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kidzdoc is cutting down the mountain of unread books in 2012: part 5

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Apr 19, 2012, 6:01am Top

Currently reading:

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
Maimonides by Sherwin Nuland
Splay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey

Completed books:

1. Volcano by Shusaku Endo (review)
2. False Friends: Book Two by Ellie Malet Spradbery (review)
3. A Disease Apart: Leprosy in the Modern World by Tony Gould (review)
4. Best Mets: Fifty Years of Highs and Lows from New York's Most Agonizingly Amazin' Team by Matthew Silverman (review)
5. Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (review)
6. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (review)
7. Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. Mister Blue by Jacques Poulin (review)
9. Stained Glass Elegies by Shusaku Endo (review)
10. Botchan (Master Darling) by Natsume Soseki (review)
11. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
12. Guadalajara by Quim Monzó (review)

13. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
14. Erasure by Percival Everett
15. Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now by Touré
16. Memed, My Hawk by Yashar Kemal
17. India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India by Akash Kapur (review)
18. The Three-Cornered World by Natsume Soseki
19. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
20. Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
21. The Golden Country by Shusaku Endo
22. The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

23. Professor Andersen's Night by Dag Solstad
24. Amsterdam Stories by Nescio
25. Your New Baby: A Guide to Newborn Care by Roy Benaroch, MD (review)
26. Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU by Adam Wolfberg, MD (review)
27. There but for the by Ali Smith
28. The Deportees and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle
29. When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks by Harvey Araton (review)
30. Walk on Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit by Michael Rudman (review)
31. Suffer the Children: Flaws, Foibles, Fallacies and the Grave Shortcomings of Pediatric Care by Peter Palmieri (review)
32. Tonight No Poetry Will Serve by Adrienne Rich

33. Little Misunderstandings of No Importance by Antonio Tabucchi
34. One with Others by C.D. Wright (review)
35. The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro by Antonio Tabucchi (review)
36. Boundaries by Elizabeth Nunez (to be reviewed in issue 17 of Belletrista)
37. Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph
38. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq
39. Waifs and Strays by Micah Ballard

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 10:23pm Top

TBR books read in 2012 (books on my shelf for ≥6 months):

1. A Disease Apart: Leprosy in the Modern World by Tony Gould
2. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
3. Botchan (Master Darling) by Natsume Soseki
4. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
5. Guadalajara by Quim Monzó
6. Memed, My Hawk by Yashar Kemal
7. The Three-Cornered World by Natsume Soseki
8. Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
9. The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi
10. The Deportees and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle
11. Little Misunderstandings of No Importance by Antonio Tabucchi
12. One with Others by C.D. Wright
13. The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro by Antonio Tabucchi

Books purchased in 2012:

1. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq ($13.99) √
2. Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU by Adam Wolfberg, MD ($9.99) √
3. The Irish Americans: A History by Jay P. Dolan ($0.99)
4. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories by Etgar Keret ($8.70 (partial purchase))
5. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright ($12.99)
6. Suffer the Children: Flaws, Foibles, Fallacies and the Grave Shortcomings of Pediatric Care by Peter Palmieri ($3.99) √
7. The King of Kahel by Tierno Monénembo ($0.99)
8. The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations by Zhu Xiao-Mei ($0.99)
9. The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir ($0.99)
10. Thirst by Andrei Gelasimov ($0.99)
11. Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick ($9.99)
12. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding ($9.99)

Books acquired in 2012: (books in bold are ones that I purchased this year)

1. Best Mets: Fifty Years of Highs and Lows from New York's Most Agonizingly Amazin' Team by Matthew Silverman (2 Jan; LT Early Reviewer book) √
2. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq (3 Jan; Kindle purchase)
3. The Lepers of Molokai by Charles Warren Stoddard (7 Jan; free Kindle download)
4. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (8 Jan; gift book)
5. Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (8 Jan; NYRB Book Club) √
6. There but for the by Ali Smith (9 Jan; ordered from Alibris 30 Jan) √
7. I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki (9 Jan; ordered from Alibris 30 Jan)
8. The Samurai by Shusaku Endo (9 Jan; ordered from Alibris 30 Jan)
9. Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima ((9 Jan; ordered from Alibris 30 Jan)
10. Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami (9 Jan; ordered from Alibris 30 Jan)
11. Black Talk, Blue Thoughts, and Walking the Color Line: Dispatches from a Black Journalista by Erin Aubry Kaplan (10 Jan; LT Early Reviewer book)
12. Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell (11 Jan; ordered from Strand Book Store on 27 Dec)
13. Runaway Horses by Yukio Mishima (11 Jan; ordered from Strand Book Store on 27 Dec)
14. The Temple of Dawn by Yukio Mishima (11 Jan; ordered from Strand Book Store on 27 Dec)
15. The Golden Country by Shusaku Endo (11 Jan; ordered from Strand Book Store on 27 Dec) √
16. Deep River by Shusaku Endo (11 Jan; ordered from Strand Book Store on 27 Dec)
17. Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. (15 Jan; free download) √

18. Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph (2 Feb; free ARC) √
19. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor (4 Feb; NYRB Book Club) √
20. Class War?: What Americans Really Think about Economic Inequality by Benjamin I. Page (10 Feb; free e-book from U of Chicago Press)
21. India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India by Akash Kapur (15 Feb; LT Early Reviewer book) √
22. Amsterdam Stories by Nescio (29 Feb; NYRB Book Club) √

23. Your new baby: A guide to newborn care by Roy Benaroch (6 Mar; free Kindle download) √
24. Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU by Adam Wolfberg, MD (11 Mar; Kindle purchase)
25. The Irish Americans: A History by Jay P. Dolan (17 Mar; Kindle purchase)
26. The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God & Other Stories by Etgar Keret (17 Mar; partial book purchase from Barnes & Noble gift order)
27. The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (17 Mar; Barnes & Noble gift order)
28. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (17 Mar; Barnes & Noble gift order)
29. Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It by Craig Taylor (17 Mar; Barnes & Noble gift order)
30. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (17 Mar; iBooks order)
31. When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks by Harvey Araton (20 Mar; Kindle gift book) √
32. Assumption by Percival Everett (20 Mar; Kindle gift book)
33. The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar (20 Mar; Kindle gift book)
34. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes (22 Mar; Kindle gift book)
35. The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer (25 Mar; Kindle gift book)
36. Walk on Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit by Michael Rudman (25 Mar; borrowed book) √
37. Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete by Washington Irving (26 Mar; free Kindle download)
38. Suffer the Children: Flaws, Foibles, Fallacies and the Grave Shortcomings of Pediatric Care by Peter Palmieri (26 Mar; Kindle purchase) √

39. Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley (3 Apr; NYRB Book Club)
40. The King of Kahel by Tierno Monénembo (15 Apr; Kindle e-book)
41. The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations by Zhu Xiao-Mei (15 Apr; Kindle e-book)
42. The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir (15 Apr; Kindle e-book)
43. Thirst by Andrei Gelasimov (15 Apr; Kindle e-book)
44. Book of My Mother by Albert Cohen (16 Apr; Archipelago Books 2011 subscription)
45. My Struggle: Book One by Karl Ove Knausgaard (16 Apr; Archipelago Books 2011 subscription)
46. As Though She Were Sleeping by Elias Khoury (16 Apr; Archipelago Books 2011 subscription)
47. Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (17 Apr; Kindle e-book)
48. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (17 Apr; Kindle e-book)

Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 6:57am Top

April is National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada; Great Britain honors its poets during the month of October. My goals for this month is to read one award winning book of poetry each week of the month, and to post the work of a different poet from my library collection every one or two days. Although I enjoy reading poetry, I love hearing it read aloud. So, in that spirit, I intend to post audio or video links to these poems, along with links to author biographies, and the full text of the poems, preferably ones that are already in the online public domain.

First up: "The Burning of Paper Instead of Children" by Adrienne Rich (1929-2012), from her 1971 collection The Will to Change (author biography: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/49).

audio (from the Academy of American Poets): http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22420 (you may have to turn up the volume on your computer considerably to listen to this recording)

text (from Swarthmore College): http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/99/jrieffel/poetry/rich/children.html

The Burning of Paper Instead of Children
by Adrienne Rich

I was in danger of verbalizing my moral impulses out of existence. --Daniel Berrigan, on trial in Baltimore

1. My neighbor, a scientist and art-collector, telephones me in a state of violent emotion. He tells me that my son and his, aged eleven and twelve, have on the last day of school burned a mathematics textbook in the backyard. He has forbidden my son to come to his house for a week, and has forbidden his own son to leave the house during that time. "The burning of a book," he says, "arouses terrible sensations in me, memories of Hitler; there are few things that upset me so much as the idea of burning a book."

Back there: the library, walled
with green Britannicas
Looking again
in Durer's Complete Works
for MELANCOLIA, the baffled woman

the crocodiles in Herodotus
the Book of the Dead
the Trial of Jeanne d'Arc, so blue
I think, It is her color

and they take the book away
because I dream of her too often
love and fear in a house
knowledge of the oppressor
I know it hurts to burn

2. To imagine a time of silence
or few words
a time of chemistry and music

the hollows above your buttocks
traced by my hand
or, hair is like flesh, you said

an age of long silence


from this tongue this slab of limestone
or reinforced concrete
fanatics and traders
dumped on this coast wildgreen clayred
that breathed once
in signals of smoke
sweep of the wind

knowledge of the oppressor
this is the oppressor's language

yet I need it to talk to you

3. People suffer highly in poverty and it takes dignity and intelligence to overcome this suffering. Some of the suffering are: a child did not had dinner last night: a child steal because he did not have money to buy it: to hear a mother say she do not have money to buy food for her children and to see a child without cloth it will make tears in your eyes.

(the fracture of order
the repair of speech
to overcome this suffering)

4. We lie under the sheet
after making love, speaking
of loneliness
relieved in a book
relived in a book
so on that page
the clot and fissure
of it appears
words of a man
in pain
a naked word
entering the clot
a hand grasping
through bars:


What happens between us
has happened for centuries
we know it from literature

still it happens

sexual jealousy
outflung hand
beating bed

dryness of mouth
after panting

there are books that describe all this
and they are useless

You walk into the woods behind a house
there in that country
you find a temple
built eighteen hundred years ago
you enter without knowing
what it is you enter

so it is with us

no one knows what may happen
though the books tell everything

burn the texts said Artaud

5. I am composing on the typewriter late at night, thinking of today. How well we all spoke. A language is a map of our failures. Frederick Douglass wrote an English purer than Milton's. People suffer highly in poverty. There are methods but we do not use them. Joan, who could not read, spoke some peasant form of French. Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor's language.

(contributed by Ayesha Hasan)

Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 7:09am Top

March summary:

Books completed: 10
Male authors: 7
Female authors: 2
Authors of both genders: 1 (Your New Baby: A Guide to Newborn Care was co-authored by several of Roy Benaroch's partners, male and female)

Fiction: 4
Non-Fiction: 5
Poetry: 1

Best books of the month: Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU by Adam Wolfberg, MD (non-fiction), and The Deportees and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle (fiction)

Worst books of the month: Suffer the Children: Flaws, Foibles, Fallacies and the Grave Shortcomings of Pediatric Care by Peter Palmieri (non-fiction), and Professor Andersen's Night by Dag Solstad (fiction)

Overall it was a disappointing reading month, in terms of the number of books I read and the quality of the books. I'll have to do much better in April.

Edited: Apr 14, 2012, 11:04pm Top

My planned reads for April (as always, subject and certain to change):

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
?J.G. Farrell, The Singapore Grip
James Hannam, God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
Jane Harris, Gillespie & I - reading
Terrance Hayes, Lighthead (2010 National Book Award for Poetry)
Michel Houellebecq, The Map and the Territory
Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch (2001 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, for lifetime accomplishment)
Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard
?Alice LaPlante, Turn of Mind
Nathaniel Mackey, Splay Anthem (2006 National Book Award for Poetry) - reading
?Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
Sherwin Nuland, Maimonides - reading
Elizabeth Nunez, Boundaries - completed
?Ann Patchett, State of Wonder
Antonio Tabucchi, The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro- completed
Antonio Tabucchi, Little Misunderstandings of No Importance - completed
C.D. Wright, One with Others (2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry) - completed

This seems to be an overly ambitious list at first glance. I've inserted question marks in front of the books that I may not get to this month. Fortunately several of them are short works, including the poetry collections.

Apr 1, 2012, 6:40am Top

This message is NOT reserved! Happy to be your very first visitor, Darryl!

Apr 1, 2012, 6:51am Top

Darryl congratulations on your latest thread. Interesting to note that it is Poetry Month - appropriate given that "April is the cruellest month".

Apr 1, 2012, 7:07am Top

That IS an interesting juxtaposition, Paul.

Lovely new thread, Darryl!

Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 7:34am Top

>6 lauralkeet: Hi, Laura! I think you and I are amongst the earliest risers on the East Coast, so I'm not surprised to see you here first.

>7 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. How very appropriate of you to quote the first line of "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot! Here's the poem's first stanza:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

>8 ronincats: Thanks, Roni!

I'm off to make breakfast, and resume reading Little Misunderstandings of No Importance by Antonio Tabucchi, which I should finish by this afternoon. Back later...

Apr 1, 2012, 7:48am Top

Ah, poetry month. There was a time when I read a lot of poetry... some of the books
still live here. ( I even wrote some.. bad but still) No more. No reason.

Apr 1, 2012, 8:20am Top

*takes The Waste Land off the poetry shelve and moves it to April's tbr pile*
Great new thread, Darryl!

I hope to finish the other Tabucchi later today. And I ordered The "Nocturne" from amazon.it, though I doubt I'll get it. They probably haven't realized yet that it's out of print.

Apr 1, 2012, 8:37am Top

Hi Darryl

Many thanks for reminding us that it is National Poetry month.

Your quote by Daniel Berrigan reminded me that years ago when I was Program Director of a retreat center, I met him and attended his workshop.

He was a man on fire, filled with devotion anti war.

At the time I read many of his books. Have you heard of

It is filled with marvelous insights.

All the best to you!

Apr 1, 2012, 9:30am Top

Thanks Darryl for reminding us that April is National Poetry Month, and for posting the excerpts and links. I am looking forward to more to follow, as you have promised!

I am very interested in reading more poetry and am currently in the midst of a book of interviews with Seamus Heaney, which I am reading side-by side by his poetry.

I do get very frustrated, however, with the difficulty of finding poetry that I want to read at bookstores and in Kindle editions. The selection seems very limited and often does not even include major prize winners. But week after next I plan to attend a talk by two Palestinian poets - Ghassan Zagtan (Like A Straw Bird It Follows Me - no touchstone) and Fady Joudah (The Earth in the Attic). At least their books should be for sale at the talk!

Apr 1, 2012, 9:30am Top

HI Darryl! Happy April first to you!
I wish I could get into poetry, but along with short stories I just can't seem to get into it.
Hope you find some great poets to love this month though :)

Apr 1, 2012, 9:46am Top

Hi Darryl, thanks for the reminder about The Waste Land- makes me want to read it again. I probably will since i do enjoy reading poetry. Also, it's a good thing April is poetry month since I'm re-reading the late medieval Spanish poet-knight Garcilaso de la Vega- easily confused with the Peruvian historian and writer of about the same period known as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega

Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 11:56am Top

>10 mckait: I've fallen behind in my poetry reading the past couple of years, so this is a good time to make some headway. DeltaQueen's TIOLI challenge for this month (Read a book that has won a literary prize that has not been previously highlighted in TIOLI) made me think of these ideas.

Pitt has a great reputation for poetry, due to its Pitt Poetry Series and because several alumni or former professors have won major literary awards, including Terrance Hayes (MFA 1997 from Pitt, professor of English at Carnegie Mellon), Toi Derricotte (professor of English at Pitt), Gerald Stern (BA from Pitt in 1947, winner of the National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems, former Poet Laureate of New Jersey), and Ed Roberson (BA from Pitt in 1970, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize).

Emory also has a solid cadre of poetry professors, particularly Kevin Young, who was recently featured on NPR and is one of the country's most prolific poets, and Natasha Trethewey, whose collection Native Guard won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

BTW, who are your favorite poets, Kath?

>11 Deern: Thanks, Nathalie! I'll definitely finish Little Misunderstandings of No Importance today; it's only 136 pages in length. It's a collection of 11 short stories about life's ambiguities and how they play decisive roles in the lives of the stories' protagonists.

I'll probably read The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro next week, and I'll look for Indian Nocturne and other books by Tabucchi later this month.

>12 Whisper1: Hi, Linda! I had not heard of Daniel Berrigan before today, when I looked up that poem by Adrienne Rich. I've added Beside the Sea of Glass to my wish list.

>13 Linda92007: I'm interested in learning more about Seamus Heaney, Linda. He donated his papers and related collections to Emory several years ago.

I agree with your comment about the difficulty of finding contemporary poetry in bookstores or in electronic version. City Lights in San Francisco has the best collection of any bookstore that I've been in, with several thousand books in its upstairs Poetry Room:

This photo shows only a fraction of the books in the Poetry Room.

Book Culture in NYC (112th St between Broadway and Amsterdam) has a decent poetry section, particularly on the second floor. I can't think of any other US bookstores that have more than a meager selection (the Strand might, but I'm not sure where that section would be).

I've wanted to get Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney, which won the National Book Award for Poetry last year, but I haven't been able to locate it yet. It is available in the UK, so I'll look for it there later this month.

I'm very interested to hear about that talk featuring the two Palestinian poets. That reminds me; as part of my Archipelago books subscription I have received at least two books by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Journal of an Ordinary Grief and A River Dies of Thirst. I'll try to get to both books later this year.

>14 ChelleBearss: Happy April 1st to you, Chelle (no fooling)! I do enjoy good short stories, although it's only been recently that I've started reading them. If I had one book of short stories to recommend, it would definitely be The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor, which I'd probably include amongst my 25 favorite works of fiction. (Actually, I own the book but have not read it; rather, I've read the stories contained in them in Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works, published by The Library of America.) I'm looking forward to reading Selected Stories by William Trevor and Lady with Lapdog and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov later this year.

Hopefully I'll post at least one poem this month that you'll like. If so, please let me know!

>15 xieouyang: Actually Paul gets credit for mentioning The Waste Land. I do want to read T.S. Eliot and especially W.H. Auden, after I saw "The Habit of Art" at the National Theatre in London two years ago, a play about Auden and his friend (and occasional foe) Benjamin Brittten.

I look forward to your comments about Garcilaso de la Vega, Manuel.

Apr 1, 2012, 12:37pm Top

W.B. Yeats
G.M. Hopkins
e.e. Cummings
Robert Frost :)
Maya Angelou

That's all that come to mind just now.

Apr 1, 2012, 12:38pm Top

That's a nice list, Kath. I'll highlight my favorite American poets throughout the month.

Apr 1, 2012, 1:00pm Top

Aaahhh! The right hand side of my LT toolbar is melting!

Edited: Apr 2, 2012, 8:48am Top

I am sitting at eye level with my poetry section. It gives me tremendous comfort to glance over at it and see the men and women who have warmed me since childhood (Walter de la Mare, A.A. Milne) right up to the discoveries of my middling years (Du Fu, Mary Oliver, to name recent ones). So hooray for Poetry Month!

p.s. also loved The Name of the Rose as well as liking Foucault's Pendulum and The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

Apr 1, 2012, 8:14pm Top

Aaahhh! The right hand side of my LT toolbar is melting!

mine too......interesting...

