Beautiful Sentences: Yiyun Li

What if life could be saved by clichés? What if life must be lived by clichés? Somewhere tomorrow and somewhere yesterday—never somewhere today but cliché-land.

Yiyun Li, Where Reasons End.

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Dewey Decimal Project: 621.3092 COO The Truth About Tesla: The Myth of the Lone Genius in the History of Innovation

ContinuingNewImage through technology, we reach engineering. Spotting a book about Tesla, everyone’s favorite wizard of science, I decided I’d see what Cooper has to say, especially given his provocative title.

Cooper is a lawyer and this reads in a lot of ways like a legal brief. Cooper writes the life of Tesla with an agenda, to argue that Tesla’s genius was not the singular thing that many claim it to be while also attacking the concept of the lone genius in general. To this end, Cooper takes a systematic approach to Tesla’s life and inventions, showing the precedents for many of his great creations, most notably the AC motor/generator which is at the heart of Tesla’s reputation (I discount the wireless electricity transmission claims as these are objectively spurious and only championed by the most deluded of Tesla partisans).

Cooper, like a good lawyer, lays out his case in a way to make his conclusion seem inevitable and this perhaps is my biggest complaint: His legalistic style tends to take much of the energy out of the story.

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Beautiful Sentences: Nafkote Tamirat

He hadn’t meant to create them. He simply spoke to them as he had to others before, looking directly into their eyes, giving utterance to what he believed to be right, unflinching, beautiful.

Nafkote Tamirat, The Parking Lot Attendant.

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Beautiful Sentences: R. O. Kwon

If I was sick of Christ, it was because I hadn’t been able to stop loving Him, this made-up ghost I still grived as though He’d been real.

R. O. Kwon, The Incendiaries.

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Writerly Resolutions: October Status

October was Graph of progress on the novel in Octoberthe month I (mostly) finished chapter 16 of the novel. I still have draft 3 edits to do and I’d like to get some feedback on that and do some more edits after that. It’s not as good as I’d hoped, but nothing ever is.

I’ve also ended up getting a bunch of older stories revised and into the submissions queues. Very little progress on new stories though. My new writing energy continues to be mostly directed at the novel.

Beautiful Sentences: Roberto Bolaño

Desde la ventana Amalfitano los observaba mordiéndose los labios, aunque ese gesto en él, y en ese preciso instante, no era un gesto de desesperación o de impotencia sino de prunda, inabarcable tristeza.

Roberto Bolaño, 2666.

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Beautiful Sentences: R. O. Kwon

I spilled time into the piano as I’d have put cash in a bank.

R. O. Kwon, The Incendiaries.

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Beautiful Sentences: Roberto Bolaño

Y luego Espinoza oyó que alguien, el mismo estudiante, susurraba Morini… Morini… Morini, con una voz que no parecía la suya sino más bien la voz de un mago, o más concretamente, la voz de una maga, una adivina de la época del Imperio Romano, una voz que llegaba como el goteo de una fuente de basalto pero que no tardaba en crecer y desbordarse con un ruido ensordecedor, el ruido de miles de voces, el estruendo de un gran río salido de cauce que contiene, cifrado, el destino de todas las voces.

Roberto Bolaño, 2666.

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The Big Countdown

This year’s life expectancy number is 88 which continues an upward trend for me, but is still less than the highest number the calculator has given me. This means I have 37 years left to do everything I want to do, including seeing the kids grow up and, God willing, meet my grand kids, should I have some.

The past year has seen a decline in acceptances and even tiered rejections. So much for hitting my “stride as a writer” as I wrote last year. I am focusing on my novel increasingly which means that the short-term publishing is unlikely to move significantly.

Dewey Decimal Project: 616.994 MUK The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The 610s are oneNewImage of those sections of the library where there are a huge number of books, which is understandable as this is the medicine section and I have to imagine that self-diagnosing illnesses and/or researching treatments for illnesses, real and imagined, is a big use for the library.

I’d heard good things about The Emperor of Maladies so it was not an unfamiliar title when I spotted it on the shelves. My sister-in-law, who’s a doctor, saw it when I was in the middle of it and added her own endorsement of the book.

Much of the history of cancer takes place in the twentieth century, although that’s partly because so much of the history of medicine in general takes place in the twentieth century with medicine as a science being a relatively young discipline. The four humors theory of the functioning of the body managed to last into the nineteenth century despite the fact that two of the four humors turned out to not exist at all.

It seems somewhat miraculous that any treatment for cancer exists at all, or any understanding of cancer, for that matter, given the backwardness of medical science for so much of human history and even during the twentieth century, there was a lot of driving into long dead ends. Mukerhjee manages to make all of this compelling without giving in to oversimplification or distortion of the underlying science. Overall a book worthy of its praise.

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