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The Women: A Novel by T.C. Boyle

Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy (Penguin Classics) by Jean Webster

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics) by Winifred Watson

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? by Padgett Powell

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small

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About meReading is my profession. I'm a narrator for the Library of Congress' Talking Books Program for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (also known as NLS or the National Library Service). I've recorded over 285 titles, some wonderful, some not so much. I don't get to choose what I record and I'm often challenged by sci fi and romance which are not my favorites, but I work hard so that listeners won't know that!

In the past year I've branched into commercial audiobooks and currently have 10 titles on Audible, Amazon & iTunes. Check them out by putting my name in the search box.

I've started a kind of diary of my reading life this year, including reviews of the books I've either read, listened to, or narrated. I meant these to be just comments but I enjoy writing as much as I do reading so they've morphed into reviews:

For 2011 books:

For 2012 books:

For 2013 books:

About my libraryMost of my books are from the library. If I love a book, I buy it and share it with my daughters and friends and (if non-fiction) with my husband. The ones I own are the ones I know I'll re-read.

GroupsTattered but still lovely


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Member sinceNov 28, 2009

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heaven save me. JB is trying to discover Louise Penny. to aid her, i was looking for a list of Penny's oeuvre to date and found, on her page in her description of her latest, "While Gamache doesn't talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers." and they say chemo makes one nawshuss. egad!

and the woman has won tons of awards. tons. maybe it should be wontons. or wantons.

i think JB will like her and i hope she does. she reads only mysteries and there must be summat good about Penny that appeals to all these people. all that is but we few, we happy few, we minor sisterhood of naysayers.

hope your summer is looking good. you'll have a vacation involving books in August or so, yes?

hope your narrating biz is going well.

take care, my friend.

couldn't resist:

from article "Will Dame Judi beat Cate to the Bafta?"

"If (Judi) were a brand, its values would be enshrined in reliable excellence. Small wonder that British rapper Lethal Bizzle recently coined the word “dench” as an adjective, meaning “altogether good”, and campaigned for it to be included in dictionaries."

hey, works for me. ;-)

will search for more Fitzgerald audios. great fun.
txs for yrs. progress slooooow and there's been a hiccup or two wiv me eyes & ears but, like MacArthur, i shall return. may be another month or two but maybe sooner. who can tell?

oh, btw, puhleeez check out Penelope Fitzgerald if you've not. what a delight. presently moving at leisure through her "the bookshop" from NLS. wish they'd give you one of hers.

soooo, sorry about the Brady bunch, she said, gloating quietly over Manning's outstanding game.

anon. oh, wld you link me to your faves from last year. ta.
Hi, Anne! Thanks for your note. I really enjoyed looking over your favorites from last year. Some I know nothing about - e.g. Rules of Civility and The Chaperone. You're encouraging me on The Cuckoo's Calling. I was glad to see Longbourn on it! So good, wasn't it? My MBH is reading The Goldfinch and loving it. Your nonfiction is all new to me. Oops, except A Movable Feast, which I loved. I read far fewer nf's than fiction, as you've probably noticed.

I'm going to look over all your 2013 reading more carefully when LT gets a little less crazy. Woo, it's hot and heavy right now. Please let me know where your 2014 thread is, if you don't mind. I look forward to reading more of your reviews. I agree, it's delightful when we share a favorite, and you have given me some of my best book tips ever. :-)

Have a wonderful 2014! Thanks for thinking of me and our family and the furry mastermind.

- Joe
"Dreadful sentence fragments, ridiculous plot, banal philosophizing all remain but just more of it." heh heh heh! thanks for the warning. i must say i'm shocked. and i shall pass. i *am* sorry for your lot, but then you'll be bringing an immensity of, to me rather puzzling, joy to the benighted. oh my, at what cost to the sensitivities are your labors.

i myself am wallowing in riches: the Cazalets (Balcon is marvelous), Ruth Ozeki, Furst's 'spies of Warsaw,' a quite well done 'I, Claudius' from NLS (as is the Furst), and 'queen of the tambourine.' how lovely to have found it in large print. Gardam never ceases to amaze and delight. this may be my favorite so far.

Ruth O's narration of 'time being' is especially good because of her fluent Japanese and her voicing of the grandmother. there's a lovely book trailer here: near the end, Ozeki does the grandmother's voice.

i'm waffling about 'the book thief' as a movie. i'm not sure i want my vision disturbed by someone else's. 'a small wardrobe of a woman with lipstick smear and chlorine eyes,' Rosa was my favorite. i loved them all but she, the most difficult to love, was to me the most poignantly realized. nobody could do that Rosa. well, Judi could have. still could, of course.

JB and i are 'one-day-at-a-timing.' for her more often one minute. i miss her voice as she's not been able to talk for, oh, going on 2-1/2 months, i guess. she's reached the point, though, where she can appreciate a wren eating organic cookie crumbs from the porch railing, the arrival of our first white-throated sparrow and look fwd to watching Manning and the Broncs take on the Colts tomorrow night. this is good. :-)

take care and enjoy your fall!

Good to hear from you, Anne! Yeah, I wondered about the "this story has never been told" comment. Seemed unlikely, and you've confirmed it. I suppose the weasel is, never like he tells it. He does do a good job of that, from my POV, as you probably saw in my review. If you liked the earlier one, I suspect you'll enjoy Monuments Men. For me it was an eye-opener as to art I've kind of taken for granted as of course being available to visit in the museum. As you say, the thought of Goring picking paintings like candy is nauseating.

I'll have to read "Rape of Europa" by Nicholas, and alert my daughter to it. How great that you were able to see some of the heisted paintings while reading it! That's exactly what I was talking about - I'd like to have some of that history easily available for other paintings in other museums.

I LOVED the Jeu de Paume back in the 70s, and visited it along with L'Orangerie. I like Musee D'Orsay, but it's not the same. I had fun wowing my wife a few years ago by taking her to see the Monet water lilies in that oval room at the Orangerie. She was bowled over.

A Monuments Men movie with George Clooney - that could be really good! Among other things, he did a great job with the Edmund R. Murrow movie, Good Night and Good Luck.

- Joe
So cool! Wow, that is a lot of parallels. Will let Ellie know I met you on LT! Your note made my weekend. Let's please keep in touch.
Just found you over on the What are You Reading thread... so popped over to see your library. Love your line of work! My mom was a librarian. I was a bookseller for 20 years before our shops in Milwaukee closed in 2009. (An aside: Ellie Lipman became a friend over the years, so it gave my reading of the essays a particular POV.) Looking forward to following your reading! - Nancy

well good grief how long you've been away. i've been hoping your adventure in recording books has taken off in a grand fashion. don't you have to have your own studio thingy for that sort of thing?

i'm presently struggling with [Nada], which you narrated for NLS. what an irritating bunch of people. i'm not sure, really, why i'm sticking with it. i think i keep hoping i'll understand why this book about a totally obnoxious family got such high praise. it's horribly depressing. but i shall soldier on. you did a fine narration. i'm especially taken with your voicing of the grandmother and you a sufficiently fine job on Aunt Angustias (sp)and Roman that i'm perpetually wanting to throttle both of them.

in a review of it the guardian, i found the following quotation: "One of the earliest Spanish novels, the 16th-century Lazarillo de Tormes , notes that 'there are unfortunate houses, of ill luck, that stick their misfortune on to those who inhabit them'. This is a theme that runs through Spanish literature and finds in Nada a sort of apotheosis." okay. so i'll keep reading and try to get eddicated.

good to see you, my friend. wish you a lovely summer when you get to the pleasure reading part and a summer with noticeably pleasant bits till then.
good to see you at Joe's. i've been concerned about you this last week.
a] check it out. i think you should go to London before it closes! quite a cast *and* directed by Stephen Daldry. rave reviews, apparently. what's this obsession w/ Elizabeth Windsor, anyway? apparently she's been offered a private showing by Daldry at Windsor Castle. i wonder how they'd do that and who'd be invited besides HRH and Prince Philip. all the royals? jeez, i sound like a gossip fiend.

2] i'm watching, for the second time in as many days, Juliet Stevenson in Masterpiece Theatre's 'Place of execution.' WOW! i thought you'd recommended it but if you did, i've no idea where. another smashing job of acting, casting, directing, cinematography and editing. ohmigod! the director, Daniel Percival, is a complete unknown to me but i like what he and the screenwriters did with this adaptation of Val McDermid's novel. well, i say that not having actually read the novel. i find McDermid a bit grim for my taste. in any event, it's excellent as a film. if you've not watched it, i recommend it highly. another superb Masterpiece Theatre aimed at people who like the real deal without fluff. it's full of small gems of acting, shooting, framing. a joy to watch.

and finally] have you read 'Olive Kitteridge?' i'm listening to the NLS recording, ably performed by Martha Harmon Pardee. an excellent book. i recommend it highly and without reservation. i typically do short stories in a scattershot way but am so taken by this that i can scarcely leave it alone. i've got a hold on the LP version from the liberry so i can review some bits and pieces.

hope you're able to walk a bit better now and that your knees aren't cramping up on you at work. can you get up and stretch from time to time? i worry about narrators having to sit such long hours and hope provision is made for moving about.

take care,

Anne -

Heard you were asking about how to start a new thread in the 75ers group. The easiest way is to hit the Groups tab, then select the 75 Books Challenge group (we're first on the list of most active groups). On the group page is a link for Start A New Topic. Hit that and you'll get sent to a page that lets you put the topic title and first message in. Once you create the thread, you can edit the title for the first 10 minutes to fix typos,etc.
Sadly, Anne, she was emphatically NOT an Olsen fan. Mama was a class-conscious snob, and looked down (quite a feat for a 5ft tall 90lb woman, but she made it look easy) on all things Left. Olsen was that!

