jeff vandermeer’s the southern reach trilogy:  i’m sad this is over because now i won’t be able to experience area x and its mysteries for the first time again.  however, i’m sure there are lots of details and connections i missed and that there’s still a lot to discover, so i’m excited to reread these books, now that all three have been published!
this trilogy was loads of fun to read — fun and c r e e p y in all the right ways.  the easy comparison is to say that it reminds me of lost, just … done well all the way through to the end, with a concept that didn’t run away with vandermeer or stifle the narrative or the characters.  vandermeer had an excellent handle on the story from the beginning all the way through, but not in a way that felt overworked or too controlling — the effort isn’t on the page in the trilogy, and that, i think, says a lot.
one of the things i loved about the trilogy is how there isn’t really a hero, at least not in any traditional i-will-save-the-world-and-solve-these-mysteries way.  there’s also no sense of a required salvation or redemption — vandermeer isn’t interested in “saving” anyone, which i appreciated, much like i appreciated that vandermeer isn’t obsessed with the “why” behind things, more just observing and presenting things as they are.  all the characters are flawed and isolated in their own ways, some (like the biologist) seeking actual physical isolation, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t somehow connected, that their actions don’t impact the greater world around them.  i also loved the obscuring of names and identities (“control,” “ghost bird”) and even the reducing characters to their functions (“the biologist,” “the psychologist,” “the director”), how these reductions become obfuscations and secrets and masks that reinforce isolation and loneliness but don’t lessen the reverberations of individual actions on other’s lives.
throughout the trilogy, vandermeer also does a fantastic job of giving just enough information and being just oblique enough, of striking that balance and supporting it with this wonderful tension that isn’t gimmicky or try-hard or artificial.  the entire trilogy is infused in this mood of unease and creepiness that makes the southern reach such a fun, engrossing read that’s also frustrating because there’s so much we don’t know.
vandermeer isn’t stingy with answers or narrative/emotional payoffs, though, peeling layers away gradually (sometimes, while raising more questions).  we might not know everything by the end of acceptance, but we know enough with room to continue wondering and pondering, and the characters are delivered to the ends of their arcs in very satisfying ways.  i can honestly say that i loved the ending — the last ten pages or so of acceptance are fantastically done — and i closed the book with a sigh, sad to leave this world and these characters behind, to have no more of the southern reach to look forward to, but very satisfied with the adventure and its close.
(also:  i read a review that said that it was gimmicky of FSG to release this as a trilogy over a year, but, honestly, i thought that was fantastic.  the trilogy is a cohesive narrative, yes, but i think the southern reach is very much a trilogy that should have been told in three books, not only because of the different narrative voices [another thing i loved], but also because of the way vandermeer reveals the story.  he was ingenious in the way he used the structure of the trilogy, and FSG did a great job with it, what with the beautiful cover art and design and with the staggered releases in the same calendar year.)
(also:  i wrote this up at 2 am while listening to the soundtrack to the village [haven’t seen the movie but the soundtrack is fantastic], and now i am totally creeped out.)

jeff vandermeer’s the southern reach trilogy:  i’m sad this is over because now i won’t be able to experience area x and its mysteries for the first time again.  however, i’m sure there are lots of details and connections i missed and that there’s still a lot to discover, so i’m excited to reread these books, now that all three have been published!

this trilogy was loads of fun to read — fun and c r e e p y in all the right ways.  the easy comparison is to say that it reminds me of lost, just … done well all the way through to the end, with a concept that didn’t run away with vandermeer or stifle the narrative or the characters.  vandermeer had an excellent handle on the story from the beginning all the way through, but not in a way that felt overworked or too controlling — the effort isn’t on the page in the trilogy, and that, i think, says a lot.

one of the things i loved about the trilogy is how there isn’t really a hero, at least not in any traditional i-will-save-the-world-and-solve-these-mysteries way.  there’s also no sense of a required salvation or redemption — vandermeer isn’t interested in “saving” anyone, which i appreciated, much like i appreciated that vandermeer isn’t obsessed with the “why” behind things, more just observing and presenting things as they are.  all the characters are flawed and isolated in their own ways, some (like the biologist) seeking actual physical isolation, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t somehow connected, that their actions don’t impact the greater world around them.  i also loved the obscuring of names and identities (“control,” “ghost bird”) and even the reducing characters to their functions (“the biologist,” “the psychologist,” “the director”), how these reductions become obfuscations and secrets and masks that reinforce isolation and loneliness but don’t lessen the reverberations of individual actions on other’s lives.

throughout the trilogy, vandermeer also does a fantastic job of giving just enough information and being just oblique enough, of striking that balance and supporting it with this wonderful tension that isn’t gimmicky or try-hard or artificial.  the entire trilogy is infused in this mood of unease and creepiness that makes the southern reach such a fun, engrossing read that’s also frustrating because there’s so much we don’t know.

vandermeer isn’t stingy with answers or narrative/emotional payoffs, though, peeling layers away gradually (sometimes, while raising more questions).  we might not know everything by the end of acceptance, but we know enough with room to continue wondering and pondering, and the characters are delivered to the ends of their arcs in very satisfying ways.  i can honestly say that i loved the ending — the last ten pages or so of acceptance are fantastically done — and i closed the book with a sigh, sad to leave this world and these characters behind, to have no more of the southern reach to look forward to, but very satisfied with the adventure and its close.

(also:  i read a review that said that it was gimmicky of FSG to release this as a trilogy over a year, but, honestly, i thought that was fantastic.  the trilogy is a cohesive narrative, yes, but i think the southern reach is very much a trilogy that should have been told in three books, not only because of the different narrative voices [another thing i loved], but also because of the way vandermeer reveals the story.  he was ingenious in the way he used the structure of the trilogy, and FSG did a great job with it, what with the beautiful cover art and design and with the staggered releases in the same calendar year.)

(also:  i wrote this up at 2 am while listening to the soundtrack to the village [haven’t seen the movie but the soundtrack is fantastic], and now i am totally creeped out.)

may + june!  (ok this is ridic long, so i was going to put it behind one of those “read more” things, but, apparently, i can’t.  sorry.  ^^)
twenty.  the emperor’s children, claire messud.

