Friday, September 24, 2010

Canine Couch Battles, Round 2

Abby 2 days ago after a good night's sleep (note pillow on floor), with her ball & Boy Wonder's gently chewed shoes.

In my July 24 update on Mother's Little Odalisque, I said I'd put heavier furniture on the couch (see above) to keep Abby off. That worked like a charm. Now my Clever Girl is pulling the throw pillows, which I stack on a chair at night, onto the floor to cushion her weary head. One of my next purchases will be a cushy dog bed, which she'd damn well better sleep on.

Caught in the act 10 minutes ago.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Timeless Truths in Fiction

He offered the honest terms that a sound concern and an honest man had to offer. But that was not what people wanted nowadays. They wanted their hypothetical arrangements, their wild rumors, their manipulated booms with nothing behind it all but hot air....He could see them now at that very moment--all these many-colored and frivolous articles of fashion which captivated the world on the persons of equally frivolous young girls.
How fresh and contemporary, eh? This is from the 1931 edition of GRAND HOTEL by Vicki Baum, published in Germany in 1929 as MENSCHEN IM HOTEL ("People in a Hotel"). There's one thing that's dated, though: the casual use of n*gger in the narrative. Blech.

Oh, and Greta Garbo's famous line, "I want to be alone," was lifted right from the book.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Quotes for a Month

Eek! Did I really not post at all in August? I was busy and distracted; some day I'll tell you about it. In the meantime, here are some choice nuggets I've come across in the past month. (And yes, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm an Anglophile.)

From Eyes on the Prize by Hilary Mantel, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for WOLF HALL, and whose memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST I'm happily devouring:
You don’t ask a plumber, what makes you plumb? You understand he does it to get his living. You don’t draw him aside and say, “Actually I plumb a bit myself, would you take a look at this loo I fitted? All my friends say it’s rather good.”...

I think there is one kind of writer who might be scalped and skinned by the demands the prize imposes, and that is the writer who finds public performance difficult, who has failed to create a persona he can send out to do the show....Generally, it seems to me, authors are better at presenting themselves than they were ten years ago. Festivals flourish, we get more practice; you could give a reading somewhere every week of the year if you liked. For me the transition between desk and platform seems natural enough. I think of writing fiction as a sort of condensed version of acting and each book as a vast overblown play. You impersonate your characters intensively, you live inside their skins, wear their clothes and stamp or mince through life in their shoes; you breathe in their air. “Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” Of course she is. Who else could she be?
From OUR TRAGIC UNIVERSE, the latest novel by Scarlett Thomas (my other new favorite author), which should get a prize for book design:
You can identify someone who works in publishing because they tell every anecdote as if for the first time, with the same expression as someone giving you a tissue that they have just realised has probably already been used. [p67]

Almost everyone who came along to spend the week [at the writers' retreat] in the hotel in Torquay seemed to have the idea that all novels possessed the same sort of value, and took roughly the same amount of effort from the author, and that Tolstoy was a 'a novelist' in the same way that the latest chick-lit author was 'a novelist'. 'How do you even begin to write eighty thousand words?' someone would always ask, admiringly. And I'd always explain that 80,000 words is not that much, really, and that you could do it in eight weekends if you really wanted to, using Aristotle's Poetics as an instruction manual. Making the 80,000 words any good is the hard bit: making them actually important. [p115]