to-school rush of soccer, baseball, a library remodel, Halloween, son’s birthday, death of my father, the winter holidays, the final touches to the library remodel in January, and the mad revision process for my picture book trilogy that is ongoing until I head out to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference at Asilomar on March 1.
I know, excuses, excuses…but now I’m making good on my promise to thank and then send out my sincerest admiration of other bloggers’ efforts, send it out into the ether, the abyss. Here goes in the order in which they were awarded: Continue reading
Apparently this video has been on YouTube for a year, but a friend just posted it on FB today. I am in love with the words of Mark Grist, the spoken word poet who delivers his ode to women who read. Don’t tell my husband… Continue reading
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for Name That Book! We’ve identified several people in our studio audience who think they know a thing or two about “great” literature (no not you, Professor Bloom), so we’re going to challenge them. The first one to identify the “home” of the following passage wins a pat on the back from the Writer’s Shadow!
“I am the way into the doleful city,
I am the way into eternal grief,
I am the way to a forsaken race. Continue reading
For those of you who haven’t checked out the June 10, 2012 NYT Book Review, I feel compelled to share the cover page paragraph with you:
Willa Cather once wrote that “a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.” By that measure, and any other, Richard Ford is doing his very best in his extraordinary new novel, Canada,…Here, Ford is clearly writing within the range and character of his deepest sympathies–in this case, from the point of view of an abandoned 15-year-old boy–and he’s doing it with a level of linguistic mastery that is rivaled by few, if any, in American letters today.
This review, written by highly acclaimed author Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog), salivates to the point of drooling. Please, Andre, wipe your chin. Continue reading
Warning: seafaring metaphors abound in this book review!
Looking for a summer read? Go no further than Treasure Island!!! No, not the one by RLS, Continue reading
Tonight, I worship at the altar of Denis Johnson. Yes, I had read his short story, “Work,” in The New Yorker a long time ago. I tepidly recalled that I had enjoyed it.
But how could I have forgotten one of its most exquisite sentences?
“Where are my women now, with their sweet wet words and ways, and the miraculous balls of hail popping in a green translucence in the yards?”
Nothing like getting slammed broadside by a book to transform tepid appreciation into acolytic fervor.
The book in question? Continue reading
And so it came to pass that I fell into the ambivalent well. Trouble is, I can’t tell if I’m drowning or being reborn.
Why did I wander past a bookshelf and feel the need to caress this little book, On Ambivalence, by Kenneth Weisbrode. Was it the black satin cover, the photo of an old train crossing a Peruvian mesa, or the MIT imprint? Heady stuff, eh? I suppose its beauty is an apology for putting the reader through the wringer of ambivalence.
From page 28:
“Desire and desirability, once again, are the basis of ambivalence, just as the appearance and reality of desire, the object and the idea of the object, beat almost indistinguishably in the human heart.”
I am in love. Or is it lust? I’ll let you know when I finally crawl out of the well.
I am highly skeptical of suggested “group reads.” Why does someone think that entire cities should be immersed in a particular book? Is it a form of group grope? Group hypnosis? Group drumming? I am a bristling porcupine, can you tell? So when Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void was chosen as a “must read book” for San Francisco, I gave the display at our branch library wide berth.
Fast forward several months:
My son’s school had a silent auction in March, and I “bought the opportunity” to spend the evening with a group of others (who also donated their $$) and Mary Roach, the author of numerous books (none of which I had read) such as Stiff, Spook, and Bonk—as well as the title listed above. I am cranky (bet you hadn’t noticed) and not a fan of these titles. Although I have a science/math undergrad degree (as a foundation for my MFA in creative writing, ha!) and was the buyer for the science section of a bookstore in San Francisco when Stiff came out, I couldn’t get past the title to read it. It didn’t matter that it was well-received. Do I sound like Maggie Smith’s character in Downton Abbey?
But I thought that this time around I’d do my part to raise funds for our school, and perhaps the evening would be entertaining (fingers crossed). So I picked up a copy of Packing for Mars at Green Apple Books in San Francisco. I didn’t want to insult the author by showing up completely ignorant of her book’s content.
WELL! Eighty-six pages into the book, I am LOLing and ROFLing and getting asked in doctors’ waiting rooms just what it is that I am reading—it is that funny. And yes, that well written. And yes, filled with fascinating science info (as well as insights into various countries’ space programs—more funny than flattering). And I will now be reading all of Roach’s backlist titles.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa…