been awhile

well, hello.

it seems I have been absent for some time. well, here I am, alive and well. but the 3 people who read this blog probably already knew that.

I am in the golden state, the place of my birth, the place from which I have been absent for a long time, the place about which joan didion wrote:
“in at least one respect California—the California we are talking about—resembles Eden: it is assumed  that those who absent themselves from its blessings have been banished, exiled by some perversity of the heart.”

no comment, as my own heart resembles something like a ‘perverse’ blend of half California poppies, wine, and ocean water, half crawfish heads, jazz, and Louisiana river silt.

but enough about that.

here is what I am currently reading:

– “listen to this” by alex ross (non-fiction): the new yorker’s music critic on, well, music, from classical (a term he hates) to bjork.

– “st. lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves” by karen russell (fiction): a delightful story collection in the tradition of marquez and katherine dunn. it only mildly depresses me that this book was published when russell was only 25.

– “the purity myth” by jessica valenti (non-fiction): a righteous political powerhouse about america’s (namely the christian right’s) obsession with young women’s virginity, and how it reduces and sexualizes young women’s worth and morality to passivity and virginal “goodness.” valenti kicks ass. this book, in my case, is definitely “preaching to the choir,” but as my sister reminded me recently “even the choir needs practice.”

– “the new kings of nonfiction” edited by ira glass: a collection of essays by glass’s favored writers from malcom gladwell to susan orlean. published a few years ago, and something I’ve always meant to pick up. so far, it’s excellent. of course my love of ira glass is documented.

– “p.t. barnum: america’s greatest showman” by the kunharts (a father and two sons–nonfiction): an awesome illustrated biography of p.t. barnum. as far as historical figures go, I may or may not have a mild obsession with barnum. what’s not to love? insanse hubris! the circus! freak shows! animals! ridiculous (if not exploitative) business-savvy! I’m loving this book, especially all the awesome photos, posters and ephemera from barnum’s circuses and museum in NYC (which burned down in 1865—oh if only time-travel were possible!).

– “the partly cloudy patriot” by sarah vowell (nonfiction): I LOVE sarah vowell, and since her new book “unfamiliar fishes” (about the 1898 annexation of hawaii, which I cannot wait to read) has a library check-out wait-list from hell, I am biding my time by reading through her back-catalog. this is one of her more well-known books, a collection of essays about this here country, and I’m, of course, enjoying it. her piece about visitng disneyworld with david rackoff  is particularly hilarious.

*

completely unrelated, here is a picture of the cake I made last weekend of father’s day:

yum.

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