Wednesday, October 31, 2007

RIP II Wrap-Up and Frankenstein Review


Today is the final day of the RIP II Challenge, and what a ride it's been! I finished four books, per Carl's instructions. I would've loved to read more, but life got in the way.

The four books:
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
Hauntings, by Betsy Hearne
The Borden Tragedy, by Rick Geary
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

The two classics, Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein were by far the best two of the four books I read. The other two were fun but pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Next year I'll certainly shoot for more heft (4 classics!), and maybe I'll even surpass four books.

Thanks to Carl for hosting a great challenge! If you didn't participate this year, you should definitely try to get in on the fun in the future.

Review (format borrowed from Bookfool who borrowed from...and so on):

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Everyman's Library edition
231 pages (272 with intro, chronology, etc.)

What led you to pick up this book? I needed a quickish read to finish out Carl's R.I.P. II Challenge. This one fit the bill perfectly.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. A story within a story within a story, etc. The book begins with letters from an Arctic explorer to his sister, and he ends up relaying the tale of M. Frankenstein, the scientist who creates the infamous monster. From there the monster also relays his own tale through Dr. Frankenstein and ultimately the explorer.

What did you like most about the book? I really liked that this book was nothing like all of the cheesy move adaptations! Beyond the fascinating narrative structure, the monster is certainly the most compelling character in the book. He is intelligent, well-spoken and reasonable. His story is also one of the most tragic I've read in any book.

What did you think of the main character? It depends on who you consider the main character. I suppose Dr. Frankenstein is as he's at the center of all the mess. I found him an understandable if ultimately frustrating character. He has a real problem taking responsibility for his creation and seeing that his understanding and nurturing could've led to a very different fate for himself and the monster. He's dense. What can I say?

Thoughts about the plot: Just wonderful. Not really scary in that "horror story," stuff jumping out from behind corners kind of way, but it was very thought provoking and multilayered and fantabulous. I'm nothing short of impressed.

Share some quotes from the book.

"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death -- a state which I feared yet did not understand." page 119-120

Share a favorite scene from the book: It was more than a scene, but I particularly enjoyed the chapters in which the monster explained how he came to grow. That is, how he gained the use of language and a general understanding of the world by watching the everyday lives of a family whose shed he hid in.

In general: Frankenstein was a great choice for the RIP Challenge, and I'm glad I can finally say that I have this classic under my belt. I'm utterly bowled over by Shelley's talent, and I just loved this book. S. is teaching an interdisciplinary writing class on the book right now, and she brought to my attention--well before I started reading the novel--the ways that Frankenstein can spark a number of thoughtful discussions in different fields. Issues of science, humanity, ethics, etc. are are the center and make for a wonderfully discussable novel.

5/5 - I have absolutely no complaints!

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's bad when...

...the first word out of your mouth in the morning is "shit" or "fuck." Such was the case for me this morning when I got up and my side hurt so badly that it took my breath right away. I took a luscious nap on the couch while B. was watching racing yesterday, but the side effect seems to be this pesky heart-ripping pain in my lower back. Either I've pulled a muscle or my kidney hates me. I don't really care, I just want it to STOP. So I'll be taking a handful of Aleve and going home shortly. Will I be lying on the couch, though? Hellfire, no! No more naps for me if this is the result.

My reading has officially gone all to hell. I was trucking along--slowly, mind you--on A Thousand Splendid Suns when all of a sudden I just stopped wanting to read it. Not at all. No more. Nope. Not sure if it's an attention span thing or what, but all I really want to read in the world is short stories or memoirs. The R.I.P. Challenge ends here in a few days and I don't even care if I finish that. Bah! Give me David Sedaris or Haven Kimmel.

NO fiction.

And I can't even begin to explain when I ever thought those words would come out of my mouth (or fingertips as it were). I think it's a side effect of stress and too many commitments. Maybe it'll clear up soon. I hope so, anyway, because I have an ass-load of fiction in my house.

On the topic of responsibility, I hate responsibility sometimes. Periodically I get this rush of my adolescent self whining, "I don't WANT to do that!" Usually this lack of wanting is directed at my work, my family or my hobbies. Right now, just the first and last of those three. If I could sit on my ass all day and play SIMS or the vocab. game at FreeRice I SO totally would. But I can't, so I'm going to lay across a row of chairs here in the writing center in hopes that my back will fall off.

