Laytonwoman3rd Challenges 2013 Second Half
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I'll keep track of my reading for the second half of the year here. You can find my list from the first six months of 2013 in the next message.
An * indicates a library book.
82. Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon
81. *White Butterfly by Walter Mosely
80. When the News Went Live by Huffaker et al.
79. Civil to Strangers by Barbara Pym
78. * RL's Dream by Walter Mosley
77. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
76. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
NOVEMBER In which I hope to reach 75, with a month left for a chunkster or something.
75. In the Bedroom by Andres Dubus
74. Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan
73. * An Academic Question by Barbara Pym
72. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
71. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
70. The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
69. W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
OCTOBER Hoping to concentrate on my own shelves this month
68. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin
67. An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym
66. The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns
65. Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro
64. Andrew's Brain by E. l. Doctorow
63. *The Cranefly Orchid Murders by Cynthia Riggs
62. * Maphead by Ken Jennings
61. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
SEPTEMBER Series and Sequels
60. * The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt audiobook
59. * The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
58. * Broken Harbor by Tana French
57. Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig ER copy
56. Fallen Angel by Don J. Snyder
55. The Racketeer by John Grisham
54. Killer Market by Margaret Maron
53. * Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Coterill
52. Light in August by William Faulkner
51. Robert B. Parker's Damned if You Do by Michael Brandman ER copy
AUGUST DAMN, the year is getting away from me.
50. Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry
49. Roberts' Guide for Butlers & Other Household Staff by Robert Roberts
48. Rhythmic Ramblings poetry by Elizabeth Stephens Lotterer and Nellie Stephens
47. Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns
46. The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym
45. The Wisdom of Ashes by Jonathan Kline
44. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
43. Manila Noir edited by Jessica Hagedorn ER copy
42. The Distant Clue by Frances and Richard Lockridge
41. Pylon by William Faulkner
40. My Promised Land by Ari Shavit ER copy publication date November 2013
39. Eleanor Roosevelt's ValKill by Richard Cain
38. The Country of The Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett
2013 READING LISTS January through June
An * indicates a library book
37. Trousering Your Weasel by Murr Brewster
36. Airframe by Michael Crichton
35. The Teahouse of the August Moon by Vern Sneider
34. * Deadly Nightshade by Cynthia Riggs
33. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
32. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.
31. Apple of My Eye by Helene Hanff
30. * The Yard by Alex Grecian
29. A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym
28. Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman
27. * Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri
26. Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough
25. Robert B. Parker's Wonderland by Ace Atkins ER copy
24. The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
23. Kate's Klassics by Kate Camp
22. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
21. * If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk
20. A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
19. Creole Belle by Jame Lee Burke
MARCH Mystery March, although not exclusively
18. * Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
17. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot
16. Murder Out of Turn by Frances & Richard Lockridge
15. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
14. * The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri
13. Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
12. * Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
11. The Cat Behind the Hat by Caroline Smith
10. Bodies of Water by Rosanne Cash
My daughter and I will be reading Pride and Prejudice together in February. It will be the first time I've tucked into it. I won't read the second Barbara Pym for the centenary reads, Excellent Women as I read it a couple years ago. I hope to concentrate on getting a few more "off my shelves" books under my belt this month.
9. Twenty Thousand Roads by David N. Meyer
8. Madame Zee by Pearl Luke
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Tenth Man by Paddy Chayefsky Not giving it a number, as one play does not a "book" make, in my scheme.
6. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
In January I had hoped to read a collection of short stories for the Story Collections Read-Along; at least one Orange prize winner or contender for Orange January (it's the Women's Prize now, but orange is still its color in my mind); and the first of Barbara Pym's novels (publication order) in connection with her centennial. I managed the story collection but not until February had well begun; failed the Orange read completely, but did finish the first Pym. Reading goals and I have a very uneasy relationship!
5. Up Jumps the Devil by Margaret Maron
4. Show Red for Danger by Richard and Frances Lockridge
3. Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
2. Think of Death by Richard & Frances Lockridge
1. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout ER copy; Publication date March 2013
Is that where Faulkner lived, Linda, or did they just want to honour him with the statue?
Yes, Tui...he was born in Mississippi, and lived in Oxford most of his life. Oxford was the template for his fictional town of Jefferson.
38. The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett Since there is no trip to the coast of Maine upcoming this summer, spending a few hours in the company of Mrs. Todd, Mrs. Blackett and assorted denizens of Dennett Landing and Green Island is the next best thing. The flavors, scents, sights and sounds of that most excellent of locales drift out of the pages of this slim volume like magician's smoke. The book reads like a memoir, the unnamed narrator giving us interconnected sketches of 19th century summer life in a simple time where everything is tied to the rhythm of the tides, and an herbalist's skill is respected at least as much as that of a "modern" doctor. Appropriately, there is humor of the most wicked variety, often aimed at the church and the clergy. My favorite line, however, was Mrs. Todd's observation about one of the hymn singers at a family gathering: "I couldn't help thinkin' if she was as far out o' town as she was out o' tune, she wouldn't get back in a day." My edition has some stunning black and white photographs of the place and time serving as preface to the story.
I loved Sarah Orne Jewett when I first found her, but haven't read anything by her since who-whipped-the-cat.
Lovely books on that ornament shelf. *fights urge to come break useless little thises-and-thatses not his own*
You're so EASY, RD. You took the bait and I didn't even have to wiggle it.
CHUFFED. E-mail from Murr Brewster (See Post 4, No. 37 above.) Not just a "thank you here's the photo you asked for" kinda e-mail. A chatty, truly grateful for my review and interest sort. I really hope she finds a publisher for her novel.
Murr is such a love, really. Good for you, for thinking of adding her to the authors with her pic.
39. Eleanor Roosevelt's ValKill by Richard R. Cain Not much reading required here, as this is one of the Images of America series---mostly photographs with a little explanatory text. An excellent memento of our recent visit to ValKill, Springwood, Hyde Park and environs.
Once I finished the Presidential Challenge, I'd really like to go back and read biographies of as many of the first ladies as I can, and Eleanor will be high on that list.
I've read quite a lot about Eleanor over the years, but I still learned things about her in our visit. She was indeed remarkable. When FDR died she told reporters "The story is over." That turned out to be far from true.
40. My Promised Land by Ari Shavit This was an ER selection, and will be one of my top reads for this year. All history should be written so well. A full review will be coming. Don't wait for it. If you have any interest in the Middle East, pre-order this book, or badger your library to get it in. It's due for publication in November.
My review is posted here.
Linda, I am reading Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home edited by Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson. It was highly recommended by Lois (avaland), Dan and Merrikay in Club Read. It is a series of essays and poems written by 15 Palestinians about Palestine. You might enjoy this one too based upon your review of My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.
Thank you, Colleen...it goes onto the list, along with everything Amos Oz has written, and a few other things inspired by Shavit's mention.
I am adding My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel to my list. Thank you.
I'll definitely get My Promised Land, after your comments and Tad's review of it.
41. Pylon by William Faulkner As much as I love Faulkner, I cannot summon any enthusiasm for this one. I don't think I've ever managed to read it all the way through before, and I did so this time just because I felt I ought to. It's a mess...the kind of thing people write when they're trying to mock Faulkner, full of rambling incoherent thoughtsentences and words like "thoughtsentences". The action takes place during "Moddy Graw" in a city that is obviously New Orleans, but which Faulkner inexplicably calls "New Valois". He even changes the name of the state to "Franciana". It just screams at the reader every time it's mentioned. Giving Oxford, Mississippi, a fictitious name and creating a county called Yoknapatawpha in his large body of work makes sense...Jefferson and its environs could be in any number of places in the deep south. There's only one New Orleans, and there is nothing else remotely like it in the country. The main character in Pylon is a man without a name, "the reporter", who becomes obsessed with a threesome of air show performers and their young child. (One woman, two men, nobody really knows which one is the child's father, although the woman is married to one of them. Speculation is that there was a coin toss involved.) Most of the men are drunk most of the time, and plain stupid the rest of it. The woman is flat, unaffected and a significant slug of ammunition in the war over whether Faulkner was a misogynist. Only the child has any redeeming qualities, and he is probably doomed, even after he's sent to live with his supposed paternal grandparents, one of whom has no more sense than to burn money in the kitchen stove because of where he thinks it came from. For a handful of authentically funny moments, I give this novel a reluctant single star. I cannot recommend it to anyone.
somehow your review shows up twice under Pylon. Strange. I had to give it a thumbs up. it is very good.
That's because I have two editions of it, Ron, and I posted my review to both pages. Sometimes LT does that for you, and sometimes it doesn't. Thanks for the thumb!
ah now I know why that happens, after these 4 plus years on LT. sigh. I realized some time ago that reviews were keyed to the actual edition you had on hand at the time. Some books I had/have multiple copies of and vaporized reviews when I gave away and deleted the copy I had done the review under. Or when I bought a book i had previously read from the library ... now I keep them as "read but unowned"
I've never read Pylon at all, and now I'm glad of it. Thanks for taking the bullet!
Apparently they made a half-decent movie from it in the late '50's, with Robert Stack, Rock Hudson and Dorothy Malone, called Tarnished Angels.
Great negative review of Pylon, Linda! I'll be sure to avoid this book now.
I'm sort of embarrassed that I've never even heard of Pylon, but apparently I'm not missing much...
I'd say there's a reason some of you have never heard of Pylon and none of you have read it. Embarrassment totally unwarranted.
Catching up on old business I read your review of Disco for the Departed. You did a very good job of conveying the sense of fun I have found in all of the Dr. Siri books so far. They do a lot of drinking/partying along the way in most of the books. They are very inexpensive on Kindle which makes them one of my favorites.
Of the 7 Dr Siri books I have read so far I think Disco For The Departed is my favorite. I think Geung's story is what really made that one for me. But I like all of them.
