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Cold Bean Porridge and a Virgin Milkmaid

Disgruntled Goodreads Expat

I keep going over and over this sentence, and I can't stop..., Part the Second

...Then suddenly, even though it's just another bone-cold night, and beautiful and terrible snow everywhere so that it is hard to get up the window to put the baby's bottle out on the sill, she goes to the place where she been saving the old man's letters and hurls them into the middle of the floor and lights the pilots of the jets on the cracked but savagely scrubbed-down white stove, with a flame upon the letters Daddy had written to get her back and tears streaming down upon her cheeks and she tells Malcolm, who is eleven months older than Iris, who is ten months older than Jamestown, to get the hammer and break off the ledge of the window, and the old lady hurls open the drawers of the bureau and throws her old bras and drawers into the fire and the washboards and the frame of hers and the old man's wedding pictures and her diploma (I had stole a whole heap of papers and give to my brothers and sisters from out the principal's office to put in the window, 'cause our place is like an icebox, and because I had on purpose got myself sent down to the principal) and the baby whose cough is getting worse hovering in Hilda Mae's titty-withered breasts.... And the flames making us all look crazy in the light off the bonfire now beginning to like wild towards the ceiling like Hilda Mae's hair, itself, standing end on end.... And Hilda Mae crazy hollering now; and me finally ripping up the windows, 'cause the room's getting smoky; and Hilda Mae giving me that baby to hold and then commencing to throw in the hairbrushes and the toilet seat (from the toilet outside the doorway) that she done jerked from off the toilet stool.... Hammer in her hand and hearing hammering hammering hammering at the medicine cabinet, glass breaking onto the floor like carter's little liver pills, and her throwing the frame into the fire; cutting off the legs of the victrola still playing Bessie's "Trouble in Mind" that she done rewind--into the fire.... And me getting the bucket from under the place where the water dripping to throw into the fire and Hilda Mae screaming like it's her last words on earth, but coming from not her but rather some other woman that I ain't never seen, or saw ever again... LET THE MAMMY-FUCKER BURN ON DOWN.... Get my BABIES--we getting out asses out of this funk-busting shit-hole....

(Leon Forrest, There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden, pp. 30-31)


(This following one of the bleakest descriptions of poverty I've ever read. Trust me, Maggie Ann Fishbond's bio/monologue is incredibly harrowing. This man Forrest can WRITE.) 

I Heart Woolf, Part the Second

...only Fanny thought: "What a beautiful voice!" She thought how little he said yet how firm it was. She thought of how young men are dignified and aloof, and how unconscious they are, and how quietly one might sit beside Jacob and look at him. And how childlike he would be, come in tired of an evening, she thought, and how majestic; a little overbearing perhaps; "But I wouldn't give way," she thought. He got up and leant over the barrier. The smoke hung about him.

And for ever the beauty of young men seems to be set in smoke, however lustily they chase footballs, or drive cricket balls, dance, run, or stride along roads. Possibly they are soon to lose it. Possibly they look into the eyes of faraway heroes, and take their station among us half-contemptuously, she thought (vibrating like a fiddle-spring, to be played on and snapped). Anyhow, they love silence, and speak beautifully, each word falling like a disc new cut, not a hubble-bubble of small smooth coins such as girls use; and they move decidedly, as if they knew how long to stay and when to go--oh, but Mr. Flanders was only gone to get a programme.
"The dancers come right at the end," he said, coming back to them.
And isn't it pleasant, Fanny went on thinking, how young men bring out lots of silver coins from their trouser pockets, and look at them, instead of having just so many in a purse?

(Jacob's Room, pp. 137-138)

I Heart Woolf

I was in some sort of weird mental state this week and couldn't seem to focus on reading (it was a strange feeling), but I think I'm over it now, and this is the first thing I read today:



The Greeks--yes, that was what they talked about--how when all's said and done, when one's rinsed one's mouth with every literature in the world, including Chinese and Russian (but these Slavs aren't civilized), it's the flavor of Greek that remains. Durrant quoted Aeschylus--Jacob Sophocles. It is true that no Greek could have understood or professor refrained from pointing out--Never mind; what is Greek for if not to be shouted on Haverstock Hill in the dawn? Moreover, Durrant never listened to Sophocles, nor Jacob to Aeschylus. They were boastful, triumphant; it seemed to both that they had read every book in the world; known every sin, passion, and joy. Civilizations stood round them like flowers ready for picking. Ages lapped at their feet like waves fit for sailing. And surveying all this, looming through the fog, the lamplight, the shades of London, the two young men decided in favour of Greece.

