I wrote down everything I read and began writing my own first novel...

This blog aimed to contrast what I was reading in in 1975-79 with the same month, week and day, 30 years later in 2005-2009. I'm leaving the blog up in archive mode, blogging in real time on Live Journal--and still writing novels.

Lynne Murray's Live Journal and Bride of the Dead Blog

Sunday, July 30, 2006

New York on zero dollars a day with no sign of Liz Taylor

July 19 to July 30, 1976 I read:

Universe 6, Terry Carr (ed)
My note is "again" so I must have liked it the first time.

I didn't read much else during this stretch 30 years ago, and I think it was because I was attending my last NSA/SGI (I forget when they changed the name) "Buddhist convention." I was already alienated from the group and it must have been a last attempt to reconcile. It was like attending a family reunion in the midst of a messy divorce. The convention fee included meals and a shared hotel room. I brought a little money, which my mentors told me to conceal on my person rather than carrying a snatchable purse (they also told us not to get in an elevator alone with strangers, and not to go alone to parts of town we weren't familiar with--which was everywhere). I was so paranoid that I sewed the money I brought into the hem of my bell-bottom pants. I didn't buy anything so I didn't need to go looking for the cash. I found it there after I got back to San Francisco. I wonder if there's a T-shirt or bumper sticker for I survived NY on Zero $ per day. I'm guessing not.

What did I see in New York? Hmmm, the Avenue of the Americas (I think we had a parade there) and Central Park from the outside in the early afternoon. I didn't see the Tall Ships that were rumored to be sailing into the harbor. There was one funny story from New York 1976 that I didn't see personally, but it sounds true. One of our top lay organization leaders was dining at a very upscale restaurant during the convention (I guess somebody spent more than zero dollars a day that week) and he remarked what an unusually beautiful woman was sitting across the dining room. It was Elizabeth Taylor. So, fancy restaurant or no, I guess I wasn't the only one who led a sheltered life.

July 19 to July 30, 2006 I read:

Winter Moon: Moontide\The Heart Of The Moon\Banshee Cries, Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, C.E. Murphy

The Tanith Lee novella didn't engage me, so I passed on it.

I hadn't read Mercedes Lackey before, and enjoyed it--so I guess there are lots more to choose from to continue to read her. I think her website is mercedeslackey.com, but I could be wrong about that.

I had read C.E. Murphy before and found this fun also.
But I find from her website at cemurphy.net that she also writes under the name Cate Dermody.

This Mean Disease: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Mother's Anorexia, Daniel Becker
A sad memoir of how deeply a woman's anorexia affected her family. I read this to get some insights into an anorexic character I'm writing about. I hadn't realized the close ties to clinical depression and anorexia.

Skinny Women Are Evil, Notes of a BIG Girl in a Small-Minded World, Mo'nique and Sherri A. McGee
I loved this book even though I am not the target audience. Mo'nique's sit-com, The Parkers distressed me because she was mostly shown chasing a reluctant man. That was way too close to a fat joke for me. She addresses that in the book on p. 110, "The first thing I told the producers…was not to have Nikki wear muumuus and sit around the house all day. She must to out on dates, have adventures, boyfriends and as much sex as possible. Thankfully they understood my desire to make a statement with this character and agreed with everything--except the as much sex as possible."

Mo'nique provides some charts and descriptions to sort out the evil skinny women from the supportive allies. This book tells the story of Monique's life in a way that's both funny and rabble-rousing. It's refreshing to see how Mo'nique's parents unconditional love and confidence made it possible for her to feel, as her father said, like "the prettiest girl in the world" from infancy to now.

Mo'nique's solidly positive attitude livened up a lot of the material in her book that's pretty far from the my own interests--like fashionable shoes, nightclubbing and competing to get the most phone numbers from a night on the town. But I do look forward to viewing Mo'nique's film Phat Girlz, and I cried when I heard Nigerian musician 2Face Idibia's song, African Queen, featured in the film and on the website. He said it was "my own way of paying my tribute and respect to the African woman." You don't have to be African, or African-American to appreciate the tenderness, affection and positive spirit there.

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/C.E.+Murphy" rel="tag">C.E. Murphy</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/anorexia"rel="tag">anorexia</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Mercedes+Lackey" rel="tag">Mercedes Lackey</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Daniel+Becker" rel="tag">Daniel Becker</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/2Face+Idibia" rel="tag">2Face Idibia</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/ Phat+Girlz" rel="tag">Phat Girlz</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/ Mo'nique" rel="tag">Mo'nique</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br /><br />

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Endings, loose ends, ladies, and tigers

I am in the incoherent daze that comes with dispatching a manuscript off into the world to seek its fortune, so I don't have a lot of extra wit today, I'll just have to go on pure instinct.

July 7 to July 18, 1976

The Woman Said Yes, Encounters with Life and Death, Jessamyn West

I don't mean to be irreverent, and I did love The Friendly Persuasion, but my recollection is that this one was sad and the theme was basically, "the woman said, yes, Dr. Kevorkian." Um you know, without Dr. Kevorkian himself being involved. Oh, I don't know, maybe I do mean to be irreverent, it happens too often to be accidental.

All Her Children, Dan Wakefield
Something about soap opera actors...?

The World Jonas Made, Philip K. Dick

Break of Day, Colette

The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh
This was funny--particularly having seen the motion picture years earlier.

