“Here we are with our noses to the grindstone. The grindstone is made of innumerable books which have to be transubstantiated into precisely the right number of articles, containing the right sentiments, views and facts, in the right number of words at the right moment. This not once, but weekly, every week, very month, every year—till all our precious time is over, and life, which surely has other uses, has poured in cataracts of printers ink, down the main gutter to the Thames. Perhaps the horror will mitigate. I have had only 4 days writing at my novel [Mrs. Dalloway] since I got back. Tomorrow, I say to myself, I shall plunge into the thick of it. But how does one make people talk about everything in the whole of life, so that one’s hair stands on end, in a drawing room? How can one weight and sharpen dialogue till each sentence tears its way like a harpoon and grapples with the shingles at the bottom of the reader’s soul? (L 3.36; 13 May 1923; to Gerald Brenan)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
- My Neighbor Totoro (Japan 1988) best for ages 4+
- Rabbit-Proof Fence (Australia 2002) 10+
- Children of Heaven (Iran 1997) 6+
- The Red Balloon (France 1956) 4+
- The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Mongolia 2005) 4+
- Azur and Asmar (The Arabic Middle East [? I have no idea what that means?!] 2006) 6+ (imdb tells me it’s a Belgian film)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
“No matter how patient the transcriber, a voice cannot be written down. Inevitably its flavour and richness is lost…On the page, Happy’s memories of her past read a little flatly…The taped interview, however, is a different story. Happy laughs throughout, a rich, throaty laugh, which often overcomes her, and stops her from talking….Mrs. Sturgeon also laughs every time she mentions a terrible experience. Her laughter ironizes much of what she recalls: ‘oh it was the the most marvelous door!’ she says, tongue in cheek, when she remembers the almost sacred ritual of cleaning the oak front door and the brass door knocker” (298)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Orwell’s relation to coal production remained abstract, whereas Woolf would see her own dinner cooked, her underwear scrubbed, and her chamber pot from the night before emptied and washed. Domestic work has always put the people doing the work and the ones benefiting from it in a deeply intimate and unequal relationship. Woolf needed to hire a woman in order to write. None of us, least of all a woman given to inward examination, wishes to think that the emotional conditions necessary for her to do the work she loves involve some form of oppression. These messy feelings of guilt and dependence may have been Woolf’s obstacle in depicting Nellie. Light’s book proves one thing that could not have been the problem: it wasn’t that Woolf didn’t love her enough.By contrast, I was quite disappointed with the conclusion of Claire Messud’s review in the Times. She writes "As readers, we must be grateful that Virginia had the good fortune to have help — she was so emotionally delicate that she would have written little without it."
Friday, February 12, 2010
Many years ago, I was at a conference in Oxford, feeling quite pleased with myself. My paper had gone well, I had made friends, I had spoken at Oxford! At the end of the day, I sat down next to a new acquaintance to await the last plenary talk. “Have you read Forever England?” My seatmate asked. I had not, but I was full of that anxious mix of adrenaline, confidence, and fear, so, to my regret I said “I heard it’s not very good.”
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Hello kitty kitty kitty¦ Are you an orphan? Are you Sudanese? Chadian? Are you a sub-Saharan African suffering from mild mental retardation? Are you an African woman suffering from the African male? Would you like an Oxfam biscuit? Organic antiretrovirals? Have you been raped? You might not know it, but you are an orphan, a refugee. Can we fly 103 of you to France to be loved? We can breastfeed you. We can make you a Darfur orphan. Even if you are not. If you are black and under 10 years old, please come talk to us.
Come kitty kitty.
Isn’t that fantastic? Especially in light of this Haitian story, in which some of the children reportedly still have parents(!). I love “You might not know it, but you are an orphan.” As with the longer piece on Africa, he cuts right to the core of blind sentimentality, the 21st-century Mrs. Jellybys, so sure that they are offering the best help for those whom they are so sure are desperately in need of it. You can read the whole piece here.
Or, as a commenter in the Times writes:
Don't play poker with a guy named Doc. Don't eat in a restaurant named Mom's. Don't go hiking without a compass near the North Korean Border. Don't travel to Iran to participate in anti-government demonstrations. Don't take a busload of kids across the border without their parents' permission. That's what my Daddy taught me.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Olivia Gentile’s Life List is the book I gave this Christmas. My mom and my mother-in-law both got copies. I loved this book. I think about it all the time. I am a little amazed to find that it’s not a bigger phenomenon than it is.