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Showing posts from March, 2019

Finishing My Book

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Several months back, I mentioned I've been writing a pseudo-Victorian novel for 3 years.  I talked about the literary inspirations and characters - not to compare my writing with such greats (hardly that!), but to give you a gist of what the story's like.

April is Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and my plan is to make a final push to finish the rough draft. (I know, I said that in November, but work life had other plans. ) 

Would any of you be interested in reading the rough draft?  By "rough," I mean lightly edited and fully readable.  However, because I wrote it for NaNoWriMo (word-count marathon), some parts are overly wordy and others parts are admittedly corny.  :P

It'd be quite motivating for me to complete the ending if there were readers waiting for it.  More importantly, I'd be grateful for your comments, especially honest, constructive criticism.  At this point, I've spent so much time with this project, it's lost much of it…

Falling in Love with Fiction

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Occasionally you stumble across some historical story so weird it could only have happened in in real life.  Exhibit A: the mysterious lover of Nikolay Gumilyov.
Who was Nikolay Gumilyov?  Born in 1886, he grew up well educated and began writing poetry at a young age, becoming first published, in fact, at around age 16.  Gumilyov spent much of his life as a man of letters and established poet, but he also served in the Russian cavalry in WWI.  He was executed in 1921 on suspicions of being part of a monarchist conspiracy. 

When he was still a young man and writing for a journal called Apollon, he fell in love with the author of some poems which had been submitted for publication.  Here I quote Wikipedia:
In August 1909, the famous Russian artistic periodical Apollon received a letter with verses on a perfumed paper with black mourning edges, signed only by a single Russian letter Ch. The verses were filled with half-revelations about its author—supposedly a beautiful maiden with d…

No-No Boy and What It Means to Be American

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Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? 
Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization?  
No-No Boy follows the post-war lives of two young Seattleites: Ichiro Yamada and Kenji Kanno.  Published in 1957, John Okada's only novel takes a raw cross section of Japanese-American society and examines it through the eyes of these characters who made very different choices.

When called to the draft, Ichiro followed his mother's guidance and answered "no" to both "loyalty questions," resulting in imprisonment.  After two years, he is released from prison to a community which abhors him for his decision, almost as much as he hates himself.  Kenji, on the other hand, vo…

The Congo and the Cameroons - Penguin Great Journeys

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The Congo and the Cameroons contains excerpts from Mary Kingsley's memoir Travels in West Africa, published in 1897.  The first two sections cover some observations and anecdotes about West African flora and fauna, while the last two-thirds of the book follow Mary's climbing of Mount Cameroon.

Things I'm Looking Forward To

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So far, 2019 has been a great year for me in terms of stories to read (and watch).  There's a few things coming up which I'm particularly looking forward to!

Adventures in the Rocky Mountains - Penguin Great Journeys

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I knew Isabella Bird was a Victorian solo traveler, who had visited far-off places such as China on her own. What I didn't know was what a great writer she actually was.

Adventures in the Rocky Mountains contains excerpts from her book, A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879). Surprisingly for a travelogue, here you'll find a variety of experiences and emotions - from courage and trepidation to hilarity and friendship. I was really impressed by Isabella's fearlessness, paired with her knitting needles and an honest confession of her physical weaknesses. Still, this middle-aged lady exhibits far more stamina than I could ever dream of, whether it's braving out the freezing cold in a cabin or helping cowboys round up their cattle! Through it all, she focuses on the exhilarating beauty of the Rocky Mountain landscape, which is the subject of all her voluntary hardships and a lesson to all of us (privileged to travel comfortably) not to take it for gran…

What I'm Reading (and More): March edition

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Hi readers - hope everyone is doing well!  I've been incredibly busy the last several weeks at work, which seems to be the new normal.  To be honest, I haven't been reading much, but I have watched some interesting films lately which I wanted to share.