On ye olde iPod: "Nothin' Better to Do"...Leann Rimes

Update: It's now 8:07 pm and I'm still in lots of pain. I'm downing Aleve like candy and leaning on a heating pad begging for mercy. Yet I still find time to type this little update, so maybe there's hope for me yet.

While I was stuck in the upright position at the Writing Center this afternoon I trompled downstairs to the fiction section and checked out Frankenstein (even though I have a copy here at home), and started reading it. I took a big chunk out fairly quickly, so hopefully I'll finish it by the time the R.I.P. ends on Wednesday. I should've read this book years ago, but I'm sort of glad I didn't, otherwise I couldn't be RIP'ing it for the very first time. Isn't it a shame to get those really great books under your belt? You can never read them for the first time ever EVER again.

I owe you all a review of No One Belongs Here More Than You, too. Maybe tomorrow.

OK, back to my heating pad.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Help the World, One Click at a Time

I found these great, easy sites where you can help promote literacy, end world hunger, help animal rescue and lots of other great causes.

First, FreeRice.com: play a vocabulary game, and for each word you correctly define, rice is donated to the UN to help feed the hungry. I played for a few minutes, got to 1000 grains and had to stop, but it was so much fun. I think I found my new addiction.

Also check out:

http://www.thehungersite.com/
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
http://www.thechildhealthsite.com/
http://www.theliteracysite.com/
http://www.therainforestsite.com/
http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/

Advertisers and sponsors of these sites calculate the clicks and the money made from advertising on the site, etc. goes to help fund the various causes. Jump on the bandwagon! Your click can make a difference!

I subbed for several classes today while some of the faculty are gone to a conference in Charlotte, and the last class watched An Inconvenient Truth. I'm in social activism mode.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There's Just No Title that Fits

One is not born a woman, one becomes one. ~Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949

Yesterday a favorite aunt of mine passed away. About six weeks ago doctors discovered a tumor in her brain, and gave her a very grim prognosis and a very short time to live. Unfortunately, they were right. Fortunately, though, she is no longer in pain. In fact, she died in her sleep, and that is a blessing in and of itself.

My aunt was actually my great aunt. She was my grandmother's sister. One of a family of four girls and two boys. She was my grandmother's best friend. She was something of a spectacle. She was truly unique. She was a role model.

My aunt, Murlene, was flashy. It was a rarity to see her without black pantyhose, a skirt and some sort of showy blouse. She wore large costume jewelry, full make-up always, and her hair was a shade I can only describe as "Merlot." Leopard print was one of her favorites, and I distinctly remember getting a kick out of a tasteful, but very pleather, skirt she sported with some regularity.

Growing up, not a morning went by that my grandmother didn't have a lengthy phone conversation with Murlene. Some of the conversations were in preparation for a day of beauty, as the two sisters religiously gave each other perms and rolled and set each other's hair once a week. On these outings to Murlene's house, just a few streets over from the house where I grew up, I could explore a treasure trove of antiques. To my young heart, so full of longing for all things pink and froofy, her formal living room was a dream come true. I loved playing princess on a rose-colored chair, holding her music boxes like jewels, and carefully exploring her china cabinet. And she loved that I adored her things. I think she wanted to be a princess, too.

But there was another side of Murlene that I didn't fully appreciate until I got some years under my belt. She left an unhappy marriage and raised two sons on her own when it wasn't so chic to do so. People talked, I'm sure, about her brashness in getting a divorce, her unwholesomeness for her love of dancing at the VA on Saturday nights, and she didn't give a damn. More than once she told me of the whisperings she heard, but that ultimately she did what made her happy, she was content, to hell with gossip.