“you mustn’t idealize, that’s all.  that’s all i wanted to say.  you’ll marry a man, not an idea of one.”  (annabel, 252)

three things about the emperor’s children:
one:  to be quite honest, i wasn’t as enraptured with the emperor’s children as i thought i would be.  i don’t know why my expectations were so high, but i almost stopped reading halfway through because i found i couldn’t connect very well with any of the characters and found them all a little annoying and patronizing but in ways that people are annoying and patronizing.  which is a pretty good testament as to messud’s writing — she’s a good writer, there’s no question about that.
two:  i think i got frustrated mostly with how the story is told.  the novel hops amongst the characters, resting briefly with one then another, and it was like watching a slideshow, being given a few minutes with one slide before being zipped on to the next.  i liked it at first but then rather quickly found myself wishing i could reach into the book and hold us with a character, let us dive deeper, get more time with danielle or marina or any of the other characters, and really get acquainted with them — but the novel never gave me that and kept hopping along like a little bunny eager to get to everyone.
three:  that said, messud does a great job at tying all these story threads together and bringing them to a climax with the towers falling.  the build-up is pretty satisfying, and i liked the aftermath, how 9/11 affected all these characters’ lives, in ways that i didn’t quite expect.  that said, though, i did find the ending a bit incomplete.
idk.  it wasn’t one of my favorites.
twenty-one & twenty-two.  annihilation and authority, jeff vandermeer.

that’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you:from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.(annihilation, 108)

and

a girlfriend who had gleaned some sense of his job had once asked, “why do you do it?” — meaning why serve such a clandestine purpose, a purpose that could not be shared, could not be revealed.  he’d given his standard response, in a portentous manner, to poke fun at himself.  to disguise the seriousness.  “to know.  to go beyond the veil.”  across the border.  even as control said it, he had known that he was also telling her he didn’t mind leaving her there, alone, on the other side.  (authority, 195)

ohhhhh these were SO fabulously creepy.  i inhaled annihilation on a flight out to california because i couldn’t put it down, then made good headway into authority before the plane landed and finished authority while in portland over the next few days.  i couldn’t get enough, and now i’m impatiently waiting for it to be september because acceptance will be published then.
one giant thing i love about the southern reach trilogy is that the three books aren’t written in the same voice.  (or ok these two weren’t; i don’t know how acceptance will be told.)  i’m not a big fan of trilogies because i find that very few stories actually need to be told in trilogies (extra length = sloppier stories) (this is a generalization, yes), but vandermeer went about the southern reach trilogy in a cool way — the biologist narrates annihilation, and authority focuses on control — and it’s great, not only because it changes things up between books, but also (and maybe more importantly) because the different narrative voices add to the stories.  like, annihilation works so well because it’s told from the perspective of the biologist, and it’s a very narrow, limited perspective because the biologist is new to area x, too.
but, then, as we go into authority, we, as the readers, have a slight edge on control (the main character of authority) because we’ve already been privy to the biologist’s experiences while he hasn’t— but, at the same time, there’s all this bigger picture stuff we don’t know, and it’s nice to get a more expansive view of the southern reach and area x through a wider third-person narrative.  i know i’m sitting here being super excited about narrative form, but it’s just done so well, and i loved both of these books and cannot freaking wait for september to roll around and spit out acceptance.  i want to know what happens!!!  and why things have been happening!!!  i want answers!!!  vandermeer, don’t go lost on me; don’t you dare!!!
also, charlotte strick did SUCH a rad job on the covers and end pages.  these books are GORGEOUS.  i wish they’d been released in hardcover.  T_T
(in general, FSG’s amped up its book design game in the last few years, and i am fucking loving it.)

twenty-three.  the interestings, meg wolitzer.

but, she knew, you didn’t have to marry your soulmate, and you didn’t even have to marry an interesting.  you didn’t always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone up, or made everyone want to sleep with you, or be the one who wrote and starred in the play that got the standing ovation.  you could cease to be obsessed with the idea of being interesting.  anyway, she knew, the definition could change; it had changed, for her.  (524)

yup.  i read this for the third time in nine months.  couldn’t help it.  i was in california when i felt an overwhelming need to read this again, so i went out and got it and plowed my way through it again.
sigh.  i love that the interestings is many things at once.  it’s a story about friendship, and, more than that, it’s a story about female friendship.  it’s a story about envy.  it’s a story about talent and potential and how talent and potential can go many ways — it can blossom and grow, nurtured through hard work and discipline, or it can fizzle out, turn out to have been nothing much at all, or it can be put aside and replaced with something else.  it’s a story about families and growing up, but my favourite one this time around — it’s about marriage.
the interestings is awesome because it’s one of those rare portrayals of a healthy marriage.  it’s not a perfect marriage (but there is no such thing, is there), but jules and dennis have a good marriage — and, though i am someone who has never been married, i find it realistic and encouraging.  they have their conflicts, and, at one point, you think they’ll separate because they won’t be able to overcome this conflict, but they get through it — and i like that wolitzer doesn’t gloss over the mundane or the less glamorous aspects of marriage but paints an honest picture that is, yes, optimistic but has integrity in its portrayal.
i also love how the interestings really is about jules and ash’s friendship, and part of me loves that as a woman because women’s friendships are often shafted, reduced to petty competition or jealousies.  and i’d say that it really is jules and ash’s friendship that makes me continue to come back to the interestings because i love the evolution of their friendship, how it keeps going even after they’re married and have kids and are living vastly different lives.  and it’s not in a way that’s passive on their end — jules and ash both have to commit, in a sense, to the friendship, to let it grow and change as they do, too.  friendship isn’t passive; it’s a relationship; and, like all relationships, it requires sacrifice and work and commitment, too — and i like that wolitzer portrays that so deftly in this friendship.
one of my favourite quotes is one from ash as she’s toasting jules and dennis at their wedding:  “i’m not losing you.  marriage, i don’t think, is like that.  it’s something else.  it’s a thing in which you get to see your closest friend become more of who she already is.”  (269)  i think that’s so beautiful and what i’d hope from my closest friendships if i ever get married.
also, here’s my obligatory “i love ethan figman.”  i swear, i’m not going to stop saying that whenever there’s any mention of the interestings because i’ve never felt about a fictional character the way i feel about ethan figman.
twenty-four.  still writing, dani shapiro.

the writing life is full of risk.  there is the creative risk — the willingness to fall flat on our face again and again — but there is also practical risk.  as in, it may not work out.  we don’t get brownie points for trying really hard.  when we set our hopes on this life, we are staking our future on the contents of our minds.  on our ability to create and continue to create.  we have nothing but this.  no 401(k), no pension plan, often no IRA, no plans — god knows — for retirement.  we have to accept living with profound uncertainty.  (179)

i don’t typically (or ever?) read books on writing, but i picked up still writing when i was going through a really rough time writing.  (i blame it all on netflix.  no joke.  which is why i cancelled netflix two weeks after restarting my subscription … and i’ve been 150% better since.)  still writing basically was like shapiro had taken everything the illustrator friend and i have been discussing about the creative life and put it into a compact, dense little gem of a book, which was exactly what i needed earlier this month.
i liked it.  i’ll probably come back to it and revisit when i’m in need of encouragement.  still writing didn’t necessarily shed new light on the creative life for me, but it was great in that it made me feel less alone.  sometimes, this whole creative venture can feel horribly isolating, especially when you’re in the writing phase, so there was a sense of solidarity to be found in these pages, like, hey, you might feel alone right now, but you are actually indeed part of this community of people who just know deep down that they must write or draw or do music, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
i’d definitely recommend it for any creative being, too.  shapiro doesn’t try to glamorize anything, and neither is she dire and cynical — simply very pragmatic and honest and encouraging.
twenty-five.  how to read a novelist, john freeman.

