The first night I brought him home we made love on the shag carpet with the desk hunched a few feet away in the darkness. It’s a jealous beast, I joked, and thought I heard it groan, but no, it was only S, who at that moment perhaps foresaw something, or recognized the little grain of truth lurking inside the joke, how my work would always win over him, luring me back, opening its great black mouth and letting me slip in, sliding down and down, into the belly of the beast, how silent it was in there, how still. And yet for a long time I continued to believe it was possible to dedicate myself to my work and share my life, I didn’t think that one need cancel out the other, though perhaps I already knew in my heart that if it were necessary I would not side against my work, could not any more than I could side against myself.
Great House, Nicole Krauss
The pauses between words became longer, when for an instant the momentum of pressing thought into language faltered and a dark spot of indifference bloomed. I suppose it’s what I’ve battled most often in my life as a writer, a sort of entropy of care or languishing of will, so consistently, in fact, that I barely paid it any attention — a pull to give in to an undertow of speechlessness. But now I often became suspended in these moments, they grew longer and wider, and sometimes it became impossible to see the other shore. And when I finally got there, when a word at last came along like a lifeboat, and then another and another, I greeted them with a faint distrust, a suspiciousness that took root and did not confine itself to my work. It is impossible to distrust one’s writing without awakening a deeper distrust in oneself.
Great House, Nicole Krauss

Summer Reading List: August 

  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel I feel like I’m SO LATE to getting to this, and many, many people have already sung its praises. This is an appropriately complex and intricate, grown-up version of the dozens of Tudor-related doorstop novels I read in my Tudor phase ages approx 10-14. The most impressive part to me, both as a reader and lately as a writer of historical fiction, is how Mantel manages to make the dialogue so deeply human and familiar while also keeping it rooted in the time, a skill I would so like to hone myself. The one thing about it, though, is that it left me completely yearning for similarly complex and vibrant portraits of female historical figures, something that still seems to be lacking in contemporary lit.
  • Annabel, Kathleen Winter I picked this up on a whim, attracted by the genderqueer-y cover and impelled by the general fatigue I often feel, but which was weighing on me particularly at that time, with reading novels populated entirely by straight cis folks. This is a quiet little novel, full of really beautiful and challenging portrayals of both a particular microcosmic environment — Labrador in the late 1960s-1970s — and the relationships between two parents and their intersex child. The statements it makes on gender are, perhaps, equally quiet: if this novel were set in 2014, I would want something different from the way gender is conceived of and practiced here, but it does seem suited to the time and place. My one major criticism is of one plot point which, to me, seems both unnecessary in terms of the greater narrative and unnecessarily body-squicking.
  • Passage, Connie Willis Connie Willis’s books tend to embrace similar tropes and follow a similar set of characters and circumstances which, en mass, tends to diminish their power, in my opinion. That being said, as a perpetual grad student, I can appreciate the fact that her main characters are usually single-minded researchers bent on tracking down every possible connection to their (usually hilariously narrowly-focused) area of inquiry. Such fun! Passage is one of her better novels in terms of characterization and development, but a bit too long and too dependent upon her trademark coincidence-based plots.
  • Great House, Nicole Krauss Another one I’m late to the game on! I think this whole book could be summed up as: “Relationships With Other People: Fuck This Shit Is Difficult.” The relationships here are really the stars: familial, romantic; intimate, casual; they all seem to grapple with the question of how an individual can maintain a private, personal identity in the face of another person’s need. I, of course, identified in really uncomfortable ways with the forcefully (and sometimes unhappily) independent writer, Nadia; I feel like there are complex, not-always-happy moments for every character that any reader can identify with. (yay?)

I sometimes wonder how many upper-class British* families contain a brother and sister sibling pair who:

  • Are remarkably close in age and appearance, and just different enough in temperament to make one seem a bit fey and elusive and the other a little more sardonic and wry
  • Have a psychically-close-bordering-on-incestuous relationship
  • Sail through university despite little academic achievement or leaning and despite at least one if not more preternatural gift for the arts, especially music
  • Attract the attention of a middle-class everyman (or woman) who eventually conducts a relationship with one while falling a little in love with both and with their careless, moneyed lifestyle

Because if they don’t exist in real life, they sure do in literature.

*I would also accept old-world New England and/or New York money



lbmisscharlie replied to your post: “Another dating catch-22 from HBBO Inc.: I cancel hook-up plans, saying…”:
That first half was so me tonight: I had dinner plans with the girl I’ve been “is this a date or just 2 queer girls having dinner” all summer, and I just wanted to stay home. I went & it was not a date, and I could only think of the 2nd half still.

Awwwwwwwwwww, yeah, that’s rough, friend. :-P The indeterminacy of queer-lady dating is so frustrating! I’ve actually been meaning to write a post about that and how it gives me mixed feelings about all those “platonic kissing is so gr9!” posts. I mean if you’re into that then more power to you, but man. If I am kissing someone it is really not intended platonically. I’m not even sure what platonic kissing means. 

ANYWAY, ahahahaha, sorry your night was kind of a bummer :-P

Right? Platonic kissing is not a thing I do: I kiss with intent or not at all. Anyway, the post-not-a-date text exchange I had with a fellow queer lady friend who’s very emotionally invested in this drama went appropriately thus:

ME: Still not a date, no matter how much I wish it was. But she’s so cuuuuute.

HER: Maybe it’s just a slow process?

ME: One can only hope: Maybe my infinite charms will eventually prove irresistible.

HER: I bet they will…the thing is to not wait TOO long

ME: SIGH. Why are people so difficult?




I am officially fully moved into my new apartment! Old one is empty and fully scrubbed and I hand over my keys tomorrow. Now I only have the fun part ahead of me: unpacking, organizing, and finding places for all of my stuff in the new place! My new roommate and I are going to do a massive kitchen organization this weekend, start to decide on paint colors for the shared spaces, and begin to figure out the best way to organize the massive amounts of craft and sewing supplies we have between the two of us.