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The solstice has passed and so the days are waning, though they're still long enough that if it's dark out it's probably like 2 AM. (By which point... Oh, never mind.) The solstices and eqinoxen have no religious or ritual significance for me, but I always feel buoyed and energized when I notice that it's one of those days; there is something about that particular sort of astronomy, the recognizable influence on my life of things happening on a scale where I am completely insignificant, that I've always found very cheering.

I got my copy of Brendan's book! I ordered the 'author's edition', which comes with an exclusive original anacrusis, so he wrote me an entire story in the style of my placing 2004 Lyttle Lytton entry. I would take this for karmic justice if I were more confused about how karma is supposed to work. The collection is generally excellent, containing several of my favourites (I was particularly pleased to see Asuka, which I recently rediscovered), and several more that I'd forgotten about (or never read?) but admit to be their equal, or near it. There are some webcomics-star-studded illustrations, which I mostly take to be superfluous, in keeping with my opinion of illustrated books more generally; a couple are good enough to enhance my experience, though Bridget is more effective just as text, I think. It's built around Cosette (not least, I suspect, because she's unusual in that her stories can be presented simultaneously in order of composition and that of internal chronology), but several other bad pennies make appearances: there's a Rita story and two separate Holly stories, though we have none of the information that links the latter except her name.

(Everything that Brendan has written about Holly since I made my timeline has been set in the biggest gap I identified there. This is both gratifying and a little bit taunting, since I also want to know what happens next.)

My women's studies pal Joanne told me that there's an English professor whose literature class is all fantasy -- Tolkien and Sandman and, particularly exciting to me, Dean's Tam Lin. The other day at Matt's book launch, Selena told me about a "Women In Film" class she'd taken with a thoughtful and fascinating professor who focussed on works by local women of colour. The knowledge of these, and all the other fascinating classes I haven't taken yet, is rather bittersweet as I register for what will (should all go according to plan) be my final year as an undergraduate, in which there's room for nothing but Japanese and Philosophy, and not nearly all the philosophy I'd still like to learn here, even; I feel nostalgic for my early Langara days, when, having no plan, I just dove into anything I spotted that I thought might excite me. It's not that I have no excitement for the things I'm still taking -- happily, college on the whole has never yet been drudgery for me. There's just so much more offered than I'm able to accept!

I might try to work Tam Lin or Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary into my Women and Literature research paper, though; I can see how that might work, and it would be lovely to get to write about Dean.
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This would be even scantier if I hadn't decided a while ago to include short story collections on occasions where I read them straight through, keeping them in that same "book I'm reading" conceptual space that novels go in. I'll probably start letting in narrative nonfiction on the same provisions, too, if I haven't already without noticing it.

Elizabeth Bear, New Amsterdam
Diana Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock (reread)*
Nancy Lee, Dead Girls
(* I almost understood it this time.)

The short fiction we're reading for Women in Literature (represented here despite my predictions due to the above) is mostly good but predominantly very bleak; it's wearing me down a little. (I don't think the somewhat wonder-minimizing genre conventions of "mainstream literary" fiction are helping.) Working to counteract this are the in-class discussion, which is awesome; the new group of friends I've acquired from it, one of those tight-knit and ephemeral sudden pockets of intimacy that college sometimes fosters among people taking a course together, which I don't dare expect to be durable very long in its present form (though I do hope to keep hold of at least some of the individuals), but which I'm rather pleased and amazed by while it's here; and the nonfiction we're assigned, which tends to be much more invigorating. Today I was reading a translated copy of Luisa Valenzuela's "Writing with the Body", and I read,

"...I don't believe in the ineffable. The struggle of every person who writes, of every true writer, is primarily against the demon of that which resists being put into words. It is a struggle which spreads like an oil stain. Often, to surrender to the difficulty is to triumph, because the best text can sometimes be the one that allows words to have their own liberty."

And then I read it again, three or four times. "It is a struggle which spreads like an oil stain." Writing it out here, it becomes a quotation, and it is the sort of thing one says in quotations, at least in form, so one is ready for something like it and I don't think I've captured what it was like in that moment. To come upon these words, not set apart but flowing from and in the context of other words before and after, for me was like unexpectedly being kissed.

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Andy H.

February 2013

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