August 20th, 2007


Descent Into Cleveland

Yesterday and today have suddenly been very cold and rainy--I broke out the tartan blanket to watch Red with the dogs laying about hunting-lodge style. Also made lamb-cilantro stew in the crock pot all day, which made the house smell of mushrooms and turnips and, well, lamb. It was all so autumnal, but I think it's too much to hope for that the weather has already turned and autumn is here early because it knows I love it. So I treasure a few rainy grey days in anticipation of more boring old blue to come.

It was, for all that, a packed and cozy weekend. Friday was khiron1416's housewarming party...and I am in such deep house envy I don't even want to talk about it. Let it be understood that he and his girl throw a great party, their cats are humongous and adorable, and their new place is gorgeous. I find I always think, on seeing any given house, about what it would be like to work there, what I would write in this or that corner. By that measure alone, let alone all the other ones, the house plain rules. I got giggly on good wine. Good times.

We went to Little Italy on Saturday for the Feast of the Assumption, which was far lamer than I thought it would be, being basically food and nothing else. I had highly subpar gnocchi. I think with Italian food I'm at the point where it's a top notch restaurant (like Maxi's, which vrax and violetfaerie took us to last week) or nothing, as I can do better at home than the lackluster Romanesque performance of some of the restaurants on display. The best food was the random Russian stand, where we had potato pancakes. Next year I will go for the parade and that is all. We did, however, pick up a complete works of Jane Austen at Mac's Backs on the way to Little Italy, and put a massive, illustrated, illuminated copy of the Ramayana on hold so that no one else could get their grubby hands on it whilst I save up. And at a little shop by the mediocre gnocchi, we indulged ourselves in tiny little gifts for each other, which is still an activity that feels gentle and secret and wonderful: a mother of pearl cameo and a gilt map of Italy. (We are both of us so obsessed with maps! We'll be lucky if the house isn't plastered in them!) We didn't Assump, but we had a nice time.

On Sunday I got a little scenic driving tour of the rural east side and justbeast's old high school, which looks ludicrously like something out of Dead Poets' Society, or like a Middle American Hogwart's. I would have loved to go to a school like that, with such sprawling grounds. Public school girl, though, born and bred, can't hope for such things. I do love visiting places that the people I know now frequented before. It is a way of threading bits of disparate life together, like prayer flags. For someone like me for whom moving means moving states or countries, not down the street, it's important, somehow, to knit things together like that, to lay memories over and atop one another.

justbeast and I also played a bit of old-school Sega and Nintendo, as part of our new Sekrit Projekt. I used to spend hours and hours playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with my brother back in California, when we were both wee and mostly interested in wasting time. It was far harder than I remembered, not particularly helped by the emulator slowing everything down at random times. I indulged my old fondness for the "player two" characters like Luigi and Tails, who I always felt sorry for, being upstaged by their big brothers (though damn if Tails doesn't really really look like a girl). And we smacked people around with a bicycle chain and ate egg rolls for awhile with River City Ransom. A good game for kids, really, with its lessons of "Hit everyone you see until they die, then steal their quarters" and "the entire world is someone else's turf." However, my favorite screen cap was definitely "IT'S THE GENERIC DUDES' TURF!" Which made me think of roving bands of generic dudes, in beige, with Starbucks cups and iPhones. They would have a secret handshake that looked just like the regular one.

And now it is pouring and I'm in the Mac Cafe, slowly inching towards working. This weekend I'm teaching about style at the Skyline Writers Conference, and then we are off in our magical ship to the St. Lawrence river for a week. I'm rather fiercely looking forward to it.
  • Current Mood
    awake awake

Sigh of Relief--Book Does Not Entirely Suck

First review of In the Cities of Coin and Spice today!

The second and concluding volume of Tiptree Award–winner Valente's Orphan's Tales (after 2006's In the Night Garden), structured as a series of nested stories, is a fairy tale lover's wildest dream come true. A mysterious orphan girl, whose eyelids are darkly tattooed with the closely packed words from a seemingly endless number of fantastical tales, lives secretly in a palace garden. The girl shares her stories with the enthralled young heir to the Sultanate, who returns again and again to hear incredible yarns about one-armed heroes, hunchbacked ferrymen, giants, voracious gem eaters, conniving hedgehogs, harpies, djinns and singing Manticores. But with the wedding of the prince's sister Dinarzad (a not-so-subtle homage to The Arabian Nights) quickly approaching and harsh reality encroaching on the surreal garden, the orphan girl's stories finally run out. Cleverly examining and reconstructing the conventions of the fairy tale, especially the traditional roles of men and women, Valente has created a thought-provoking storytelling tour de force. (Nov.)

--Publisher's Weekly

W00t! I am a tour de force!
  • Current Mood
    excited excited