My aunt was a gifted artist, and perhaps that's where we felt our mutual adoration for each other blossom most. Landscapes were her forte, and I've never seen anyone capture, so vividly in oil paint, a sunset or a field of bluebonnets. When I moved back to Texas from North Carolina a few years ago, I found myself scurrying to stay busy, and I joined her at a few meetings of the local art league, of which she was a member for over 40 years. Her paintings were regularly displayed in banks and government offices. I don't think she ever thought they were very good, and she mainly painted because she loved it and for our family. Upon graduation, marriage, or the birth of a new baby, one could expect to receive a landscape, cartoonish painting of Betty Boop or maybe a fuzzy puppy with a football in its mouth. And they were good. All of them. Whether she realized it or not.

Until I moved back to North Carolina in May, I would stop and see Murlene from time to time. We would sit at her kitchen table, surrounded by brass letter openers, paintings propped up to dry, and sundry artifacts of everyday life. We would talk and laugh and she'd detail the previous weekend's happenings...dancing and meals and time with friends, or "motorscooters," the casual men in her life. Although, in her later years, though she never married again, she devoted herself to a very nice man who treated her with care and loved our family and who is taking her death terrifically hard.

I learned something distinctive from Murlene, and I learned it over and over again. One should always revel in uniqueness and enjoy life in spite of anyone's expectations or imposed standards. Murlene was such a character, but that's what made her so vividly real and affecting.

It seems that some people assign importance to their relatives by titles, and maybe that's why I've never referred to her as "great aunt," although she was a great aunt. In my family, the hierarchy of titles means little. I was much closer to my great aunt than I've been to some of my other aunts, uncles, and even my father, and that's what makes it so hard to be so far away now. I'm very happy and content here in North Carolina, but I would love to be with my family at this moment, helping out in any little way that I could, or just being a presence to honor her.

Instead, I'm filling my day with her. It sounds silly, but I chose a new lineup of music for my drive to and from work today. Some sad songs because I need to feel the sadness. Some happy songs because she would've loved those. And some musicians that can tell a great story because she loved, and could tell, a great story. I'm doing what I want to do today because she did exactly what she wanted, she lived her life on her own terms, and it's a lesson that needs to be driven home periodically. I will read what I want to read, I will write, and I will do it all with her in mind. Her great presence and her influence and her love.

It just seems wrong that the world doesn't have her anymore.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yes, yes, YESSSS!


I got a full time jobbbbbb!!!! Sorta. There is a catch.

One of the full-time faculty members resigned as a result of health issues, so they need someone to contract for full-time money for the Spring semester. No benefits...but full-time money is a BIG increase. After the Spring semester, there will be, by law, a full-blown search for a faculty member. However, the person who's so kindly been filling the position usually gets the job (that's how I got edged out of the TWO full-time positions I interviewed for this summer).

YAYYYYY!!! I'll still be teaching the three courses I'd planned on (two lit courses, one technical writing) and working in the Writing Center three hours per day. So, to recap, I'll be in class from 8:00-11:30 on Tuesday/Thursday mornings and in the WC from 12-3 every day. That equals a lot of freer time for moi. Pretty nifty gig, eh?? And full-time money means I can cut back on my other job(s). I'll be quitting my freelance job ASAP and cutting back at the other community college. I'll probably try to hold onto an online class for them, but that's IT. Mama needs some downtime. Can we say, ANDI GETS TO FINISH HER BOOK!

Celebrate with me! If this were a real celebration, what type of food/drink would you bring? Make it tasty!

I would provide the sopapilla cheesecake and a very LARGE bottle of champagne.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Montage-o-Rama

For Fun (and as Bookfool would say, "Click to enbiggen.")


First contact. Little Red and Midnight welcome alien Ace into the fold.


Playing in the candy corn field.


An edible flower arrangement. Eat 'em fast, before they shrivel.

The Everyday


Work. In fact, my office is on the second floor.


Makes me need to pee just looking at it.


Mmm, foliage! I just wanna roll around in it.


Keith Richards if he were a rugged-looking cardinal.


Taking to the clock...tower?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Secret Lives of People in Love...A Favorite for the Year

Yes! I finished it. I've been reading The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy, for several weeks now. I found myself stashing this book of short stories away and only allowing myself brief dives into it. I couldn't allow myself to get completely engrossed or else I might've downed it one giant gulp. I couldn't have savored it that way. I read each story as if it were a universe of its own, and it was gorgeous.

