Monday, August 10, 2015

Recent Favorite Books, Part 5

Here are all the recent favorite books, and here are some from my summer reading regimen, which, evidently, is "Women + Sebald."

The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink
"Now, in town, you never know whether the neighbors are home. Even in the backcountry of Yosemite, there are those other people with a pass. Nearly anywhere you go, someone might hear or see you. But not on a levee by the Elbe two miles from the nearest town in dense fog at six o'clock on a Sunday morning in September. They say in space no one can hear you scream, but why would a person with a sense of dignity scream anywhere else?" (93)

The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
"This then, I thought, as I looked round about me, is the representation of history. It requires a falsification of perspective. We, the survivors, see everything from above, see everything at once, and still we do not know how it was. The  desolate field extends all around where once fifty thousand soldiers and ten thousand horses met their end within a few hours. The night after the battle, the air must have been filled with death rattles and groans. Now there is nothing but the silent brown soil. Whatever became of the corpses and mortal remains? Are they buried under the memorial? Are we standing on a mountain of death? Is that our ultimate vantage point? Does one really have the much-vaunted historical overview from such a position?" (125)

 from the museum about dunwich in orford...

The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald
"When I wake up, I see the jars of preserves ranged on the chest and in the cold compartments of the tiled stove. I try in vain to work out what they mean. They don't mean anything, says Mama, they're just cherries, plums and pears." (206)

The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits
"I am no longer immune, however, to the occasional plummet in time altitude. A plummet happened the other night. I found myself lying in bed and thinking about Mexican wineglasses, the green kind with the air bubbles. They are the size of goblets. I'd put a lot of identity stock, at one time in my life, in Mexican wineglasses. I'd bought some in my twenties, and they represented a pinnacle achievement in self-realization. Thinking of these wineglasses reminded me of a trip I'd taken through Mexico with a boyfriend when we were both in our twenties; we'd driven a two-piston rental through mountain ruts. We slept in fields. We emerged in a town with white walls and caf├ęs, and were there also Mexican wineglasses? Did I buy mine there? I don't think so. I only remember a photo I took in that town of a white adobe wall and, rising above it, a crucifix atop a church dome. I was not religious, yet the photograph was so religious that I felt I shouldn't or couldn't be as fond of it as I was. But now, lying in bed and thinking about wineglasses, I found myself thinking of this photo, and the girl who took it, and the town--I'll never know its name--and I felt the kind of longing for that girl/town/photo I feel for my children at night when they are asleep." (59)

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
"And then, with a slow, luxuriant thrill, I realized that everything was different about the house I was in. It was the hawk. I shut my eyes. The hawk had filled the house with wildness as a bowl of lilies fills a house with scent." (65)

And, the best for last (I went crazy for this book, which I found much more satisfying than Bluets).

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
"If you're looking for sexual tidbits as a female child, and the only ones that present themselves depict child rape or other violations (my favorite books in my preteen years: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Clan of the Cave Bear, The World According to Garp, as well as the few R-rated movies I was allowed to see--Fame, most notably, with its indelible scene of Irene Cara being asked to take her shirt off and suck her thumb by a skeezy photographer who promises to make her a star), then your sexuality will form around that fact. There is no control group. I don't even want to talk about "female sexuality" until there is a control group. And there never will be." (66)

"But whatever I am, or have since become, I know now that slipperiness isn't all of it. I know now that a studied evasiveness has its own limitations, its own ways of inhibiting certain forms of happiness and pleasure. The pleasure of abiding. The pleasure of insistence, of persistence. The pleasure of obligation, the pleasure of dependency. The pleasures of ordinary devotion. The pleasure of recognizing that one may have to undergo the same realizations, write the same notes in the margin, return to the same themes in one's work, relearn the same emotional truths, write the same book over and over again--not because one is stupid or obstinate or incapable of change, but because such revisitations constitute a life." (112)

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