More ephemera

Perhaps this is a symptom of having completed a major milestone (because objectively speaking, finishing grad school is a major milestone, even if it doesn’t feel like one), but I seem to be thinking in fragments these days. It should go without saying, but this stuff is in no special order.

Let England Shake I finally downloaded Polly Jean’s (as S inexplicably insists on calling her) new album and love it so much, with that kind of instantaneous love for an album that I do not often experience. I’m really keen on “The Last Living Rose,” despite its use of the saxophone, an instrument for which I hold no great affection. The saxophone really works for me in this context, it’s like Tom Waits lite or something, which I do not intend as a slight to the fabulous Ms. Harvey.

Lorrie Moore I am really late to the party here. There’s no explanation for it. I’m reading A Gate at the Stairs with much pleasure.

xoJane What is this?! Like many ladies of a certain age, I was obsessed with Sassy, as I have had occasion to mention here before. Then Jane came along and I was all, MEH. Now Ms. Pratt has launched this online magazine. I have not yet formed an opinion, though little sasser Cat Marnell, once of Lucky, is writing about beauty/health, which I think is a good thing.

BB Creams I think, generally speaking, that in this country, high-end beauty lines focus on creating a slew of products designed to be used in tandem. It’s a blatant scheme to bilk us ladies of our hard-earned cash. Seriously. Flip through a Sephora catalog and try to find a high-end moisturizer for day use with SPF. They want you to buy the sunscreen separately. Also! Do not point me to foundation products with a measly SPF 15. That is a) not going to get anyone through a full day’s use, b) no match for the Tucson sun, and c) laughably light coverage for a melanin-free creature such as myself. The South Koreans, meanwhile, are all over it with BB creams, which are these amazing-sounding all-in-one products – foundation, treatment, sunscreen. I must have me some. But my internet research indicates that it’s a pain in the ass to find the right shade, and that the wrong shade looks freakish and disturbing. So I’m adrift until such a time as I find myself in a city large enough to have a store that sells them. I just can’t bring myself to purchase on a guess.

Philipp Meyer The only thing by Philipp Meyer I’ve read is his Q&A from the New Yorker 20 Under 40, but I think I’ll pick up American Rust. This – from the Q&A – really resonated with me.

It occurred to me that I couldn’t even define literature—not even to myself. I could give very erudite and intimidating answers to other people, the sort of bullshit that anyone with an English degree can throw up as a smokescreen, but I didn’t have a substantive answer that I believed in. I didn’t know why I liked the books I liked. So I decided I would throw everything away, everything I’d heard in college and everything else. I decided I would trust only myself—what I really believed and felt to be true. Which, of course, didn’t exactly occur overnight: it probably took the better part of 2004. But it was a very conscious effort. That was when things began to change. I think of it as year zero, though it was actually year ten. The cynical part of me says, Well, maybe it could have happened some other way—maybe you could have kept the cushy job and kept writing. But I really don’t think so. I think you really have to stare down the demons. You really have to know what making art is worth to you.

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