Just a little teaser. These beauties came in the mail this week and I promptly visited a craft store to pick up some supplies: blush pink and clear stones, some paint and glossy spray, etc. Stay tuned to see the end result…
Have you heard of the Rory Gilmore Reading List? It’s an exhaustive list of every single book ever mentioned on Gilmore Girls, and it’s something like 300+ books long. You can find the complete Rory Gilmore Reading List here, and check off the ones you have or haven’t read! I’ve personally only read 74 of the 339 books (22%) so I had better get reading!
Seriously, Gilmore Girls ended seven years ago and it’s still my favorite show. I’d like to pretend I don’t plan my mornings around ABC Family reruns of it, but I’m not a liar. I’d also like to pretend I didn’t wear out my first set of DVDs and have to buy another but you get the point. The show never gets old. The writing is pithy and intelligent, the characters are well-written and complex, and I think I learned half of what I know about obscure pop culture references from watching it. But the best part of the show, in my opinion (besides Jess Mariano), is the emphasis on good literature.
Here are my favorite bookish tattoos I’ve come across from rummaging around the Internet. The first one is my desktop background right now. I love the placement of the piece and just the framing of the picture in general. If you had to get a tattoo like this one, which author’s face would you get? I would probably get Lord Byron or something, just so I could stare at that face all the time 😉 .
Some of these are so creative with design and placement. It’s giving me dangerous ideas.
Dr. TJ Eckleburg’s eyes from The Great Gatsby
Pemberley! Or what inspired Pemberley, Chatsworth House in Devon.
Another Pride and Prejudice-inspired one! So lovely.
I like this one, but it’s a bit too big for my taste.
Recognize this? It’s from The Velveteen Rabbit! That book made me cry when I was a child.
Another awesome Harry Potter one
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
I like this Pride and Prejudice quote, but I don’t like how it’s spoken by Charlotte. This is one of her wiser quotes, though.
And a dramatic one, from Wuthering Heights. I do love Catherine as a character, and this is one of her more insightful lines from the book.
Would you get any of these?
Saving money makes me want to spend it. I suppose it makes sense. My little reward for skimping on clothes and driving around to find a meter with time already on it is that once in a while I can give myself free rein to shop, within reason. I bought a dress, a blazer, and a couple of belts. Then I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble and had coffee with my sister. I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I love the heart keyhole back on this white knit dress, and the blazer is fitted with ruching on the sleeves. I also indulged my inner girly girl with a couple of bow belts.
“What I found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
My favorite colors! Black, red, and gold, with a bit of brown thrown in for good measure. I wore this out to a dinner date last week. These knit tights from American Apparel are so lovely and warm, but they rip so easily! I find myself having to constantly darn them (I’m going to refrain from making a “darn it” joke right here, but I am that cheesy). I’ve had these Adrienne Vittadini boots for a couple years now. I got them absurdly cheap from Marshall’s.
boots (Adrienne Vittadini) from Marshall’s, tights from American Apparel, skirt from Forever 21, necklace from Aldo
“Looking from the window at the fantastic light and colour of my glittering fairy-world of fact that holds no tenderness, no quietude, I long suddenly for peace, for understanding.”
― Daphne du Maurier, The Birds & Other Stories
The Vietnam War is an undeniable part of American history. It’s painful, true, and it’s there. It always will be. It’s like a ghost, always hovering on the fringes, never forgotten. In The Frangipani Hotel, young author Violet Kupersmith addresses the ghostly nature of the Vietnam War and combines that theme with her interpretation of traditional Vietnamese ghost stories. These stories, a mix of old and new, vividly capture the ghost of the Vietnam War and the effect it had on that generation of Vietnamese and the generations that followed, whether in the motherland or in America.
The result is stunning, even more when you take into account that this collection is a debut by an author two years out of college. Yes, I am so jealous, but also overjoyed at her success. It gives me hope. This collection contains nine short stories, all penned when the author was in university, all with two things in common: a touch of the supernatural and the feeling of displacement that followed the destruction of the Vietnam War.
In the first story, simply an opener, a Vietnamese-American girl begs her grandmother to tell her the story of “the boat trip:” how her ancestor escaped as a refugee in 1975, headed for America. The girl needs an “A” for a school project, and her grandmother chides her for taking her family and her history for granted. This short opening story sets the stage for the rest of the book, in which the characters deal with the past and the present, their identities and their culture. The characters’ lives have been changed forever by the War. It is a new Vietnam, and the characters must face it.
Some set in Vietnam, some in America, these stories are also retellings of traditional Vietnamese ghost stories, which I found incredibly moving. Reading these stories afforded me a glimpse into pre-war Vietnamese culture, which I had known very little about prior to this (they teach you about the War, after all, but not so much about Vietnam as a country). Kupersmith’s stories not only took me to a modern Vietnam, cramped side streets, pho stalls, and oppressive heat included, but also to a time before colonialism, and highlighted a rich, imaginative culture that often scared me to my very core.
These are ghost stories, and ghostly they are. There are animate corpses walking on water, their intestines ripped and bloody. There is a young, immortal girl preying on the men who fall under her love spell. An old man periodically transforms into a fourteen-foot python in modern Texas, seemingly spreading his disease. Alleycats with sharp talons. Nightmarish banh mi vendors. A dying, shriveled man who feeds on your stories and takes your face. Each story incorporates a legend or folktale, updating it with modern cultural themes and one eye trained on the Vietnam War.
The result is an ode to Vietnam, and to the author’s cultural history. It’s both American and Asian, old world and new. The writing is also deft and precise, impressive for someone only a couple years older than myself, in fact. Each story contains a fresh voice and interesting characters, and if the stories lack depth sometimes, I can forgive the author due to lack of experience and wait eagerly for her novel. I’m sure it will blow me away.
