Saturday, March 14, 2020

Fiction, More Fiction, and a Summer Haircut




Summer haircut!


It was a week of careful thinking every time we thought about leaving the house. Should we go to our naturalist club meeting? The museum board meeting? Lunch with family? Is it going to be okay to volunteer at the open house at the wildlife refuge? A visit to the grocery store was surprising---no toilet paper and no soap. Every day was a new list of closings, including our library conference in Houston. A stressful week. 





I hope to read more fiction in 2020. I ordered three fiction books from BOTM this month: Topics of Conversation, Writers & Lovers, and Rules of Civility. I read two of them this week.


I eagerly started Topics of Conversation first. It sounded wonderfully promising, filled with conversations between women. My expectations were dashed. By the third chapter, I wanted to close the book and set it out in my Little Free Library for another reader. Yes, as advertised, the book is full of conversations between women, but I would say the conversations are actually monologues. And the monologues go on and on, a sentence continuing on for pages, with the only interruption being tiny breaks where the women sip their glasses of wine. The conversations are not only long, but they are about nothing, with no point, and (this is probably the killer thing for me) absolutely no humor. Grim. Rambling. Pointless.


Fortunately for my attempt at reading more fiction in 2020, I found Writers & Lovers to be a better experience. 

'So,' he says....'How's the novel?' 'It's all right.' The bees in my chest stir....One conversation can destroy my whole morning.... 'You know,' he says, pushing himself off his car, waiting for my full attention. 'I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.'

Whew. The life of a wanna-be writer is not exactly what you may be imagining. Lily King tells it like-it-is in this story of Casey Peabody, a woman in her early 30s, working to complete her first novel after six long years of work. Casey is deeply in debt from college, her boyfriend has broken up with her, she is working a difficult job as a waitress, and her mother has just died.

Despite all the troubles of her life, Casey is a wise narrator, finding humor in the situations in which she finds herself, and sharing life-truths she has discovered, especially those about writing. Here is Casey, delivering a speech about writing to an audience of young people:

'All problems with writing and performing come from fear. Fear of exposure, fear of weakness, fear of lack of talent, fear of looking like a fool for trying, for even thinking you could write in the first place. It's all fear....(O)ur biggest fear is public speaking. What I am doing right now. And when people are asked to identify which kind of public speaking they are most afraid of, they check the improvisation box. So improvisation is the number-one fear in America. Forget a nuclear winter or an eight point nine earthquake or another Hitler. It's improv. Which is funny, because aren't we just improvising all day long? Isn't our whole life just one long improvisation? What are we so scared of?'

All the things I love in reading fiction are in this book.






I'm reading two fiction books right now: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. I'm also listening to Tom Hanks' beautiful reading of The Dutch House. Of course, I'm still reading a chapter-a-day in War and Peace.






I shared my time at a wonderful bookshop this week in a post, A Visit to The Red Wheelbarrow in Paris.











I spent a lot of time outdoors this week, working at a county park on a pollinator bed, and talking to visitors about snakes and alligators and birds and butterflies at the wildlife refuge. You can't get the coronavirus outdoors, can you? I don't really know, but it seems a little less likely.


How was your week? 
What are you doing during this stressful time?





I'm glad you found your way to the Sunday Salon. There are no real requirements for linking up at Sunday Salon. Sunday Salon is simply a place to link up and to share what we have been doing during the week. Sunday Salon is a great way to visit other blogs and join in conversations. 

Some of the things we often talk about at the Sunday Salon:

  • What was your week like?
  • Read any good books? Tell us about them.
  • What other bookish things did you do? 
  • What else is going on in your life?


Other places where you may like to link up over the weekend are below. Click on the picture to visit the site.


My linkup for Sunday Salon is below.

46 comments:

  1. My daughter came home from college last Saturday and I haven't read since. I forgot how much time she takes up :-)

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    1. I'm glad she is there with you. It is funny how much time other people take. They are worth it.

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  2. I'm assuming outdoors is better than indoors if you're going to be among people you're not usually among!

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    1. I would think outdoors is better. There were not large crowds of people.

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  3. We've made some changes at our business because of COVID-19 and all but one customer accepted it fine. We're pretty sure it's in our community because we know a few people who think they have it but can't get tested. (Despite what our government says, they won't test you unless you are in a high risk group, have traveled to certain countries, or have had known contact with the virus.) I think we would all feel better if they'd tell us the truth.

    I'm sorry Topics of Conversation was such a disappointment.

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    1. I wish everyone would focus on telling the truth and helping others during this time.

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  4. Very cute haircut!

    I too was a little surprised by a trip to the grocery store yesterday. The shelves were more empty than usual, the aisles a little more crowded, and everyone maybe just a little nicer to each other. I wouldn't mind if that last bit stuck around.

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    1. There's something about hearing that everyone was a little nicer to each other that makes me happy.

