Söderberg, Hjalmar

The Burning City

Boy, I sure am all kinds of flushed with the Scandinavs these days. Maybe it’s my compassion for others plying their way through long cold winters, or maybe it’s my assertion that gravlaks is a flawless food, or maybe it’s just what they’re willing to pay for a beer is a most resonant sacrifice. Or maybe they’re just loaded with great writers. But if you had to lay a fresh twenty on what countries would sit atop Miette’s Trove of Literary Masters (and god knows you should let me in on such a bet were you to place one) you’d win big by betting all on Nordic.

On a not-unrelated-note, I’ve got these things called “tags” in place on this web site, which would have been a Real Big Deal about seven years ago, and which I’m just now getting around to. It’s not complete, but it allows you to do things like see all the Scandinavian stories I’ve read, and slap your forehead in disgust at how many more I need to read. I suppose this could be useful if you ever find yourself in a mood. Expect things to get interesting around here. Har det bra!

Bambara, Toni Cade

Raymond’s Run

A disclaimer: the Wiki says that tonight’s story is… how to put this… Big in Middle School Circles. But don’t let that put you off (especially if you yourself run in Middle School Circles, or are Big therein). I can be as big of an arrogant elitist as the next lady when it comes to my own sometimes obscurantist needs, but as anyone with a well-rounded appreciation of fiction, I can sit back and take a closer look at the forgotten gems of Middle School. Like those jelly shoes that ladies my age are supposed to nostalge about.

Because we can reminisce about all these things, or read lines like this and put our hands up in admission of the ageless:

“It’s about as real a smile as girls can do for each other, considering we don’t practice real smiling every day, you know…”

That’s pretty good, right? Happy wintertime.

Link, Kelly

The Specialist’s Hat

So it was decided that I needed a table, but in thinking about the sort of table I might need, for the purpose the table would serve, it was further decided that the table needed to have certain bench-like properties. A hybrid, as we say in these times.

The problem is, as you may have heard, money in my country is not worth very much these days and table-benches are beyond my budget, and while there’s a new president whose first order of business, as you may have heard, will be to give me a new hybrid table-bench, I know better than to rely on economies and politics, and I went and gathered what I needed to fashion it myself.

Now, I’m not the handiest of people, and I’m actually fairly dangerous when put in front of power tools and sharp edges and, you know, screws and such, but I built the damned thing, which grew increasingly complicated from the initial idea of Top and Legs, to include such delicate bench-like features as Rabbited Feet and Lots of Slatted Inserts and Dependence on Measurements, and no shortage of other over-ambitious features for an unhandy sort. But it’s built. It’s wonky as all-hell, and if you’re ever over at my house and I invite you to sit on it, it can probably be safely said that I’m not your biggest fan. But it’s built– it’s my civic duty to let you all know that, wonkily or not, I’ve done my civic duty. And now it’s time to sit back and read more stories.

Jansson, Tove

Of Angleworms and Others

So it’s summer right now, if you’re with me hemispherically. Although if you were to zoom in a little closer you’d see that in some places, we’re tying up that chapter, it’s cooling down, and that means it’s time to read you some Tove Jansson.

Now, I was going to read you something from the Moomins, but it’s not quite as charming when removed from the illustrations of big Moomin innocently bent-over butts. Or rather, it’s just as charming, but I’m hopelessly unable to convey Moomin-butt-drawing charm by voice alone.

And besides, the Summer Book is pretty archetypal for changing-tree times. As much as bonfires and maybe as much as the Shrimp Song that Townes van Zandt sang. Any other absolutely perfect end-of-summer stories? I’m in a wood-fire mood.

Poe, Edgar Allan

The Cask of Amontillado

So I read in the news today about the Indonesian macaque monkeys who’ve learned to successfully catch fish, and how exciting this is for biology, and how it’s a living and breathing example of the adaptation of a species to its conditions and environment, and really it was all astonishing stuff to read.

But for some reason all I could think was that these monkeys are capable of catching fish with their bare hands, and in the modern on-demand way we’d expect of them, when it takes me hours of unraveling knots and tying knots and waving a stick around in the water before, if I’m very very lucky, I manage to land anything more than ingredients for a muck-and-weed juice drink.

And then I snapped out of it and thought: huh, jealous of monkeys. Well, why not?

In other news, a killer thunderstorm knocked the power out twice before settling into the atmosphere needed for Poe regaleritics.

Faulkner, William

A Rose for Emily

So, my “identity” was stolen recently. And not for the sake of sordid members-only internet sites or international travel or a weekend of Spitzering other scandalous activities that, if you’re going to have your identity stolen, would constitute Theft in Style. No, my identity was used to buy clip art and stock photography and website services, which is about as exciting as cutting school to go and get a root canal, sneaking out of the house late at night to mow the lawn next door. You get the picture.

So a personal note to identity thieves in training: when you’re done with me, at least return me with a few heavy anecdotes and a thrilling punked-up haircut. OK?