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Magician's Nephew - The Books of Magic

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 3, 9:08am Top

Well, I'm back.

My name is Jim I live in New York City with my Sweet Babboo Ffortsa and after twenty plus years - you know maybe it will work out.

I work with computers for a large Wall Street firm -- I get to play with all the new cool tech toys -- and hope to retire one of these days.

I love reading books of history and fantasy and fiction of all kinds. Books and theater and history are my passions. And people.

Neil Gaiman the author of American Gods and others didn't write a lot of comic books but when he did - oh boy. The Books of Magic took all of DC Comic's "magic user" super heroes - Phantom Stranger, Mister E. (I know - just keep going) and the wonderful Doctor Occult and shaped out of them a coming of age story for young Tim Hunter , who is either going to be the savior of the universe or (ain't it always the way?) be the means to its destruction.



So that's where "Books of Magic" comes from. But you know - ALL books are magic.

We've got magic to do........ Just for you
We've got miracle plays to play
We've got parts to perform.... Hearts to warm
Kings and things to take by storm
As we go along our way


Tipping the hat to all the good friends I've found on this site.

Thanks for visiting my thread.

No -30-

2aqeeliz
Jan 3, 7:32am Top

Welcome, and have fun reading.

3drneutron
Jan 3, 9:17am Top

Hey, Jim, welcome back! Happy new year!

4FAMeulstee
Jan 3, 11:19am Top

Happy reading in 2018, Jim!

5_Zoe_
Jan 3, 12:32pm Top

Happy new year!

6reconditereader
Jan 3, 2:06pm Top

Someone else likes those books! Rad!

7PaulCranswick
Jan 4, 1:37am Top



Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

8karenmarie
Jan 4, 1:54pm Top

Hi Jim! Belated happy new year and happy 2018 thread.

I finally made it over here and dropped my star. Happy to see you on the NN group read thread, too.

9cameling
Jan 4, 2:00pm Top

Well, finally, Jim. I've been wondering if you were taking a hiatus on LT this year. Starred you! :-) Hope you and Judy are staying in with thick blankets and a few good books while the crazy blizzard does its thing outside.

10quondame
Edited: Jan 4, 10:53pm Top



>1 magicians_nephew: I loved those graphic novels! Did you see the cartoon comparing BoM to Harry Potter - a clever 'we did it first.'

11thornton37814
Jan 4, 10:38pm Top

Happy 2018 reading!

12ffortsa
Jan 8, 2:56pm Top

>9 cameling: Thick blankets, the occasional heating pad, sweats and socks. I can see where bundling was a useful courtship technique in New England. As soon as I dare to open the windows, I'll put in the weatherstripping. As for the outer walls, I'm thinking of tapestries.

13magicians_nephew
Jan 8, 4:24pm Top

The best is my heavy wool flannel pajamas with the natty Black Watch Tartan on them - warm and toasty

14magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 9, 6:12am Top

My book group (in fact BOTH of my books groups simultaneously) decided to read Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin's powerful first novel about day to day life in Harlem in the times between the wars.

I remember seeing Baldwin on TV now and recall him as a slim and fiercely erudite man, eloquent and passionate.

Well the book is like that too -- with emphasis on the fierce and definitely on the passionate.

It's the story of John a young black man growing up in poverty and racism as stepson to a fire and brimstone storefront preacher with a lot in his past.

It's a tribute I think to Baldwin that he is able to paint a picture of the Negro church deeply and honestly, with respect for those who believe as well as for those who come NOT to. Sometimes those hole in the wall churches were the only places Black men and women felt free to shout and whisper and pray and be themselves

The picture of racism is clear and dark - you can feel the fear as the Black family huddles in the dark hearing a gang of White Men go by hoping they - the white men - don't decide to start something that they - the black family - would be helpless to resist.

In classic format Baldwin gives each character his backstory and his moment. You may think you dislike a character at first - but wait a few pages. There aren't any easy answers here.

And at the end the young man makes his choice and sets out into the world to be a writer. And wow!

Baldwin's fame I think will always rest on his essays. But his Novels still pack a punch too.

“For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”
-James Baldwin


15magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 12, 8:46am Top

Robert Dallek is a good shoe leather journalist who is starting to look like an historian.

He wrote a terrific book An Unfinished Life and got a lot of things right about JFK's serious medical problems which were largely unreported in the '60's and pretty much covered up even years later.

And it seems like he still had some stuff in his notebooks so he wrote Camelot's Court, a nice little reconstruction of Kennedy's years in the White House and the soi-disant "Best and the Brightest" he brought along with him.

It's not news that Kennedy chose his cabinet from "smart" people rather than people with much experience in Washington or in politics -- and that we and he paid the price for their ignorance. Robert McNamara was good at running General Motors - he was a good bean counter. Maybe that kind of "metrics" mind isn't what you want running the Defense Department.

And he muddled through the Berlin Wall Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis and muddled his way - and our way - into the Vietnam disaster -- largely, this author claims, caring more about what would get him re-elected than about what would be best for the country.