42. The Distant Clue by Frances & Richard Lockridge It wouldn't be summer for me without spending at least one long afternoon reading a Lockridge mystery. None of them are new to me, as I've been reading them since I was a teenager and collecting them for 40 years. I slip into their familiar world and just "go home" for a while. In this one, Captain Merton Heimrich of the NYSP investigates the deaths of two aging remnants of the "first families" of the Hudson Valley, a professor and a librarian. It looks like a murder/suicide, but there's no rhyme nor reason to that idea. Old scandals and rivalries get revisited, and a large red herring leads much of the investigation (although Heimrich, of course, never blindly follows the obvious path), but it all comes clear in the end. The fun of these books for me is hanging out with the recurring characters, not least of which are the animals, who behave as animals ought. (Colonel, the perpetually disappointed Great Dane, is the Eeyore of detective fiction.)
Ahhh, the pleasures of an old friend-book. I like series books for that reason, the recurring characters and the pleasurable immersion in the familiar world.
43. Manila Noir edited by Jessica Hagedorn *sigh* I'm finished with it. That's not to say I read each and every selection in this collection of short fiction. But it was an ER "gift", and so I did my best. For the most part, I found these stories uninspired, pointless and instantly forgettable. Noir is defined as "Of or relating to a genre of crime literature featuring tough, cynical characters and bleak settings; Suggestive of danger or violence." Well, these are that. Not so much bleak as bland, however, and in my opinion classing them as "noir" elevates them to a plane they do not deserve to occupy. With a few exceptions, they suffer from a lack of contrast. The evil and violence exist in a world without the hint of an alternative, and therefore lose their impact. The editor says in her introduction that "All the fabulous and fearless writers gathered here have a deep connection and abiding love for this crazy-making, intoxicating city. There's nothing like it in the world, and they know it." Unfortunately, for this reader who has no other experience of Manila, they have failed to convey any unique atmosphere or sense of place.
Nice review of Manila Noir, Linda, but I'm sorry that it was such a disappointing book.
Fabulous review of My Promised Land, Linda! That was already on my wish list after Tad's review, and I'll look for it once it's published in November.
Really good review, Linda. It isn't a subject I'm particularly interested in and yet you made me want to read it.
Hi Linda. Found (and starred) your thread.
I love the Faulkner statue at the top and I'm enjoying Light in August now that I'm well into the third chapter.
Welcome, Ellen. I'm haphazardly re-reading LIA myself, even though I said I wasn't agonna!
44. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear This is the third entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. It is 1930 in London. Maisie is well-established now in her career as a "Psychologist and Investigator", as her business cards put it. She feels she has mostly vanquished the traumas of the Great War, and settled into a normal routine. However, engaging in two separate investigations initiated by relatives of young men lost in the war threatens her emotional stability, and possibly even her life. She determines to face France again, to "slay her dragons", and also, always, to do right by her clients. This series continues to leave me somewhat ambivalent. I like Maisie's character, but Winspear's style occasionally strikes me as rather awkward, and a time or two she has Maisie do something unlikely (or fail to do something quite inevitable) so obviously in aid of the plot that it throws me out of the story. And there is a clumsily tacked-on, where-did-that-come-from bit to tie up a loose end of one element of the story (which element, it becomes clear, was only in the story to build suspense). By the third outing, the author ought to be getting a grip on this kind of thing, which slights her heroine's intelligence and that of her readers. I might be through with Maisie Dobbs now, or I might not. As I said, I'm ambivalent.
Linda, I'm in the middle of the first Maisie Dobbs novel and I'm not really connecting with it. It isn't a bad book by any means and it interests me, but the style or something just tells me it is not my kind of book. I expected to like it a lot more than I am. I'm dawdling with it instead of devouring.
Yup, that's it, Ron...they don't get a grip on me while I'm reading, and yet I hesitate to abandon them completely.
I agree re Maisie Dobbs, Linda. I want to like them so much because it's one of my favourite eras to read about but the sloppiness is off-putting.
45. The Wisdom of Ashes by Jonathan Kline A collection of short interconnected fictional vignettes of life in New Orleans from assorted, yet also interconnected, perspectives. Powerful, poetic, perplexingly beautiful despite dealing with the uncomfortable and the unpleasant. The whole thing is a poem, really, to be absorbed through the skin, without too much conscious thought. I hesitate to pick it apart for analysis...it works too well. As Per Derus has said, "Spend the money. Spend the time."
Nice review of The Wisdom of Ashes, Linda. I noticed that Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free from the Kindle Lending Library, so I'll definitely read it in the next month or two.
Won't take you very long, Darryl, and you're sure to appreciate it.
Ooo! Ooo! I am SO pleased you liked the book, Linda3rd. I found it so enchanting that I dread others' reviews in case they don't see what I saw.
Happy that you did. Thanks for reviewing it.
I found some of it a little like reading Faulkner, Ellen. Give it a go.
46. The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym Barbara Pym does unlikeable, yet marginally sympathetic, women like no one else. In Sweet Dove we have Leonora Eyre, an unmarried woman of a certain age who lives alone and likes it, so she believes, until she meets Humphrey Boyce and his nephew James. Although she considers herself too old for romance (and one wonders whether she was ever very much interested in it) she begins to spend a good deal of time with each of them, forming a very strong attachment to James in particular. Pym brilliantly illuminates Leonora's character, showing the reader some melancholy truths about this "perfect" lady, who can see the motes in everyone's eye but her own. I seem to say this every time I pick up one of her novels, but this may be my favorite Pym so far.
I have got to find time to try one of Pym's books. you always make them sound so appealing. Oh well....when I retire. Oh.....Wait....aren't I already retired?
Oh, Tina...they are such quick reads. Give yourself the gift of Pym!
>59 tututhefirst: Tina, I think that, despite how irrational it seems, I have less time now that I am retired than I had before.
47. Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns A gruesome little story about a town gone mad in the aftermath of a flood. It has moments of brilliant black comedy, but the overall tone is not humorous. I kept making comparisons to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which I found more appealing; I Capture the Castle, for reasons I haven't explored much; and, of course, Cold Comfort Farm, which was so much more good-natured in its send-up of idyllic country living. Some things come out right in the end, but I found that slightly dissatisfying after the barrage of horrors and losses. "Quirky" is a word often applied to this novel by reviewers, and it certainly is fitting. Perhaps I don't properly appreciate this particular brand of quirkiness, but I have to say I don't quite get the point here.
>62 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, I think I will put this on the so many books, too little time list.
I can't quite remember if I liked that one or not...don't seem to have written a shared review. I do remember the opening, with the goat coming in the window but that's it.
>62 laytonwoman3rd:: I'm with you on the Comyns, Linda. I read it because it was enthusiastically received by others here, but my reaction was exactly like yours. Not my thing.
I LOVED Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead and it started me reading a lot more by Comyns. I guess she falls into the category of you either like her or you don't.
Rebecca, I remember enjoying Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, but that's the only other Comyns I've read. And I do intend to read more of her work. I knew you were one of the people who loved this one, and that counts with me. Having loved a fair number of books that others don't "get", I suppose it's inevitable I be on the other side sometimes!
A couple items I have been dipping in and out of for a while, and now have finished:
48. Rhythmic Ramblings by Nellie Stephens and Elizabeth Lotterer Possibly the finest collection of truly wretched poetry in my or any other library. The authors were twin sisters born sometime around the turn of the 20th century; both went into teaching English and the arts in public schools, and retired after about 40 years to paint and travel. Elizabeth was my art teacher in 7th or 8th grade. I suspect their paintings were as awful as their poetry. Some of them were probably displayed around my school back in the day, but I paid them no more attention than anything else hanging on the walls...say the fire extinguishers. I didn't know Nellie, who taught in a different district. She had an M.A. and a PhD, and reportedly spent some time in New York, acting on Broadway. (She was the Educated One, her sister was the One Who Got Married, although she spent most of her adult life as a widow.) Mrs. Lotterer was prone to dramatics in the classroom herself.
The poetry is full of forced rhymes, tired images, platitudes, tortured word order, "doths" and "shalts", and moral admonitions. I'm keeping it as a curiosity of local history.
49. Roberts' Guide for Butlers and Other Household Staff by Robert Roberts (who else?) First published in 1827, this is a nifty little book full of instructions, tips and "receipts" for cleaning, polishing furniture, carving, table arranging, planning one's work day, dressing, speaking to one's superiors, answering bells....anything and everything a good servant might need to know. Fun for all devotees of "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey", although this was published in the United States, and perhaps may not have been quite up to British standards. Nevertheless, Mr. Roberts' employer, The Hon. Christopher Gore of Massachusetts, was favorably impressed with the book, and wrote to the publisher to "Consider me a subscriber for such number as six dollars will pay for." Many of the cleaning compounds sound quite lethal, and others contain ingredients most of us would probably find difficult to identify--powdered hartshorn balls, oil of vitriol, killed quicksilver, rottenstone, gum lac, gall nuts, butter of antimony..... More common components include gin, leeks, egg whites, mutton suet, rain water, chalk, and good old hot soapsuds. A good many clean pipkins, junk bottles and old silk handerchiefs seemed to be called for. The section on "Going to Market" was particularly fascinating. Did you know that a stale woodcock can be spotted if it appears "dry-footed, or if their noses are slimy, and their throats muddy and moorish"? I'll never buy an old woodcock again, I'm sure, and I now know how to tell the difference between a cock and a hen...lobster.