You know how sometimes you can watch a movie and think, "Wow, that's classic." Not that it might become a classic (or maybe it will), but you think, "That's done with real, unadulterated style." Or maybe an actress on TV reminds you of "old Hollywood," all glitz and glamour and class.

The Secret Lives of People in Love is written with pure, unadulterated style and immeasurable class. The words are pretty, the stories flow, it's not pretentious or overly self-aware. It's just good storytelling. Storytelling at its best, I would say. Sometimes they were sweet, sometimes they were the slightest bit twisted, sometimes they were wonderfully bizarre. But they were always well rounded, solid, and felt complete.

Some of my favorite passages:

"And in the early hours of the morning, as he stopped breathing, a recently married nurse who had been watching him since dawn took a strawberry from the heavy yellow bowl and gently slipped it between his lips. In a dull office overlooking the Seine, the nurse's husband was thinking about her elbows, and how they make tiny hollows in the grass as she reads."
--From "The Reappearance of Strawberries"

"Although I knew she would have invited the waiter up to her room had he been sitting where I was and looking at her as I was, I didn't care. I wanted to stretch into the ridge of her spine and complete her back, as water freezes in the crevice of a rock."
--From "Snow Falls and Then Disappears"

"Life can unmoor so many feelings; it is a relief we sleep through it.
Night unravels the day and reinvents it for the first time.
We may mean nothing to time, but to each other we are kings and queens, and the world is a wild benevolent garden filled with chance meetings and unexplained departures."
--From "Everything is a Beautiful Trick"

"That night Serge lay awake beneath a full moon in his bed. His curtains were ivory squares that washed his crumbling apartment white, turning his furniture to old wedding cake."
--From "Apples"

It's hard to say what this book is about. It's about people with ordinarily extraordinary lives. And I think what I love most is reflected in the last quote, from "Apples." Van Booy has a way of capturing moments and images that seem completely realized and important and poetic. As I read, in fact, I was reminded of moments in my own life that might've slipped from me until that point, but in their own right now seem integral and beautiful. The stories evoked memories that hadn't been with me in a very long time, and I feel that by reading this book I've inherited some memories that aren't really mine, but that will stay with me just as if I'd created them myself.

If you attempt no other short stories this year, or next, or the next...pick up this book. It is published by Turtle Point Press, and as it certainly should, it's garnered some hefty praise from the L.A. Times, Newsday and Publisher's Weekly. I'm also thrilled that Estella's Revenge was one of the first to review it, and Nancy did a great job on her review and her interview with Simon Van Booy.

This is one of only a small handful of books I've deemed worthy of a perfect 10 this year.

*Sorry for the lack of pretty pictures; Blogger's being wonky.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Deluge of Retail Therapy (At the Worst Time)

I went to the bookstore.

I know, I know, enough said. But today I was really bad. I'm usually pretty bad, but not THIS bad. I actually went with good intentions. Two students with transportation issues wanted to take part in an optional class project involving the reading of The Giver (Lois Lowry), so they gave me their money and I purchased their books for them.

But then I browsed. And I browsed some more. And I almost managed to walk out with nothing but the books for my students, but just as I rounded the corner to approach the cash register, I REMEMBERED! I remembered that I wanted that damn Miranda July book (No One Belongs Here More Than You). In hardcover.

So I bought it.

And after I finished fondling it, as I was still standing near the shelves, I saw another book that I wanted a few years ago when it was shortlisted for the Booker prize, and then I forgot about it for a few more years, but miraculously remembered when I saw the title. And then I saw the cover, and it was beauuuutiful, and I picked it up. And that was the end. It was mine (The Electric Michelangelo, by Sarah Hall).

And then they tempted me with cheap bookmarks! ($1 a piece.)

And my lips were chapped!!! I had to have a tube of Burt's Bees since I've been out of it for a while.

And then the associate at the register mistakenly rang me up as a Millionaire's Club Card member and I got to see ALL THE MIRACULOUS SAVINGS!!! So I actually did get a Millionaire's Club Card in the end because I really did want the miraculous savings.

And by the end, I'd spent $13 of my students' money and....

$50.00 of my own.