Apr 1, 2012, 9:23pm Top

Tennyson is one of my favorite poets.

His wonderful poem The Lady of Shalot is stunningly beautiful

J.W. Waterhouse used Tennyson's poem as a springboard for one of my favorite Pre Raphaelite Paintings

Apr 1, 2012, 9:25pm Top

19: Aaahhh! The right hand side of my LT toolbar is melting!
I think they should've animated it.

Apr 1, 2012, 10:58pm Top

You remind me that I have not catalogued my small poetry collection in LibraryThing, Darryl. I think I'll make doing that my April poetry goal.

Dylan Thomas
Emily Dickinson
Robert Frost
e. e. cummings
Rudyard Kipling
William Shakespeare

for starters.

Apr 2, 2012, 12:38am Top

Hi Daryl, I've missed so much on your threads in the past few weeks, but thought I'd jump into this new thread to at least say hi and that for the first time of my life, I can look at the word "poetry" without feeling a deep dread in the pit of my stomach. This is partly due to the fact that I've started making room for poetry in my heart and mind and on my shelves. Couldn't say at this point who my favourites are, as haven't read enough to make a fair judgment, though I am listening and reading some W. B. Yeats and really enjoying him, as well as a few poems a day from the Selected Poems of Roger McGough. I've also just discovered Emily Dickinson who's become an instant favourite (have read "Hope" many times already!) and am partial to Les fleurs du mal by Baudelaire. I'm sure I'll be adding lots to that list as time goes by.

Apr 2, 2012, 7:55am Top

Oh Kipling, yes!!

I miss my melty toolbar..

Apr 2, 2012, 7:58am Top

Looking forward to the poetry postings. I'm finding that people putting poems on their threads is a great way to get round to reading more poetry. I'm following the tutored read of Shakespeare's sonnets, which is proceeding at the pace of one sonnet a day, and that is proving fascinating. I've read one volume of poetry myself this year so far - by U A Fanthorpe - and have just started another by Carol Duffy, so I really must put up a few examples from those on my own thread.

Apr 2, 2012, 8:53am Top

>22 Whisper1:: Whisp, I memorised chunks of that for grade 7 memory work. Every now and then a bit of it will blorp to the surface and I'll find myself saying "she left the web, she left the loom, she made three paces thro' the room, she saw the water-lily bloom, she saw the helmet and the plume," etc. I wonder if they make kids memorise poetry any more?

Apr 2, 2012, 9:10am Top

#22: The Lady of Shalot always makes me think of the scene in Anne of Green Gables where the girls try to reenact the poem!

Apr 2, 2012, 9:13am Top

>12 Whisper1: At a recent author talk, Colum McCann shared that his character Corrigan in Let the Great World Spin was inspired by Daniel Berrigan. How lucky you were to be able to meet him and participate in his workshop, Linda!

Apr 2, 2012, 6:26pm Top

Darryl.-in answer to your question about what Umberto Eco books that I have read- I really loved reading The Name of the Rose. I read Baudolino and was underwhelmed and I did not like The Prague Cemetery. A couple of his earlier books remain unfinished. I don't know - I got to the point where my eyes glazed over and I had to put the books down.
I think that The Name of the Rose is really superb. -and I liked the movie version as well.

Apr 2, 2012, 7:47pm Top

You're going to add Nikki Giovanni to your list of poets too aren't you, Darryl? Don't say you're going to leave one of my favorite poets out? *quivering lip*

Apr 2, 2012, 9:41pm Top

>20 tiffin: Hooray indeed, Tui! Thanks for that testimonial to the power of poetry.

>21 mckait: I liked that "pink slime" toolbar, and the explanation for it that was provided in LibraryThing News yesterday. I had hoped that it would expand a bit more, though.

>22 Whisper1: I haven't read "The Lady of Shalott", Linda; here's a link to the poem (which I'll read later this week):


>23 qebo: I agree, Katherine; it would have been neat if the "pink slime" was animated!

>24 ronincats: Good idea, Roni. Nice list of poets!

>25 Smiler69: Hi, Ilana! Thanks for posting your list of favorite poets. I'd like to know which poems of theirs you like best.

>26 mckait: I miss the runny toolbar, too. I had hoped that it would stay for another day or two.

>27 gennyt: I agree, Genny; I love seeing poems on other people's threads. Suz has had several excellent poems at the beginning of her new threads recently.

>28 tiffin: I wonder if they make kids memorise poetry any more?

Good question, Tui. Unfortunately, I would guess that very few kids are required to memorize, or even read, poetry. I hope I'm wrong, though.

>29 carlym: Interesting tidbit, Carly!

>30 Linda92007: Another interesting tidbit. I enjoyed Let the Great World Spin, and the character of Corrigan in it.

>31 torontoc: I've read several lukewarm or negative reviews of The Prague Cemetery, including yours, so I won't plan to read it. I have The Island of the Day Before in addition to The Name of the Rose yet to read.

Edited: Apr 2, 2012, 10:01pm Top

>32 cameling: I had decided yesterday to post a poem by Nikki Giovanni today. The poem I chose, "We Are Virginia Tech", was read by her at the end of the memorial ceremony that took place on the day after the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, when a mentally disturbed Tech student killed 32 people before taking his own life. The ceremony was broadcast live on several news outlets, including CNN. Giovanni teaches at Tech, and this poem, as you'll see in the YouTube video, deeply touched those in attendance, including President Bush. This was an incredibly sad and tragic event, but I thought that this was the best example of the healing power of poetry, and I'm impressed that it was created one day after the event. BTW, the school mascot is the Hokie, a turkey like bird.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

YouTube: We Are Virginia Tech

Sadly, another mass murder took place on a U.S. college campus today, conducted by a former student:

Former student arrested in California college shooting that killed 7

Apr 3, 2012, 7:46am Top

I read lots of poetry in my teens and I still take the chance to acquire bargain collections from the BookPeople, a lot are older long dead poets but one of their various sets included work by Simon Armitage as well as Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, TS Eliot etc.

My favourites include

Sylvia Plath
John Donne's love poems
Brian Patten

Patten worked with Roger McGough and Adrian Henri as the Liverpool Poets, and they had two collections of work together as The Mersey Sound. McGough presents a Radio 4 request programme called Poetry Please, I don't know if you can get it on Listen Again, it's on late at night here so a weekend afternoon/early evening slot in the US. Adrian Henri was a bit older than the other 2 and sadly died a few years ago, he was a good friend of family friends of ours and we met him when we staying on holiday there in 1991, I had been chatting to him all evening and suddenly realised who he was, and went to see him do a live reading when he came to Leeds (my home city).

I quite like going to poetry readings/gigs but I haven't done so for about 14 years, since I moved to London. (Culture vultures outside the capital often actually make more effort, I think).

Douglas Dunn's Elegies is a very moving collection about the poet's first wife who had died of cancer.

Apr 3, 2012, 8:28am Top

>35 elkiedee:: Funny you mention John Donne ... I was just listening to a Guardian Books podcast this morning on love poems:
Guardian Books podcast: Love and poetry with Fiona Shaw
The sound of love will echo around the British Isles this summer, as tents spring up on remote beaches in a series of installations called Peace Camp. The actor Fiona Shaw launched the project with performances of readers' favourite love poems at the Guardian Open Weekend.

Apr 3, 2012, 9:49am Top

I too enjoy John Donne's love poetry.

Apr 3, 2012, 4:58pm Top

I have a friend whose favourtie poem is The Lady Of Shalott. I presented her with a copy of it and have since come to like it myself. I hand wrote it out one afternoon a long time ago and feel like I really got to know it by doing so. Great rhythm.

I have inadvertently supported Poetry Month by buying a literary journal yesterday, crammed with poetry! Hooray.

Apr 3, 2012, 8:50pm Top

>35 elkiedee: I didn't start reading and listening to poetry to any significant degree until the late 1980s, when a friend of mine from NYU took me to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She would participate in poetry slams there, in which members of the audience would read poems in competition with other poets, and the audience voted, by clapping hands, whistling etc., which poem they liked best. I started reading a small amount of poetry when I was a medical student at Pitt (University of Pittsburgh), particularly Toi Derricotte and

I do own Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a huge (>500 page) compilation of the best poetry from artists associated with the cafe. I've dipped into the book periodically, but maybe I'll make a more concentrated effort to finish it this year.

Thanks for the recommendation of Poetry Please on Radio 4. I wish more of the BBC programs were available to listeners in the US; other than NPR (National Public Radio), which is excellent, there aren't many radio stations or programs worth listening to, IMO.

I love going to poetry readings, but I can't think of the last time I did attend one. I'll look to see if there are any particularly enticing readings in London when I'm there.

Thanks for that mention of Elegies by Douglas Dunn; I'll look for that later this month.

>36 lauralkeet: That reminds me; I need to listen to the Guardian Books podcasts more than I have been recently.

>37 tiffin: Okay, I'll have to check out John Donne. I'm completely unfamiliar with him.

>38 Ireadthereforeiam: Excellent! Several of the magazines (e.g., The New Yorker) and journals (such as the Bellevue Literary Review) prominently feature poetry. I need to read them a bit more closely.

Edited: Apr 3, 2012, 9:29pm Top

Today's poem: In Memory of W.B. Yeats by W.H. Auden


He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.


You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.


Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

YouTube: W.H. Auden reads In Memory of W.B. Yeats (I)

Apr 3, 2012, 9:43pm Top

Love both Auden and Yeats...

I just have one poem per thread; you're doing a daily one?!?

Apr 3, 2012, 10:59pm Top

Beautiful poem by Auden! I am enjoying this.

Inspired by you, I catalogued my poetry books tonight, all 18 of them. Besides the ones noted above, I have Byron, Keats, Shelley, Sara Teasdale, Ursula Le Guin, Blake, Sandborn, The Mentor Book of Major American Poets, and Contemporary American Poets. Almost all of which were bought in the late 60s, when I was at college, and actually heard a reading by Allen Ginsberg as he read Howl, among other poems, and Robert Bly, and others I am forgetting, I am sure. And I have two newer books, and will plan to read a poem from one of these each night: This Same Sky: A collection of poems from around the world and Poet's Choice: Poems for Everyday Life.

Apr 4, 2012, 1:37am Top

>40 kidzdoc: ah! Are you going to do a poem a day all month? Ill have to double star your thread now :)

Yes on literary journals, they are great for people on the go...you can grab a story or a poem before your eyes bang shut with sheer dog-tiredness!

Apr 4, 2012, 2:44am Top

I love what you are doing here with the daily poems. I am currently reading a poetry anthology Janet had mentioned on her thread: Staying alive: real poems for unreal times. But often when I get to my daily poem late in the evening I am already too tired to do the necessary work, to look up words I don't understand and to really get the meaning of the poem. So too often I just read it without thinking much and then go to sleep. I'll try and get better - and read my poem a little earlier.

I am also quite overwhelmed by the number of great English-speaking poets. I never know where to start, which poems to read. I made the mistake and bought some big 'Complete Works by XYZ' books where I quickly got lost and gave them up again.

I am not sure I ever really read any Yeats, though I read some Auden and am glad you brought the 'In Memory' poem back to me. If I want to read something by Yeats, is there a really good starting point? The one poem everyone has to read? The list of works on gutenberg is very long, and wikipedia doesn't really help me much. I had a look at The Celtic Twilight because the title appeals to me, but it is mainly prose.

Apr 4, 2012, 11:49am Top

Nathalie, re Auden, a good idea is to get a smaller "Selected Works" and then just treat it like a candy dip -- open it at random and pick a poem. A nice short one is "The More Loving One"; there is also "Stop All the Clocks" (which was used in the movie Four Weddings & a Funeral). One of my favorites, which I used to open a thread last year, is "September 1, 1939", which he writes damningly about the 1930s: "...the clever hopes expire, Of a low dishonest decade"

On Yeats, "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" is a classic, and a fave of mine. "When you are Old" is similarly elegiac in tone, and beautiful. "Easter 1916" is a classic, about the Easter Rising in Ireland. There is "Sailing to Byzantium" and "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death". "All Things Can Tempt Me", etc. If I were choosing a single book vs. an anthology (there is a very good selected verse by Penguin), I'd go for The Wind Among the Reeds.

When I was starting to read poetry, I picked up one of the multi-poet anthologies -- I think it was the early Cambridge English Verse, edited by Quiller Couch. I had a hardcover edition, but the size was just right and it wasn't too massive, so I could just grab it and read it when I wanted. I would shun complete works by ABC until you know which poets you like -- no one should read Wordsworth's Prelude, IMO, unless it's for a class or unless they have already read a lot of Wordsworth and like his style & imagery.

Apr 4, 2012, 12:47pm Top

Love the poem of the day, Daryl. Does anyone know why Great Britain does poetry month in October, while we observe it in April? Different poems come to mind for the two months (seasons).

My favorite line of poetry comes from Mary Oliver's Summer Day:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

Apr 4, 2012, 8:46pm Top

Ahh, Poetry Month! Some of my favorite classic poets have already been mentioned here (Donne, Eliot, Thomas, Yeats). I will add Andrew Marvell and Philip Sidney as well. I have two wonderful audio collections to recommend: 'Richard Burton Reads the poetry of John Donne' and 'Realms of Gold,' a collection of Keats's work, with biographical transitions, read by Samuel West and another actor whose name I can't recall.

Just to name a few more modern and contemporary favorites:

Galway Kinnell (especially The Book of Nightmares)
Li-Young Lee
Elizabeth Bishop (I'll be teachiong "One Art" tomorrow.)
James Wright ("A Blessing" always chokes me up, not because it is sad--it isn't--but because it is so simple and beautiful.)
Philip Levine

Apr 4, 2012, 10:07pm Top

Thanks Darryl for the reassurances. I really needed it then. The baby is at home and doing fine. Thank you.

Poetry is something which I never cared for. Probably this month I'll change my mind.

Apr 5, 2012, 3:23am Top

#45: thank you so much for all the recommendations, Suzanne!
I checked my poetry shelves (yup - I have 3 of them, though one fully dedicated to Shakespeare and the others sadly neglected), and actually found most of the Yeats poems in some of my anthologies.

Auden's "Stop all the clocks" is so famous due to the movie, that I once memorized it (that 3rd stanza is so heartbreaking), and I own a short collection of his love poems. I'll have to find the "September 1,1939" poem. I am following your threads (only in lurking mode so far, sorry), but can't remember that poem. I'll look for it now.
And I'll go and look for the Cambridge English Verse collection!

Apr 5, 2012, 8:14am Top

The Folly of Being Comforted, and Withering of the Boughs by Yeats are two favorites.. they actually have a home on my profile page and have for a long time. I read them often...

Apr 5, 2012, 9:55am Top

Am thoroughly enjoying your poems and the ensuing discussions.

Apr 5, 2012, 3:57pm Top

I'm fairly sure that was on the one I posted, Nathalie... although as a senior citizen, I may be wrong... *grin*

Apr 5, 2012, 8:18pm Top

I was on call last night, so I didn't post a poem yesterday. Today was a calm day, until one of my patients suddenly became very ill, and had a very scary physical exam which was markedly different from my first exam earlier today. As I told her mother, "something is very wrong with her" (a statement that I don't think I've ever made to a parent before), and a radiographic study confirmed my suspicion of what her problem is, and how serious it is. She'll need emergency surgery tonight after she receives a more definitive radiographic study, and hopefully her illness will be a curable one which won't leave her with any long term disabilities, or claim her life (which is far from certain at this point). She's in our PICU (pediatric ICU) at the moment, so I'm no longer directly involved in her care. Needless to say I'm a bit shaken, and I'm anxiously awaiting the result of the second radiographic study (which I'm following by computer), and what her postoperative status will be.

So, I think I'll post a couple of poems now, and catch up here tomorrow or Saturday.

Apr 5, 2012, 8:31pm Top

The Nobel Prize by Nicanor Parra (winner of the 2011 Cervantes Prize)

The Nobel Prize for Reading
should be awarded to me
I am the ideal reader,
I read everything I get my hands on:

I read street names
and neon signs
bathroom walls
and new price-lists

the police news,
projections for the Derby

and license plates

for a person like me
the word is something holy

members of the jury
what would I gain by lying
as a reader, I'm relentless

I read everything—I don't even skip
the classifieds

of course these days I don't read much
I simply don't have the time
But—oh man—what I have read

that's why I'm asking you
to give my the Nobel Prize for Reading
as soon as impossible

—from Antipoems: How to Look Better & Feel Great by Nicanor Parra

Edited: Apr 5, 2012, 8:45pm Top

Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus, or The Mulata
by Natasha Trethewey

—after the painting by Diego Velàzquez, ca. 1619

She is the vessels on the table before her:
the copper pot tipped toward us, the white pitcher
clutched in her hand, the black one edged in red
and upside down. Bent over, she is the mortar
and the pestle at rest in the mortar—still angled
in its posture of use. She is the stack of bowls
and the bulb of garlic beside it, the basket hung
by a nail on the wall and the white cloth bundled
in it, the rag in the foreground recalling her hand.
She's the stain on the wall the size of her shadow—
the color of blood, the shape of a thumb. She is echo
of Jesus at table, framed in the scene behind her:
his white corona, her white cap. Listening, she leans
into what she knows. Light falls on half her face.

Apr 5, 2012, 9:05pm Top

Oh, I hope for the best for that patient, Darryl. How frightening.

Apr 5, 2012, 9:19pm Top

Oms for the patient and for the doctor who cares so much.

Apr 5, 2012, 10:31pm Top

>56 lauralkeet:, 57 Thanks for your concern, Kath, Laura and Tui. That little girl underwent emergency surgery, and seems to be doing much better, from what I can tell. She's not out of the woods by any means, and the next 24-48 hours will be critical in determining her future prognosis.

Apr 5, 2012, 10:59pm Top

Love The Nobel Prize (for Reading) and I'm glad your patient is showing improvement Darryl.

Apr 5, 2012, 11:20pm Top

That sounds like it was fairly far out on the "seriously unnerving" scale, Darryl. Glad that at least in the early innings, things are looking OK.
Get some rest!!

Apr 6, 2012, 10:14am Top

I am so happy to hear that she is doing better :)

Apr 6, 2012, 7:52pm Top

I love all the poems that are being shared on your thread, Darryl.

I hope your little patient recovers from the surgery quickly.

Apr 7, 2012, 8:55am Top

I'm a Trethewey fan too -- great choice!

Apr 7, 2012, 10:24am Top

>59 brenzi:-62 So, the little girl I was telling you about will definitely survive her current illness. She is doing much better, but she still has some significant neurological deficits, and will receive inpatient rehabilitation after she is released from the PICU.

>59 brenzi: Thanks, Bonnie. I've enjoyed the witty humor of Nicanor Parra's poems, or antipoems, as he prefers to call them. He dislikes the standard form of traditional poetry, and those traditional poets themselves. He's considered to be one of the most influential Latin American poets of the 20th century, and I first heard about him when he was tabbed as a leading candidate to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. He did win the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish language literary award, last year, and he continues to write at the age of 97; one of his poems, "Defense of Violeta Parra", appears in the current (200th) issue of The Paris Review. If anyone is interested, The Paris Review blog posted an article about Parra last week:

Our Twilight Lands

His official web site at La Universidad de Chile also has a nice selection of his poems (and antipoems), in Spanish and English (http://www.nicanorparra.uchile.cl/english/index.html), including "Epitaph":

Of medium height,
With a voice neither shrill nor low,
The oldest son of an elementary school teacher
And a piecework seamstress,
Naturally thin
Though fond of good eating,
With drawn cheeks
And oversize ears,
A square face,
And slits for eyes,
And the nose of a mulatto boxer
Over an Aztec idol's mouth
-All this bathed
In a light halfway between irony and perfidy -
Neither too bright nor totally stupid,
I was what I was: a mixture
Of vinegar and olive oil,
A sausage of angel and beast!

Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 10:31am Top

Good news!! I hope she is able to make a full recovery ....

thanks for the update.. she has been on my mind.

Interesting poem :)

Apr 7, 2012, 10:32am Top

Wonderful news about your patient, Darryl!

Apr 7, 2012, 10:51am Top

Today I'll start reading One with Others by C.D. Wright, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2010 and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry that same year. It's a collection of "oral histories, hymns, lists, interviews, newspaper accounts, and personal memories" about a particularly memorable incident that took place in Arkansas during the Civil Rights Movement in 1969. Wright features her mentor 'V', a Caucasian woman like herself, whose support for the march that precipitated the incident led her to be shunned by her community. Wright describes 'V' in a portion of One with Others:

She woke up in a housebound rage, my friend V. Changed diapers. Played poker. Drank bourbon. Played duplicate bridge, made casseroles, grape salad, macaroni and cheese. Played cards with the priest. Made an argument for school uniforms, but the parents were concerned the children would be indistinguishable. She was thinking: affordable, uniforms. You can distinguish them, she argued, by their shoes. It was a mind on fire, a body confined.

And, on the other side of Division, a whole other population in year-round lockdown.
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live{d} to bear children to a dunce.

{Yeats she knew well enough to wield as a weapon. It would pop out when she was put out. Over the ironing board. Over cards. Some years the Big Tree Catholic foursome would all be pregnant at once, playing bridge, their cards propped up on distended stomachs. Laughing their bourbon-logged heads off.}

She had a brain like the Reading Room in the old British Museum. She could have donned fingerless gloves and written Das Kapital while hexagons of snowflakes tumbled by the windowpanes. She could have made it up whole cloth. She could have sewn the cotton out of her own life. While the Thames froze over.

She loved: Words. Cats. Long-playing records. Laughter. Men.

Alcohol. Cigarettes. The supernatural. It makes for a carnal list. Pointless to rank. Five in diapers at once—a stench, she claimed, she never got used to.

Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 11:44am Top

One of the most remarkable pediatricians in American history died this past week. Dr. Leila Denmark (1898-2012), who practiced in metro Atlanta continuously for 70 years until she retired at the age of 103, making her the oldest practicing physician in the United States at that time. She graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1928, and she won the Fisher Prize in 1935 for co-developing the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. After completing her residency, she opened a practice in Atlanta in 1931, and treated countless thousands of Georgians in her career. She also authored two books, Every Child Should Have a Chance in 1971, and Dr. Denmark Said It!: Advice for Mothers from America's Most Experienced Pediatrician in 2002. She was on staff at the children's hospital affilliated with Emory University, where I completed my pediatric training, and I saw her a few times at conferences at the hospital. Unfortunately I never spoke to her personally, as she was always surrounded by a group of well wishers. If ever there was a life well lived, it was that of Dr. Denmark.

Dr. Leila Denmark, 114: Legendary pediatrician, one of the world's oldest people

Apr 7, 2012, 11:25am Top

What a story... what a remarkable woman!

Apr 7, 2012, 11:35am Top

>69 mckait: Right. When I found out last night that Dr. Denmark had died, my first reaction was one of surprise. A few seconds later, I was even more surprised that I was surprised at the death of a 114 year old person! I've heard literally dozens of stories about her from former patients of hers, and literally every person thought that she was the best doctor they have ever had.

Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 11:44am Top

The New York Times and the Guardian finally posted obituaries about Antonio Tabucchi last week, more than a week after his death:

NYT: Antonio Tabucchi, Elegiac Italian Writer, Dies at 68

Guardian: Antonio Tabucchi obituary

Apr 8, 2012, 7:24am Top

Happy Easter, everyone.

by John Donne

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash'd, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter'd heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark'd the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise

Apr 8, 2012, 7:31am Top

Happy Easter to you, too !

I am guessing that little Ashley is improving a bit day by day?
Are you still off from work? You are leaving for London soon, right?

Apr 8, 2012, 7:55am Top

Thanks, Kath! Yes, she was moved out of the PICU yesterday, and she is now on the Neurosurgery service. I haven't checked on her today yet; let's see...she was stable overnight, and her neurological status didn't seem to change significantly, but it didn't worsen.

I'm scheduled to leave for London on Friday night, but I'm having second thoughts about going. I have quite a few things that I could, and really should, be doing at home, and there's no way I'll finish everything by Friday. I was getting a bit stressed out about the trip last week, and I felt a sense of relief when I first thought about postponing the trip yesterday. Hopefully I'll be able to go later this spring; if not, I'll definitely go there later in the year, probably in September, after the Olympic and Paralympic Games have ended.

Apr 8, 2012, 8:07am Top

Several of us are reading novels and short stories by Antonio Tabucchi this month, for the Primavera in Italia (Spring in Italy) challenge that I and (mainly) Nathalie came up with. Last Thursday's Guardian included an article in which the author talks about the two people that inspired him to write Pereira Declares, his most famous novel.

The day Pereira came to call

Apr 8, 2012, 8:11am Top

Glad to hear that she is stable :) What a terrible experience for her and her family..
I will keep sending positive energy her way :)

Postponing? Well, that just leaves you with something to look forward to in the fall!

Apr 8, 2012, 8:27am Top

>76 mckait: Definitely frightening, for her, her parents, and (to a lesser degree) for me as well. I suspect that she will make a complete recovery, although it may take weeks to months to achieve this. I almost certainly won't be taking care of her anymore, but I'll certainly see her tomorrow.

Right. I had hoped to visit London twice this year, but it would be much better if I stayed here and took care of business.

Apr 8, 2012, 9:12am Top

Darryl, when you feel a sense of relief when you think about not going, it's definitely better not to go. London will still be there in the fall. Hope you can take care of what you need to take care of and have some time for relaxation too.

On Tabucchi, the two books I ordered from the Book Depository have arrived; might try reading the stories this month but there are so many other books I'd like to read . . .

Apr 8, 2012, 9:35am Top

Right, Rebecca. I think it's extremely unlikely that I'll go, unless I can get several key tasks done during the week. Even if I do, there are a few things that I could do here during that time off that would be in my best interest to accomplish during this time off.

Which Tabucchi books did you order? Hopefully New Directions will re-publish his translated books in the near future.

Apr 8, 2012, 10:36am Top

The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro and Little Misunderstandings of No Importance, which seemed to be the ones available in English, both published by New Directions and cheaper at the BD than at Amazon. You're probably depressingly right that other will be published/translated now that he's dead.

Apr 8, 2012, 5:34pm Top

Isn't it funny how just imagining something different can help you make a decision? Sounds like you're making the right one in this case, Darryl. As others have said, London will still be there later in the year.

Apr 8, 2012, 6:16pm Top

Darryl, just catching up after several days away. I'm very much enjoying the poetry. My father was a poet (though perhaps not a very good one) and I admit that I was largely overwhelmed by poetry back in school. I read a poem by Nikki Giovanni at a friend's wedding several years ago and it cracked the door just a bit for me. I love Auden's poem for Yeats. And "The Nobel Prize."

London will, indeed, still be there in the autumn. :-|

Apr 8, 2012, 8:48pm Top

>80 rebeccanyc: I've started The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro, and it's quite good so far. I'll finish it either tonight or tomorrow. I need to review Little Misunderstandings of No Importance, which I also enjoyed.

>81 lauralkeet: Right, Laura. I regret that I won't go to London on Friday (I'm all but completely decided now), and won't see Rachael, Fliss, Jenny and Luci next week, but I'm convinced that it's the right thing to do.

>82 EBT1002: I'm glad that you're enjoying the poetry, Ellen. I was also intimidated by poetry in school, and quite a bit of modern poetry is elusive and inscrutable to me.

Edited: Apr 8, 2012, 10:38pm Top

Book #34: One with Others by C.D. Wright

My rating:

The setting for this outstanding poetry collection, which won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, is Forrest City, Arkansas, a small Delta town with nearly equal numbers of black and white residents, who lived in separate and very unequal conditions in 1969. Schools remained segregated, despite the passage of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision 15 years earlier, and although black residents were not formally excluded from white-owned establishments and neighborhoods, they knew that they were putting their lives at risk if they dared to anger any white person in town.

In March of that year, a school teacher at an all-black school in Forrest City was fired due to his participation in the town's fledgling civil rights movement, which included encouraging his students to engage in peaceful protests. The students, who were tired of attending classes in a decrepit building and having to use torn textbooks discarded by students at the all-white school, responded by nearly destroying the hated building and its contents. The local police, headed by a virulently racist sheriff, beat and arrested the youths, herded them into an empty swimming pool, and threatened to kill them en masse before they were eventually released.

Tension mounted in the broiling summer of 1969, as members of the John Birch Society stirred up extreme racial hatred amongst the town's white residents; most blacks cowed publicly, while a smaller number engaged in limited protests, and community leaders sought to organize a substantial protest movement. Help was requested from a group in nearby Memphis known as the Invaders, which became prominent in the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike that led to Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination on April 4. The Invaders were led by Lance "Sweet Willie Wine" Watson, a former hustler turned community activist and self appointed Messiah, and the group was portrayed as a group of dangerous, violent militants by the white media in Memphis. The group set off on a four day march from West Memphis, Arkansas to Little Rock, Arkansas, which included a stop in Forrest City. Local white officials there learned about the march, and a group of whites awaited their arrival.

C.D. Wright, who grew up in Arkansas and was a young woman in 1969, describes the events that took place in Forrest City that year, mainly through the eyes of her friend and mentor 'V', a white resident of the town who crossed over and supported the marchers, but also through interviews with other residents and information obtained from newspaper clippings. Wright expertly weaves these stories into a unique poetic narrative that brings the story to light and compellingly portrays the town's oppressive atmosphere and its black and white residents, none better than V:

She woke up in a housebound rage, my friend V. Changed diapers. Played poker. Drank bourbon. Played duplicate bridge, made casseroles, grape salad, macaroni and cheese. Played cards with the priest. Made an argument for school uniforms, but the parents were concerned the children would be indistinguishable. She was thinking: affordable, uniforms. You can distinguish them, she argued, by their shoes. It was a mind on fire, a body confined.

And, on the other side of Division, a whole other population in year-round lockdown.

A girl that knew all Dante once
Live{d} to bear children to a dunce.

{Yeats she knew well enough to wield as a weapon. It would pop out when she was put out. Over the ironing board. Over cards. Some years the Big Tree Catholic foursome would all be pregnant at once, playing bridge, their cards propped up on distended stomachs. Laughing their bourbon-logged heads off.}

She had a brain like the Reading Room in the old British Museum. She could have donned fingerless gloves and written Das Kapital while hexagons of snowflakes tumbled by the windowpanes. She could have made it up whole cloth. She could have sewn the cotton out of her own life. While the Thames froze over.

She loved: Words. Cats. Long-playing records. Laughter. Men.

Alcohol. Cigarettes. The supernatural. It makes for a carnal list. Pointless to rank. Five in diapers at once—a stench, she claimed, she never got used to.

One with Others is easily one of the best poetry collections I've ever read, one whose terrifying beauty deserves to be widely appreciated and savored.

Apr 9, 2012, 6:10am Top

Today's poem is from the Fall 2011 issue of the Bellevue Literary Review, a literary magazine that "examines human existence through the prism of health and healing, illness and disease."

I'm Afraid of the Brief Empty Space by Cortney Davis

I’m afraid of the waiting room where patients wear slacks and slip-off shoes

and families read the pages of last month’s magazines;

I’m afraid of the aide who calls my name, staccato and without love,

who walks before me down the long hall, never looking back;

I’m afraid of the johnny coat—its cold exposure—and of the black tubing

looped on the wall and the clear tubing hooked to the oxygen tank;

of the nurse who comes with her IV bag and hollow needle,

asking my name and why I’m here, as if she doesn’t know.

I’m afraid of the orderly who arrives with a wheelchair to roll me away,

of the white room and the scrub tech busy with her Mayo tray of shiny tools;

of the doctor who waves to me from the scrub room, his mouth

moving under his mask, and of the circulating nurse whose eyes say nothing.

I’m afraid of the brief, endless space, the metal taste, the ringing in my ears

and the utter blackness into which I fall and do not know I’m falling.

I’m afraid of waking in the tilting room, of the circle of curtains

and the microphone voice of the nurse who calls my name;

of her snack of ginger ale and crackers—one fizzes too loudly,

the other breaks with the sound of bone and scatters over my body.

I’m afraid of the long wait for pathology, for the prognosis and how

at home when the doctor phones he will first ask if I’m well, then if I’m alone—

Apr 9, 2012, 7:55am Top

A very excellent review of One With Others, Darryl. I must look for it.

Apr 9, 2012, 8:10am Top

That poem is downright chilling :(

Apr 9, 2012, 10:36am Top

Hi Daryl! I'm enjoying your daily poems. I plan to do more intensive poetry reading next year and this gives me some ideas. While there are a few poems I could name that slay me, I'm not as knowledgeable as I'd like to be.

Apr 9, 2012, 10:42am Top

I agree with Kerri, Darryl - really enjoying seeing you give a forum for poetry. I am firmly of the view that nowhere near enough poetry is read or written these days. Thank you.

Apr 9, 2012, 12:14pm Top

Got me with One With Others. It's now on hold at library, should be available by this weekend. :-)

Apr 9, 2012, 8:14pm Top

>86 Linda92007: Thanks, Linda. I hope you can find One with Others soon.

>87 mckait: Right, Kath. I shuddered when I read that poem, as it had a very strong impact on me.

>88 DorsVenabili:, 89 Thanks, Kerri and Paul. I'm definitely a novice when it comes to poetry, but I do enjoy the form, and I'm glad that you're appreciating these poems.

>90 EBT1002: Great! I look forward to your comments about One with Others, Ellen.

Apr 9, 2012, 8:19pm Top

Great news about the little girl I told you about last week. I saw her today, and since no one was completely clear who was the primary attending physician in charge of her care, I claimed her. She is now almost completely back to normal, and she's doing so well that she won't need inpatient rehabilitation after all. She'll probably go home in the next day or two.

Apr 9, 2012, 10:55pm Top

>68 kidzdoc: wow, an impressive life for sure, and she lived through the entire 1900's!

Loving reading the poetry along the way.

And great news about the little girl, I suppose it could so easily have gone another way.

Apr 9, 2012, 11:13pm Top

> 92 Wonderful news about your patient Darryl!

I love the poetry and I had never heard of C.D. Wright but I will definitely be looking for One with Others. I really am enjoying all the poetry you've been posting.

Edited: Apr 10, 2012, 6:14am Top

Today's poem:

by William Carlos Williams

They call me and I go.
It is a frozen road
past midnight, a dust
of snow caught
in the rigid wheeltracks.
The door opens.
I smile, enter and
shake off the cold.
Here is a great woman
on her side in the bed.
She is sick,
perhaps vomiting,
perhaps laboring
to give birth to
a tenth child. Joy! Joy!
Night is a room
darkened for lovers,
through the jalousies the sun
has sent one golden needle!
I pick the hair from her eyes
and watch her misery
with compassion.

Apr 10, 2012, 7:41am Top

Yay! good news on your little patient..
keep up the goodness Darryl..it matters.

Soooo.... do you like any cheerful poems? :)

Edited: Apr 10, 2012, 8:24am Top

Great news about your patient, Darryl!
With these poetry choices we might just start calling you "Darryl Downer" :)

Apr 10, 2012, 8:32am Top

Uhm...are we on a roll of medically related poetry? This last one could just as well be titled Compliant.

So glad the little girl is doin well and that you were able to reclaim her care!

Apr 10, 2012, 10:19am Top

I'm loving these samples of poetry Darryl! And I can't believe it (well, I can considering our budget), but my library doesn't own One with Others, so onto the wish list it goes.

And a question for you and other lurkers/posters here: How do you read a book of poetry? Unlike fiction or narrative non-fiction, there isn't usually a narrative tying the poems in a book together. And I'm certainly not reading for information, like much non-fiction. I can't read poetry in large chunks - it takes time for me.

I find myself reading a few at a time, and then reflecting on one that strikes me. Yet I have trouble reading an entire book of poetry - many times when I sit down to read again, I want to pick up something else.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Apr 10, 2012, 7:17pm Top

99> I would say there's nothing wrong with reading poetry the way you do. It does take time; it's more condensed, and many poems are like little puzzles that need to be figured out. Or else they need time to be absorbed, experienced, and appreciated.

Some poets do, however, write books that link the poems--not necessarily with a narrative link between them, but often based on a particular theme or concept. One that comes to mind is The Book of Nightmares by Galway Kinnell. And then there's something like Spoon River Anthology, in which each poem focuses on one resident of an imaginary town. And if you read most sonnet cycles in order, they do have a kind of underlying narrative that links them; try Shakespeare's sonnets or Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella.

Edited: Apr 10, 2012, 7:29pm Top

>96 mckait: Thanks, Kath. She was a bit fussy and emotionally labile today, probably due to the location of her disease process. This will likely resolve with time, and especially after she goes home, which will likely be tomorrow or Thursday.

What's wrong with the poem I selected??? Childbirth is a happy event, is it not? ;-)

>97 lauralkeet: Hmph. *looks for poems by Kafka or Nietzsche*

>98 tangledthread: More criticism of my poetry choices??? Okay, okay, I get the hint (grumble, grumble).

>99 markon: Thanks, Ardene. I almost never read a poetry collection in a single sitting, unless it's a work of narrative poetry, such as One with Others, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life by Maxine Hong Kingston, or The Broken Word by Adam Foulds. Hmm...now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that I rated each of these books 5 stars. I'll have to look for more works of narrative poetry.

Apr 11, 2012, 4:45am Top

Night is a room
darkened for lovers,

Nice suggestive image Darryl.

Apr 11, 2012, 6:16am Top

Today's poem:

The Changing Light
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The changing light
at San Francisco
is none of your East Coast light
none of your
pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
after the fog burns off
and the sun paints white houses
with the sea light of Greece
with sharp clean shadows
making the town look like
it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock
sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
when the new night fog
floats in
And in that vale of light
the city drifts
anchorless upon the ocean

Apr 11, 2012, 7:53am Top

Lovely, Darryl. Great morning imagery to start my day!

Apr 11, 2012, 7:58am Top

Oh my! Ferlinghetti! I haven't thought of Ferlinghetti in many years..

Apr 11, 2012, 8:18am Top

Love it! And it is so true.

Apr 11, 2012, 8:46am Top

I have been cleaning out books preparing for a major donation and came across Ferlinghetti's Starting from San Francisco, that I bought "back in the day". Brings back such great memories from my high school days. I am really enjoying your poetry postings, Darryl.

Edited: Apr 11, 2012, 11:01pm Top

> 103

Just skimming through your thread, but I do have to stop to say how glad I am that your patient did so well and how simply lovely it was to read a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Have a grand April, Darryl!

Edited: Apr 11, 2012, 11:28pm Top

Love the Ferlinghetti -- so evocative...

