Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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The Fiery Dazzling White Knuckled Symphony

So, I bought myself a bunch of gifts for this unreligious winter holiday thing which I see no point in selecting a specific name for. And several of my gifts to myself were magnetic poetry kits, which I've never owned any of before - I hate being faddish, so I had to wait long enough to feel that magnetic poetry had gone out of style and become uncool before I could permit myself to buy any. Now that time has finally arrived, so I bought some. Consequently, there are a lot of really odd phrases on my freezer door now, including these:

the fiery dazzle ing white knuckle d symphony

ominous ly balanced above evacuate d street s

did she festoon death with electronic blossom s
cyber toast him golden sizzle ing

Er, yes. William Burroughs would not be proud.

On with my other gifts to myself.

Books I Bought Myself

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
In the Name of Salomé by Julia Alvarez (I now own everything Julia Alvarez has ever written!)
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom (I now own everything Amy Bloom has ever written too, but there's not as much of it as for Julia Alvarez.)
Women and Writing in Modern China by Wendy Larson
Woman's Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women's Writing by Paul Gordon Schalow and Janet A. Walker (I've had repeated encounters with Paul Gordon Schalow's writings before and I WORSHIP HIM.)
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (Intimidating, but I've been meaning to get around to it for years so it's high time I finally did.)
One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
Native Son by Richard Wright
Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright

I seem to be in a "women writers" mood at the moment, which is interesting since I've been reading mostly male writers for the past several years (due largely to taking recommendations from certain male friends who read mostly male writers). But then there's Richard Wright - I don't know what he's doing on that list. Well, I do know what he's doing there, I know that I bought him because James Baldwin admired him and I admire James Baldwin so I buy anything James Baldwin wants me to. But Richard Wright is more male than James Baldwin. James Baldwin is more special than Richard Wright.

James Baldwin is more special than an awful lot of people.

Books That Have Not Merely Told Me Stories, but Actually Changed Who I Am

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Conversations with James Baldwin
e by Matt Beaumont
Love Invents Us by Amy Bloom
When I Was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten
Top Girls by Caryl Churchill
How to Become a Virgin by Quentin Crisp
The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist by Frans de Waal
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay & Lesbian Past by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr.
Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity by Julia Epstein and Kristina Straub
Where Joy Resides: A Christopher Isherwood Reader
Corregidora by Gayl Jones
Faggots by Larry Kramer
The Carnal Prayer-Mat by Li Yu
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
The Elusive Embrace by Daniel Mendelsohn
Red Azalea by Anchee Min
S/he by Minnie Bruce Pratt
Pure by Rebbecca Ray
Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Ida: A Novel by Gertrude Stein
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal
Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol
Queer by Choice: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Politics of Identity by Vera Whisman
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Authors I've Read an Awful Lot of Books by, Who I Feel Bad About Not Being Able to Find a Place for on the List Above

Kobo Abe
Don DeLillo
Milan Kundera
Toni Morrison
Haruki Murakami
Salman Rushdie
Banana Yoshimoto

The Book That Made Me More Disgusted, Disappointed and Furious at Its Author Than Any Other Book Ever

Japanese by Spring by Ishmael Reed (Yes, he did have some good points and yes, he is an extraordinarily talented writer, but NO, HE DID NOT HAVE TO BE SO GODDESSDAMNED OFFENSIVE ABOUT MAKING HIS POINTS.)

Ahem. So, yes. Enough lists for now.

It's raining outside. It's been raining continuously for quite a long time. Days and days and days, I think. Astonishing just how much water can be stored in that sky up there. I pretty much like that arrangement, except when I have to drive in it or walk in it and I worry about getting in a wreck or slipping in another puddle and scrabing all the barely-regrown brand new skin back off my hands and knees.

I have a lot of vacation from work and not really any urgent responsibilities at all right now. It's delicious. I've been doing a lot of driving around aimlessly in the dark. On December 26th I bought myself dinner at the McDonald's drive-through - this being only the second time in my life that I've ever gone "out" to dinner anywhere on my own initiative, without friends or coworkers or family urging me on. I bought a Big Mac, simply because I'd never eaten one before, but I soon decided that it was not only the first Big Mac of my life but also my last. For less than half the price, I could have just bought two regular hamburgers, which would add up to an equal amount of meat, 40% more bread, and a whole lot less of the disgusting green stuff that I picked out and refused to eat anyway.

But such are the necessary pitfalls of trying new things. It wasn't so bad. Not long before Christmas I also bought myself the third Harry Potter book - I'm not really sure why, since it had been quite a while since I read the first and second ones and I was rather unimpressed by both of them. I didn't exactly not like them I suppose, but I just . . . liked them with reservations. A lot of reservations. I couldn't really get that enthusiastic about them because there were too many reservations in the way. I hate the whole Lord Voldemort thing, the simplistic tripe of an Ultimate Battle Between Pure Good Person and Pure Evil Person, in which the supposedly Pure Good ending is for Pure Good Person to beat Pure Evil Person to a pulp or stab him to death or some similar violence. But the third book was better, as the battle wasn't so much against a Pure Evil Person but more against one whose priorities were in the wrong order, who lacked the moral strength to resist the temptations of easy apparent power. I think this is a much more realistic and common enemy than the myth of the Pure Evil Person.

There are still reservations, of course - it's so not a coincidence that the popular battle stories in our culture always have male heroes - but I finally got bitten by the Harry Potter bug anyway and the minute I finished book #3 I just had to get right back in my car and drive across town in the dark and the pouring rain in search of a bookstore that would sell me all the rest of the Harry Potter books. And it's quite a long drive to the nearest bookstore that would carry it - the only two bookstores on this side of the river are Books In Color (a used bookstore specializing in books by nonwhite writers) and the Christian Book Center (ick ick ick), because I live in a neighborhood where people are not supposed to be literate. But anyway, I crossed the river and arrived determinedly at the faraway bookstore, only to find out that (1) there's only one more Harry Potter book left that I haven't read yet, and (2) it's not out in paperback yet, so it costs more of a fortune than I'm really willing to pay right now.


So I'm in withdrawal for a brand new addiction now. To pass the time, I looked at all the silly movie-related merchandise and became severely annoyed because apparently Hollywood transformed Harry Potter's famous black hair into an infinitely more Caucasian medium brown. Not to deny, of course, that Caucasians can have black hair - my dad and my brother both have (or had, in my dad's case) black hair, inherited we presume from the "Black Irish," the descendants of the Moors and Othello - and it's pretty clear in the books anyway that Harry Potter hasn't got any more sense of non-Caucasian ethnic identity than my dad and my brother have. But that just made me all the more irritated that Hollywood couldn't even allow him his black hair. It was such a tiny unimportant shred of atypical Hollywood looks, yet they still had to whitewash it out of existence. I say: a boy with brown hair can no more be Harry Potter than a boy with no scar on his forehead.

But really, I'm feeling better than I have for a while. My body is both less injured and less ill than it has been for over a month, and consequently I've got that nice feeling of long-missing energy finally flowing back my way.
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