Note to self: Be blogworthy

It's Friday, the whole weekend is ahead, and well, I feel compelled to do a blog entry. And avoid a) rewriting a marketing blurb b) revising a short story. Blogs are soooooo satisfactory that way.

Yet, I feel a bit guilty for indulging in this spontaneous, fairly pointless piece when so many fellow bloggers are posting clever, well-crafted, thought-provoking entries. I feel I really must up my blogging game. Starting this weekend, I vow to become blogworthy!

Who cares if I'm a soul-sucked, barren-brained corporate corpse? Other bloggers post novellas with bronchitis, broken arms, new surgery stitches, and five children, two dogs and a hungry spouse waiting in the wings! Buck up, LK! What's a little job burnout?

I shall strive to join the ranks of SuperBloggers, calling on my heroic powers to type faster than a speeding bullet and leap tall thoughts in a single bound! Despite the overwhelming sensation of having cotton-batting perpetually wrapped 'round my brain. Despite the fact that I really love to write off-the-cuff, whereby I can feel smug if the result is felicitous, justified if the work is substandard.

And I vow to improve posts not in the spirit of competition but of comraderie. I want to give to the community the way they give to me! (I am sincere here, in spite of the patented LK flipness.)

And my apologies for not having a really cool blog site. I confess: I am Technically Challenged. In two key ways: First, I am not a programming whiz who lunches on HTML soup, followed by plenty of RSS feed at dinnertime. I am lucky if I can find my computer's ON switch. Someday soon I hope to burnish my blog, clean up the typeface, give the masthead a signature Literate Kitten look and throw in some fancy sidebar tricks for good measure. That is, if I can overcome my second technical challenge: Being hampered by an aging home computer. With my iMac's scant memory fading fast, I work on my blog in dribs and drabs, in between crashes or work breaks, and sometimes flying blind without fully-loaded graphics. Soon, perhaps next week even, a kindly Techno Geek clerk at my local computer store will supply me with the proper vitamins to restore brainpower to my poor, dementiaed iMac.

How I do run on. Happy weekend to all and to all a goodnight.


Thoughts for Thursday - the book score

I love a good book score. That's when you're idly perusing bookstore shelves or rummaging through a free box someone left on the sidewalk and you find...well, a great find. The unexpected. The rarity. The affordable. The title you never dream existed, the book you've sought but never found, the obscure novel by the author whose oueuvre you were certain you'd read in entire. In short, the score.

This week I scored at a local bookstore. I was passing time, waiting for a friend, and I decided to see if this particular bookseller had Volume 2 of Virginia Woolf's Diary. Then I saw it. Wedged in between The Waves and something by Irvine Welsh: The Eye of the Story by Eudora Welty. Two bucks. Yellowed and curled at the edges, with a slice of scotch-tape at the top of the spine. But mine, all mine!

It's one of those books that speak to the other books in your life. In it, for example, there's an essay on Chekhov, whose story Lady with a Dog we just read at A Curious Singularity. And a review of the Western Journals by Washington Irving, whose writings collection, by happenstance, I bought yesterday as part of the RIP reading challenge (Legend of Sleepy Hollow being one of my selections). And an essay on Jane Austen, whose Northanger Abbey is also part of my RIP reading (and which I bought yesterday with the Irving book). Odd, isn't it? I won't even mention the Woolf review included, because it seems any literary essay book worth its salt these days includes something on Woolf.

I've been wanting to respond to a wonderful post by Litlove on the Great American novel and character versus plot, but I've been too swamped. But what of it? My book score conveniently includes an essay on novels! And I quote:

It can be said at once, I should think, that we are all agreed upon the most important point: that morality as shown through human relationships is the whole heart of fiction, and the serious writer has never lived who dealt with anything else.

I'll second that!


Virginia's Haunted House

Apparently, Virginia Woolf based her short story A Haunted House on a real house, leased by herself and her husband, called Asham House (pictured here and unfortunately demolished in 1994). Here is what Leonard Woolf had to say about Asham:

Asham was a strange house. The country people on the farm were convinced that it was haunted, that there was treasure buried in the cellar, and no one would spend the night in it. It is true that at night one often heard extraordinary noises both in the cellars and in the attic. It sounded as if two people were walking from room, opening and shutting doors, sighing, whispering…I have never known a house which had such a strong character, personality of its own – romantic, gentle, melancholy, lovely. It was Asham and its ghostly footsteps and whisperings which gave Virginia the idea for A Haunted House and I can immediately see, hear, and smell the house when I read the opening words:

'whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure – a ghostly couple.'

RIP Challenge - week 1

Started my reading for the RIP Challenge with Virginia Woolf's A Haunted House. As this was only 3 pages (and my other selections had not yet arrived from Amazon) and a long holiday weekend, I culled my book stacks for other RIP candidates.

Turned out to be a grumpy weekend of reading. I guess I'll have to call myself the Persnickety Kitten this week. Anyway, here goes...

Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allen Poe. I assumed I've read this at some point, but couldn't recall so I dusted off a copy of Poe's short works and gave it a whirl. What a disappointment. A ridiculous ending, even accounting for the fact that it was the first of the detective genre. I'll be interested in what other readers have to say, see if I can muster some appreciation for it at that point. But for me, Cask of Amontillado is a better story by far.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson. Though Jackson's writing is, as always, fine, I really disliked living with the crazy narrator, plus I figured out whodunit early on. Had to force myself through it. And the ending went way over the top. I revisited The Haunting of Hill House, which is at least spookier (though oddly dated).

That leaves us with: A Haunted House, Virginia Woolf. A mere 3 pages, but the clear winner for weekend number 1. Not sure it really qualifies as a short story (sketch? vignette? pastiche?), but this of all this weekend's RIP readings offered up genuine atmosphere, provocative thoughts and complex texture. The stream of consciousness writing gives an idea of why the living fear ghosts -- They embody our regret for, longing of and reconnection to the past:

Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs.

Here's hoping that James, Irving or Wharton arrive at my doorstep by Friday!