Friday, June 29, 2007


Last night, I ate lettuce, sugar snap peas, and zucchini, all fresh-picked, straight from my backyard garden.

Today, I read this.

Soon, there will be tomatoes. Lots of them.

Monday, June 25, 2007


It's about translation, about language, both written and spoken, read and heard. It's about rereading, rephrasing, rewriting, and reimagining. It's also about sex, about skin (on skin), about adolescence and about the frailties of aging, about explosion, death, surprise, and dull, extended aches. It's about the desert, about driving through the night, and about the tensions between desire and maintenance, passion and fear. In the book, a girl drives her mother's car, meets a woman, watches her die. Then, a woman works to translate the book you've just read. Then you read the translation, which is both very much different and exactly the same.

Oh yeah, and the copy I'm reading is in English, translated from the French. Which just adds another layer of complication to all of this, because you can feel the language barrier sometimes, notice that the sentences were constructed with a different kind of grammar.

I can't remember when the last time was that I was able to give a clear, concise answer to the question: "What's that book about?" Any book can fit into that question, but now I'm talking about this one.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

a provocative novel

a provocative novel
Originally uploaded by dizymsliz
I bought this a few weeks ago at Powell's, both because of the title (and with that subtitle, who could resist?), and because I've been wanting to read something of Shirley Jackson's for a while now.

A rainy saturday seemed like the perfect time to immerse myself in its awesomeness, and while I was right about that, my suspicion that the book was actually about me was not as thoroughly confirmed.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

live birth

There is a reader board on the way to my work that changes every week. This week, it reads:

If fish is brain food you better eat a whale!

If I were the type to leave passive aggressive notes, I would probably take the time to stop and let these people know that not only is their understanding of basic grammar pretty shaky, eating whale isn't really going to help anything, because whales aren't fish.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

burn, baby, burn

Sometimes it's hard to explain why authorial intent isn't actually a useful component of the study of literature, why we think more about the text itself than the biography or opinions of the person who wrote it, why we don't just believe the author about what the book means, what its many messages are. It's hard to explain that intention and context aren't everything, and that a text can take on a life and a meaning of its own, one mediated by history and context and, yes, the reader.

Luckily, Ray Bradbury can explain why an author's conception of their own book may not always be accurate. Fahrenheit 451, you see, isn't about government censorship.

(Relatedly and entertainingly, one of the informants in the book might as well share my name: the next-door neighbor is identified only as Mrs. L. Blake.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

genre fiction

Quirky, solitary, code-obsessed narrator finds herself in a wholly constructed artificial world, one where individuality seems increasingly impossible and relationships are all suspicious. It's hard to know what's real and what's created, ideated, an experiment being performed by the overarching corporation or an act of systemic sabotage being perpetuated by someone working from within that very system.

Themes include: computers, games, video games, game theory, cryptography, cryptanalysis, networks, branding, marketing, advertising, identity, subversion, falsehood.

If this is cyberpunk, though, and I think it is (the Neuromancer reference sealed it for me), it's vegan cyberpunk, homeopathic, back-to-the-land cyberpunk. The artificial world isn't a virtual one, and the mysterious coded messages arrive on paper. That isn't to say it's a throwback to another time; the absence of technology doesn't preclude the discussion or consideration of technology. I'm not sure that description sounds very appealing, but PopCo itself is really interesting for such a fast, light read. I have more to say about this, but blogs are not academic papers. Right?