Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friday Hopping

Like intrepid reading, roaming rabbits the blog hoppers take to the blogosphere. There is a sense of welcome. Of purpose. Of bread and jam on the table and a fire in the fireplace. The invitations are sent. The music begins. The guest are arriving.

Frog and Toad have just left. Scarlett and Rhett are running late. Cathy and Heathcliff have gone for a walk. Elizabeth is refusing to give Mr. Darcy cake. Anna is worried about getting back to Petersburg and Vronsky is trying to talk her out of going. Beatrice is flirting with Benedick and Hero is not really dead. Claudio has gone to find her but has wandered into Titania's forest. Odysseus is late getting home and Telemachus is getting annoyed.

Damon the Mower is in love with Juliana but she has wandered off. Emma is trying to get them back together and Mercutio is teasing her. Shell Silverstein has turned on the lights and Dr. Seuss has brought in the noisemakers. The Whos down in Whoville have started to sing and Keats is finishing his letter to Fanny Brawne. Shelley has gone for a walk on the beach and stopped in to see Coleridge in a cave. The Ramseys are off to the lighthouse while Mrs. Dalloway buys the flowers. Lucy Honeychurch is sailing down the Arno while Cecil Vyse plays tennis. Nora is leaving the doll's house and Holden is having a bad day. Catherine Sloper is in Washington Sq. and Pip is talking about Australia. Tess wants to go walking alone but Captain Wentworth is very persuasive. Charles is returning to Brideshead and Sebastian will be waiting for him.

It is going to be a lovely party.

The End of the Affair

So I am teaching Graham Greene's The End of the Affairat the moment. I had forgotten the triangular, impossible brutality of that book. Henry married to Sarah. Sarah in love with Bendrix. Bendrix obsessed with Sarah. Sarah promising God to end her affair with Bendrix and remain with Henry. Ouch.

It is like an earthbound Sartre where they can all leave the room. The lines are roughly cut with sharp scissors but retain a softly draped ethereal mist about them. Maybe it is the amount that Greene does not tell us. Maybe it is the post war London silhouette of tilted hats and exploded buildings. There is something about this book.

No one is likable--not really. You would not want to have Bendrix over for dinner or meet Henry for a walk in the park. Sarah compels but because of what she does rather than what she says. It is fascinating to watch someone make such an absolute wreck of two men who love her. Greene has done something extraordinary here. The novel is skinned with a thin dermis of politeness. All Greene's Brighton violence happens within the heart but is just as knifing. There is something about this book.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In the Rain

My graduating senior student graduated on Friday. Graduations here are like nowhere else. The mayor spoke and then he sang and then it rained and then the students sang in the rain, and then they graduated in the rain. There is no 'moving it indoors'. Rain is good luck at graduations, birthdays and weddings and everyone just goes on settin' and a rockin' and a singin' in the rain.

And then the students receive leis. So many leis--orchid leis, plumeria leis, candy leis, li hing mui leis, pikake leis, maile leis, ti leaf leis, sweet white ginger leis, stephanotis leis. His wonderful family brought a huge bag of thickly petalled, perfect leis. The leis often pile up to cover the graduate's face and they stumble about like huge flower monsters hugging each other, signing yearbooks and saying goodbye. Hawaiian graduation photos are unmistakable.

My student is a musician a writer a reader and a poet and so I gave him the complete Allen Ginsberg to take to college. He will pack his battered Auden and worn in Neruda. He did it. He fell in love with reading and writing and it will follow him all his life. It is amazing to watch it take hold. To see language and experience weave together to cast their spell. It is a particular magic. It will never let him go. He is done for.

He reads with a careful, examining, passionate ferocity. He asked for a summer reading list. I did not pull my punches. He is already nearly through his first Graham Greene, is at--The End of the Affair and heading towards Brighton Rock. Greene's loose, stony, precise, spare language will join the other tempos in his inner lexicon of voices. His wonderful, wonderful older brother is considering reading the list with him. Middlemarch looms large, sprawling out on the horizon and they will tackle it together. It will win them in the end.

It is a marvelous thing. To watch the interest turn to excitement turn to confidence turn to habit turn to a quiet, calm expanding. There is no going back. I am so happy for him. It is a marvelous thing.

