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I'm finishing a new book: Spell Realm. Somewhat surprised to see that title has never been used.Anyway, I got through about 5/6th of the book and then lost faith in it. I've been eking out a couple of paragraphs a day since then.I'm t...
I'm finishing a new book: Spell Realm. Somewhat surprised to see that title has never been used.Anyway, I got through about 5/6th of the book and then lost faith in it. I've been eking out a couple of paragraphs a day since then.I'm thinking that all these fantasies I'm writing all have similar themes and I ought to just make them all one world. It will require some rewriting, but it isn't beyond my ability.Spell Realm is probably the first book of a trilogy that ends with Sometimes a Dragon. It will require that I rewrite SAD.Meanwhile, I've started thinking of a new book which might be the middle book, or it might be the first book in another trilogy.Meanwhile, I think my Lore books can be turned into Spell Realm books.I think what all this requires is a bunch of planning -- mapping it all out on a timeline, making everything consistent.Anyway, I read another 4 chapters of Spell Realm at writer's group last night, and it felt pretty good. It felt smooth. So I just need to push through to the end of the book in my next writing session, and then start drawing graphs and thinking it all through before I start anything else.
about 5 hours ago
October 09, 2013 "Heavy black clouds of dust rising over the Texas Panhandle" Arthur Rothstein 1915 -19853 Dust and Exhaustion The Labor of Media Materialism Jussi Parikkactheory This is a text about dust as well as exhau...
October 09, 2013 "Heavy black clouds of dust rising over the Texas Panhandle" Arthur Rothstein 1915 -19853 Dust and Exhaustion The Labor of Media Materialism Jussi Parikkactheory This is a text about dust as well as exhaustion: about non-human particles as well as labor. It takes small things like dust as one vector for its argument, and as a vehicle in the manner of which we sometimes think through objects. Dust is, however, not quite an object, not in the intuitive sense that objects are supposed to be easily graspable. It does not fit the hand, even if it covers vast terrains. It is more environmental and better characterized as a milieu. Well, almost a milieu: we rarely count it among things that matter, but what if we did? What if we followed dust as a trajectory for theory -- theory that is concerned with materiality and media? What if dust is one way to do "dirt research": a mode of inquiry that crosses institutions and disciplines, and forces us to think of questions of design as enveloped in a complex ecology of economy, environment, work, and skill. Dirt brings noise, as Ned Rossiter reminds us, and dirt research can be understood "as a transversal mode of knowledge production [that] necessarily encounters conflict of various kinds: geocultural, social, political and epistemological." This essay tracks this multiplicity of dust -- multiplicity not only in the sense that there is a lot of it, but in that it forces us to rethink such binaries as One/Many. Dust takes us -- and our thinking -- to different places and opens up multiple agendas. In this case, I use dust to talk of global labor, media materialism of digital culture, and how to approach this topic through such non-human nanoparticles. My argument routes itself through video games to factories, where gadgets are produced, to theoretical excavations in new materialism and speculative philosophy, to science fiction and the engineering of everyday realities. ... This is not a text of theory so much as a text about non-humans that persistently concern the human. The non-human refuses to leave the human. This text subscribes to recent arguments that we need to rethink our theoretical perspectives from the point of view of things -- and, I would add, not only things, but also relations and almost-things, stuff that lacks the solidity to merit it being called just a thing. Dust Storm Cimarron County, OKArthur Rothstein 1936 Poetry isolation and collective clumsiness An antonymic exploration Maria Damon “Tradition,” by which Eliot meant the Western literary canon, has been wisely reconceived here as the folksier and pluralized “poetry communities.” There are, indeed, traditions comprising paraliterary heritage, but they are largely anonymous and hence more interesting. But the individual talent? The invidious talon? The toxic infection? Talent’s etymology alone qualifies it for suspicion, as its travel from weight to currency to penchant to giftedness solidly implicates it in the world of commodities, while Eliot’s use of the word as metonymic for “person” or “poet” overdetermines its status as alienated labor, an extraction of one appealing and desired resource from the “standing-reserve” of the populace in exchange for prestige, professional advancement, reification as a name, and so forth. Why resurrect this embodiment of an outmoded literary ambition almost half a century after Foucault wonders whose multiple and anonymous murmurs waft him downstream on the history of discourse? Individual talent is the corpse of the dross — Shelley or Orpheus bobbing along in the celestial stream of anonymity — solidifying on the surface of molten metal. The corpse itself is a cenotaph, marking some deeper and more diffuse locus of creative activity, until itself sinks, a Lycidas body without a place and a place without a body: in other words, a poem? The poem/object, like the individual talent, floats on unfathomable oceanic murmurs
about 6 hours ago
penguinlibrary: duttonbooks: jmargareta: smell dat book Just do it. No one is looking. We won’t judge. Guy sitting across from me on the subway yesterday caught me smelling my book.  NO SHAME. Title Unknown, Author Unknown (Penguin...
