What I’m Reading
Most of the reading I’ve done lately was research for Chapter 88 of my WIP, about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of all the depressing, macabre subjects I’ve researched for this book, this ranks right up there with Chinese footbinding. And yet, then as now, I have an insatiable urge to keep reading and watching films, to know as much as possible.
It blows my mind that anyone in 2014 could still justify those bombings, as though there’s been no historical hindsight accrued since 1945. I understand why most people of that older generation would agree with it, but not someone with access to so many legitimate sources providing compelling alternative viewpoints! (Some of these modern-day people justifying the bombings seriously use the racist epithet “Japs,” like it’s still 1945.) I should probably write a blog post about this issue sometime.
What I’m Writing
Up to Chapter 91 and about 682,500 words in my WIP. At this point I’ve given up my latest failed guesstimate of 700,000 words and just put the bar at 750-800K. It’s such a beautiful, amazing miracle how it naturally worked out that each of the four Parts reads like its own self-contained story. This can easily be published as one massive book in four volumes.
The moving to Queens chapter kept getting pushed out, but finally it’s ended up as Chapter 91. Queens Village is so suburban, it doesn’t seem like it’s part of New York City. It’s the kind of postwar suburbia I feel comfortable moving some of my characters to. They’d never fit into a WASPy place like Levittown with their foreign birth, Slavic blood, and Eastern Orthodoxy, not to mention Valentina and Vladlena are atheists who kept their birth surnames and have homebirths. Queens Village was predominantly Jewish in the 1940s, so the Duranichev-Kuchmas and Siyanchuk-Zyuganovs are minorities among another minority.
What Inspires Me
19 August made eleven years since I was very nearly killed at the age of 23, run over by a big ugly black 2004 Chrysler and pinned underneath for 15-20 minutes. I had seven surgeries (four leg, three plastic) over the next six years. My tibia and fibula were shattered so severely, I would’ve been an amputee had this happened 40-50 years earlier. The Angel of Death passed me over. I firmly believe my uncle, who died in a car accident in 1988, was watching over me and saved me from death or more serious injuries.
So many people told me it was a miracle I got off with just a severely broken leg, first- and second-degree burns, and a bunch of scrapes, gashes, and bruises. And only one leg broke, though both were pinned under the back driver’s side wheel. The right leg rolled on top of the left and protected it. I stopped that car with my right leg, since the old woman kept driving even after I went up on the hood and fell into the road. She would’ve continued driving if my leg hadn’t blocked her. I think some of the gashes on my arms and legs tore off some of my chickenpox scars.
I’m really glad the great-grandma who passed on two months before I was born decided to marry a Southern Italian fellow. My Southern Italian body type quite probably saved my life, since I had less distance to fall and more flesh to cushion the impact. A taller, thinner person might’ve been thrown or crushed.
What Else I’ve Been Up To
Still getting used to my new computer, particularly Pages. I got used to Word 2004 over the last five years, and it feels kind of odd having to start all over again with a new interface. One big complaint I have is that autocorrect isn’t as good as in Word, though in other ways Pages is better. I still wish MacWriteII, ClarisWorks, or AppleWorks were still around. They were so easy and intuitive.