She had such good taste, it was always a surprise when one smacked into her prejudices.
thanks for the hint on Schlitz, Anne. downloaded 'drowned maiden's hair.' been wanting to hear you read a book anyhoo but even for you, would not spend time with Penny. where i think i'm going to fit these into my ever-expanding sea of audiobooks i don't know. i'm 69 in a month. tempus is fugiting and i have no plan. well, perhaps that's not so bad. *shrug*

i find it unlikely that the two McGoverns are the same given the volume of audio work narrator McGovern does but i could be wrong. i dropped out of Downton Abbey mania somewhere mid-second season. dunno what happened. i just lost interest and i really have no particular desire to see Shirley McClaine in the new season. i'm fickle.

i think you'll like 'girl who circumnavigated . . .' it's truly magical i love how her mind works.

though i do wish for you to recover quickly, it's been nice having you around more.

how's the knee?

consider checking into the chaperone. very well-narrated by Eliz McGovern if you're up for audio. she's new to me.

i dunno. when i get in one of those books slumps, i often fall back on rereads to jumpstart myself. they never do last very long but they're unpleasant while they last. remarkably so. i feel as though i've lost something crucial.
your husband sounds like an amazing partner. how few people are willing, or perhaps have the compassion and caring, to encourage a partner to stick with it. that takes a lot of love, i think, and a putting aside of oneself.

as for your daughters, i meant that i hope they were cossetting you by, you know, reading books you want them to read, being solicitous and generally dutiful from a distance. it was meant to be by way of a joke.

i hope your ambling is proceeding apace. as for the "blubbering," (pfui!) someone said that "suffering makes no sense; suffering makes compassion." on the rare occasions i cry, that's what always gets me: the awareness of other beings who suffer and have no recourse at all. i don't think i need apologize for it though i always feel a bit sappy.

J & I just finished watching Dames Judi and Maggie, dishy Bill, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie and Pen Wilton in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Judi is absolutely luminous and Maggie is incomparable. what faces these women have, all of them. i am in awe. now if only Dev Patel could get his hands under control . . .

take care of yourself, gimpy. hope the pain is beginning to subside a bit.

I just saw that you had a knee replacement, Anne! I hope it's all okay, and your rehab is going well. I probably mentioned, I have two bionic hips, and for me it's been a life changer - having the lousy pain go away has been so great. But I know knees are trickier. My best wishes for a good recovery.

- Joe
oh ish, Anne! i'm so sorry that you had to have beastly painful things done to your knee that require hospitals and pain meds and crutches and rehab and stuff. i am grateful that you were able to afford and to have the operation. always grateful for that. also glad that you've reached the ambling part although i know it ain't easy to amble on crutches let alone enjoy the scenery. i wish you very, very well. i hope your daughters have been appropriately solicitous.

it's almost too bad you don't get to do Ms. Penny while doped up. it might ease the pain a bit. ;) i still don't know how you manage to read those books so very well, feeling as you do. it's a mystery and a gift and, of course, hard work. i doff my chapeau [literally].

no walk today for me. too cold. must go, though, as it's the time of day when, looking out our SW facing window, i can watch the light flashing in the wings of the birds as they flutter round the feeder and the assorted stumps and brush piles where they take refuge. the shadows lean toward me from the stand of oaks to the west, stretching and thinning and then gone. ahhhh!

it must be the season of surgeries. J is a month out recovering from tongue/throat surgery from some tacky virus-inspired malignancy. she still can't talk well and can't taste a thing. she might as well drink Folgers as the lovely Peet's Holiday Blend i bought her, bless her heart. but oh, how lucky we were on a number of counts! as always, much for which to be thankful.

take care of yourself, Anne. thanks for letting me know about the surgery. i appreciate it.

blessings on you, m'dear. hope you're much better by Christmas. keep on ambling.


DAHling, i can't TELL you how excited i am for you. the current mag from the local library informs me that there's a new LOUISE PENNY out. could you want a better holiday present than that?

on a seriously wonderful note, someone has pointed me to The return of the native narrated by Alan Rickman. i could listen to him for hours and, indeed, i expect i will. once, that is, that i finish contending with the 37 hrs of Middlemarch and Mr. Casaubon, Dorothea, who irritates me exceedingly, Mary Garth, Mr. Brooke et al.

hope you had some pleasant family time over the holiday.



I quite enjoyed your rant-er-discussion with mirrordrum regarding Louise Penny's mystery series. I too have read nothing but wonderful reviews about her books. I have one waiting for me, I believe it is her latest,"The Beautiful Mystery". The comments between the two of you seem very astute and the same sort of literary blunders that would cause me to delegate a book to the BOOORRRIIINNNGGG pile. It takes a great deal for me to abandon a book, though. With all the positive comments and now both of your comments weighing in, I am very interested to judge for myself. In general, thanks for the informative posts about other stuff! also. "The Hare With Amber Eyes" is on my wishlist now, and I followed the link to "The Guardian" which provided me with some interesting reading also. Yes, indeed, my decision to venture away from the usual posts on the 75 Book Challenge threads was worth every minute. Thanks, Mary Beth
Ellie can tell you about the Dr. Siri books, too, Anne - she's loving them. They're by Colin Cotterill, who seems like an interesting guy in his own right, and the first one is The Coroner's Lunch. Dr. Siri's in his 70s and the head coroner by default in 1970s Laos. Funny and quite interesting mystery series.

- Joe
Wow, what an excellent article, Anne. Thanks so much for forwarding it. Among many other thoughts it brings up, I need to read more of our friend Anne F., including this one. How wonderful that it's had such a profound and positive effect on the medical profession. Shamans allowed in hospitals? Are you kidding me? What a sea change from the lords on high the last doctor mentions in the article.

It also reminded me of the much lighter fare provided in the Dr. Siri mysteries you've probably seen some of us delighting in. The Laotian central character finds out early on that, to his surprise, he's a Hmong shaman. Some of the series entries go into the Hmong worldview in some depth.

Thanks again - Joe

P.S. I'm pretty sure you recommended Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety to me, yes? It's taken me a while to get to it, but I'm now a ways in and starting to get my bearings.
i can't take any more. i can't. i simply can't. first she did part of Nichol's back story. P.D. James can write backstory in a mystery, viz. Kate Miskin in 'A taste for death,' Elizabeth George's Barbara Havers has a well-done, if slightly over-the-top, story in the early Lynley and Havers books. Rex Stout gives hints at Nero Wolfe's past that are the more intriguing because so sparse and almost throwaway until 'The black mountain,' which still leaves the enigma that is Wolfe intact. i like 'incidents and accidents, hints and allegations' [quoting Paul Simon 'you can call me Al]. i don't like the whole thing dumped in my lap in a moist heap IN A MYSTERY STORY.

then we went on to Gamache viewing Clara Morrow's art work and that completely tore it. i have a gazillion books waiting to be read and i'm nearly 69. tempus fugits fast. it's time to ignore the Agatha award and the blandishments of friends and move on. thanks for your valiant effort. all i can say is, whatever they pay you, it ain't enough! ;)

Louise Penny thus far isn't one of my favorite mystery writers. i'm completely baffled by the 4.5 stars the book gets on Ralph Cosham is a very good narrator but i'm liking your narration much better. when you do Gamache, your accent reminds me of Julie Andrews, whatever accent that is. every once in a while with your voice a bit low, i can hear her voice in 'Victor Victoria.' you also have a marvelous British cadence or inflection or whatever when you have a line like, 'the town was 3 miles away.' in a lot of British English, the accent is on 'miles' with the voice dropping downward to the last syllable of 'away.' in much US English, the emphasis is sometimes upward on away and sometimes even on 3 and miles and dropping on 'away.' the British pronunciation is distinctive and i've tried to mimic Dench doing it endlessly. like her pronunciation of 'water,' which i can't imitate to save me.

as far as the novel itself, i think Penny overwrites and has a tendency toward sappiness. Gamache is terribly cliche and thus far, offers no surprises. the stories are more derivative than most mysteries, if 'derivative' can be a comparative.

so why do i keep reading this one? dunno, really. it's something i don't really have to pay much attention to, i like the idea of the town at Christmas, the 3 graces, especially Mother, and i dote on Ruth Zardo. Penny should not, imo, attempt to insert bits of Zardo's poetry and make her Gamache's fave poet. nope, not at all.

i like Zardo's exchanges with other characters. when she appears, my interest elevates and i feel hopeful. i'd like to know more about her back story. i rather bristled when she was labelled rather pityingly as 'terribly damaged.' pah! Penny's bad attempts at poetry aside, the character is a survivor and holds up her end very well, imo.

interestingly enough, i'm reading 'fatal grace' exclusively as my 'in bed' book and putting 'hare with amber eyes' and 'digging to America' on hold till it's finished.

you have a very nice way of not intruding yourself into the story. i would never have any idea that you disliked the book. narrating is your profession and you approach it professionally. i don't know that i can offer a much higher compliment than that.