Monday, May 24, 2010


You know those days? Somehow you miss walking through the doorway and bump into the doorframe. The toothpaste falls off the toothbrush. You fail to see the new red sock in with the new white sheets. the car keys keep hopping from one random unlikely spot to another. You type the wrong word, erase it and type it again.

Those days have a power of their own. They snowball, change shape, snowball some more, pick up speed and then run over your foot. I am not sure if it is constructive or destructive to write on those days. It is something in the breeze or the lemons or the shampoo or the apples. I get the feeling that whatever I write I will unwrite tomorrow. And so, I am going to swim in the ocean, read about the death of the corset, get sandy feet, wash the salt out of my hair and start over.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rainy Sunday Writing

I love Brideshead Revisited. I read it my third term--the summer term--at Oxford. It was just the place to fall in love with that book. I was studying in the golden city that "exhaled centuries of youth." I had just turned twenty one. I took in Charles Ryder's exuberance, his articulated joy, his less articulated sadness, and his wanting to be vital. To describe your complicated, heartbreaking lost best friend and only love as "the forerunner" is a featherlight whisper of genius. To describe the wanting to live a truthful, connected, creative life as "finding the low door in the wall" is staggering.

Now I read it and remember. But now the second and third thirds of the narrative stand out in sharper relief than they did then. There is a scene in Marchmain House when Charles is painting. It echoes the earlier scenes at Brideshead when the magic held and heralded a perfect sunlit summer with Sebastian. In Marchmain House, the magic is of a different sort. He is painting the "four small oils" of the house and at each passage he waits for "the pile to be lost" and the spell to break but it doesn't. Each passage builds on the previous until he has, as Anthony Blanche points out later, "done something". And with a brutal lack of exactness, "Not all he can do, not all he will do, but something."

That is the carefully balanced, hushed moment of writing something you like. Later it can come apart and you may not like it anymore. Later you may move past it and wonder at its simplicity but in that moment, it is something.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Jabberwocky

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Wow does spellcheck not like Lewis Carroll.

So, Charles Dodgson was a controversial guy. It was rumored he stammered only in the company of other adults and was clear spoken with children. He was a singing, writing, mathematician with an aptitude for charades. Although Dodgson was close to Alice Liddell and the name 'Alice' is layered into the blueprints of his writing-- writing aside from his great Wonderland and Looking Glass masterpieces--Dodgson maintained that Alice Liddell was not his inspiration. Curiouser and curiouser.

However he came upon this collection of sharp, clean, satisfying sounds--it is marvelous. He sustains the clicking exactness of hard rhymes snapping together. It does not matter that the words are jumbled, nonsensical fragments. Each piece lands lightly on its four feet as if it has always been there.

I have been thinking about invention. There is a knuckle cracking pop when a good idea comes bouncing along. A trepidation in committing it to the three dimensional real estate of the Roman alphabet. And then when it works--it is delicious.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Write Write Write

The last few days have been getting away from me. After months of rain, this island is lying under a great blue bowl at the moment. I should not say that out loud as the ocean has very good hearing and will ship over a thick bank of grey fuzz to stop up the blue hole in the sky.

There were five months (although I was not here for them) of rain--do people know this when they sign up in droves to get married in Hawaii? I think the tourist board leaves out such information. Vera Wang and wet sand do not mix. And so now--the summer. There have been friends visiting, old friends getting together, new friends going to the beach, and a subtle frenzy to each day. It has been lovely, companionable and not conducive to working. In order to get lots done my day has to duplicate the last. Sleep, write, eat, write, teach, read, beach, repeat.

For me a steady footprint of repetition is road to an evenly threaded working week. A racing, running, burst of inspiration--while fun and productive--can also derail my little red wagon. Good books, good friends, good weather--my wagon gets derailed very easily. So, back to routine. My small green flash pot of fresh ideas seems to like routine. It is like holding absolutely still so that the neighbor's unsocial cat will come and lie against your legs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Awards on a Monday

How wonderful to wake up on a to a small Easter basket of awards! I feel that running down the front stairs towards the shiny new red tricycle with the huge white bow feeling.

Thank you to Beth at and Stacy at for giving me the Bodacious Book Blogger's Award! How thrilling! How kismet. How very very sweet of them. Thank you.


If you are given this award you must first accept it by leaving a comment on the post you were nominated on. Then copy and paste the post and add it to your own blog. Make a list of the last 5 books you read and pass the award on to 5 other bloggers (no backsies!). Please also identify the blog from which you got the award and don't forget to tell your picks that they
have a blog award!

