Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reading Update---how did I manage this?

By the end of April, I'd read 15 novels in the year 2013.  But, then I got busy with a wedding and with moving and starting a new job and well, my reading slowed down a bit. Still, I managed a few more novels since that time and for sake of keeping track, here's what my continued reading has looked like:

16. A Sport and a Pastime James Salter
17. Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy
18. Loving Frank Lisa Horan
19. Orphan Master's Son Adam Johnson (almost done)
20. Mother Night Kurt Vonnegut

I'm not sure what I'll read next but I'd like to make December a reading month.  After spending the month of November writing, it will be time to catch my breath with a novel or two...or more, at least I can hope!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaNo...oh no

I totally just wrote over 3,000 words today.  I'm stoked...take that Mr. Negative Thoughts Making Me Think My Writing is Over and Done With...ha, I'm so back.


Okay...back to the word count peoples!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fits and Starts...and Resets

I am rounding out the month of October with this last batch of short stories in hopes that it will give me the UMPF I need to get my November writing on...

Thomas Pynchon-"Entropy"
Michael Farris Smith- "I am Not a Rock Star"
Nikolai Gogol- "The Overcoat"
Charlotte Perkins Gillman- "The Yellow Wallpaper"
O'Henry- "The Thing's the Play"  http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/ThinPlay.shtml
Netta Syrett- "Thy Heart's Desire"
Seamus Scanlon- "The Long Wet Grass"  http://www.fishpublishing.com/Fish-Anthology-2011.php#wetgrass

Mixing some flash fiction in to spice things up, I think this might do the trick with only one week left...BRING IT!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Preparations-short storying it up


Okay, so, maybe not but I plan on writing something, something substantial, and until then, I will have spent October trying to get myself into the right frame of mind, to get my brain working in sentences that DO NOT contain arguments.  It's a struggle, my job zaps it out of me at times but it only takes a paragraph, or a George Saunders sentence like "an empty rocking chair rocks faster than any mortal granny could" and I remember how to do it, or at least how to think about doing it.

Writing it is different.  I've piddled with a few short shorts over the last week to get my fingers accustomed to moving in time with the creative bursts of thought that I hope will get me from word to word and I have to admit that I'm getting excited thanks to the short stories from these authors:

Adam Johnson- "The History of Cancer"
Kim Brooks- "Year's Time"
Penelope Fitzgerald- "The Prescription"
Donald Barthelme- "The School"
Alice Munro- "Free Radicals"
George Saunders- "A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room"
James Joyce- "Araby"
Judith Merrill- "That Only a Mother"
Lawrence Scott- "Chameleon"
Jay McInerney- "Con Doctor"
Ferroll Sams- "Harmony Ain't Easy"

Today, I'm tackling Roddy Doyle's story "Teaching" which can be found here:



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Novels? What are those?

I got married.

I moved to a different city.

I started a new job.

I inherited a two new dogs and a step-daughter.

Yeah...so, did I read much in the last two months? The answer to that question is clear, right...right?

I tackled Cormac McCarthy's novel, Blood Meridian, and am now finishing Loving Frank by Lisa Horan.

Next up is Adam Johnson's Orphan Master's Son. After that, I don't know. I need to write more. Work needs to slow down. My life needs to help me out a little...seriously...thank goodness for a loving and supportive husband.

That's right...I got married!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Whatever Happened to my Glasses?

I didn't realize how much I relied on my reading glasses (the cheap over the counter magnifying kind 2.00+) until I lost every pair and tried to spend the last two weeks of May reading without them. Here is what it was like:

1. This loss was beyond frustrating made more frustrating by the fact that I could never seem to remember to buy a replacement pair.

2. When I did find a pair much to my excitement, I realized that the lens' had been scratched by either my children or by beach sand in my purse where yes, I let my glasses beat around without a case to protect them.

