11.25.23 [on the J train]

i finished the book i was reading, i finished the book i was reading! that's generally what happens if you keep at it and turn the pages when you should, but this book kept getting longer, as if a malevolent troop of gnomes was scaling my etagère each night to add new chapters. if i hadn't come to the end at last after three hours of reading yesterday i was seriously considering setting out sticky traps. i have been splashing around in horror and horror-adjacent novels since my mycological society's book club read mexican gothic (appropriate for a bunch of mushroom enthusiasts but kind of squelchily confusing in its own right–i would have gone for some lovecraftian uncertainty at the end, e.g. "what i beheld when i followed the tunnel of luminous fungi to the unholy altar overwhelmed my senses so completely that darkness swallowed me whole and i knew no more," but part of the author's whole deal was to poke holes in racist lovecraftian bullshit, so i soupfooted my way through the too-too climax like a realatively good sport). i then read leech, which the cool kids at pegasus books in oakland recommended as i was buying mexican gothic, and that i appreciated much more; turns out i was in the mood for mid-apocalyptic, bipedal parasitism, and the premise was both terribly clever and well-developed. i still don't really understand why the image of dogs' noses kept popping up, but we're all entitled to a mystifying metaphor every now and again, i hope. speaking of, the weird humor piece i finally finished this fall and sent off to the new yorker right before we left for canada was at long last rejected, and then mcsweeney's rejected it with dispiriting alacrity. i was so sure i had a weird gem on my hands! joe, who isn't in the habit of inflating my expectations about writing stuff, was so sure i had a weird gem on my hands! maybe i'll just post it here, and dance like three readers are watching.

our trip to paris was remarkably pleasant–i'd built in a bunch of toothsome stuff, as i mentioned, and figured it would be decent, but i feel like a couple of decades have really done a number on the city's ambient misanthropy, maybe i'm a better tourist now that i've lived in a big city for a long time? maybe all the extra-crotchety boomers that made my family's visit difficult and then ingored me as a solo flâneuse have buggered off to the suburbs? people were great about speaking french with me, and having a smartphone meant that i was able to be generically chatty rather than a supplicant most of the time. our airbnb appeared to be some dude's actual apartment as opposed to some LLC's investment, and the sneakers i had to buy when my chuck taylors fell apart on like our second day didn't give me new-shoe blisters, a no-shit travel miracle. we even found what genuinely seems to be an old isfahan rug at a flea market, and while its mysteriously low price probably means that its previous owner was murdered on it or that it's full at the very least of continental poltergeists, it seems so far that they're the less-is-more sort of phantasms that knocked around that novel the gnomes kept writing. we really needed an extremely big floor covering, so this tradeoff is okay with me.

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