now he [eugenides] and franzen are at the top of america’s heap of novelists.  it’s a position eugenides doesn’t guard, and he knows that eventually there will be a new wave.  he can even in some ways see it coming.  “now and then there’s a literary party and i see these guys looking at me, guys i used to be, and i’m sure that they are in that same ferment and state, and ambitious and talking, showing their work to their friends, and i’m sure it’s still going on.  the look in their eyes that i see is the same i expect my eyes looked like back in 1992.”  (334-5)

ok truth?  i didn’t actually read all the interviews in this book.  which wouldn’t have been difficult to do because there are only fifty-five interviews and they’re all pretty brief (but no less good for being brief), but i still didn’t read them all.  i read the ones of all the authors i’ve read/like, so there’s definite bias there, but i’m still sticking this on here because this is how i roll with non-fiction collections such as these, and how to read a novelist is going to be one of those books that i come back to over and over for inspiration/encouragement/blah blah blah.  i can feel it.
i find myself thinking of interviews along the same veins that i think of writers who write in first-person;  there are many who are good at it, but there are very few who are great at it.  with interviews, maybe part of that falls on the editor of the publication, too, because there are few publications that consistently turn out good interviews (e.g. the paris review is indisputable king when it comes to awesome interviews; interview generally has good ones; and i’ve loved the ones i’ve read on guernica) (btw apparently guernica is planning a print publication, wahoo!). 
freeman’s pretty great.  i wish these were longer, though, because they’re really only a few pages each, and they were a little too bite-sized, which made me sad because i wanted more.  they’re very full bites, though, and it’s a good collection from a great spectrum of authors.  i’ll be holding onto this for a while.
twenty-six.  the silent history, eli horowitz, matthew derby, kevin moffett.

without names they’d be gone.  (francine chang, 492)

the silent history was absolutely incredible.  i spent all weekend doing nothing but reading it because i didn’t want to stop, and i absolutely loved it and was sad when it was over, even though it was dark and i was reading outdoors (by the light spilling from a cafe), so it was probably good for my already-nearly-legally-blind eyes that i finished it.  
two things: 
one.  the voices — the silent history is told in the voices of at least 24 different people, and i say “at least” here because i stopped writing them down at 24.  and, yet, these 24 different people sound like … 24 different people.  that’s bloody incredible.
two.  the silent history feels very contemporary.  you have a premise that sounds sci-fi-y — a bunch of children born without the ability to speak — but it presents this phenomenon in a way that’s very timely and relevant and also in a way that represents the width of the human spectrum.  in that way, the use of multiple voices served the novel incredibly well because we’re presented with all these different perspectives and fears and motivations.  it felt like a documentary (which i suppose was the point) and, as a narrative, as a novel, like a social commentary done in a way that doesn’t really read like one.
i feel like the silent history would be loads of fun to read as a book club.  different readers would take issue with different things, and i’m aware that that’s pretty true about all books — as readers, we have our own complex histories that inform our reading — but there’s a lot in the silent history that could be picked at and discussed.  like, for me, i was taken with the mass inability to see beyond the knowable and the familiar and the ways that the dominant society tries to override and force the minority into the familiar — generally, this terror of the Other where the Other’s happiness or contentment is inconceivable simply for being different.  the Other doesn’t have to harm the “majority;” it simply has to exist for the majority to feel threatened and react defensively, most often by forcing conformity.
also, as i was reading the silent history, i kept thinking about how sometimes it’s surprising the characters you find yourself sympathizing with most.  i was all for theodore (flora’s father) and had little patience for nancy (spencer’s mother).  i couldn’t really stand patti but found her laughable and a more than a little pathetic, and i was largely indifferent towards francine.  i couldn’t stand burnham and was rooting for calvin all the way, but i didn’t feel much for flora (she was too good) or for spencer or even for their kid.  david vaguely annoyed me.  i remember reading a criticism of a criticism once and how the criticism (that was being criticized) focused too much on how the reader felt, and i laughed a little because i think that a lot of reading really is about how we feel while reading.  it’s how we feel about these characters and their stories that takes a piece of writing and gives it a charge — it’s what makes us care and gets us invested — but, yes, on the other hand, i suppose one should be more objective when one is an official reviewer.
which i am not, so i get to sit here and talk about how a book made me feel, and the silent history made me feel nice things inside, even while being a sort of dark novel that raises lots of serious issues.  very good.  highly recommended.  go for it.
twenty-seven.  the isle of youth, laura van der berg.

their parents didn’t seem to know they’d been gone, or catch the strange smells they brought home.  the farm was more than two hundred acres, and dana figured they thought their children were out on the land, like they’d always been.  but their children were learning quickly.  they were learning that the outside world and the pleasures it held weren’t so bad.  they were learning that they had never really believed in God; they have only ever believed in fear.  (“lessons,” 78)

i thought i’d like this a lot more than i did.  i don’t know why; i just expected a lot more from it when i started it.  the writing is good, and i loved that they were stories about women in bad/messy situations and how they not necessarily overcame them but dealt with them.  i did appreciate that.  maybe it was just that i got to the second to last story and was just like, “damn, this book is just bumming me out.”  i don’t know.  i don’t really have many things to say about it?
—
in case you hadn’t gotten the memo, i’m currently obsessed with FSG originals.
went to mcnally jackson today and picked up gong ji-young’s our happy time, hwang sun-mi’s the hen who dreamed she could fly, and francoise sagan’s bonjour tristesse.  excited to start them, yey yey!

may + june!  (ok this is ridic long, so i was going to put it behind one of those “read more” things, but, apparently, i can’t.  sorry.  ^^)

twenty.  the emperor’s children, claire messud.

“you mustn’t idealize, that’s all.  that’s all i wanted to say.  you’ll marry a man, not an idea of one.”  (annabel, 252)

three things about the emperor’s children:

one:  to be quite honest, i wasn’t as enraptured with the emperor’s children as i thought i would be.  i don’t know why my expectations were so high, but i almost stopped reading halfway through because i found i couldn’t connect very well with any of the characters and found them all a little annoying and patronizing but in ways that people are annoying and patronizing.  which is a pretty good testament as to messud’s writing — she’s a good writer, there’s no question about that.

two:  i think i got frustrated mostly with how the story is told.  the novel hops amongst the characters, resting briefly with one then another, and it was like watching a slideshow, being given a few minutes with one slide before being zipped on to the next.  i liked it at first but then rather quickly found myself wishing i could reach into the book and hold us with a character, let us dive deeper, get more time with danielle or marina or any of the other characters, and really get acquainted with them — but the novel never gave me that and kept hopping along like a little bunny eager to get to everyone.

three:  that said, messud does a great job at tying all these story threads together and bringing them to a climax with the towers falling.  the build-up is pretty satisfying, and i liked the aftermath, how 9/11 affected all these characters’ lives, in ways that i didn’t quite expect.  that said, though, i did find the ending a bit incomplete.