3. I found myself resorting to short stories instead of digging into novels because I'd have to stop after every 5-10 pages and let my eyes rest. So, where I'd started reading Look Homeward Angel before I lost my glasses, I couldn't return to the novel until now. Instead, I read a few short stories from Claire Vaye Watkins collection Battleborn and I also read a few of Terry Southern's stories from his collection, Red Dirt Marijuana.

4. The only novel I did tackle was James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime which, because of the "steamy" subject matter, I read despite my weary eyes.

All of this said, I was surprised to see how my lack of reading glasses affected my reading choices. But, I got my cateyes back and I'm now elbow deep into Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and I have to say, it feels good to have the novel back within my grasp.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Locomotion Commotion

My title to this post is sappy. Yes, I know, but with the amount of time I've spent researching arboreal locomotion lately in an effort to, for some reason, incorporate a sugar glider into a short story of mine, this fixation and the resulting corniness can only be expected. I've learned a lot but these are two facts that stick out to me:

- squirrels have reversible feet, ie, their ankles allow their feet to swivel 360 degrees
- prehensile tails in many animals that live in trees actually have an adhesive patch on the tip

Oh, the movements and adaptations of the various animals that I've studied are more than enough fodder for fiction...the imagery and symbolism and sheer wonder of these creatures and their ability to conduct arboreal locomotion is good stuff, the kind of stuff you won't soon forget after reading. See for yourself.


The fiction that has flowed so far is here, incomplete, but on its way to being something...I think...

Facts like, the ins and outs of arboreal locomotion, a tree to tree
movement that kept the animals safe from predators and
with easy access to otherwise unreachable food. To have that
life, Rae Ann thought, the nights of a marsupial with membranous hands,
curled into its mother’s pouch when the flying was over. Did they know
about the torpor they’d experience too? Did they know it before it
happened to them? Rae Ann would rather hibernate. The distinction was one
without meaning.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Big Read

So, April was a banner reading month for me particularly given how busy my schedule has been otherwise...and with that in mind, here is what I've been up to:

For now, here is how my 2013 reading year is shaping up:

1. The Paper Men William Golding
2. Tinkers Paul Harding
3. Wild Cheryl Strayed
4. The Long March William Styron
5. Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi
6. Everyman Philip Roth
7. Border Crossing" Pat Barker
8. Beasts Joyce Carol Oates
9. Ironweed William Kennedy
10. The Misalliance Anita Brookner
11. The Rum Diary Hunter S. Thompson

April Reading:

12. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
13. Point Omega Don Delillo
14. A Lesson Before Dying Ernest Gaines
15. Bel Canto Ann Patchett

Currently, I am reading, FINALLY, Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel. Yep...I've avoided this book for the last 3 years and it's time. It's calling me. The first two paragraphs stop you and you read them again and again and you feel drawn in, at least I did. There's something waiting for me in this novel and I'm scared and excited at the same time to find out what it is. Here's how the novel begins. Judge for yourself.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Short Story Review: Nelson Algren's "how the devil came down division street"

I have a review that went up today on the wonderful website, www.shelfactualization.com

A link to my review is available at the link below. Next up, I'll be reviewing a short story by American writer, Terry Southern. Thanks for reading folks!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Faulkner and DeLillo

I spent the last two weeks reading these two literary heavyweights, between William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" and Don DeLillo's short novel, "Point Omega" and while the difference between the writing styles and subject matter could not be more stark, somehow the transition between the two voices was a smooth one. Both works had a distinct vision and regardless of how that vision was expressed in words, I felt both authors achieved a sort of "beyondness" to the story, writing outside of the expected realm usually inhabited by fiction, particularly American fiction, at least in my thinking.

My expectations with Faulkner were understandably high but I didn't have any expectations one way or the other with DeLillo. So, I was impressed and as a result have spent a considerable amount of time researching the studies and writings of the Jesuit thinker and paleontologist [Pierre] Teilhard de Chardin, a huge influence on DeLillo's writing and basic philosophy.