So, five books?

Matilda, Roald Dahl
Passion, Jude Morgan
The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morten
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

They were all heavenly,

So, five blogs?

doctordi at because she is fun and sass and heart
bibliophiliac at keats's letters?
june at for sweets and smarts
kate at for lovely wineglass fine writing
leanna at for art deco lettering and finely wrought wrought words

Thank you again Beth and Stacy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blog Hops and Pink Photos

Blog Hop Friday! On your marks! Get set! Go! How wonderful to set aside a day to explore. Read, visit, read, visit, hop, hop, hop. How marvelous. I have found brilliant blogs, luminous writers, rigorous readers, insightful reviewers and around every corner, generous, generous people waiting with well tempered, gentle honesty and open minded conviction. It is a rare and wonderful thing.

And yet, this week has been a bit of a runaway coach and six. I have a student graduating--and I am champagne fizz proud of him, a student accepted to a wonderful private high school and I am bunches of balloons in bloom proud of her, a student reading Matilda with grace, ease and fierce concentration and I am seven swans a swimmin' proud of her (we are studying alliteration--can you tell?) and friends about to send their manuscript off to agents and I am delighted and have been editing their feather light, shot with sunlight words--and now I am exhausted. I feel a bit like a dog that has been chasing a theoretical tail only to find out that she is a polar bear.

And, my gracious, glorious friends have created another set of author's photos. I love the green church door photo but when you crop it it looks as if I am seasick and at sea. And so now instead we have... pink. My angelic, gifted friend Naomi took the photos (just before she whacked the head of a centipede with a nasty looking garden tool while still nursing her baby--seriously impressive stuff) and my dear, patient, genius friend Matt fancied em up and sent them out. Naomi made me laugh a genuine big laugh and then took the picture. Matt and I giggled, and giggled and ate salt water taffy while we looked at them. They were happy moments and now we have happy photos.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

People Reading People Writing

It has been a lovely thing. People read, write, return, read some more, leave a lovely, kind, supportive note, read, write... and round and round we go. How simple and truthful and good--and reciprocal. When someone leaves me a comment I inevitably hop on my bloggy bicycle and go zooming off through the bloggyworld to see what that person has been reading and writing and doing and saying.

Did Penelope (names changed) like her latest Murakami? Has Gertrude gotten to the part where Anna meets Vronsky? Is Hepzebah's new puppy going to eat the cat? Does Fenella agree that while Cathy is wicked she is utterly compelling to read? Did Roxelana get through all seven Harry Potter's in a night? Did Louella like her vacation in the Seychelles? Is Olympia happy with the latest draft of her first novel? Gripping stuff.

It is like stopping in at a favorite coffee shop on the way to work. I sit by the window and order books, news, sensibilities, thoughts, ideas, holidays, humor, kindness and a lemon vanilla scone. After a lovely chat and the feeling that i have been somewhere, met someone, I go home again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

News and Writing

So, news first. My fantastic, genius, wonderful editor and extraordinary, brilliant, dynamic agent loved the photo. Whew. Done. Really? This thing that had taken on albatross-esque proportions in my head? Yep. Done. Yippee!

It seems--although I have only so far heard this through a lengthy, nutty text message exchange and a spectacularly unorganized game of phone tag, that my first home town author event has been organized. In a bookstore I have never been to. Now this will sound strange to people who live in places where bookstores grow on trees but here they are an endangered species. And up until yesterday, I thought there was only the lone Borders standing bravely and singularly in town; like a cavalry officer with no cavalry. Now I find there is another bookstore on this island?

One would think that being on an island, I would know it quite well--have visited every beach, trail, waterfall, restaurant, salt pond, water cave and bookstore. But no. I am creature of profound habit. I love the beaches, restaurants, waterfalls, trails, water caves that I love, but a bookstore? A book store will send me hurtling out of my comfort zone and off to the other side of island immediately.

Why don't I go there more often you ask? I am a prohibitively bad driver and cannot parallel park. Bear in mind that this is an island, an island with very skinny roads, and if you spend thirty minutes ineptly trying to park in a huge space that logic and physics say should be more than ample--you mill make people angry. And then you will see those people again. Eew. No one will honk at you. Honking is the height of rudeness here and deeply frowned upon. But everyone remembers every one's car and I will get that "Oh I saw you desperately failing to park on the West side yesterday, please do not attempt that again nor park near me" sort of look at the grocery store.