Blair Brown is superb in 'digging to america.' she does a most creditable job of doing what, i suspect, is a sort of generic middle eastern accent for the Iranian characters but manages to distinguish amongst them. i enjoy her work tremendously and feel fortunate to have her narration on this one with its range of accents and ages.
Thank you!
these women crack me up.

Legitimate rape by the Renegade Raging Grannies


enjoying BB, and the book, a lot.

am in heaven with 'hare w/ amber eyes.' it's exactly my cuppa and NLS reader Mark Ashby does an excellent job. he handles a variety of accents deftly and otherwise intrudes not at all. i nearly swooned over the prologue alone. jeez what writing.

best of all, de Waal's thought processes and curiosities are similar to mine [who held this Netsuke, how did they handle it] while arcing far beyond what i can think about, e.g. the space inside a piece of pottery, the edges of objects and their intersections/interactions with space. his writing causes a fine breeze to blow through my brain and i listen with a smile of awe and almost idiot delight on my face. once again, i happily owe you.

i was fossicking about on Google for netsuke (by which spell-checker suggests i might actually have meant Kuznets--Kuznets?] images. in the process, i discovered a piece the guardian did on the book with a fine picture of the eponymous hare when de Waal won the Ondaatje prize.

lovely to hear from you.


I hope you will consider read [A Team of Rivals] with our little group. It could be good fun, and interesting discussions! November is a bit in the future, so you would not have to read it right away.
No, no, always glad to know if I've made a mistake! I fixed it, and thanks again, Anne.
you have a daughter who's a fantasy/sci-fi fan? what a kick. do you sometimes find yourself wondering where you went wrong? *chortle*

i checked out Blair Brown. marvelous voice. thanks for mentioning her.

the only Anne Tyler i've read is breathing lessons, which i liked very much. i'm not sure why i haven't read anything else of hers. lost in the shuffle, i expect.

i just popped over to NLS and what lo! they have Blair Brown reading digging to America as a db! i'm downloading it now though goodness knows when i'll get to it.

i expect you won't see this till next week. hope you had a lovely weekend. what are you reading for NLS these days?
p.s. i do realize that lumping the vast differences in sub-Saharan Africa countries together like that is idiotic and ignorant, but i couldn't think of a better description for what Lecat typically reads. *frown*
delighted to know you're enjoying Ms. Watford's 'gorgeous vowels and consonants.' i share your view of "ladies' #1." without Lecat? meh! didn't i read somewhere, maybe the obit, that she rec'd an Olivier for "Present Laughter?"

i'm [almost] always entranced by Lisette Lecat. her recording of Purple Hibiscus, for NLS, iirc, was excellent and i've stalled on other Adichie books available on b/c they're done by Robin Miles. Miles is an exceptional narrator and every bit as good as, though vastly different from, Lecat. it's just that i have Lecat's voice associated w/ sub-Saharan African novels and i'm stubborn. funny thing, the brain.

i'm currently regaling myself with Christie's At Bertram's hotel from NLS narrated by the delightful Carmella Ross. she's one of those narrators, as are you, who doesn't have to use bells and whistles to provide an excellent narration. she pretty much just reads with a sort of generic British accent, whatever that is, and a middle-aged voice and i'm happy as a quahog at high tide. she does Agatha Raisin, too, so i feel greatly blessed.

i've downloaded Created in darkness by troubled Americans largely b/c the book title and chapter titles sound incredible. the reviews aren't exactly smashing but i thought i could keep it running, as i do Paradise lost, and read snippets now and then.

hullo, Anne. i haven't read a Miss Read book for years until i picked up Battles at Thrush Green. i've only read 3 or 4 but finding that Gwen Watford has narrated all available on audible i'll work my way through them.

i thoroughly enjoyed Battles and think it may be my favorite of the ones i've read. it may also be the earliest of the Thrush Green series available in audio.

i'd say it's worthwhile to listen to at least one in audio just to hear Gwen Watford. perfection! i didn't know about her wonderful acting career and will now go look for a movie with her in it. her obit in The independent makes me want very much to see her.

i've been meaning to post a note but haven't been doing much at LT the past few weeks. i read your comments about your trip to Greece on Joe's page. sounds interesting and as though you may have left at about the right time.

i've been meaning to recommend to you, if i haven't already, Rose Macaulay's Towers of Trebizond. it's a New York Times Classic and a book i think you'd absolutely love. it's one of my favorite books and the NLS version has vanished. the recording was quite old and i guess it's not popular enough to deserve DB status. anyway, i can't recommend it highly enough. Jane Gardam would be the closest i could come by way of comparison but Macaulay's style is unique, as, of course, is Gardam's. an altogether remarkable book. i'd commit huge acts of kindness and reasonable sums of money to be able to get it in large print so i could read it again.

well, must away.


Hi . . .

I appreciated your remarks about Peter Carey's new book on the What Are You Reading? thread. I seldom read reviews before reading a book -- but by page 100 of this book I was a little nervous. I didn't want to give up on a Carey book, but this one wasn't drawing me in -- so I went to a review at the NYTimes by author Andrew Miller. I skimmed it and at the very end found this paragraph, which rang true for me and kept me going . . . and ten pages later, I was inside . . .

"In an interview a few years ago, Carey spoke of admiring the quality of “risk” in works of fiction. This, I think, is exactly right, risk being an index of a book’s and a writer’s ambition. 'The Chemistry of Tears' takes risks, is quietly ambitious and is, in its last pages, both touching and thought-provoking. It’s not vintage Carey, then, but such a gifted writer is always worth attending to."

That's a good summary of how I feel about Carey and his book.

The link to the entire review:

I hope you enjoy the book.
Thanks for letting me know about your visit to Greece, Anne. Holy Moly, that Golden Dawn part is scary. When citizens become unhappy with government, cockroaches can crawl out from the floorboards and get attention like this. It makes me think of the tea party and "Occupy . . ." movements we have here (neither reaches, or stoops to, that level), and appreciate that our democratic channels of expression haven't resulted in prominent Hitlerites, although we have plenty of immigrant-haters and blamers. (Ironic in a country of immigrants, right?)

I don't know enough to sort out the effect of Greece's membership in the European Union, but I'm glad it's a member. Those countries know well the cost of fascism, and it may help dampen the effect of Golden Dawn types. I hope so.

You know, I think this kind of discussion is just fine for the cafe. I've tried a couple of times myself to raise serious issues. Just as in our youth we put our heads together late at night in cafes and tried to solve the world's problems. seems to me we can do that in an LT cafe. People may not pick up on it (they by and large haven't when I've tried it), but that's okay. Seems to me exchanges about these things can be a positive result of getting together intelligent folks from all over the world in a cafe.

A complete digression: have you heard anything from Ellie? She's been very quiet for a while now. I'm going to try emailing her.

Best - Joe
Fascinating, Anne! Thanks for the link. Who knew Steinbeck wrote Sweet Thursday to help the musical get created? I still haven't read that one, but I will in the Steinbeckathon later this year. My favorite part is their hope to have Pipe Dream made into a Muppets movie with Miss Piggy playing the toned-down madam's part!