And THIS is why I read literature, for the rabbit holes, for the tunnels into nowhere or better yet, into everywhere. I mean really, a Jesuit paleontologist...how could I not take the bait, google it and google it and google it some more?? I'm hooked on these two novelists and although these authors are not often talked about alongside one another, there is something about them that meshes and I'm ready for Round Two with these grizzly bears so that I can discover what that something is.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

First Quarter Down

As I closed out my first quarter of the year, I read two novels in its last week which has me super proud except for the fact that it slowed down my writing for that week.

But, but it was sunny outside and there was a slight breeze and, there was this great lawn chair where I got to sit by this great guy while he read and wrote and soaked up the sun too...so, yeah, I read my butt off for the last week, especially over the weekend, adding books ten and eleven to my list for the year's reading thus far!

Here's to next quarter!

For now, here is how my 2013 reading year is shaping up:

1. "The Paper Men" William Golding
2. "Tinkers" Paul Harding
3. "Wild" Cheryl Strayed
4. "The Long March" William Styron
5. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" Azar Nafisi
6. "Everyman" Philip Roth
7. "Border Crossing" Pat Barker
8. "Beasts" Joyce Carol Oates
9. "Ironweed" William Kennedy
10. "The Misalliance" Anita Brookner
11. "The Rum Diary" Hunter S. Thompson

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Philip Roth at 80...still relevant, still randy

March 19, 2013, the 80th birthday of one of greatest living American writers, if not THE greatest of our time. Philip Roth, having just retired from the profession, is still racking up awards and shocking readers and his many admirers by retiring and by not apologizing for it or for the thousands and thousands of words he left behind. I could post link after link of articles and interviews to celebrate his achievement but that's been done before and will be done today and in the future several times over and with the recent PBS documentary covering his life and his writing, there will only be more interest in Philip Roth, as if the prospect of "more" makes sense to this man anymore. (see link below for information on the documentary)

For me, on a day like today, I like to look back at my reading and focus on the books of his I loved, the ones that I loved because I experienced them alone and years after they were written, alone with only my brain and my life experiences to guide my judgment, alone with the books themselves and the world created by Roth, worlds often times more depraved than I could have imagined. For example, the experience of reading "Sabbath's Theater" won't soon leave me. But that novel is no surprise, right? A sexual deviant finger puppeteer is bound to have some tantalizing adventures and mishaps. The book won critical acclaim and is considered by some, me included, to be Roth's best novel. Roth himself has the novel in his top 5.

But, there is one of his novels that I always recommend to others and have found few who would read it. For me, it was "Deception" one of Roth's most experimental novels in that it is comprised almost entirely of dialogue with literally only a handful of actual paragraphs to keep the story moving. Published in 1990, the story is told from the point of view of Philip Roth and tracks his conversations with various women before and after sex. Despite this approach, I still felt connected to the women in the story and found the novel both misogynistic and strangely empowering at the same time.

This underrated and infrequently mentioned novel is definitely worth the read for anyone who hasn't read Philip Roth or for anyone who has and still doesn't know what he or she is missing. So on his birthday, I celebrate his writing, ALL of it and while I could spend more time on the Roth canon, I think stopping with
"Deception" is just fine. I mean, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want some other folks to read this damn book so I can talk about it with them!!



DOCUMENTARY-- http://www.npr.org/2013/03/11/174029423/in-philip-roth-unmasked-an-unadorned-portrait-of-an-aging-master

REVIEW-- http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/11/specials/roth-deception.html

BIO-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Roth

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Writing...and Cleopatra

847 words on Saturday, new words, pretty damn good words if you ask me,and yes, hours of Cleopatra research for my daughter. I'm not sure what prompted her interest in the subject but I have to say, having a conversation with a 7 year old about obilesks and hippodromes and asps was not only thrilling, but totally rewarding. That she and her sister and her soon to be step sister all then snuggled into bed with their journals to "write" before bed made the time I'd spent writing earlier in the day that much sweeter.