But, the good news is that I got my first *real* paycheck yesterday with ALL of my toil on it (unlike the first measly check), so I actually did have money to spend. Nevermind the fact that I need to purchase a plane ticket to Texas in the next day or so so I can go see my mom for a week at Christmas. And nevermind the fact that I owe some loan money. Or the fact that I'm going to Memphis October 31-November 2.

But I got a tote bag free with my purchase!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hatchet? Anyone?

Almost done with Carl's R.I.P. Challenge!!! Then I hope to start reading some extra credit. :)

My third selection for this most delicious challenge was The Borden Tragedy, a graphic novel by Rick Geary. I was pleasantly surprised that Geary did not go overboard with the illustrated blood and guts in this book. There was certainly a distinct possibility that graphic novel + Borden story could very well equal a very graphic novel, but he stuck pretty closely to what I've seen before. Images of the Borden mama or the Borden daddio laid out like steak in very unrevealing positions.

Geary frames this book by insisting that it is based on the journals of a Borden family friend who did a good bit of snooping post-killing to try and figure out if Lizzie was really the culprit. Whether Sir Geary is telling the truth or blowing sunshine up my proverbial behind, the story is told in a very matter-of-fact way. Nothing seemed terribly over the top, just another account of the story. However, I did learn quite a bit as Geary goes to the trouble of mapping the top and bottom floors of the house, and there's a good bit of detail about the resulting legal proceedings of this tragedy.

The illustrations in this realistically spooky story were gorgeous. All done in black and white, they were wonderfully drawn and added a great deal to the overall sense of foreboding that this tragedy conjures.

Hip-hip-hooray for this tasteful non-fiction Halloween treat.

No idea what I'm reading next. I'm on the verge of finishing The Secret Lives of People in Love (SO don't want it to end) and I need to review A Thousand Splendid Suns for PopMatters, well, like yesterday. But it'll get done later this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pushing daisies...

I'm so glad this three-day week is almost over. I'm trapped at work until all hours tonight, I've been pestered by students all day, and my ankle is swollen to the size of a ham. And I have a headache. One of those dull ones that feels a bit like a rod up the back of the neck. Like your head won't turn just right to relieve the pressure while your head slowly fills up with snot to the point of bursting. Yep, one of those.

But, on the brighter side, I think I have a new favorite TV show. I was talking to Thesis Director, and speaking of, I really must rename her here since a) I'm done with my thesis b) she can now be thought of as a proper friend because I'm not a student anymore. Hmmm, in the grand tradition of absolutely no imagination, I'll just call her S. Anyway, so I was talking to S. last night and she suggested I should watch Pushing Up Daisies on ABC because she spent a good 45 minutes watching it in her office when she should've been grading papers. I'm always up for some good procrastination material, so I gave it a watch just now when I should've been grading papers. Sure enough, it's fantastic. It will certainly become a favorite afternoon viewing experience of mine since I have multiple hours to kill before my Tuesday/Thursday night classes.

For those who haven't heard of it, it's a really quirky, pretty, stylized dramedy about a guy who can touch dead things and bring them back to life. The catches: if he touches them again, they go back to being dead; if they stay alive for more than a minute someone nearby will die in their place. I'm sure you see the possible pitfalls.

Anywho, it's just a really gorgeous show in addition to being quirky and funny and sweet. The sets and manic colors sort of remind me of Tim Burton if he were rolled in Sweet Tart dust. Don't look at me like that, you know exactly what I mean.

Well, as much as I'd love to stay here and chat, I have about a zillion articles to write, papers to grade, review books to read, and a couple of Spring courses to plan, so I guess I should be going. Although, truthfully, I'll probably end up turning off the light, retreating to the floor of my office, and taking a leetle nap. I hope they vacuumed today.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pornography, books and secrets, OH MY!

The Journal of Dora Damage
By Belinda Starling
Bloomsbury USA


My third book for Lesley's Armchair Traveler reading challenge is perhaps the best I've read yet! It's an engrossing journey through another time and place and a rich, complex life.

London in the 1860s is a dangerous, scandalous place to exist, especially if you're Dora Damage, the matriarch of the ailing Damage Bookbinders. When her husband, Peter, begins to fall into rheumatic disability, Dora surpasses her station as a submissive wife and mother and takes over the family business.

