Les Semaines

June 15, 2008

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

 §

News Alert: Blue Sky in Seattle!

...and a terrifyingly unfamiliar yellow orb drops bright light from the sky rather than clouds dropping the wet. Run away!

So, um, yes, we've been having a very gray and rainy spring, even more gray and rain than I, who rejoices in gray and rain, can be cheery about. Our couple of days of heat have been too summer hot and have lasted but an instant, and it has gone back to gray and rain. This basically comes down to no spring in Seattle, except for the plants that bravely have been doing all their blooming in the rain. I really shouldn't complain, we've not suffering like Iowa. Truly, though, the garden is burgeoning with growth and promising all kinds of wonders. It looks like a good year for blueberries, raspberries, and currants, which means I can make black currant jelly as well as the annual raspberry apricot this year! Hooray!

So today, in celebration, we shall barbecue, and eat toxically charred bits of steak and corn on the cob and we shall pretend it is summer.

This means, of course, that poor Jim's allergies are acting up. His stitches are healing well, though.

Mom and Dad's house is nearly done with all the work they've been suffering through, too.

The Clarion West Workshop is a week away (students start arriving Friday!), so I'm trying to simultaneously enjoy the last of my freedom, get everything prepared for the workshop, and wrap up the day job and the personal things I want to take care of before the deluge starts. Hmm. Wonder how I'll do with that?

But first, Devin and Tamar are due here shortly to help us char the steaks.

The Clarion West Write-a-thon is ready to start rolling, but I think this year it will be rolling without me. It has been too rich a deadline season for me to add any. I do recommend you take a look at the writers participating, and see if you're up for sponsoring one of them. Michael Swanwick! Eileen Gunn! Paul Park! And a gorgeously long list of up-and-comers to sponsor.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

The band I was obsessing on last week had two earlier incarnations: Thycho Brahe/Tychonaut and The Plague Monkeys. I've been listening to those. The Plague Monkeys are very like The Sundays. Thycho Brahe/Tychonauts are rather like Kate Bush's recent work. I like these incarnations a lot, too, though I'm still more excited about the Natural History Museum work, and their forthcoming album.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I really didn't want to like Junot Díaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The strong voice carried me through the bleak, tragic tale of Oscar and his family's cursed history and even made me decide to finish it, though I'm bone-tired of bleak histories and even more about books about losers who can't catch the smallest strand of luck. I read it, but I didn't have to like it. Then he made me.

Since I've started reading young adult novels, I've read a lot of novel similar to Elizabeth Scott's Bloom--a story in which a young high school girl tries to figure out a little bit of who she is and what she really wants. I thought Bloom was definitely a cut above. Scott deals with when the portrait of a young girl from a confusingly broken family, who is dating the "perfect" boy but then meets someone who makes her feel more alive and more scared, and how she has to deal with it, quite well. I particularly thought Lauren was a realistic main character.

I'm always delighted when Diana Wynne Jones has a new novel out and House of Many Ways indeed proved to be delightful. It's associated with Howl's Moving Castle (The tag line says "The Sequel" but there always was one: Castle in the Air, which takes place before this one.) It's mostly about Charmaine, who is conscripted to look after a wizard's house while he's ill. The house proves to be a complicated pace to get around in: full of dirty dishes and laundry and hideen ways into rooms that involve intricate directions. Meanwhile, Charmaine's truest love is books, and she has volunteered to help the King and Princess with their library, where she discovers they have much more on their mind than just cataloguing. Add to that the sudden appearance of the wizard's new apprentice and his dog, Waif, bonding with Charmaine, disaffected kobolds, huge evil insect-like monsters to lubbocks, and things are complicated indeed. Great fun!

Mary Hooper's young adult Newes From The Dead works a novel based around an historical event: a young woman who was hanged for murdering her infant is about to be dissected by surgeons, when her eyelids start to flutter. This tells Anne Green's story: how she comes to be hanged, the conditions she lives in, and the satisfying resolution of her story.

Kathi Appelt's The Underneath was an annoying combination of being intriguing and over-written in a poetic manner with tics enough that I was practically growling at the text, itching to take a red pen to it. Really, to have a poetic text you don't need to have short chapters with a terribly slow accretion of details. There are probably twice the chapters (and likely twice the words--mostly due to repetition) here than are required to tell this story well. It has lots of great blurbs, so I'm probably the only person who will have this reaction, but I really wanted to like this tale: I mean, cats living with a hound under a house in the bayou, a doomed mythic romance, a wily lonely Grandmother Moccasin, a damaged evilly obsessed hunter, ancient trees--what's not to like? I wish the author had trusted the elements of her tale more, and eased up on telling.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

The novel climax devolved into talking heads, but suddenly an attempted murder livened everything up. There's a lot of blood in this section of the novel.

The salmon poem hasn't moved along much yet. It feels like it's swimming upstream against the river-flow of other stuff taking my attention away.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Still not retrospective enough to fill in any gaps here.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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