gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a warm Los Angeles afternoon. We recently had a brutal heat wave (complete with wildfires), but things have calmed down. Next week it looks like we may even have a spate of early autumn weather, though I'm sure we'll have another blast of heat before Halloween. Meanwhile I am thinking of Hurricane Irma and hoping my friends in Florida weather the storm easily. I can't even get my mind around the devastation the hurricane has already caused.

A few days ago Patti Smith's slim new book Devotion appeared on my tablet. It is half fiction, half memoir / meditation on writing, and I gobbled it up far too quickly.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a warm Los Angeles afternoon. I really need to get a haircut before next month's Henna Day, as the process is getting unwieldy.

Last night I watched Daughters of the Dust for the first time, and I'm still wowing about it today.

The other day I finished reading the Feminist Press edition of Violette Leduc's Thérèse and Isabelle, and now I'm once again deeply annoyed that Leduc's letters haven't been translated into English.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, in the midst of a spate of lovely autumnal LA days. (Another heat wave is scheduled for later this week.) Yesterday I baked pumpkin scones (from a Trader Joe's mix), and they are delicious.

The election is three weeks away, and I'm on edge, though at least the polls are encouraging.

I'm enjoying the new Shirley Jackson biography (Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin), which is full of amazing information, such as the fact that "Jackson tried to structure a story around a potato kugel recipe."
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and we're having another mini heat wave (typical of Los Angeles in September). My kitchen is stocked with Trader Joe's pumpkin products, but it doesn't feel quite right to consume them in 99 degree weather. (However, I have made a pot of pumpkin spice coffee and eaten some pumpkin-ginger ice cream cookies.)

Fortunately I got my hair cut yesterday, which is helping me cope with the heat.

I am currently reading several books, including the new Shirley Jackson collection Let Me Tell You, Dodie Bellamy's new book of essays When the Sick Rule the World, and C.S.E. Cooney's Bone Swans. I'm planning to read a bunch of ghost stories in October.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a gorgeous weekend in Los Angeles. The weather isn't quite autumnal, but at least we're no longer having a heat wave. (For now.) To celebrate the lack of sweltering weather, I've been buying pumpkin products at Trader Joe's. (I love their pumpkin butter.)

I'm nearly done reading Patty Templeton's There Is No Lovely End. It is turning out to be one my favorite books of 2014.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
Mythic Delirium 1.1 has gone out to subscribers, and it's a beautiful issue. It includes my poem "It's a Universal Picture," as well as work by [personal profile] sovay, [profile] sairaali, Jane Yolen, and others.

I've been reading/rereading a lot of Mary Shelley for Readercon and taking a last pass (I hope, I hope!) through the Jo book. Also watching various Hammer horror films, notably The Curse of the Werewolf and the (intentionally?) hilarious Shadow of the Cat. (Oh, and last week TCM showed a bunch of cool Hammer noir films.)
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, at the tail end of an annoyingly unseasonable heat wave. Yesterday I went to Skylight Books for California Bookstore Day. Then I headed to Legacy Comics in Glendale for Free Comic Book Day, but there was a line out the door and down the block, and it was broiling out, so I threw in the towel and drove back home. I'm glad so many people showed up for the events, though.

A week ago I managed to crack a tooth on a blueberry pancake. (To be fair, if it hadn't been the pancakes, it probably would've been the next thing I ate.) I've finally more or less adjusted to the ill-fitting (both too short and too wide) temporary cap on my tooth. Hopefully it will stay put until I get the permanent cap in a week and a half.

In other weird health news, apparently they're having cases of mumps in Madison, so I got a blood test for mumps immunity. Depending on the results, I may get a booster shot this week. In happier pre-Wiscon news, I've been rereading The Female Man for a panel. It's been over twenty years since I'd read it, and possibly I just wasn't ready for it the first time, because I'm enjoying it vastly more this time around.

I am getting quite close to the end of the Jo book revisions. Yay!
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a warmish Los Angeles day. We have had a spate of unseasonably cool (for us) weather, and are apparently about to have a mini heatwave. So long as we keep not having more earthquakes, I'm okay with this.

Once again I have not posted here in nearly a month, though I keep meaning to post about books. A few books I have recently finished reading:

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson. This is early Jackson, and she hasn't quite worked out her style yet. The novel (mostly set at a college supposedly based on Bennington) doesn't quite work as a narrative, especially compared to the ultra-propulsive style of, say, The Haunting of Hill House. Weirdly, the book suddenly kicks into Quintessential Jackson, with bonus paranoia, in the last thirty pages or so. The book is peppered with some amazing set-pieces, like this one about the posters at a movie theater: "One of the pictures showed a glorious scene between a man in a cowboy hat and uncomfortable pistols, who backed against a door to face a darker, equally weaponful villain; in the background a damsel wrung her hands and all three seemed to turn anxiously to the camera, which alone could justify the violent emotions they ravished themselves to feel. It was plain from the picture that it was near the end of the day; the sun was setting dramatically outside the backdrop window; the hero had the look of one who would shortly remove his guns and his spurs and go home in a car he had bought but could not afford; the heroine seemed to be thinking, under her beautiful look of fear and concern, that perhaps she should keep the children out of school until this chicken-pox scare was over." (Weaponful is my new favorite word.)

