Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here's to hope, salvation, and long looks

A shotglass of oaky wisdom from Flannery O'Conner:

"...people without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality, and it's very shocking to the system. If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won't survive the ordeal. People without hope not only don't write novels, but what is more to the point, they don't read them. They don't take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is the refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience."--Mystery and Manners

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Really Burns My Biscuit

Say it ain't so. While Lily moving from Knoxville? It's the best flour and corn meal on the planet. Heavenly flakey biscuits.

Don't touch it, Smuckers!

I went right out and bought three huge brand new bags (flour and corn meal) at my local grocer's after reading this article in the NYT:

FOR generations of Southern bakers, the secret to weightless biscuits has been one simple ingredient passed from grandmother to mother to child: White Lily all-purpose flour...But at the end of June, the mill, with its shiny wood floors, turquoise and red grinders and jiggling armoire-size sifters, will shut its doors. The J. M. Smucker Company, which bought the brand a year ago, has already begun producing White Lily at two plants in the Midwest, causing ripples of anxiety that Southern biscuits will never be the same.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yesterday in the mail: my copy of the unabridged recording of A Garden Angel from Recorded Books. Nine cassettes. Ten-plus hours. Available in libraries, etc...or for purchase for 100 bucks or so.

It's a thrill, listening to one's novel being read by a professional.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I've Got a Thing for Statues

In NYC recently, I found myself snapping photos of statues (and those really cool gargoyles on buildings).

I love this statue of Gandhi

Here's Mike at the NY Botanical Garden, "cracking up."

My favorite, from Union Square, perhaps because he's pointing like the statue that figures in the opening line of novel two, Secret Keepers:
The town had moved the Confederate monument from the square to the gates of Springforth Cemetery some twenty years after the war of Northern Aggression, and General Robert E. Lee--who stood atop the mossy marble with a scowl--had never quite recovered. The general was listing, slowly sinking in the boggy soil, his finger pointing no longer at the ghostly Union brigade ahead, but just down and to the left, toward the new Ideal Laundry Factory, as if to demand extra starch.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to Work

I'm back from the Big Apple. I spent a week there, on business and pleasure. Pleasurable business, actually. It's one of my favorite places on earth.

Went to the Flatiron Building to meet with St. Martin's and Picador people, which was great fun, and involved lunch at an Italian place, and also a view from that gorgeous building.

Had to make the the NY Botanical Garden's Darwin exhibit in the Bronx.

Returning home, found the garden flourishing, thanks to my loved ones' meticulous watering--we're in a sever drought down here-- with the pumpkin vine jumping the fence and the zucchini and cucumbers ready for harvesting.
My sister said the zucchini I'm holding--here-- looked "happier" than the cukes maybe because it's bigger. Which strikes me as Freudian. Not going there.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The House on Fortune Street

Just finished Margot Livesey's latest novel, The House on Fortune Street. Loved it. Recommend it. The novel, told in four interlocking narratives (from four different characters), is compelling, chiefly because Livesey deftly handles characters' emotional (and secret) quandaries. Is a husband's hunch about his wife's infidelity true? Will a father act on his unholy urges? Why did a young woman take her own life? The suspense, along with rich characterization will keep you thinking for days after you finish the last sentence. Here's an excerpt.
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