what about your weekend, punk?

You’re all talk, Naptime, about how much work you have and the things you need to accomplish on the weekend when Spouse, the only child care option you have, is available to weather the 4-year-old storm for a bit. So what’d you accomplish, punk?

Finish your articles?
Not really. One is 98% there and if I’d only proofread and double check my sources I’d be done. But then there’s the submission process and that seems daunting enough to put the thing off another year. The other, half-done article, is such a mess on paper and so freaking genius in my head that I just don’t know if I can reconcile the two before baby brain takes over. Again, I just need a solid weekend. But my sitting and thinking skills ain’t what they used to be.

Did you revise your book?
Yup. Last weekend. Total overhaul. Need a new title, though, so the new and improved version can go out to agents who might notice it’s just rearranged. Any suggestions are welcome, even though you haven’t read the danged thing. Seems that’s the way they name most novels, anyway.

Well, okay. Did you finish Peanut’s art project that you started a year ago?
Nope.

Edit any of the 34 hours of Peanut footage you keep swearing to send grandparents?
Nope.

Did you do anything of use, now that you mention it?
Well, snarky-pants, it just so happens I did. You read about the nightmare with the cat worms that included a day of steam cleaning the house in scratch-the-skin-off-my-body-and-buy-all-new-furniture horror. Well this weekend was two hours at the incompetent vet (yes, again) for a condescending variety of friendly ramblings, concluded by her asking whether, if we have a boy, we will circumscribe him. I guess she meant drawing the circle around him in the co-sleeper, so I said no. I might write circles around him in the crib when he or she moves to Peanut’s room, but I left it at “no; there’s no reason to.” Didn’t see the need to draw out a discussion about circumscription, since it’s so fraught with emotion.

Spouse and I also made huge headway on our organic garden by building a raised bed—6×6 extravaganza of…well, for now just wood and protective mesh screening. Soon it will have dirt and our awesome compost. Then it will have spinach and basil and carrots and strawberries and squash and cukes and such things. But for now it’s prepped. The best part was building in the rain, while Peanut played in the huge teepee we just built him. (Building semi-permanent forts sounds really good but takes way more time and energy that I believe my child is worth, but really tall bamboo teepees are freaking easy enough to finish in about 20 minutes. 8′ diameter, 6′ tall. $20. 20 minutes. My kind of building.)

I also read 2666 (next post) for the bolanobolano.com group read and got frighteningly far ahead. Must go write my assessment of The Part about Fate, which I freaking loathed. Suffice it to say that even brilliant writers need to know their limits, and Chilean/Mexican/Spaniard novelists need not try to capture the creakily-aged Black Panther movement in Detroit. Even if they succeed in making some of it funny, relevant, and thoughtful. It was like reading from inside a cubist painting. A very well done cubist painting. But still.

I wiped the hard drive of the computer that crashed AGAIN (shakes fist and grouses incoherently at Microsoft, the voodoo doll for which is coming soon) and have almost got all the backup docs and software restored. Once my software finishes updating I will have all the preschool fundraiser stuff for this week done.

Got a haircut. Completed several towers and puzzles with Peanut. Cleaned out the freezer. Wrote another novel. (Kidding. I rearranged the freezer. Big difference.)

So. I made inroads on changing the world by growing food at home, and am done preparing the house for babe. I just didn’t make any progress on the stuff that will win me fortune and fame. And that reminds me, I need to submit my game show application soon so I can win and actually afford to live here. Unless people figure out there’s as much profit in killing game show winners as there is in killing lottery winners.

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Best fiction of the millennium

Over at The Millions, they’re revealing the fiction they feel is the best of the millennium so far.

What they’ve come up with:
20 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
19 American Genius, A Comedy by Lynne Tillman
18 Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
17 The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
16 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
15 Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis
14 Atonement by Ian McEwan
13 Mortals by Norman Rush
12 Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg
11 The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
10 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
9 Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
8 Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
7 Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
6 The Road by Cormac McCarthy
5 Pastoralia by George Saunders
4 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
3 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
2 The Known World by Edward P. Jones
1 The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

I’ve only read four things from this decade (variety of reasons), and only really liked one (sorry, Wallace fans, Oblivion is not my favorite…a few pieces are outstanding, but overall I didn’t get attached to many of the stories, and my favorite chapter within is from the early 90s.) I’m beginning to think I need to go back to Modernism where I belong. But I will reenter this decade with the new Margaret Atwood, then venture one by one down this list from The Millions.

Here’s the problem. I’ve read The Corrections. Liked it. For a lot of reasons was compelled by it. Didn’t love it. But that’s the best this millennium has to offer? Uh-oh. 2666 is on my stack, and I’ll willingly tackle it this month (okay, next month, and only if I finish my conference paper which is woefully behind). But I want to hear from you about whether I should tackle this list out of order or not at all or…

What do you think of them? The books, I mean. Anything missing? Anything on this list rock your world?

[Update, years later: from this list I’ve finished 2666 and Cloud Atlas. The former is impressive and not my cup of tea. The latter rocked my world and I will read it again soon. Awesome book.]