Interesting personal touch with the local poetry, and your review of the guide made me laugh. :)
BUTTER OF ANTIMONY?! Yikes! Lead paste! *shudder* And balls of a hartshorn? I wonder if any old buck's balls will do? EEEEEECCCCCCCHHHHH
50. Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry Well, it's just beautiful, that's all. Annie Dunne and her cousin, Sarah Cullen, are 60-ish Irish women who have never married, and who have lately been living together on Sarah's small farm, sharing the work that keeps them both occupied from dawn to dusk. Summer comes, and with it, the temporary care of Sarah's grand-niece and grand-nephew, two young children whose parents are in the process of moving to London to find work in the late 1950's. We see the summer through Sarah's eyes, as she faces an uncertain future, ponders the past, and deals with the joys and worries of being responsible for two active and unpredictable youngsters. While the children are the catalyst for many telling moments in Sarah's self-exploration, they are never given Christian names, being referred to only as "the boy" and "the girl" throughout. This is a character study, and there is not a lot of action, but what there is has a grip...an accident with the pony cart, a troop of wandering tinkers attempting to gain entrance to the cottage, angry confrontations, a child gone missing. The writing is lyrical, often magical, totally engaging. Highly recommended.
For my September reading, I'll be doing some "Series and Sequels" with the group theme, and hope to finish The Mists of Avalon, which occupied me for a good bit of August, as well.
>70 laytonwoman3rd:: he used mercury to clean too! Did he die young?
As for your dramatic and poetic sisters, we have a local poet, Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850-1887), who also wrote the worst tripe. Here's the first stanza of her The Poet of the Spring:
Come, thou dainty, joyous Spring,
Spread, O spread thy swallow wing,
Wheel and waver, weave thy flight!
Frolic, farewell bid this night
To the land which would thee hold
Bound in summer's sultry gold!
But no one can top William McGonagall of Scotland. He's brilliantly awful.
Linda, you've been on a bit of a reading jag (or maybe just a reviewing jag)!
I still want to read something by Barbara Pym. I know I have something by her..... An Unsuitable Attachment. I don't know that I'll get to it in September, but maybe this fall.
Ah, September is Series and Sequels month, isn't it? What, in particular, are you thinking about reading?
>76 tiffin:. Ha....no information as to the longevity of Mr. Roberts, Tui! I suspect he had underlings handling the nasty stuff more often than not, anyway. I contemplated sharing some of the dreadful verse in the twins' collection, but I couldn't settle on an example. Some of it was very similar in style to the one you've quoted, though!
>It is terrific, Colleen, and if you're touched by the Irish sensibility, as I am, you'll just love it.
>78 EBT1002: It does seem like a jag, doesn't it Ellen? I did read several short-ish books in a row, filling in between sections of Light in August (which I haven't quite finished) and The Mists of Avalon (which I may still be reading at Christmastime!). And of course, #48 and #49, as I said, were things I read in bits when I didn't have much time, as neither of them required sustained attention.
I remember reading The Mists of Avalon way back when it was still in hardcover. Are you enjoying it?
Yes, I am enjoying it. It's easy to put down for a while, though, since it's not as though I don't know how the story turns out! My daughter got me to read it, on the pretenses that SHE was going to re-read it at the same time (it was a great favorite of hers when she first encountered it), but she has laid it aside too. I think we need to urge each other back into it now.
Finished my first September Series and Sequels read, the ARC of
51. Robert B. Parker's Damned if You Do by Michael Brandman. I love getting these early and free, but reviewing them is a challenge...after a while there isn't a lot left to say. I will compose something to satisfy the ER constabulary shortly.
ETA: My review is posted now.
Other titles I'm probably going to read for the September theme are Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill, which I have in from the library; The Luminous Depths by David Herter (sequel to On the Overgrown Path, which was remarkable); Margaret Maron's Killer Market; W is for Wasted, if the library gets it in and I can snag it (it won't be published until September 10th).
Good googly-moogly, woman. Stop all that reading. You'll bring on a brain fever.
I have a lot of catching up to do...terrible laggardly pace this year. By the end of August last year I had read 60 books, so. Hie thee to Avalon, will you?
52. Light in August by William Faulkner This is less "experimental" than Faulkner's earlier novels, The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, more linear, more "comprehensible", perhaps. The story is told mainly by an omniscient narrator, rather than through the stream of consciousness, internal monologues of his tormented characters. Faulkner may have considered himself a "failed poet", but I believe his only failure was in not realizing that his poetry was never meant to be confined to traditional forms. The writing here is often profoundly poetic. The story is grim, being primarily concerned with the fate of an orphan and eventual murderer named Joe Christmas, who believes himself to be carrying the "taint" of Negro blood. As a child, he is abandoned by his family, tormented by other children, harassed by staff members at the orphanage, and eventually brought up under rigid religious constraints by his adoptive parents. None of this can come to good, of course. Although he could "pass" for white (and he may be white for all the factual evidence we are given to the contrary), he chooses to wave his assumed racial identity like a red flag in the face of everyone with whom he becomes close. He hates himself, he hates the rest of the human race, and in his view there is no salvation possible. His violent death is a foregone conclusion. Framing this tragic tale is the almost innocent "love story" of Lena Grove and Byron Bunch, while underlying it all are the back stories and obsessions of Christmas's victim, Joanna Burden, and his would-be savior, the Rev. Gail Hightower. An argument has been made that every principal character in this novel is pathological. There are certainly more archetypical outcasts in this story than you are likely to find in any other single work. It can seem a bit grotesque, in retrospect, but it does not feel like that in the active reading. I would give the book 5 full stars, except that every time I read it (at least 3 times in the last 40-some years) I get mired in Hightower's final chapter, stumbling over pronouns and generations, and never completely grasping the significance of his vision.
Nice review of Light in August, Linda. I'm all but certain I have that novel in one of my Library of America books on Faulkner, so I'll try to get to it next year.
Linda, I'm so glad you said that about the last chapter of Light in August. I felt a bit lost by it, too.
53. Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill No. 4 in the Dr. Siri series. This one involves political intrigue, as Dr. Siri discovers a plot to overthrow the new communist government of Laos, a government he passionately fought for as a much younger man. Although he has to admit that the communist bureaucracy is a joke, and that it has not fulfilled the expectations of those who worked so hard for an independent Laos, it seems that another coup is not the answer. Siri and his assistant, Nurse Dtui, along with old friends Phosy and Civilai, set out to find the source of the conspiracy and thwart it, solving an odd death or two along the way. The complications of Laotian history are very hard to follow, and if this weren't Siri and his cohorts, I think I'd have lost interest, even though the writing is excellent as usual. For followers of the series, there are some potent surprises brewing, and you really won't want to miss this installment. Furthermore, I might have been at a slight disadvantage, trying to read it while suffering through a brief but brutal hospital stay.
I am now officially a member of the "Dodged THAT Bullet Club". Had some fairly significant tightening across my upper back while walking to my car after work on Tuesday, and it got more intense as I kept going---I just wanted to sit down. Got to my car, sat there a minute or two, and it began to subside, but I'm no dummy, and I knew it was nothing to blow off, so I called 911. Long story short: whisked to hospital; blood work, EKG, etc., OK; stress test a total failure; cardiac catheterization, angioplasty and stent implant on Thursday morning. Home yesterday afternoon with the world's best black'n'blue groin (now turning magenta, and heading for the green/yellow phase any minute). It hurts like the dickens to walk, because of all that subcutaneous blood, but otherwise, I'm doing well. One artery partially blocked, hence the stent, but the others all looked OK, says the doc. So, a couple more med's added to my regimen, more attention to diet and exercise, and on we go. Note: One does not sleep, or read, at all well in the hospital. All the doctors and nurses did seem to be quite interested in what I was ostensibly reading, though. Maybe I've recruited a new LT member or two, and one of the nurses is a book collector, claiming to have a very early edition of Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat with a good dust cover. I was just a little skeptical of her expertise in the field, as she kept referring to abebooks.com as "Abe's books". I went digging on the website though, and I could find absolutely no reference to the origins of the name, which I remember hearing about first from Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac. "abe" was, at one time, an acronym of "already been enjoyed"; I guess since Amazon took them over, they lost that connection.
Wow, Linda. How scary. I'm glad you had the sense to call 911 and that you are OK.
As for Dr. Siri, another series I will probably be pulled into.
Take care of yourself.
Thanks, Colleen. You should definitely give Dr. Siri a try; I find them very engaging, and just quirky enough.
54. Killer Market by Margaret Maron The fifth Judge Deborah Knott mystery. Judge Knott is filling in for another judge during "Market Week" in High Point, North Carolina, the center of the state's enormous furniture industry. Unfortunately, it hadn't occurred to anyone to warn her that she'd be arriving in town at the same time as 70,000 other people from around the globe, and that all of those people had made hotel reservations months ago. Finding a place to stay turns out to be just the first of many problematic situations Deborah finds herself entangled in--- old secrets, current rivalries, erratic behavior and untimely deaths--- and as usual, she isn't above bending the rules just a little to find the right solutions and keep herself out of trouble. Who knew the intricacies of furniture marketing could be so fascinating?
Ok that is officially scary. I'll also suspect that Dr Siri may have been colored by the experience. I've got my last Dr siri book home from the library and hope to read it within a week or two. I do "really like" that series.
seriously tho I'm glad you didn't blow this off and came thru the fire intact. I like the wisdom of getting old but all the rest mostly is a PITA. at best.
I think i might have even thought it as abe's books somewhere along the way so i wouldn't deduct a point for that.
I'm in the midst of my first James Joyce (Dubliners) and kicking myself a little for not looking sooner.
Thanks, Ron. Today, I feel almost like myself; still a bit stiff and sore in the access area, but that's receding. I do need to read a bit more Joyce. As my daughter tells me, he could tell a fine story when he wanted to.
The photo on your home page of your lovely sheltie looks somewhat like my sheltie Lilly. Both have the white strip on their noses.
I'm so sorry to hear of your health woes...very scary indeed. I'm sending prayers to you. And, I'm glad that you caught this in time. How right you are that resting in the hospital is near impossible.
Please keep us posted ok? And, pat your lovely dog whom I'm sure is intuitively giving you lots of extra attention and love.
Wow Linda3rd, a very good thing you're not a tough-it-outer when real trouble looms. Very happy you're in better fettle now, too.
Wow, indeed. I'm glad to hear that you're doing well after that scary experience, Linda.