In other wonderful news, Kals from the luminous At Pemberly blog gave me an award! How wonderful. The award was created by Felicia at Geeky Blogger's Book Blog and she asks us to pass it along to five of our favorite blogs. Trouble is that I want to award right back to Kals as I love At Pemberly but you can't do that can you?

So, five blogs?

Bethany @ Her blog 'words, words, words' is generous, fun and feels like a lovely chat with an old friend.

June @ Her blog feels like a spring afternoon with green grass, a favorite book and a bowl of strawberries.

Doctordi @ A fantastic blog brimming with life and writing and smart, self deprecating, engaged humor.

Missy B @ Her heartbreaking, truthful, tenderly written Mother's Day post stayed with me all day.

Stella @ I know I keep giving her awards but I just like her blog so much!

Now, writing. Umm, must write more?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beginnings, Endings and Johnny Depp

So the cover arrives next week! I feel like I am going to finally meet my book. Obviously we have met before but now I feel like she has been off to college and a year abroad and cut her hair and met new friends and is all grown up and totally different. She is coming back a book.

The funny thing about covers is that they really are the clincher in buying a book. I will absolutely judge a book by the cover. Sail right by the icky ones and not even pick them up. And then I will pick up the pretty ones and even if the subject matter sounds iffy, I will try to talk myself into it. And now I find out that the author has absolutely nothing to do with it--bizarre.

Not that I should have anything to do with it. I would probably want to paint it pink and gold, feed it macaroons and give it the flavor of Eighteenth Century Paris although it is set in Seventeenth Century London.

I miss Seventeenth Century London. The Second Novel is set in WWI and it is so bizarre to be able to ride the omnibus, discard the corset and use Pears soap. I miss the foggy rootling around in the obscurity of the Restoration. Digging out kitchen utensils and bedroom slippers and not bathing. I miss the strangeness of it all. The voluptuous beauty ideals (Nell was a rarity as she was slightly built and that was seriously unfashionable) and the scale felt so distant and absorbing.

Don't get me wrong, I have gained marvelous new, clear precise stuff in The Second Novel. I know what they had for breakfast--really for breakfast on the day that I am creating. That is good in that it gives me a super strong impression of the character and bad in that it gives me a super strong impression of the character. It is a lot to work around. I have decided to follow in the footprints but wear different shoes.

In other utterly unrelated news the Caribbean Pirates are arriving on the island this week, captained by Johnny Depp.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Author Photos and Blog Hops

It is Blog Hop Friday! A day for bouncing round the blogosphere like reading rabbits on rollerblades. It is always a lovely day--meeting new people who love to read and write and review and connect. Thank you to the marvelous Jennifer at for organizing this wonderful rabbit roller derby.

In other news I did it. I sent the photos to my editor. Well, I say I when really I just sat there and my friends Naomi and Matt did it. Really good friends who help with all their helping hearts are just wonderful aren't they? Precious and rare and so much part of the infrastructure of happiness. I am currently on the lookout for a lovely present to give Naomi so if you have any ideas please tell me! Matt helped me on his birthday no less so he gets presents and cake. Actually, everyone gets cake. Friday feels like a day for sunshine, a good book just begun, the ocean, bleached out salty hair, sandy feet, and then a thick slab of yellow layer cake with pink icing. Cake it is!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So, I got home to the oasis of calm that is the island I live on and then reality came a knockin. Have you ever left your life for almost six months and just wandered off? I did.


The roof was leaking.
The car battery was dead.
The car stereo was flashing weird unfamiliar letters.
My shoes molded.
I had no food.
I forgot which way the hot water turned on and so took a cold shower.
I could not find my spare slippers and so had to wear my brother's slippers which are made to fit my six foot two brother.
I fell in front of a group of tourists who were waiting to buy rainbow shave ice because I was wearing inexplicably gynormous slippers.
I did not call people in the right order and so upset people.
I did not tell some people I was back and then got caught in Foodland.
There was a frog in the pool.
Our wonderful if very sensitive gardener planted orange impatiens and my mother will hate them.
I avoided the gardener and did not confront him today and so did not fix the orange flower problem.
I got the time zones wrong and worked with one of my students on the phone at 445 am.
I have to buy eleven birthday presents this afternoon for the eleven birthdays I missed.