It's nice for a change to not feel guilty about the words, about the time those words took from some place else. Now if I can only get them to appreciate the fine art of washing dishes...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Joyce Carol huh?

By way of a reading update, since my last post I've read several novels and thanks to my fiance, I've read some great poems, poems which I've discovered all have references to the wings of a fly in them. Not sure what that is all about but I feel that question and its answer could have its own blogpost so, I'll get to that later.

For now, here is how my 2013 reading year is shaping up:

1. "The Paper Men" William Golding
2. "Tinkers" Paul Harding
3. "Wild" Cheryl Strayed
4. "The Long March" William Styron
5. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" Azar Nafisi
6. "Everyman" Philip Roth
7. "Border Crossing" Pat Barker
8. "Beasts" Joyce Carol Oates
9. "Ironweed" William Kennedy

Of these books, I feel compelled to discuss Joyce Carol Oates' novella that was strangely intoxicating despite being completely unbelievable. I didn't want to like the story even after the first few pages but the writing was top notch and there were passages that were beautiful even if out of place. Maybe that is why I am disappointed in this novella. "Beasts" as a concept in the story is overwrought and ultimately falls flat, the reader left wondering whether the author knew she was missing the subtlety and honesty one would expect from her work. The novella, because it was fast paced with a singular focus on a bizarre student/teacher affair, felt rushed and dirty.

I wanted to wash my hands after reading this. I wanted to find a pair of flame retardant pajamas. I wanted to sink into my couch with a rolled up towel over my eyes to not have to worry about being burned or seeing headless totems and mangled nudes across the room, sitting naked on a stool in my kitchen, or drinking my drug spiked wine.

Mostly, I wanted to forget this book because every part of me told me not to like it, that I shouldn't like it. BUT I DID and I can't fully comprehend what that says about me if it says anything at all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ideas to return to...or not

There is a time for writing and time for research and I'm in that mode where my research is taking over. First it was cross drift stabilization, then it was liquefaction. Now, I'm researching the origins of the crimson winged flamingo.

Two years ago, I spent a good deal of time studying nasturtiums and spotted jewelweeds and other varieties of flowers that I thought would be useful in my writing. I'm always amazed at where my research takes me but the one thing I can't deny is that my reading is what starts the search.



I said to my fiance yesterday, "I stepped on your capo" and was immediately struck by how random that sentence was and also by the sheer wonder of having that sentence as a part of my speaking life. But for him, I would never have thought of such a thing, even if it may seem to be a small thing.

All of that said, I've added the cloaca and capo to my research list once I finish with the danged ole crimson winged flamingo. What I'll take from all of this research? Who knows. It doesn't matter. I'm just along for the trek.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

An Observation on Propensity- The Word "So"

So...I have a propensity to start blog posts with the word "SO"

I just noticed this today after going back and looking over my last several posts, mostly from 2013. Now, instead of analyzing what I'm reading or getting some new words written on my novel, I'm dwelling on this issue that has reared its ugly head as of late. It crept up on me, I swear it but, after researching this online, I discovered much to my amazement that this is a growing trend among the masses.

Ha! Just when I thought I was a total grammar flunkie, this article gave me hope that I can change and that until then, I can embrace this overused word, own it really for at least a few more blogs posts!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writing Days-Where's the Sunshine?

So, I've been writing A LOT lately. Mostly fiction and the occasional poem, but even so, it's only when I get a stretch of words and sentences and paragraphs together without thinking about it that I feel warm inside, like my little light is glowing and it's all I can do to keep it "under a bushel".

I don't share enough of my fiction. I don't get enough honest opinions about the quality. I don't submit enough to even attempt at calling myself a "writer."

