“I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: amidst books.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from The Words: The Autobiography of Jean-Paul Sartre

Reading Bingo Card

Reading Bingo Card
Challenge: Post your results in the comments section, if you like.

How Well Do You Know The Opening Lines Of Famous Books?

Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and warmer, 50 degrees.

Yesterday for a while it felt like this migraine was finally going away completely . . . then I woke up this morning, and . . . you guessed it . . . headache BACK!

Another short one just to let you know that I’m still alive. I found this quiz on BuzzFeed, and I’m hoping the book lovers out there will enjoy it as much as I did. Try to ignore the misspelling of Anna Karenina and the fact that they have put the book titles in quotations instead of italics.

Here is a sample:

  • Emma, by Jane Austen
  • David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  • Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Let me know how you did in the comments section.

                   

I am also including a bit from an essay by Dylan Thomas, called “Notes on the Art of Poetry.” Over the years, extracts from this essay have been melded into a poem of sorts, but I like it better in its original prose form (click here to read in its entirety). Thomas wrote the essay in 1951 in response to a query from a college student hoping to learn more about craft. Here is my selection:

. . . What I like to do is treat words as a craftsman does his wood or stone or what-have-you, to hew, carve, mould, coil, polish and plane them into patterns, sequences, sculptures, fugues of sound expressing some lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt or conviction, some dimly-realised truth I must try to reach and realise.) . . . I read indiscriminately, and with my eyes hanging out. I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sand-storms and ice-blasts of words, such slashing of humbug, and humbug too, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights breaking across the just-awaking wits and splashing all over the pages in a million bits and pieces all of which were words, words, words, and each of which was alive forever in its own delight and glory and oddity of light.

. . . All that matters about poetry is the enjoyment of it, however tragic it may be. All that matters is the eternal movement behind it, the vast undercurrent of human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation, or ignorance, however unlofty the intention of the poem.

. . . You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in.

More later. Peace.

                    

Music by Tom Odell, “Long Way Down”

 

 

 

 

Friday leftovers . . . sort of . . .

“Books are solitudes in which we meet.” ~ Rebecca Solnit, from “Ice”

Friday evening. Cloudy and very cold, 27 degrees.

Hello. Long time no write.

Well, it has not been an auspicious first half of February. The never-ending migraine starts and stops and starts and stops, and sitting in front of this screen is well nigh impossible. It’s not that my post draft folder isn’t full to overflowing; unfortunately, it’s that I just can’t do this as much as I want to because of the whole eye pain issue.

Anyway, I don’t really have a leftovers post in the form in which I normally post one, but I do have this little tidbit for you quote collectors out there. I’m only including a few in this post. Click on the link to see all of them. I think it’s a great selection. Hope you enjoy.

More later (sooner, I hope). Peace.


The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes

An irresistible page-turner is a wonderful thing, but the very greatest novels pack sentences so prevailing that you stop reading, lower the book and simply live in the words for a moment. Here we pay tribute our 40 most powerful sentences in novels.

“You don’t think that’s a lot of red for a child’s bedroom? We don’t want it to look like the Amityville Horror kill room or anything.” ~ The Ugly Volvo

I have to share this post from The Ugly Volvo with you. I read Goodnight Moon to Olivia every time she spends the night here. And I also read this story to all of my children when they were small. But this is one of the funniest deconstructions of this story I have ever come across. It’s long, so I’m only including the first few, but trust me, you need to click here and read it in its entirety.


 

All of my Issues With the “Goodnight Moon” Bedroom

I’ve read Goodnight Moon almost every night for the past two years. It’s a wonderful book which my son enjoys. Here are some of my issues with the bedroom depicted in it.
aa goodnight moon 11. The Size of the Bedroom
Nice bedroom and/or place to possibly hold the 2024 Olympics

This bedroom is enormous. There is no one, I think, who has not noticed this. As someone who has lived in apartments only slightly larger than “a little toy house,” it’s mildly vexing that this bedroom is the size of a banquet hall in Downton Abbey.

This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)

2. The Little Toy house.
This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)

This is not that little of a toy house. Not only could the rabbit easily fit inside the “little toy house,” the little toy house also has working electricity. Why are these rabbits so civilized? Is this some f**ked up Watership Down sequel???

The color scheme we're going for is "exploded paint factory."

3. This Just-Discovered Transcript of a Conversation Had by the Interior Decorators
The color scheme we’re going for is “exploded paint factory.”The color scheme we’re going for is “exploded paint factory.”

“So what color have we decided on for the upstairs child’s bedroom?”

“Which child’s bedroom?”

“The enormous one. The one with the expansive tomato-colored floor.”

“I was thinking for that room maybe a dark green?”

“Really? Dark green? You don’t think maybe dark green walls with a tomato-colored floor is a bit much?”

“No, it’ll look amazing. We can break up the monotony of the color with some dark green and yellow striped curtains.”

“That’s an amazing idea. On non-matching red and yellow spearhead curtain rods? Do you think a tiger skin rug would be overkill?”

“For a young child’s room? No. Not at all. ”

 

Two for Tuesday: The Things that Haunt Us

Pyotr Konchalovsky Blue House in Winter

“Blue House in Winter” (1938)
by Pyotr Konchalovsky


“Strange—things neglected begin to appeal
to a part inside us. It is called the soul.
These times, it lives on less and less.” ~ William Stafford, from “Noticing”

Tuesday night, late. Clear and not as cold, 50 degrees.

I had Olivia yesterday and today, and so tonight I am exhausted. I also had to make a trip to campus to pick up Em because Brett got a ticket for having an expired inspection sticker, which threw him into a tailspin. We are trying to figure out how to get rid of his broken-down Honda and make enough money so that Vik can finish the work on the Rodeo, the work he began this time last year.

