The Marion Chronicles, Chapter 1
Sometimes late at night if I can’t sleep, I walk out onto the deck and look up into the branches of the big gum tree in our yard and watch the tips of her long, fingerlike branches bend to catch the passing breaths of air. Her latin name, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, is much more dignified than the common one, river red gum. She’s leaning at a seemingly precarious angle, but it’s understandable when you look towards the street and see the massive dead trunk of another eucalypt that must have been lording it over this spot when she was just a baby. She had to grow sideways to catch the light. Once the big boy next door had died, she was free to stretch back upright, reclaiming the sky for herself.
It’s May, 2020, several weeks into the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m struggling in my efforts to write about Marion, even though I have a deep conviction that it’s something I must do. This is partly because I don’t know anything about architecture and partly because I don’t know much about her. Most of what I do know is derived from her memoir, the Magic of America, a 1400-page behemoth full of images, letters, poetry, and long diatribes about government and bureaucracy.
So far, I do know this: She was frustrated that people did not share her view of the world, a struggle echoed in structure of the memoir, which is divided into four separate “Battles”. She hated the Australian bureaucracy, thought the people were uneducated and short-sighted and didn’t appreciate beauty. She was pushy, opinionated and dogmatic, a lifelong teetotaler and vegetarian. She did not suffer fools. She commanded respect and made strong, lasting friendships (e.g. Miles Franklin, Vida Goldstein, Anna Ickes).
Picture this: You’re in a bookstore, and you see the cover: the Marion Chronicles. Marion? Sci-fi? You pick up the book, turn it over and read the blurb to decide whether or not it’s worth the effort. Except we’re not in a bookstore, and there’s no back cover. Therefore I don’t have to follow any of the rules about how long it has to be. This is the why you should read the book blurb.
It’s August, 2020. Armageddon is upon us. I know I wrote a mocking piece about the Rapture a while back, but honestly, this is feeling like the real thing. Fires, plague, comets, insect swarms, Donald Trump … sh*t’s getting real. I’m sorry I mocked it, okay? Stop already.
That’s the only word I came up with today. Write something on your blog, Mary, I told myself. Maybe it will be therapeutic.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve become increasingly dependent on the Internet to soothe my restless mind. I lose myself in a labyrinth of interesting articles, the antics of friends from around the world, silly videos, TV series on Netflix. I quell my boredom and at the same time avoid doing anything of note, including blogging. Oh yes, I do emerge for yoga and some running, I do read actual books to the tune of one or two a week. But still. The rest of the time? Drugged. Continue reading
I had so much fun at the Vancouver Story Slam in May that I decided to do it again.
I decided I would be bold and write a sequel to the first story. I could recap the entire plot of the first part, and then develop it with an appropriate arc into a second story, all in under 1000 words. Continue reading
Hello Gydle peeps. I have a story for you.
I read this out loud as a contestant in the May edition of the Vancouver Story Slam. No, it’s not true. It’s just a story! Continue reading
You probably went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this winter. Did you happen to notice how everyone can breathe just fine on just about any planet or asteroid? With no space suits or visible means of life support? Come on. It’s a reasonably good story —lots of action, romance, family drama, plenty of cute wookie and robot scenes —but the lack of attention to scientific detail drives me insane.
Last year I translated a book about space written by Swiss author Philippe Barraud. It was a fun project. I learned an enormous amount — the unfathomable enormity of the universe, the practical challenges inherent to interplanetary travel, the unlikelihood of survival as a species off our own planet, and most of all the mind-boggling absurdity of our conviction that humans are the most advanced lifeform in the universe. We are stunning in our stubborn tendency to put ourselves at the center of everything.
During our months of work, Philippe mentioned The Martian, saying it was a fantastic book. I’m not a sci-fi fan, so I filed it away and then forgot about it. I didn’t have a hankering to go see the movie when it came out, even though Matt Damon.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Whistler, waiting for Brendan and his friend Cassandra to weary of skiing in the rain. Due to bad planning on my part, I had no reading material. No journal. The free Whistler paper takes about five minutes to read. Front and center in the Whistler Village bookstore: The Martian. Thank you Fate. Continue reading
Jerusalem’s about to get sacked by the Crusaders, and instead of packing, residents gather around a wise guy and ask him a bunch of deep questions. Read a longer, better summary at Goodreads.
Brazilian author Paolo Coehlo is scorned by the literati, probably because he’s so popular—he has more than 10 million followers on Facebook. His mythical treatment of human pilgrimage, The Alchemist, started out as a total bomb, but became an international best-seller. I first read that one in French and loved it. So call me plebeian. I don’t give a rat’s ass. I like what I like. Continue reading
Remember when I first got my hearing aids? I had such a hard time with the harsh, brittle, crashing sounds they made. I was so disappointed – I had been expecting things to sound more beautiful and instead they just crashed and bashed.
Well, now I take it all back. Continue reading