Death in Midsummer and Other Stories by Yukio Mishima (loaned to me by Lyman). "Patriotism," in which an army officer and his wife have sex for the last time and then commit ritual suicide, is probably the story that stood out most for me, though I found it hard to read. A story I liked a lot was "Onnagata," about the infatuation of a kabuki actor for the clueless director of his latest play.

The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley. I am a huge fan of Paley's later short story collections (Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and Later the Same Day), but in the past I bounced off her first book (aside from a few stories like "Goodbye and Good Luck"). I finally made it through the whole book, and I see why I bounced off. Unlike Shirley Jackson, Paley nailed down her style early on, but it took her awhile to fully figure out her subject matter and, maybe more importantly, her approach toward her subjects. Or maybe it's that Paley succeeds most fully as a writer of middle-aged and old characters, rather than young ones.

Books I'm reading at the moment include: Hild by Nicola Griffith, Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire, and The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a beautiful warm day in LA (in marked contrast to last weekend's monsoon).

I keep not posting on Reading Wednesday, but books I have recently read include: Francesca Forrest's Pen Pal (which I absolutely loved) and Nabokov's Pnin (which has a remarkable lack of narrative drive but gorgeous writing--for example, "The comb, stood on end, resulted in the glass's seeming to fill with beautifully striped liquid, a zebra cocktail"--and manages to be both hilarious and deeply sad).

Currently I am reading: Shirley Jackson's Hangsaman, Mishima's Death in Midsummer, and Nicola Griffith's Hild.

I am looking forward to tonight's True Detective finale.

ETA: I am reacting to Daylight Saving Time in my usual jetlagged fashion. I am looking forward to it being light later in the evenings however.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
...and apparently I haven't posted here since last Henna Day. Yesterday I had about five inches cut from my hair, so Henna Day required about half as much henna as it did last month.

This weekend I've also been working on Jo book revisions, trying to finish up a prose poem, and reading The Fifth Child, which my friend Lyman loaned me. It's the first Doris Lessing I've read in awhile, and it reminds me that I've never read the Martha Quest series and would still like to.

Last night I watched The Heiress on TCM--an adaptation of Washington Square from 1949, with Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, and Sir Ralph Richardson. It was excellent, though I suspect Henry James rolled over in his grave at the way the end of the story was changed so that Catherine Sloper gets to have bravura revenge on Morris Townsend.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a pleasantly cool and autumnal day in L.A.

Last night I watched Hatchet for the Honeymoon on TCM for the first time since I was a kid. I was going to write about that now, but I just found out Doris Lessing died, which has pretty much knocked other topics out of my head. The Golden Notebook meant a lot to me when I read it in my late teens. I also remember liking The Summer Before the Dark. I was fortunate to be able to attend a talk of Lessing's at UCLA sometime in the mid-80s. I didn't keep up with her later work (after I read and hated The Good Terrorist), but she was important to me.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I haven't posted in LJ this month yet? Sheesh.

What did you just read?
Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me. I forget who on my FL recommended this, but it's set in 1970s New York, which is relevant to my interests. It's a twisty time-travel-ish mystery and an homage to A Wrinkle in Time. I enjoyed it very much (and would have loved it as a kid), even though I figured out the mystery awhile before the protagonist did.

What are you reading now?
For a writing project, I've been rereading a childhood favorite of mine, Shirley Jackson's The Witchcraft of Salem Village (which was certainly the first thing of Jackson's I ever read, to the point that when I rediscovered it, I hadn't even realized she'd written it).

I've been enjoying the new issue of Interfictions, especially Molly Gloss's tale of alternate rock'n'roll history, "The Presley Brothers." The issue also contains gorgeous poetry by [personal profile] sovay, Sara Norja, Nancy Hightower and others.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I posted this to Facebook, but it occurred to me I ought to post it here too. It's one of my most cherished possessions: a handwritten postcard from Roald Dahl, in response to my fan letter.


I'd asked him what happened to the girl in The Magic Finger after the book ended, and what her name was--which is why he says he doesn't know! The postmark is too faded for me to see the date, so I'm not sure exactly how old I was. Even as a very young Wonka fan, I must've known what a big deal getting this response was, because I've managed to hold onto the postcard all these years.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
What did you just finish reading?
Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

I ended up loving this. Pretty much all my LJ friends who I met through Buffy fandom (even those who don't read YA) would probably get a kick out of its portrayal of a fanfic writer pouring out a novel-length fic while avoiding her college creative writing assignment.

Stephen Volk, Whitstable
[personal profile] handful_ofdust recommended this novella awhile back. I tend to bounce off fiction about recent historical figures (Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath, I'm looking at you), but this tale about Peter Cushing soon after the death of his beloved wife Helen is beautifully and heartbreakingly rendered. Plus it's chock-full of great Hammer film details.

What are you reading now?
I'm still reading Marilyn Hacker's essays (Unauthorized Voices: Essays on Poets and Poetry, 1987-2009), which is marvelous. I've also gotten back to Judy Grahn's memoir, A Simple Revolution, which I'm liking more now that she's reached her teenage years.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I haven't done this in awhile, apparently...