I’m not even going to get into that. Anyway, lots going on, but too much to ponder at the moment.

More later. Peace.

                   

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“Winter Evening” (oil on board)
by Ruskin Spear

What’s in My Journal

Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
Things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can’t find them. Someone’s terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine.

~ William Stafford

                    

5.1.2

“Up the Hudson” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Frank C. Kirk

Things

There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
there are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse.

~ Fleur Adcock

                   

Music by 30 Second to Mars, “Alibi”

“Some things | you know all your life. They are so simple and true | they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme, | they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker, | the glass of water” ~ Philip Levine, from “The Simple Truth”

Edvard Munch Winter Landscape from Kragerø 1910 oil on canvas

“Winter Landscape from Kragerø” (1910, oil on canvas)
by Edvard Munch  


Two for Tuesday: Philip Levine

Tuesday night, late. Some remaining drizzle and cold, 33 degrees.

Ah yes. The schedule and publish function of this blog. So seemingly easy, and yet . . .

You cannot possibly be surprised that I did not manage to post this on Tuesday, Tuesday for which it was compiled, Tuesday, the day after Monday and before Wednesday, Tuesday, the day for which songs have been written, Tuesday . . .

Yet here it was, in my list of drafts . . .

Ah, me.

                   

Edvard Munch Winter Forest 1900-01 oil on cardboard

“Winter Forest” (1900-01, oil on cardboard)
by Edvard Munch

 

After Dinner

She’s eaten dinner talking
back to the television, she’s
had coffee and brandy, done
the dishes and drifted into
and out of sleep over a book
she found beside the couch. It’s
time for bed, but she goes
instead to the front door, unlocks
it, and steps onto the porch.
Behind her she can hear only
the silence of the house. The lights
throw her shadow down the stairs
and onto the lawn, and she walks
carefully to meet it. Now she’s
standing in the huge, whispering
arena of night, hearing her
own breath tearing out of her
like the cries of an animal.
She could keep going into
whatever the darkness brings,
she could find a presence there
her shaking hands could hold
instead of each other.

                   

Edvard Munch Winter Night 1923 oil on canvas

“Winter Night” (1923, oil on canvas)
by Edvard Munch

 

Everything

Lately the wind burns
the last leaves and evening
comes too late to be
of use, lately I learned
that the year has turned
its face to winter
and nothing I say or do
can change anything.
So I sleep late and waken
long after the sun has risen
in an empty house and walk
the dusty halls or sit
and listen to the wind
creak in the eaves and struts
of this old house. I say
tomorrow will be different
but I know it won’t.
I know the days are shortening
and when the sun pools
at my feet I can reach
into that magic circle
and not be burned. So
I take the few things
that matter, my book,
my glasses, my father’s ring,
my brush, and put them aside
in a brown sack and wait —
someone is coming for me.
A voice I’ve never heard
will speak my name
or a face press to the window
as mine once pressed
when the world held me out.
I had to see what it was
it loved so much. Nothing
had time to show me
how a leaf spun itself
from water or water cried
itself to sleep for
every human thirst. Now
I must wait and be still
and say nothing I don’t know,
nothing I haven’t lived
over and over,
and that’s everything.

                    

Music by The Moody Blues, “Nights in White Satin” (bet you thought it’d be “Tuesday Afternoon”)

“Drowning. Strychnine. Self-cannibalism. Scabs. Scarab beetles. Soul-abortion. God-divorce. Apostasy. Voice box autopsy. Hydrogen peroxide. Why can’t I scour below the pores? Possible cracked scapula. I didn’t dare go to the doctor. The X-ray would show no bones like the mirror confesses no reflection. Broken camera. Slow shutter speed; same photo over and over. Alchemy. Blood. Heart pumping mud. Black magic. Skin turned to stone. Slaughterhouse. Should have known better. Should have known better. Inadequate gravity. The earth cast off its axis; I’m fighting for an atmosphere somewhere in Andromeda.” ~ Deanna Larsen, from “What Rape Is Like”

I ran across this incredible article on my tumblr dash a few days ago, and I really want to share it. It’s too long to post in its entirey, so I’m giving a link. It’s a good read, but I have to include a trigger warning.

Prey

By Kathleen Hale

In the aftermath of rape, and throughout the two-year-long rape trial, I was obsessed with dangerous animals. This is how I went from prey to predator.

My obsession with animals preexisted any trauma in my life. As a five-year-old I wrote a fully illustrated book titled Tigger Maskkir about circus animals that revolt and eat the clowns. My teachers thought I was becoming deranged but my mom explained that it had been going on since before the divorce. I interviewed neighbours about their dogs. I put my teddy bears and stuffed lions to bed every night under blankets of washcloths—I couldn’t fall asleep until they were safely arranged like Tetris pieces on the floor, covering every inch of carpet. I once stood for an hour with my face against the glass at Sea World, trying to make meaningful eye contact with a manatee.

My ritualistic obsessions are no longer limited to animals (currently, they include Diane Sawyer, The Slender Man Stabbings, and eating bacon every day for lunch). I never look for things to grab me. They just do, and once they do, the obsessions usually continue until I’m so sick of them—or of myself for enacting them—that suddenly, and with a sense of great relief, I’m repulsed.

On other occasions, it’s as if I can’t stop. Like on my 18th birthday.

The night was raucously fun—I must have stolen the karaoke microphone 11 times—but as dawn broke, my friend asked if I could please stop singing Limp Bizkit. She needed to sleep.

“Believe me, I’d love to, but I physically cannot.” I was tired, too. I’d sung “Faith” twice, but five was my number and I was halfway there.

And sometimes I worry that telling the story I’m about to tell you is a compulsion, like counting. Giving testimony under oath was supposed to bring closure. But here I am, so sick of my own voice. The urge persists.