Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

a red dress and a spyglass

I finally did it! I found a copy of Persuasion that met my standards! I know you were waiting with bated breath to see if I found a good copy. We got a new edition in at work, a Vintage Classic from Random House, and here it is:

The sea. A fabulous red dress. A spyglass. A feathered hat. Oh yes. It seems to me that Anne is the proper captain here, not Wentworth.

If I only I could read this by the sea.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

cherry chapstick

This is fabulous.

Also this. And this one's pretty good, too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Male and Female Nonfiction Writers

Remember my post about how male authors are published and reviewed more than women authors? Now it's time for some positive news so we don't get too depressed about the world and our prospects as female writers.

Creative Nonfiction is the largest literary magazine for, you guessed it, creative nonfiction. Which is my official genre as a writer, if we must choose sides. Here's a chart of Creative Nonfiction's 2010 contributors, plus a few of their issues, by sex:

And while we're talking about Creative Nonfiction, let's mention that my cohort, Sonya Dunning, won the essay contest for their MFA Program-Off.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Remember Karen Russell who wrote that promising first book of magical real short stories? Remember St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves?

Russell's much anticipated novel Swamplandia! has been released. This month I believe. Here's an interview of Russell.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More Michael Dickman

The more I read Michael Dickman the more I like his poems. I was thinking of putting part of one on here, but it would be sad to put only a part, and it is not my intention with this blog to put entireties of poems and thus infringe on copyright. So here's Michael reading a poem himself, perhaps not the first poem I would have chosen as an example of his work, but it's still good.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What are you made of?

I love the Arcimboldo paintings. His most famous is Vertumnus:

But his lesser known works are great to, like this one made of fish:

Or the ones where if looked at right-side up are still lifes or normal scenes, but when turned upside down are faces:


A generalish sort of update.

1. My conference paper on Helen Maria Williams has been accepted. So I'd better turn this paper into something brilliant before I present it.

2. Michael Dickman. Remember the guy with the cute photograph? Apparently everyone has heard of him, except for me until I picked up his book two days ago. He's one of those hipster writers you either love, or hate because everyone else loves him. (I, not aware of such things, enjoyed his poetry but did not think it was the best thing ever.) Dickman was at AWP, where a number of my cohorts were last week. AWP is the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and they have an annual conference that everybody (except for me, apparently) goes to. One of my cohorts said that Michael Dickman was getting "a lot of play with the ladies" at AWP.

3. Here is an anecdote about AWP: I believe that at the AWP conferences everyone tends to stay in the same hotel. The year the conference was held in Kansas City the hotel bar was closed for renovations. The professors and writers rioted until the hotel was forced to open the bar.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Esme's Bookshelf

Books I finished reading in January (articles, magazines, parts of books, etc. not included)

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka

Yellowrocket by Todd Boss

Half a Life by Darin Strauss

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

The Granite Pail by Lorine Niedecker

Letters Written in France,  in the Summer 1790, to a Friend in England;  Containing Various Anecdotes Relative to the French Revolution; and Memoirs of Mons. and Madame du F— by Helen Maria Williams

Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman's Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess by Phyllis Curott

More Author Photos

I like my author photos sexy. Does that make me a bad person? Fine, then I'm a bad person.

(Sitting at the table on a Tuesday morning, drinking hot chocolate and eating vegan french toast from homemade bread, reading Michael Dickman.)

Today I contemplate Michael Dickman, the Portland poet. Look at that sexy half smile:

And then there's John D'Agata, poster boy for creative nonfiction:

And my recent favorite, Helen Maria Williams, saucy lady:

If they are not sexy, then I would like them to have a big cat, like Ray Bradbury:

Or maybe just big glasses:

Angela Carter

Monday, February 7, 2011

Being a Woman Writer in a Men's Publishing World Ain't Gonna Be Easy

From an article in The New Republic by Ruth Franklin:

In 2010, "[a]t Harper’s, there were 27 male book reviewers and six female; about 69 percent of the books reviewed were by male authors. At the London Review of Books, men wrote 78 percent of the reviews and 74 percent of the books reviewed. Men made up 84 percent of the reviewers for The New York Review of Booksand authored 83 percent of the books reviewed. TNR, I’m sorry to say, did not compare well: Of the 62 writers who wrote about books for us last year, only 13 (or 21 percent) were women. We reviewed a total of 64 books, nine of them by women (14.5 percent). 'We know women write,' poet Amy King writes on the VIDA website. 'We know women read. It’s time to begin asking why the 2010 numbers don’t reflect those facts with any equity.'