Best - Joe
you made me laugh about the Ashley Judd book. sister, i cannot imagine having to read celeb biographies, auto or otherwise, all day long. you must have incredible staying power. i hope you're through with it by now.

i don't read biographies much. i can only think of a few i've read: Malcolm X, Simone de Beauvoir (what a pain in the arse Sartre must have been), Georgia O'Keefe (another one who gives me a pain in the back of my lap), the diaries of Anne Frank and Cocteau and 2 of Dame Judi's books, though not her biography. there are a couple of others i may get around to but, with the exception of Judi, i'm not really interested in celebs. well, not movie star celebs anyway. the next one i'll read will be Nella Last's diaries.

haven't seen anything from you in a while and hope you're traveling somewhere.

hey Anne

we're in what is increasingly becoming a tornado prone area as the climate changes. we got hit twice last year. we do like our new metal roof but the car still looks like it's been on a driving range and we're not going to get it fixed as it will probably happen again. another round coming tomorrow. we had tornado warnings in January! we're supposed to have ice and snow and cold. now, we got tornadoes. ridiclious. [sic]

been away 'cause the combo of weather and a bad week w/ chemo side fx have done a number on eyes, brain and other assorted body parts. haven't really been able to deal w/ visual stim and just generally feeling blech. chemo's not for CA but ongoing for RA etc. body doesn't like drugs. they beat the bejeebers outta my eyes. i'm lucky i can afford them, though. without the meds, i couldn't even dress myself, so no complaints here.

yeah, Nella Last was a real person. audible has her diaries on which the movie was based and i've got one in my cart. i love this photo of her with her youngest son.

must away. thanks for the kind thoughts. :)

thanks so much for the marvelous description. i value and envy your descriptive skills.

i was aware even while watching the video that the play seemed almost like an immersive installation, especially when the videography stuff was going on. the rice planting was intriguing but seemed to depend a great deal on the videographic 'set.'

i noticed in the video, too, that Jung Chang, although she gave permission for it to be translated into theatre, never actually gives an opinion about the production.

i watched the Oscars tonight, which i almost never do, to see Streep and Viola Davis. i've not seen either movie and was torn between wanting Davis, because so rarely do fine Black actors get Oscar nods, and Streep as a sentimental fave. i wanted her to win just one more.

anyhoo, i skimmed it, as you do DA, but was bemused by all the honors now given to special fx, etc. When multimedia and acting intersect, i wonder if it's difficult to keep the acting in mind. if the creators get taken with the multimedia possibilities, maybe the acting itself can get a bit lost. i really don't know.

have you a background in theatre? you always sound so very knowledgeable. is daddy long legs a children's story? i did not know that. i just think of Astaire and Caron. haven't seen that movie since childhood.

oh, you might want to glance at the movie Housewife, 49. sadly, there's no trailer for it. Victoria Wood, of whom i'd never heard, is excellent. well, the entire cast is very good. it's one of those great understated British movies like Winter Guest with Emma T and her mum.


Oh dear, "boy howdy" is a part of the scenery where I come from, and was never not there. General consensus is that Texans originated the phrase, and it went viral in the rest of the USA after WWI.

In books, I can't recall seeing it and remarking on it in any given book. But then, I wouldn''s just something I've always heard.

I wish I could be of some help.

will respond to your previous later but wanted to pass this on: 'Downton Abbey': Maggie Smith gets remixed. :)
oh, one last thing. you know our interchange about Sidmouth Letters and whether the Austen letters should have been read? well, while reading [Guns of august], i was revisiting some of the WWI poets. do you remember the scenes in Regeneration where Sass is helping Owen with 'Anthem for doomed youth?' i was reading their poetry and ended up at Craiglockhart. i came across these drafts 'Anthem', some with corrections made by Sassoon. i suppose Barker would have used these in writing those scenes. makes my fingers feel funny to think she may have handled them or whatever they're housed in.

when reading the book, i found the scenes about the writing of the poem intriguing. seeing these images brings the reality home with the force and immediacy of a physical blow. even though i'm not reading the book, these pages make the characters 3-dimensional and what they experienced even more monstrous.

of course, poems that were meant to be published are a different thing from private letters. there are things i've written that i would not wish anyone to see. i'd accord Austen the same privacy i would wish. but the temptation just to glance . . . well, that's another thing. makes me want to reread Possession for the umpteenth time.

am waffling over spending my February credit at audible on 'the hare with amber eyes.'
people who say that i adore Penelope Wilton simply because she got to dance with Judi in Iris should be ignored. i hope i can look more deeply into an actor's repertoire than whether or not she, or more probably he, has ever danced with Dame Judi! it was an extraordinary scene, though. i don't remember Penelope in Calendar Girls but i'm thoroughly enjoying watching her and Maggie in DA.

i'm not quite sure why i'm enjoying DA so much. i do like watching the Dowager (Maggie) and Isobel Crawley (Penelope) go at each other. and Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Pearson? the Cook) is fantastic.

i've only watched the first season. 2nd is tivoed. i'm with your daughter who is obviously a very intelligent, discerning and insightful person. actually, what i do is a version of what you do. i watch it through and as i go i find scenes that i replay a number of times to try to see camera angles, cutaways, how an actor communicates something, use of hands, i dunno, whatever. naturally, Maggie gets a lot of play b/c she steals the show without ever, i'm sure, even considering stealing even so much as a scene. brilliant.

i assume you mean you're going to the opening of the show and not to India? one never knows with you. give you joy! :)

yes, i heard about Judi's eyes the other day. trouper indeed. you have to be if you're going to do what she does for a living. it requires a special kind of nerve. i decided that we don't know she's having trouble because she *acts* as though can see perfectly well. Janet saved me the today show with that piece in it and there she was with Daniel Craig with his arm around her holding her against him. does everyone simply fall in love with her? they do have very good chemistry in the Bond films. much better, imo, than any of her other Bonds.

can't wait for the movie. dishy Bill seems to be all over everywhere these days. i do adore him and have been a fan of Wilkinson's for ever so long. but think--all these people, most of whom have trod (trodden?) the boards, and/or flickered on the screen, together at one time or another frolicking in this movie? be still my beating heart.
Dench, Nighy, Wilkinson, Smith, Imrie and Wilton? get outta town! but yes:

i hope they had a blast!

Thanks for the note about The Night Circus. Have you listened to Parisians? Same kind of narration in that one--also drove me nuts.
p.s. have you read Byatt's Possession? reminded me of that a bit. some similar issues. amazing book.
oh, sister. i struggled with that one. i understood what she did and, just in terms of the story, decided it was the only way it could have been written. well, unless in the last para she's opening the letters and we simply never get to know the content. not much different from the burning, really, except that it's quite final and, in its way, restful. laid to rest not mauled about by curiosity seekers and scholars.

i liked the juxtaposition of them being a 'find' because of who Jane Austen became with the private and personal thing that is the heart of intimate communication between two people. i liked being left with the question.

i don't know that i could have destroyed them, though. i loved the exquisite agony of the questions. to whom do these letters, to whom does anything we leave behind unbequeathed, actually belong? what are our responsibilities to, say, a person who wrote letters found in an attic long after their death?

it occurs to me that i might be more likely to read such letters if they hadn't belonged to someone famous. i can't right off hand say why.

i think about these things sometimes even when archeologists go about unearthing things that their owners might have wished left as they were.

while i'm here, wanted to thank you for prompting me to look for Alison Bechdel. her book Essential dykes to watch out for is on its way. i got the first book from ILL but it was so visually demanding, and so delightful, that i decided to spring for the compilation.

i've been out of those circles now for about 20 years and, though i was still teaching in the 80s, was barely able to keep up with what i had to do in order to attempt to continue working. so i was already slowly losing touch with the sisterhood, not to mention the literature, when she began publishing.

how times have changed since the 60s. i had many older friends and acquaintances, too, who had battled their way through the 50s, going after work to bars on the Embarcadero, getting in fights with longshoremen . . . oh well. autres temps, autres moeurs, i suppose.
that book again! from Gardam's Sidmouth letters 'Jane Austen said that you're pretty clear of being desired by men by the time you're fifty-five but she might well have thought again if she'd met Pam. A classy driver in her ford Capri, i've seen men look at Pam with respect and interest as they've caught up with her momentarily at traffic lights too blatantly at red for even Pam to disregard. she's a Betjeman girl.'

nice to know what it means. :)
yep, all reading one really big book. some parts admittedly better written than others. whom would you pick to write your life? today i'm thinking either Gardam or Harriett Doerr.

speaking of one book and connections, years ago when i first read the snow leopard, i was very taken with one of the people Matthiessen and George Schaller met at Shey gompa [the crystal monastery] in Nepal. Matthiessen calls her 'old Sonam.' she was the caretaker of the monastery and spent all day collecting dried yak dung, chanting OM MANI PADME HUM and drinking tea with rancid yak butter [aka butter tea]. i thought this tremendously spiritual. i still think about her often when i feel aggrieved about something. helps me settle into the present moment.

some years later, my editor at U of Chicago press told me one of her authors was George Schaller. at some point in my life, i got into thinking about 6 degrees of separation and realized i was only 3 degrees away from old Sonam. i found this quite stunning! still do.

and in re: words you have to look up like 'peuls,' he wrote it, i only quoted it. his journals are smattered with French, which i don't speak, and his descriptions remind me of Durrell, esp. Justine.

i tell you, reading the Sidmouth letters has me practically living on Google: talbot, coke hat, banns, Gwenn John, ADC, OAP and etc. i've been encountering 'banns' for years and just never did anything about it.