idk.  it wasn’t one of my favorites.

twenty-one & twenty-two.  annihilation and authority, jeff vandermeer.

that’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you:from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.(annihilation, 108)

and

a girlfriend who had gleaned some sense of his job had once asked, “why do you do it?” — meaning why serve such a clandestine purpose, a purpose that could not be shared, could not be revealed.  he’d given his standard response, in a portentous manner, to poke fun at himself.  to disguise the seriousness.  “to know.  to go beyond the veil.”  across the border.  even as control said it, he had known that he was also telling her he didn’t mind leaving her there, alone, on the other side.  (authority, 195)

ohhhhh these were SO fabulously creepy.  i inhaled annihilation on a flight out to california because i couldn’t put it down, then made good headway into authority before the plane landed and finished authority while in portland over the next few days.  i couldn’t get enough, and now i’m impatiently waiting for it to be september because acceptance will be published then.

one giant thing i love about the southern reach trilogy is that the three books aren’t written in the same voice.  (or ok these two weren’t; i don’t know how acceptance will be told.)  i’m not a big fan of trilogies because i find that very few stories actually need to be told in trilogies (extra length = sloppier stories) (this is a generalization, yes), but vandermeer went about the southern reach trilogy in a cool way — the biologist narrates annihilation, and authority focuses on control — and it’s great, not only because it changes things up between books, but also (and maybe more importantly) because the different narrative voices add to the stories.  like, annihilation works so well because it’s told from the perspective of the biologist, and it’s a very narrow, limited perspective because the biologist is new to area x, too.

but, then, as we go into authority, we, as the readers, have a slight edge on control (the main character of authority) because we’ve already been privy to the biologist’s experiences while he hasn’t— but, at the same time, there’s all this bigger picture stuff we don’t know, and it’s nice to get a more expansive view of the southern reach and area x through a wider third-person narrative.  i know i’m sitting here being super excited about narrative form, but it’s just done so well, and i loved both of these books and cannot freaking wait for september to roll around and spit out acceptance.  i want to know what happens!!!  and why things have been happening!!!  i want answers!!!  vandermeer, don’t go lost on me; don’t you dare!!!

also, charlotte strick did SUCH a rad job on the covers and end pages.  these books are GORGEOUS.  i wish they’d been released in hardcover.  T_T

(in general, FSG’s amped up its book design game in the last few years, and i am fucking loving it.)

twenty-three.  the interestings, meg wolitzer.

but, she knew, you didn’t have to marry your soulmate, and you didn’t even have to marry an interesting.  you didn’t always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone up, or made everyone want to sleep with you, or be the one who wrote and starred in the play that got the standing ovation.  you could cease to be obsessed with the idea of being interesting.  anyway, she knew, the definition could change; it had changed, for her.  (524)

yup.  i read this for the third time in nine months.  couldn’t help it.  i was in california when i felt an overwhelming need to read this again, so i went out and got it and plowed my way through it again.

sigh.  i love that the interestings is many things at once.  it’s a story about friendship, and, more than that, it’s a story about female friendship.  it’s a story about envy.  it’s a story about talent and potential and how talent and potential can go many ways — it can blossom and grow, nurtured through hard work and discipline, or it can fizzle out, turn out to have been nothing much at all, or it can be put aside and replaced with something else.  it’s a story about families and growing up, but my favourite one this time around — it’s about marriage.

the interestings is awesome because it’s one of those rare portrayals of a healthy marriage.  it’s not a perfect marriage (but there is no such thing, is there), but jules and dennis have a good marriage — and, though i am someone who has never been married, i find it realistic and encouraging.  they have their conflicts, and, at one point, you think they’ll separate because they won’t be able to overcome this conflict, but they get through it — and i like that wolitzer doesn’t gloss over the mundane or the less glamorous aspects of marriage but paints an honest picture that is, yes, optimistic but has integrity in its portrayal.

i also love how the interestings really is about jules and ash’s friendship, and part of me loves that as a woman because women’s friendships are often shafted, reduced to petty competition or jealousies.  and i’d say that it really is jules and ash’s friendship that makes me continue to come back to the interestings because i love the evolution of their friendship, how it keeps going even after they’re married and have kids and are living vastly different lives.  and it’s not in a way that’s passive on their end — jules and ash both have to commit, in a sense, to the friendship, to let it grow and change as they do, too.  friendship isn’t passive; it’s a relationship; and, like all relationships, it requires sacrifice and work and commitment, too — and i like that wolitzer portrays that so deftly in this friendship.

one of my favourite quotes is one from ash as she’s toasting jules and dennis at their wedding:  “i’m not losing you.  marriage, i don’t think, is like that.  it’s something else.  it’s a thing in which you get to see your closest friend become more of who she already is.”  (269)  i think that’s so beautiful and what i’d hope from my closest friendships if i ever get married.

also, here’s my obligatory “i love ethan figman.”  i swear, i’m not going to stop saying that whenever there’s any mention of the interestings because i’ve never felt about a fictional character the way i feel about ethan figman.

twenty-four.  still writing, dani shapiro.

the writing life is full of risk.  there is the creative risk — the willingness to fall flat on our face again and again — but there is also practical risk.  as in, it may not work out.  we don’t get brownie points for trying really hard.  when we set our hopes on this life, we are staking our future on the contents of our minds.  on our ability to create and continue to create.  we have nothing but this.  no 401(k), no pension plan, often no IRA, no plans — god knows — for retirement.  we have to accept living with profound uncertainty.  (179)

i don’t typically (or ever?) read books on writing, but i picked up still writing when i was going through a really rough time writing.  (i blame it all on netflix.  no joke.  which is why i cancelled netflix two weeks after restarting my subscription … and i’ve been 150% better since.)  still writing basically was like shapiro had taken everything the illustrator friend and i have been discussing about the creative life and put it into a compact, dense little gem of a book, which was exactly what i needed earlier this month.

i liked it.  i’ll probably come back to it and revisit when i’m in need of encouragement.  still writing didn’t necessarily shed new light on the creative life for me, but it was great in that it made me feel less alone.  sometimes, this whole creative venture can feel horribly isolating, especially when you’re in the writing phase, so there was a sense of solidarity to be found in these pages, like, hey, you might feel alone right now, but you are actually indeed part of this community of people who just know deep down that they must write or draw or do music, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

i’d definitely recommend it for any creative being, too.  shapiro doesn’t try to glamorize anything, and neither is she dire and cynical — simply very pragmatic and honest and encouraging.

twenty-five.  how to read a novelist, john freeman.