What did you just finish reading?
Elizabeth Hand, Black Light

Occult doings (or, more accurately, Dionysian doings) in a small New York town in the 1970s. I love Elizabeth Hand's writing, though I tend to prefer the more grounded-in-realism parts of her books, and this one was no exception. When she lets rip with the full-on fantasy and horror (usually towards the end of her novels), I go along for the ride, but I don't always manage to suspend disbelief. This was no exception, but I did enjoy the book.

What are you reading now?
Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

I love the concept of the novel (a BNF fanfic writer adjusts to college life). So far it hasn't engaged me as much as Rowell's Eleanor & Park, but I'm only a little ways in.

Marilyn Hacker, Unauthorized Voices: Essays on Poets and Poetry, 1987-2009
Hacker is one of my favorite poets, and I have no idea how the existence of this 2010 book (from the University of Michigan's Poets on Poetry series) slipped by me.

Strange Horizons fund drive!
Strange Horizons, which provides gorgeous, moving, thought-provoking fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and podcasts every week, is nearing the end of its yearly fund drive. I've donated, and you should consider doing so too.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
My friend Lara Parker has a new Dark Shadows novel, Wolf Moon Rising. I haven't read it yet, but loved her previous Dark Shadows book, The Salem Branch, which she was writing when we were both MFA students at Antioch. (As some of you know, I became a Dark Shadows freak because I went to Antioch with Lara, who played the witch Angelique on the show.)

She's in the midst of a book tour (dates on her website, linked above), and I was delighted to see that Dodie Bellamy (our teacher from Antioch) posted about her appearance at Borderlands in San Francisco. I especially liked what Dodie had to say about the treatment of genre writing and literary experimentation in MFA programs. (At Antioch I wrote experimental poetry and a vampire novel, so I know what she's talking about!...though fortunately I had teachers who got what I was trying to do.)
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I keep not posting and not posting (though I'm on Twitter and Facebook a fair bit). So here I am posting.

What did you just finish reading?
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I don't think I enjoyed this one quite as much as Crazy for You, but it was fun to see the similarities between the two. I loved the villains in both books--that is to say, I think Crusie writes very compelling villains who view themselves as the heroes of the books. She's great with the supporting casts of characters as well. The main romance plot of Bet Me was fine, but what stuck with me most was the whole community of characters Crusie created.

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant. Novella set in the universe of the Newsflesh trilogy, which I adore.

What are you reading now?
Black Light by Elizabeth Hand. This is my bookbag book, and it took awhile for me to get into it, but it's very compelling, with 1970s teenagers and creepy occult intrigue.

Moby Dick, via It's fairly xenophobic in places, but also contains way more gay subtext than I was expecting.

What will you read next?
The new General Hospital tie-in book, Maine Squeeze "by Molly Lansing-Davis" appeared on my Kindle. I enjoyed the first one (Love in Maine) quite a bit.

I bought Elizabeth Hand's Errantry at Readercon and might feel like reading that when I finish Black Light.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day on a broiling day in Los Angeles. Today's supposed to be the hottest day of the heat wave, and the cool henna on my head is a good way to beat the heat.

I've been rereading Tam Lin for Readercon, and last night, just as I was about to get to the part where they see a production of Hamlet, I discovered TCM was about to show the 1969 Tony Richardson film of it, which I'd never seen. It's an excellent, but rather odd, version, with Nicol Williamson as Hamlet, a too-young Anthony Hopkins as Claudius (Hopkins is a year younger than Williamson!), Gordon Jackson (Mr. Hudson from Upstairs Downstairs) as Horatio, and Marianne Faithfull (!) as Ophelia. It was fun to hear Faithfull beautifully singing Ophelia's songs. It was more than a little strange to see Ophelia making out with her brother Laertes.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
What did you just finish reading?
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. A beautiful, devastating page-turner.

What are you reading now?
Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria. Loving it.

Still reading Queers Dig Time Lords.

Rereading Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (for Readercon).

Also doing some research rereading (in Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity by Dan Berger) for the Jo book, now that I am (happily) in Jo book revision mode.

What will you read next?
I'm looking forward to reading more of what I bought at Wiscon, especially Wiscon Chronicles 7: Shattering Ableist Narratives.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
What did you just finish reading?
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party and Other Stories (via I hadn't read Mansfield in many years. Wow, could she write.

What are you currently reading?
Still reading Queers Dig Time Lords and Lesley Wheeler's The Receptionist and Other Tales.

I'm also reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I've heard a lot of praise for this YA novel, and it's well-deserved. The comic book & music geekery are lovely, as is the love story. (All of which is counterbalanced by the scenes of Eleanor's truly awful home life.)

I also started reading Moby Dick on (I got the bug to read it because of Joanna Russ's comments on Melville and class in How To Suppress Women's Writing.)

And I have just begun Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria.

What will you read next?
Not sure, but I want to note that I just learned there are now TWO biographies of Denise Levertov (until last week I didn't know there were any). They're both available on Kindle, though both are fairly expensive. Trying to decide which one to get...

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