Les Semaines

December 7, 2008

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

 §

My Brilliance

So I wrote what I thought was a rather good response to a discussion about the value (or not) of negative reviews. However the women poets list I'm on didn't think so, as it received a reverberating silence (wait, did I use the wrong fork?). You think I'm brilliant, don't you? Here's what I said:
My problem with a lot of negative reviews is that, well, here's a quick way of putting it. The reviewer loves sushi. They think sushi is really the only good kind of writing; however, this book is a curry book! Look at the mix of spices! And it's Hot! It's *horrible* writing. They do the wrong things with rice, it's physical temperature is not cool, the spice-heat in it has nothing to do with wasabi, and where, where, is the fish?

Most negative reviews I come across are like that--instead of seeing that something is a curry and saying why and how it's a good or bad curry the reviewer says how it's bad sushi. It's annoying.

Especially as I believe there's room for a lot of different writing cuisines out there.

Well, aren't I clever? Huh?

Of course, I am in a revisioning and getting over flu stupor, so I'm probably kidding myself. Also I haven't been eating enough protein. Also, I have been reading too much fafblog for anyone's mental health. Far too rich a diet for someone recovering from flu, however mild.

Please note that I am a great fan of sushi and of curries. Some of my best friends are sushi and curry, though not together.

Jim has now gone out foraging.

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Listening

I ordered (don't tell Jim) Issa's new album. Jane Siberry was once one of our favourite artists, but I lost her after Maria when she started putting out trilogies and things she recorded as a teenager. I just couldn't get into anything she did, though it all passed through our collection. Now she is Issa and has recorded her first album as Issa and I am giving her one more chance because I liked a song on her MySpace page. I hope I don't regret this, especially as Isa has open pricing and I could have been a brat and paid a pittance for it, but I couldn't bring myself to do that, so I paid market price. I hope there's nothing annoying on it like the track entitled "Preview" on MySpace. Shudder.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

In Sarra Manning's young adult novel, Let's Get Lost, Isabel has turned into the school bitch and hangs out with her bitchy friends in order to stay at the top of the pecking order. Kind of by accident, she falls for an unlikely older guy with whom she is alternately her bitch-self and her real self. Though I was interested in Isabel, I sure couldn't figure out why the guy put up with her at all. (**HERE BE SPOILERS**) The core of the story, and of course, Isabel, relies on her not letting herself remember something, so the reader doesn't know it either. This is understandable as I'm sure there are people who have horrific things happen that they WILL NOT think about, but once it's revealed it feels a little bit of a cheat to me. I was glad I read this, though.

Carrie Bebris' mystery novel, The Matters at Mansfield is the latest of her Mrs. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series. Eh. Not as entertaining as its predecessors for me.

Susan Beth Pfeffer's depressing but riveting young adult science fiction novel, The Dead & the Gone is a companion novel to Life as We Knew It, about life in the U.S., this time in New York City, when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to earth, causing horrible tides and climate change. Gloom, death, despair, but readable, and, yes, good.

Michael Scott's young adult fantasy The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is a continuation of The Alchemist. This series has some interesting ideas, but for me there are too many confrontations, in that the rhythm seems to go: the characters are exhausted, then they battle, then are exhausted, then battle...I dunno. This isn't really working for me, but I keep reading the serie, I think because I like the details of the magical/mythological world here..

Siobhan Dowd's young adult novel, bog child really stood out for me. It's the story of a young man in his final year before he knows if he'll continue to higher education or not, and it's the 1980s and he lives in Northern Ireland. His family is a mess because his older brother is in prison and joining the hunger strikers--Bobby Sands has just died--when on a peat-cutting trip with his uncle, Fergus discovers a bog child buried in the peat. This is an outstanding novel. Recommended.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Mad fast revision of Gypsy Davey (finished at 3am) to proofread and to follow through on a timing-of-events change.

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Retrospective: old journal

February 26, 1995

Delicate as the Shapes of Spirits

I am walking across a field
of grey-green grass, alive though
its colour is clouded. The sky
is white, as though it too
is bled of colour. It is dusk,
though I can't see the sun
anywhere setting. Just it
seems the light is darkening.
I walk further in, the grass
is thicker and higher, but
still not lush. The blades have
nothing extra. Ahead of me
a wisp of steam gathers,
coalescing into a shape. A form.
Something nearly alive. Nearly
once alive. If I knew no better
I would say it was someone's
soul. Someone brought to the riverbank
and shot once, neatly, through
the heart, who otherwise might
have gone on fighting forever.
I wonder how they made him
stand so still that a bullet
could find his always-moving
form with such precision. I begin
to see the gray is the grass is beads
of rain and I am wet through
and dissolving. My mouth tastes
of ashes. It's what I imagine
despair tastes like, but then
I stop imagining, afraid to
make it true.
I have to work
so hard now against belief
I am wet through and dissolving,
my mouth against that wound
and ashes, but this is not despair.
It's not something you would
let yourself say. Ever. I hate
you for this more than any other
thing you've ever done.

March 17, 1995

The trill & the spiral
Voice thrown high, caught
then falling tangles of sound
cathedrals, huts of twigs and rain
spinning. Otherwise, song.
Otherwise the one throat
open and singing lullaby
to scram and back again.
The song, open-handed, skipping
down the country lane, then
the song, the body found knotted
in the ravening dark of the city alley
Beauty deeper than the bone
the marrow humming with it
the slap of sound, simply breath.

[I mashed up and revised mightily and these two pieces became one poem (in two columns) entitled "Delicate as the Shapes of Spirits" that appeared in Blood Memory.]

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