One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.”
— Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That”
“Those Who Don’t”
Those who don’t know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we’re dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake.
But we aren’t afraid. We know the guy with the crooked eye is Davey the Baby’s brother, and the tall one next to him in the straw brim, that’s Rosa’s Eddie V., and the big one that looks like a dumb grown man, he’s Fat Boy, though he’s not fat anymore nor a boy.
All brown all around, we are safe. But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight. Yeah. That is how it goes and goes.
- Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
What I’ve Read Since My Last Book Post (in November?)
Going After Cacciato
Black Sexual Politics
The Indespensible Zinn
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
The Last Unicorn
Son of Neptune
audio books : Harry Potter 1-4
what I’m currently reading:
HP 3 (en francais)
The Brothers Karamazov
HP 5 (audiobook)
I also just bought 6 books this weekend. Oops.
Pride and Prejudice in comic book form by Jen Sorensen, for the 200th anniversary.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
- Fellowship of the Ring
Happy birthday, JRR Tolkein. Thanks for the stories.
A Litany for Survival
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive
- Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn
Any book is a children’s book if the kid can read.”
— Mitch Hedberg
Things I’ve Read in the Past Month
The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (finished today)
The Devil visits atheistic Moscow and ish gets cray.
Recommended to me by Jess, this book was such a page-turner. The style of the language is so different from the content of the book, and makes for a very philosophical and political text that is at the same time very surreal and bitingly hilarious. Bulgakov creates a crazy world in which so much is connected and you never know where the next chapter is going to take you. It’s also about Russians, so obviously it’s awesome.
Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (read during my week off from Sandy)
A time-traveling soldier experiences WWII and the bombing of Dresden.
A writer travels to the Caribbean while writing a book on the creation of the atom-bomb and crazy adventures ensue.
I re-read both of these because I had no new books and was shut off from most of the world without trains and a computer. My week off consisted of reading and listening to NPR (what up!). I’d almost forgotten how much I love both of these books because I rarely re-read things (re-reading books, in my opinion, is a privilege for those who have accomplished most of their reading list). Anywho, Kurt Vonnegut is definitely one of my favorite authors and especially one of my favorite anti-war people. If you haven’t read anything by him I highly suggest dropping what you’re doing and reading his work instead.
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (read pre and during Sandy)
A man’s cat and then wife disappears and in his search for them, finds himself in the midst of a strange Tokyo sub-world with a bizarre collection of characters.
Every Murakami book I read I think is better than the last, so it’s no surprise that this one is my new favorite. I’m sure I will like whatever I read of his next even more, but this one was soooooo good. I’m getting a bit tired of how he represents female sexuality in his writing, but like the Master and Margarita, it made me constantly curious what was going to happen next and the interconnected worlds were very fascinating.
- The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Art of Happiness - HH the Dalai Lama
- Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami
- The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
- The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
- Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
- On the Road - Jack Kerouac
- Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
- 1984 - George Orwell
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
- Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
- Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Harriet Ann Jacobs
- Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (almost finished, gave up due to broken kindle and read the ending on wikipedia)
- Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X - as told to Alex Haley
- Yes Means Yes! - Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
- Guns, Germs, & Steel - Jared Diamond
- L’etranger - Albert Camus
List of Famous First Sentences
Call me motherfuckin Ishmael. -Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my rapey rapey loins. -Lolita, By Vladamir Nabokov
According to The Man, it was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking 13. -1984, George Orwell
Mother died today! -The Stranger, Albert Camus
All happy families are alike, but there aren’t any, so every family is unhappy in its own way. -Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Mrs. Dalloway, stressed as shit, said she would buy the flowers herself. -Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since: don’t run over a man’s wife. -The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fittsgerald
I am Sam. -Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
Elihu is funny sometimes.