You get the idea. Moral of the story: do not walk away from your life for five months without incredibly good preplanning and organization.

But. On the upside:

I own books that I have not read yet but forgot I owned and so have mysteriously acquired new books.
I am getting to spend time with old friends I dearly love.
After getting up at 5 am to take the car to town to get fixed (an hour drive to the other side of the island) I stopped at the beach on the way home and jumped into the blue, blue sea.
I had 17 packages of research books waiting for me from Alibris.
I got my hair cut incredibly short but then got hit on by a strange older man who kept insisting I wear make up for my author photo--ick on both counts.
Then I was able to drive away from the strange older man as I can drive on this island.
I get to work with my fantastic, brilliant, first student on Friday and will be on island to see him graduate high school and head off to the marvelous college he has been accepted to!
I am here for my dear, dear friend Matt's birthday tonight.
And my wonderful, patient, sweet, gifted friend Naomi took my author photo!

Golly Moses was she patient. I am not good with photos. I looked 'angry' for the first seventy or so. I was trying to look like an author and not like a Priya and I failed utterly. We did it on the steps of a very old green church in Hanalei. First I tried a black dress. Disaster. Then I put on my own clothes. Better.

I was going to not smile, look straight on at the camera, wear shoes, be relaxed, do a close up. Instead I turned to the side, smiled, did a full length shot, wore slippers and panicked. And Naomi was a patient wonderful genius. "It is going to be a one inch picture!" She kept reassuring me. In the end we giggled and giggled and had so much fun. I went to her house this morning and went through them and picked out some that I liked so please, please cross your fingers that they turn out ok!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Planes and News

I am not on a plane! That sounds like a small thing but it is enormous. I am not on a plane, packing for a plane, waiting for another plane, driving to the airport, saying goodbye at the airport, waiting for bags at the airport, moving a plane ticket or popping my ears. I do realize that I sound like a very wordy loon but The Plane Ticket has hung over my head for three weeks while I got over bronchitis. We moved it three times. You know the sinking dread that pulls on you--or maybe just on me--when the airport and all the accompanying accoutrements loom up in your future--yuck.

My poor boyfriend and I have had four teary goodbye dinners in two and a half weeks. That is one of my favorite quotes by the way, when Peter O'Toole tells Audrey Hepburn in 'How to Steal a Million"-great film "And then you loomed up in your nightie and shot me." Great writing. Can you tell I have not slept enough?

And then this morning I opened my email and found a wonderful set of awards from Whitney! Her blog, She is too Fond of Books ( is superb. Anyone who lists "All About Eve" and "Dark Victory" among her favorite movies and In Cold Blood right after Gone With the Wind for favorite books will get my attention.

So, ten facts right? Maybe I should not do this on so little sleep,

1. I carry a book with me everywhere--really, really, everywhere--movies, restaurants--bizarre.
2. I could not read until third grade and the first big book with chapters that I read was Gone With the Wind in fourth grade. I think I have read it at least eleven times since.
3. I am as of last summer, allergic to bees.
4. I love 1930's poetry.
5. I am half Indian but people always guess Hawaiian, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek or Russian. When I say Indian they ask me what tribe.
6. I never listen to my messages and tend to leave my inbox permanently full.
7. I am the only one among my siblings who uses her given name.
8. I bump into stuff.
9. If my book sells lots of copies I intend to rescue a French Bulldog and a Pit Bull, and buy a vintage Dior 1920's dress.
10. I am a hug you when I meet you rather than a shake hands when I meet you sort of person.

Wow. Definitely should have waited until I had more sleep.

Ten blogs to give this too?

Lisa and Laura at, because they are vibrant and true and fun to read.

Kals at A weekly Tagore poem--does it get better?

Caroline at A warmhearted, fascinating writing voice.

Tahereh at, a young writer with a brilliant voice. She calls her followers 'besties'--adorable.

Beth at From Wales to Canada, a wonderful, generous blog with a great heart.

Michelle at A sparkling, insightful, incisive, gracious voice.

Vivienne at She is taking a blogging break just now but her blog is worth waiting for. Cupcakes and books=genius.

Mari at Wonderful to read--generous, snap, crackle, pop smarts and fun.

Teddyree at A beautiful blog. Her writing is personal, courageous, addicting, especially for historical fiction lovers!

Marie at Fantastic reviews, great books, illuminating writing--genius!