now he [eugenides] and franzen are at the top of america’s heap of novelists.  it’s a position eugenides doesn’t guard, and he knows that eventually there will be a new wave.  he can even in some ways see it coming.  “now and then there’s a literary party and i see these guys looking at me, guys i used to be, and i’m sure that they are in that same ferment and state, and ambitious and talking, showing their work to their friends, and i’m sure it’s still going on.  the look in their eyes that i see is the same i expect my eyes looked like back in 1992.”  (334-5)

ok truth?  i didn’t actually read all the interviews in this book.  which wouldn’t have been difficult to do because there are only fifty-five interviews and they’re all pretty brief (but no less good for being brief), but i still didn’t read them all.  i read the ones of all the authors i’ve read/like, so there’s definite bias there, but i’m still sticking this on here because this is how i roll with non-fiction collections such as these, and how to read a novelist is going to be one of those books that i come back to over and over for inspiration/encouragement/blah blah blah.  i can feel it.

i find myself thinking of interviews along the same veins that i think of writers who write in first-person;  there are many who are good at it, but there are very few who are great at it.  with interviews, maybe part of that falls on the editor of the publication, too, because there are few publications that consistently turn out good interviews (e.g. the paris review is indisputable king when it comes to awesome interviews; interview generally has good ones; and i’ve loved the ones i’ve read on guernica) (btw apparently guernica is planning a print publication, wahoo!). 

freeman’s pretty great.  i wish these were longer, though, because they’re really only a few pages each, and they were a little too bite-sized, which made me sad because i wanted more.  they’re very full bites, though, and it’s a good collection from a great spectrum of authors.  i’ll be holding onto this for a while.

twenty-six.  the silent history, eli horowitz, matthew derby, kevin moffett.

without names they’d be gone.  (francine chang, 492)

the silent history was absolutely incredible.  i spent all weekend doing nothing but reading it because i didn’t want to stop, and i absolutely loved it and was sad when it was over, even though it was dark and i was reading outdoors (by the light spilling from a cafe), so it was probably good for my already-nearly-legally-blind eyes that i finished it.  

two things: 

one.  the voices — the silent history is told in the voices of at least 24 different people, and i say “at least” here because i stopped writing them down at 24.  and, yet, these 24 different people sound like … 24 different people.  that’s bloody incredible.

two.  the silent history feels very contemporary.  you have a premise that sounds sci-fi-y — a bunch of children born without the ability to speak — but it presents this phenomenon in a way that’s very timely and relevant and also in a way that represents the width of the human spectrum.  in that way, the use of multiple voices served the novel incredibly well because we’re presented with all these different perspectives and fears and motivations.  it felt like a documentary (which i suppose was the point) and, as a narrative, as a novel, like a social commentary done in a way that doesn’t really read like one.

i feel like the silent history would be loads of fun to read as a book club.  different readers would take issue with different things, and i’m aware that that’s pretty true about all books — as readers, we have our own complex histories that inform our reading — but there’s a lot in the silent history that could be picked at and discussed.  like, for me, i was taken with the mass inability to see beyond the knowable and the familiar and the ways that the dominant society tries to override and force the minority into the familiar — generally, this terror of the Other where the Other’s happiness or contentment is inconceivable simply for being different.  the Other doesn’t have to harm the “majority;” it simply has to exist for the majority to feel threatened and react defensively, most often by forcing conformity.

also, as i was reading the silent history, i kept thinking about how sometimes it’s surprising the characters you find yourself sympathizing with most.  i was all for theodore (flora’s father) and had little patience for nancy (spencer’s mother).  i couldn’t really stand patti but found her laughable and a more than a little pathetic, and i was largely indifferent towards francine.  i couldn’t stand burnham and was rooting for calvin all the way, but i didn’t feel much for flora (she was too good) or for spencer or even for their kid.  david vaguely annoyed me.  i remember reading a criticism of a criticism once and how the criticism (that was being criticized) focused too much on how the reader felt, and i laughed a little because i think that a lot of reading really is about how we feel while reading.  it’s how we feel about these characters and their stories that takes a piece of writing and gives it a charge — it’s what makes us care and gets us invested — but, yes, on the other hand, i suppose one should be more objective when one is an official reviewer.

which i am not, so i get to sit here and talk about how a book made me feel, and the silent history made me feel nice things inside, even while being a sort of dark novel that raises lots of serious issues.  very good.  highly recommended.  go for it.

twenty-seven.  the isle of youth, laura van der berg.

their parents didn’t seem to know they’d been gone, or catch the strange smells they brought home.  the farm was more than two hundred acres, and dana figured they thought their children were out on the land, like they’d always been.  but their children were learning quickly.  they were learning that the outside world and the pleasures it held weren’t so bad.  they were learning that they had never really believed in God; they have only ever believed in fear.  (“lessons,” 78)

i thought i’d like this a lot more than i did.  i don’t know why; i just expected a lot more from it when i started it.  the writing is good, and i loved that they were stories about women in bad/messy situations and how they not necessarily overcame them but dealt with them.  i did appreciate that.  maybe it was just that i got to the second to last story and was just like, “damn, this book is just bumming me out.”  i don’t know.  i don’t really have many things to say about it?

in case you hadn’t gotten the memo, i’m currently obsessed with FSG originals.

went to mcnally jackson today and picked up gong ji-young’s our happy time, hwang sun-mi’s the hen who dreamed she could fly, and francoise sagan’s bonjour tristesse.  excited to start them, yey yey!

was in portland last thursday through saturday and, now, basically plotting some way to replace LA with portland in this bicoastal thing i do because i fell totally head over heels with portland and its surrounding areas.  it’s so, so beautiful up there, the food is great, and the coffee is amazing, and i can’t wait to go back and get further acquainted.
photo array above arranged by day:
day 01:  portland, first looks — powell’s — voodoo doughnut — tasty n alder — the view from our hotel
day 02:  the big egg — multnomah falls — mirror lake — us highway 26 — koi fusion
day 03:  coava roasters — orgeon route 6 — nestucca wildlife refuge — us route 101 — bamboo sushi
day 04:  ristretto roasters — ristretto roasters — the waffle window — powell’s at pdx — portland, last looks
(not pictured:  stumptown at the ace hotel, the bonneville dam, munson falls, the octupus tree, tillamook cheese factory)

was in portland last thursday through saturday and, now, basically plotting some way to replace LA with portland in this bicoastal thing i do because i fell totally head over heels with portland and its surrounding areas.  it’s so, so beautiful up there, the food is great, and the coffee is amazing, and i can’t wait to go back and get further acquainted.

photo array above arranged by day:

day 01:  portland, first looks — powell’s — voodoo doughnut — tasty n alder — the view from our hotel

day 02:  the big egg — multnomah falls — mirror lake — us highway 26 — koi fusion

day 03:  coava roasters — orgeon route 6 — nestucca wildlife refuge — us route 101 — bamboo sushi

day 04:  ristretto roasters — ristretto roasters — the waffle window — powell’s at pdx — portland, last looks

(not pictured:  stumptown at the ace hotel, the bonneville dam, munson falls, the octupus tree, tillamook cheese factory)

today’s word count and a jar of m&ms in various sizes (mini, regular, mega).
(after i finish this book and submit it to the thankfully-still-interested agent, i will donate blood (because it will have been over a year since my last tattoo) and get inked again.)

today’s word count and a jar of m&ms in various sizes (mini, regular, mega).