Re reading poetry: I do it in bite-sized chunks, a bit at a time. I'll pick up something almost at random, or go back to a favorite because I need to re-read it. I wish I was great at memorizing poetry; that's a skill I wasn't required to have after the age of 11 or 12, and I don't remember much of the "Hiawatha" that I had to learn by heart back then!

Quel dommage about London, but better to go when you'll be able to enjoy it.

ETA: Thanks for the link to Tabucchi on Pereira. I loved the way he presents his character as an individual who visits him to discuss the work in which he will appear. After reading Requiem: A Hallucination, it's clear that he liked to play with the lines between fantasy and reality.

Edited: Apr 12, 2012, 7:01am Top

>104 lauralkeet:-109 I'm glad that all of you liked the poem by Ferlinghetti. Does this mean I can go back to posting morbidly depressing poems?

>107 Linda92007: I have eight books by Ferlinghetti (which, needless to say, are readily available at City Lights Bookstore), but I don't have Starting from San Francisco. I'll look for it on my next trip there, which will probably be in June.

>108 SqueakyChu: Thanks, Madeline! Even though I won't go to London the second half of April will be good, and the first half hasn't been bad, compared to the first three months of the year. I'm working alongside a very good and enthusiastic third year pediatrics resident this week, and she's been a pleasure to work with.

>109 Chatterbox: Right. I also read poetry in small bits, and dip in and out of books, particularly ones that I've read and particularly enjoyed.

One of those books is Love Works by Janice Mirikitani, a Sansei (third-generation Japanese) poet from Northern California who was the second poet laureate of San Francisco. She was born in 1941, and she and her family were placed in an internment camp during World War II. Several poems in Love Works are particularly memorable; here are two of my favorites. The first one is touching; the second one is powerful, but quite disturbing (animal lovers should consider skipping it).


At midnight every New Years Eve,
I am boiling chicken,
onion, celery, dashi.
My husband shakes his head
in wonder at my compulsion,
my quest.
Firecrackers and whistles sound
outside our windows
as I try
to create the flavor of
Obachan's ozoni.
She had no blender, food processors,
peelers, timers, teflon.
But her ozoni,
with minced scallion,
spinach, fish,
mochi floating like a pregnant sail,
a sliver of carrot,
kiss of red radish
surprising my tongue,
was so good,
my lips pressed
on the lip of her porcelain bowl,
to savor oshogatsu.

Breath passes
and an older history
enters my mouth.

*ozoni: soup prepared with mochi or rice cake to celebrate Oshogatsu, the New Year.

Rabbit Hunting

After the war
we had to start over.
Get a gun
learn to listen to footsteps outside
train our dogs
keep them leashed to make them mean.

We don't want trouble
but can't bear
any more losses.

They cleaned out our barn
ravaged our house
during the war
while we were locked in barbed wire cages
laid waste the apple orchard
withered the fields that grew kale, cabbage and tomatoes.

"Not again," was all he said.

He hunts rabbits
and when he traps one, very young,
she stops and trembles.

He was born in Denver,
his parents locked up in Tule Lake Camp.
He served in the U.S. Army
as a messcook and Japanese language translator.
They called him a yellow jap
and made him taste the food before they'd eat.

Makes him so mad, these rabbits
that stop in fear

He shoots off their heads.

Edited: Apr 12, 2012, 7:12am Top

The shortlists for two major literary awards were announced today. First, the shortlist for this year's IMPAC Dublin Literary Award:

Rocks in the Belly by Jon Bauer
The Matter with Morris by David Bergen
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Memory of Love by Animatta Forna
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Landed by Tim Pears
Limassol by Yishai Sarid
The Eternal Son by Cristovão Tezza
Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin

The winner will be announced on June 13th.

Press release: www.impacdublinaward.ie/news.htm

The shortlist for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was also released:

Alice by Judith Hermann, translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo
Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld, translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Cindy Carter
From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani, translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco, translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon

The winner will be announced on May 14th.

Umberto Eco shortlisted for foreign fiction honour

Apr 12, 2012, 7:14am Top

"averting eyes" from rabbit poem..
Did you read Name of the Rose yet? It was you that picked it up
recently right? I liked it. I have Foucault's Pendulum on the shelf.....

I hope that your patients have been less ill the last few days than little
Ashley was and that it continues to be so :)

Apr 12, 2012, 7:25am Top

>112 mckait: Yes, please don't look at that poem, Kath! I debated with myself about whether I should post it or not, but I decided to do so, as it is one of the few poems that made me audibly gasp after I read it.

I haven't read The Name of the Rose yet, but I'll probably get to it next week or the week after. I'm off from work from this Saturday to Thursday of the following week (12 consecutive days), so I should have time to read it then.

Ashley may be able to go home as early as today. She continues to look great, and she'll almost certainly make a full recovery. My other patients either have a temporary illness, or are chronically ill with significant genetic disorders; this is pretty typical for this time of year, when RSV and other viral respiratory pathogens are on the wane. Flu season came very late this year, so I have had an occasional patient admitted for complications of influenza, either pneumonia or an asthma exacerbation.

Apr 12, 2012, 7:36am Top

Good news about Ashley! I bet her mom is exhausted... hospital vigils are so difficult..
Twelve days off and you are staying close to home? I am curious to see what you will
do with yourself. I admit to having a vision of you stumbling out of your apartment after ten days in search of food, with a book in each hand and unruly facial hair :)

Apr 12, 2012, 8:05am Top

>114 mckait: Yes; her mother does look tired, but she's happy and grateful that Ashley is doing so well after a very scary illness (scary to her and her husband, and to all of the doctors and nurses who took care of her).

LOL! If I stayed in my place for 10 straight days, you'd have to carry me out in a straitjacket. I do enjoy peace and quiet, but I can't stand being cooped up for more than a day or two, especially on sunny spring days. I'll probably stay inside for a good portion of the coming weekend, as I need to finish my tax reports. I also have a lot of tasks to do that I've been putting off that I want to accomplish the next two weeks: a comprehensive evaluation of my car by my local BMW dealer and service station, shop for another car (I've had mine for 10 years this month, as I bought it pre-owned from a BMW dealer on the south side of town in April 2002), make appointments with my optometrist and internist, spring cleaning (which includes separating and giving away books I no longer want; watch for a book give away special on this thread in the near future), furniture shopping (new bookshelves are a high priority, surprise surprise), etc.

I also can't stand having more than two or three days' worth of facial hair. It gets itchy and drives me bananas. A hair cut every two weeks is also a necessity.

Apr 12, 2012, 8:12am Top

wow! good luck with all of that...

A car ( possibly) and book shelves? Sounds like maximum retail therapy to me !
Have fun with it...

Hair cut every two weeks? wow. I muddle along.. and cut my own hair for a couple of months
after it begins to need cutting.. and then look at myself with utter horror one morning and frantically
seek out a professional.. lol

Apr 12, 2012, 8:32am Top

A car and book shelves are just the start. I'm thinking of redoing my living room and getting new bedroom furniture, particularly for my guest room. I'll probably host several family members and friends later this year (brother, mother, two old friends and their wives, all on separate occasions), so I'd like to spruce up the place a bit before it gets oppressively hot.

Yep, a hair cut every two weeks is essential; high and tight is my preferred style, as I'm sure you can tell from my photos. My 'do starts to look ragged and uneven if I let it go much longer than that. That still applies when I go on long vacations; I have a favorite barbershop in San Francisco, and there are two shops I've been to in London on past trips. I enjoy going to my barbershop, which is on Auburn Avenue, on the same corner as Ebenezer Baptist Church and just across the street from the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. The guys who work there are very friendly and spirited, and visits there are always filled with good conversation and plenty of laughs and good natured ribbing, which is very typical for black barbershops in the US. They have traditionally been places where black men could come to relax, and some will come there just to chat in a relaxed atmosphere, or discuss social issues of the day; this is definitely true for my barbershop.

Oops, it's 8:30; I gotta get ready for work (10 am to at least 8 pm today).

Apr 12, 2012, 11:58am Top

The rabbit poem is beautiful and heartbreaking.

Apr 12, 2012, 12:08pm Top

I agree that the rabbit poem is excellent. It made me think of (for obvious reasons) "Uncle's First Rabbit" by Lorna Dee Cervantes - one of my favorite poems and poets.


Apr 12, 2012, 5:24pm Top

I just taught Janis Murikatani's "Suicide Note" last week. Wonderful poem, but, as you can tell from the title, not exactly cheery.

Apr 12, 2012, 5:51pm Top

>110 kidzdoc: Does this mean I can go back to posting morbidly depressing poems?
Yes! I like the dark ones :) Love the labour one (Complaint). And love your daily poems! When I lived in Britain, they had a "Poetry on the Underground" thing, where space normally reserved for advertising was instead used for displaying all kinds of poetry, it was so great to be able to read something interesting instead of ads.

Apr 12, 2012, 7:24pm Top

Chiming in to remind Sir Darryl of Depressing that the 2012 PEN American Shortlist for Translation Prize has been announced.

Off to slit my wrists! Cheers all, it was nice knowing you!

Apr 13, 2012, 6:19am Top

Late night at work last night; will catch up later today.

Today's poem:

by Sonia Sanchez

(after the spanish)

forgive me if i laugh
you are so sure of love
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.

the rain exploding
in the air is love
the grass excreting her
green wax is love
and stones remembering
past steps is love,
but you. you are too young
for love
and i too old.

once. what does it matter
when or who, i knew
of love.
i fixed my body
under his and went
to sleep in love
all trace of me
was wiped away

forgive me if i smile
young heiress of a naked dream
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.

Apr 13, 2012, 8:30pm Top

>118 EBT1002: I agree, Ellen; "Rabbit Hunting" is unforgettable and deeply moving.

>119 DorsVenabili: Thanks for posting a link to "Uncle's First Rabbit", Kerri. I enjoyed it, and I especially liked that Emplumada was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. I'll be on the lookout for it.

>120 Cariola: Wow. I just read Suicide Note. How heartbreaking...thanks for mentioning it, Deborah.

>121 Ireadthereforeiam: There are (or, at least, there used to be) poems on the NYC subways when I worked there. I haven't seen any in awhile, though.

>122 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! That's the shortlist for this year's Best Translated Book Awards; I'll look at the titles a bit more closely this coming week.

I've officially cancelled my trip to London; I was supposed to leave tonight. I'm pretty bummed about it, but it was the right thing to do.

If I didn't say so already, Ashley went home yesterday!

Apr 14, 2012, 9:01am Top

Today's poem:

Brian Age Seven
By Mark Doty

Grateful for their tour
of the pharmacy,
the first-grade class
has drawn these pictures,
each self-portrait taped
to the window-glass,
faces wide to the street,
round and available,
with parallel lines for hair.

I like this one best: Brian,
whose attenuated name
fills a quarter of the frame,
stretched beside impossible
legs descending from the ball
of his torso, two long arms
springing from that same
central sphere. He breathes here,

on his page. It isn’t craft
that makes this figure come alive;
Brian draws just balls and lines,
in wobbly crayon strokes.
Why do some marks
seem to thrill with life,
possess a portion
of the nervous energy
in their maker’s hand?

That big curve of a smile
reaches nearly to the rim
of his face; he holds
a towering ice cream,
brown spheres teetering
on their cone,
a soda fountain gift
half the length of him
—as if it were the flag

of his own country held high
by the unadorned black line
of his arm. Such naked support
for so much delight! Artless boy,
he’s found a system of beauty:
he shows us pleasure
and what pleasure resists.
The ice cream is delicious.
He’s frail beside his relentless standard.

From Source, winner of the 2001 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry


Edited: Apr 14, 2012, 1:59pm Top

117. Thanks for the little barbershop vingnette. While drifing off to sleep earlier this week I recalled that the small town where I grew up there were two barbershops...one barber each. And each of those men earned enough to support modest families. I wonder if that's still possible today? I'm sure there aren't any barbershops left in that small Pa. town.

110, 123, 125. Your selections have improved. I love the Mark Doty one..."Why do some marks seem to thrill with life...." That's enough to keep any artist and "mark maker" going for a long long time.

Have you been following the stories about the Pitt bomb threats? (I'd enclose a link, but if you google, it's all over the place) ARGh...during finals week no less. Poor students.

Apr 14, 2012, 3:58pm Top

>126 tangledthread: I suspect that a solo barber with a sufficient clientele could earn a decent living, although I suspect it would be easier to have several barbers "cutting heads". The barber I went to in London last year is a solo practitioner, with one chair in his small shop on Balls Pond Road in Hackney. He is in a good position, as his shop is easily visible along a fairly busy street near a major intersection, so he should do well.

I'm glad that you've enjoyed my most recent poetry selections. I intend to post 30 poems by 30 different authors in the 30 days of the month, which should be easier now that I'm off for all but four days over the rest of the month.

Yes, I have been following the Pitt bomb threats, and the fatal shootings that occurred at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic ("Western Psych", the psychiatric hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) by a deranged man last month. Several people I work with are Pitt alumni or grew up in Pittsburgh, and three of us were talking about the threats this past week. Very strange...Pittsburgh is easily the safest big city I've lived in, and Pitt's campus had few episodes of serious crime for an urban campus, so these incidents are definitely unusual.

Apr 14, 2012, 5:42pm Top

A friend of mine works there... he is a professor. It has been harrowing.
They say that they are not reporting every incident, so as not to encourage the perpetrator..
But my friend has commented on how disruptive it has been in so many ways... I hope they catch
whoever it is.

Apr 14, 2012, 7:43pm Top

"Rabbit Hunting" is a reminder of the three books I read about the Japanese internment camps last year Darryl; a sad time in our history.

My son gets a haircut every two weeks so that it never looks like he just got a haircut LOL.

Apr 15, 2012, 7:23am Top

I finished two books yesterday, which was one of my most productive reading days of the year: The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro by Antonio Tabucchi, which I didn't like as much as Pereira Declares but was still very good (4 stars), and Boundaries by Elizabeth Nunez, which I read in order to review it for the upcoming issue of Belletrista, which was mediocre. I also started Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph, a memoir about the author's experiences being a young Black Panther in the late 1960s, his subsequent imprisonment, and his rebirth as a successful student and current professor at Columbia University. I received this from Lois (avaland) as an Advance Review Copy, so I'll finish it today and review it ASAP.

>128 mckait: I know that several people have been either arrested or questioned in the Pitt bombing scare; however, as you know, the threats haven't stopped. I fear that this will lead to copycat threats elsewhere, since it has been so disruptive and widely reported in the local and national press (including an article in the NYT last week).

>129 brenzi: Which books did you read about the Japanese internment camps, Bonnie?

I'm with your son; once my 'do starts to look uneven, it's time for a haircut. I'll go to my barbershop tomorrow or Tuesday.

Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 8:07am Top

Today's poem (with a painting, to boot):

Thomas Eakins, The Champion Single Sculls, 1871

Pastoral by Derek Walcott

In the mute roar of autumn, in the shrill
treble of the aspens, the basso of the holm-oaks,
in the silvery wandering aria of the Schuylkill,
the poplars choiring with a quillion strokes,
find love for what is not your land, a blazing country
in eastern Pennsylvania with the DVD going
in the rented burgundy Jeep, in the inexhaustible bounty
of fall with the image of Eakins’ gentleman rowing
in his slim skiff whenever the trees divide
to reveal a river’s serene surprise, flowing
through the snow-flecked birches where Indian hunters glide.
The country has caught fire from the single spark
of a prophesying preacher, its embers glowing,
its clouds are smoke in the onrushing dark
a holocaust crackles in this golden oven
in which tribes were consumed, a debt still owing,
while a white country spire insists on heaven.

from White Egrets, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 (winner of the 2010 T.S. Eliot Prize)

Apr 15, 2012, 7:32am Top

Darryl, copycats have been my concern, as well. I can't imagine why someone would do something like that...especially over a long period of time . I lapse of judgement.. or maybe if someone gets drunk and does something stupid, but this is just crazy. All of those students who have been disrupted in class
and during finals.. I wonder if it is already a copycat situation and there are several people doing it?
Anyway.. it is a terrible situation.

Missing head? gah! I always wonder about head only things. Like mugs that are Santa heads or ornaments that are reindeer heads or .. stickers that are .. well you get the picture. WHO would do that!!!
And why? Ok.. not as bad as the Pitt thing, but quite unsettling to me in a different way :P lol

Apr 15, 2012, 7:37am Top

I subscribe to the Kindle Daily Deal e-mails, but it's rare that any of the featured books interest me. However, today's deal was too good to pass up; eight world literature titles from AmazonCrossing are available, at 99 cents each. I chose The King of Kahel by Tierno Monénembo, which won the 2008 Prix Renaudot, the compliment to the Prix Goncourt. I enjoyed Monénembo's novel The Oldest Orphan, and this book looks interesting as well. Several other books in the Kindle Daily Deal are interesting, so I may go back for one or two more before the deal ends at midnight Pacific Time.

Kindle Daily Deal: Eight World Literature Titles

Apr 15, 2012, 7:46am Top

>132 mckait: The three people (a man and a couple) I've read about seem to have grudges against the university, for various reasons. I don't understand why innocent students have to be the target of their grievances, though.

LOL! Portraits are fine, but disembodied heads or beheadings by guillotine are a bit creepy. (I can think of several examples, but I won't mention them here.) I'll review Damasceno Monteiro shortly, but the title does fit the story.

Apr 15, 2012, 8:11am Top

Here's one more poem from White Egrets that I especially liked:

Sixty Years After

In my wheelchair in the Virgin lounge at Vieuxfort,
I saw, sitting in her own wheelchair, her beauty
hunched like a crumpled flower, the one whom I thought
as the fire of my young life would do her duty
to be golden and beautiful and young forever
even as I aged. She was treble-chinned, old, her devastating
smile was netted in wrinkles, but I felt the fever
briefly returning as we sat there, crippled, hating
time and the lie of general pleasantries.
Small waves still break against the small stone pier
where a boatman left me in the orange peace
of dusk, a half-century ago, maybe happier
being erect, she like a deer in her shyness, I stalking
an impossible consummation; those who knew us
knew we would never be together, at least, not walking.
Now the silent knives from the intercom went through us.

Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 9:31am Top

#133 - It's funny - I just saw this and thought, "I wonder which ones Darryl will choose." and ran over to your thread. Ha! I might purchase a couple as well. I agree, the daily deals are typically rather dreadful.

ETA - I ended up purchasing the The King of Kahel and Thirst.

Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 10:37am Top

Book #35: The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro by Antonio Tabucchi

My rating:

This literary thriller opens in a gypsy settlement outside of Oporto, Portugal. Manolo, one of the older men in the village, takes his usual early morning walk in the woods, and finds a headless body that was not there the day before. He notifies the Guardia Nacional, the police department in Oporto, and the crime is reported by the local media. Firmino, the crime reporter for O Acontecimento, a sensationalist rag in Lisbon, is sent to interview Manolo and investigate the murder. With the help of a local and well connected owner of a pension, he meets Manolo and a witness to the crime, and discovers that their accounts differ significantly from the ones provided by the Guardia Nacional officers that arrested the young man, who is subsequently identified as Damasceno Monteiro. Firmino is subsequently introduced to Loton, a morbidly obese lawyer and polymath, who comes from a wealthy family but has dedicated his life to representing the downtrodden of Oporto in court. Loton serves as an adviser to Firmino and his investigation, while in turn Firmino helps Loton with the case. The two engage in interesting but occasionally obtuse philosophical discussions about society, the unequal distribution of justice, and the use of torture to maintain and control individuals.