Thanks, everyone. Sadly, Linda, we lost our lovely Sheltie last fall. I can't bear to take her picture off my profile. We've been mithering about whether to get another dog, or maybe a cat...having no four-footed companion feels quite wrong, but we can't seem to settle on what to do about it.
55. The Racketeer by John Grisham Standard Grisham stuff, with a former lawyer, in federal prison for laundering money, scheming up a way to get himself out, make the Feds dance to his tune, and live happily ever after offshore. Good enough entertainment for those hours when you can't do much and your brain won't be arsed to engage.
And a worthy niche to fill for Grisham. Glad it was there for you!
DNF (which not only means Did Not Finish, but in this case also Dull Non-Fiction) Pearl Ruled The Fall of the House of Zeus by Curtis Wilkie This just buried itself with detail and by page 75 I couldn't care a jot anymore. Out it goes.
I've been going thru several DNF's. getting older makes me less tolerant, or else there is simply more crap out there dressing up like it is something, which it isn't. I've been abusing the rule and cutting things off at 30 pages sometimes, even less yesterday! I can be more than happy with fluff when fluff is what i want. I love books that have me hooked on page 1 or 2.
56. Fallen Angel by Don J. Snyder I haven't actually read any Nicholas Sparks, but I suspect it's very like this. There's a decent story in there, about a man finding himself by setting himself aside, but it reads like a "Movie of the Week", and it's filled with dumb bits of business that are essential to his plot line but ring so false that I wanted to scream half a dozen times. (Just one example: A woman walking along a road pushing a baby carriage in the middle of a coastal Maine snowstorm at night, a couple days before Christmas. She's only there to get hit by a car; who she is doesn't matter, and no explanation of her preposterous presence is offered. It beggars belief.) I read another of Snyder's books years ago, Cliff Walk, which was a memoir on a similar subject. It should have been better than it was, too, as I recall. I hate to give up on one of the Snyder boys (that's an inside family joke, but as far as I know I'm not related to this one), but I think I'm through with Don.
57. Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig The third of Doig's novels to feature the roguish but loveable Morrie Morgan a/k/a Morgan Llewelyn. We first encountered Morrie in The Whistling Season, where he demonstrated his nearly encyclopedic knowledge of history and literature, and did a fine, if brief, turn as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Montana. Morrie was just one significant character in that book, which was told by an adult Paul Milliron looking back on his childhood. Sweet Thunder is all Morrie, and told in his voice. It picks up his life at a high point, a decade or so after the events of The Whistling Season, as he and his lovely wife Grace return to Butte, Montana, after a year-long honeymoon tour of the world, to take possession of an imposing Horse Thief Row mansion , which has somewhat inexplicably been turned over to them by Morrie's old boss, Sam Sandison, librarian and book collector extraordinaire.
The thrust of the action in Sweet Thunder is the newspaper war between the fledgling labor-friendly Thunder, for which Morrie is the editorial voice under the name of "Pluvius", and the big-business organ, The Post, which may as well have "Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Publisher" on its masthead. Words fly, and occasionally, so do fists and bullets. Meanwhile, there are some skeletons in Morrie's closet that Grace doesn't know about, and the course of true love encounters a few miles of rough road. He spends a fair amount of time looking over his shoulder, hoping not to be spotted and recognized by anyone from his gambling days. To compound the anxiety of that situation, he is "recognized" by underlings of a notorious and elusive bootlegger, who mistake him for their boss, the Highliner.
Doig knows how to make words work, and play. There is lovely writing, a lot of humor, and satisfactory outcomes a-plenty. I'll say what everyone who appreciates this author always says: he is one mighty fine storyteller. If you don't know his work, you're missing a treat.
(I thought the novel got off to a bit of a slow start, but I'm fairly sure that is merely because I should have read the in-between book, Work Song, which related Morrie's earlier adventures in Butte, before taking this one on. Doig does a good job of filling in the background so that Sweet Thunder can stand alone, but I still had a feeling of having missed a very interesting chunk of action, so I recommend reading Work Song first.)
I'm stopping by to say you are in my thoughts and prayers every day. I hope each day finds you stronger...and less bruised.
Yes, the house is empty without a four legged creature. When Simon died unexpectedly last February, our hearts were breaking.
Will didn't want another dog. I've never had a stretch in my life when I did not have a dog. We then obtained Lilly in April. One dog cannot replace another, but it does help to know the love of a dog is long lasting and bringing another dog in the house is a testimony to Simon and the love he gave us for 13 years.
I'm glad you dodged the proverbial bullet, glad you enjoyed Anarchy and Old Dogs, and I'm adding Sweet Thunder to my wish list. I'm still ambivalent about Doig, having loved loved loved Dancing at the Rascal Fair and its companions, and not yet finding his other works to live up to that promise. Still, I think he's always worth one's time.
Sending you healing thoughts....
*smoochiesmoochsmooch* Take the day off, see the Cumberbatch matinee.
>111 richardderus: You'll be putting my permission slip in the mail, will you, Dr. Derus?
Linda, I have The Whistling Season on my Kindle. I will be looking for something fairly fun and light after I finish the book I'm currently reading. Maybe that one will fit?
Oh, yes, Colleen, I think you'll enjoy The Whistling Season. Doig has a light touch, even when he deals with serious stuff. And he can be quite a lot of fun.
Dear Linda3rd's Boss:
In my considered medical opinion, Linda3rd will suffer acute emotional distress and possibly irreparable spiritual harm unless she takes __________ and the next day off. Her hormonal imbalance as a result of ocular hemoplasmidosis (bleeding from the eyes, or Cumberbatch Deprivation Syndrome) could lead to severe rage disturbances in the Force. It is distinctly possible that, should the Syndrome be allowed to come into florescence, the patient could present with Group Lead Poisoning, or mass shooter's disorder.
I feel sure you will agree that this is simply not worth the risk versus the pain of surrendering Linda3rd's invaluable services for two business days. Plus a preventive raise of 33-1/3% to compensate her for the depressing absence of Cumberbatch in her office environment.
Cumberbatch Deprivation Syndrome, is it? Well then!
Caught up with your reads. Won't repeat what I've already said about t'other matter; you know my thoughts and feelings there. xo
I will definitely seek out and read more Ivan Doig books Linda; thanks for the timely prod.
Have a lovely weekend.
>116 tiffin: Now I see that our Benny is playing a young Julian Assange in an upcoming movie---I'm not sure that's anything I want to watch, actually.
>Thanks, Paul. For pure immersion in fine Story, it's hard to beat Doig.
58. Broken Harbor by Tana French This is the fourth in French's Dublin Murder Squad series, and it features Detective Michael "Scorcher" Kennedy, who is called on to investigate the murder of a family in their own home, in one of the few finished and occupied houses in a partially completed upscale estate that has been abandoned by the builders as a result of the recession. (If you read Faithful Place, you'll recognize Kennedy.) The land it occupies was once a seaside vacation spot, where Kennedy's own family spent summers when he was a child. He must not only solve this heart-breaking crime while breaking in a new partner, but face his own sad past and the on-going stress of dealing with his psychologically wounded sister. It's a page-turner, and as good as all the rest of this series.
>122 laytonwoman3rd:...every time I see a write up of one of these I vow I'm going to get to it. I have 2 or 3 sitting around someplace (the 1st one is on my Kindle and my MP#) so I really must get to them. You always make them sound like this is something I'd really like. Keep pushing...I'll get there!
Believe me when I get finished the 70+ that are sitting here for at least 50 page preview reviews for Maine Readers Choice, I'm going to spend the next year doing nothing but mysteries and bios! Not doing this next year....Literary fiction can get very pretentious, grim, dark, and full of itself sometimes - at least it seems that way when that's all you read.
Tana French is going to be right on top of the new series to break in list.
Literary fiction can get very pretentious, grim, dark, and full of itself sometimes Mmmm...I know what you mean. They try so hard sometimes, don't they? And when it works, the effort isn't noticeable at all.
Linda, I love French's series. The stories are so much more than just mysteries. I think that Faithful Place is my favorite. Who would you like to see as the lead in the next book?
Well, surely not Quigley!! Or, on second thought, maybe there's a good back story there that we ought to know?
I've only read In the Woods but I liked it enough to read more in the series. Good to see a positive review from you, Linda.
59. The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín Meh. Not really taken with this incredibly short piece of writing. I was intrigued by the set-up: Mary, the mother of Jesus, reflecting on her son's last years and death, without reverence or acceptance, while living in some fear for her own safety. Her recollections and impressions do not jive with the Biblical accounts we are familiar with; she had no desire to play along with those who hoped to establish Jesus' posthumous reputation as Son of God and Savior of the human race, even though her livelihood and well-being seem to depend on their good will. Notably, Tóibín did not call this "The Gospel according to Mary"---there is no hint of good news here. In Mary's eyes, her son's followers were louts, Jesus's miracles were shams, and his brutal death was devoid of any redemptive value. I can believe this version of Mary; I just don't care very much about her, because she seems rather flat on the page.
Linda, I'm so sorry The Testament of Mary didn't work for you. I guess it is good that it was short!
Meanwhile, as per your request, here is Dubs looking rather despondent about summer's departure:
60. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Love, love, love. Great fun in Texas bayou country with raccoons (the scouts of the title); feral hogs Clydine & Buzzy and their 15 hungry offspring; a lost DeSoto; and a mythical creature, second cousin to Sasquatch, whose familiar is a crotalus horridus giganticus ("look it up") named Gertrude. There are plans afoot to turn the swampland paradise into a theme park featuring the world's greatest alligator wrestler, and it's up to a 12-year-old boy and our true-blue scouts to put a stop to it. Delightful. I listened to the audio book read by Lyle Lovett---he's really good at animal sounds. For the 8-12 crowd, according to the jacket, but it's one of those stories that's too good to leave to the kids. Appelt has a lot of fun twisting common phrases, song titles, etc., and using them casually in context.