penguinlibrary: duttonbooks: jmargareta: smell dat book Just do it. No one is looking. We won’t judge. Guy sitting across from me on the subway yesterday caught me smelling my book.  NO SHAME. Title Unknown, Author Unknown (Penguin employee, caught smelling the pages of their book, New York City subway)
about 7 hours ago
We honored my mother last evening at Villanova University—the Lore Kephart '86 Distinguished Historians Lecture Series being one of my father's lasting gifts in her memory. Ray Takeyh, PhD, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Counc...
We honored my mother last evening at Villanova University—the Lore Kephart '86 Distinguished Historians Lecture Series being one of my father's lasting gifts in her memory. Ray Takeyh, PhD, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, spoke brilliantly (and with appreciated sparks of humor) on "Iran in Transition." An early meal with Paul Rosier, who chairs Villanova University's History Department, Paul Steege, who helped identify Dr. Takeyh as a speaker, the wonderful Reverend Kail Ellis, and so many special Villanovans got the evening off to a fabulous start. My sister came with her dear daughter Claire. My blue-eyed brother arrived and entertained. My father wore one of his many beautiful ties and was the elegant man that he is. And then there was the moment, early on, when Father Peter M. Donohue, the charismatic president of Villanova, mentioned that there was a certain writer also in the house last evening at Connelly Center. An Irishman, he said. Not Colum McCann, I said. Yes. Colum McCann, he said. A raised eyebrow. A rapidly beating heart. A blurt: Colum McCann is my third favorite writer, I said. Which would sound like a compliment to anyone who has seen the hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of books in my house. There's a lot of competition. Only Michael Ondaatje and Alice McDermott stand above. I had read McCann's newest, Transatlantic, the week it came out, and had written of it here. That didn't matter. A young man named Daniel disappeared and returned with a copy of the novel, signed Colum McCann. Later, Father Peter himself greeted me with a second copy of the book, this time signed specifically to me. I told him he is your third favorite writer, Father Pete said. You didn't, I said. Oh yes I did. A good man never lies. A good reader should never rank. Thank you to Villanova University, Father Pete, Reverend Ellis, Paul Rosier, Paul Steege, Diane Brocchi, Ray Takeyh, and everyone else who made last night a success. Thank you to my father for having this idea in the first place. And special thanks to Elizabeth Mosier, Chris Mills, and Nazie Dana, who made the night even more glorious.
about 10 hours ago
On Sunday morning, my sister Jenny and I were getting ready to go out and grab breakfast when she noticed an announcement for Half Price Books’ yearly clearance sale — all books $3 or under. We’re both big fans of Half Price ...
On Sunday morning, my sister Jenny and I were getting ready to go out and grab breakfast when she noticed an announcement for Half Price Books’ yearly clearance sale — all books $3 or under. We’re both big fans of Half Price Books (a buy and sell used books chain), so adjusting our plans to go to a sale big enough to be held in the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds was a no-brainer. After a couple of wrong turns, we arrived at the sale at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, the second day of the event. We weren’t sure what to expect; would all of the good books be gone? Would it be insanely busy? As we walked in we saw some customers coming out of the building with shopping carts full of books, which we laughed at and confidently said we wouldn’t grab that many. How wrong we were. It’s hard to give a sense of how big the sale actually was. Even this picture I took of Jenny browsing only captures about a third of the space. It was insane. The books were separated out generally into nonfiction, fiction, young adult and children’s sections, but within those categories it was pretty disorganized (which was definitely expected given how many books there were to choose from). Jenny and I bought a tote bag and just started wandering, pulling books from the tables that we were interested in or thought the other one would like. After getting through about three rows of tables, we discovered that our tote bag was entirely full. Jenny headed back up to the front and bought another tote bag, which we filled up in no time at all. In the end, we left with 36 books for about $36… amazing! Here’s the photo we took when we got home (my books are on the left, Jenny’s are on the right): Since the titles are small, here’s what’s on my pile: Working by Studs Terkle Best American Essays 2010, edited by Christopher Hitchens The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson Gilead by Marilynne Robinson My Antonia by Willa Cather The Little Friend by Donna Tartt The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson Rules of Civility by Amor Towles Most of Jenny’s titles are chick lit or historical fiction, but if you have questions about what any of them are leave them in the comments and I’ll try to figure it out. One of my favorite things about clearance book sales is checking out which books are most common. I saw a strangely high number of copies of The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and, to no surprise, many copies of the Twilight series and Nicholas Sparks’ novels. There were also a lot of copies of The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (I found a nice copy of that one). Now that I’ve added 15 more books to my towering TBR shelves, I need to go on a book buying diet for the rest of the year… the books are starting to take over my house! Book Binge: Half Price Books Clearance Sale is a post from Kim Ukura of Sophisticated Dorkiness, © 2013.
