Daily Matters: New Books; Flash Drive; The Piano, and the Discomfort of Art

Tuesday August 7th:

My main contributions now, to Locus Online, are the weekly Bestsellers page (I spend an hour or so compiling rankings of SF, fantasy, and horror books listed on mainstream bestsellers lists, from New York Times, LA Times, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon sites in US, UK, and Canada) and especially my weekly ‘New Books’ page, where I have compiled information from various sources about books to be published each week. While new movies invariably come out on Fridays, new books are with rare exceptions released on Tuesdays. Another general rule: publishers release most books early in any given month, so the first Tuesday of every month always has more titles to list than following Tuesdays. Further: certain months, especially in the Spring and Autumn, see more books released than in, say, December or January. Today it’s August, yet despite that trend rule that would exclude mid-Summer, there were 25+ titles to research and write-up for today’s New Books post. So it took about 3 ½ actual hours, though interrupted by going out for lunch and running errands, and a nap, spanning about 6 hours, from 10:30 this morning to the post at 4:30pm. (We get up at 5:45 am, but I sit down to read for a couple hours from roughly 6:15 to 8:30, with a break to catch the headlines on the Today Show at 7am. And then check daily websites, email, and so on, until beginning the day’s work.)

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Wednesday, August 8th:

I’ve gotten into the habit of copying my active files, from my laptop (or sometimes my PC), to my current flash drive, every day, and every time I leave the house. I always take my flash drive with me when I leave the house. I’m protecting my file integrity against break-ins to my house, and to the constant peril of wildfires breaking out in areas of California, that, with little notice, could burn my house to the ground. (I remember TV video of people trying to return to their Oakland Hills homes in the 1992 fire, when they’d heard news about it during the day, and being unable to.)

Yes, I have cloud backups; I use iCloud, but I don’t do that every day. I should, and I will plan on updating that frequency.

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Thursday, August 9th

Last week we watched Amadeus; this week we watched The Piano, both older movies my partner had never seen before and which I had not seen since first release, and thought well worth re-watching.

My partner got really really angry by the end of The Piano. Holly Hunter’s character — a mute woman who has been *sold* as a wife to a 19th-century New Zealand frontiersman, whose antipathy to her precious piano leaves her cold, and susceptible, in return for her piano, to relations with her husband’s associate — was a *cheater*, in his view, so she should have died at the end, and not survived.

He tends to have these extremely moralistic reactions to TV and films, to what are arguably works of art; we barely got through the first season of Mad Men because he was so disgusted by the character of Don Draper… who was cheating on his wife. And last night, after finishing The Piano, he threatened to *kill me* if he ever thought I was cheating on him. And he threw the remote across the room.

(He is oblivious to the motives of my life — about my websites and books and projects — and obsessed by fantasies of how I might cheat on him. I do everything, do my work and watch some movies and listen to certain music, on the side, while he’s at work, and once he gets home, we have dinner and sit down to watch Wheel of Fortune and Big Bang Theory reruns. I feel safe posting this, because he never reads my blog…

In his defense, he occasionally has these temper-tantrums, but they blow over quickly, and are usually forgotten by next morning. Still, they reveal subterranean churning. And they are forgotten whenever we spent the weekend with either of his kids, and their partners, which we will do beginning this Friday, with Michael and Honey.)

I wonder if artists in general, writers in particular, are aware of how many people are not only indifferent, but actually hostile, to books and films and plays and even music, that challenge their assumptions of how the world ought to be. Theirs is a relationship to art, whether literature or film especially, that looks only for entertainment and confirmation, never for challenges; that takes everything personally, that does not understood it an anthropological manner, understood in terms of its time, and why characters might react in ways different than people would today.

It’s not that these people are busy; it’s just that they reject such challenges. They regard those other people writing those books and making those films as just troublemakers.

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