While I didn't enjoy Damasceno Monteiro as much Pereira Declares, Tabucchi's masterpiece, it was a very good mystery novel with interesting characters and a solid plot line.

Apr 15, 2012, 10:23am Top


Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 10:57am Top

>136 DorsVenabili: I think the only other books I've purchased from the Kindle Daily Deal were The Line of Beauty and The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst; the former was on my wish list, as I intend to read all of the Booker Prize winners, and the latter seemed interesting enough to spend a couple of bucks on.

I hadn't formally put The King of Kahel on my wish list, but I knew that it won the Prix Renaudot, so it was at the edge of my radar screen. I've just downloaded two more books, The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations by Zhu Xiao-Mei, and The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, as each might be worthy of review in Belletrista. Thirst looks interesting; I'll probably buy it, as well.

ETA: Done. I just bought Thirst.

Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 10:38am Top

>138 richardderus: Thank you, kind sir.

I've corrected my rating of Damasceno Monteiro; I meant to give it four stars, not five.

Apr 15, 2012, 11:04am Top

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the release of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. In the most recent entry in The Book Bench, one of The New Yorker's online blogs, David Denby wrote a spirited defense of Ellison and his masterpiece.

Justice for Ralph Ellison

Apr 15, 2012, 12:30pm Top

I didn't like Invisible Man because I found it repetitive instead of recursive. I will wager that it'll hit the shoals of obscurity by its hundredth anniversary.

Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 12:46pm Top

I got an interesting email from Powells Books the other day...they are having a "Local" book sale....some of the titles look to be "gold"



Apr 15, 2012, 12:57pm Top

Hi Darryl- Thanks for posting all the poems. I'm not sure I "get" them all, but that's okay. I love the Eakins painting. Lovely stuff.
I still have not read Hollinghurst. Why? I have no idea. Also, this would have been a perfect time for a re-read of the Invisible Man, but other books keep intruding.
Hope all is well with you.

Apr 15, 2012, 2:28pm Top

Hi Darryl, I'm glad you enjoyed The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro as well. I got the shipping confirmation from amazon.it for Indian Nocturne, I am really looking forward to reading it. Thanks for posting Salman Rushdie's tweet.

I am sorry I had to remove The Leopard from the TIOLI. Eco's Prague Cemetery takes much longer than I thought, and I fear I won't make it through another 250 pages of Italian this month.

Apr 15, 2012, 2:44pm Top

>129 brenzi: Darryl, the three books I read about Japanese internment in WWII last year were When the Emperor was Divine, Obasan by Joy Kogawa and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Obasan was by far the strongest and it informed about the practice in Canada, which I was totally ignorant about. I thought it was purely an American problem.

Apr 15, 2012, 6:05pm Top

I'm not sure how I got so far behind with your thread, Darryl, but I've enjoyed all the poetry and the good review of The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro.

My fave poets include Adrienne Rich, Yeats, Eliot, James Wright, and more recently, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver and Dean Young. Like Deborah up above, "The Blessing" by James Wright always gets me.

Edited: Apr 15, 2012, 8:05pm Top

It's been a gorgeous spring day here in Atlanta, with sunny skies and a high temperature of close to 80 degrees. I'm back inside for now, although I might go back out a bit later.

I'm almost halfway through Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph, which I'll definitely finish tonight. It's been a superb read so far.

>142 richardderus: I didn't like Invisible Man because I found it repetitive instead of recursive.

I didn't have that impression of Invisible Man the first time I read it, although I did read it very sporadically when I was working and taking graduate courses at NYU. I'm planning to read it again this summer, and I'll let you know what I think.

I will wager that it'll hit the shoals of obscurity by its hundredth anniversary.

I'll take you up on that wager. Hopefully we'll both be around in 2052 (or not).

>143 jdthloue: Thanks for that link, Jude. Two books look especially interesting to me, Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk, and Welcome to Paradise by Mahi Binebine. I already own both titles, though.

>144 msf59: Thanks, Mark. There are a lot of poems and poets who I don't get, so you're not alone. I'm not sure if the Thomas Eakins portrait I posted is the one that Derek Walcott refers to in his poem, but it was the closest one I could readily find. BTW, the Schuylkill River runs from north to south in eastern Pennsylvania, and cuts through the center of Philadelphia after it passes by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as seen in the foreground of the following photo:

>145 Deern: I did enjoy Damasceno Monteiro, Nathalie. I definitely plan to read Indian Nocturne and more works by Tabucchi, but I'll hold off buying any more of his books for the immediate future. There are quite a few books that will be published in the UK in the coming weeks, several of which look to be possible candidates for the upcoming Booker Prize longlist, such as Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (which I've pre-ordered) and Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif. So, my focus will shift to those books, as I intend to read the entire longlist again this year, along with the books shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize.

Speaking of the Orange Prize, the shortlist will be announced on Tuesday. The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm Eastern Time in the US.

I may also postpone reading both The Leopard and The Name of the Rose, depending on how I do with the other books that are a bit higher on my list of planned reads, and which books make the Orange Prize shortlist.

>146 brenzi: Thanks, Bonnie. I've also read When the Emperor Was Divine, and I thought it was well done. I haven't read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet yet. I hadn't heard of Obasan, and I also didn't realize that the Canadians had Japanese internment camps.

>147 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. I'm all but completely certain that I own Embryoyo by Dean Young, although it isn't in my LT library; I do have a couple of boxes of books that I haven't entered into my LT library yet, and I suspect that it's in one of them. I'll have to check out the James Wright poem that you and Deborah have highly recommended.

Apr 15, 2012, 7:39pm Top

Glad to see you giving some time to Derek Walcott - marvellous stylist and strangely overlooked even though a merited Nobel winner.

Apr 16, 2012, 1:34am Top

Here's "A Blessing"--hope you don't mind my posting it on your thread, Darryl.

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

--James Wright--

Apr 16, 2012, 5:01am Top

Today's poem:

Ah, the freshness in the face of leaving a task undone! by Fernando Pessoa

Ah, the freshness in the face of leaving a task undone!
To be remiss is to be positively out in the country!
What a refuge it is to be completely unreliable!
I can breathe easier now that the appointments are behind me.
I missed them all, through deliberate negligence,
Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.
I’m free, and against organized, clothed society.
I’m naked and plunge into the water of my imagination.
It’s too late to be at either of the two meetings where I should have been at the same time,
Deliberately at the same time...
No matter, I’ll stay here dreaming verses and smiling in italics.
This spectator aspect of life is so amusing!
I can’t even light the next cigarette... If it’s an action,
It can wait for me, along with the others, in the non-meeting called life.

Edited: Apr 16, 2012, 5:08am Top

>149 PaulCranswick: Right, Paul. I need to read more of Walcott's work. I read White Egrets last year, and I'll eventually read Omeros, which is supposed to be one of his best collections.

>150 Cariola: Thanks for posting "A Blessing", Deborah; I love it.

Apr 16, 2012, 9:29am Top

I love the Pessoa poem, what a great first sentence! And "A Blessing" is just so beautiful.

Thanks for reminding me of the new Hilary Mantel book, I have to make room for it as well.
So Wolf Hall has become a trilogy now?

Little Misunderstandings of no importance is waiting for me at my library, so I might at least be able to add that one as a shared read to the TIOLI before April ends.

Apr 16, 2012, 4:02pm Top

The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced:

Fiction - No award

Drama - "Water by the Spoonful" by Quiara Alegría Hudes

History - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the late Manning Marable

Biography - George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis

Poetry - Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

General Nonfiction - The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Music - "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts" by Kevin Puts

This is the first time since 1977 that an award for Fiction was not announced. According to the Pulitzer Prize web site, "Nominated as finalists in this category {Fiction} were: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate, heartbreaking calm; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf), an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years; and The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company), a posthumously completed novel, animated by grand ambition, that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace."

More info: http://www.pulitzer.org/

Apr 16, 2012, 4:07pm Top

Oh, I loved The Swerve, so I'm glad to see that one get it. No fiction prize, that is so odd.

Apr 16, 2012, 4:23pm Top

I don't think it's odd considering the craptastic three finalists. David Foster Wallace didn't even write all of his nominated book (Pearl Ruled at 40pp by me), and Denis Johnson's work was slight and insubstantial. I reviewed Swamplandia and ID'd it as a major disappointment. Are they serious? These were the finalists? I didn't realize the field was so barren.

Apr 16, 2012, 4:25pm Top

>153 Deern: So Wolf Hall has become a trilogy now?

That's right, Nathalie. Bring Up the Bodies, which will be released next month, is about the downfall of Anne Boleyn. She was deliciously portrayed in Wolf Hall, so I can't wait to read this book. The third book will be entitled "The Mirror And The Light", and it covers the rest of Thomas Cromwell's life until his execution in 1540. I haven't heard when it will be published.

Hilary Mantel reveals plans for Wolf Hall trilogy

I was a bit lukewarm about Little Misunderstandings of No Importance; I should drop my 4 star rating down a bit.

>155 jnwelch: I'll have to pick up The Swerve. I wonder how many books, regardless of category, won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in the same season. I'm thrilled that Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention won, as it narrowly missed out on winning the National Book Award for Nonfiction last year, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography this year.

No fiction prize, that is so odd.

Right. The three finalists for the prize were less than inspiring, IMO. I didn't like Swamplandia!, and I probably wouldn't have read either of the other two books had they won.

Apr 16, 2012, 4:27pm Top

>156 richardderus: Are they serious? These were the finalists? I didn't realize the field was so barren.

Ha! I saw your message just after I posted mine, Richard. I couldn't agree with you more.

Apr 16, 2012, 5:16pm Top

Hmm, I read some excellent books published in the last year--but none of the three rejected by the Pulitzer judges.

Apr 16, 2012, 5:22pm Top

Yeah, I hadn't read any of the three novels nominated, but that was because none of them sounded worth the reading time. Sounds like the problem was in the nomination process.

Apr 16, 2012, 5:23pm Top

From the Huffington Post:

Three finalists were named: David Foster Wallace for "The Pale King", Karen Russell for "Swamplandia" and, Denis Johnson for "Train Dreams."

And yet this year, for the first time since 1977, the committee has decided that no book is worthy of the prize. The three jurors were Susan Larson, the former book editor of The Times-Picayune, Maureen Corrigan, book critic for Fresh Air on NPR, and the novelist Michael Cunningham.

According to the book "The Pulitzer Prize Archive", in 1977 the board vetoed the jury's decision to give the prize to "A River Runs Through It", saying that none of the shortlist were prizeworthy. In 1984, the board overruled the jury, and gave the prize to a different book.

This year, according to a tweet by Publisher's Marketplace news editor Sarah Weinman, the board "failed to reach a majority" on the issue.

This wasn't the only no-award this year - the category of Editorial Writing was also deemed unworthy of a winner.

This refutes my hypothesis that last year's Booker Prize judging committee found a new home on this side of the pond.

Apr 16, 2012, 5:25pm Top

For what it's worth, 1977 board, A River Runs Through It is a terrific book. That was a bad veto.

Apr 16, 2012, 5:47pm Top

Deborah, Joe, et al.: If you were a Pulitzer prize judge, which three books would you have listed as finalists for the Fiction prize? Eligible books are those published in 2011, by an author who resides in the U.S.

I'll come back in a few minutes, after I select my finalists.

Apr 16, 2012, 5:59pm Top

Here are my three:

Open City by Teju Cole (winner)
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
Salvage the Bones by Jessmyn Ward

Edited: Apr 16, 2012, 6:13pm Top

My three, Darryl:

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

I'm pretty sure they all reside in the U.S.

Wish I could add 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (pub'd in English in 2011, not sure about original pub)

Shouldn't Matterhorn have won?

I couldn't add The Tiger's Wife; terrific writer, but overall it disappointed me.

Edited: Apr 16, 2012, 7:15pm Top

I read only a few novels by American authors that we're published in 2011, and none of these three books were amongst my favorite novels of the year. From what I've heard about Matterhorn it should have at least received serious consideration for the Pulitzer Prize.

I don't think The Sisters Brothers counts, since Patrick deWitt is Canadian.

I thinkx that the three judges should have to go back and come up with a book that wins a majority vote. Can you image the uproar if the judging committees for the Orange or Booker Prizes failed to select a winner?

Apr 16, 2012, 6:34pm Top

Matterhorn for sure!

Open City because it was chillingly good.

The Night Circus which, in my never-humble opinion, should have won.

None of them even taken seriously. *ngurmph*

Apr 16, 2012, 6:41pm Top

>166 kidzdoc: I don't think The Sisters Brothers count, since Patrick deWitt is Canadian

But wasn't he nominated for another American award, possibly the National Book Award? I vaguely remember that because it was so odd that he was also nominated for the Booker. Matterhorn was an excellent book and would certainly have been a good choice but apparently wasn't even nominated??? Unbelievable. I haven't read Open City or Salvage the Bones yet but what does this say about American literature if we can't even come up with one excellent book? I just want to complain to someone.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:06pm Top

Matterhorn was terrific but it was published in 2010, not 2011. The paperback came out in 2011.

I only read a couple of books by US authors that were published last year, so I can't provide a list of three Pulitzer-deserving titles. I didn't like Open City as much as you did, Darryl, and I loved Once Upon a River but I wouldn't consider it Pulitzer level. I did really like Train Dreams, one of the finalists; it may have been "slight" in length, but I don't agree with Richard (#156) that it was "insubstantial". I found it a poetic portrait of a time and a place in US history, and a story of loss and beauty.

The sequel to Wolf Hall is coming out next month??? I meant to reread WH first, but I guess I won't have a chance.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:08pm Top

163> Looking back at last year's reading list, my top books were not by American writers, or even foerign writers living in the US. So I don't even have a top three. Maybe the ones they chose were the best . . .which apparently does not bode well for American fiction. I had no interest whatsoever in reading Swamplandia, and I ruled out The Pale King as I'm not really a DFW fan and generally don't care for posthumous books completed by another writer.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:08pm Top

Bonnie, please rush out to your favorite bookery and procure Open City! So good, so worth your dollars.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:16pm Top

>167 richardderus: I haven't read Matterhorn or The Night Circus, but I'm certain that I would like both of them far better than the three books the judges chose.

>168 brenzi: From what I can tell, The Sisters Brothers wasn't nominated for a major literary award in the U.S. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.) The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award are restricted to residents of the U.S., but the National Book Critics Circle Award is not; The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst was a finalist for last year's award, and Wolf Hall won in 2009.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:17pm Top

I did read a fine short story collection, but I would guess they ruled out anything not a novel.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:26pm Top

Patrick Dewitt of The Sisters Brothers is indeed a Canadian but he lives in the U.S. I believe that the story was ( again correct me if I am wrong about this) his agent decided to release the book in Canada first- so he was on the Booker shortlist, the Giller prize shortlist won the Governor General's Prize for Fiction and the Writers' Trust FictionAward.
Another story about interesting juries. One year the Giller Prize judges couldn't decide so they announced two books as the winners of the Giller in a tie. The benefactor then wrote out cheques to both authors for $25000 each- he wasn't expecting that. The rules for later juries clearly stated that there had to be one winner.

Edited: Apr 19, 2012, 9:14am Top

>169 rebeccanyc: You're right, Rebecca; Matterhorn was published in 2010. However, it wasn't selected as a Pulitzer finalist last year, when it would have been eligible for the award; The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (who?), The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee (read it, wasn't blown away by it), and A Visit from the Goon Squad (no thanks) were the chosen three.

As I mentioned on my Club Read thread, I looked at the 39 finalists (three per year) from 2000-2012, and I would only rave about one book: Waiting by Ha Jin. I liked several others, particularly The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, War Trash, Middlesex, and The Known World, but none compare to the best novels I've read from the Orange or Booker Prize longlists in that time period, such as Wolf Hall, The Glass Room, White Teeth and The Memory of Love.

Bring Up the Bodies will be published on May 8th in the US, and May 10th in the UK (huh?). I do want to re-read Wolf Hall, but I'll probably wait until the third book in the trilogy comes out.

>170 Cariola: Looking back at last year's reading list, my top books were not by American writers, or even foerign writers living in the US. So I don't even have a top three.

I'm certain that's true for me too, Deborah, and not just this year. Checking...my favorite novels published in 2011 were The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Britain), Monsieur Linh and His Child by Philippe Claudel (France), The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst (Britain), The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh), The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje (Canada), Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz (Israel), Other Lives by André Brink (South Africa), and River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (India). I'm hard pressed to think of even one novel written by an American author in the past five years that I would stand on a soapbox and urge everyone to read (although I could be wrong about that). I want to support American writers, but the major literary awards and the novels I've read leave me cold.

Oh, wait...I thought that I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita was uneven but brilliant. And, I found Man Gone Down, Michael Thomas's debut novel which won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, maddening but outstanding. Open City is a couple of steps behind those two books.

>171 richardderus: I'll agree with that hearty recommendation of Open City.

>173 Cariola: I wonder if Binocular Vision would have been eligible for the Pulitzer Prize?

>174 torontoc: Ah...you're right, Cyrel. Patrick deWitt lives in Portland. He wasn't nominated for the Pulitzer or the National Book Award, to my knowledge, but he would have been eligible.

Apr 16, 2012, 8:40pm Top

175> I did notice several short story collections on the list, including one winner, The Interpreter of Maladies. So I guess short story collections could be nominated.

Edited: Apr 16, 2012, 9:25pm Top

This just confirms my conviction that book prizes are not gauges of literary merit, and it's unrealistic to expect them to be. If that happens -- fabulous. But...

Matterhorn wouldn't have been eligible this year as a 2010 book. The Pulitzers can get skittish about resident aliens, at least in the journalism sections, I've been told. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a book I loved enough to award this accolade to that was published this year, but it certainly would not have been either Swamplandia! or The Tiger's Wife, both of which are a triumph of style over substance; very clever but nothing there to "grab" me. If I look back at my best books of 2011, few of them were US novels, if any, or at least, not published in this calendar year. (For instance, I adored March by Geraldine Brooks.)

But then, I don't have high expectations from literary juries. Sometimes they'll get it right (translation: sometimes I will think they get it right because I happen to agree with their selections!!!) but I don't count on it. I continue to believe that a combination of time and appreciation is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Look at some of the books that won literary prizes back in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s -- how many of them are even in print today?? Does anyone remember Scarlet Sister Mary, Laughing Boy, Lamb in his Bosom, Honey in the Horn, The Able McLaughlins, The Late George Apley, Journey in the Dark, Guard of Honor, House Made of Dawn, Now in November, Elbow Room or Andersonville? If the Pulitzer juries were the arbiters of the best books published, we would all still be reading these. In fact, we don't because all they or most juries do is reflect what readers and critics at that time agreed was worthy. Oh, and that's not to mention all the well-known authors and acknowledged masters of their craft who were honored for works that aren't today considered to be their best: John Hersey won for A Bell for Adano, Faulkner for The Reiver and A Fable, Sinclair Lewis for Arrowsmith. When I look at the shortlist, I see books like Persian Nights by Diane Johnson, shortlisted in '88, which I find hilarious; that was nothing but dressed-up chick lit. Literary juries are just as likely to get it wrong as right.

I do think they made a good call on The Swerve, which was def. one of the best non-fiction books I read last year, and a rare combination of scholarship and accessible writing. (I know something about the subject -- at least, about Poggio Bracciolini, who Greenblatt focuses on -- so I'm at least able to opine on whether he did a good job with the history.)

Apr 16, 2012, 10:59pm Top

177> I do remember House Made of Dawn--a fairly classic Native American novel. And Andersonville, a Civil War classic. Both are still taught, still in publication.