Bernadette Peters is amazing, isn't she? what did you think of 'night music?' had you seen it before?

speaking of which, i was stunned to find a new, high quality youtube of dame judi doing 'send in the clowns' at the BBC Proms 2010! and the crowd so hushed. quite broke my heart. her rendition of the song, that is.

connections. everywhere, connections:

from Bruce Chatwin's Far journeys: Photographs and Notebooks

Gloucestershire, 27 December, 1969

"blank over Christmas. not my favourite time of year. long walks up the valley which was cold and beautiful. i am again feeling the pangs of restlessness and am planning to go to Mauritania--the only country that nobody seems to have heard of. 'i know where it is,' said Penelope (Betjeman). 'It's in Eastern Europe and we all used to see it in 1920's films.' they wear white uniforms.' 'you're thinking of Ruritania'--and she was."

and, no connection to anything at all,

7 January, 1971

"bus journey to n'konni. Niger olive green, peuls in hats hacking up the road, piles of peanuts arranged in conical heaps. rocks in the river, green islands of vegetation floating downstream. land the greenish ochre colour of a lion, villages like mushrooms. skeletal trees in heat haze."

his writing makes me slightly intoxicated, as it seems to have done everyone else.

i'm fairly certain that you need to read Gardam's Sidmouth Letters. it's not that long. the large print edition is about 240 pages. short stories. distillations of Gardam. wonderful!

you might also enjoy Bill Nighy, Eileen Atkins and Emily Blunt in the flick wild target. British farce wherein Nighy steals the show w/out half trying and Blunt holds her own nicely and has marvelous cossies.

hope you had fun on Broadway and enjoyed whatever kind of new year you like to enjoy. see you at Joe's place i expect. :)

Hi, Anne. Happy New Year! I hope you had a good holiday season and things are going well.

I've got Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman in my holiday stack, which you intrigued me with via your review a ways back. Right now I'm reading Steinbeck's Cannery Row and liking it.

This may not be your cup of tea, but I thought of you and Ellie. I've got a discussion thread going in the 75ers group (75 books, not years - yet!)that I thought you might enjoy. I'd love to see you there, but no worries if not. Here it is:

I hope 2012 is filled with good reading for you.

Best wishes - Joe
I keep hearing such good reports of the Pemberly book. I think I'm going to have to try it.
I did like [Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet]better than you. It was also a read for my RL book club, and I emphasized both in the group and in my review that it is simple. Other people in the group were eager to read more by him. Not I. I see it as an introduction to the internment of Japanese Americans, so that people who want to know what really happened would go on to read something more accurate, like "When the Emperor Was Divine." I am reading a more enjoyable book now, [The Crystal Singer] which is also simple but fun and women actually have brains and abilities.

I definitely think that keeping it simple is best. I've never truly loved/gotten lost in a book with multiple readers or overly theatrical readers.

The most talented readers can get away with being more theatrical, but only the ones with a wide vocal range (so the characters are extremely differentiated). Michael Kramer who read Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder books (the first nine) is quite theatrical but never to point that it's distracting, in part because his range is so spectacular and his characterization is perfect.

80% of my reading is done through audio books due to health reasons, so it's a subject I take very seriously. A great reader/narrator guides the listening without being intrusive or hitting them over the head with emotion.
Good points on The Sense of an Ending, Anne.

I struggled with the blood money part - it's money paid by a killer to the next of kin of the deceased, right? So the mother paid Tony as Adrian's "next of kin" (or closest appropriate person), because she in effect killed Adrian. Plus she wanted Tony to have the diary, which would presumably have explained all that - and probably would've shown how important Tony was to Adrian. Like you, I struggled with Veronica treating Tony as dim for not figuring it all out, especially about Adrian's son. The justification I figure is it was too horrible for her to discuss with him, so she kept giving him clues instead. Cuckolded by her mother, being humiliated in her relationship with his close friend, having to share that with Tony as a former lover, having him being the catalyst for the disaster, made it all too much to directly address with him?

More Adrian and more diary would've helped with all this, and would've helped round out the story more, seems like.

Anyway, let me know what you think after a re-read. It certainly is a thought-provoking book.

- Joe
Hi, Anne. Thanks for your note.

I can't say I loved The Sense of an Ending, but with the developments at the end it became much deeper for me, and I'm glad I read it. Interesting you're thinking about re-reading it; a woman I was discussing it with on Saturday night, who is very well-read, originally thought the last 5 pages were "preposterous". To her credit, she decided to immediately re-read it, and found those last pages much less so on the second go-through, and the book better than she originally thought. We both agreed we would have liked to have more in the book about/featuring Adrian, and that Barnes supplied way too little of the diary - the equations material was insufficient for the weight it was given to carry, and there was much more to be said from Adrian's angle that a reader would welcome. The twists could have been protected in some other way than silence.

The book did make me think a lot about my memories, how people might well have seen me differently than I did myself, my relationships over the years, and the verities of life in general. That's pretty darn good for any book to do. Did I think it deserved the prize? I didn't read the others, so my reaction is limited, but its slightness does make me wonder. Really good, yes. Prize-worthy? Not so sure. Could be a lifetime achievement award in a down year.

What did you think?

Best - Joe
what you didn't tell me, blast you, is that Anton Lesser is addicting. i've tried 4 books since finishing great expectations and all i want is to hear lesser doing Wemmick or Joe. damn and blast! ;)

in re: business women. thank you, thank you. YES! it's one i'd not come across and will now have to find in my complete poems so i can insert a bookmark. my mother, a book lover and librarian, she, would never, ever, no never, allow the dog-earing of a page. "not if it was ever so!" that's taken from Patrick O'Brian's H.M.S. Surprise, one of my favorite books/series. just glance at this page. it will amuse you. fyi, Patrick Tull, the narrator of the series, pronounces mandragore as if it were written mandragory.

the scene is London, circa 1807, i guess. not sure within 3 years or so. the second speaker, after Mrs. Moss, is Capt. Jack Aubrey of HMS Surprise, and the person referred to is (Dr.) Stephen (Maturin), his 'particular friend,' ship's surgeon and a distinguished natural philosopher. he is, imo, one of the great characters in contemporary British literature about which i know not one tenth of a whit! i think it will make you laugh and give you a sense of the characters even in this small excerpt. as narrated by Patrick Tull, these books are exceptional!

i encourage you to meet Jack and Stephen as voiced by the late Patrick Tull in the first pages of Master and Commander, the first book in the Aubrey/Maturin series.

i don't know that i can do any more Pullman. i'm not finishing the dark materials trilogy. i find the wrenching apart of daemon and human quite unbearable, especially in audio. i can imagine it too well and, whoever was narrating it voiced it too well, and i don't want to deal with it. just too much cruelty for me.

i love Muriel Spark and far cry is thus far my favorite. and yes, she and Betj do have something in common in their wicked, wicked wit. wicked and so, so delicious. it's difficult to find narrators i like for her books. fortunatetly for me, far cry on audible is narrated by Pamela Garelick, who has a marvelous voice. almost everything else is Nadia May and, though she does a good job, one does get so very tired of Nadia May after a while. she was one of the early narrators for books-on-tape, before the current audio craze hit, and so has narrated many of their books and narrates for Blackstone as well. also for NLS, bless her. well, i shall just have to suck it up.

i finally knuckled and bought a 160gb ipod and i'm in heaven as i no longer have to pause the recording every 2 or 3 minutes to see where i am so that when it has a place-changing whim, i'll know where to return to.

oh lord. too much wittering. away. i must away. it's always such fun writing to you. cheers!


p.s. do not, god forfend, think you have to answer these ramblings. you're just fun to write to about books. :)

p.p.s. are you a Bill Nighy fan? i am. i don't know about your politics but, if you can set them aside, he's worth watching in this ad in re: the robinhood tax. he's wonderful.
It was terrific! Unbelievably high quality production. We loved it.

- Joe
Thanks, Anne. Yes, we love it here in Chicago. We live about a mile and half west of Wrigley Field. I'm glad you had a good time! Next time, if you want, I'd be happy to meet you somewhere.

It's a gorgeous fall day today - I'm about to walk over to Chicago Shakespeare Theater to see Sondheim's "Follies" directed by Gary Griffin, who really does him well.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

- Joe
Good gravy. You posted this, like, totally forever ago. ;) I’ve been working on it for weeks in MSWord so I could save it. Hands a bit wonky, hence slow going.

Anne: What are "schwarmes"? It's been so long since I read the book. Is that word in there or is this a word I just never heard before?

Me: it's a German word i got from Dorothy l. Sayers years ago. It means 'crush' or 'wild enthusiasm.' but the suggestion is of a rather gushing sort of infatuation. She used it exclusively to refer to women but it needn't be exclusive. See wordsmith's definition of schwarmerei. Something about the excessive nature of Betj's infatuations made me think of them as schwarmes.

Anne: Sorry it's been such a hard slog. There isn't much of the poetry in the book and frankly, poor Mrs. Betjeman's faux cockney just about drove me round the bend. As you say, life's too short. There are so many books out there.

Me: it hasn't been a hard slog at all. It’s just not a book i want to tear through. I’m happy to read it in bits and pieces.