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  5. It's killing me that testing isn't easier or faster here. I feel that a lot of people would feel better just to know, then everyone can take appropriate measures, and maybe not panic as much? But then, South Korea and Italy aggressively tested their populations and all we hear and those shockingly increasing numbers. They are so high only because they are testing almost everyone. But here, our numbers are going to be low but that's just the ones actually tested, while in reality so many of us could be having it. I can't decide which is better. Those high numbers (which will then cause panic) or those low numbers (which will then cause anxiety).

    Hope we all have a better week! It has been a very stressful week.

    I'm so eager to try out BoTM but I'm just not good with subscriptions and then I'll cancel it anyways. I guess I just like the idea of it. Maybe I could try it for a couple of months or so?

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    1. The nice thing about BoTM (I think) is that they do not send you anything if you do not choose a monthly book.

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  6. I love the haircut! Basically the only thing here that's still open is the library though they have canceled story time and all other group activities. Though they did up the number of items you can have out at a time and extended the number of times you can renew so I'm feeling very fond of them. I'm going out as little as possible. I don't have any real issues but in the last few years I've gotten sick very easily and it tends to hit me hard.

    I just started Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow and am really excited to read it. I've heard wonderful things about Rules of Civility. Have a great week!

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    1. I like how the library is rising to the occasion by upping the number of books you can have out. I hope you and your family do not get this illness, Katherine.

      I will be very interested in hearing what you think of A Gentleman in Moscow.

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  7. Great that You're getting outdoors. Its funny, I'll spend some five to ten minutes walking outdoors after I leave the gym, just because I know it's good for me. Here's hoping i keep the habit.

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    1. I'm not a scientist, but I've seen research on other viruses that say some do not survive long in very warm temperatures and high humidity. We have near 100% humidity here at all times and our temps are now in the upper 70s and lower 80s.

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  8. I think Casey might be wrong, though, that our number one fear isn't improv. At least, not this month or the next few months, I'm thinking. ;)

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  9. It's been a crazy week, that's for sure. I'm amazed at all the things closing down and how empty the store shelves are. I would think outside is the best place to be. Stay safe and have a good week!

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  10. I need a haircut so bad. With everything closed I just have to wait.
    Have a safe week!!

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    1. Our hairdresser is still open. She is spacing the times customers come in so that the shop is not full.

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  11. Your hair cut looks good! I was glad to have a hair appointment last week, too. I won't have to make that decision again for a few weeks. I'm also trying to get outside a lot -- there's no reason to get cabin fever on the days that the weather is nice.

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    1. It's warming up here quickly. I hope that is good for the containment of the virus.

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  12. It was a stressful week for me as well. I hope everyone stays safe!

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  13. Time outside is the key I think. Everything is closed here. I loved Rules of Civility.

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    1. Sun gives us Vitamin D which helps us with respiratory troubles, they say.

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  14. The haircut is lovely - and really suits you. Which reminds me that I desperately need one, too! Fortunately our schools and colleges are still open, as are most businesses and shops. I found the article about banning books in prisons very disturbing - while publications that give information on how to break the law obviously must be controlled, further censoring books is not acceptable. I hope you have a peaceful, book-filled week, Deb:)

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    1. I hope you stay safe and healthy over there in England. Italy is frightening.

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  15. I love the haircut! A lot of my plans for the week got canceled, so I guess that means extra reading time for me. I hope you can’t get the virus outdoors because I spend a lot of my life there. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I plan to spend as much time outside as I can today.

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  16. LOVE the haircut!!! We've been doing the same thing when it comes to deciding where to go and when to stay in. My husband has been very nervous about going anywhere, so we've mostly been staying in.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. If it is a question of stay or go, our answer has mostly been stay.

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  17. The last couple of days have been a lot to process.

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  18. Cute haircut! We don’t really leave the house much anyway, and my husband is generally the only one in the office so there haven’t been big changes here as such, except grocery shopping is a challenge and I’m feeling stressed by all the uncertainty.

    Stay well, and have a great reading week.

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  19. Love the new haircut! I'm in WA so things have been pretty intense here. I fear it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Right now we're home for a few day while the school district I teach in tries to figure out how we're going to do distance learning AND stay safe. It's a lot to take in right now.

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  20. I love your new haircut. That is the style I am aiming for...a little shorter than it is now.

    Enjoy your week and your books. Reading will save us from our frustrations...I believe.

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  21. I haven't been spending much time outdoors. It is snowing again today. However, the audiobooks of the Liaden Universe books have been filling my time nicely. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  22. I'm glad you liked the Lily King novel -- I hope to get to it although our Library is now closed down. We still have about a foot of snow here .... so there's not a lot one can do. We're supposed to stay indoors and go crazy. Even reading is a bit hard to concentrate on. Still onward we try ....

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  23. Hope your BOTM are really good reads. Yes going out now takes thought, it is only beginning here but already huge consequences in all areas of life.

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  24. I loved Rules of Civility and can't wait to read Lily King's latest. Aren't you glad you got your haircut when you did?! I got mine cut and highlighted and can go 6-9 months before I need to go again. My husband got his cut (we were preparing for our two month road trip, which has since been cancelled), so he's good for 6-8 weeks. Not sure what we'll do at that point. Might be time for him to try a ponytail! :)

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