"Probably," said Jacob, "we are the only people in the world who know what the Greeks meant."

They drank coffee at a stall where the urns were burnished and little lamps burnt along the counter.

Taking Jacob for a military gentleman, the stall-keeper told him about his boy at Gibraltar, and Jacob cursed the British army and praised the Duke of Wellington. So on again they went down the hill talking about the Greeks.

(Jacob's Room, pp. 87-88)








Jacob knew no more Greek than served him to stumble through a play. Of ancient history he knew nothing. However, as he tramped into London it seemed to him that they were making the flagstones ring on the road to the Acropolis, and that if Socrates saw them coming he would bestir himself and say "my fine fellows," for the whole sentiment of Athens was entirely after his heart; free, venturesome, high-spirited....She had called him Jacob without asking his leave. She had sat upon his knee. Thus did all good women in the days of the Greeks.

(p. 88)


Can you blame me for being a bit enamored?

A fragment

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year--I've never lasted more than a day or two, in the past--but I had a few lines in my head when I woke up this morning and I've been mulling over them in my head all day, so I wrote them down and now I think I have the beginning of a story.  Maybe.  Check it out:


Working title: "Always Remember That You Are Free"


There would be a note and a mint on her pillow when she got home from work; there always was.  The note, always punctuated with a smiley face, would say "Thank you for your services to the State!"  The mint, always wrapped in plastic, she would flush; she always did.  She hoped that the spies assigned to sort through her waste would inform the spies assigned to search her room that she didn't care for the mints they always left her; failing that, she hoped it wasn't the same mint.




That's all I got, so far.  I'm mulling over a few other paragraphs, so I may continue.  It's a banality-of-dystopia kind of story.  What d'you think?  Decent beginning?

What's this? What's this?!

"...The old lady and gentleman will not object, I think; you will escape from a disorderly comfortless home into a wealthy, respectable one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you. All seems smooth and easy; where is the obstacle?"

"Here! and here!" replied Catherine, striking one hand on her forehead, and the other on her breast, "in whichever place the soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong!"


"...I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire."

(Wuthering Heights, pp. 56-57)


What's going on?  What's this feeling?  Do I actually feel sorry for these silly fools?  Do I actually like this book?  I did not expect this to happen!

I wish I had written this paragraph


"Well, that's that," said Dick, aloud to himself. He felt terribly sorry about Anne Elizabeth. Gee, I'm glad I'm not a girl, he kept thinking. He had a splitting headache. He locked his door, got undressed and put out the light. When he opened the window, a gust of raw rainy air came into the room and made him feel better. It was just like Ed said, you couldn't do anything without making other people miserable. A hell of a rotten world. The streets in front of the Gare Saint-Lazare shone like canals where the streetlights were reflected in them. There were still people on the pavements, a man calling inTRANsigeant, twangy honk of taxicabs. He thought of Anne Elizabeth going home alone in a taxicab through the wet streets. He wished he had a great many lives so that he might have spent one of them with Anne Elizabeth. Might write a poem about that and send it to her. And the smell of the little cyclamens. In the cafe opposite the waiters were turning the chairs upside down and setting them on the tables. He wished he had a great many lives so that he might be a waiter in a cafe turning the chairs upside down. The iron shutters clanked as they came down. Now was the time the women came out on the streets, walking back and forth, stopping, loitering, walking back and forth, and those young toughs with skin the color of mushrooms. He began to shiver. He got into bed, the sheets had a clammy glaze on them. All the same, Paris was no place to go to bed alone, no place to go home alone in a honking taxi, in the heartbreak of honking taxis. Poor Anne Elizabeth. Poor Dick. He lay shivering between the clammy sheets, his eyes were pinned open with safteypins.

(John Dos Passos, U.S.A., p. 707)

I keep going over and over this sentence, and I can't stop...