I’m fascinated by the Catholicism vs. C of E bits. I’m also wondering if Sebastian Flyte's bear Aloysius was named after Betj's bear Archibald. I feel sure he was.
In re: the cockney slang, i actually rather like it. You don’t overdo it, it gives a nice flavor and, as it happens, sometimes Penelope starts ‘speaking,’ usually in a letter to someone, and the only way I know it’s she is by the accent.

Anne: Have you ever listened to Anton Lesser? I'm actually mesmerized by him. A true actor, he goes way over the top in his characterizations but he's so talented that you happily take the ride with him.

Me: no, I’d not but on your recommendation and, after a bit of waffling, I purchased his Great Expectations from and we shall see what we shall see. Of course, if I don’t like him, you’ll never hear the end of it. ;)

Anne: By the way, did you know that NLS narrators are discouraged from making the recordings too much like performances, except in the case of children's books? With the explosion of the audio book industry, these days I often wonder if clients wish for more performing.

Me: no, I didn’t know that. When I was still trying to teach, I used to try to listen to the books for my courses in audio—all non-fiction textbooks—and had a terrible time . . . well, an impossible time, as it turned out . . . trying to follow very dry, uninflected, flat narrations full of incomprehensible descriptions of footnotes, charts, tables and the like.

I understand, and understood, why it was necessary to do this with textbooks and why unskilled volunteer readers were used and bless them! But it about drove me right round the twist in combo with other things that were going on. In fiction or even something like Betjeman, I can see less justification for pushing minimization of ‘performance.’ And, as you say, since audiobooks have taken off for the general public, it changes one’s expectations of what good narrations are, or can be.

I do know that good NLS narrators get around the restriction in marvelously subtle ways. I’m currently listening to the late Fred Major narrating Stegner’s Crossing to safety, which is a wonderful book and Major does a marvelous job. He doesn’t really ‘voice’ the characters at all in the way I usually think of it, using voice tone, for example. What he does is change his phrasing and cadence depending on the character or the situation, speeding up and slowing down, emphasizing the placing of a breath pause or hesitation—just little things, the skills of the stage actor he was—that create amazing distinctions among characters, and make the narration, indeed, a fine performance, without his ever being dramatic or seeming to perform. I think you do something similar in Betjeman—again, very subtle and of course different, because it’s non-fiction.
Hah! Great to hear from you, Anne. I love the title "Origin of the Specious"! I've read similar things about split infinitives and prepositions and have gleefully been violating what I knew as the rules, too.

Yes, I'm a dedicated Murakami reader, and have read all of his books in English except the one about running - I had to stop running because of hip replacements, and so far just can't get myself to read that one. They're all great as far as I'm concerned, including his nonfiction work Underground about the cult attack on the Japanese subway system. Typically his novels and stories have surreal and dreamlike elements.

I started reading him when I saw a play based on the short story collection After the Quake. I was immediately hooked, and went on a tear reading all of them. Kafka on the Shore, The Windup Bird Chronicle and the After the Quake short story collection are my favorites so far, although all of them stick with me for different reasons.

It's tempting to recommend Kafka on the Shore, it's such a great book. That's what I gave to one of my sisters. But if you just want to dip your toe in first and see whether it's the right temperature for you, you might instead read one of the short story collections, e.g. After the Quake or The Elephant Vanishes. His short stories are regularly published in the New Yorker, too - one called "The Town of Cats" just was in a New Yorker a week or two ago.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes - Joe

P.S. 1Q84 finally arrived this afternoon, so I'll let you know what I think of that one - it's huge, so it'll take a while!
Just to let you now I now have three copies of my first novel in CD format and have decided to hire them out locally for the same price as the library. Once I get some feedback as to how people like listening to me reading I'll think about the mp3 stage.I enjoyed reading the book so much I am now attempting to return to performing - either on radio or as a 'singer' at our local folk club.Age is creeping up on me and I want to do as much as I can before I get too old.Silly old biddy - or what?
I'll be happy when we get to part 5, because part 4 was by far my least favorite! Hope you're doing well.
If you liked listening to "Travels with Charley", you'd probably enjoy "Goodbye to a River" by John Graves, read by Henry Strozier. There are also William Least Heat Moon's "Blue Highways" (read by Frank Muller) and his more recent sequel, "The Roads to Quoz", which I spent an Audible credit on, but haven't listened to yet.
i'm not sorry either as i'm looking fwd to Pullman et al based on the snippet i heard on audible. i was not much interested in the movie and didn't realize till recently that the captivating phrase 'his dark materials' is part of a title and refers to a trilogy. duh!

in re: Betjeman, it sounds as though C. S. Lewis was a bit of a 'right hard horse.' and so far, though obviously not yet very far, Betjeman himself sounds like a frightfully sensitive and endearing wingnut.

one of my favorite of the poems of his i've read thus far is Beaumaris . just scroll down to the poem. there's another one i stumbled on in one of my books by him about the choir singing in, oh lord, well, at Oxford but which college? Maudlin, i suppose. it stunned me and i can't find it again. i do wish i understood the British higher ed system better.
Hi, Anne. I hope things are going well.

Did I mention I finally read Dear Enemy? It was another charmer. My only disappointment was I missed Judy Abbott, but Sallie was a hoot, and once again the drawings added another layer of fun.

I miss your posts on books you're reading! I see you read Bossypants this month; I just had it come in at the library and can't wait.

Best wishes - Joe
FYI new very early (1964)Dame Judi DVD released by BBC-A.

this is the one that "was shot in Deodar road in Putney, directly under the flight path, directly next to the road bridge directly next to the railway bridge." 'never got a take for longer than a minute and a half.'

i'm gettin' it! :)
watched Langrishe, go down and really liked it though i'll have to watch it a few more times. i recommend it if, as i do, you enjoy grainy, desaturated films w/ the kind of hollow sound that makes you feel you're actually listening to footsteps on hard wooden floors and wind in the leaves, and if you don't mind melancholy and minimalism. the locations, both interior and exterior, and the sets are exceptionally fine.

it's worth watching the movie for Jeremy Irons' elegant hands in close-up with blackened nails and for Dench's restrained, erotic and languorous performance. well, that's how i'd describe it. she mesmerized me as always. it's a movie i'll watch more than once and now i want to read the book if i can find an LP or audio version.

oh, in re: dame Judi nude. we both made the mistake, well i did anyway, of thinking it would be Judi who appears nude. of course it wasn't. it was the character and therein lies all the difference.

i recommend it.
we moved to a new thread right before you made the Jane Eyre post on 'what are you listening to now?' or whatever it's called so you may wish to repost. or not.

just finished Bel Canto. one of those books where i keep willing the ending to be different from the one i know is inevitable--and right. not morally right but correct, necessary, honest, both integral and having integrity.

oh, had the Judy Dench typo fixed STAT and thanked me for pointing it out. i did apologize for my extended tongue-in-cheek correction. i can be such a fool. the kind woman who responded said she'd gotten a kick out of it, bless her.
in re: the preceding, i e-mailed the following to's "great ideas" for improving the website etc.

Dear Persons,

I am a great fan of but would like to call your attention to an erratum. You have available the following title, which i have purchased:

Judy Dench and Michael Williams: With Great Pleasure
By Sylvia Plath, Dylan Thomas, Charlotte Mitchell, Alan Bennett, Alec McCowen, William Shakespeare

Narrated by Judi Dench, Michael Williams

As an admirer of Dame Judi, i cringe to see that you have her name misspelled as "Judy." GAAAAAH! If you'll look at the thumbnail of the cover and at the 'narrated by' line, you'll see that you've made a grievous and, in my opinion, untenable error. My great idea would be for you to correct it.

Dame Judi is, among other things, the winner of an Oscar, a record 6 Oliviers, any number of BAFTAs, a Tony and is considered by many to be the greatest female actor of her time. If you're not familiar with her larger body of work, consider that she has played the redoubtable "M" in the James Bond movies since 1995 to great acclaim. She deserves to have her name spelled correctly as do all authors and performers.

Thank you very much.

Ellie Moses
Audible Gold Member

do you know about this? just have a listen to the sample.

i was looking for a good reading of under milkwood and what lo! there were Judi and Michael. and the Richard Burton recording of 'milkwood' sounds quite fine too!

happy spring.


Glad to hear it about "Understood Betsy", Anne! I thought you'd enjoy that one. It is surprising it's not better known.

- Joe
Thanks for letting me know, Anne! I starred it immediately, and already am enjoying hearing the latest from you.