about 13 hours ago
The Complete Book of Cosmetic Surgery A candid guide for men, women and teens Morgan 1988 Can we all agree that this book is WAY too old for a public library medical collection?  This gem includes procedures, how to spot extraordinary cl...
The Complete Book of Cosmetic Surgery A candid guide for men, women and teens Morgan 1988 Can we all agree that this book is WAY too old for a public library medical collection?  This gem includes procedures, how to spot extraordinary claims, and expectations. I love the before and after pictures that show the “difference.” There is even a discussion of how to deflect intrusive questions on if you have had work done. All very appropriate topics. I would have no problem including this in any public library collection back in the late 80s. Although a great addition back in the day, it needs to be retired asap. Mary More Plastic Surgery: If only you were prettier… Mommy needs to get pretty! Curing the “Blahs”
about 14 hours ago
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate,...
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries. I have half a dozen half-written blog posts sitting on my computer (and three times that number half-formed in my head) but I don’t seem to be able to find the time or energy to finish any of them.  I am still reading though, both necessary books (the textbook for my upcoming exam) and fun ones (right now, Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor and Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift).  Hopefully I’ll be able to use the upcoming long weekend to write a few long-overdue reviews! Here is what I picked up this week: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen – highly anticipated food memoir. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – I loved Catton’s first book (The Rehearsal) and have been excited to read all the glowing reviews for her latest. The Viennese Kitchen by Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich – a collection of family recipes with a particularly good section on baking. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale – Hale’s Asian-set retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale “Maid Maleen”.  I read this earlier this week and it is great. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – I don’t know much about this but, having read several of Hale’s children’s books now, I am certain I’ll enjoy it. What did you pick up this week?
about 16 hours ago
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (narrated by Wil Wheaton) Random House Audio; 2011 Science Fiction; 15hours 46 minutes From the Publisher: It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade ...
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (narrated by Wil Wheaton) Random House Audio; 2011 Science Fiction; 15hours 46 minutes From the Publisher: It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending this waking hours jacked into the OASIS--a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS create James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. I put off listening to this book because the subject matter didn't particularly interest me. The world described in the book is more up my husband's alley. He's the one into video games and Dungeons and Dragons. And while I was a child of the 1980's, I have no special affinity for that time period. However, several of my blogging friends kept singing the book's praises and finally I relented. I have no regrets. Is the book heavy on eighties nostalgia? Absolutely. Did I get all the references? Absolutely not. Do I feel like I missed out as a result? Not at all. Wil Wheaton was the perfect Wade Watts. His voice led me through Wade's quest to complete the competition and it was his voice that most led me to believe in and root for Wade. I would have anyway. Rooted for Wade, I mean. I could relate to him to some extent. An awkward teen, mostly invisible to those around him. I really came to care for Wade and his friends and the bond they shared. Each of them had their own struggles. I felt the author captured the essence of young adults well in his characters. At least this group. A friend of mine's granddaughter is attending high school online this year, and I couldn't help but think of the virtual high school that Wade attends. I am sure it is a different experience--the one my friend's granddaughter is having right now from the full sensory experience that Wade has in the future. Technology advances are moving so fast, I wouldn't be surprised it Ernest Cline's vision of the OASIS isn't far from reality someday. Wade and his online friends have never actually met. It makes their friendship deeper and more real on one level because of the intimacies they share and the insignificance of appearances, but more shallow on the other. Do they really know each other? How do they know they are who they say they are? You also have the idea that these are people living their lives in a computer program, experiencing life through games and virtual worlds. Their own reality is in bad shape and sorely neglected. Poverty and an ailing environment are very real and big problems. Is it any wonder than they would prefer to live in a virtual world? And yet they miss out on so much. How much real living can you do, locked into a computer all day and night? And I think that is a big part of this story too. While I was intrigued from the moment I began listening to the book, there were a couple moments early one when I worried
about 16 hours ago
Roger and Joe Ackerley, 1913 (Photo courtesy Harold Ober Associates) J.R. Ackerley led an outwardly quiet life between his flat in suburban Putney and his London office at The Listener, the BBC’s weekly magazine, where he worked fr...
