Second: the bric a brac of what I’ve been reading, watching, thinking about lately — windows inside.
+Currently listening to Circe as an audiobook. This is one of the best books I’ve read in the past decade and I just had occasion to gift it to an old friend. I felt inspired to revisit it myself, this time in audiobook format, which my friend Inslee told me was beautifully narrated by Perdita Weeks. It is gorgeous, imagistic writing and wonderfully narrated. I remember describing the prose as “springloaded” after my first read and — yes. The tempo, the density of the images, the depth of the research and literary tradition that uphold it all. Absolutely spectacular. The opening line sends a shiver right down my spine: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” On a literal level, this is true: Circe is daughter to a god and nymph, somewhere between divine and mortal. But I shiver at the subtext: she is prelinguistic, unable to be named, mold-breaking, dissent itself. She is beyond language, beyond identifier. There are no antecedents. And there is an allusiveness to the opener, too: she is speaking herself into being, which is powerful in that Miller is also inviting Circe — the sidelined, misunderstood woman — to tell her own half of the story. Exquisite, powerful writing that operates so masterfully on so many levels. (A full review here, but the TL;DR: do not miss this book. And if it’s audiobooks you’re after, my favorites here!)
+A few chapters in, Circe, secretly aiding a wounded Prometheus, observes that “Bold action and bold manner are not the same.” Pocketing that: beware the flash with no substance. Alternately: actions speak louder than words.
+I stayed up until midnight finishing the new Rooney book last night (my entire fall reading list here). I will share a full review once I’ve let the book percolate for a minute, but for those of you struggling to clip into the book: persist! There is a gorgeous segment towards the end of the book that reminds me of some of her earlier novels and it is delicious. I’m not sure the epistolary segments of the book “work” — the format felt overly convenient, a bit flabby, as a mechanism to advance the intellectual development of Eileen and Alice — but the cinematic bit at the end is where she soars. It starts with the lines: “Only then Eileen saw him, Simon, standing at the Church door watching her. They looked at one another for a long moment without moving, without speaking, and in the soil of that look many years were buried.” I was transfixed by this passage, by “the look” Rooney captures via such limited description, and then the tumble of memories that spills out afterward, some borrowed from Simon and others from Eileen, and the way we shuttle between them. No one writes modern-day chemistry like Rooney. There is something stirring about the way the characters really sit in their own bodies in her writing: we are always aware of their hand movements, their hair, the feeling of salt air on skin, etc. There is a tactile immediacy to her prose that electrifies the relationships she draws.
+I have written a lot about the period of my life that ran from college through my early 20s, and how untrammeled and “opened up” life felt to me at that time. Age and the inevitable ups and downs of experience have disabused me of those sentiments, largely in a good (grounding) way. Rooney captures the exact sensation I recall from that period of my life so well in her book: “All my feelings and experiences were in one sense extremely intense, and in another sense completely trivial, because none of my decisions seemed to have any consequences, and nothing about my life–the job, the apartment, the desires, the love affairs–struck me as permanent. I felt anything was possible, that there were no doors shut behind me, and that out there somewhere, as yet unknown, there were people who would love and admire me and want to make me happy. Maybe that explains in some way the openness i felt toward the world–maybe without knowing it, I was anticipating my future, I was watching for signs.” The optimism, the self-centeredness, the flanerie of it all resonates with me at 20.
+While on the subject of youth: Olivia Rodrigo’s teen angst anthem”Brutal” is on my running playlist at the moment, which — wow. I listen to the lyrics and I am shuttled back to the thwarted desire and painful self-consciousness of seventeen! “All I did was try my best // This the kind of thanks I get? // Unrelentlessly upset (ah, ah, ah) // They say these are the golden years // But I wish I could disappear // Ego crush is so severe // God, it’s brutal out here.” Wow. The agony of being seventeen!
+From a parenting book whose source I do not know (it was excerpted on Instagram): “A lie is a wish that comes out sideways.” We’ve encountered our first few untruths from mini recently, all of them innocuous enough, but I have been wondering about how to point her towards honesty in an authentic and non-pedantic way. The other night, she shuffled some chicken beneath a napkin when my back was turned and presented me with a clean plate, anticipating correctly that they cleared plate would warrant a cookie. When I discovered the discarded chicken, I was torn between laughter (there were many evenings I hid peas in my milk as a child) and a teachable moment. Ultimately, I tried to explain something about her ill-gotten means, about deceitfulness as an unkindness, and she turned to me and said: “Why do I always have to follow rules?” Which…hm. I fumbled my way through an answer but there is so much to reflect on about rules, rewards, deceit, truth. Why is that sometimes parenting feels like an elaborate and persistent invitation to the metaphysical stuff I should have figured out a long time ago?
+Listening to a lot of old John Prine in these parts. I am still riveted by this song. Listening to a lot of Brandi Carlile, too. “Right on Time.” Wow.
What’s on your mind? What are you reading and watching?
+This blue and white print dress is all I want to wear!
+Shared these recently but super love the cut and color of these jeans.
+Fun tile-print headband in great fall colors.
+A few readers are already preparing their Christmas lists and checking them twice and have asked for toy suggestions for little ones. I will share some ideas in the coming months but in the near term, I have three toy posts that might serve as a good starting point: toys you won’t mind leaving out, toys my children have been loving lately, and slow-burn toys.
+Just ordered this cashmere polo sweater in the kalamata color. Love this new neckline style for myself — feels elegant and different. I’m imagining tucked into wide-leg crop denim/pants. Love the color!
+Speaking of green, I cannot stop tripping over myself admiring this new Pam Munson bag in the emerald croc. IN LOVE!
+And these $25 rainboots remind me so much of Hunter’s far more expensive style — so chic in that olive green color!
+ICMI: Loft has some fantastic finds at great prices.
+Need this sweater for my holiday dresses.
+Another easy way to feign festiveness on Halloween: throw this gingham collar on over a white tee or sweater you already own.
+A great belt to throw on over any summer dress to make it feel more seasonally appropriate.
+This short-sleeved cashmere tee is such a great price and I love both colors — so chic for transition-to-fall! Also love this peplum cashmere sweater tee. So chic and in such great colors. (Currently 25% off to boot!)
+Speaking of cashmere, Bellabliss is now selling adorable cashmere baby sets…too cute as a gift for a fall baby.
+Fun fall gingham blouse. Makes me want to go apple picking!
+So many fab accessories.
+Agua Bendita’s latest dress release is SO cute.
+Drawn to this slouchy, oversized, affordable cardi.
+Also love this fringed wrap sweater. These Southwest-inspired sweaters are all the rage RN!