fiction, new from the book

new from the book #3

giddiness follows any completion of the written word, mundane or not.

“ ‘Which of you kicked me?’ said Hugh before his chin returned to its position on his chest, and his body sagged again to the porch rail. He had not been kicked.”

fantastical friday

fantastical Friday: February 28, 2014

last night, I saw the National Theater Live production of “War Horse.” It made me laugh, cry, weep, and question my own ability to write the truth. It also made me even more envious of people who live near enough a cultural wellspring to live life with a bit more depth. More importantly, it reminded me that creativity must be exercised and writing something simple is often more compelling than the most exquisitely crafted complexity.

In that spirit, I only have one link this week, but it is fantastic. “I Will Not Write Unless I Am Swaddled In Furs.” is John Babbott’s clever homage to the oddities that writers claim we require to do good work. A small sample:

“The beverage is of utmost importance. It must be hot, to contrast the rain, and must be either a coffee of reputable origin or a tea that no one has ever heard of, as the writing that follows (if the conditions are correct) will likewise be uniquely energizing and unexpected.”

Now go read the rest.


words: convivial

there are some words that simply are not used as often as they could be. Convivial is one of them, one I spotted in an article on costume design nominations for the Oscars, used to describe Amy Adams’ character in American Hustle.

“con·viv·i·al” >con·viv·i·al [kuhn-viv-ee-uh-l]

1. friendly; agreeable: a convivial atmosphere.
2. fond of feasting, drinking, and merry company; jovial.
3. of or befitting a feast; festive.

1660–70;  < Late Latin convīviālis  festal, equivalent to Latin convīvi ( um ) feast ( convīv ( ere ) to live together, dine together ( con- con- + vīvere  to live) + -ium)

definition from
fantastical friday

fantastical Friday: February 21, 2014

I’ve taken a break from Twitter for the past week and found it both considerably easier and impossibly more difficult than imagined. However, the completed section of book is getting good reviews from friends whose opinion I trust. Happy Friday, all.

Megan McArdle walks us through “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators” and further sociological study of the children of hovering parents at The Atlantic. The first half to two thirds of the article sound as though she might be living inside my head.

PBS’ Great Performances gave me the best Valentine’s Day gift: a Friday evening retrospective, originally filmed and shown live on British television, of the fifty years of the British National Theater. I am now fairly desperate to see a revival of “Pravda” with Ralph Fiennes in the lead role, lovely pretend South African accent and obscenities and all.

Vanity Fair did a wonderful thing: publishing untouched photographs of impossibly famous actors by Chuck Close in the Hollywood issue. One of my favorite fashion bloggers unpacks the advertising money and public sentiment behind why women are not allowed to age the way men are often encouraged.

Zainab Shah beautifully explains a Valentine’s Day in her teens, one in which friendship eventually trumped the forbidden lure of a boy.

I don’t have a DVR, and this article by Jon Caramanica for The New York Times does a fairly good job of explaining why.

This article for the BBC Magazine by Adm Gopnik on why he doesn’t tweet came at just the right time: in the middle of a personal week long embargo of Twitter. Actually, it came moments after I succumbed to check if I had received any mentions, on the third day of my attempted week without Twitter.

In retail sales, a place I’ve inhabited nearly my entire life as part of a four-generations family business, it behooves an occasionally snarky woman with opinions and definitive ideas to master a bit of a cheerleader giggle and childish vocal habits, if only to ensure customers aren’t offended. What annoys me is when my career tendencies crossover into normal life with a forcefully higher-pitched voice and tendency to speak in questions. Jessica Lahey explains in The Atlantic why and how teachers and others in positions of power need to work to counteract such baby-speak from girls before it becomes their default setting as unheard adult women.

fantastical friday

fantastical friday: February 7, 2014

the Winter Olympics are coming, the Olympics are coming. and that means an Opening Ceremonies party at a friend’s home later tonight, after having dug ourselves out of yet another snowstorm. Cupcakes are happening in my home. Read and ponder:

How “Do what you love, love what you do” devalues the work of the majority of people and “reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions, where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to pin and tweet on weekends, the 46 percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.”

Charles M. Blow writes eloquently on the trans-formative power of books of all shapes and sizes while lamenting the current statistics of non-readers.

“In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.” We could always use a reminder to do something instead of nothing, and “always go to the funeral” is as good a reminder as anything.

a little something about living according to Ben Franklin, a something I might just attempt to adapt to my own day.

over at The Telegraph fashion page, Polly Vernon discusses how sexy dressing has taken over the world, if possibly because “the rapidly evolving culture of online judgment…has conspired to encourage a sense that there is a right way and a wrong way to dress. In such a context, dressing sexily becomes almost a safe option. Its end point is defined, its rules are straightforward, its principles (short, tight, low, alluring) widely understood. It leaves no room for confusion. Sex sells and we are all beginning to feel like product these days.”

Alyssa Rosenberg hits the nail on the head in a way I hadn’t been able to define in response to the J.K. Rowling interview in which the author said, “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment…For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”