anonymous asked:

sorry if this is rude but i don't understand what you're saying with regards to the EF books. i thought they were about female friendship, somewhat, and how tokenism separates women in a way it doesn't men, and how you have to try to protect each other from things, at the same time as you hurt each other. even if it's about larger things like politics, i think the book couldn't be written about two men. i'm just curious for you to explain more.

Oh hi anon, this is a good question and I am glad you asked it! Not rude at all, and in any case I really like rude/blunt questions, particularly in response to me being so rude about something. I like being challenged and I like being given the opportunity to explain myself and I realllly love being shown when I’m wrong about things (seriously)).

To start, in case it’s not clear, I love Elena Ferrante’s books. They are brilliant and I don’t have a single bad thing to say about them. What I’m complaining about has nothing to do with the books themselves, and everything to do with this trend of thinkpieces/personal essays about “female friendship.” (Some examples, though I knowww I’ve seen more.)

The books would be entirely different if they were about two men, but they would ALSO be entirely different if they were about two girls who grew up with money (even more different, I think I would argue, than if they were about like Enzo and Pasquale or whoever), or who grew up in Tuscany, or whatever else. It seems to me either really lazy, or really disingenuous, or really lacking in thought, or SOMETHING, to flatten these extremely local and specific and densely detailed books into “yesss, realistic female friendship!”

I guess I would just really like some of these thinkpiecers to define the terms they’re working with. What do we MEAN when we talk about “female friendship”? What are these supposed stereotypes of ideal permanent loving friendships, and where can I find some examples of them? What kind of weird cultural work is going on when feminist writer Elissa Schappell blithely mentions that “intimacy is our currency” and we are good at “eviscerating” each other?

I don’t know but this has clearly gotten under my dumb SKIN so hiiii tumblr let’s talk?

People read everything out of context on this website like for reals

I just thought about how tumblr hated that one guy who worked on Metroid because he said Samus was a shemale but suddenly someone was all “that’s a mistranslation and he’s a precious baby for saying Samus is trans uwu” and now everyone on this site uses this comment as a canon statement that Samus is trans when I vividly remember everyone wanting to kill this guy because of the original comment

My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t even fold his umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.

from “Magic and Dread” by Jenny Offill, in the current Paris Review (#207). 

i think about this all the time – to what extent this kind of monstrosity and selfishness is necessary for artists, to what extent it’s a little romantic fiction that allows men to justify their carelessness, or cruelty, or just their unwillingness to deal with the boring quotidian life-making shit that women so often handle, as long as it can be linked to their art production – as long as it’s part of their praxis.

at any rate i don’t have it in me; i am beginning to sense that, for better or worse, i will always prioritize relationships – little mundane acts of love – over my work. this isn’t even something i’m necessarily proud of – i know i write so much less, and not as well, surrounded by friends, trying to love generously. but i only get one life, you know? 

(i mean i guess DUH the solution is a trust fund – if i just had those 40 hrs/week back…)

Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or to figure out how to tell their story. Which means that a place is a story, and stories are geography, and empathy is first of all an act of imagination, a storyteller’s art, and then a way of traveling from here to there.
—  Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
  • Manga Artist 1:You know those side panels we leave open for ads? I think I'm going to introduce myself to my readers in the first collected volume.
  • Manga Artist 2:I'm going to put up character profiles!
  • Manga Artist 3:I was going to talk about what methods and supplies I use to draw my comic.

psychic: *reads my mind*

mind: log date 312, this is peridot performing earth hub maintenance check…this site may have been compromised…WHY ARE YOU DESTROYING MY THINGS…firing…don’t touch that…you clods don’t know what you’re doing…still stuck on miserable planet…mmmhmhmhmhm AAAHAHAHAHAHA…you crystal clods really are as dull as dirt…DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE…i guess i’m just too smart for likes of you lumpy clumpy clods…

psychic: What the fuck

We take for some sort of kindness addressed to us alone the banal desire for sex. We love his desire to fuck, we are so dazzled by it we think it’s the desire to fuck only us, us alone. Oh yes, he who is so special and who has recognized us as special. We give it a name, that desire of the cock, we personalize it, we call it my love. To hell with all that, that dazzlement, that unfounded titillation. Once he fucked me, now he fucks someone else, what claim do I have? Time passes, one goes, another arrives.
—  The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
My Reading Year, 2010

Here are 10 good books I read this year. (See also: 2006-2009)

Joe Brainard, I Remember

I remember Saturday night baths and Sunday morning comics.

* * *

Patti Smith, Just Kids

One Indian summer day we dressed in our favorite things…and spent the afternoon in Washington Square…

We were walking toward the fountain, the epicenter of activity, when an older couple stopped and openly observed us. Robert enjoyed being noticed, and he affectionately squeezed my hand.

“Oh, take their picture,” said the woman to her bemused husband, “I think they’re artists.”

“Oh, go on,” he shrugged. “They’re just kids.”

* * *

Mary Karr, Lit

I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.

* * *

Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist

If you ask yourself, ‘What’s the best thing that happened today?’ it actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection that pulls up from the recent past things to write about that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. If you ask yourself, ‘What happened today?’ it’s very likely that you’re going to remember the worst thing, because you’ve had to deal with it—you’ve had to rush somewhere or somebody said something mean to you—that’s what you’re going to remember. But if you ask what the best thing is, it’s going to be some particular slant of light, or some wonderful expression somebody had, or some particularly delicious salad. I mean, you never know…

* * *

David Shields, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity and by delight, we all quote. It is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent.

