Reading is fun-damental

It's that time again. What are you reading, loving, loathing? What has blown your hat off lately? My recent list is this:

Lost City Radio: Daniel's book is sweet. Read it and be proud of him.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: An amazing Southern Gothic read from someone obnoxiously young.

The Exquisite: Diverting, but not as substantial as I had hoped.

The Raw Shark Texts: WTF? How was this such a hit last year -- or maybe that was just on this side of the ocean? Overhyped and disappointing.

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 1978, Ed. R. V. Cassill: I'm about 450 pages into 1400, just going in alphabetical order by author. Two priceless gems unearthed so far: "The Egg" by Sherwood Anderson, which is hilarious, and "The Biggest Band" by R. V. Cassill himself, which is hilarious (who knew? Anyone read one of his books?).

The Collected Stories of Richard Yates: Going slow, maybe one a week, don't want it to end

The Assault by Harry Mulisch: Need to brush up on Dutch writers, and this was a hell of a start

Supernatural by Graham Hancock: Because I am a shark, and it is a bucket of chum

The Wapshot Chronicle: Abandoned this for the second time. How it is possible to be bored by and indifferent to something by Cheever, I don't know, but I was, I was, I was

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq: I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating -- an honest, bruising book

The Name of the World: About a third the way in and liking it much better than Resuscitation

Poetry: A Pocket Anthology
R. S. Gwynn ed.: Strictly a greatest hits collection. My bathroom book, but I'm not making much headway somehow. Too much roughage? And I didn't know Queen Elizabeth wrote, uh, poetry

The Interloper: Will be reviewing this for Please Don't, about which more to come.

P. S. There is a play about Paul Engle in the works.


in mali: a collection

the sky yesterday was dirty white and the air felt heavy and physical, like the whoosh of heat on your cheeks when you open a hot oven. except it was constant. in the afternoon the water comes out of the cold tap hot and everyone stays inside. the buildings are squat and square. mangoes the size of your head on every corner; on every corner people sitting on plastic woven deck chairs pouring tea from one pot to another, and back again, chatting and pouring, a tiny charcoal stove burning to the side.

the worst thing you can say to a Malian is, "You are a bean-eater." They do not like farting.

Some favourite words in Bamabara (and their literal meanings)...
aeroplane = "sana kuru" (a flying canoe)
green = "bin kene" (the colour of fresh herbs)
bicycle = "nege so" (iron horse)
a maid/houseworker = barakaden (child worker!)

A note to the US Ambassador to Mali:
the american embassy here is a fortress and no one, citizen or non, is allowed in except on Thursdays. it makes me wonder what the real purpose of such an embassy is? are there oompaloompas in there making long-range chocolate bombs to send into the Sahara?


De griep

...is what the Dutch call the flu (and the "g" sound is to be made as if you're hacking up a lung). I have recently recovered from a flu that lasted two weeks. Every day I woke up and started drinking Citrosan, which is what they call TheraFlu. The brew would take the edge off the aches and pains, but often not even enough to enable reading. I basically writhed on the bed or couch for two weeks. I would be freezing cold, teeth chattering, and then all of a sudden hot and sweaty. The thing went into my ears and eyes, too. I will spare you the details. Anyway, that's why it's been so quiet around here lately.

In other news, here is a picture of some bike carts we got for the dogs. My brother was worried about their "stricken" looks, but they'll get used it, I just feel sure, given how much the suckers cost (more than we got for our car when we left).