"We looked at fall 2010 catalogs from 13 publishing houses, big and small. Discarding the books that were unlikely to get reviewed—self-help, cooking, art—we tallied up how many were by men and how many were by women. Only one of the houses we investigated—the boutique Penguin imprint Riverhead—came close to parity, with 55 percent of its books by men and 45 percent by women. Random House came in second, with 37 percent by women. It was downhill from there, with three publishers scoring around 30 percent—Norton, Little Brown, and Harper—and the rest 25 percent and below, including the elite literary houses Knopf (23 percent) and FSG (21 percent). Harvard University Press, the sole academic press we considered, came in at just 15 percent.

"As a member of third-wave feminism, growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, I was brought up to believe we lived in a meritocracy, where the battles had been fought and won, with the spoils left for us to gather. It is sobering to realize that we may live and work in a world still held in the grip of unconscious biases, no less damaging for their invisibility."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week of Doom

The week of doom has officially ended. Why was it a week of doom?

I had to write a poem, write a creative essay, write a less-official creative essay off a prompt, finish and turn in an application for a teaching assistantship, write a conference paper and submit said paper to the conference. And that's on top of all my usual homework and my job.

This weekend and Monday I was in writing seclusion. I ate, breathed, and slept (ate drank and breathed? breathed slept and ate?) menstruation and creative energy. (My creative essay was on menstruation.) I actually enjoy writing seclusion. Who woulda guessed, Esme likes to write. Wednesday I allowed myself a break to celebrate Imbolc. And yesterday afternoon/evening I wrote my conference paper.

Conference paper means I submit an abstract to a conference and if the conference likes the abstract I present the paper in front of people. In front of my colleagues as well as strangers who have traveled here from who knows where. And the first and most important rule of the conference paper is that it be eight pages. No less, no more. This paper has been required by my professor David Sigler. He is my new favorite person. His class on British Romanticism makes me drool. As Katie will know based on my phone conversations, this class and this professor make me gush.

So last night I was like, "God, I have to write eight pages. I'm writing about William Blake and rape. I only have two pages worth of material and my argument is faulty. I hope the conference hates my abstract so I don't have to get up in front of these people and make a fool of myself. What is my professor going to think when he reads this paper? He will think I'm stupid. He's never seen my writing before. He doesn't know this is the week of doom. His first impression of my writing will be that I am a dunce.
"OK, I may only have tonight to write this, but I am switching topics. OK...Helen Maria Williams! The sublime! OK. OK, I've got four and a half pages written. Not great, but better than if I had done Blake. It's short, but I don't sound stupid. I'll just tidy up my introduction and conclusion...oh my god my paper is actually about gender roles! Keep writing. OK, six pages. That'll do it. It needs tightened and rearranged, but that'll make it even farther away from the goal of eight pages, so this will have to do.
"Sweet! It's not the best but it's interesting and hopefully my beloved professor will think I have good ideas! OK, so Sigler is studying Williams in depth right now and is even writing the article on her for some encyclopedia and obviously knows way more about her than I do, but maybe he will think I have good ideas?
"Maybe I should have botched the abstract so I wouldn't have to do this at the conference."

My professor has read my abstract, and will read my paper soon. He says it looks interesting.

Huh. This post has mainly just been about my conference paper, even though this week I have ate dreamed and lived menstruation and creative energy. In conclusion: Menstruation! It is awesome!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I am chatting with a library. Yes, I am instant messaging UI Library and UI Library is messaging me back.

Awesome. Oh, technology.

[16:56] UI Library: what subject are you looking for?
[16:56] meeboguest358562: william blake


I've tried recreation,
Reading until late at night, train rides
And romance.

—John Ashbery, from "Worsening Situation"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Masterpieces tend to be accidents.

          —Robert Wrigley, poet

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Poetry is like a form of nostalgia.
          —David Sigler