Hermits Rock

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I had to quit, for the time being, with Vows. Library renewal was two days away, and because I am immersing myself in other readings, I couldn’t justify keeping the book on retainer. I liked what I read of it. Manseau’s witness to a human cost to the Catholic church’s twentieth-century policies of sex is poetic in its evocation of moment; his discussion is thorough to policy, sympathetic to character. It is a book to which I intend to return.

I am immersing myself in environmental studies, effective advocacy, and discussions of grant writing—all of which are relevant to my interview, which is now twenty days away. I finished Robert Glennon’s Water Follies yesterday. Laws regulating groundwater use (and abuse) haven’t changed significantly in 200 years, despite the invention of pumps which can suck whole rivers dry in a few years. Egregious examples of water’s misuse exist not only in the West, where water was always scarce and is moreso now, but also in the east, as when Tampa Bay, Florida, pumps dry whole lakes, or when pumps to water golf courses alongside the Ipswich River in Massachusetts cause the river to disappear. Now I’m reading Lawrence Buell’s The Environmental Imagination, and I highly anticipate Stephen Hart’s Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics. It’s going to be a busy twenty days.

I am disappointed, however, because two-thirds of the books I checked from the library today have proofreading mistakes in the table of contents. John R. E. Bliese’s The Greening of Conservative America misses an s in the sentence, “Environmentalist Are Pagan Nature Worshipers; Christians Cannot Be Environmentalists,” a major subsection of Chapter 1 and an error that carries over to the subtitle within the chapter. Meanwhile, The Palgrave Environmental Reader, a small anthology of primary environmental studies texts, gets the name of one of its sources wrong. Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac rivals Silent Spring as a seminal text of ecology. Why, then, would any anthology reprinting portions of it call it the Sand Country Almanac? (FYI, the bibliographic citation gets the title right.) I had heard that proofreading was a lost art—well, make that just lost—to publishing houses these days, but are these examples not egregious?

Finally, J, you’re reading Hunger’s Bride? I noticed the book, by sheer virtue of its heft, several months ago when I wandered into Prairie Lights, but I don’t think I ever noticed it was about Sor Juana. I think I was too overwhelmed to notice. I marveled at it as it lay, an iceberg, on the shelf: it’s almost… unseemly for a contemporary writer to attempt 1,300 pages, a gaudy display of verbosity without even serialization’s assist. At the same time, I realized that the subtitle, “A novel of the baroque,” might make the whole endeavor forgiveable—or it might not. How is it?



yes, or trying to. i bought it when it came out.

it is very baroque, very erudite, very intelligently concieved.

it has 50 pages of footnotes, but these are part of the novel… a labyrinth for the reader to follow, and probably some deadends.

the authorial voice is that of a professor who is editing a novel and the successively incoherent notes of his most intelligent undergraduate student ever. she has just been sent off to the insane asylum. in that sense, it’s nice; it mimics so much of convent writing: a male editor for a female text.

there are times it is utterly pretentious and times when very beautifully written.

more to come later… especially since i told a friend that i would present a paper on it next spring in puebla, mexico…. when he first approached me it was going to a “real” colonial panel and i said yes thinking to advance my book project. recently he told me that it had changed to modern representations of sor juana, so i said that i could do something on this novel and another sor juana novel.

When you present on it, you’ll be cutting edge!

I bet you also could publish a pop review—I doubt few enough will have read it all by summer.

OT, report from AR: my cousin had her shed blown away by last night’s tornado in Marmaduke. She hid in the bathtub; all is well.

One place that Water Follies describes is the Barrick Betze-Post gold mine in Nevada. The mine is so deep that it runs well beneath the water table; to keep the mine operating, the company has installed giant pumps to suck out all the water that might leech into the mine, which they then dump into the Humboldt River (Great Basin Mine watch has more pictures.). At the moment, this means that the Humboldt actually runs higher than it probably would naturally; when the mine stops operating the pumps, however, is when the great trouble will begin. The mine will become a giant sump: water will pass into it from the river, from the aquifers, from anywhere until the water table is level again. As soon as it hits the mine, however, it will become polluted with arsenic and all the other nasty chemicals mines use to leech gold out of ore.

OT follow-up on the tornado mentioned above:

All is not entirely well, I’ve learned. Cousin’s house damaged, down trees in yard; her boy’s (also pictured in the link above) father’s house was destroyed with both cars disappeared, and a neighbor is in the hospital.

I will hold good thoughts for cousin, neighbors, and kin.


I think all will be okay, according to the reports I’m getting: close, but no horrible effects. But many thanks, nevertheless.