Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This may be my new favorite first line...

A quirky memoir from the '70s crossed my path this winter, written by H.H. the Honourable Sylvia Lady Brooke, Ranee of Sarawak. It had the most astonishing first line I've ever read:

"I do not like facts, and dates appall me."

What better invitation, what stronger enticement?  As you can imagine, the rest of the book is similarly, and  deliciously, nervy.  Here's how she starts chapter 1:

"I was born at Number One, Tilney Street, Park Lane, London, on 25 February, 1885. There was nothing momentous about my arrival into the world. Only my mother's wire-haired terrier, Griz, was violently sick when she first caught sight of me.  I was that sort of a baby and she was that kind of a bitch!"

Wow. I love it.

When it comes to favorite first lines, Lady Sylvia has some stiff competition (John McPhee comes to mind). But I don't think she would have cared in the slightest.  Her memoir somehow manages to be genuinely self-deprecating and aggressively confident at the same time.  Witness the comment that follows her discussion of her august parents:

"What incredible children should have been born from such a union, instead of the disappointing brood my poor little mother gave birth to!" 

Ha!  That's either an apology or an insult...

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Our tiny lights don't at all resemble stars"*

Thanks to Sarah's invitation, I've joined the Goodreads 2010 Poetry Readers Challenge, the aim of which is to read and review 20 poetry books this year. Amy Beeder is at the top on my list. I read a wonderful poem of hers in the December issue of Poetry Magazine, and on their website, I discovered her poem "Captain Haddock vs. the PTA." Captain Haddock?! I'm sold. I always suspected that the captain's clever invective could be put to further use.

Here's my list so far:

1. Burn the field - Amy Beeder
2. Micrographia - Emily Watson
3. Ripple effect - Elaine Equi
4. A little white shadow - Mary Ruefle
5. Disloyal yo-yo - Bruce Cohen

*Amy Beeder, Because our waiters are hopeless romantics

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bad fortune

"Now go to it!
It's ready to be pick!"

and on the back:

"Learn Chinese - Disease

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fairy tale

Once upon a time, our friends were rock stars. Everyone played in a band. They named their band Beatrice, Cordelia's Dad, The Hollywood Indians, or B*tch Magnet. They bought glam-rock electric guitars. They wrote their own songs -- "Chili dog with cheese;" "Freddie is a liar (and a f***ing cheater);" "Now there's a dentist in the mall." They thought too much. They had to drink a lot, to compensate for all the thinking. They smoked bidis and cloves, which were taken for joints by wandering beat cops. And then, one by one, they disappeared.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Remy's favorite flavor

My poems Abundance and Grimes Grave are up in Blood Orange Review. Blood orange is Remy's favorite flavor of gelato. They didn't have it at Istria Cafe today, so he had lemon. Which is good, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

6 degrees of humdrum

So, I've been tagged by Sarah (I think). I have to list 6 unspectacular things about me. Here goes:

1. I'm an outie. This may or may not be related to the fact that I was born with a hole in my stomach wall. It was supposed to close up as I grew, but it never did.

2. When I was little, I was deathly afraid of the muppets. Especially the two men on the balcony. I think they were critics.

3. I could eat eggplant at every meal.

4. I have never been able to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Four, maybe. If it's hot out.

5. I am the only one of six sisters (and our mother) who can throw anything away. Their idea of getting rid of stuff is to pack it up and mail it to me. Seriously, I've gotten packaged food from them that expired in the 80s -- and don't get me started on the box full of shoulder pads.

6. I can move both my eyebrows independently. But I can't wiggle my ears.

Okay, so, the rules:
1. link the person who tagged you: Sarah
2. mention the rules on your blog
3. list 6 unspectacular things about you
4. tag 6 other bloggers by linking them.

Six? Really? How about 1: Valerie.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My mother's basket is full of straw

I was reading about Kanga writings in a dictionary of Swahili proverbs, and came across this one:

Kikapu cha mama kimejaa ndago : My mother's basket is full of straw.

When I first read it, I assumed it meant "poverty" or "lack"-- "My family has nothing of value: no food, no money, no spun gold. Just straw." Actually, it means just the opposite. Straw is an important resource for many Swahili-speakers in Eastern Africa. Women use it to make a whole bunch of things, from floor mats to fans. So, a basket full of straw evokes a sense of plenitude, abundance, security. Your mother's basket is full of straw: what better fortune?