Apr 16, 2012, 11:31pm Top

Many posts ago you queried about books about the internment of Japanese citizens during WWII - there are a couple of non-fiction books on the subject: Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family by Yoshiko Uchida and Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience. Not only were there internments taking place in Canada, but also Mexico and Latin American countries. Citizens from Latin America with Japanese ancestry were actually brought to the US and interned with the hope that they could be used a ransom and traded for American prisoners of war. A great shame on this country.

Apr 16, 2012, 11:57pm Top

#178 -- I knew Andersonville rang a bell; but none of those books are available in any of my library system's several dozen branches.

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 5:11am Top

The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced:

Esi Edugyan - Half Blood Blues
Anne Enright - The Forgotten Waltz
Georgina Harding - Painter of Silence
Madeline Miller - The Song of Achilles
Cynthia Ozick - Foreign Bodies
Ann Patchett - State of Wonder

The winner will be announced on May 30. More info: http://www.orangeprize.co.uk/prize.html

ETA: I've only read Half Blood Blues so far, which I didn't like. I'm disappointed that Gillespie and I wasn't selected, as I was enjoying what little of it I've read so far. I'd like to finish the shortlist by the time of the award ceremony, so I'll put Gillespie and I aside for now, and start reading State of Wonder. I've just downloaded Painter of Silence and Foreign Bodies onto my Kindle, so I have all six shortlisted books.

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 5:44am Top

>176 Cariola: Good eye, Deborah. I have The Interpreter of Maladies, but I haven't read it yet. Which short story collection that you liked were you referring to in message #173?

The Literary Saloon, an excellent literary weblog, discusses the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction controversy, and very helpfully points to an article in the online magazine Slate, Pulitzers snub fiction, written by senior writer Laura Miller, who previously served as a judge for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Here's an excerpt:

I can tell you that choosing the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction is a two-tier process, a fact that even people well-versed in the literary world tend to forget.

The first tier is the jury’s selection. Three jurors (usually an academic, a critic and a fiction writer) are responsible for wading through huge boxfuls of books. Anyone can submit his or her book to the Pulitzer competition for a small fee, and believe me: anyone does. We got hundreds and hundreds of them, including many self-published novels with titles like “The Bikinis of Alpha Centauri,” most of which read as if they’d been run through Google Translate into Farsi and then run back again into English before being committed to print.

From the many submissions, the jury picks three titles to recommend to the Pulitzer Board, and the board picks the actual winner, as well as selecting the winners of all the other Pulitzer Prizes. The board does have the option to select a title not on the jury’s list, but it rarely does so nowadays.

The heyday for picking no book at all was the 1970s, a time of considerable cultural upheaval and conflict. In 1971, the board rejected titles from Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow and Joyce Carol Oates. In 1974, a stellar jury consisting of Benjamin DeMott, Elizabeth Hardwick and Alfred Kazin (three titans of literary criticism) unanimously recommended that the prize go to Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow.” The Pulitzer Board dug in its heels and said no. In 1977, the last time the prize was not awarded, the jury favored ”A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean and the board shut them down.

Why? According to the critic and experimental novelist William Gass, who wrote a notorious diatribe on the subject, the Pulitzer Board’s taste is hopelessly mainstream, middlebrow and unadventurous. (In 1941, most of the board did pick Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” but one member — who happened to be the president of Columbia University — put the kibosh on that because he considered the book immoral.) However, Gass’ complaint seems an absurd cavil to level against an institution whose power and influence resides precisely in the fact that it speaks to a broad audience.

The Pulitzer Board consists of working journalists and journalism professors, most with a deep respect for literature but relatively little familiarity with the literary world. This can be a strength and a weakness. The Pulitzer’s excellent record at singling out literary works that also appeal to a lot of readers is one reason why it has so much more influence than “insider” prizes like the National Book Award.

However, because the Pulitzer Board is fairly representative of educated Americans, it surely includes a lot of people who don’t really have time to read fiction — or, at least, literary fiction — anymore. Past boards might have been able to settle on a title that most of them had read even if it wasn’t offered as a finalist by the jury; reading at least a few of the “big” novels published during the year was something a lot more people did before the Internet and cable TV came along. In 21st-century America, the novel has become a marginalized and Balkanized art form, and even when avid fiction fans compare notes, they often find they’ve read nothing in common.

Chances are good that the three novels recommended by this year’s Pulitzer jury — “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell, “Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson, and “The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace — are the only three serious new novels many of the board members read last year, apart, perhaps, from one or two others. These people are, after all, pretty busy doing things like editing the Denver Post and running the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, jobs that are a lot more time-consuming than they used to be, as well as selecting the winners in the other Pulitzer categories.

By all accounts, the group could not reach a majority on any of the three titles recommended by the jury. It’s certainly unlikely that enough of them read fiction widely enough to agree on an alternate choice. In that, they truly are representative of American readers, and that bodes worse for our national literature than a year without a Pulitzer winner.

So, I was mistaken by blaming the judges for not selecting the winner. It was the board's fault. However, the titles chosen by the judges were uninspiring, at best.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:35am Top

I'm listening to NPR's Morning Edition, and one of the stories in this hour's segment will be an interview of the chairman who selected the Fiction jury.

>177 Chatterbox: If I look back at my best books of 2011, few of them were US novels, if any, or at least, not published in this calendar year.

I don't understand why U.S. literature is so tepid compared to novels published in the US, UK, India and elsewhere. I'll bet that I could easily select 10 British novels, ones I've read and ones I own but haven't read yet, that I would rank higher than Open City, my favorite American novel of 2011 to date.

Are American novelists not as talented as their counterparts in other countries? That seems hard to believe. Are major U.S. publishers focusing on novels that appeal to mainstream America rather than quality literary fiction that may not sell as well? That seems likely, especially after I read Boundaries by Elizabeth Nunez this weekend (my review will appear in the May/June issue of Belletrista). Are these publishers significantly different from those in the UK or Canada? Or, are most British and Canadian readers significantly different from American ones? I'm not sure.

On the other hand, I can think of several books of poetry and non-fiction written by Americans that I absolutely loved: The Emperor of All Maladies, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Memory Chalet, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, One with Others come to mind immediately.

Your thoughts?

I'll add Cutting for Stone to my short list of outstanding American novels published in the past five years.

>178 Cariola: I've heard of Andersonville but not House Made of Dawn. Looking back, there are very few Pulitzer winners that I've read: Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Old Man and the Sea (1953), A Confederacy of Dunces (1981), Middlesex (2003), The Known World (2004), and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008). That's six; I'll bet that I've read more Booker Prize winners than that...by my count, I've read 17.

>179 catarina1: Thanks for mentioning those two books about the interment of Japanese Americans in the US; I've added Only What We Could Carry to my wish list.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:40am Top

Today's poem:

Nothing But Death by Pablo Neruda, translated by Robert Bly

There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.


Apr 17, 2012, 8:21am Top

176> The one published last year that I thought was excellent is If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This: Stories by Robin Black.

Apr 17, 2012, 8:33am Top

Darryl, I'm not one of those "must read the entire short/long-list before prize announcement" types, but I'm glad you are. I look forward to following your Orangey reading. I always read the winner, and your impressions helps me decide which of the others I'm most interested in reading.

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 2:52pm Top

High Darryl! Having been out of circulation and as you're unable to make it over to us, I thought it was high time I caught up on your most recent thread (won't even attempt to catch up on however many old ones you have ;o)).

Sooo. I'm not much of a poetry reader (although I do enjoy Don Marquis, Wilfred Owen, T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and the odd thing here or there) , but I am trying to read more. Funnily enough, I put The Waste Land on my TBR pile last year at some point. I get the impression that it's important to read it in context though, so I've been saving it for when I have a bit more spare time. Should have been Christmas. Wasn't. I'd like to get round to it at some point this year though and you've whetted my appetite now...

I found your review of Swamplandia very useful - it's one of those that keeps popping up and I've been umming and erring about it for a while now. I think I may still give it a go, but I'll put it on hold.

Also, I'd be interested in your thoughts of IQ84 - I'll try to trawl your thread later on ;o)

#16 Re Seamus Heaney, I read and very much enjoyed his "translation" of Beowulf last year - definitely recommended if you haven't already read it.

...and shall be making my way back to City Lights in November!

#29 Re Lady of Shalot and Anne of Green Gables - me too!

#45 Suzanne, "On Yeats, "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" is a classic, and a fave of mine" - mine too. I kind of inherited it from my father too, so it always makes me think of him, particularly the final 2 lines:

"I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

#68 Wow - what an amazing woman! and #92 wonderful news about the little girl!

#181 Aha, Orange shortlist up. Hmmm, will investigate, but none of those particularly draw me in - wasn't Half Blood Blues on the Booker list? I keep spotting it around and every time decide that it's probably not for me... I read The Gathering by Ann Enright recently and thought it was OK, but it didn't blow me away - I don't feel any particular need to read anything else by her. Ann Patchett, I'm sure I've come across and been unimpressed by before too, but I can't think what it was that I read (The Magician's Assistant?). Will have to look closer at the list anyway.

#183 Re US authors of fiction, I'm sure there are plenty of talented authors who published in 2011! For starters, I loved The Night Circus and A Monster Calls, both of which have US authors.

Apr 17, 2012, 8:56am Top

I can't recall a single story collection published last year, and I'm sure I read one. Help...

Apr 17, 2012, 10:15am Top

>185 Cariola: Thanks, Deborah. I just read, and thumbed, your excellent review of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, and added it to my wish list.

>186 lauralkeet: Laura, this would be the first time I've considered reading the Orange Prize shortlist before the award ceremony; I've done this for the Booker Prize for the past two years. I had hoped that Gillespie and I would be shortlisted, so I'm quite disappointed that it didn't make the cut. I've only read 20 or so pages, so I could easily put it aside in favor of the five shortlisted books I haven't read yet. I was looking forward to reading it this week, so I may change my mind and read it this month after all.

My library has grown by nine books so far this week; I downloaded four 99 e-books to my Kindle on Sunday, received three Archipelago books from my 2011 subscription yesterday, and downloaded the two Orange shortlisted books I didn't already have earlier this morning. No more books for me, I'm full.

>187 flissp: Hi, Fliss! I'm quite bummed that I didn't fly to London last weekend and won't be seeing you, Rachael, Jenny and Luci this week. I have been in touch with JanetinLondon's husband, and we were also going to meet up the next time I was in the capital. Hopefully I can make it there in June; if not, I'll definitely make it there in the late summer or early fall.

Thanks for your poetry recommendations; the Eliot sounds interesting.

I'm glad that my review of Swamplandia! was useful to you. I've loved most of the Southern Gothic novels I've read so far, by Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers, but this book didn't come close to any of those books.

I haven't reviewed 1Q84 yet, but I loved it. It's my second favorite Murakami, after The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which knocked my socks off more than any other novel I've ever read.

You're right; Half Blood Blues did make last year's Booker Prize shortlist. It seems that practically everyone enjoyed that book more than I did. I haven't read anything by Ann Patchett, or anything by the other Orange shortlisted authors, so I'll be interested to see how much I enjoy these novels.

I thought that Patrick Ness was British, as I've seen his book reviews in the Guardian.

>188 richardderus: Lo siento, Ricardo. I can hardly remember which books I read last year.

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 10:26am Top

Darryl, I copied the poem in # 151 onto my thread because I want to remember it.
It's my favorite poem of the month, so far. :-)

Scanning through the discussion of Pulitzers, Orange shortlist, etc. I have several on hold at the library, but the queues are a bit long...... I thought I had already put Open City on hold, but I was mistaken, so I'm #90 in that queue. I predict I'll get it in June.

Apr 17, 2012, 11:19am Top

#189 I very nearly bought 1Q84 on my way in to London on Saturday, but it was such a tome, I thought I'd wait until I didn't have to lug it around with me! Sounds like I must buy it soon though...

Re London, there will be other occasions and it sounded to me like you made the right decision ;o) You'll have to keep us posted re June, I'm sure we can re-schedule!

Patrick Ness is American, but now lives in London and is a wonderful children's writer. I know you don't read much children's fiction, but I heartily recommend A Monster Calls to everyone, it's a beautiful book (physically also).

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 11:49am Top

Nice Neruda poem, Darryl. Did you ever see Il Postino? Really good fictional movie with him as a character.

My bad on Matterhorn; as Rebecca said, the paperback was published in 2011. Still can't believe it wasn't nominated in 2010.

Another one I was going to mention was The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, but that had the same problem, a 2010 hardcover pub. Ditto for The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason.

Apr 17, 2012, 12:08pm Top

I loved this: "as if they’d been run through Google Translate into Farsi and then run back again into English before being committed to print"

This is why I never agree to read/review self-published books, with only teeny exceptions once every five years...

I also like Miller's point about the "middlebrow" nature of the Pulitzer process. I suspect that is more true of more literary prizes that we choose to admit.

Interesting Orange shortlist... Anne (AnneDC) and I were debating Ozick's novel on my thread recently; she thought it wouldn't make the shortlist; I hoped it wouldn't but thought it might as it's very self-consciously literary and uber-referential. Basically, I disliked it. I didn't really like the Ann Patchett novel either. I've yet to read Half Blood Blues, although at this point I should probably get on with it and do so! I couldn't get more than 10 pages into Anne Enright's novel and sent it back to the library with nary a qualm. I'm about 15 pages into Painter of Silence, had no problem putting it down to finish a non-fiction galley and another ARC, so I'm doubtful it will displace The Song of Achilles as my hands-down favorite of the shortlist novels. That is a simply brilliant novel.

It feels almost as if the judges were selecting the novels that they "should" choose -- the hyper literary vs the imaginative or just very well written. Reminds me of last year, when Swamplandia was on the list; I think the only one I really loved was The Memory of Love.

Darryl, I had never stopped to ask myself about the state of American fiction. As I said, I did read novels by American authors last year that I enjoyed -- that is, if you consider Geraldine Brooks to be American by now! -- although most of them didn't end up on my list of most-enjoyed books. (Though Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon def. did!) I neither consciously avoid nor consciously seek them out, and don't really plan to do either in future. I do have A Visit from the Goon Squad here, for instance, and plan to read that; I read The Submission by Amy Waldman; I read some Henry James and Saul Bellow. I adored The Hours by Michael Cunningham, but his last book was underwhelming. I've got two novels by Arthur Phillips here that I need to read, Prague and The Tragedy of Arthur; either could turn out to be compelling. It may be me, it may be what I am choosing to read, it may be a bunch of things. I don't really think about patterns in that connection. For instance, I haven't yet read Matterhorn, yet I'm pretty sure I'll find it brilliant, based on Marlantes's non-fiction book and the recommendations of others.

What I did note was that several "newer" Canadian authors are on my list. Kate Taylor, for Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen, Joseph Boyden for his two novels and Linden Macintyre for the first two volumes in his Cape Breton trilogy. (which reminds me, #3 is just out and I must scurry off and order it!!!) I didn't consciously select them because they were Canadian, and I think they compare very favorably with The Sisters Brothers (and poss even with Half Blood Blues, though I will have to reserve judgment on that until I finish it!!)

I do believe that America is the home of great narrative non-fiction. Nathaniel Philbrick, Tony Horwitz, Erik Larson, so many great political writers, Megan Stack, author of Every Man in this Village is a Liar, In Pursuit of Silence by George Prochnik, Adam Hochschild's books, Moonwalking with Einstein, etc. etc. Yes, there's a lot of good writing of this kind being done in the UK as well, but not as much as here -- if the Orwell Prize were being awarded here, the longlist would be routinely far more interesting to non-Americans than the current one is to non-Brits. (eg, if you're not a Londoner or living in London, or you don't know it well -- and sometimes even then -- you don't really care about Boris....)

Apr 17, 2012, 12:14pm Top

>191 flissp: I remember seeing that 1Q84 was sold as two volumes in the UK, with Books 1 and 2 in the first volume, and Book 3 in the latter one. Is that still the case?

I haven't started my projects yet, but I'll do so today, starting with the completion of my state and federal tax reports.

You're right, I don't read YA fiction, but A Monster Calls looks awfully good. So, I'll add it to my wish list.

>192 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. I'm glad that you liked the poem by Neruda. I didn't see Il Postino, but I did read the book; unfortunately I didn't like it.

I haven't read Tinkers, the 2010 Pulitzer winner, or In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, one of that year's finalists, so I can't comment about Matterhorn in reference to those books.

Apr 17, 2012, 12:22pm Top

Oh and just my 2 cents worth -- if you're enjoying Gillespie and I, keep reading it!! don't feel you have to abandon it because a bunch of judges didn't bump it into the shortlist. The shortlist may be a goal, but it's not like a prescription -- take six shortlist novels and call me in three weeks... ! (sorry, being horribly bossy here, but "gillespie" is such a good novel, and I think more enjoyable than most of the works on the shortlist. dark and intriguing and really fun -- but not very light, unless you read it very superficially.)

Apr 17, 2012, 12:27pm Top

>195 Chatterbox:: hear hear!

Apr 17, 2012, 12:35pm Top

>194 kidzdoc: I didn't even know there was an Il Postino book, Darryl! This may be a case where the movie is better than the book, because we really loved the movie. But if the story in the book didn't appeal to you, the movie may not be your cuppa, either. It did win the BAFTA for Best Foreign Film, and its score got an Oscar.

Tinkers was pretty good, but to me not close to the level of Matterhorn.

Apr 17, 2012, 12:37pm Top

>195 Chatterbox:, 196 Hear, hear, hear, hear!

Gillespie and I was a pleasure to read.

Apr 17, 2012, 12:48pm Top

Ah, I missed the Neruda poem - I like his poem Ode To The Artichoke ;o)

Re 1Q84, I hope the copy I saw at the station was the full thing - if it was only 1 volume, the book must be MASSIVE!!

Gillespie and I hmmm? I've not come across it. This is what happens when I desert LT for months at a time, I become hopelessly out of date again!

Apr 17, 2012, 1:58pm Top

Here is a list made by Publishers Weekly of books not chosen by the Pulitzers.

Apr 17, 2012, 2:21pm Top

Richard, thanks for posting that. Still 'n all, there are a lot of books on there I don't think are worthy of an award, such as Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic, which was yet another of very very very clever writing with Great Big Ideas and Concepts, that left me so angry I threw the galleys in the garbage.

I also vehemently disagree with the following comment by the editor of Swamplandia: "the committee had it within their power to do something so wonderful for any one of those novelists. And they, for whatever reason, chose not to.” Sorry, dude, but the task they have is NOT to do something wonderful for a novelist, but to reward them for something wonderful that they have done. We may all be furious that they couldn't make a decision, and while I haven't read enough books on that list to opine as to whether the decision was really so tough, their mandate, at least, is clear. It's to reward a book, not give a novelist a career boost. Puh-leeez.

OK, off to get my blood pressure down a notch or two.

Apr 17, 2012, 2:30pm Top

Going back to the Pulitzer discussion and the question of books by US vs global writers, I looked at my favorite books since the beginning of 2011. I don't read a lot of contemporary/newly published US fiction, as I read a lot of older books and books from around the world. So perhaps I'm selective about what I read and for that reason like a lot of what I've read. In backwards order of when I read these works of new US fiction, I really liked:

Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman, published in 2011 and definitely prize-worthy, but a compilation of stories written over several decades
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, as mentioned above
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Once upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
Great House by Nicole Krauss
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom

Interestingly, with two exceptions, all my favorite newly released US fiction is by women. There were several new books by men that I read that I didn't like at all.

