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The Goncourts

Another pretty, pretty spring day out of my window blue skies and sunshine, clearing out of mist, now sinking back into the mist & I've done nothing all day except decide on the book I'd like to celebrate for Tor.Com & read for my next chapter, & play & arbitrate between the two cats. One big old cat, one ridiculously small new cat. They get along quite well. She's a pickle, but she's breathed new life into my poor Milo. He was so, so sad when we lost our Ginger. As were we all.

Reading (recreational)

Journal des Goncourts Vol 1: 1851-1861 I know I'll never read Proust in French, just not up to it: this is the next best thing, two brothers, hommes des lettres frankly, avidly desperate to be famous, but something always happens, like a coup d'etat, or getting arrested . . . proto-Proustian diarists in mid nineteenth century Paris. (the graceful young men in the picture above not they, not even close: only a tangential connection, just pretty) At first I thought I'd have to give up, my big Collins was stumped whenever I was, and my Daddy's massive old illustrated Larousse is hors de combat, but I stumble along, getting oddly fascinated:

Marie took me to see Edmond, the great sorcerer favoured by the little ladies (of easy virtue, I surmise. No other ladies exist. Les Filles are nothing other than nasty hated rivals, really, to these lads). . . a white haired old lady showed us into a dark dining room, where we saw mounted and framed in black, an array of famous hands cut out of white, lined paper; on which you could see traces of notes in the margins. The hand of Robespierre, the hand of the Emperor, the hand of the Empress, and then the hand of Madame de Pompadour . . . as if joined by other hands, the hands of the little girls who wait in this antechamber when they come here to buy hope...

& then the sorcerer, in his black velvet robe with his big square head, comes in and sits them at a little table, the room's almost completely dark, hardly any light coming in through the little stained glass windows, just one Rembrandt-ish ray falling on this table, & he asks: how old are you; what's your favourite flower? what's your your favourite animal?, all the while shuffling the great cards, each of which has a image of a woman; a symbolic event; some kind of allegory, depicted without any art, but crudely fantastical, thumpingly monstrous, and colored brutally in black and an ugly red; and the movement gives some sort of savage and macabre life to these primitive figures, these anthropophagy . . . (Tarot, I suppose)

Another time they're drinking with Feydeau and Gautier Nope, nothing to it, far as I'm concerned, says Gautier. I get up in the morning, I have my breakfast, I sit down, I take my pen and I just write. It's my job, I just do it, my sentences are like cats, I know they'll fall on their feet . . .

(Those were the days. If only I wrote with a goosefeather dip pen, how much more cavalier and productive I might be.)

I can't work out how these two ever get any work done.

Also, my library books: The Whitehall Mandarin, Edward Wilson.

Great fun for about a hundred pages, you have to warm to a Sixties spy story when the dodgy Mandarin in the title (first female head of the Ministry of Defence) is called Lady Penelope . . . Then it went off piste, like rocks falling down a hill wildly overloaded with more period signifiers, period plot twists than you could shake a stick at (and was Hugh Gaitskell really killed by a fungus infection administered by the Chinese???) but I soldiered on & now we're calm again pretending to be fear&loathing gonzo journalist in Vietnam while secretly looking for Lady Miranda, the beautiful young junkie Maoist.

Just spotted it's the third in a trilogy: which is going to save me a lot of bother.

Proof of Concept and other publications

Three nice reviews on Goodreads, and then a bad one, she wrote it but she shouldn't have: Too much science and speculation, not enough about relationships, and then oh no, another bad review on Publishing weekly, saying exactly the same thing. Enough with this naszty science and speculation! More about relationships!

& here's me, old enough to remember that twittering on about relationships was exactly what women were supposedly doing wrong. Plus ca change . . .

But then some good news. Gothic Lovecraft, edited by S.T. Joshi and Lynne Jamneck, that I thought I'd never see, is suddenly available, Trade Only, from Cycatrix Books! I'll be so please if I get my contributor's copy (& many thanks to Atlassix for being on the case). I really liked writing my story (The Old Schoolhouse), it's full of Norfolk silence, and slightly spooky lost places i love*. Not holding my breath though. Good grief, those prices! But for the collectors, it's a wonderful looker, work of art.

My Fracking Round Up


Angus Energy caught drilling a sidewell for which they had no planning permission. Caught working all night, (night work not allowed) to plug a leak they hadn't reported. Caught claiming they'd had a meeting with the Council and got it all cleared, when there was no meeting. Surrey Council "extremely disappointed" : Outrageous breach of trust, says Keith Taylor, my MEP (for now). But there's nothing he can do. Nothing anybody can do. Our alt-right PM says fracking regulations can go to hell, and that's that. Via Ruth Hayhurst, as usual

Cheshire West and Chester councillors, meanwhile (their whole area is covered by those damned PEDL things) is trying something, adopting a new policy, a more stringent, but perfectly legal set of requirements:

“In the absence of a complete ban it offers the greatest protection against the effects of fracking within our democratic process.”

Good for them. Never give up.


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