Dora shows an exceptional talent for binding books, from her creative embroidery and color choices, to her quick mind and willingness to work her hands to cracked, aching stubs. However, no matter how hard she tries in the beginning, the money just doesn't come. Finally, based on her covert work, she lands a job binding ladies' journals and other miscellaneous books. This first innocent employment leads to greater, more dangerous things--namely the task of binding pornography for a treacherous group of London's powerful and ruthless upper crust.

Despite my initial attraction to this book based solely on the fact that it appealed to my bibliophile nature, it had much more to offer than I anticipated. Starling's writing flows seamlessly, a clever mix of English slang and contemporary English. One quickly gets the feeling of being smack dab in the middle of Dora's life, facing down a traditional, sick and slightly mad husband, not to mention the benefactors that could potentially ruin her life. Dora's relationships with her employees and her daughter, Lucinda, are expertly fleshed and achingly believable, making Dora all the more sympathetic and intriguing.

Dora's journey is not only economic, but certainly personal and emotional. Hers is the story of a budding intellectual curiosity, as she reads almost every book to come through the bindery, and eventually her sexuality begins to blossom as well. But nothing comes easily or without a price. And I won't say more for fear of ruining the book for you, dear reader.

Sadly, Belinda Starling passed away in August of 2006 after complications following surgery. She was 34 years old, and The Journal of Dora Damage was her first novel. It is tragic, for Starling was a talented writer with many stories to give. However, those of us daring enough to enter Dora Damage's world are lucky to have such a striking book to hold onto and enjoy.

Another rollicking R.I.P. read...

Hauntings: And Other Tales of Danger, Love, and Sometimes Loss
by Betsy Hearne
HarperTeen


Hauntings is a collection of stories about just that, but in ways that I never expected. Based on a cursory glance at the book's eerie cover, I expected straightforward ghost stories, although now, as I look back, there are hints to what hides inside.

Hearne's creation is split into three distinct sections. The first is devoted almost exclusively to retellings of Irish myth. Selkies, spectres and incarnations of Death abound, stealing into homes, surprising unassuming women and sending brave lads on adventures.

Section two is largely about American teens "haunted" by a number of issues. Whether suffering at the hands of divorce, drug use or an impending psychotic break, the teens navigate those issues that are often more haunting and affecting than the average ghost story.

And the final section, and definitely the strangest, contains only two stories. One about God and his (actually, her) dog and the other about a spectral dog that terrorizes Satan. Yeah, I told you they were weird. Oddly humorous, too.

Hearne's collection flew in the face of almost every one of the assumptions I attached to this book. That's not the say that the stories lacked, in fact, they were strikingly written. A boy's time spent alone in the woods marveling at a stand of trees surpassed even the eeriest fireside tale. A stuffed crow come alive only in the mind of the teen owner could rival the exorcist for its creepiness. Certainly this absorbing writing style and the unique choice of plots is the result of a very talented writer, and, as it turns out, a scholar of children's literature from the University of Illinois. I suppose knowing that Hearne is one of my children's lit kindred makes me love her all the more, but the stories account for at least 80% of my fascination.

While I was slightly jarred by the seeming disconnectedness of the sections in Hauntings, in the end the craftsmanship of the writing overcame any doubts I might've had.

******************************

In other news, I'd like to introduce my two friends, Little Red and Midnight. Otherwise known as my poppets, "the Red and the Black." Whahahahaha. There's nothing like a Stendhal joke.



The girls are lounging with my next two R.I.P. reads...Frankenstein, and The Borden Tragedy, a graphic novel about Lizzie's dastardly deeds.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The crazy lady is back!


Whew! This week has been a whirlwind. The good news is that I finally got the newest issue of Estella's Revenge online, and this time we're taking a trip into the unknown. Go check it out for a creepy fix, and lots of other wonderful features, columns and reviews. Not to mention, a book giveaway! The October "Door Prize" book giveaway is a copy of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

In other news, I don't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt. How's that for a crass analogy of the day? Ha! Serves you right for catching me in one of my mad frenzies.