(after i finish this book and submit it to the thankfully-still-interested agent, i will donate blood (because it will have been over a year since my last tattoo) and get inked again.)

no idea if y’all have heard about that “100 happy days” thing going on where you take a photo of something every day for 100 days with the idea of appreciating life in the moment — or something like that … (wow, what a fail attempt of explaining it.  you can check out the website here if you want.)
anyway, so, i decided i’d do it, not so much to appreciate moments in my day-to-day (that’s what instagram is there for as far as i’m concerned anyway), but more so as a way of tracking time as i rewrite my book.  my days tend to bleed into each other, and i wanted a way to keep on top of this rewrite so i didn’t end up mid-may without a book, which made this 100 days thing perfect — i figured that, if i averaged 2,000 words a day, i’d be done writing by 50 days, which would leave me 50 days to edit/read through/etcetera.
so far it’s been going great, even if i’m behind on my word count.  of all the social media out there, instagram is the one i love without misgivings, something about how instagram really celebrates the trivialities and beauties in life.  i don’t know what it is, but i dig it, and i’ve been having a great time with this 100 days thing.  it’s been 4 weeks of it, so i figured i’d make a little collage of my days thus far — my instagram handle is "jjoongie" if you wanna check it out!

no idea if y’all have heard about that “100 happy days” thing going on where you take a photo of something every day for 100 days with the idea of appreciating life in the moment — or something like that … (wow, what a fail attempt of explaining it.  you can check out the website here if you want.)

anyway, so, i decided i’d do it, not so much to appreciate moments in my day-to-day (that’s what instagram is there for as far as i’m concerned anyway), but more so as a way of tracking time as i rewrite my book.  my days tend to bleed into each other, and i wanted a way to keep on top of this rewrite so i didn’t end up mid-may without a book, which made this 100 days thing perfect — i figured that, if i averaged 2,000 words a day, i’d be done writing by 50 days, which would leave me 50 days to edit/read through/etcetera.

so far it’s been going great, even if i’m behind on my word count.  of all the social media out there, instagram is the one i love without misgivings, something about how instagram really celebrates the trivialities and beauties in life.  i don’t know what it is, but i dig it, and i’ve been having a great time with this 100 days thing.  it’s been 4 weeks of it, so i figured i’d make a little collage of my days thus far — my instagram handle is "jjoongie" if you wanna check it out!

a few things from los angeles last week:
-  los angeles is great to visit, but i couldn’t live there again, at least not for a great long while.  i realised that, for the first time, i’ve let myself lay down emotional roots in a city, so my heart is pretty securely fastened to new york city — i mean, not like it wasn’t before, but there are physical roots now, too, and i have no intention of leaving this city i love for a long, long time.  except to travel.
-  los angeles is great to visit, though, because my parents are still there, my brother is a barely-two-hour flight away, and i’ve got a great circle of friends i love to see as often as i can.  and the food — ohhh, the food — los angeles has great food.  different kinds of great food than new york has — like korean food.  and tacos.  and in n out.
-  i started reading my first novel in korean!  currently 50 pages in, which might not sound like much, but i have never gotten this far in a novel in korean before.  ever.  i’ve been circling the words i don’t know in pencil, and, yes, there are still a lot of words i don’t know, and, sometimes, i’m circling three, four, five words in a row, but, amazingly enough, i’m still able to comprehend the story and understand what’s being said through context.  kinda crazy.  further, i’ve noticed that my reading speed has improved pretty drastically, and, you know, i’ve all that translating of nell-related things to thank for that!
-  lea seydoux is fucking gorgeous.  i could stare at her face all day.
-  as usual, looking forward to my next jaunt out to los angeles.  hoping it’ll be a longer stay on the west coast, though, because i’d love to drive up to san francisco and, maybe, portland if at all possible, and that’ll take at least 10 days.  right now, though, i’ve got to rewrite my book, and i was able to work on it a little on my flight back to new york, and i’m super stoked for this rewrite and for this book, so let’s go go go!
Zoom Info
a few things from los angeles last week:
-  los angeles is great to visit, but i couldn’t live there again, at least not for a great long while.  i realised that, for the first time, i’ve let myself lay down emotional roots in a city, so my heart is pretty securely fastened to new york city — i mean, not like it wasn’t before, but there are physical roots now, too, and i have no intention of leaving this city i love for a long, long time.  except to travel.
-  los angeles is great to visit, though, because my parents are still there, my brother is a barely-two-hour flight away, and i’ve got a great circle of friends i love to see as often as i can.  and the food — ohhh, the food — los angeles has great food.  different kinds of great food than new york has — like korean food.  and tacos.  and in n out.
-  i started reading my first novel in korean!  currently 50 pages in, which might not sound like much, but i have never gotten this far in a novel in korean before.  ever.  i’ve been circling the words i don’t know in pencil, and, yes, there are still a lot of words i don’t know, and, sometimes, i’m circling three, four, five words in a row, but, amazingly enough, i’m still able to comprehend the story and understand what’s being said through context.  kinda crazy.  further, i’ve noticed that my reading speed has improved pretty drastically, and, you know, i’ve all that translating of nell-related things to thank for that!
-  lea seydoux is fucking gorgeous.  i could stare at her face all day.
-  as usual, looking forward to my next jaunt out to los angeles.  hoping it’ll be a longer stay on the west coast, though, because i’d love to drive up to san francisco and, maybe, portland if at all possible, and that’ll take at least 10 days.  right now, though, i’ve got to rewrite my book, and i was able to work on it a little on my flight back to new york, and i’m super stoked for this rewrite and for this book, so let’s go go go!
Zoom Info

a few things from los angeles last week:

-  los angeles is great to visit, but i couldn’t live there again, at least not for a great long while.  i realised that, for the first time, i’ve let myself lay down emotional roots in a city, so my heart is pretty securely fastened to new york city — i mean, not like it wasn’t before, but there are physical roots now, too, and i have no intention of leaving this city i love for a long, long time.  except to travel.

-  los angeles is great to visit, though, because my parents are still there, my brother is a barely-two-hour flight away, and i’ve got a great circle of friends i love to see as often as i can.  and the food — ohhh, the food — los angeles has great food.  different kinds of great food than new york has — like korean food.  and tacos.  and in n out.

-  i started reading my first novel in korean!  currently 50 pages in, which might not sound like much, but i have never gotten this far in a novel in korean before.  ever.  i’ve been circling the words i don’t know in pencil, and, yes, there are still a lot of words i don’t know, and, sometimes, i’m circling three, four, five words in a row, but, amazingly enough, i’m still able to comprehend the story and understand what’s being said through context.  kinda crazy.  further, i’ve noticed that my reading speed has improved pretty drastically, and, you know, i’ve all that translating of nell-related things to thank for that!

