Blog post alert: Alert, alert! Ancient ghost discovered on Assyrian exorcist's cuneiform tablet! That it was found it at all is marvellous. That there were magicians and exorcists with libraries 3,500 years ago –well, how's that for inspiring historical fantasy?
Picturing a World
Blog post alert: Oh, the clowns! Oh, the story! Oh, the potential inspiration for fiction in the picture itself or its rediscovery by an eccentric aristocrat's niece! Read Tiepolo drawing of gnocchi clowns found in attic and go for it. (NB: I posted this ahead of time, just before going computer-less. Please cross your fingers that all goes well.)
A new computer arrived for me on Friday. In cleaning up this one to prepare for transferring files, I came across a picture I took in Maine years ago. Makes me happy just to look at it! I'll meditate on that beautiful place during the no-dobut stressfull days ahead as I learn to navigate a new system, new programs, etc. Hope you enjoy it, too, even if it has nothing to do with books, Paris, or writing.
Blog post alert: Gorgeous photographs of apples in an Orchard of Kent celebrate England's Apple Day. Everyone—historical novel writers in particular—should do themselves a favor and seek out heirloom apples to savor the tastes of the past. For more about apples and Apple Day, click here.
As for today's image: I chose it partly to respect the copyright of the Spitalsfield Life photographer, Rachel Ferriman, and partly to celebrate Pavel Machotka's illuminating study, Cézanne: The Eye and the Mind, which I finished reading this morning. Written by a deeply learned art historian who was also a painter, it explains such things as the difference between what the wrist and the forearm do as well as how colors relate or the effect of brushstrokes in vivifying or stabilizing a composition. A wonderful resource.
I admit I've been reading more than writing in the last few weeks, so here's another recommendation. Last night I finished Pat Barker's new novel, The Women of Troy, a sequel to The Silence of the Girls (2019). I read each compulsively in big gulps. Troy ends full of possibilities for another installment. I hope she writes it!
This month, my library book club is reading What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad. When I picked up my copy, the librarian told me she had asked four different people what happened at the end and received four different answers. After reading the novel, I can see why. We sometimes send around questions ahead of time, so this month I did and led off with one about genre. I think it's helpful in evaluating other books, too, or even thinking about our own writing.
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea where I found this. I had saved it and images of four other pages in afolder labeled "Topographia Silesia." Unfortunately, I collected it before I learned how to record information for JPEG's. Oh, well, I love it for the completeness of its depiction of a moated manor house and adjoining village, complete with church, walls, half-timbered houses, common ponds, and surrounding fields.
I'm having fun. One by one, at intervals to stretch it out, I'm reading stories in Jonathan Strahan's anthology, The Book of Dragons, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Recently, I read "Pox" by Ellen Klages, an author new to me. I loved it, and what a great pleasure to find that one of the delightful characters, Franny Travers, also appears in Klages' novella, Passing Strange.
Blog post alert: Japanese woodcuts had a great influence on artists in Paris in the last quarter of the 19th C; but they could never have seen the original drawings, which were destroyed by the Japanese woodcut process. You can. Read Hokusai's Original Drawings at GurneyJourney, and be sure to watch the embedded YouTube video introduction to the British Museum's new exhibition of 103 Unpublished Hokusai Drawings.