I've been doing training to teach online classes in the fall, and I'm actually having a heck of a good time. I'm going to be teaching TWO, count 'em again...TWO literature classes in the fall. OK, so that might be slightly misleading, as they are literature/writing classes (very important SLASH). But, the bottom line is that we WILL be reading, discussing and analyzing literature of my very own choosing and that, kids, makes me a VERY HAPPY CAMPER. So happy, in fact, that I've been spending more time planning classes that won't start for three more months than grading papers for my classes that are just now reaching mid-term. So, after much soul searching and a near psychotic break, I had to get down to business and organize/grade/catch up with the stuff I have on my plate in the now.

All of this excitement, frivolity, and resulting penance has seriously cut into my reading time. I haven't finished a book allll week. BUT, Monday and Tuesday are Fall Break, so I plan to sleep late, eat well, and read myself into a relaxation-induced coma. Neener, neener!

I hope you're all having a wonderful, fantastic, orgasmically wonderful week. I'm going to catch up on my bloggy reading.

I've missed you, my pretties.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hermity and Estella the Great

Yes, I'm working on Estella. I'm just short on time. But it's coming! Tomorrow!

I'm feeling rather hermity given all the crap I'm working on at the moment. Classes continue to kick. my. ass. But, I did get the schedule for Spring this morning and it's fantastic. I'll be teaching two online classes, and the other two classes I'm teaching will meet back to back on Tuesday and Thursday. The best part of the whole damn deal, TWO LITERATURE CLASSES!!! One online and one in person.

All I really want to do right now is quit all of my jobs, run off to the mountains, and write snarky essays and grotesque short stories a la Joyce Carol Oates. Not that I'm that good, but I'd like to try.

*sigh*

Random Crap:

I'm still girl-crushing on Miranda July even though I have yet to read No One Belongs Here More Than You (short stories). She's on the cover of Bust magazine this time around, and I just wanna pinch her cheeks. Speaking of Bust, I haven't gotten my copy. Which means Mom probably didn't renew it (early graduation/birthday/Christmas/whatever present).

A guy came into the Writing Center with AWESOME tattoos today. I got the name of his tat guy and Googled the place. I think I've found a winner, folks. Tattoo ideas are a'brewin'.

I'm ready for my two days off next week. Really damn ready.

More later, when I get my head out of my arse.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The month in review (another Nick Hornby rip off)...

It's that time again. Time to rehash and recap the books I've inhaled this month and those that have walked through my door with a glimmer of hope that I might actually pick them up and read them someday (fat chance).

The good news is that the number of books I've acquired this month is down significantly from last month's deluge. In fact, as far as I can remember, only five books have flown through my door this month. Or, should I say, five that I will keep. There's always a steady stream of readables passing through my hands and into those of the Estella's Revenge reviewers, but I only keep a very small portion for myself.

Acquired:
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. This one is from PopMatters.com, and I'll be reviewing it soon. I'll post a link when the review appears.
  • A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel, is in preparation for an author reading that's coming up. Kimmel will be appearing at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington, and moi will be there!
  • On the Road (audio), which I actually managed to read this very month!
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster because I adore books about books.
  • Naked, by David Sedaris, because I am officially addicted.

Read:

  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte which I've already reviewed, HERE.
  • A Cook's Tour, by Anthony Bourdain, which I've already reviewed HERE.
  • On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, which I've already reviewed HERE.
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, which I've recently discussed.
  • Hauntings: And Other Tales of Danger, Love and Sometimes Loss, which I'll be officially reviewing for Estella's Revenge (should go online tonight or tomorrow).

And because I've done such a wonderful job of keeping up with my reviewing this month, this post is entirely anticlimactic. Hmmphf. Way to shoot myself in the foot.

So, in order to spice things up a bit, try reading Stephen King's essay from The New York Times Book Review, entitled "What Ails the Short Story." It's a nice discussion of the state of American short stories today from the editor of this year's Best American Short Stories collection. And, no matter what you think about King, please, admit it...he's a hell of a short story writer. He makes my butt pucker every time, and that's the highest praise I can conceivably give to any short story writer. I certainly don't make my own butt pucker with anything more than disdain for my own creative writing, so I obviously have much work to do.

I'm going to read...