That leads me to the question of "who is a writer?" Is it someone who writes for a living, for enjoyment, or maybe on the off chance, for both? As for me, my day job does not make me feel particularly writerly but it does give me a certain amount of fodder for the imagination. Being a personal injury attorney really does give me a vast knowledge of the bizarre that most "writers" would envy. So...why can't I use it, the wealth of information regarding peculiar injuries, methods of injury, strange recoveries and medical procedures that I've gained over the last 10 years in my legal practice?

Is it a fear of violation of privacy that keeps me from doing it? No, it's not. I've thought a lot about this and after my sister urged me to write a novel from the point of view of a female attorney, I finally realized exactly WHY I haven't done it yet.

I DON'T FIND MY JOB ALL THAT EXCITING!! (and for the first time in 10 years, I can't understand why I don't)

So...I'm going to try and write "what I know" and see how that goes. Here is what I've gotten so far. And please, excuse me for my lack of reverence. I've seen it all, argued it all, and made good use of it all in my professional life. Now, it's time for me to see how it works in fiction. Here we go:

"Liability is about what you can prove. Give me a rear end collision or falling merchandise case and I'll show you what a jury can do with damages. Just don't give me a squirrely client who exaggerates his pain in hopes of a payday after slipping in a puddle of oil while walking from his car to the bathroom of the super lube.

Come one come all ye who are hurting with a story to tell. I am the one you can hire to write you into existence to correct the wrongs for everyone to see. Juries have always loved me, my short skirts and southern drawl , and my verdicts have provided proof that sometimes persuasion conquers all. Screw the evidence and open your checkbook. Progressive and Allstate don't have nothing on me."

February Reading Update

Okay, I finished "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed and then went straight into the novella "The Long March" by William Styron. Now, I'm really getting into "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. The concept itself is enough to keep me interested in the memoir even if the writing is "less literary" than I normally read. I have a feeling though that this one will grow on me as I continue. The great thing about this memoir is that it, like "Wild" is making me rethink my year's reading list, both memoirs relying heavily on literature to get these women through tough times.

When I started reading these, I had no idea the common thread would be there but it has allowed me to focus on my reading, to analyze what it does for me, a purpose perhaps beyond enjoyment and enlightenment!

Until next post, I'll be thinking about this...a lot!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013: Ready, Set, READ!

So, January is almost over but that's okay. I've written almost 3,000 words so far and I've read the first two novels to start my year:

1. The Paper Men- William Golding
2. Tinkers- Paul Harding

Currently, I'm reading "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed and am gradually making my way through Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" on my ipad. Being pulled in so many directions these days but even so, managing to get my words in and out.

Updates on my writing coming soon. SOON!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Novels Read...slacker?

So, I didn't finish a short story a day for a year but damnit, I made it to August. That's a lot of short stories but still, I feel like a bit of a failure. Nonetheless, as I start the New Year, I am ready to begin anew. So, here is the list of novels I read in 2012 to perhaps convince you that, while I didn't read a short story a day as I'd hoped, I wasn't such a slacker after all.

1. Hummingbird House- Patricia Henley
2. A Visit from the Goon Squad-Jennifer Egan
3. On Chesil Beach-Ian McEwan
4. The Flute Player-DM Thomas
5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet-Jamie Ford
6. The Dylanist-Brian Morton
7. Boomerang- Barry Hannah
8. The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins
9. Fifty Shades of Grey- E.L. James
10. Ray-Barry Hannah
11. In One Person-John Irving
12. Fifty Shades Darker-E.L. James
13. Fay-Larry Brown
14. City of the Mind-Penelope Lively
15. Story of the Eye- George Bataille
16. Tristessa-Jack Kerouac
17. Monkeys-Susan Minot
18. Nemesis-Philip Roth
19. Chronicle of a Death Foretold-Gabriel Garcia Marquez
20. Catching Fire-Suzanne Collins
21. Eating Pavlova-DM Thomas

Cheers! Now, on to this year's reading!