I don’t know much about VIDA – no, I don’t mean “life,” although I’ve got plenty to learn there, too. I mean VIDA, the organization that formed in 2009 to create more space for women in the literary dialogue. Having just attended the 2014 conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (more on that to come), I can confidently say that the representation of women in the community of people who identify themselves as writers is proportionate to the general population. But every year, VIDA undertakes a painstaking manual survey of literary publications and book reviews (think Audubon here) that quantifies women’s bylines, and the number of books written by women that get reviewed. The results are highly illuminating. Continue reading
In preparation for Iceland Writers Retreat, I am reading books by each of the featured authors. It feels a little weird to review authors who are about to become my teachers, but it’s easier to read critically when I know I have to report on it afterwards. I had already read Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders; I enjoyed it as a reader, and as a writer I enjoyed trying to understand her choices: writing about survival instead of adventure, building an overtly feminist story within a culture that was anything but. My library holds on the remaining authors hadn’t come in yet, so I started her People of the Book. By the second page, her Sam Spade of a protagonist had grabbed me by the throat, and she didn’t let go until days after I finished reading. Continue reading
A modern, English-language opera about a woman fighting bureaucracy sounded like a painfully tedious proposition – too much like my real life. But I attended The Consul at Seattle Opera because I have season tickets.
A bleeding man bursts into a decaying apartment, forgetting to shut the door. Knocking over furniture he falls to the floor, calling his wife. She rushes into the kitchen, trailed by his mother. The secret police discovered their meeting place; one of their friends is dead. He has been followed. John Sorel drags himself up the fire escape while his wife washes his bloody hand print from the door frame seconds before men in trench coats enter without knocking. Continue reading
On a Friday night almost exactly 21 years ago, I was alone. My boyfriend was at Jam Box with his band. My roommate was with her boyfriend. So I planned a night with the blues: Eric Clapton, Dr. Pepper, and my new bass guitar. I went to the gas station across the street from my dorm and bought a six pack of Dr. Pepper.
Alone on the street corner across from Bellarmine Hall, the night felt ominous. I had only taken driver’s the year before, so I knew a yellow light was nine seconds long – in Arizona. In Washington, where the speed limit was 15 mph lower, a yellow lasts four seconds. I ran into the crosswalk on the yellow. The light changed, and a Baptist minister in a 1981 Mustang hit me, breaking my leg in three places. Continue reading
In the introduction to My Kind of Place, Susan Orlean confesses that she loves to travel – even to places that don’t sound wonderful. When the collection of essays begins with a taxidermy convention in Springfield, Illinois, it is immediately apparent that she means it. Continue reading
This year, I am trying to learn from my blog stats, but as usual, in January I was distracted by the more creative search terms that led to this site:
Jim butcher went all midichlorian
I only read the first three books in the series, and only wrote a post about the first one, but apparently someone thinks he’s jumped the shark recently.
Oh my god, if you are in Seattle and want to talk Njala, please comment on this blog. I don’t know anyone IRL who cares about the sagas, and I would really love to talk to you.
gemma alexander wicked
I should just rebrand as a romance author. It’s obviously where the market is.
Alas, the most common search is still “asgeir trausti girlfriend” and there’s nothing I can do about that.
Even more disappointing, the most common search term was “unknown.” WordPress explained thusly:
In September 2013 Google started to rapidly expand the number of searches that it encrypts, which results in a higher proportion of “Unknown search terms” in your stats. According to some sources, this expansion will eventually result in encryption of all Google searches. This is being done for privacy reasons by Google.
I like privacy, but it makes reading my stats less fun. Here’s what people were looking for, by the numbers:
david kroll paintings
Some of David Kroll’s works are back up in the gallery near my office.
how to make santa dolls
Well, I did write about Desiree’s Dolls a couple years ago. But those were rag dolls, not Santa dolls.
- pictures of gemma dee condon
Who is this person?
Despite the odd search terms, some people found something worth reading on the site in January.
Seriously, if you haven’t supported their new album yet, please do.
If you’re anywhere near Seattle, drink there.
Being a traveler, I love to see where people are reading from. Predictably, the top countries are the US, Iceland, and Canada. Finland is catching up to Canada, and that makes my heart sing [melodic death metal]. One person from Kuwait stopped by.
And that’s the stats.
Crows and squirrels. Beggar’s Feast is crowded with these urban vermin, potent symbols whose meaning I could never quite make out, just as I could never quite tell what was behind anyone’s words when I was in Kandy town almost exactly twelve years ago and saw neither crows nor squirrels. When I pulled Beggar’s Feast by Randy Boyagoda from the stack of overdue library books all I knew was that the book is by an Iceland Writers Retreat featured author. When I discovered the novel was set near Kandy, and that it spanned a century of Sri Lankan history, I was certain that it would be one of my favorites. I even hoped that it would help me understand the week twelve years ago that spawned some of my own best favorite travel stories. Continue reading