Best wishes - Joe

P.S. Did you ever read Understood Betsy? It's an old-timer that I found quite charming. Wouldn't surprise me if you were the one who recommended it to me (!), but if not, I suspect you'd enjoy it.
hiya--i loved the bit about Maggie periodically collapsing with laughter in Judi's lap.

you might also enjoy this youtube video for the images of them together. after watching it, i'm now jonesing to watch 'room with a view' again. my gawd. we were all so much younger then.

have missed your book posts and hope you're frivoling happily or working at something enjoyable instead.

the self-portrait was taken for a goofy card for my partner's b'day. i can't set up a tripod anymore and decided to try taking some shots in the tatty hall mirror.

i slapped on the cossie hat and necklace and snapped happily away. i shopped in a background to this one and was quite pleased even though it's blurred due to the slow shutter speed and shows the full wonder of my wattled neck, not usually seen so clearly. why hide it? aging necks are supposed to look like that. character and a lived-in look. :)

and now it's spring. the boy cardinals are cozying up to the girls, the male house finches are donning their courtin' rags, the mockingbirds are flashing and preening and the sap is rising. i always miss the starkness of winter but spring, too, hath its charms, amongst them, warmer weather!



i stumbled on this 2005 article abt Dames Dench and Smith and thought you might enjoy it. love the photograph too.

hope all's well w/ you.


I'll bet that book diary was time-consuming, NarratorLady - it was beautifully written and comprehensive - and I can understand not having time to do another one like that. I had a similar response when someone asked me to do a journal on the 75 book challenge thread - I feel fortunate to have enough time to pop in and make some quick comments on a regular basis.

It would be good to at least hear what books resonate with you, that's for sure. As you know, your recommendations last year resulted in a lot of good reading for me and I'm sure for others! I'll take a look at the Michael Frayn memoir you mention.

The one this year that really wowed me that you may not have read is "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind", a memoir set in southeast Africa. Amazing story.

Here's to good reading!

Best wishes - Joe
Hi, NarratorLady. Good to hear from you in the What Are You Reading Thread. Did you start another reading diary? I haven't been able to find it, and enjoyed the old one so much.

Hope everything is going well for you.

Best wishes - Joe
found the first chapter of Seymour's Summer of '39 , which i mentioned below and wanted to share. i've just started it. it's not in audio, more's the pity, but i got a nice LP copy from across the pond. i was instantly taken by the writing in the first few pages and thought i'd offer you a glimpse.

well, at least it's available on cd, which means i can read it. :) it would be wonderful if Judi had narrated it but i'm not really surprised she didn't.

i actually popped into LT to apprise you of a title published in September upon which i just stumbled and thought might interest you: The Summer of '39 by Miranda Seymour. i was reading Seymour's review of tipping the velvet in NYT Books and discovered she had a book just out. sounds interesting though quite dark. fwiw.

'Naturally I went to my share of UK bookstores and our friend, Dame Judi, has published another autobiography. I'm waiting for the next blizzard to curl up and read it.'

nerts! it isn't available on 'due to copyright restrictions in this country.'i hate when they do that. i suppose it's to sell the cd. i dunno.

wish they'd audiblize 'with a crack in her voice.' that's available in large print at libraries in the UK but not here. not available to buy, either.

interesting info on the bunker. found a link to an article about it from the 'pup' article i sent you.

er, why wait for a blizzard. it's JUDI. :)
you inspired me to see if i could find any images of the bunker. didn't find any but found this Churchill's bunker bit. i expect you learned all this while visiting. how big is it?

in re: 'marble arch.' interesting to read a short Connie Willis piece. i'll be interested to read your reaction. i can't think of any way to comment on it without potentially spoiling it so i won't.

i'm excited to see that she has a new book forthcoming. i've been on tenterhooks waiting for her to finish something. that sentence caused me to digress into a search for the origin of 'tenterhooks.' interesting. how wondrous a thing is the internet!

i hope your trip was dazzlious! i kept thinking of you with pleasurable envy all through November and December as i wasn't sure when you'd actually gone.

good to hear from you!
thanks much. as i was sussing out the info here and there, i stumbled on the noel coward collection on dvd and, seized by a wild whim, ordered it. it has Dench and Ian Holm in 'Mr. and Mrs. Etheridge,' there's a bit about that in scenes from my life, along with much other wondrous fare. it will fit right in w/ my Maggie Smith and Judi Dench collections. about time to watch 'bed among the lentils again.'

anyway, thanks for taking time to provide all that info! :)
hey--who published and/or where did you find Hay Fever w/ Judi Dench as Judith? i can fine other BBC audio versions but not that one w/ her. would love to know whenever you get the time. i do realize you're busy so i shall wait patiently w/ no expectation of a prompt response.

and iirc, you're off across the pond this month. if i remember correctly, and you're going, i hope you have a smashing time. :)
how kind of you to be gentle and positive about the review. i don't try to tackle that sort of thing often anymore as i have so much cognitive difficulty. i'll write something and proof it many times only to return later and find that parts are really bad and sometimes incomprehensible or full of typos and other errata.

i was so affected by the religious part of this book, though, or perhaps by my sense that it hadn't been properly addressed, that i really wanted to try to review it.

being on LT and reading good reviews has been wonderful for me as i've never been a critical reader of non-professional writing. which is to say i've never been thoughtfully or intentionally critical.

give me a research article in the social sciences or even an accessible article in the hard sciences and i'm all over it. can't help myself. i just never took the time, nor did i know how, to apply a thoughtful eye to literature. i've missed a lot.

thanks to you, in large part, but to others as well who write good reviews here, i'm finally trying to "read" (listen to) fiction much more mindfully. it's quite exciting, and difficult, to pay attention to what i think about books in a way sufficiently focused that i have thoughts i can articulate.

when i watch films, i pay fairly close attention even to things like camera angles, setups, cutaways, interiors and exteriors, continuity--all those kinds of things. i'll watch certain scenes over and over to see if i can figure out why a director shot a scene from a particular perspective: why overhead or from below or at an angle.

i'm trying to do the same thing now with books i listen to. it's a lot harder and i realize how very ignorant i am about writing and literature.

an academic colleague of mine whom i admired greatly always used to say 'you don't know what you think until you write it down.' so i thought now and then, i'd try to do that to help myself see how, and what, i think. :)

i'm hoping tomorrow or the next day to get back to that review and redo it. you've encouraged me greatly to bite the bullet and take the risk. thanks muchly.

in re: Langrishe, i'll let you know what i think once i've watched it. i confess to being a bit trepidant about dame judi embellished with whipped cream but if she dared, well, so can i. nerves of steel, that woman.

oh, i say, you have seen her doing the ring soliloquy from Twelfth Night on youtube, yes? if not, it's worth a look. the word 'fadge' is now lodged in my vocabularym thanks to her.



i was reading an old NYT review of Langrishe, go down to see if i wanted to get it from netflix--it's Dame Judi and Jeremy Irons. it gets terrible reviews there but i often don't agree and thought i'd see what the times thought. they're so often droll. i came across the bit below, laughed out loud and thought, 'oh, i wonder if Anne would find this funny.'

"It is the late 1930's, and World War II is impending, though it impends with unusual subtlety for a period drama. The declining gentry declines with a corresponding slowness. The film's title refers to this gradual ruin, and perhaps to the desire that it might hurry up a bit."

the entire review is here should you wish to read it for context or whatever.

i think i'll put it on my list.

i was aggrieved that i couldn't watch American splendor, at least not right now anyway. they keep having these cartoon borders around parts of it and neither my eyes nor brain will handle them. i don't know how far into the movie they go. i couldn't watch it to find out. so i've stuck next stop wonderland in my queue in order to catch Hope Davis. we shall see.

Thank you for appreciating my review of Still Life! I found Still Life somewhat awkward at places and the characters far from lovable (or believable). I don't know if my review of it is negative but it's less glowing than all the other reviews that's for sure. People seem to love whatever they read. I don't easily rave about anything. Guess I am a little more critical than most. :-)
huh! i knew from reading about her but it really hadn't registered somehow that Hope Davis is an actor. after reading your comment that she's one of your faves, i popped American splendor at the top of my netflix list. :) i looked at the trailer and nearly fell off the chair laughing. i adore Paul Giamatti. the two together seem to have great chemistry just from the glimpse i got.

also delighted to read your thumbs up review of Fingersmith, which is queued on my db player and probably next in line after the french lieutenant's woman, whenever that is. i can't believe i never read TFLW in print. ah well. good narrator, whoever he is.

i had a friend when i was in school at berkeley, lo these many years ago. name of Jean McCord. wrote 3 good YA books. one of her books was short-listed for the Newbery, iirc, though i'm blessed if i can remember which. it was probably deep where the octopi lie as i remember she was quite excited about it and before she wrote her last book, Bitter is the hawk's path, i moved away from Berkeley and lost touch with her and her partner.

then Jean developed a brain tumor from which she died and that put paid to that. she was probably in her early 60s, i'm guessing. maybe 50s.

she and her partner were depicted, under different names, in Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story with Glenn Close and Judy Davis. won Emmys, so it did.

must away for a lie down.
your reviews are intimidatingly superb. the review of [fifth avenue, 5 a.m.] is exceptional. i am so envious i could spit!

fyi, stethoscope is spelled with two not three 'Es' (Etymology: from the Greek στηθοσκόπιο, of στήθος ((stéthos)) - "chest" and σκοπή ((skopé)) - "examine, inspect"). you may have just typoed but if not, well, i assume you're the same way i am and want to know.

how marvelous that you haven't had to deal with medical terminology or technology. that's 'a Good Thing, capital g, capital t,' as my college statistics instructor used to say.

on a medical note, it's quite common for city hospitals to have rooftop helipads, viz.

