Patrick has a good and…

Patrick has a good and intelligent rant on the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. I'm too sleepy and incoherent to write anything on it right now, but since I'd probably write something with very similar content, you might as well just read his.

My mind is working in small bobbles and steps right now. I'm not sure why I woke up at 6:30. I woke up with a very sharp, clear thought, though -- "I don't want to look back on my life when I'm 80 and find that I'd lived alone for most of it." Okay, well and good. Thank you, subconscious, for that moment of clarity. We did know that already, y'know. We have plans for dealing with it even. Did you have to wake us up (when we're already short of sleep and spent half the night coughing) to remind us?

Karina has a cold. Therefore I have a cold. I knew there was a downside to living with someone. I had forgotten the endless winter cold that Kevin and I traded back and forth from November to April in Chicago and Philly.

I think I wanted to tell y'all my travel schedule, but since part of it isn't finalized yet, I'll wait. Soon.

Read Strange Horizons! There's a great story by Howard Waldrop about...well, I don't even know how to describe it, really. Just a plot synopsis would be really misleading, I think. Trust me -- it's really good. Plus articles on him and a review of his new e-book (which is out from Electric Story, which is run by Bob Kruger, who I went to Clarion with (and could probably have developed a crush on, but refrained because a) I already had a crush on British Alex and b) Bob's happily married)). And a new gallery too. Pretty pictures. All good.

Oh, and I started to get kind of pissed off at Columbine's latest, but I don't have the energy. As for the Modern Library List, I will comment here only on the ones I've read, I've liked, and that I would also recommend to others:

1. Ulysses by James Joyce (I haven't been able to get into this one, but it's Kevin's favorite book; he's read it multiple times, for fun. Which is a good reminder of the difference in tastes.)

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- read this in high school, liked it at the time, plan to read it again when I get a chance.

3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce -- great story, very accessible; I like it better than Dubliners, which many people think of as the 'easiest' Joyce.

4. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov -- I absolutely love this book. And him. The story is great, the language is a delight, I wasn't ever bored, and when I finished it, I went out and read all the Nabokov I could find in used bookstores. Ada is probably my second favorite (an incestuous relationship between siblings who are really cousins but aren't supposed to know they're siblings but do because they're very smart and precocious. Seems like it's just going to be clever at first; ends up incredibly touching).

5. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley -- also enjoyed in high school, on my re-read list.

6. The Sound and Fury by William Faulkner -- probably in my top ten books of all time list. Gorgeous. Heartbreaking. Yes, the multiple shifting points of view are a little tricky to manage at first, but if you just don't work too hard at it, if you coast along with Faulkner and let him carry you through these people lives, I think he amply rewards you for the extra effort.

13. 1984, by George Orwell -- liked in high school, must re-read soon.

15. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf -- okay, I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my list, and her Orlando is not just great fiction, but great science fiction. Terrific story, beautifully written. Hilarious protagonist. Great movie version as well.

19. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison -- I really enjoyed this as a story; but it's one of the few books I would say you should read even if you don't like it as a story, because it's so important re: American race relations. It does a better job of conveying quite a lot of complicated personal positioning than an essay is ever likely to. And the feeling you have at the end of the book, as you huddle with the protagonist in that little room...completely chilling.

25. A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster -- brilliant. Terrific. His heroine here is one of my favorite heroines in fiction. Even though she's not a heroine for most of the book. Especially because of that, in fact. I think most of us don't manage to be heroic all the time; if we manage one moment of actual heroism, that is something astonishing.

31. Animal Farm, by George Orwell -- not sure I'd call this a good story, but lots of fun nonetheless. Full of fantastic elements.

38. Howards End, by E.M. Forster -- yeah, Forster! Very creepy ending to this story. If you like Jane Austen, try Forster. Great movie as well.

45. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway -- this is the book that redeems Hemingway for me; and does it so well that I forgive him all his other excesses. There's this one conversation between the couple...ah, makes my throat get tight just thinking about it.

50. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller -- he pisses me off every other page, but damn, the man can write. Not sure I'd call him a great storyteller, but I pick up this book periodically and read a few pages just to get all caught up and excited about language again, about the sheer beauty of words on the page (even when they're disgusting, repulsive words -- does he really need to refer to all women as 'cunts?)

53. Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov -- not only turned my ideas of what made a novel upside down, but managed to tell a terrific story at the same time. His protagonist is a man eaten up by jealousy; and it's just perfect that his story is told in footnotes. Hey, I just realized that this is academic satire as well as a great story! (I'm clearly slow.) It's fascinating the way academic's real opinions/personalities only show up in the (extensive) footnotes of some books. Did I mention the man is brilliant?

73. A House for Mr. Biswas, by V.S. Naipaul -- I liked this; David adores Naipaul, so we'll leave him on the list for that. :-)

78. Kim, by Rudyard Kipling -- read as a kid and liked a lot; must read as an adult. Great adventure story.

79. A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster -- Terrific and a lot lighter than the other Forster I've read; a great starter story; romantic :-).

90. Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie -- Gorgeous, irritating, lush, intense, a completely idiosyncratic narrator; much fun, especially if you like storytelling. And a massive dose of the fantastic. I don't know what Columbine is talking about -- several of the books listed here have strong elements of the fantastic. This one is practically science fiction -- the protagonist is telepathic, after all.

So, I haven't mentioned so many. I'm recommending almost 20 books on the list; I've only read about 25 or so. That sounds like a pretty damn good average; my friends' recommendations rarely do that well. I think my conclusion after reviewing all of these is that while they may not draw you in quite as quickly as the latest-epic-fantasy-of-the-week does, you remember them a hell of a lot longer. *And* you can't put the book down once you get over that initial threshold. I can't, at any rate. So I don't really know what Columbine is talking about. These are *great* stories!

11:00. Lay down on the couch to read; fell asleep for two more hours. Woke up still tired, but too awake to sleep more. So I took photos instead: (It Takes) Three for the Blues. This is a necklace that Elise gave me at WisCon years ago; in exchange, I was supposed to write a response to it (she titled it). I fell in love with it because it seemed so perfect for me and Kev and Karina...but while I wrote a song, I'm not happy with the song. I need to write something better. I'm still thinking about it. But in the interim, I'm still wearing the necklace...

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