Kupersmith actually reminds me of a less exhausting Jhumpa Lahiri. Her characters are more resilient, to be sure, and the immigrant experience is described with less emphasis on self-pity, and more on new beginnings. With a reanimated corpse or two thrown in for good measure. Also, it just happened that I read this work right after I read Daphne du Maurier’s collection of stories, also touched with the supernatural and featuring suspenseful events, and this work reminded me of du Maurier’s careful plotting, the way she introduces a mystery in the beginning and leads the reader as if by a leash to a breathless climax, only to be left wishing for more. Four stars.
Note: I received this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This title will be released on April 1, 2014 by Spiegel & Grau, Random House.
Kupersmith, V. The Frangipani Hotel. (2014) Random House.
I don’t know why, but I never have time to read. I recently graduated college and haven’t found a full-time job yet. I’ve only been waitressing and blogging for nearly a year, but I never have time to read. On the days that I do have off, I am consumed with guilt when I stop the job search, when I watch reruns of The Office for hours at a time, when I read when I should be writing. That’s why I thought of the brilliant idea of reading days, in part inspired by those pre-finals days at the end of a college semester when everyone should be studying (they are, in fact, watching reruns of The Office). So, a couple times a week, I’ll set aside a day when all I do is read, and I’m not allowed to feel guilty about it.
Last week I devoured Daphne du Maurier’s collection of short stories, and then quickly plunged into a book I got from Netgalley, The Frangipani Hotel. A review of that is coming soon, but the point of this post is to emphasize how much better it is to read in large spans of time than it is to read a chapter every day. I found myself consumed by the stories and enjoying it utterly. I enjoyed it so much more having my head wrapped up in the book, and knowing I didn’t have to extricate myself for hours. The to-do list is written for the next day, but for now, my only responsibility is reading this book.
I suppose that my ulterior motive for becoming a book reviewer is that I tell myself that yes, I do have to read this book. My audience depends upon it. Don’t mind me: I can be a bit dramatic 😉 .
<- selfie. Trying to imitate Charlotte Bronte's face on my Kindle. She's being a bit pouty.
What do you guys think? Would you rather read a bit every day or set aside chunks of time to read? Whose face do you have on your Kindle right now? Lemme know.
Also, I just put up a new header and tweaked some font sizes around the site, and added some decorative white wood paneling. I've been wanting to energize that old black header for ages, and I quite like the effect! Very clean and simple.
Aside: yesterday was my 100th blog post 😀
Before the Whispernet gods delivered Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds and Other Stories to my oft-neglected Kindle, the only du Maurier I’d read was the beloved Rebecca. Now I know why Alfred Hitchcock loved her stories so much. I do have this to say: Hitchcock’s version is laughable compared to the original, and the title story is only the beginning.
This collection includes The Birds; Monte Verita; The Apple Tree; The Little Photographer; Kiss Me Again, Stranger and The Old Man. These six engrossing stories speak of the power of the natural world and how mankind perceives it, the calamities and consequences of war, as well as violence, revenge, and the search for truth. Infused in these stories are unexplained phenomena, the least of which is the apocalypse that ensued when birds attack all humans on earth.
All of these stories aren’t terrifying per se. Some, like Monte Verita and The Apple Tree, contain unexplained supernatural elements that also function as allegories or just simply as eerie plot points. In The Apple Tree, a widower’s deceased wife seems to have been reincarnated in an apple tree on the man’s estate, trying to kill him for his neglect during life. In Monte Verita, an ageless cult of women living on a mountain mysteriously disappear when the locals come to attack them. And, of course, there are the terrifying, murderous flocks of birds attacking people all over the world. You know–no big deal.
Woven within these stories is commentary on the psychological impact of war both on society and on the individual. The characters in The Birds are finally safe from the blitz, but the world has changed as a result of the second World War and nature has turned on mankind. The women of Monte Verita are searching for a truth they cannot find in the modern world, and they would rather die than return to their domestic, businesslike lives. And in Kiss Me Again, Stranger, one girl finds a fiendish way of reaping revenge on the members of the RAF whose defensive actions ended up killing her whole family during the London blitzkrieg. These stories, while eerie, frightening, suspenseful and sometimes horrifying, are also thoughtful stories containing social commentary and vividly drawn characters with voices, and they’re not afraid to speak. The result is mesmerizing. I didn’t put this book (Kindle) down for hours. (I carried it with me like a security blanket, cooking with one hand and answering questions with impatient “mmms.”)
Like I am wont to do lately, I immediately put Daphne du Maurier on my list of must-read authors for this year, and no later. She has enchanted me, as she did when I first picked up Rebecca as a teenager. It’s been years and I still think about that book all the time. I suspect the same has happened with du Maurier’s short stories. I am eager to enter her head again, and come under her spell. So that’s one thing Alfred Hitchcock and I have in common.
Note: I received this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Du Maurier, D. The Birds and Other Stories. (2013). Little, Brown and Company. First published 1952.
These American Apparel riding pants are my favorite because when I wear them to dinner they stretch very comfortably. I wore these on Fat Tuesday to celebrate gluttony at one of my favorite places, the Bronx Alehouse. They afforded lots of stretch to accommodate fried food and beer, plus they’re also cute and extremely versatile. My favorite thing to wear is probably a good pair of stretchy black pants. Who needs jeans? Not I. I wore them with a simple and artfully wrinkled (artfully because I didn’t iron it) white blouse. Also pictured are my favorite shoes, by Jeffrey Campbell.
shirt from my sister’s closet, pants from American Apparel, shoes from Jeffrey Campbell, feather necklace from Aldo
Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them. — E.M. Forster, A Room With a View