Roger and Joe Ackerley, 1913 (Photo courtesy Harold Ober Associates) J.R. Ackerley led an outwardly quiet life between his flat in suburban Putney and his London office at The Listener, the BBC’s weekly magazine, where he worked from 1935 to 1959.  Though he was the leading literary editor of his generation, he was in no hurry to publish his own work – hence, his controversial memoir appeared posthumously. Now his following is growing.  It’s likely to expand further when Stanford’s “Another Look” book club takes on My Father and Myself, exploring Ackerley’s life as a gay man and his determined outing of long-held family secrets. A book discussion will be held Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Stanford Humanities Center’s Levinthal Hall.  The event is free and open to the public. The evening will be moderated by Terry Castle, professor of English and author of  The Professor and Other Writings. She will be joined by Adrian Daub, an associate professor of German studies, and Jeffrey Fraenkel, founder of San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery for photography.  The event launches the second year of “Another Look,” founded by the English/Creative Writing Department. It’s not the first time Stanford has had a role in beating the drums for My Father and Myself.  When Edwin Frank, a former Stegner Fellow in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, founded the New York Review Books Classics in 1999, none of Ackerley’s books were in print.  Frank republished all four – they were among the first titles of the eminent series that rediscovers out-of-the-way classics. Given current critical esteem, their former obscurity is surprising, but Frank cites several reasons why this was so. “He published one book early on, and it was a success.  Then he didn’t write anything for years on end. If you do that, you will have a more vulnerable career as a writer,” he explained. “My Dog Tulip was published privately.  My Father and Myself was posthumous.  We Think the World of You was published in 1963 – it was a relatively open picture of a gay relationship between two none-too-appealing people. “Each of the books is odd,” said Frank.  “They don’t match anybody’s expectations. Ackerley’s books are not good in the way people expect them to be good.” Read the rest here. There’s more.  At the “Another Look” website here, you can read: “The Many Loves of J.R. Ackerley” J.R. Ackerley was sitting on a park bench with Forrest Reid in Hyde Park, when the older writer asked him, “Do you really care about anyone?” In My Father and Myself, Ackerley says he pondered the remark long afterwards. “To this searching question I do not know the answer, it goes too deep; since people and events vanish so easily from my memory it may be no.”  Not everyone shares his assessment. “It is characteristic of him to report against himself – he fears he is an uncaring person,” said Edwin Frank, founder of the New York Review Books Classics. When accused of hating the human race, however, Ackerley was quite startled: “I am not a misanthropist,” he insisted. “I like people and get on well with them; I am only a numerical misanthropist.” To stem the rising population tide, he recommended homosexuality. No one could be entirely sure how serious he was. Read the rest here. “Sometimes Love Really is a Bitch”  My Father and Myself is dedicated simply “To Tulip.” Tulip’s identity is no enigma. Although the real name of J.R. Ackerley’s dedicatee was “Queenie,” his editors worried the name had racy connotations, even for a dog, and hence the title of his earlier book had been My Dog Tulip. It is perhaps the only story of a man and his dog in which the two are treated as equals. Read the rest here.
about 16 hours ago
So there I was trying to work out a what to get my friend Kat for her birthday when I stumbled across Shaken Cocktails, an online drinks club. The way it works is this: you pay for a monthly subscription and every month you receive a co...
So there I was trying to work out a what to get my friend Kat for her birthday when I stumbled across Shaken Cocktails, an online drinks club. The way it works is this: you pay for a monthly subscription and every month you receive a complete cocktail kit with all the ingredients you need to make a classic, or lesser known, alcoholic concoction. You also receive full instructions as well as a history of the drink concerned. I thought it sounded like a neat idea (pun intended) so signed up for a few months on Kat's behalf and I am writing this blog post about it for two reasons. First, the customer services was exemplary. We are often very quick to complain when we receive bad service so I think it is important to recognise when someone has gone the extra mile. At the moment, Shaken Cocktails don't offer gift subscriptions so I asked if I could set one up. They went out of their way to help out and even arranged for the first cocktail to be biked rather than posted to ensure it arrived in time for Kat's birthday. A round of applause. Second, they have given me a discount code so if any of my lovely blog readers would like to try out Shaken Cocktails you can get £5 off your first month, and you can cancel any time. Just follow any of the links in this blog post. Anyway, I thought it was a great idea and if you are in the early stages of thinking about Christmas gifts then this may be something to add to the shortlist.
about 17 hours ago