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.


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.


Beautiful Sentences: Kathy Fish

The naked women and men and teenagers and toddlers and babies glowed like rich people’s teeth as they threw themselves upon the piles of their worldly belongings.

Kathy Fish, “Collection Day.”


Beautiful Sentences: Megan Giddings

What is the point of dating a self-proclaimed spirit of joy if she also tracks misery into your life?

Megan Giddings, “Vacations”


Dewey Decimal Project: 607.3474 CRE The electrifying fall of Rainbow City : Spectacle and assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair

The 600s are technology which managed to yield The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City courtesy of the Buffalo Pan American Exhibition’s exhibition of technology alongside the various cultural displays and sideshow acts.

This book isNewImage a sort of unofficial sequel to The Devil in the White City. As in that book, there is the intersection of a grand exhibition and a killer. In this case it’s Buffalo and the assassin of William McKinley, Leon Czolgosz. Where this falls short is that the Rainbow City was a somewhat less spectacular affair than Chicago’s White City and Czolgosz a less grotesque character than Dr Holmes. Even with that, there’s still plenty of interest between the electrification of Buffalo courtesy of generators at nearby Niagara Falls (along with an assortment of sideshow antics at the falls including the first person to go over the falls in a barrel). Creighton does a good enough job with the material that she has to work with.


Writerly Resolutions: September Status

September was a harsh month. NewImageI had hoped to have chapter 16 of the novel finished this month, but, as the curve at the right shows, I had a lot of not so productive days. 

I did have the wonderfully good fortune of having Goodreads suggest Masuji Ibuse’s Black Rain to me which covers similar material as chapter 16 should, so I have a source of additional background information. But I also am realizing that the writing needs to be especially poetic, almost as if I’m not writing a chapter of the novel, but I’m writing a 5,000-word poem and I’m not sure I’m up to the challenge. Hello, imposter syndrome.

At the same time, I did make some good progress revising an old story, and I’m feeling a bit more sanguine about it and I got a tiered rejection from a pretty high-end journal for the chapter of the trunked novel I have out on submission so all is not doom and gloom, plus I placed another one of the Chicago Sonnets for publication.

Beautiful Sentences: Kathy Fish

Nobody gets hurt on playgrounds anymore.

Kathy Fish, “Sea Creatures of Indiana.”


Beautiful Sentences: Idra Novey

There was really no predicting where, or when, the least lonely years of one’s adult life might begin.
Idra Novey, Those Who Knew.

Beautiful Sentences: Tom McAlister

I hated the part of me that could watch this happening and forget it was reality, wishing for terrible things to happen for the sake of my temporary entertainment.
Tom McAllister, How to Be Safe.