litquiz 1 – geographically speaking

“I’ll tell you the God’s honest truth.” His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by. “I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West–all dead now…”
“What part of the Middle West?” I inquired casually.
“San Francisco.”
“I see.”

Kudos to Vince Donovan, who correctly identified Gatsby as the character who refers to our own westernmost bay city as the midwest. The above conversation takes place between Gatsby and Nick Carraway.

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oscars night

Yesterday was the litworld equivalent of Osars night–the National Book Awards. No real surprises. I mean, I suppose William T. Vollman wasn’t entirely expected to walk away with the fiction award for Europe Central, but once you’ve been nominated, you’re only a stone’s throw from winning.

Hey, no takers on that litquiz? Here’s a clue. The character’s remark was edited in many editions of this classic work of fiction, on the assumption that it was the author’s error rather than a deliberate attempt to reveal something about the character. Only fairly recently, in a text that also restored 1100 of the author’s original commas, did the San Francisco midwest comment make it back into the novel.

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booknote: The Book of Dead Birds

The latest author on tour with the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit is Gayle Brandeis , author of The Book of Dead Birds , which received the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. Read the novel’s backstory here.

First line: I remember the first time I flew.

About the book:Ava Sing Lo has been accidentally killing her mother’s birds since she was a little girl. Now in her twenties, Ava leaves her native San Diego for the Salton Sea, where she volunteers to help environmental activists save thousands of birds poisoned by agricultural runoff. Helen, her mother, has been haunted by her past for decades. As a young girl in Korea, Helen was drawn into prostitution on a segregated American army base. Several brutal years passed before a young white American soldier married her and brought her to California. When she gave birth to a black baby, her new husband quickly abandoned her, and she was left to fend for herself and her daughter in a foreign country.

About the prize: The Bellwether Prize for Fiction was created by Barbara Kingsolver to advocate serious literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice, and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. Brandeis’s debut novel was selected by Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Kingsolver.

Lyrical, imaginative, beautifully crafted, and deeply intelligent. Before anything else, its characters take you by the heart. –Barbara Kingsolver

The Book of Dead Birds has an edgy beauty that enhances perfectly the seriousness of its contents.–Toni Morrison

A uniquely inventive novel…How splendidly the author has balanced art with environmental obligation…It is exciting in literary circles when a first-time novelist does as well as Brandeis does with The Book of Dead Birds.–Rocky Mountain News

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calling all scorpios

It’s my birthday. 35. Yikezoid. Scorpio to the core. Yes, go ahead and hate me–scorpio is the most reviled of all the astrological signs. I can’t imagine why.
Please send me tales of a)your weirdest birthday, b)worst birthday present, or c)your dream birthday celebration. Wait, wait…even better! Have you ever been on the receiving end of some bad scorpio vodoo?

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