Looking at my favorite fiction of 2011, only one book was a recent release by a US author: Matterhorn. The others were six books published in the last 30- 40 years or so by British writers, five books published in the last 30 - b40 years or so by years by writers in other countries, and two older works by non-US/UK authors. In my runner-up category, only two, Train Dreams and Once Upon a River, were recent releases by US authors; there were one relatively recent novel by a US author, seven books of the past 30-40 years by UK authors, ten books of the past 30 or 40 years by writers from other countries, and two older books.

Apr 17, 2012, 2:39pm Top

Looking at the PW list, I'm not seeing many books there that appealed all that much to me; either I wasn't interested in reading or I didn't enjoy them enough. (There are a bunch I haven't tried yet, admittedly.) The big exception is Binocular Vision, which I read early last year and adored, but I think you're right, Rebecca, it's not really a "2011 book". And it's short stories.

Apr 17, 2012, 2:44pm Top

Nothing in the Pulitzer rules precludes story collections from being nominated, does it?

Apr 17, 2012, 2:45pm Top

>193 Chatterbox: Sorry, Suz; I missed this message entirely!

This is why I never agree to read/review self-published books, with only teeny exceptions once every five years...

That makes sense. To my knowledge, the only self-published book I read was Suffer the Children by Dr. Peter Palmieri, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.P. (*bows respectfully to the sound of Gideon's trumpet*), which was the worst book I've read that was written by a physician (*bows again, prepares to be slaughtered*).

Sometime this summer or fall I'll read Flow by my friend Roy Benaroch, which he self-published earlier this year. Other than letting me and his friends know that it was available as a free e-book for a limited period of time he has not asked me to review it or made any comment about it since then, other than to say that he doesn't think it's my cup of tea. (Wait...I did review his book on newborn care last month; it was quite good.) I'll submit as fair a review as I possibly can, knowing that it will be difficult to be critical of a book by someone I admire and respect as much as him.

The more I think about it, and the more I hear about many of the shortlisted books, the less excited I am about reading them, except for The Song of Achilles. I haven't read many positive comments about the Patchett or the Ozick, especially in comparison to Gillespie and I and The Song of Achilles.

BTW, I've never read The Iliad; should I read it before I start The Song of Achilles?

It feels almost as if the judges were selecting the novels that they "should" choose -- the hyper literary vs the imaginative or just very well written. Reminds me of last year, when Swamplandia! was on the list; I think the only one I really loved was The Memory of Love.

Let's see...The Memory of Love was my favorite book from last year's longlist, but I also loved Room and Grace Williams Says it Loud, and I thought that Lyrics Alley and The Tiger's Wife were quite good. I was lukewarm about Jamrach's Menagerie, The London Train, Swamplandia!, The Swimmer and Annabel were mediocre, at best.

Hmm...I just noticed that Jamrach's Menagerie was selected for the 2011 Orange Prize longlist, whereas Half Blood Blues is on this year's shortlist. Both novels were selected for last year's Booker Prize longlist.

I now own 11 of the 20 longlisted novels, including all six shortlisted novels and five other longlisted novels: Gillespie and I, The Grief of Others, Lord of Misrule, There but for the and The Submission. Other than The Song of Achilles, the three non-shortlisted novels I haven't read yet are more interesting to me than the shortlisted and unread ones.

Darryl, I had never stopped to ask myself about the state of American fiction.

A couple of my partners at work occasionally tease me about my choice of books, and my preference for British and world literature. And, my best friend's wife, who is from Belgium, taught at UCL and lived outside London before she married him, strongly prefers British writers to American ones. I didn't start thinking about the comparison between American and British literature until she and I started talking about it after my first trip to London in 2007, although our tastes in books have almost no overlap. Like you, I don't consciously choose a book depending on its country of origin, unless I'm doing so for a Reading Globally theme. If anything, I'd rather read more American literature, especially African American literature, than I have been in past years, and this was one of my unspoken goals for the year.

I do believe that America is the home of great narrative non-fiction.

From what I've read, I would completely agree with you. It's also the home of great poetry, IMO.

>195 Chatterbox:, 196 I think you're right; I'll resume reading Gillespie and I after I finish The Map and the Territory, and save State of Wonder for later this month or May.

Apr 17, 2012, 2:55pm Top

I had completely forgotten that Room was on last year's Orange list; yes, I thought that was v. good, and I still plan to read The Sealed Letter this year. I just bought Lyrics Alley, I think when I went book shopping with Anne in DC. Didn't like The Tiger's Wife; another High Concept novel that didn't resonate. Will be very interested to see what you think of State of Wonder.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:00pm Top

I'll let others comment on whether to read The Iliad before The Song of Achilles, Darryl, since I haven't read the SOA, but you definitely want to read The Iliad some time soon. It's remarkable, and I think it's woven into our lives' fabric. I liked the Fagles translation, as I did with The Odyssey.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:05pm Top

>197 jnwelch: I didn't even know there was an Il Postino book, Darryl!

Yes; The Postman by Antonio Skármeta is the book that the movie is based on. Akeela highly recommended it, but it didn't do anything for me when I read it, in 2010 I think. I don't watch movies; I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Fahrenheit 9/11.

I will read Tinkers eventually, but it resides in the middle of my TBR list.

>198 richardderus: Thanks for that vote for Gillespie and I, Richard. I'll resume reading it tomorrow or Thursday.

>199 flissp: Ooh, I love Ode to the Artichoke, Fliss! Here it is for the rest of you:

Ode to the Artichoke by Pablo Neruda

The artichoke
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
A small helmet
Under its scales
It remained
By its side
The crazy vegetables
Their tendrills and leaf-crowns,
Throbbing bulbs,
In the sub-soil
The carrot
With its red mustaches
Was sleeping,
The grapevine
Hung out to dry its branches
Through which the wine will rise,
The cabbage
Dedicated itself
To trying on skirts,
The oregano
To perfuming the world,
And the sweet
There in the garden,
Dressed like a warrior,
Like a proud
And one day
Side by side
In big wicker baskets
Walking through the market
To realize their dream
The artichoke army
In formation.
Never was it so military
Like on parade.
The men
In their white shirts
Among the vegetables
The Marshals
Of the artichokes
Lines in close order
Command voices,
And the bang
Of a falling box.

With her basket
She chooses
An artichoke,
She's not afraid of it.
She examines it, she observes it
Up against the light like it was an egg,
She buys it,
She mixes it up
In her handbag
With a pair of shoes
With a cabbage head and a
Of vinegar
She enters the kitchen
And submerges it in a pot.

Thus ends
In peace
This career
Of the armed vegetable
Which is called an artichoke,
Scale by scale,
We strip off
The delicacy
And eat
The peaceful mush
Of its green heart.

According to Amazon, the UK hardback edition of 1Q84 published last fall consists of the two volumes as I mentioned, whereas the paperback released earlier this month includes all three books.

I bought Gillespie and I from the London Review Bookshop last September, after the Guardian listed it as one of its books that should make the 2011 Booker longlist: Here's our Booker dozen – what's yours? As I've mentioned a number of times, the Guardian Dozen was far superior to the actual Booker Dozen, IMO. It included the winner, The Sense of an Ending and the second best book of the Booker Dozen, The Stranger's Child, along with Pure, the Costa Award winner, Chinaman, DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, The Good Muslim, one of my top 10 novels of last year, There but for the, a book that I liked but I suspect I'll love after a second reading, and several others which I have and expect that I'll enjoy thoroughly. I hope that the Guardian comes out with another list this summer ahead of the actual Booker longlist.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Darryl, I don't think you need to read the Iliad before Song of Achilles (it would certainly delay you...) I've read bits of it, and what I liked was the way that in some places Miller seems to echo the imagery and rhythm of Homer's poetry. I don't think it makes a difference whether you know what happens to Patroclus and Achilles, even; Miller wrote her book in the full knowledge that most of her readers would, and she created a novel that can cope with that kind of spoiler because it's so rich otherwise. Read it, really. It's one of a handful of novels I'm going to be forcing on everyone this year.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:25pm Top

>208 kidzdoc: I don't watch movies Wow! No wonder you get so much good reading done. I like them too much to ever say that, but it's impressive.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:30pm Top

Yikes; I seem to have fallen behind my own thread!

>200 richardderus: Excellent! Thanks for posting that list, Richard. Other than the ones I've previously mentioned I've also read We the Animals by Justin Torres, which I liked but wouldn't rave about. I'll look more closely at the others in the next day or two.

>201 Chatterbox: I completely agree with your critique by the editor of Swamplandia!, Suz. That book has certainly received far more attention than all but a handful of books: Orange Prize longlist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, NYT 10 Best Books of 2011. I suspect that this editor is more interested in putting a feather in her own cap than seeing Karen Russell win the Pulitzer.

>202 rebeccanyc: I look forward to reading Lord of Misrule and Great House. Based on numerous positive comments I'll almost certainly read Binocular Vision and Matterhorn this year.

I think that all of my favorite American novels, except for Open City (which was written by a Nigerian nationalist living in the U.S.), was written by women. I'll have to do a detailed analysis of my reading tendencies since 2007, and see what it tells me.

>203 Chatterbox: Many of the books on the PW list are completely or largely unfamiliar to me. I'll look for reviews of them on LT and elsewhere, and see if I can borrow the most interesting ones from my local library or the Emory University library system.

>204 richardderus: Nothing in the Pulitzer rules precludes story collections from being nominated, does it?

You're right; I see that The Collected Stories by Grace Paley was selected as a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer.

>206 Chatterbox: I bought State of Wonder last year, after it was nominated for the 2011 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, the award for the best fiction and nonfiction books of medicine in literature, which was given to Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. It was on my list of planned reads this month, so I'll almost certainly read it within the next week, or next month at the latest.

>207 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. I do want to read The Iliad and The Odyssey in the near future, and I'll look for the translations you mentioned.

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 3:36pm Top

>209 Chatterbox: Thanks, Suz. I'll postpone reading The Iliad for now, but I'll plan to read it next year.

>210 jnwelch: I don't watch much television, either. I don't think I've turned it on since Friday morning, when I watched the local news while I ironed my clothes, my typical workday morning routine. I'd much rather listen to NPR, and the only TV shows I'm passionate about are The PBS NewsHour, which I've been a fan of since it was known as The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and The Charlie Rose Show, also on PBS.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:36pm Top

*waving* at Darryl

Apr 17, 2012, 3:53pm Top

Hi Stasia! It's great to see you here.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:53pm Top

Thanks, Darryl. I am going to try and keep up with threads for the next 2 weeks. After that I am not making any promises :)

Apr 17, 2012, 4:30pm Top

oh dear.. I am sadly behind and totally unable to catch up because I will try again soon.

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 5:33pm Top

>215 alcottacre: It will be good to see you even for a short while, Stasia. You're always welcome here.

>216 mckait: This thread has exploded over the past two days. I can hardly keep up with it myself, but I am enjoying the company and lively literary conversation.

Taxes are done!!! Unfortunately my huge federal refund became much smaller after I realized that paid a little over $9100 in state taxes, rather than the $910,000 and change that I had originally entered. Pesky decimal points.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:16pm Top

Grrr.... we're going to be late submitting our taxes ...again....but since I know we won't be owing anything but that the government will owe us a rebate, I'm sure they don't care that we will file late. Hate doing them and because the hubster works from home, we have a more complicated task since we get more de-ductables (which is nice) and need to ensure the figures are all right. Pesky decimal points indeed ... last year I think we checked and re-checked until we were crossed eyed.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:47pm Top

I hate doing taxes more than I hate paying them, I think.

I'm about to celebrate with the traditional post-tax day meal of pork dumplings, calamari and won ton soup, along with a large mug of Jim Beam.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:50pm Top

That sounds like a great post-tax celebratory meal, Darryl. I have 3 conference calls tonight, the first starting in 10 mins, so an early dinner of goat cheese and beet salad was the only thing I could put together quickly. I'd much rather have what you've got planned for your meal.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:53pm Top

I think it's interesting that there were no suitable novels to win the Pulitzer yet there are at least two Americans on the Orange short list and an American has won the last two Orange Prizes. Maybe Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision did contain previously published stories but it also had thirteen new ones and had been nominated for the National Book Award. I really think the format of the Pulitzer has become antiquated. Other prizes come up with a fairly lengthy long list that they then whittle down to a shortlist before eventually picking a winner. And all along the way, they are building excitement and selling books for the writers as readers want to read what's been nominated. I think it helps to promote what everyone calls a dying industry. I pay less and less attention to the Pulitzer and prefer the Orange, Booker and National Book Award.

Apr 17, 2012, 6:53pm Top

Goat cheese and beet salad sounds good to me.

Actually, make that a mug of carrot juice, and a small, medicinal dose of Jim Beam, in case anyone thought I was serious. ;-)

Apr 17, 2012, 7:01pm Top

>221 brenzi: There are three American authors on the shortlist: Madeline Mitchell, for The Song of Achilles, Cythia Ozick, for Foreign Bodies, and Ann Patchett, for State of Wonder.

I really think the format of the Pulitzer has become antiquated. Other prizes come up with a fairly lengthy long list that they then whittle down to a shortlist before eventually picking a winner. And all along the way, they are building excitement and selling books for the writers as readers want to read what's been nominated. I think it helps to promote what everyone calls a dying industry. I pay less and less attention to the Pulitzer and prefer the Orange, Booker and National Book Award.

I agree 100%. I love the format of the UK literary awards, which generates excitement and encourages dedicated readers to pick up longlisted books and read them (as is patently obvious from the excitement about the Orange and Booker Prizes on LT). The Pulitzer Prize has an impressive title going for it, but not much else to maintain my interest.

Apr 17, 2012, 8:31pm Top

Way back up there on some forgotten post, Suzanne said: Didn't like The Tiger's Wife; another High Concept novel that didn't resonate. I liked it okay (probably more than you, Suzanne, but less than Darryl), but this is a great brief description of how it fell short for me.

I love all this discussion about various prize nominees. I'm making a list of books to put on hold.... several from the Publisher's Weekly list. And, I agree with 221, as well. Much more fun for us readers. :-)

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 11:52pm Top


I just spent the past two hours catching up on your thread Darryl, and I now feel like I should be eligible for a university credit or two, or three. Or something. An award maybe? lol. Admittedly, I HAD missed a whole lot, having not come back since my April 2 visit. It seemed to me like it had only been a few days since I last came, but time does get ahead of me in ever larger strides.

So much to comment on, but I won't cover everything as I'll be writing for the next hour and boring everyone in the process.

I should have headed over here immediately yesterday after seeing the news about the lack of Pulitzer award this year. I knew I'd find my answers here and was well rewarded today.

I just finished The Song of Achilles today and other than a couple of minor quibbles with the story, thought it was very engaging and worthy of being nominated for a prize or two. I haven't read anything else on the Orange Prize shortlist, though I look forward to reading State of Wonder, which I've just put in my shopping basket at BookDepository along with Gillespie and I—reward or not, I've seen so many glowing recommendations for both I've decided they are must-read-right-now novels.

Many many book bullets, several of which are "indirect" hits. I'm always discovering new-to-me authors on your threads and this time was no exception. One With Others is on the list because of your wonderful (now thumbed) review and excerpt. Several hits with Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I looked up our library system and found three collections: Love in the Days of Rage, Her and Amant des gares, a book of French poems (apparently his first language?). Antonio Tabucchi is also a new revelation; I found a huge cache of his books in our library system (63 to be exact), with only three in English translation, all others in the original Italian (12) and mostly French translation (48). I look forward to reading The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro, Pereira Declares, Indian Nocturne and perhaps others someday.

Love your selection of daily poems. Maybe we'll publish "Darryl's April Anthology of Wonderfully Diverse Poetry" someday? I too am a fan of "Ah, the freshness in the face of leaving a task undone!" by Fernando Pessoa, which I will probably post on my blog very soon as it seems to express perfectly my own life at this time.

"A Blessing", posted by Deborah is so wonderfully evocative and sums up completely my feelings every time I've stopped by a horse enclosure or cow pasture on my way to somewhere else.

Finally, about The Tiger's Wife: I know it didn't resonate with many readers, but I couldn't disagree more with Suzanne's comment that it is "a triumph of style over substance", though of course this is valid as her own opinion. Perhaps it's a cultural thing. Having grown up as a small child on a diet of East European folklore fed to me by both my Russophile mother and Russian/Polish Jewish father. The story, within story within story format was very much like matryoshka dolls, which are much more than simple dolls, but to me, evocative of the soul of the people, which are composed of layers upon layers of myths and fables, each relating to the human condition. As you can see, this is an entirely subjective opinion and perhaps not very well worded, but I just feel like I must speak up in defence of a novel that affected me to the core, something which doesn't happen every day, or indeed, every year.

Thank you for reading :-)

Apr 18, 2012, 12:17am Top

Ilana - loved your comments on The Tiger's Wife, I felt very much the same about it.

As far as the Pulitzer Prize goes, I have to admit that it doesn't make waves in this part of the world. I'm of the opinion that it's the longlists and shortlists that are worth our time, the winners almost always seem to be a compromise. As for the Orange List, I'm wanting to read Gillespie and I, Foreign Bodies and Song of Achilles, just need to elbow in some reading time.

Apr 18, 2012, 1:08am Top

Agree with Joe re: translation of Iliad and Odyssey to read; agree with Suz on necessity to read Iliad before Song of Achilles (not); reiterate urgency to read novel soonest.

I Pearl Ruled The Tiger's Wife. Tedious.

The Pullet Surprise in Fiction isn't like the Orange or other prizes. Anyone can nominate a book, for an entry fee. The fiction that all books receive equal attention would be hard to maintain in a long list/short list format.

Apr 18, 2012, 5:22am Top

Today's poem:

A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neonfruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Apr 18, 2012, 6:54am Top

>224 EBT1002: I wasn't all that fond of The Tiger's Wife. It was my fourth favorite book from last year's Orange shortlist, after The Memory of Love, Grace Williams Says it Loud and Room. I haven't read Great House yet, but I suspect that The Tiger's Wife would slip into fifth place, followed only by Annabel, which I disliked.

The only reason that The Tiger's Wife was one of my three favorite American novels of 2011 is that I read so few of them from that year. Hopefully I'll do much better in 2012.

>225 Smiler69: Ilana, I can't give you college credits, but I can give you 2 hours of continuing medical education (CME) credits, provided that you take the multiple choice exam at the end of this thread.

I'm glad to hear that you also enjoyed The Song of Achilles. I'll probably read it within the next week, after I finish Gillespie and I.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti has written a novel (Love in the Days of Rage)? I had no idea; thanks for mentioning this! I'll look for it on my next trip to City Lights.

I looked at his Wikipedia page, and you're right; French was his first language, to my surprise. He was born just outside of NYC, to a Italian father and a French mother of Sephardic descent. His father died before he was born, and his mother was institutionalized soon after his birth. He was raised by his maternal aunt in Strasbourg, France for the first five years of his life, until she brought him back to the US.

My favorite books by Ferlinghetti are A Coney Island of the Mind, and San Francisco Poems.

I had no idea that Tabucchi had written so many books! I think that only eight have been translated into English so far, all by New Directions.

I'm glad that you're enjoying the poems. It's been fun, and I'll certainly do it again next year. Since I copied Richard's excellent idea of posting a new image at the beginning of a new thread, I'll probably also copy Suz's equally great idea of posting an opening poem.