-  lea seydoux is fucking gorgeous.  i could stare at her face all day.

-  as usual, looking forward to my next jaunt out to los angeles.  hoping it’ll be a longer stay on the west coast, though, because i’d love to drive up to san francisco and, maybe, portland if at all possible, and that’ll take at least 10 days.  right now, though, i’ve got to rewrite my book, and i was able to work on it a little on my flight back to new york, and i’m super stoked for this rewrite and for this book, so let’s go go go!

february reads:
seven.  man walks into a room, nicole krauss.

he struggled against the urge to call anna.  he wanted to hear her voice, to test out how it sounded in the hollow space of the desert, to perform his own experiments ont he nature of absence.  but something in him didn’t want to give in to it, didn’t want to admit to whatever else it was that made him want to call her.  in the end he picked up the phone and dialed anyway.  she wasn’t home.  it was nine o’clock at night in new york, too late for her to be at work and too early for her to be asleep, which meant she was somewhere out in the glowing city.  (136)

another of those books i reread every once in a while, and it never disappoints.  man walks into a room is more “traditional,” which isn’t surprising because it’s a first novel, and, maybe, in that way, it’s a little less exciting than krauss’ more ambitious the history of love.  there’s a quietness to man walks into a room, though; in heavier hands, it could have been a, well, heavier story; but krauss is so deft in exploring this idea of loss — and there’s an ease to this slim novel that i think i find rather soothing. 
also, this is still one of my favourite passages ever:

He wanted to shut it off and sit in the dark once and for all, to cup his hand over the phone and say, Tell me, was I the sort of person who took your elbow when cars passed on the street, touched your cheek while you talked, combed your wet hair, stopped by the side of the road in the country to point out certain constellations, standing behind you so that you had the advantage of leaning and looking up? — and so on with a list that would keep her talking through the night. But he didn’t ask because he didn’t know if he wanted the answers. It was better, he felt, had felt from the beginning, not to know. He only wanted to pose the questions, as if just caring enough to ask might give absolution.  (140)

eight.  frankenstein, mary shelley.


'yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; i am alone.'  (223)

frankenstein is one of my favourites overall and also one of my favourite classics.  it’s very … neat, like tidy neat, in the way that i feel some classics tend to be (dracula feels that way to me, too, and even wuthering heights and jane eyre), but it explores the human condition in interesting and, even, frightening ways.  one of the more interesting points in the novel for me is when frankenstein is creating a companion creature and he’s suddenly thinking about the potential consequences of his work, suddenly placing upon himself the greater good of the greater world.  also when he says in his narration, “i was guiltless, but i had indeed drawn down a horrible curse upon my head, as mortal as that of crime.”  (167)  because i couldn’t quite consider frankenstein as being entirely guiltless, but then that makes you wonder what guilt is because, technically — technically — he didn’t do anything wrong.
nine.  i’ll be right there, shin kyung-sook.

"miru writes down everything she eat."  myungsuh answered for her.
everything?  miru ignored my stares and continued writing it all down.
"why do you do that?" i asked.
"because then it feels real," she said.
"what does?"
"being alive."  (110-1)

luckily, this one didn’t have me weeping in public places.  it did bum me out a little, though, because it’s a pretty sombre book, but not in a cumbersome, heavy way.  there’s a lightness to it that keeps pulling you forward, that says that, yeah, the characters in this book were in a hard place and lost a lot, but that, even so, they were still okay.  that, no matter how much things changed, at that moment, they’d still had each other.
it wasn’t a perfect novel, though, and, for much it, i felt like i was being held at arm’s length.  nonetheless, this is a book that’s sat with me, one i want to revisit in a few months because it’s left an impression and i want to come back to it, see how it feels after some time has passed.
also:

"human beings are imperfect.  we are complicated, indefinable by any wise saying or moral.  the guilt, wondering what i’d done wrong, will follow me my whole life like my own shadow.  the more you love someone, the stronger that feeling is.  but if we cannot despair over the things we’ve lost, then what does it all mean?  but … i don’t want that despair to damage your souls."  (professor yoon) (294)

ten.  the night guest, fiona macfarlane.to put it very bluntly, this was a disappointment.  maybe i’d gone into it with too high expectations because i’d seen favourable reviews floating around at the end of last year, and, when i bought the book at housing works, the guy ringing me up was super ecstatic about it, saying that his co-volunteer had read it and said it was so creepy.  thus my expectations.
it started off promising enough, but, as i kept reading, my interest kept flagging, until i hit the middle of the book and realized i felt nothing for the book, except some anger towards frida.  and then i had a moment of, oh, this book is going to end this way, isn’t it? — and, lo and behold, i was right.  it wasn’t an interesting sort of predictability, either, so, by the end, i was literally just flipping pages just to get to the end.
—
currently reading jo kyung-ran’s tongue, which is making me all sorts of hungry because the narrator is a chef and the book has thus far been stuffed with these wonderful passages about food.  thinking that maybe in march i’ll try to read modern korean authors because i have a few novellas to read, as well as hwang sok-young’s the old garden, which is a pretty hefty volume, and kim young-ha’s black flower.
also thinking that i really should get on with challenging myself and start reading korean literature … in korean.  i mean, if i really want to get better at this language …..!!!

february reads:

seven.  man walks into a room, nicole krauss.

he struggled against the urge to call anna.  he wanted to hear her voice, to test out how it sounded in the hollow space of the desert, to perform his own experiments ont he nature of absence.  but something in him didn’t want to give in to it, didn’t want to admit to whatever else it was that made him want to call her.  in the end he picked up the phone and dialed anyway.  she wasn’t home.  it was nine o’clock at night in new york, too late for her to be at work and too early for her to be asleep, which meant she was somewhere out in the glowing city.  (136)

another of those books i reread every once in a while, and it never disappoints.  man walks into a room is more “traditional,” which isn’t surprising because it’s a first novel, and, maybe, in that way, it’s a little less exciting than krauss’ more ambitious the history of love.  there’s a quietness to man walks into a room, though; in heavier hands, it could have been a, well, heavier story; but krauss is so deft in exploring this idea of loss — and there’s an ease to this slim novel that i think i find rather soothing. 

also, this is still one of my favourite passages ever:

He wanted to shut it off and sit in the dark once and for all, to cup his hand over the phone and say, Tell me, was I the sort of person who took your elbow when cars passed on the street, touched your cheek while you talked, combed your wet hair, stopped by the side of the road in the country to point out certain constellations, standing behind you so that you had the advantage of leaning and looking up? — and so on with a list that would keep her talking through the night. But he didn’t ask because he didn’t know if he wanted the answers. It was better, he felt, had felt from the beginning, not to know. He only wanted to pose the questions, as if just caring enough to ask might give absolution.  (140)

eight.  frankenstein, mary shelley.

'yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; i am alone.'  (223)

frankenstein is one of my favourites overall and also one of my favourite classics.  it’s very … neat, like tidy neat, in the way that i feel some classics tend to be (dracula feels that way to me, too, and even wuthering heights and jane eyre), but it explores the human condition in interesting and, even, frightening ways.  one of the more interesting points in the novel for me is when frankenstein is creating a companion creature and he’s suddenly thinking about the potential consequences of his work, suddenly placing upon himself the greater good of the greater world.  also when he says in his narration, “i was guiltless, but i had indeed drawn down a horrible curse upon my head, as mortal as that of crime.”  (167)  because i couldn’t quite consider frankenstein as being entirely guiltless, but then that makes you wonder what guilt is because, technically — technically — he didn’t do anything wrong.

nine.  i’ll be right there, shin kyung-sook.

"miru writes down everything she eat."  myungsuh answered for her.

everything?  miru ignored my stares and continued writing it all down.

"why do you do that?" i asked.

"because then it feels real," she said.

"what does?"

"being alive."  (110-1)

luckily, this one didn’t have me weeping in public places.  it did bum me out a little, though, because it’s a pretty sombre book, but not in a cumbersome, heavy way.  there’s a lightness to it that keeps pulling you forward, that says that, yeah, the characters in this book were in a hard place and lost a lot, but that, even so, they were still okay.  that, no matter how much things changed, at that moment, they’d still had each other.

it wasn’t a perfect novel, though, and, for much it, i felt like i was being held at arm’s length.  nonetheless, this is a book that’s sat with me, one i want to revisit in a few months because it’s left an impression and i want to come back to it, see how it feels after some time has passed.

also:

"human beings are imperfect.  we are complicated, indefinable by any wise saying or moral.  the guilt, wondering what i’d done wrong, will follow me my whole life like my own shadow.  the more you love someone, the stronger that feeling is.  but if we cannot despair over the things we’ve lost, then what does it all mean?  but … i don’t want that despair to damage your souls."  (professor yoon) (294)

ten.  the night guest, fiona macfarlane.
to put it very bluntly, this was a disappointment.  maybe i’d gone into it with too high expectations because i’d seen favourable reviews floating around at the end of last year, and, when i bought the book at housing works, the guy ringing me up was super ecstatic about it, saying that his co-volunteer had read it and said it was so creepy.  thus my expectations.

it started off promising enough, but, as i kept reading, my interest kept flagging, until i hit the middle of the book and realized i felt nothing for the book, except some anger towards frida.  and then i had a moment of, oh, this book is going to end this way, isn’t it? — and, lo and behold, i was right.  it wasn’t an interesting sort of predictability, either, so, by the end, i was literally just flipping pages just to get to the end.

currently reading jo kyung-ran’s tongue, which is making me all sorts of hungry because the narrator is a chef and the book has thus far been stuffed with these wonderful passages about food.  thinking that maybe in march i’ll try to read modern korean authors because i have a few novellas to read, as well as hwang sok-young’s the old garden, which is a pretty hefty volume, and kim young-ha’s black flower.

also thinking that i really should get on with challenging myself and start reading korean literature … in korean.  i mean, if i really want to get better at this language …..!!!

in case you weren’t aware of how much i love snow.  and winter.  i honestly wouldn’t mind if the weather stayed like it’s been all month — a few intense snow days with sunny, warmer days in-between — because the thought of summer in a few months fills me with dread.
went a-walking around brooklyn bridge park today (though the bottom two photos are from cadman plaza park and pratt), and it was snowing pretty heavily by the time i was about to head into the subway station and mosey back home.  having trust issues with my iphone 5, though, because she keeps shutting down on me even when she’s got tons of battery left (like 70-some%), although i can boot her up again by toggling her power button after waiting a few minutes.  pain in the ass, though, especially because my iphone = my music player = my camera, and those are really the only uses i have for it.  (phone calls?  who makes those???)
yes yes, i know; i should take her in to the apple store, but i bet they’ll just tell me it’s a bad battery, aka please give us $79 to replace it when your battery worked fine until the goddamn ios 7 upgrade.
anyway, woollim’s being good and streaming nell’s christmas concert on youtube tomorrow (february 17, 10 a.m. for folks on the east coast!), so, between snow and nell, the weekend can’t be anything but swell.  (:  helps that there’s progress being made on the writing front, too.  and that my friend brought me a jar of the coconut curry simmer sauce i’m in love with and have been looking for but couldn’t find …!
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in case you weren’t aware of how much i love snow.  and winter.  i honestly wouldn’t mind if the weather stayed like it’s been all month — a few intense snow days with sunny, warmer days in-between — because the thought of summer in a few months fills me with dread.
went a-walking around brooklyn bridge park today (though the bottom two photos are from cadman plaza park and pratt), and it was snowing pretty heavily by the time i was about to head into the subway station and mosey back home.  having trust issues with my iphone 5, though, because she keeps shutting down on me even when she’s got tons of battery left (like 70-some%), although i can boot her up again by toggling her power button after waiting a few minutes.  pain in the ass, though, especially because my iphone = my music player = my camera, and those are really the only uses i have for it.  (phone calls?  who makes those???)
yes yes, i know; i should take her in to the apple store, but i bet they’ll just tell me it’s a bad battery, aka please give us $79 to replace it when your battery worked fine until the goddamn ios 7 upgrade.
anyway, woollim’s being good and streaming nell’s christmas concert on youtube tomorrow (february 17, 10 a.m. for folks on the east coast!), so, between snow and nell, the weekend can’t be anything but swell.  (:  helps that there’s progress being made on the writing front, too.  and that my friend brought me a jar of the coconut curry simmer sauce i’m in love with and have been looking for but couldn’t find …!
Zoom Info

in case you weren’t aware of how much i love snow.  and winter.  i honestly wouldn’t mind if the weather stayed like it’s been all month — a few intense snow days with sunny, warmer days in-between — because the thought of summer in a few months fills me with dread.

went a-walking around brooklyn bridge park today (though the bottom two photos are from cadman plaza park and pratt), and it was snowing pretty heavily by the time i was about to head into the subway station and mosey back home.  having trust issues with my iphone 5, though, because she keeps shutting down on me even when she’s got tons of battery left (like 70-some%), although i can boot her up again by toggling her power button after waiting a few minutes.  pain in the ass, though, especially because my iphone = my music player = my camera, and those are really the only uses i have for it.  (phone calls?  who makes those???)

yes yes, i know; i should take her in to the apple store, but i bet they’ll just tell me it’s a bad battery, aka please give us $79 to replace it when your battery worked fine until the goddamn ios 7 upgrade.

anyway, woollim’s being good and streaming nell’s christmas concert on youtube tomorrow (february 17, 10 a.m. for folks on the east coast!), so, between snow and nell, the weekend can’t be anything but swell.  (:  helps that there’s progress being made on the writing front, too.  and that my friend brought me a jar of the coconut curry simmer sauce i’m in love with and have been looking for but couldn’t find …!