· Zhu Wen, I love Dollars - Samuel Beckett packs Molloy and Malone off to modern-day mainland China! Crazy hijinks ensue!!!
· 86: Best Canadian Short Stories - because I am a total sucker for contemporary Canadian LitFic. Grew up on the stuff, can't get enough of it, etc.
· William Faulkner, Selected Short Stories - Some people make fun of Faulkner. I find him utterly compelling, and have since I slurped down As I Lay Dying in one day when I was nineteen. "Barn Burning" and "Two Soldiers" have that same relentless, heart-poundingly unstoppable quality for me. Can't get enough.
Not reading anymore:
· David Helwig, The Streets of Summer - Meh. If I can see where I'd cut stuff to make your story better, if I can see through your dialogue, that distracts me from enjoying the story. I don't have time for that. This is a pity, because Helwig is the editor of many of my fave CanLitFic collections, so I was really hoping I'd be into his own work. And yet: no.
Still on the shelf, queued up:
· Best American Short Stories 2006
· The Picador Book of Contemporary Chinese Fiction
Suddenly reading tons again. Mostly short stories/novellas, as usual. And writing a bunch, but that's just for me (for now). Anyway: reading enough that I want to keep track of it. So, to the best of my recollection, here's what I've read in the last week or so:
Saul Bellow - Ravelstein
James Joyce - "The Dead"
Patrick White - "Down at the Dump"
William Trevor - "A Meeting In Middle Age" and "Reasonable Access"
O. Henry - "Best-seller"
People. You have no idea how much faster that is than I usually read. Which was in fact getting me all down, because I have all this great stuff I've always wanted to read but "never had time".
So I decided to capitalize on this and grab a bunch of library books at Lillian Smith that I've been meaning to read forever and couldn't seem to get up the gumption to get through but now, wtf, I'm all gumptiontastic:
Zhu Wen - I Love Dollars and other stories - 6 stories, 228pp
David Helwig - The Streets of Summer - no table of contents! (what?), 177pp
Best American Short Stories 2006 - 20 stories, 358pp
The Picador Book of Contemporary Chinese Fiction - 21 stories, 294pp
I'm starting at the top of that list and just readin' through (since that's the order in which I'm excited about them). We'll see how far I get by September 17 (the due date). Lessee, that's 22 days. My goal is to get through the Zhu Wen and the David Helwig. Then I'll think about renewing the other two if I'm not done by then.
Heading to Ottawa this weekend for lil' brother Jon's shotgun hippie wedding. I get to hold a chuppah pole! Out in the woods and everything! Should be fun.
So our basement has a low ceiling. This means I have to constantly remember to stoop slightly or I get smacked in the forehead or poked viciously by a corner of drywall in the top of my skull. So today as part of the whole Passover thing I was moving some boxes around, and happened to be holding one that (a) was quite deep, so it came up to just below my chin and (b) had a picture frame wedged somewhat inelegantly into it such that a corner of the frame was pointed straight up, right at my mouth level.
Maybe you can see where this is going.
I stood up to hoist the extremely heavy box, and in my enthusiasm to get the @#$%er off the floor, smacked the top of my head good and hard on a projecting bit of the low ceiling. Ordinarily, this is enough to elicit some invective from me, with perhaps some vigorous rubbing of the affected region, and then I get on with my day.
The part you never think of (well, I never thought of) is that, when smacked rather hard on the top of your head, you have a (pretty sensible, all things considered) reflex which causes you to contract your neck muscles and duck your head back down away from the source of the smacking. Which works just fine when it's your reptilian brain trying to protect your stupid ape brain from the thing that just smacked the top of your head, unless you happen to have the sharp pointy corner of a picture frame just below your mouth, into which you then jam your face reflexively, which is to say, really effing hard.
Now there's this thing? About getting the corner of a picture frame jammed into your lip? Where not only does it hurt, but you whip your head back reflexively? Back and upward, to be precise, which works just fine when your reptilian brain is trying to save your stupid ape brain from the tree branch or whatever you just ran into in the jungle? But doesn't work so well when that means smacking my head back into the low ceiling.
You can clearly see where this is going now.
So after bopping my head back and forth a few times reflexively, which is to say (a) really, really hard, (b) really, really fast and (c) totally beyond my conscious control, I just dropped the box and screamed "FUCK!" really loudly. It was the first thing I could think of to do that would get my body to do something other than reflexively and cyclically pummeling itself to a bloody mess. I now look like someone kicked me in the mouth a few times for fun.
Note to self: DO NOT DO.
M went and bought an unreasonable amount of money's worth of Passover food at Sobey's today, and then left it in the car for me to somehow get into the house when I got home. Luckily I learned my lesson last time, and grabbed the kids' little green wagon (fixed! ha!) and used it to cart stuff in from the garage. Four trips! And I only managed to overfill and tip the thing over on one of them.
Soon: cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. Followed by a week of vacation spent mostly with my extended family, parents in from Ottawa, and the like. Some people find this kind of thing scary; I actually like my family, and I somehow also perversely like Passover food, so this should be just fine.
Later: wallowing in overpriced food debt.
So much going on! So fast! Aaaaaa!
So let's see uh, start with being spontaneously invited over for homemade pizza dinner yesterday by people we'd just met at the park. With charming kids roughly the same age as our kids. Who live just down the street from us. And that was the tail end of a most delightful weekend of neighbourhood neighbourliness, most of which was along the same lines.
Today: back to the grind. I dipped my toe into the oozing pit of Websphere 6 at work, and well, it got oozed on, as expected. Tonight was the first aikido class back at our usual practice space, renovations on the community centre that hosts us having been completed. It was good to be back, but as I've been remarking to aiki-friends, aikido just feels kinda... off to me these days. Not like I'm doing particularly poorly or anything, just... wierd. I'm sure, like most such phases at aikido and other practices, it'll pass, but it is noteworthy in its unprecedentedness. Also: post-aikido beer at the Village Idiot, where I surprisingly bumped into my brother! It was nice to have his party join ours. People actually talked to each other and seemed to get along.
Then I came home and packed up/folded/arranged the very, very many cardboard boxes we've been accumulating as we unpack our stuff and assemble new Ikea furniture. Here's hoping the recycling guys don't pass over my omg-what-are-you-running-here-a-branch-of-the-LCBO pile...