"Most hospitals are of course in cities, considered a hostile environment for helicopters. In addition, many hospitals have rooftop helipads. 'A roof helipad is safer and quieter,' says Dr. Nicolas Letellier, president of the French association of doctor helicopter users. 'When a hospital is in a city, we have to do everything possible for the helipad to be located on the roof, and also to be able to fuel the helicopter there. That makes it easier to use on a routine basis. Also, it fits with the regulations under which hospitals must operate. . .' But a rooftop location means a special kind of takeoff for helicopters - backwards! - which is safer in case of an engine failure, since it allows a quick forward landing." now, see there?

you really do write outstanding reviews. how nice it must be to have a brain that can do that and the skills to bring your brain's abilities to fruition. i am a bit envious but mostly, being a very good audience, i just revel in what you write. and i thank you.
been meaning to ask: in what other plays did you see 'miss drench?' is the 'miss drench' thing in 'scenes from my life?' i think so. or maybe 'darling judi.' that's great fun, too. she's the only actor about whom i'd ever have considered reading books. nope, that's a lie. i just ordered Harriet Walter's 'other people's shoes: thoughts on acting.' hope the html works in comments.

i was trying to think what play I'd most like to have seen if there were a time machine and i had to choose. Macbeth, maybe. you get hints in the DVD but oh, to have seen it in production. um, cabaret? absolute hell? Juno and the paycock? mother courage? a little night music? well, i know. i shall be allowed three trips, since it's my dream, and it will be as in a Connie Willis book where you get to come and go. i can have one Shakespeare (Cleopatra), one musical (Cabaret) and one drama. . .here, i just don't know.

but you really got to do it, so what else have you seen?

and, from another dream that shall remain unfulfilled, have you ever been to the Bodleian? i confess i feel fortunate to have spent so much time in the stacks of Cal's Doe library. i think they've closed the stacks now except perhaps to faculty. as an undergrad, i used to stand at the desk waiting for someone else to fetch my books and simply yearn. but the Bodleian!

oh, and thanks for introducing me to 'the fourth wall.' i'd never heard of it and have now been spending time thinking about it. i was reflecting on Alan Bennett's breaking of the wall. he does, doesn't he, in both //bed among the lentils// and //the lady in the van//?

I agree with everything mirrordrum said, NarratorLady. It's a pleasure to read your reviews and posts. Thanks for contributing here on LT!

My daughter has a couple of books in front of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, so it'll be a little while (she's a fast reader). I'll let you know how it goes.

Best wishes - Joe
thanks for the note on the betjeman book. i wasn't wanting his poetry. i own a number of his poetry books and has a few late chrysanthemums in its entirety, so i feel quite fortunate.

can't believe you've seen Judi on stage! I've watched everything i can get my hands on on film, have watched snippets from //Cabaret// on youtube and have the BBC collection, which is quite a joy. still, I'm sure Dench on film pales beside Dench on the boards.

your reviews are such a pleasure. i enjoy your writing as much as i do the writing in many books and am wondering, is your writing in audio format anywhere? chuckle but seriously, i envy you not just your writing ability but your critical ability as well. your reviews are very fine, wretched creature. i learn a lot.

and you're right, cuddling up with any electronic format presentation, grateful as i am for audiobooks, has none of the other 'sensual' joys of reading and i doubt that i'd ever have used them if it hadn't become necessary. there's even something about turning pages, and being able to turn back and forth, that brings pleasure. ah, tactile joys.

i still buy books. i get poetry, mostly, and, whenever possible, used and not necessarily in excellent condition. i like names in books and tattered bindings that show the books have been read.

anyway, thanks for your ramblings. i enjoy them though they do make me want to ramble back.

and oh, my, i listened to Maggie Smith's lady in the van with something near ecstasy.

thanks for all you bring to librarything. you're a gift. am looking forward to comments on your experience with narrating Betjeman.
What a great job with such a great purpose.
i think the first 5 of Hillerman's books are the best. i like Jim Chee very much also and learned a lot from the books about him, but Joe is my favorite so i hope you'll listen to at least one of the early ones. :)
the 'miss fossard' piece is in the collection i purchased. 'bed among the lentils' was a BBC production that i saw on PBS years ago. i taped it then, loaned the tape to a friend who promptly lost it. i couldn't believe my joy when BBC came out with the Maggie Smith collection and, what lo, there was 'bed' in it. such felicity! i was just thinking the other day it's time to watch it again.

ignorant soul that i am, all i knew about Patricia Routledge was her Hyacinth on PBS. every time she'd maul one of hyacinth's songs I'd say to my partner, 'she must be able to sing really well. you have to be able to sing well to be able to sing that badly and with such gusto.' one day i decided to look her up to see if i could find out anything about her singing. quelle surprise!

after reading your comment, i went and got the dramatized version of 'lady in the van' with Maggie Smith from on sale, too. hah! :)

Peter Firth does indeed narrate the entire regeneration trilogy. he's never particularly struck me as a screen actor, or rather, i hadn't realized that he had, until i discovered that he played the role of Alan Strang, the boy, in Equus at the National Theatre in London with Burton, again on Broadway and then in the film.

he is absolutely astonishing as Rivers. he's so compelling that i cried when i learned Rivers died in 1922, not many years after the time period covered by the trilogy.

few experiences have enraged me more than the scene in which Rivers sits in on the electro-shock session with Dr. Yealland. the juxtaposition between Rivers' compassionate witnessing, as Firth presents it, and Yealland's cruelty makes it almost unbearably painful.

both Sassoon and Graves wrote poems about Rivers, Sassoon writing about the man, Graves about Rivers' office or room.

To a very wise man and Red ribbon dream
i share your enjoyment of Jacqueline Winspear. i wonder if you've read Pat Barker's Regeneration. there's a superb narration by Peter Firth. i can't imagine it doesn't actually surpass the text version, especially since a lot of the book, and a lot of what makes the book brilliant, is dialogue.
i have a mind like a carp. it wasn't the teaglass book i purchased from audible but rather ::the sweetness at the bottom of the pie::

so i'll hope for the teaglass book to come along from NLS in due course.
hey, NL. how nice of you to let me know. however, i was so intrigued by it that i went ahead and ordered it from audible since i know NLS is swamped.

i spent some time on the BARD site today and found a couple of books that NLS-Nashville has in DB format. how amazing those digital players are. wow! i love mine.

i'll be in good shape as soon as i can get a flashcard so i can download some books from BARD.

thanks again. hope you've got some good reads in the pipe for NLS. :)

you're my hero!
Anne...Thanks for the recommendation for Major Pettigrew. I'm going to request it from my library!

I "Googled" Jane Gardam. . . and among the many entries was an interview from which i abstracted the bit I sent you. I've just gone back and there's lots of good stuff. Keep checking. It may be the interview about 4 items down (you do have Google?) iIF not let me find it for you when I am not as tired as I am now (I've had a busy busy day!)
After I copied the long Gardam interview below. I had forgotten what you had asked me!! Sorry about that. I read all her kid's books long ago. All are good.
I'm rereading all the Jane Gardam in my library and hoping to catalog and review. Her short stories are most unusual!
What a fantastic job! I'm jealous. :)

Thx for the comment left on my 75 books thread. I agree that it was wonderful to "wallow" in some Jane Austen I hadn't read before. Speaking of Jane, I just saw "A Truth Universally Acknowledged" on your Random books list. I've never heard of it - did you like it? Looks like one for The List.

Hope you enjoy the Sally Lockheart books. :)

Have you considered posting your diary comments as LT reviews for these books? I have added OLD FILTH to my wish list.
The digital books are starting to go out and patrons are excited. The players are about the size of a hardback novel and cartridges just plug into the front of the players. The sound is great and so is the battery life. Staff have machines checked out to them here in the office and I've been taking my player with me listening to books as I tote around Austin.

Actually, independently of you mentioning you narrate books, Cat mentioned she listened to NLS books. That's how we connected. The director from the Iowa library on here too.

Again, thanks so much for your reading. What has been your favorite title to narrate? Perhaps I can get a download of it for the digital player and give it a listen.
I talk to the patrons. I help them order their books, help with machine problems, etc.. We so appreciate what you do for us, and I know the patrons do too. Just this week I had a patron tell me, she loves her library service almost as much as she loved being married (I think that was a compliment?) Thanks so much and happy holidays.
Do you narrate for NLS? You mentioned narrating for Library of Congress. I work for the Talking Book Program in Texas.
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