What would he been like if he had lived? The Kennedy assassination is such a alt-history cusp event. TWe'll never know.

Good book if you were around then or like to read history.

I liked it.

16magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 10, 5:34pm Top



Happened to note that the wonderful documentary about James Baldwin " I am Not Your Negro" will be shown on most PBS stations this month. In New York City on January 15th and streaming. Available on Netflix too. Very much recommended

17magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 10, 5:34pm Top



Happened to note that the wonderful documentary about James Baldwin " I am Not Your Negro" will be shown on most PBS stations this month. In New York City on January 15th and streaming. Available on Netflix too. Very much recommended

18karenmarie
Jan 12, 8:41am Top

Hi Jim!

>15 magicians_nephew: I was around then, but only 10 when JFK died. I vividly remember hearing the news. I'm still fascinated with the assassination and amazed at how sick and in chronic pain JFK truly was. We recently watched Ken Burns' Viet Nam series, and it's easy to see McNamara's ineptness, JFK's inability to see the bigger picture, ditto LBJ's. And nobody got the anti-war movement right until it slapped Tricky Dick in the face. As much as I dislike RMN, he did get us out of Viet Nam.

19magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 16, 12:06pm Top

>18 karenmarie: Yes the people of Camelot's Court fiercely defended the Legend of JFK and it was only years later that people were able to get past the mythology to some semblance of reality, viz.

That JFK was ill-prepared to be president and in over his head with a lot of crises thrown his way early and

That JFK was perhaps more interested in looking tough on Communism (and getting elected to a second term) than in really doing much of a much.

Remember Mac coming out a few years back and finally confessing - more or less on his deathbed - that he knew all along Vietnam wasn't "winnable" but kept saying it was because he thought it was expected of him.

Anyway Dalleck's book is fair on Kennedy and on the people in his cabinet, even McNamara.

20magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 18, 10:46pm Top

well they can't all be gems.

and the wind whispered is a Young Adult book that just never caught fire for me. God knows what a real Young Adult would make of it.

It's set in the waning days of the Old West and rings in Bat Masterson and the pioneering female newspaper reporter "Nellie Bly" and Teddy Roosevelt and a lot of other lesser figures from that time and the place.

And it's about a hidden treasure and a cave and a band of despicable outlaws right out of Central Casting.

There is a train robbery foiled by two feisty females that is fun while it lasts.

But the book just meanders along and the characters are pretty ordinart and well, I stopped at about page 156.

The historian in me nodding approvingly at a lot of good research leading to a lot of rare historical accuracy. The reader in me was yawning.

As Caroline says there are only so many books to read and this one isn't going to be one of mine.

Sprung the trap door on my TBR pile and dropped this one right down the chute to my DNF pile -- ker - PLUNK!.

Being thrown by a horse is not the worst thing that will happen to you. Relax before you hit the ground.
-- Bret Harte

21magicians_nephew
Jan 18, 9:45am Top

Not about books.

I have some eye problems and have been taking a reduce swelling reduce pressure eye drop for many many years.

This week I went to the pharmacy to get a refill and was told they didn't have it. Wow!

Called a few other chain pharms around the city - no one has it.

Seems that this drug was made in Puerto Rico and there has been - to put it mildly - an interruption in the manufacturing cycle.

My doctor who is a wonderful man called around and found a substitution for now.

Not making any cracks about mis-management of disaster relief efforts on the island - but the sooner PR is back up and running the happier i will be

22magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 19, 5:12pm Top

Judy and I have a lot of books. Sometime when looking for one book another different book falls down from the shelf and hits you on the head and says "Read me! Read Me!"

So it was with The Season written forty years and and still real and current and bitingly funny about the Broadway theater and the people who work in it.

William Goldman is one of the legendary writers with the films of "The Princess Bride" and "All The President'e Men" to his credit. But he worked on Broadway too and he knows whereof he speaks.

And he speaks with calm cool honesty and clarify about this strange place called Broadway - in the sixties Off-Broadway was barely a thing - and the flops and the smashes and the reasons why.

There is a chapter about authors.
There is a chapter about producers.
There is a chapter about "Jews".
There is a chapter about "Homosexuals".

He names names and he points fingers. He's not playing nice here. But you'll never read better writing about the New York Theater scene.

Half the fun of the book is the chapter breaks which reproduce long forgotten Playbills of the 67-68 season. Lot of big names who went on the TV and film show up in the starring roles and in the tiny type too.

Goldman loves the theatre and it shows. But this book is no fluff piece. It's important and its honest and it's wildly funny too.

Fun to visit this fascinating little world again.

What you're doing there is all very well for tragedy - but comedy is serious business
-- Oscar Wilde

23magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 25, 9:21am Top

Haruki Murakami's books are one of a kind - almost a genre in themselves.

One of my F2F book groups took a look at Kafka on the Shore a strange little story of modern day Japan that reaches back to the horrors of World War II -- and the myths of Oedipus -- and up up and away into beauty and magic.