Quote actually from Emerson.

* * *

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

* * *

Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

There are those whose own vulgar normality is so apparent and stultifying that they strive to escape it. They affect flamboyant behavior and claim originality according to the fashionable eccentricities of their time. They claim brains or talent or indifference to mores in desperate attempts to deny their own mediocrity. These are frequently artists and performers, adventurers and wide-life devotees.

Then there are those who feel their own strangeness and are terrified by it. They struggle toward normalcy. They suffer to exactly that degree that they are unable to appear normal to others, or to convince themselves that their aberration does not exist. These are true freaks, who appear, almost always, conventional and dull.

* * *

Maira Kalman, And The Pursuit of Happiness

Everything is invented. Language. Childhood. Careers. Relationships. Religion. Philosophy. The Future. They are not there for the plucking. They don’t exist in some natural state. They must be invented by people. And that, of course, is a great thing. Don’t mope in your room. Go invent something. That is the American message. Electricity. Flight. The telephone. Television. Computers. Walking on the moon. It never stops.

* * *

Lynda Barry, Picture This

Why do we stop drawing?

* * *

John Darnielle, Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality

When you listen to early Black Sabbath, you know the main difference between them & you is that somebody bought them guitars and microphones. They’re not smarter than you; they’re not deeper than you; they’re a fuck of a lot richer than you, but other than that, it’s like listening to the inside of your own mind. So when they write songs, they sing about wizards. And witches. And robots.

* * *

10 more good books I read:

I’m lying to myself, I thought. Had it really been so wonderful? I knew very well that at that time, too, there had been shame. And uneasiness, and humiliation, and disgust: accept, submit, force yourself. Is it possible that even happy moments of pleasure never stand up to a rigorous examination? Possible.
—  Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name

Lit by Mary Karr

First line: “Any way I tell this story is a lie…

Devoured this on my recent trip home to Ohio. I underlined a lot of sentences. Here are a few:

  • If I were a real poet, I’d be composing a sonnet about the fairy mist in yon oak.
  • My mother taught me to seek external agents of transformation–pick a new town or man or job.
  • …humming through me like a third rail was poetry, the myth that if I could shuffle the right words into the right order, I could get my story straight, write myself into an existence that included the company of sacred misfit poets whose pages had kept me company as a kid. Showing up at a normal job was too hard.
  • Count yourself lucky, she said. You’re still promising until your first book’s out.
  • Where I come from, house guests have to know you’ve sweated over a stove, for sweat is how care is shown.
  • I’d spent way more years worrying about how to look like a poet–buying black clothes, smearing on scarlet lipstick, languidly draping myself over thrift-store furniture–than I had learning how to assemble words in some discernible order.
  • The whole city is so profoundly Caucasian.
  • Every asshole I know has published a book.
  • …a woman whose third eye has begun to stare at some invisible baby is incapable of dropping the subject.
  • He tells me the story of a writer who–on finding his own first book remaindered in a used bookstore–opened to the flyleaf only to discover his own signature about the note To Mum and Dad…
  • I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.
  • How much smaller the large places are once we’re grown up, when we have car keys and credit cards.

Recommended. Also of interest:

Karr’s Paris Review interview

Karr’s Twitter feed: @marykarrlit

The week I read about fallen angels..again.



The book Silence is the third installment for the Hush, Hush series. I still can’t believe that Nora was kidnapped. I mean, how can Patch let her go? I understand that he didn’t do it on purpose, but still. I also couldn’t believe that Hank was the notorious “Black Hand”. In this book, Nora returned to her home but she can’t recall anything for the past five months but she was only kidnapped for three. So far, her mom assumes this is because of the traumatic experience of being kidnapped. As she tries to remember what has happened to her, she bumps into Jev. I really have this feeling that that guy is really Patch. He says things like, I’m trying to keep you safe and everything. I just really want them back together again. I both understand and can’t understand that he wants Nora to be in the dark. There’s so much more that needs to be revealed, I better finish reading this book now. 

I’ll never read all the books

I’ve been trying to keep a reading log. I’ve been horribly failing. Maybe blogging it will help.

Recently (in the last 4 mo.) read:

  • Vampire Academy Series Re-read (7 books)
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns (I’m still crying)
  • Water for Elephants
  • The Shadow of the Wind Re-read
  • Almanac of the Dead (It took me 4 months to read this. Still confused. Love it)
  • Song of the Lioness Series Re-read (4 books)
  • The Amulet of Samarkand
  • The Call of the Wild
  • Beloved (I’m pretty sure I’m broken now)

Currently Reading:

  • Harry Potter Series Re-read (I’m starting book 3)
  • World War Z
  • 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda
  • Gone Girl (Literally just started this today. Found a gorg hardcover copy used for $6. woot!)
  • The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry
“I am entirely selfish,” he said ruefully, “and always hoping that someone will tell me to behave, someone will make herself responsible for me and make me be grown-up.”

He is altogether selfish, she thought in some surprise, the only man I have ever sat and talked to alone, and I am impatient; he is simply not very interesting. “Why don’t you grow up by yourself?” she asked him, and wondered how many people—how many women—had already asked him that.

“You’re clever.” And how many times had he answered that way?

This conversation must be largely instinctive, she thought with amusement, and said gently, “You must be a very lonely person.” All I want is to be cherished, she thought, and here I am talking gibberish with a selfish man.
—  Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House. Eleanorrrrrrrrrr.