Magazine of F&SF October '75 (esp. novelette Down to a Sunless Sea, Cordwainer Smith and. novelette Deadpan, E. Wellen)

July 7 to July 18, 2006 I read:

Enchanted, Inc., Shanna Swendson

This was a fun read, about a heroine whose magical "power" is that she is so utterly normal that she can see through magical illusions. Having just moved to New York from a small Texas town, she assumes the gargoyles, elves and fairy beings with wings are all eccentric New Yorkers. It's a gentle funny book. Swendson has a
web site, web log, all that stuff.

Marriage of Sticks, Jonathan Carroll

Jonathan Carroll as a writer is beyond excellent. His strong suit is bringing you into the dreamlike state his characters exist in, and he does it very well. He did some powerful things with the narrative up to about the middle of this book that will stay with me for a long time. However, that is part of my problem with this book. I wasn't comfortable in the world that he has created here, and as the end got closer, I wanted it over. I began to actively dislike it until I got to the ending, which I hated. Part of that seemed to be that Carroll had a mild case of what I call Lady-or-tigerism (after the ending of the famous Frank Stockton short story The Lady or the Tiger, that is a trick worked once--for Stockton, and I've never seen it work yet for anyone else). Oh, hell, for all I know, Carroll may have been crystal clear about the ending for those paying close attention, but as the conclusion of the book got more and more irritating, I was happy to get to the end, unsatisfying though it may have been, and so glad to have the book over that I had no desire to revisit it to understand anything I might have misunderstood. Interestingly, a penchant for "unsatisfying" endings is discussed on Carroll's web site. Some people evidently find the unsatisfying endings "endearing." As they say on the net, "your mileage may vary."

<br /><br /><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Jonathan+Carroll" rel="tag">Jonathan Carroll</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Jessamyn+West" rel="tag">Jessamyn West</a> <br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Frank+Stockton" rel="tag">Frank Stockton</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Shanna+Swendson" rel="tag">Shanna Swendson</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Waugh" rel="tag">Waugh </a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Colette" rel="tag">Colette</a><br /><br />

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reality tested and found wanting

July 6, 2006 - Some shorter material I read with pleasure this week was a charming online brochure celebrating San Francisco's Columbarium, which is a wonderful neoclassic building that has housed cremated remains since 1897.

Originally designed in the middle of a 27-acre Odd Fellows cemetary, the Columbarium was the jewel at the center of a kind of necropolis of many cemeteries outside the city limits. Over next century, the city kept expanding and pushing the dead out to the suburbs. Now it stands alone in accepting newly deceased tenants.

This is your typical San Francisco real estate situation, so when I read this deliciously funny brochure I thought, "only in San Francisco is there enough sophistication to appreciate an ironic, yet charming sales approach." Particularly when selling an extremely limited quantity of luxury items. You can't build up, down or out in San Francisco. Even when it comes to urn space, there ain't much of it, so that might lend itself to an unorthodox sales approach.

So I thought. I printed out the brochure and gave my only copy to a friend who used to live in San Francisco who needed cheering up. I thought I could find it again easily on the net, but I couldn't. I called the Columbarium, and described the booklet in glowing terms. The nice lady there clearly had no clue what the hell I was talking about--but she was kind enough to send me some lovely, not particularly funny, brochures. It turned out they were having a sale that month--15% off. I missed that one, but I might catch the next.

I ended up having my friend send the brochure back. With the correct title I found it again easily here

Okay, once again I've mistaken parody for reality. But check it out, it's a lovely project by a witty design major, inspired by an inventive professor. Another reason I stay in my fictional world--even San Francisco's Cloud Cuckooland is too real for me.

The illusion probably entered my mind through my weakness--an obsession with San Francisco real estate, which I observe with the fascination of a virgin daydreaming about a rock star from afar. When something shows up close to my price range, I'd have to be dead and cremated to move in! When I told another friend that I had actually called the Columbarium looking for this, she agreed that I probably shouldn't be allowed out of the city limits without an escort for my own safety and that of others.

June 24-July 5, 1976 I read:

Is it my imagination, or did celebrity bios seem a bit classier 30 years ago?

Olivier, An Informal Portrait, Virginia Fairweather

Colette, The Difficulty of Loving, Margaret Crosland

The Best from Fantasy and SF/8th Series, Ed Ferman, Ed.

My Heart Belongs, Mary Martin
It may be a generational thing to be able to finish the phrase--My Heart Belongs. . . to Daddy. That's the Cole Porter song that Martin, sang at age 24, creating a sensation in her 1938 Broadway debut. I remember about her autobiography, she notes that she seemed innocent enough even to her fellow actors that they weren't sure she understood that the character was in fact singing about a sugar daddy. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s remember her as Peter Pan in the annual television broadcasts of the play.

The Wine of Dreamers, John D. MacDonald
Sci fi from the Travis Magee creator. I don't remember my reaction at the time, but I'd probably already read everything else I could find by him at that point.

June 25 to July 6, 2006, aside from the Columbarium brochure, I read:

What's Eating Johnny Dep, Nigel Goodall
The most charitable possible thing I can say is this was not a well-written book. It reads as if stitched together from movie magazines and tabloids with none too fancy needlework and very little regard for the sequence or readability. I understand there's a new, updated version of this work, and I hope that it was edited, because Depp is an interesting actor and the story of his life and work deserves better narration.