She's just too adorable. You'd better check my pockets next time I visit. I might be tempted to thievery.
>139 lycomayflower: She might fit in a pocket, but the wiggling would probably give you away.
Love Tina's comments on literary pretensions which nicely ran into your review of The Testament of Mary. Glad that there are others out there not extending a raised thumb in Toibin's direction for this. Ran it off in a fortnight studied to capture the Booker crowd and his calculation seems to have worked. His The Heather Blazing demonstrates plot with finesse and is accordingly great. His latest is merely finesse for finesse and is reduced as a result.
Actually I enjoyed the skill of Colm Toibin's prose without being at all moved and got to the end thinking "is that it?"
You and Tina are spot on. Good literature doesn't have to try.
Just realized I haven't been noting which of my books are from the library, in my list above. I will attempt to do that now, if I can remember. I've borrowed heavily in September, and now I need to get back to my own shelves.
>138 laytonwoman3rd: Oh. A cat. How vile. I mean, nice for you. *shudder*
Mental note red-x Linda3rd's thread so not cat will assault eyes
61. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger This one has been on my shelf for a long time. It's a very engaging story, much like those written by Ivan Doig, with an adult narrator looking back on a significant period of his childhood. There are a good many positive reviews of this book here on LT. I refer you to a couple, as I'm too lazy to add to them myself tonight.
Many parts of Peace Like a River require a substantial suspension of disbelief, but mostly it worked for me. However, I gave this book 4 1/2 stars, withholding that last 1/2 star because I think Enger went just a little too far with a near-death experience chapter that could have been shorter, tighter and easier to swallow.
62. Maphead by Ken Jennings Yes, that Ken Jennings, the guy who set records with his six-month winning streak on Jeopardy a few years back. His personality didn't exactly sparkle on the show, as I recall, so it was somewhat surprising to find his writing style light-hearted, witty, irreverent, even a little off-color at times. Much like Bill Bryson, I think. (He hacked into his on-board GPS text files, re-programming it so that when he makes a wrong turn, it says "You missed the turn, dumb-ass. Now just do what I tell you.") Almost all you ever wanted to know about loving maps, geo-caching, map-making, geography bees, and such things, unless you're a serious cartographer, computer programer or old poop who just wants to find fault with the wunderkind. I found it a lot of fun to read.
Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. This makes me very happy for a lot of reasons...a woman, a short-story writer, a North American, and someone whose work I've loved reading. Let's hear it for the committee!
Amen and Hallelujah, she cried biblically. Let's hear it for our Alice!
Not a bad pick I'll grant you Linda. Ticks most of the right boxes and I have read plenty of her stuff already so it is another on my Nobel list I've "done".
Of course I would have preferred William Trevor but then again as an exiled Anglo-Irish I may not be entirely without bias!
Amber and Ellen, Molly sends grateful head-butts and mrrrrrrppss (she doesn't do "meow") your way.
Tui, I knew you'd be over the moon about this announcement. I don't follow the prizes closely, but it does make me happy to hear of a winner I'm familiar with for a change.
Paul, so many mentions of William Trevor in your thread makes me eager to check out his work. He fits the rule...not only have I not read him, but I was previously unaware of him at all. *sigh*
63. The Cranefly Orchid Murders by Cynthia Riggs I had hopes that this series was going to develop into something reliable to turn to when I wanted light but engaging entertainment. An intelligent 92-year-old protagonist tromping around Martha's Vineyard, minding other people's business and solving crimes and mysteries sounded promising. Yeah, well, this second entry didn't improve much on the first. Victoria Trumbull isn't all that interesting, and she didn't display a whole lot of intelligence or good sense, putting herself and her 11-year-old companion (who was pointlessly assigned to keep an eye on her) into risky situations with the flimsiest of excuses; sloppy plot and too many improbables. It made me think of a TV show of the "Murder, She Wrote" variety. In fact, I probably would have enjoyed it more as a TV series episode with a competent cast; less time to think about the shortcomings, and I could have been making cookies at the same time, or something.
Linda, I am glad you liked Peace Like a River. I read it many years ago, long before LT had me thinking so carefully about my reactions to novels, and I recall liking it a lot.
I happily accept Molly's head-butts and mrrrrrrppss..... so dang cute!
>156 EBT1002: I really love LT, and it has enriched my life in many ways, but do you ever wish you could disengage that bit of your brain that monitors your reactions so closely when you're reading? Sometimes I blame it on the author---he/she didn't do a good enough job of creating a world to get lost in. But I wonder if, after 50-some years of reading, I don't bring too much with me---too many comparisons, too many expectations, too much thinking. Peace Like a River would have blown me away 20 years ago; I would have been much less likely to draw back and analyze at that time. Now, when a book really grabs me, I sometimes find it hard to say much about it, because I don't want to pick it apart. I just want to let the experience rest, and absorb the juices, like a fine roast of beef. Enger almost did that for me, if not for that one chapter...
>157 laytonwoman3rd:: that's a very thoughtful assessment of what I too have been experiencing of late. I have come to similar conclusions. I studied English Lit. for quite a while and have been reading since I was a sprout, so it seems to take a lot now to knock these old socks off and, like you, I want to savour it when it happens. I miss that feeling of being transported by every book, swept away by the newness of an idea, theme, or even of a genre, the way I read from 8-17. But despite its rareness, it still does happen. Every now and then, the perfect book does come along.
>157 laytonwoman3rd:, 158: I have always been a "let it flow over you" kind of reader so I'm enjoying my more careful reading self. I can't tell you how often I have, over my lifetime, answered the question "what was the book about?" with "well, I don't really recall but I loved it." Huh. I know that in my teens and 20s I was a very lazy reader and I sometimes want those years back, but I also know that it was where I was in life, I had enough other things to occupy my mind and heart, and I need to be compassionate about that. So, I'm pleased with the more thinking me.
However, it has notched down my ability to thoroughly enjoy a good pure pleasure read.
65. Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro A fine collection of stories from this year's Nobel prize winner. Many of these deal with women who came of age in the '50s discovering themselves in the '70s, and they are simply brilliant. Frequently I found myself at the end of a story, having been totally absorbed all along, wondering "how exactly did she get me here?". I re-read a couple of them, just for the pleasure of watching it all unfold when I knew how it would come out. The stories catch you up the way a novel does, and even if the characters fail to find full satisfaction, I was not disappointed once.
>162 laytonwoman3rd:: oh joy! I haven't read that one, but it looks great.
66. The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns Delightful, dark, and a skosh bizarre, this novel keeps the reader slightly off-balance as we listen to Alice Rowland recount her life in Edwardian London with an abusive father, a dying mother, and little hope of betterment until a young veterinarian comes to act as locum tenens for her father and offers her the chance to be a companion to his invalid mother. A touch of romance, a touch of the occult, and an ending that may be viewed as tragic or transcendent.
The Vet's Daughter sounds good and my daughter has it on her book shelf. (my go to book shelves). :)
I think your daughter was one of the people who encouraged me to read that one, Colleen.
The Vet's Daughter was added to the TBR pile in 2011. Your lovely description prompts me to read it when I have down time.
It won't take very long, Linda...it's short and goes quickly.
Ohhh ... I had to go read my review to remember this one but yes, The Vet's Daughter was very interesting. I find her writing style takes some getting used to but I liked this one.
67. An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym Although it does have some amusing moments, this is not, in my opinion, up to Barbara Pym's usual standards. There isn't a sympathetic character in it...not even one you can feel sorry for without liking very much. I just didn't like or care about any of them, and the men were so uninteresting I had trouble keeping them straight. Everyone seems to want to love (notice I don't say "love" actually) the wrong person, but the opportunities for humor and insight that ought to provide are mostly missed here. Even Rome comes off a bit tired and uninspiring in this book. Perhaps Pym was bored...she did apparently stop writing for years after this book was published. Much as I love her, I think she laid an egg with this one.
>173 laytonwoman3rd:: I liked this one more than you did, although I had to look it up and read my review to remember what it was about (and I read it 2 years ago, so it's not like it was just yesterday). I guess I really liked the ecclesiastical humor and the crazy cat lady, Sophia.
I have yet to read something by Barbara Pym, although A Glass of Blessings was a kindle deal just recently and I now have it on my Kindle. I plan on reading that one next month.
Laura, I have to do my thoughts about a book right away or I forget too many details. After two years, I would be scratching my head saying "did I read that", let alone remember whether I liked it. That of course doesn't always hold true for the books that just grab me and hang on.
>174 lauralkeet: Yes, Laura, the crazy cat lady was my favorite part, although as a person I found Sophia less than endearing, even with her love of Faustina factored in. (I say this realizing that I am probably well on my way to becoming a crazy cat person myself---this kitten has totally stolen my heart.)
>175 NanaCC: One of the reasons I love LT is that I can so easily check back to see what I thought of a book that I read some time ago. I was never so good at keeping a book journal, but LT has made it a habit for me to note my thoughts in greater or lesser detail for the last umpty-ump years.
I lost my post in response to your comments about An Unsuitable Attachment because LT is wonky this morning. And now that little face is distracting me.
Linda, I never journaled my books before I joined LT last January. So you can imagine the number of books where I have no memory of likes vs dislikes, plot, etc. LT is a beautiful thing.
That little cutie is adorable. My little cutie who was hiding under a bush in my backyard is my profile pic and he adopted me last summer. He is now a monstrous cutie.
>177 tiffin: Yes, LT was very wonky this morning. (Actually, it still isn't 100% right, because the LT icon does not show on my Firefox tab; I just get an empty box and the name of the thread I'm currently on. Maybe I need to reboot.)
>179 richardderus: Nice to see you Richard....I hope you aren't unwell after visiting in enemy territory, so to speak. She's really harmless, and I won't let her approach you, I promise.
