Monthly Archives: October 2007


Twelve-hour, high-stress days at the Workplace and trying to deal with the end of the lease on the flat and all that implies. This is one of those Very Low Points that seem to turn up every six months or so. It will pass, and soon, too. More in a few days.

To Whom It May Concern

6:47 p.m.

Dear Diary,

Tonight I discovered Goat’s Milk Yogurt. It’s dreamy.

6:49 p.m.

Dear Sour Cream,

I think we need to start seeing other people.

– J

6:52 p.m.

Dear Diary,

I don’t know…I’m sooooo into him, but every once in a while I just think, “OMG, this was squeezed out of a goat.”

6:58 p.m.

Dear Goat’s Milk Yogurt,

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Where you come from makes you who you are. And I love who you are. Except I’m kind of pissed you read my diary.

Oh who am I kidding — I can’t stay mad at you.



Paris Sort-of Update

Alas, my alarm is set for 5:00 a.m. so I can get the train from Euston to Upnorthingham for a winner take all Halo 3 death match IT meeting. So the Paris update is as follows:

It’s still there, and still lovely.

Also: Hanging out with Michael and Linda Moorcock is a damn nifty thing to do. I taught Linda how to get streaming NPR on her laptop, and she taught me to pronounce Michael Chabon’s last name.* I got the better deal, because the contradictory pronunciations I’ve been hearing have been making me crazy-like.

*It’s SHAYbun


Paris update tomorrow (by which I mean “the day after today” in contrast to the usage below, which apparently means “an undetermined day in the same week as the 31st of Never”). In the meantime I will note the following:

1. While my conscious mind is navigating my short-term career path, my unconscious mind is colluding with my shoulders to send messages of their own in the form of an elaborate system of knots. It’s like khipu back there. Message received, rogue body and soul parts — now loosen up, please.

2. Treading down “career path” to a segue: during the second week of Clarion West Andy Duncan advised me to “work retail”, by which he meant that I should not get so sucked into any career that I neglected to write. The fabulous Mr. Duncan has kindly mentioned me on his nifty blog, Beluthahatchie.

#1. Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow…Check.#2. Don’t Look at the Yellow Sign…D’oh!

Yipes, it’s already after 1:00 a.m., and I haven’t tackled the next twenty-one memelets. Since I need to get some sleep I will instead pass along from DJ Cherrybomb the note that you lucky PNWerners are within striking distance of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon this weekend.

The rest of us will just have to content ourselves with shopping at the Arkham Bazaar. Must…acquire…Yellow Sign baseball cap

More Booky von Bookiness tomorrow.

More Meme

Picking up from yesterday:

The Time Traveler’s Wife* (73)
Yep, in the stack.

The Iliad (73)
And a good thing, too: otherwise I would have been helpless in the face of my former neighbor’s complaints.

Emma (73)
Allow me to also express my admiration for Clueless. Said admiration does not extend to Clueless: the Musical.

The Blind Assassin (73)
Yipes — I must admit I had not processed the existence of this (*off to read list of Booker Prize winners and Margaret Atwood’s recent output, not including Oryx and Crake and the LongPen, which I already knew about*).

The Kite Runner (71)
Seen at many airport bookstores.

Mrs. Dalloway (70)
I should probably re-read this without the Reading It for a Modernism Class baggage.

Great Expectations (70)
I love Miss Havisham’s robot monkeys.

American Gods (68)
I read this with trepidation while I was still drafting my Norse god novel. Big woosh of relief when I discovered that the shared ground is shared by others, notably Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. But Mr. Gaiman is still my dream blurber.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (67)
I loved the non-self-referential bits. The SRBs led to book-throwing. Literally.

Atlas Shrugged (67)
I only recently resolved my decades-old weird interpretation of this title, now acknowledging Atlas as the subject of the intransitive verb Shrugged (i.e. “It is Atlas Who Has Shrugged”) versus the not really justifiable placement of Atlas as the direct object of a transitive Shrugged (“An Unidentified Subject Has Shrugged Atlas”). I probably would have figured this out sooner if I’d read the book. Or thought for two seconds about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, since — awkward naming aside — an Objectivist would probably rather be in the subjective case than the accusative (genitive being an acceptable second choice).

*puts head between knees to recover from grammar geek swoon*

Moving on…

Reading Lolita in Tehran: a Memoir in Books (66)
On my list, but not yet in the stack.

Memoirs of a Geisha (66)

Middlesex (66)
Recommended. Oh, and I have a borrowed copy, but I don’t recall the generous soul. Let me know if it’s yours…

Quicksilver (66)
On the list.

Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (65)
I really liked this — easily my favorite of the Maguire books I’ve read (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, and Mirror, Mirror). None of the later books mined the same vein as successfully as Wicked.

The Canterbury Tales (64)
Love the naughty bits and the creepy bits, which covers most of the bits. I will admit I have more fun with a contemporary translation — what I remember most about reading it in Introduction to Middle English (a language course as much as a lit course) was that the instructor had this habit of tugging on his beard during the aforementioned naughty bits, turning them into creepy bits.

The Historian: a Novel (63)
Hadn’t heard of this one…

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (63)
“Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down [along] the road and this moocow that was coming down [along] the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…”

Years of whiskey drinking and the only thing I forget are a couple of “along”s.

Love in the Time of Cholera (62)
“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of [the fate of] unrequited love.”

Years of cyanide ingestion and the only thing I forget is “the fate of”.

Brave New World (61)
See 1984, tomorrow.

The Fountainhead (61)
I am Howard, hear me Roark. And yes, I did read it as “Ellsworth Ptooey”.

Up next: Dracula, A Clockwork Orange, Angels & Demons, The Inferno, The Satanic Verses, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and — scariest of all — Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Meme Mime

Hey, I’m gonna swipe this nifty meme from the fabulous Ann Leckie (whose story “The Snake’s Wife” is up at Helix — check it out):

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing‘s users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

But I’m going to do 20 or so a day, because, you know — commentary. Plus it’ll keep me posting all week.

Also I’m putting an asterisk by books that are physically in my reading pile (as opposed to the I Intend to Read That Someday pile stacked up in my head). Think Starry Night.


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (149)
The partial strikethrough is for the repetitive footnotes and the four hundred pages that could have been cut.

Anna Karenina (132)
Herein lies a tiny autobiographical bit in “Mayfly”: I quit after Anna threw herself under the train. I didn’t mean to…it just kinda worked out that way. Fifteen years later and I still haven’t read Part 8.

Crime and Punishment* (121)
I blame Constance Garnett. I keep meaning to pick up the Pevear & Volokhonsky.

Catch-22 (117)
This I’ve read two or three times, a used copy that was already beat up when I got it. The front cover has torn off and is tucked inside the pages. Fun fact: Catch-22 was almost Catch-18

One Hundred Years of Solitude* (115)
But I have memorized the first line of Love in the Time of Cholera.

Wuthering Heights (110)
I’ve read this at least six times, but that was back when I was young and foolish and thought it was a better book than Jane Eyre (see below). Still love the dead rabbit bit, though.

The Silmarillion (104)
Bear in mind I also skimmed over the elf songs in Lord of the Rings (gasp! shock! horror!).

Life of Pi: a Novel (94)
The opening framing device was kind of pesky, but the rest of the book is swell.

The Name of the Rose* (91)
Damn Sean Connery static.

Don Quixote (91)
This blew me away — funny and heartbreaking and therefore deeply human. Also deeply influential.

Moby Dick (86)
I read this as part of my AP English prep the summer before my senior year. I read it as I did most of The Classics that summer: floating on a raft in my parent’s swimming pool. If I get skin cancer we can chalk it up to death by verbosity. Oh, and you should check out Defective Yeti’s National Novel Reading Month.

Ulysses (84)
Also, Finnegan’s Wake.

Madame Bovary (83)
Also, Sentimental Education

The Odyssey (83)
Stamped its tropes hard and fast in my ten-year-old mind.

Pride and Prejudice (83)
Winner of the most repeat readings award — a dozen times and still counting.

Jane Eyre (80)
My godmother gave me a fancy hardbound copy of this when I was eleven or so. I dutifully read it within the year, but I wasn’t into it and I thought Jane was whiny. A few years latter I was all about the Catherine and Heathcliff drama. And then for some reason I re-read Jane Eyre, and saw how much I didn’t get. Cathy has her psycho charm, but Jane rocks.

A Tale of Two Cities (80)
My sophomore year English class read the book and then watched the Ronald Colman version of the film, during which my friend Karen and I kept passing notes about Lucie’s outrageous hats. We also adopted “knit knit knit” as an expression of veiled but intense disapproval of our fellow students.

The Brothers Karamazov (80)
See Crime and Punishment.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies (79)
You know, at first I thought I’d read this, but now I’m pretty sure I didn’t, even though I still feel like I know it, somehow. Perhaps I absorbed it from the cultural ether.

War and Peace (78)
I’m pretty sure I made it as far as the mushrooms…

Vanity Fair (74)
I have good intentions.

More tomorrow…