February 2009 Archives


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Stuck, stuck, stuck. I know there's a massive conspiracy happening in the stupid and unreadable book I'm writing, but I'm hazy on the details. And I'm just at the point in the story where the details are becoming unavoidable.

Fortunately I discovered the Plot Ninjas (courtesy of NaNo). Literally, this is when you get so stuck in your plot that you write in a random ninja attack to get things moving again. It's also come to refer to a host of similar devices used to jump-start your characters. (Someone receives a life-changing gift; someone kills someone else; someone's leg falls off.)

I think the ninjas just might save me today. And how many days do you get to say that?


We write a book

Making notes about the book I am writing, I suddenly realized I am referring to the main character as "us." Scene 18: an attempt is made on our life. Scene 26: We sleep with the enemy.

Scene 1: We should try to get out more.

Great character names in literature

Gentleman Starkey (Peter Pan)
Ford Prefect (The Hitchhiker's Guide)
Elphaba Thropp (Wicked)
Flay (Gormenghast)
Shadow (American Gods)

Dickens also has some good stuff.

Seahorses: Mysteries of the Oceans, by Catherine Wallis

There are color photographs on every page and tons of fun facts to know and share about the world's cutest fish. This book is tiny -- philistines can use it as a dessert plate or a coaster for a large coffee mug -- so it's easy to take it out in the world to read desultorily on the subway, or curl up with it at home to read desultorily in bed. Like seahorses, the paragraphs are bite-sized and require little mastication before you move onto the next. (Note: Seahorses are not actually for eating.)

A casual reference in here helped me figure out what I want to read next: the Atlas Ichthyologique, by Pieter Bleeker. Unfortunately, it is 10 volumes long and out of print. It may also be written in Dutch. I turn 30 in eight months; those planning to get me a birthday present might start saving now for those volumes, and possibly some Dutch lessons. I would also settle for Konrad Gesner's Historiae Animalium. You can't get that anywhere either, but you can read it online here. Thanks, libraries!


Best book for improve of grammar

Bigfoot: I Not Dead, by Graham Roumieu


I know David Sedaris is the indie darling of humor, but his work seems mighty complicated to me. All those words, and having to read them. The Bigfoot book is mostly pictures and short sentences. For more easy of readings! A sample page:

Bigfoot get more perfect
Refine Bigfootocity. Pull together.
Think outside box. Lose ten pound.
Learn speak the French. Ballroom dance.
Demonstrate superior knowledge of fine wine at dinner party in charming non-pretentious manner.
Be Oscar Wilde of woods.
It so hard.
Brain size of apricot. So, so hard think good.
Maybe if eat Kelsey Grammer of Frasier fame, will absorb him soul and all attribute like McDonald's combo meal."

It's worth noting that Michele liked bits when she read them in the store, but didn't like it once she read the whole thing. It does get pretty gross in places. However, it still makes me giggle.

The Spoils of Poynton, by Henry James


Aw, Henry! You jerk me around and jerk me around, but you do it with a silk rope and a smile, so how can I argue? The Spoils of Poynton is one of those high-stress books where you're on the edge of your seat, even though the elevator pitch makes it sound downright dull. This is a story about a woman with flawless taste who has spent her life arranging her home into perfect harmony. Then her son marries a woman she can't stand and she has to leave the perfect home to them. These are the bones of the plot, but the reality is the full dinosaur, flesh and blood and roaring. I don't say you come away from this feeling entirely happy, but you feel really happy about your unhappiness. Exquisite writing. Silken rope.

...Poynton was the record of a life. It was written in great syllables of colour and form, the tongues of other countries and the hands of rare artists. [...] Mrs Gereth left her guest to finger fondly the brasses that Louis Quinze might have thumbed, to sit with Venetian velvets just held in a loving palm, to hang over cases of enamels and pass and repass before cabinets. [...] To give it all up, to die to it -- that thought ached in her breast. She herself could imagine clinging there with a closeness separate from dignity. To have created such a place was to have dignity enough...