>180 RBeffa: Oh, Ron, another irresistible face; when they adopt you, you're just helpless, right? The beautiful dog on my profile page was our Sheltie, Callie, who we lost just about a year ago. I haven't had the heart to replace her picture until today, when I thought it might be time. There may never be another dog in our lives, because that loss hit us awfully hard. We thought a cat might tug less at the heartstrings, but Molly isn't buying that theory. She knows nothing about "aloof" yet.
68. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin The story of how Dr. Jekyll's strange experiments affected his household, told in the journals of a maid who considered him her protector. Mary is a very sympathetic narrator, and I wished I could share her hope that everything would eventually be right with her Master.
Valerie Martin is a writer of whom there is plenty on my shelves but nothing read yet. Thanks for the timely reminder to dust some of it off.
Have a lovely weekend, Linda.
Thanks, Paul. Valerie Martin's Property is the only other work of hers I've read, and it was quite good too. I encourage you to make her acquaintance.
69. W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton Grafton is one of the few authors of series fiction whose books I still buy new in hardcover. She never does the same story twice, and I enjoy spending time in her world. In this one, she touches base with former loves, without falling into personal or literary traps; makes the acquaintance of a Japanese bobtail with excellent results; learns more than she wanted to know about relatives she didn't know she had; and takes on the issues of homelessness, addiction research and medical ethics without getting preachy about any of it. A few clunky sentences and overused verbs, but by and large this 23rd entry in the Kinsey Millhone series is blissfully free of the kind of dreck-writing that often creeps in to an established genre author's later works. Grafton's attention to detail and story have not lagged. If she tells you someone is left-handed, don't forget it. If she throws a seemingly game-changing fact into the mix from out of the blue, be assured it is not a deus ex machina tactic to get things wrapped up, but something she subtly laid the groundwork for several chapters back---you just missed it. By setting her action in the 1980's (1988 by now), she shares a joke or two with the reader at Kinsey's expense, and this book contains the absolute best account of a hand-to-hand "combat" situation I've read anywhere. Three more to go, Ms. Grafton. I hope we all make it.
Linda, I think I stopped at around L or M, because work got in the way of my reading. I'm glad to hear that they are still as good as I used to think they were. I might have to dust off a few copies and get back into the world of Kinsey.
I still read Grafton, but now I wait for the paperbacks. I was really disappointed with V Is for Vengeance but I'll read W (and X, Y, and Z too, when they come out).
Hi Linda3rd, glad you enjoyed Grafton's latest so much. Sending Sunday smooches!
Good to hear Grafton is still worth reading....I'm a few behind, but her pace of publishing is such that it's not too hard to keep up.
I haven't read any of Grafton's books, but the idea behind the series appeals to me very much and I definitely want to get round to them sometime! So good to hear that they're holding up, too.
70. The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark A nifty novella with a Gothic feel. It begins with Lise, a young woman about to embark on a holiday abroad, taking grave offense when a salesgirl mentions that the dress she is about to buy is "stain resistant". From there Lise's behavior continues to border on the bizarre, as she seems to purposely draw attention to herself, causing some people to pull away, and others to be drawn into her circle. We learn early on what the outcome of her story will be; following the "how" is grimly fascinating. The "who" probably ought to be apparent. The "where" is soon revealed. The "why" is never explored.
>191 laytonwoman3rd: I've never heard of that Spark. I like her books!
>176 laytonwoman3rd:: Well, of course that kitten has totally stolen your heart! This just proves that you are a living person with a swell heart. That kitten is desperately adorable.
Barbara Pym and Muriel Spark are two authors I have yet to read. I own An Unsuitable Attachment and hope I like it better than you did.
Both Pym and Spark are authors I might never have explored without the influence of this wonderful community, Ellen. Although I had seen the movie of Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie back in the '70's, I hadn't been aware of the book before seeing it discussed here. I'd start with some other Pym, though...maybe Jane and Prudence, or Excellent Women.
Mark (msf59) is hosting an American Author Challenge next year, and has selected this list for those who wish to participate. I will do my best to join in. The specific books are my choices, not group choices. As I understand this challenge it is simply to read one book by each author in the month indicated, not that everyone will read the same book each month.
His post about it is here, and other 75'ers have posted their proposed lists on his thread as well.
American Author Challenge 2014
Willa Cather Alexander's Bridge
Cormac McCarthy Suttree
William Faulkner Mosquitoes (one of the last 2 of
his I haven't read)
Toni Morrison Song of Solomon
Eudora Welty Delta Wedding
Kurt Vonnegut A Man Without a Country (at Richard's suggestion)
Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi
Philip Roth No enthusiasm here...will cogitate; may substitute
James Baldwin Go Tell it on the Mountain
Edith Wharton The Custom of the Country
John Updike Due Consideration I don't care for his
fiction, and this collection of essays and criticism is on my
Larry Watson American Boy
Linda3rd, may I suggest that you read A Man Without A Country for your Vonnegut read? It's an essay-cum-memoir, a wry and self-deprecating look back over the world we've left behind with both fondness and relief.
As for Roth, well...
Thank you, Richard...I appreciate a recommendation for Vonnegut.
Linda- Thanks for posting the American Author Challenge info over here. I think this one will be a lot of fun and help knock a few of those titles off the shelf.
It looks like I'll be joining you on the McCarthy, Twain and Wharton. I like RD's suggestion for Vonnegut. I have not heard of that one.
>199 lycomayflower: I will take that offer...it doesn't appear to be included in the Library of America volume that I have.
>200 msf59: Glad to spread the word, Mark. I consider myself an Americanist (is that a thing, sprout?), and this is a good opportunity for me to take on some works I haven't yet read by authors who are familiar to me, whether beloved or not!
I don't own a single Roth. I do still own one Vonnegut - I gave away several in recent years to a library friend's booksale - I kept "Welcome To The Monkey House". Vonnegut was one of those love/hate authors for me. Several authors on that list would be a challenge for me. (esp Watson, Roth, Updike)
good luck with it
I bet you have a ball with this. I was a huge Vonnegut fan back in the day--he used to make me laugh out loud. But I share your opinion of Roth.
71. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs This was a delightful exploration of how we read. None of that snootiness that I found so off-putting in C. S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism, and yet I think Jacobs and Lewis are in agreement on many points. Jacobs gives old Harold Bloom a swat or two...and advocates reading more freely, with less "plan", in order to savor and appreciate what we read more fully. He rejects the "1001 Books You MUST Read" sort of lists, as being more useful for people who wish to "have read" than for people who enjoy reading. And yet he acknowledges that all books are not created equal---that some lend themselves to close and critical reading, and marginal note-making, while others are meant for total immersion without resort to pencil or pen. Good, healthy, sensible writing, with plenty of humor mixed in.
Oh I love writers who give Harold Bloom "a swat or two"! I have wanted to give him a bop on the snoot the odd time myself. This does sound good.
72. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez One of those "total immersion" kind of stories mentioned above, this is a look at 4 slave women in the decade before the American Civil War, all of them "favored" as the mistresses of their masters. They come together over four summers at a resort in Ohio where their owners take them "on vacation". Their personalities and experiences are quite different, but of course they all have one monumental thing in common---their bondage makes them sisters in a very peculiar sorority. Lizzie claims to love her master, and believes that he loves her, within limits that she is sometimes compelled to test. Mawu is defiant, refusing to be known by her slave name among friends, and seeking a "fix" from a white herbalist so she will not give her master any more children he can use as weapons against her. Sweet is just as her name implies, and very vulnerable. Reenie may be the strongest of them all, although she appears to bend the most. The story moves along at a page-turning pace, but leaves behind a lot to think about. The characters in Wench do not lead simple lives; they are not mere puppets of their masters, unable to make any choices for themselves, and moral dilemmas often arise. I turned to this book expecting a good story; I got that and more. It could have been a very tough read, considering the subject matter, but the author kept a little emotional distance between the reader and her characters--not so much that I didn't care for them, but enough that I could be engrossed in their stories without being wrecked by them.
>206 laytonwoman3rd: pass. But like #71's sound a lot! Sending hugs.
Hm, that one sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if it's really my cuppa. I'm mulling it... Great job with the review, at any rate!
73. An Academic Question by Barbara Pym Finished An Academic this morning with my coffee, kitty and heating pad (stiff back muscles). Felt rather Pym-ish myself. I enjoyed this one a bit more than An Unsuitable Attachment, but it doesn't feel quite "finished" somehow, despite what I am sure were Hazel Holt's best efforts to combine the author's drafts into a final version for posthumous publication. I don't mean it doesn't end, just that parts of it seem not quite integral. There were fine characters to smile at (Sister Dew, gotta love her; Coco totally absorbed in who's coming to which event, and what they might be wearing) and characters to shudder at (Alan, what a twit; Dr. Cranton, so stuffy). And adorable hedgehogs... But I wanted to shake Caroline for being so spineless and unable to "find" her self. Why on earth didn't she involve herself in her daughter's life, BE a mother, or pfffft on Alan's disapproval and get a job with a bit of challenge in it, or smoke some pot or something!
>209 laytonwoman3rd:: my coffee, kitty and heating pad
That is Pym-ish, indeed -- you'd only need to substitute tea for the coffee! Were you wearing a cardigan or sensible shoes? That would make up for it.
Loves me a cardigan. Also a shawl. Not usually at the same time, though.
Hm. No more pics of that heart-stealing kitten. Oh well. :-)
"Why on earth didn't she involve herself in her daughter's life, BE a mother, or pfffft on Alan's disapproval and get a job with a bit of challenge in it, or smoke some pot or something!" LOL!
Hi Linda! I love hand-knit socks and the hand-knit hand warmers my cousin recently sent me are divine; I have rarely met a cardigan with which I could make good friends, and believe that a lap-sitting feline is God's greatest gift, especially if the cat doesn't mind that I'm holding a book. xo
Hey! You been holdin' out on me! Two of these I had not seen. I especially like Kitteh in a Box.
74. Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan Against his better judgment, but needing the money, Aljaz Cosini agrees to take on one more river excursion, guiding a group of tourists down the remote Tasmanian Franklin with its treacherous rapids, magnificent gorges and waterfalls, challenging portage and marginal campsites. Despite having been born with a caul, which is purported to protect against such an end, Aljaz finds himself trapped between unyielding rocks in rising water, beyond the reach of assistance, and unquestionably drowning. He experiences not only his own life, but those of several ancestors playing out in visions as his end approaches. Elements of magical realism allow this framework to support over 300 pages of beautiful writing in which the subject is often death. Many of the stories we see through Aljaz's closed eyes are as new to him as they are to us; the unfolding history of his family reveals an identity he had not known was his, and is not immediately inclined to embrace. "I could, of course, be mad. That is a possibility. That is also a form of hope. If insane, this entire horror is nothing more than a delusion, a malfunction of nerve endings and electrochemical impulses. If sane, I am in true agony. In hell. If sane, I am dying. And being humiliated by memory at the same time. For I am none too happy with what this moving weight of water, this river is showing me." Although the book has a definite beginning and end, the middle is fluid, and non-linear, so that I found myself reading, re-reading, moving back and forth through the various narratives picking up bits that meant nothing the first time around but were sparkling with revelation the next. The language is ne'er so convoluted, but the experience was something like reading Faulkner for me. Came the end, and I wanted to start all over again. I will put it aside for now, but there is no doubt that I will return to this river one day.
Death of a River Guide sounds intriguing. "the experience was something like reading Faulkner for me".... high praise indeed.
>220 richardderus: Take the hit, Richard. I think you'd like this one.
I spent my reading time today sampling two books that have been on my shelf for a long time, and sadly, I Pearl-ruled both of them.
1. All Aunt Hagar's Children, a collection of short fiction by Edward P. Jones; this is a disappointment, as I enjoyed his novel, The Known World. I just found the stories I sampled, including the title selection, to be lacking in Story, rambling and uninspired. I suppose I don't "get" what Jones was up to.
2. A World of Ideas II by Bill Moyers; I used to enjoy Bill Moyers's on PBS, but this collection of transcripts of interviews (or those that I sampled) left me cold. Watching them live would probably have been a better experience, like the difference between reading a play and seeing it performed.
Thanks for posting the kitten-cat pictures, Linda! I just need to live vicariously.
Two consecutive Pearl-rulings. Sigh. I hope whatever you pick up next completely captivates you!
Actually, I am reading something captivating...Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, a/k/a William Trogdon. I was just dipping into those other two, and now will return to the main selection!
They are lovely companion books, aren't they Richard? I read Travels with Charley last year, I think it was. The Louisiana portion of Blue Highways really struck a chord with me, since I lived outside of N.O. at about the time Trogdon was writing about.
EDIT: OMG, I checked my threads: It was 2009 when I read Travels With Charley. On the positive side, it apparently stuck with me well, since I feel like it was just last year. Still. *shudder*
Linda I have never heard of Blue Highways but I suspect I shall be seeking it out anon!
Have the loveliest of Thanksgiving weekends. xx
I enjoyed Blue Highways too, but have almost no recollection of it since I read it decades ago.
75. In the Bedroom by Andres Dubus This is a short collection of short fiction by one of the masters of the form, Andres Dubus, Sr. All of these stories have been collected elsewhere; this edition has a preface by Todd Field, who made the movie "In the Bedroom" from Dubus's story titled "Killings". I have not seen the movie, but the story is powerful, disturbing and satisfying at the same time. Each selection in this group demonstrates Dubus's skill and craftsmanship, as well as his insight into how love happens and what it can cause to happen. Like James Lee Burke, his cousin, Dubus could combine elemental human emotion and individual moral ambiguity with devout Catholic faith in surprising ways to bring about inevitable results. This isn't light reading, but there's light in it which illuminates some shadowy corners of the human soul. Highly recommended.
Thanks, fans (all two of you!). I like to hit the high points with something worthy. Still reading Blue Highways, taking it slow. It would have made a fine #75 too, but I couldn't rush it.
Hi Linda! I finally made my way over here to catch up with you. :-) While reading (and thumbing) your excellent review of My Promised Land, I kept thinking it sounded familiar and then I remembered I won it as an ER book and really must get to it soon. I was thrilled you liked it so much. You also reminded me that I have a copy of Blue Highways somewhere around here.
Love all the pictures of Molly. Such a pretty kitten.
Yes, Mark, I've read Andres, III's, work too. Townie was very good (memoir), and of course House of Sand and Fog. I have more of his stuff on the shelf, and more of his father's, too. I need to take them in small doses, because they are so good at what they do, and what they do is tough stuff.
Hi, Pat, glad you could find the path!
I remember reading House of Sand and Fog almost cover to cover on a cross country flight. I didn't want to the plane to land until I finished! I've never gotten around to reading anything else by the son and nothing at all by the father.
In case you missed it, here's what President Obama bought at the bookstore on Saturday. Can't believe he hasn't already read Ragtime. Maybe it's a gift?
* waltzes in, sprinkles glitter to celebrate your 75th, pirouettes, and waltzes out *
Your Diamond Review!!
Coolness that it was such an involving read.
MYYYYYYY...confetti, glitter, diamonds...what's next, I wonder? Thank you all, so kind.
8?? Wow. You must have been one of LT's charter members! How did you discover it and what was it like in those early days?
Sorry, I didn't even get to check in here last night, and my Thingaversary slipped right by me! Terrible! I wasn't too sharp about when I joined, though, because in my family we have this prohibition against buying books for ourselves in the month or so before Christmas, in case we meddle with Santa's plans. Of course, who knew back then that a Thingaversary would even be a "thing"? My daughter told me about LT, and I resisted the notion at first...why would I want to catalog my books? But once I got started, it became the greatest idea since...well, giving up sliced bread and baking my own. I can't remember how soon the social aspects started to matter to me, but I sure remember some of the first people I interacted with. Just as in life off the screen, some of them have fallen away from the circle, some have become essential to me, and some have left the earth (one of them leaving me with that marvelous Library of America collection). Without exaggeration I can say that becoming a part of this community is right up there with going away to college, learning to drive, taking my first real job, all those life-defining things one does without realizing the impact they will have. And, btw, my daughter has me beat by one day with the membership thing. I must go tap on her thread and remind her to celebrate too!
Congratulations! My daughter encouraged me to join LT too. Of course it was just a year ago, not eight. Enjoy buying those books. :)
Cool way to find out about LT, Linda. I managed to convince my wife and daughter, and most recently, one of my sisters, to become members.
Linda3rd, I completely agree...finding LT was a life-changing event for me, too.
Without exaggeration I can say that becoming a part of this community is right up there with going away to college, learning to drive, taking my first real job, all those life-defining things one does without realizing the impact they will have
Linda, yeah that just about says it for me too.
Congratulations on passing the 75 and your Thingamajigy too. xx
76. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons I had my doubts about this one, a couple times. My daughter read and enjoyed it, and recommended it to my mother, who also liked it. But I was a little spooked by the enthusiastic blurbing of two authors whose own work I have tried and Pearl-ruled in the past. Still, I liked the premise, and there were those recommendations from readers I trust, so I plunged in. I enjoyed it quite a lot at first, then had a few chapters of uncertainty when credibility was strained a bit, and then found myself utterly unable to turn out the light and put it down night after night. The setting is irresistible: an English manor house on the cusp of the dissolution of everything that makes the "upstairs/downstairs" world tick. With the western world shivering in dread of war, 19-year-old Elise Landau is obliged to leave her comfortable Viennese bourgeois life to take a position in service in an English aristocratic household, because no Jew is safe in Austria anymore. She obtains a domestic service visa; her married sister travels to the U.S., where her husband has been offered a position at Berkeley. Elise's parents, an opera singer and a novelist, wait for the bureaucracy to issue them visas so they, too, can escape the Nazi regime before they simply disappear as so many already have. Elise manages to take with her a few bits of her mother's jewelry, and a viola stuffed with her father's latest manuscript, which no one in Austria will publish. At Tyneford, Elise finds it very difficult to take on the attitude expected of a servant; she isn't especially good at the work required of her; and her anxiety for her family is constant. Eventually, she makes two friends, a spunky red-haired girl from the village, and Kit, the son and heir of Tyneford. There are predictable developments, and surprising ones as well. A lot of research obviously went into this book, but the author knew how to turn that research into narrative detail that never hit the reader like a history lesson. A good old-fashioned Story with few pretensions.
Happy Thingaversary, Linda! Eight years? Wow! You are old school. LOL. I hope you had a terrific weekend and got some reading in.
We must have been posting at the same time, Mark..both our messages show the same number! I'm sure that will correct itself any minute now. Thanks, and as you see, I did get some reading time in. Addressed all my Christmas cards, too. Now all I need to do is sign them. *cramp*
#248 - beautifully stated, Linda. I know that some of my RL friends still don't get how and why LT is so important to me. It's a wonderful community.
The House at Tyneford sounds like a good solid read. Upgethumbed!
Naw....I'm still here. Had a week of not enough reading time, but am almost finished with The Song of Achilles.
You did so good getting to 75 and with such a wide assortment of books. I put a push on and I now have two to go to make my 75 which I should be able to do. I didn't expect to get close and when I did I figured "go for it."
>262 RBeffa: Don't you love it when you surprise yourself?
>263 laytonwoman3rd: Yes, I am enjoying it very much. Just a couple chapters to go, and I'm off to see if I can manage them before lights out!
>260 richardderus: You are SOooooo right. Wish I could bag it, but not for a few years yet. One
77. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller A wonderful retelling of the story of the Trojan War, with emphasis on the life of Achilles before he went to battle, and his love of Patroclus, an exiled prince who became his life's companion from childhood. I'm no classicist, and only know the iconic bits of this story, so you won't hear any quibbles from me about ways in which Miller may have played fast and loose with the canon. I just loved it as an engrossing story with bigger than life characters and a tear-jerking scene or two. Especially fine appearances by Chiron the wise centaur, and Thetis, Achilles's haughty hellcat mother.