And i shuddered and trembled as we fairly floated past this building from which they had flown off into space: rocketed, sacrificed, yoked and bedazzled, raggedy, transfixed, auctioned, looted and howling scarecrows into the breathing jungles of this soft and easy, stormy-out-of-eden country, funky-jawed and joy ripping, grease trapped, babbling wind...and in the extreme right corner two mammoth bloodhounds lapped, tongued and gnawed down the bony skeletons and the nostril-gutting spoils of this building's bowels bursting like water bags, cast away from its moorings to land-lostness and humpback prayers spinning amid hovels and clapboard whispers of dreams and citadels, psalms, bales of cotton--laughing to mouth down the bad yoke, which weaved its way through the hose built upon the pale riggings of a vessel afire in a docking bay, which had become a castle for rats, making potlicker of the blood, flesh, feces, skeletons, eyes, ears and throat and tongue of the looted, discarded shipwrecked spoils in the bowels of the swinish hole...ah but the little children pied-pipered in their pitch, from where they knew not whereof and plunged down singing as if they were back in the low red-clay country and stealing up now and winging off, and then vaulting over the pale ghost of a harpooned yet thunderously devouring sun in flight--as if even in their looted youth they were possessed by wings...

(Leon Forrest, There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden, pp. 44-45)

Lesson Learned

So, it turns out the "edit" and "delete" buttons are right next to each other here on Booklikes, and if you're not careful you might just hit the wrong one.  That's good to know. 


Reasons Why Goodreads May Be Superior Despite All The Shitty Stuff, #43.


Original post:


WELL WELL WELL, Goodreads has been busy.

Go on, check your books. Any book you've added, under any shelf, now has a little summary in the review space saying "[Book Title] by [Author] is on [your name]'s [To-Read/Read/Etc.] shelf.. Shelves: [all other shelves listed]." Even on actual reviews, this shows up at the bottom.

Neat, huh? I never understood how shelves and stars worked before this. Thanks, Goodreads!



Jacob's review of


Jacob's review of Pride and Prejudice


Update: It's only a bug!  Watch your sass, Jason!


Update Update: Oh hey, it's gone now.  Goodreads actually fixed something! I'm astounded.


Update Update Update: Hide the evidence!

Try and stop me

It's probably a good thing Goodreads is down, because I have this weird urge to reread some Star Trek: Voyager novelizations right about now. That was the series I grew up on (well, the only reruns that played at a decent time, when I was a kid), and I feel a bit nostalgic about the books.  I would just be a bit embarrassed to add them on Goodreads.


(Although that series actually had more women than men as authors.  Go VIDA!)


(Also--so much for embedding links easily on Booklikes.  I want my Goodreads back!)



I'm going to write a book.

It's a story about Lawrence, a prolific letter-writing gunslinger and atheist with sores on his feet, and the night he decides to go barefoot while eating at an Italian riverboat restaurant owned by Harold, a magician with scoliosis, who puts too much sauce on the spaghetti.  I'll call it...


Epistolary "Pistol" Larry's Pastor-Wary Pustule-Airing at Posture-Worried "Presto!" Harry's Pesto-Heavy Pasta Ferry.

This novel brought to you by the words "manqué" and "bijou"

Consenting Adults: Or, the Duchess Will Be Furious - Peter De Vries

Ted Peachum's father is famous for hibernating (I almost said "hibernating through the winter months," but Ted helpfully informs us that the word itself is seasonal, and that estivation is the term reserved for those who sleep through summer, so the distinction is unnecessary).  Come November, he--well, you get the idea.  It's hardly worth noting, except the hibernation business opens the book and, after a great first chapter, is hardly mentioned again.  One could read that one chapter as a short story, then put the book down and walk away, and one wouldn't miss much.  Ted Peachum's father hibernates--Ted Peachum himself could send you off to sleep.  Yawn.  Honestly.  An insufferable bore who spends his time moving furniture, spouting off supposedly-pithy quotes to his disciples (somehow he has disciples), and pursuing randy sex while trying to avoid lusting after his best friend's underage sister (whose mother is nonetheless keen on him eventually settling for), Ted is...well, an insufferable bore, etc.  Then he moves to New York and pursues randier sex (including a ménage à quatre with a set of triplets), then he goes back home and settles for the now-of-age younger sister.  The end.


The words "manqué" and "bijou" are tossed about gratuitously, especially in the middle third of the book (goddamn once per page, almost), along with a host of other five-dollar words that turn this supposedly comic novel into both a snore and a chore to read.  I was too bored to keep a list the first time, and I'm not dedicated enough to dive back in to seek them out.  You'll have to trust me on this.

"Unexpected" "Error"

Perhaps if Goodreads spent more time on maintenance and less on chasing Hydra reviews, these "problems" (which Alaskabeth probably hasn't experienced, therefore...) wouldn't keep happening...

"Unexpected" error

Welp, looks like Goodreads is broken.

I can't decide...

...whether I should export everything from Goodreads, or start afresh?  Hmm...