George Saunders’ Pastoralia is a shorter collection of short fiction than the previously aforementioned CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.

In the meantime–that is, between the reading of the two–I have happily discovered a George Saunders fan site: GeorgeSaundersLand. You can read some of his writings online here.

Of the two collections, I definitely preferred CivilWarLand, but there were a couple of stories which caught my eye, quite, like shiny zoobombs or tiger’s eyes crackling along the asphalt in the sun:

–“Sea Oak”: The narrator is a “pilot” at a local eatery, sort of a Hooters for women, only the men parade around in speedos and flight jackets. He works to support his two cousins, their children and his aunt, who dies suddenly (in a hail of bullets, if I recall correctly). The aunt, a meek old maid who never speaks up for herself, then comes back from the dead in a fury of regret, whipping the narrator and his cousins into shape. Startling and funny.

–“The Falls”: Divided between two narrators walking through their neighborhood–an unassuming, nondescript father/husband experiencing regret and doubt about the lack in his life and an hysterically bad, amusing arrogant poet, whose flights of textual fancy zoom far past any limits of taste. I realize that doesn’t sound very interesting, but the conclusion of this story is exquisite.

Anyway, I like his stuff.


feel free to suckerpunch the odin squire

there’s only one kind of thing that anyone ever says anymore (don’t say it!) and with that swirling adagio (can’t you see it!) welling up, brimming over with sweet sheaves of time, this one can’t seem to stop the flow. just because the lurkers sometimes glimmer on the horizon, lambasting the laggards and crunching on the bones and sinew, well, that’s no reason to quit. step lively, lads, step lively. :the pots of simmering curry boiling up, the grand caravans slipping down the sides of cliffs and edges:

frimsy mimsy porrow and pots, gobble up gobble up grobber and tops

on an opportune bag of sticks, the cavailing packerman sells his basket of snake’s oil and umbryallystuff–Zounds! or ‘Snot! or ‘Snails! or ‘Spleen! clackertyclack… clack… clack.

if the rails are finding their purpose in several severed trains on top of ’em, well, where’s the thing at? i meantersay, where’s the thing, that once they’re propt, they can’t be turned away?

there seems to be a (CARIBOU!) fizzing brainwave foistering itself on the minds of those two–is it some kind of echoing thing, bouncing one t’other?–a feeble grasping at some kind of (oi! watch those tired eyes blur into the pillow, siderwise, looking out one halfface, one halfpillor, and feel those blinkers winking, or, leaking tearstuffs, though not enough to feed a horse) purposal, i mean, propose, or purrrrrpuss.

**a note here about the cat. the cat is zooming all about the place, a pouring sink of slithering–imagine a glass of water pouring on into t’other, and you’ve got it–only sometimes, there is some kind of curled button stillness, and a sighing sleepiness that makes Someone Else imagine succulent hijinks down the hall, only to realize, yoinks! it’s only the cat zzznoring, dreaming of mothballs in her sleep.**

there is one who imagines–fitfully and with crunchings and squeaking of sparks, this not one well-oiled machine–some THING that would be worth gravitating towards, lending pieces of his own gravitational field (an electrochemical concoction, concatenation, a worthwhile brew?) to spin additional and helpful inertia into some slowly rumbling trowel. but bemeantimes, this one feels only like spinning and sparkling in some distant place, or maybe this one doesn’t feel LIKE doing that, just feels LIKE that. sprarkling behind glass. behind cool icy remove. watch that glimmer, but don’touch! keep that heat at some remove, and fear the burning that might engulf a simpler thing, scratching up into flashfire.

Parenting from the Inside Out

It was back in January that I finally got around to reading (and finishing) Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Donald J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell. I decided to read this book after reading an interview with the author, Donald Siegel, on (You can read it here, though you may have to go some rigamarole or other.

For example, this bit:
The first thing a parent should understand is the difference between right brain and left brain. So much of what happens in our culture promotes left hemisphere emphasis: language, logic, linear thinking. The right hemisphere, in contrast, is about your body, it’s about nonverbal signals: eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, your gestures, the timing and intensity of your response, how you hold the posture of your body. One of the exciting things about having a baby is that babies are almost totally dominant in their right hemispheres. And you’re going to relate to them nonverbally. So it’s an opportunity actually to start increasing your awareness of your own sensations, your nonverbal cuing into your child.

My motivation for reading the book had more to do with wanting to understand how the brain works and develops than with a place of needing to learn how to parent properly. (Which, parenting, is not something I’m opposed to doing at some point, but I’d rather wait a bit longer, first.) There was some very interesting stuff here about brain development–specifically, that the quality of a child’s interactions with its parents actually effect the physical development of its brain. To which I can only say, Wow!

It’s a strange thing, reading and thinking about how the brain works and, while reading this book, there were moments when I had strange feelings of what I might call cognitive dissonance or empathy. Times when I would find my brain mirroring the state of the brain activity being described. It was very, very odd and it made me wonder if I am just very suggestible or if there was something else to it.

Like paying close attention to ones own heartbeats, thinking about ones own brain processes can become all topsy-turvy.


searching searchers…

here’s some of what searching searchers probably didn’t find here:

right side of the brain
grant morrison interviews
the right side of the brain
tickle my brain
only in kenya
pet obsessions
religion in the brain
strange instruments
book recommendation
discussion of time traveler’s wife
discworld traveler
erdag goknar
half a brain picture
is controlled by the side of the brain
left brain music
loca records
neal stephenson download