I am glad to see another positive review of The Song of Achilles. It is waiting patiently on my Kindle.
#264 That was a five-star read for me last year. I now have an audio version waiting to be listened to as well.
Song of Achilles was 5-star for me, too. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
So glad you liked The Song of Achilles! I thought it was a wonderful retelling of the story.
I need to get to that one, soonish. I'm thinking I may get a copy for Christmas; at least it's strategically placed near the top of my Amazon wishlist...
Ahh, Amber...the mayflower and I were discussing whether you had read and chimed in on this one. Now I wait trepidatiously for your assessment!
Ha! Well, I predict that I will love it, based on what others have said about it.
Hi Linda- I am glad you loved The Song of Achilles. I was a big fan too. Hope your week is going well.
In hopes of many more delightful interactions, Linda3rd:
Celebrate the return of the light with feasts, merriment, and gratitude for all the wonders of this wide green earth.
Thank you, Richard. One of the loveliest seasonal greetings I've received this year.
Thank you, Mark. The week being almost over, I have to say it hasn't been awful...it included drinks out one evening, a Christmas party at the bowling alley, and free pizza for lunch yesterday. Today, I discovered a gift card in my wallet that I thought was nearly used up, and lo and behold it's still worth $25.00!
Funny story about that stop for drinks. It's an annual tradition: on the evening that my husband comes to town for his Society of Broadcast Engineers Christmas party, I meet him, his former boss and sometimes a couple more of his once-upon-a-time co-workers for Happy Hour somewhere after work. The favorite place for the last few years went out of business over the summer, so they settled on a faux Irish pub conveniently located with its own parking lot (a very nice feature downtown). So, there were 3 of us to begin, and the former boss went to the bar to order the first round. Our choices were, Smirnoff's vodka on the rocks, Old Grandad on the rocks with a piece of lemon, and a Beefeater's martini. I wish someone had been filming this. First the 12-year-old blonde bartender came back and said, in effect, "Sorry, no Beefeater's in stock" The available gin choices didn't appeal to the martini-drinker, so he switched his order to Wild Turkey on the rocks. OK, he got his drink (WITH a piece of lemon!), and a further announcement that there was no Old Grandad to be had. Never mind, says I, I'll take Wild Turkey. I got that, with no lemon, but I just swiped the one from my husband's glass, and we were both happy. Boss, however, had to settle for his THIRD CHOICE of vodkas...no Smirnoff's. (I don't know what his second choice was). A lovely time being had by all, glasses became empty, and a second round being ordered, we were told (anybody want to guess?) NO MORE WILD TURKEY! Husband switched to Jamieson's (of which I guess they had a plentiful stock), and I went home to feed myself. You can't make this stuff up.
Linda, Are you sure it was an Irish bar? :) This Irish lass finds that hard to believe. I bet they had Guinness.
Notice that French word in front of "Irish", Colleen...they're pretenders, I'm sure of it.
Good lord! As a virtual cafe proprietor, I'm flummoxed by that bar's lack of essentials, Linda. We'd be closed in a week if that's all we had.
#275 That is indeed very strange, a bar with so few choices? And no smirnoff? No bar, even in India, will ever say, No Smirnoff! And did I hear you say, a 12 year old bartender?
The 12-year-old part was my lame attempt at humor. She did look quite young, though. There seemed to be a multitude of bottles on the wall behind the bar...they must have stocked something in abundance. Perhaps they know their regular crowd, and we weren't typical. It did seem that most of the rest of the people in there that night were drinking beer.
I can never understand the allure of beer, I am more of a Wine and Whisky guy myself.
78. RL's Dream by Walter Mosley Mosley disappointed me with this one. It started out very well, and I was engrossed in the story of Atwater "Soupspoon" Wise, an old blues man, appropriately down on his luck in his final days, who is rescued from eviction and homelessness by Kiki, a quirky red-head who seemingly just wants to right a wrong. Kiki has a messy inventory of problems of her own, arising from a history of particularly hideous abuse by her father. As the details of that past started to come out in the narrative, the story almost became too much for me, but I persisted with a hope that Mosley was going to show me something worth sharing Kiki's (and Soupspoon's) pain. And he tried, Lawd knows, he tried. But something fell apart about two thirds through the novel, and I got quite lost in new characters and sub-plots. There were brilliant scenes, and quotable passages, but they didn't add up to a solid sum for me. Mosley did what I think he may have been trying to do here SO much better in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, and maybe if I hadn't already read that one, RL's Dream might have impressed me more.
I feel the need now to cleanse my palate with some Barbara Pym, and will attempt to read the last selection of the 2013 group read of her work, Civil to Strangers before the year ends.
Linda - I always look to your thread for erudition and wild turkey! Have a lovely Christmas. xx
Hi Linda. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas celebration. Cheers!
Thank you Mark, and Pat. It was a quiet but lovely day, with some excellent new book acquisitions.
Happy Belated Christmas, Linda, and wishing you all the best in the New Year!
79. Civil to Strangers by Barbara Pym This is the final read for Barbara's centennial in the Virago Group, and I enjoyed it. Although it wasn't published in her lifetime, this is vintage Pym, with all the elements we love. Matchmaking, romantic mismatches, marital missteps, the foibles of life in a small town, church lady politics, and lots of humor. My edition contains other, incomplete selections from the work Pym left upon her death, but I will save those for another time.
Now that my birthday and Christmas have come and gone, I am free to purchase books for myself again. And, for a nice sort of bonus, I had considerable funny money (gift cards, credits, etc.) available to spend on Amazon. (Part of that is because two of my orders got tangled up in the UPS "system failure" that kept them from arriving on time; so not only did I get a refund on the expedited shipping I paid for on one of those orders, I got TWO $20.00 credits on the site. Ask me how long that sat idle!) I have ordered the following tomes to add to my stacks:
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
The Bottom of the Jar by Abdellatif Laabi
A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution by Orlando Figes
A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan
No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan
Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home
Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
One Arm and Other Stories by Tennessee Williams
Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg
That appears to be 9 books, satisfying my Holy Obligation to purchase one for each year of my LT membership, plus one to grow on. It was hard, but I did it! (And 2/3 of the cost did not come out of my pocket!)
(And 2/3 of the cost did not come out of my pocket!)
Nothin' could be finer! *smooch*
than to be in Carolina in the moooooornin'!
Sorry, I had to.
Except for having my mother and mother-in-law for Christmas dinner, and working the last two days, Joe, I'm chilling like nobody's business! Next week I intend to take the end of the week off, so I will have a nice 5 day break. Really looking forward to that.
That sounds good, Linda. Working the last two days, not so much (or cooking for your M and MIL). Glad you've got a nice long break coming up.
Oh, I enjoy the cooking part, really. And the ladies appreciate it, so I shouldn't make it sound onerous.
80. When the News Went Live by Huffaker, Mercer, Phenix, Wise
Those of us of a certain age (or a range of certain ages) are accustomed to the question "where were you when Kennedy was shot?" or "...when you heard that Kennedy had been shot". I was in my 8th grade English class, and I still puzzle over the decision by the school administration to open the public address system and plug the radio broadcasts into it. My school was a K-12 building, but I assume the news was not piped into the elementary classrooms. We were a pretty unsophisticated bunch, but the possibility of nuclear attack had been on our minds for several years by this time, and the horror of the event seemed somehow to fit into my world view at the tender age of not-quite-12. Upon reflection now, it is quite apparent that the news reporting of the assassination and its aftermath was entirely unlike anything that might happen in the 21st century. Not just from a technical standpoint, but politically, philosophically and ethically, the world of journalism has changed monumentally in the last 50 years. This book is a collection of re-views of what it was like to be on the scene from 4 men whose job it was to cover the President's visit to Dallas, and who ended up reporting explosive events at a critical moment in history without a template or precedent to guide them. I found it fascinating.
And it sits atop the pile in the south-by-southwest quadrant of Mt. TBR, spine barely visible from Base Camp, edging out a bit as if by force of enthusiamity (gravity caused by enthusiasm)....
Ah, Linda. You just pushed that one on to my wishlist. I'm a bit older than you, and was in high school, but remember it well. I think that Darryl also reviewed it in November, and I resisted. But two good reviews make it hard to avoid.
81. White Butterfly by Walter Mosley It's 1956; Ezekiel Rawlins ("Easy" to his friends) has a comfortable home, a lovely wife and baby, a loving adopted son who reads but does not speak, and at least one loyal (if lethal) friend. Money is never a problem. Still, he's a black man in a white world, and the cards are often stacked against him. He does his best to hang on to his dignity, his independence and his family while treading barefooted along the tack-strewn path laid out for him by a dubious police acquaintance who purports to need his help in solving a series of murders. Great stuff, and I'm glad I didn't let RL's Dream turn me off of Mosley.
Linda, just took a fly-through of your thread--we have lots of reading tastes in common.
82. Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon The author, an English professor who had just lost his job and his wife, decided to drive across the United States and return, as much as possible on the "blue roads" that were the main thoroughfares before the interstate highway system was built. Along the way, he visited many small towns, diners, gas stations and other local businesses where he hoped to find vestiges of the "real America". This is an endlessly fascinating exercise; Steinbeck did it twenty years earlier, with a dog; people are still doing it 30 years later. And it's great fun to read about.
And so I finish the year at 82 books read, which is down from last year's all-time high of 88, but better than I thought I'd manage around mid-year, when I seemed to be dragging the pace a bit.
Please join me again as I rediscover America in 2014
You got yourself a nice tidy pile of books there, Ms Linda! Glad you're going to have some time off to read them. This is my favourite part of Christmas: when it's all over and we're home. Reading time!
Happy New Year to you Linda. I love seeing you power on to the finish with your reading. 82! I'm taking a short book break and catching up with the magazines that have been neglected in recent months.
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