"A Blessing" is wonderful. I'll have to look for more poems by James Wright.

Maybe there should be an anthology of favorite poems from the group as a whole; "A Blessing" and "Ode to the Artichoke" deserve to be there.

I enjoyed your comments about and spirited defense of The Tiger's Wife. I liked it better than Suz did, but not as well as you. I love the difference of opinions about books in LT, and especially the respect we afford each other when we do disagree.

Apr 18, 2012, 7:13am Top

>226 avatiakh: As far as the Pulitzer Prize goes, I have to admit that it doesn't make waves in this part of the world. I'm of the opinion that it's the longlists and shortlists that are worth our time, the winners almost always seem to be a compromise.

That makes sense. The country specific awards (Giller, Miles Franklin, etc.) are far less interesting to me than the international prizes. I completely agree that the long- and shortlists for my favorite awards are more interesting to me than the winner itself, and that the winner is more likely to be a book that a majority of judges can agree on, rather than an exceptional or outstanding work.

>227 richardderus: I shall almost certainly read The Song of Achilles within the next few days.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 8:25am Top

I Pearl Ruled The Tiger's Wife. Tedious. very wise rd... I didn't have that option.. it was
a poor choice for me from Vine. I did not like it at all.

Pulitzer Prize.. I have the luxury of not having to care one whit what some strangers think are
books that should be read. Especially read by me. PffffffT I say to all of those lists... I depend on
Serendipitous Discovery and am happy that way :)

I had to laugh Darryl, at your advice for concussion victims on my thread...
What on earth are those kids supposed to do?? :)

Apr 18, 2012, 8:11am Top

#226 As far as the Pulitzer Prize goes, I have to admit that it doesn't make waves in this part of the world

I think that would go for the UK as well. I had a conversation with a couple of people in my Book Group about the Pulitzer a few months ago and they were both convinced 100% that the Pulitzer didn't even have a fiction section. And they were people who read a lot of literary fiction

Apr 18, 2012, 2:48pm Top

I'm just over one third of the way through The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq, which won the Prix Goncourt in 2010, and I'm not exactly loving it so far. I understand that it gets better, so I'll stick with it to the end, for now.

>231 mckait: I wouldn't have used the word tedious to describe The Tiger's Wife. IMO it was an enjoyable read, but not a memorable one.

PffffffT I say to all of those lists... I depend on Serendipitous Discovery and am happy that way :)

I'm sure you'll be shocked out of your socks to learn that I love these lists, even when I don't agree with the books selected for the longlists, the shortlists, or the prize winners. I've discovered dozens of books that I've absolutely loved, ones that I almost certainly wouldn't have heard of or read otherwise: Wolf Hall, The Glass Room, The Memory of Love, Burnt Shadows, Grace Williams Says it Loud, Hearts and Minds, The Stranger's Child, Man Gone Down, The Stranger's Child, etc. I've read some books from these lists that have disappointed me and been a complete waste of time, such as Snowdrops, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, C and Me Cheeta, but I suspect that's true of everyone here. And, as I've mentioned ad nauseum, last year's Booker speculation list by the Guardian was an outstanding list of the best novels from the Commonwealth of Nations, and I wouldn't have learned about several of these novels, e.g., Chinaman, The Good Muslim and The Visiting Angel, otherwise.

*clears throat, steps off of soapbox*

I had to laugh Darryl, at your advice for concussion victims on my thread...
What on earth are those kids supposed to do?? :)

What are you doing on the computer? Didn't you read about cognitive rest? (Wait...you're not supposed to be reading.) I'm sure that laughing and thinking aren't permitted, either! ;-)

I think that set of recommendations, although well intentioned, goes a bit overboard. Strenuous mental activities should be avoided, but routine activities like watching television (how mindless can you get?) and reading should be allowed (although the types of books I read should probably be avoided).

>232 SandDune: Interesting, Rhian. I'll bet that more people in the UK will learn about the Pulitzer now, thanks to this controversy; yesterday's Guardian included two articles about the Pulitzer, Pulitzers 2012: prize for fiction withheld for first time in 35 years by Alison Flood, and Pulitzer should take a leaf out of the Orange prize's book by Robert McCrum.

Apr 18, 2012, 3:19pm Top

Waffle, anyone?

Apr 18, 2012, 3:41pm Top

OOh those waffles look good. I've just had my morning oatmeal so am not too tempted.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 4:36pm Top

RIP Dick Clark, the longtime host of "American Bandstand" and the "world's oldest teenager."

Dick Clark, Legendary Producer, Has Died

Apr 18, 2012, 5:25pm Top

Hi Darryl! I've just caught up and am really digging all of the poetry here. And, thanks for the notice about Dick Clark a little while ago - sad, even if it's not necessarily surprising. Sorry about your cancelled London trip - how will the bookstores stay afloat without you?!? ;) Enjoy the rest of your night!

Apr 18, 2012, 5:38pm Top

Makes me want to hunt down the Waffels & Dinges food truck....

Ilana, tks for your comments re The Tiger's Wife. I'm not sure that my being underwhelmed by the book was a cultural thing; I've read others that relied on fables or fairy tales as narrative or framing devices. I think what grated on me with that book was that I always heard the author's voice over top of that of her characters. She wanted to make a point, to draw parallels, and her focus with doing so overtook the narrative, IMO. Of course, all reading is subjective, once you get past the basic issue of evaluating whether an author is able to deliver competent writing and coherent plotting, and I'd never try to impose my POV of a work that does have some literary merit on anyone else. But while I'm glad that it did resonate so deeply with you, it didn't even begin to touch me. Let's assume for a second that I am underestimating the cultural distance. Well, cultural issues bar readers from fully relishing a work of literature when the author hasn't delivered in some other respect. For instance, I can relate very readily to The Buru Quartet by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, which draws very heavily on Javanese traditions. and works written by African writers, which are much further away from me culturally than Obreht. Salman Rushdie is another author who writes in a particularly distinctive way that comes directly from his cultural heritage -- whether I like or dislike the books he produces, it's not for the same reasons that The Tiger's Wife left me cold. Again, please believe I'm not trying to challenge your opinion, just trying to be more clear on the basis for my own.

Actually, that reminds me, I should re-read the Buru Quartet, starting with This Earth of Mankind. I don't even think that the third and fourth books had been available when I first read it. I should embark on a Southeast Asian reading-fest! (I'm finishing Sightseeing, Rattawut Lapcharoensap's book of short stories set in Thailand, although I gather he now lives in the US and these were written in English.)

Apr 18, 2012, 5:40pm Top

Thank you for the Allen Ginsburg poem, Darryl! I think it's in his Howl and Other Poems, isn't it? That book's my favorite of his.

Since you liked A Blessing, I didn't think you'd mind me posting another short one of his I like:

Outside Fargo, North Dakota by James Wright

Along the sprawled body of the derailed Great Northern freight car,
I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly.
No wind.

Beyond town, three heavy white horses
Wade all the way to their shoulders
In a silo shadow.

Suddenly the freight car lurches.
The door slams back, a man with a flashlight
Calls me good evening.
I nod as I write good evening, lonely
And sick for home.

Apr 18, 2012, 6:01pm Top

Well, Darryl, I am finally caught up on your thread. I am loving the poetry selections but it does make it very difficult to skim! You may have explained this earlier, but how are you selecting the poems of the day? I'm guessing they aren't coming from one big anthology.

I'd have to think about US fiction I particularly enjoyed in 2011. I did read Train Dreams and thought it was very good, probably not my favorite book of the year but certainly worth consideration for an award. I've never been able to understand why Swamplandia! generates so much hype, however, and The Pale King I've not been motivated to tackle. I do find the longlist/shortlist approach of the Orange and Booker to be a lot more fun to engage in as a reader, but some of the Pulitzer winners over the years have been books I've really loved, so I'm not quite ready to ignore the whole process.

Apr 18, 2012, 6:54pm Top

Hmmm, why have I yet to read Updike, or Roth, or more than one of Bellow's novels??? I feel unmotivated and dunno why. Theories?

Apr 18, 2012, 7:54pm Top

Suz, I'm there with you. I have books by all three of those authors on my TBR pile and list, but I never seem to get around to choosing them over something else. I think I've put American Pastoral on a TIOLI challenge at least twice, and both times I had to remove it at the end of the month. Now I think it's hiding behind some other books on the famous shelf (which is, yes, two books deep and now has piles on the floor in front of it....).

This has been such a lively discussion of The Tiger's Wife and lists, in general. I love lists and agree that they have led me to books I would not otherwise have discovered. And, as you say, Darryl, that doesn't mean I always agree with them.

Apr 18, 2012, 7:58pm Top

#236: I had not heard the news about Dick Clark. Sorry to hear it.

Apr 18, 2012, 8:29pm Top

Did you eat those waffles for breakfast today, Darryl? Oh my... I could do the one with the bananas, chocolate & cream, and the strawberries n cream one. *drool*

I have to chime in my gratitude to the lists too because they make me curious enough to want to check them out. I don't always like all the books nominated but I've also found some absolute gems because of the lists. Without them, I doubt I'd have even come across some of the books or authors.

Apr 18, 2012, 8:50pm Top

I love waffles...mmm mmm

I can just picture poor concussed kids siting straight up.. backs against the wall...lol

Apr 18, 2012, 10:39pm Top

I'm glad I decided to continue reading The Map and the Territory and ignore the Pearl Rule. It came together for me at around page 100, and it quickly became a book I couldn't put down, and one that I hated to see come to an end. It was rich in detail, with a variety of themes, including the intersection of art with the Industrial Age and with postmodern society, the relevance of literature as an art form, unrequited love, what constitutes a meaningful life and a good death, the father-son relationship in middle age (son) and at the end of life (father), etc. The novel was full of unique surprises and unexpected twists and turns, and I am reluctant to discuss them, to avoid spoiling it for anyone who may want to read it. I'll have to gather my thoughts for a day or two before I write a review, but it will almost certainly be amongst my favorite novels of the year, and it's certainly a worthy winner of the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award. I'll give it 4½ stars for now.

There have been other books that I've continued to read, even though I wanted to give up at the 50 page mark. I've disliked the vast majority of them, but there have been at least 2-3 other books that I'm glad I stuck with.

This book, IMO, is yet another example of the value of lists and literary awards, as I probably wouldn't have read it had it not won the Prix Goncourt. I have one other book by Houllebecq, Atomised, and I'll move it considerably higher on my TBR list.

Apr 18, 2012, 11:06pm Top

>235 avatiakh: In a way I'm glad that this thread is near its end, so that I don't have to look at those irresistible waffles for much longer!

>237 LauraBrook: Glad to see you here, Laura! I'm glad that you're also enjoying the poetry. I shouldn't be surprised about Dick Clark's death, as he was 82 years old, but I thought he would live to his 90s or longer, given how good he looked. I'm seriously considering a short trip to London in June, and I'll certainly buy books then, as several enticing books are being published in the UK later this month and in May. I've already pre-ordered two books from Amazon UK: Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye, the first woman of African descent to win the Prix Goncourt, which will be published in English translation next week (I'll review it for issue 18 of Belletrista); and Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall, which comes out on May 10th.

>238 Chatterbox: I do want to read The Buru Quartet at some point; deebee (formerly in the 75 Books group, now on Club Read) recommended it in 2009, and she is probably the #1 threat to my TBR reduction plans.

>239 jnwelch: I think you're right, Joe. I know that I have Howl and Other Poems, even though my LT library denies it. I've read "Howl", but I don't think I finished the collection.

Thanks for posting "Outside Fargo, North Dakota"; it's also very good. Please feel free to post poems on this thread anytime, during April or at any other time!

>240 AnneDC: Thanks, Anne. I don't think I have explained where I've gotten my poems from. Some have come from books or literary journals I own, but the vast majority have come from Poets.org, the web site of the Academy of American Poets. I usually have a poet in mind, based on the collections I already own, and I've looked for poems by that author on this web site. I'd prefer to post poems that are already in the public domain, rather than post one from one of my books that is not available online, out of respect to the author. I choose poems that strongly appeal to me and aren't too lengthy.

Apr 18, 2012, 11:43pm Top

>241 Chatterbox: Hmmm, why have I yet to read Updike, or Roth, or more than one of Bellow's novels??? I feel unmotivated and dunno why. Theories?

Hypothesis #1: Too much chick lit; it's dulled and atrophied your brain.

Hypothesis #2: As the Pulitzer Prize board proved this week, journalists wouldn't know quality fiction if it smacked them in the mouth.

Hypothesis #3 (written from my local fallout shelter): You have a tendency to avoid fiction about oversexed, angst-ridden and ennui-laden middle-aged American men. I suspect this is true for Updike and Roth more than it is for Bellow. I did like Henderson the Rain King and Ravelstein, and I had planned to read The Adventures of Augie March later this year. I may put Bellow off until next year, as I did want to focus on Nabokov this year.

>242 EBT1002: Same here, Ellen. I also own American Pastoral, but it has migrated to the bottom of my TBR list and to the back of one of my bookcases, behind the most prominent books. I'll probably sell my copy or give it away, as there are several hundred books I own that I'd rather read first.

>243 alcottacre: Same here, Stasia. I'm sure most of us grew up watching Dick Clark on a regular basis, and will miss seeing him, particularly on New Year's Eve.

>244 cameling: I didn't have one of those waffles for breakfast, although I'd love one right now.

As you said, the literary award lists are very valuable, as they introduce readers to excellent literature and unknown authors, provide these authors with much needed recognition and financial gain, and encourage people to talk about books and visit bookstores.

The PBS NewsHour ended tonight's broadcast with a segment about the Pulitzer controversy, as Jeffrey Brown spoke with Ann Patchett and Lev Grossman, which was a very interesting conversation:

Ann Patchett: Pulitzers Skipping Fiction Prize a 'Big Loss' for Booksellers

Patchett wrote an Op-Ed piece in yesterday's New York Times, lamenting that no award was given, and Grossman wrote about it in the online edition of Time, but he felt somewhat differently than Patchett:

Patchett: And the Winner Isn’t...

Grossman: Why I’m Okay With There Being No Pulitzer for Fiction This Year

>245 mckait: I can just picture poor concussed kids siting straight up.. backs against the wall...lol

LOL, on one hand. However, I have taken care of two kids this year who suffered severe concussions and had to be hospitalized, one at least twice. Both of them had horrible and difficult to control headaches, vomiting, visual changes, short term cognitive deficits, and overall looked like crap. Neither was back to baseline by the time of discharge from the hospital. I felt badly for both of them, and I hope they each make a full recovery.

Apr 19, 2012, 6:46am Top

Book #39: Waifs and Strays by Micah Ballard

My rating: , or

This is a collection of poems published by City Lights, written by an accomplished poet who now directs the MFA program at the University of San Francisco. According to the cover, Waifs and Strays "recombines the allure, fixations, and diction of the Metaphysical poets with the alert and streetwise fracturing and instant amazements in contemporary San Francisco."

Fine. If you appreciate that quote, you'll probably get more out of this book than I did. I found these poems to be almost completely inscrutable and thoroughly confusing, and I apparently bought it without reading several poems beforehand, as I usually do. "First Lesson in Arabic" is a typical example:

First Lesson in Arabic

It was hard to see he was an ordinary man
that I was an ambassador
& there was no one you could trust besides the merchandise.
Some said he carved them forever
& even if I tried to forget the fragrance
would always bring me back.
There were alabaster jars, they had things written on them
painted figures, all of which were crossing a bridge
no one dared to drink from them, this I knew
his own kind wouldn't even whisper the secret of distillation.
It was said never to be recorded
not even through symbols, this I knew too
just past the first pull

If anyone understands this poem and wants this book, please send me a PM, and it's yours.

Apr 19, 2012, 8:04am Top


Updike.. I never read him and never will. He was a patient where I worked at one time.
He was barely civil to us ( front desk) each time he came in. I never read anything of his
before meeting him, and now never will. ( This was in the mid-late 80's)

No Pulitzer for fiction.. just annoys me . A lot.
I may not agree with lists and prizes.. I do not agree with anyone or group judging books..
Reading pleasure is too subjective for that in my opinion. However, if a group sets themselves
up as some oracle of good judgement and then completely disregards the choices available is
rude and arrogant. Who evaluates and chooses the books in the first place? Now mind, I didn't agree
with some of their choices, but since I don't care about such things, I paid little attention. Then they
pulled this stunt. It made me angry. I feel that it was rude and arrogant and has made me even
less interested in such things..


Sorry about the rant.. :P

It just ticked me off.

Apr 19, 2012, 8:31am Top

>250 mckait: Interesting comment about Updike, Kath. I don't think I've read anything by him, not even one of his New Yorker short stories. I've considered reading the Rabbit Angstrom series, but I probably won't for awhile.

Now that I've learned about the selection process for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction I'm also ticked off about the decision by the Pulitzer board to withhold the prize this year. It seems as though there should be a contingency plan in place, in the event that one book doesn't receive a majority of first place votes. If the board felt that none of the books were worthy of the prize, why not postpone the award until a different set of books could be recommended by the judges? If the board did like the books, but was deadlocked, why not take a second vote, or ask each member to rank the three books, e.g. 3 points for the first place book, 2 points for the second place book, and 1 point for the third place book? If I was one of the judges and had spent months reading hundreds of books, only to see the board unable to make a choice on only three books, I would be royally pissed off.

Ann Patchett made an interesting point about the Pulitzer controversy on last night's PBS NewsHour. She was unhappy about the board's decision, but also noted that more people have been discussing the Pulitzer Prize this year than in most years, and there have been several lists of best American novels and short stories published in 2011 that have been posted this week.

Time for a new thread...

Apr 19, 2012, 8:41am Top

>248 kidzdoc: Hypothesis 3: No need for a fall out shelter from me. That is exactly what I can't stand about Roth and Updike. I have a real hard time stomaching the egos embodied in their books that I've read. OTOH, my 26 year old son (a long with a lot of other people) thinks Roth is great.

Thanks for the link to The Newshour clip

Just finished reading The Buddha in the Attic}...the only other book written in the first person plural that I can recall reading is Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried another really good read. Which causes me to jump to the topic of the Viet Nam War.....and then to the book Matterhorn...IMO a must read.

Apr 19, 2012, 8:59am Top

> 175

Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz (South Africa)

...er, make that Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz (Israel)

Apr 19, 2012, 9:28am Top

>252 tangledthread: No, the fallout shelter is needed after the smart ass comments I leveled in Suz's direction. I'm sure there will be payback at some point.

I also can't stand novels about men on ego trips or going through midlife crises. I thought that is where Michel Houellebecq was heading when I made a negative comment about The Map and the Territory yesterday afternoon. Fortunately that subject was quickly set aside, and the book picked up immediately afterward.

I'll definitely have to read Matterhorn this year, as I've heard nothing but praise for it. I wonder why the Pulitzer judges didn't choose it over Swamplandia! or one of the other books that were listed as finalists?

>253 SqueakyChu: Uh, right. Thanks for picking up on that, Madeline! That passage should have read Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz (Israel), and Other Lives by André Brink (South Africa), which I mentioned as two of my favorite works of fiction from 2011. Both were short story collections, which is probably why I incorrectly associated Amos Oz with the country of André Brink. Or, it could be yet another example of early onset Alzheimer's...

Apr 20, 2012, 1:15pm Top

201> You and I must be the only ones not taken in by The Buddha in the Attic.

Darryl, I hope you don't decide to put aside Gillespie and I. It's the kind of book that gains momentum as you read.

I'll move on to your new thread.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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