Kafka Tamura, is a teen age boy who runs away from home to escape a gruesome prophecy and falls into gentle pretty pastel adventures around and about. He's trying to escape his fate. Good luck with that.

Nakata is a "holy fool" -- an old man who has been damaged by war who accepts a job to hunt for a missing cat (Did I mention he can talk to cats?) His quest begins there but goes a lot of places.

The book wanders all over modern Japan and tells some lovely shaggy dog stories.
There are prosaic details about food and bus rides.

There are scenes of great poetry and majesty.

There is a library that is a place of refuge - and a place of revelation.

In the end there is a curiously happy ending and a curiously sad one too.

Mesmerizing. and Unforgettable.

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

24magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 24, 5:42pm Top

Put that quote up - went to look it up to make sure i had it right - and found out that Ursala K Le Guin passed away today at 88.



Her books were strong and fierce and wonderful and full of fascinating people of all sexes.

Forever voyaging through strange seas of thought.

25The_Hibernator
Jan 25, 10:31am Top

Kafka on the Shore was quite the book, wasn't it? I'm always left pondering Murakami's books for a long while after reading them.

26magicians_nephew
Jan 25, 12:36pm Top

>25 The_Hibernator: boy ain't it the truth. Like the young girl Kafka meets and sleeps with early in the book. Just a little come and gone throw away character but she insists on her moment and her place in the sun. And such a charmer!

27magicians_nephew
Edited: Feb 2, 4:12pm Top

"Gypsy" the classic Musical Play about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee - is probably the ultimate Broadway Musical people talk about when it comes to Broadway Musicals.

Nominally based on Gypsy's autobiography Gypsy it tells the story of two girls and their demon stage mother in the waning years of vaudeville in America. Show people love stories about show people and this one is almost a vaudeville show itself.

But Gypsy in her book didn't always tell the truth. And June Havoc her actress sister didn't like the parts of the play that reflected badly on her or on their mother. After lengthy re-writes and lengthy lawsuits the play went on with the subtitle "A Musical Fable".

So. If you really want to know what happened in those days to Mama Rose and to Gypsy and to June, you need to dig deeper.

In American Rose Karen Abbott got June to talk - and got a lot of people who knew the family to talk and did her homework on faded theatrical newspapers and posters and playbills. The real story is a lot more interesting.

This is the dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional familes. But there is love here too.

And the story about vaudeville when it was the biggest thing in America and how it came to an end. And how Gypsy rode the train right out of vaudeville into "burlesque" and into American folklore.

Helps to have Gypsy's book open next to it to compare. But even so an amazing biography.

No mask like open truth to cover lies,
As to go naked is the best disguise
-- William Congreve


28The_Hibernator
Edited: Feb 4, 6:54am Top

>27 magicians_nephew: Glad you enjoyed it. Nothing better than a good biography.

ETA: Says the girl who reads mostly "general nonfiction" instead of biographies.

29magicians_nephew
Feb 5, 4:45pm Top

I seem to be in a minority on LT in liking to read history.

And sometimes biography.

30magicians_nephew
Edited: Feb 13, 12:53pm Top

My book group took a look at Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe -- a book everyone knows the name of and nobody has read..

Our girl Moll (and she tells you over and over again thats not her real name) is a poor foundling who doesn't want to go "into service".

So she is semi adopted into a good family and the two brother start sniffing around her. She is seduced by one brother and then married to the other, and we're off the races.

You can see this book as sort of Oliver Twist with a female protagonist -- its a hard world out there for a woman alone and Defoe paints a grim picture. But he doesn't quite manage the Dicken-ian outrage - he's just telling the story.

It's not about sex really -- it's about Money. Defoe got that right.

The female first person narrator didn't always work for me - not sure a woman of that time would talk like this - but her voice is clear and honest and she's not asking for sympathy and not asking for pity.

Wonderful portrait of a person and an age. The book group discussion was intense and fascinating. and there is a happy ending.

A woman's best protection is a little money of her own.
-- Clare Booth Luce

31magicians_nephew
Feb 14, 6:31am Top

Brunch even in New York City can be a pretty boring affair. Eggs, toast, muffins, coffee, repeat.

So it was fun to try a new place called "The Smith" recently. They offer what they call a "Breakfast pot pie". Deep dish with sausage and mushrooms in a cream sauce, in a puff pasty shell, with a couple of sunny side ups perched on top. Amazing.



Enough food that you may not want to eat the rest of the day. But Good!

32thornton37814
Feb 15, 12:01pm Top

>31 magicians_nephew: That's an interesting concept. I would probably prefer to keep the mushrooms out. I can eat them, but they aren't my favorite things.

33magicians_nephew
Edited: Feb 17, 10:59am Top

OK. Trivia question of the day. Identify this picture



If you said "The doughnut story -- the one about the runaway doughnut making machine" - well you read the same books I did when I was a kid.

Judy and I have a sort of a book swap - library in the basement of our building.

Yesterday while doing the laundry I came across a copy of The Complete Adventures of Homer Price including in one volume homer price and Centerburg Tales .

Homer is a kid who lives in a small town in Ohio at the turn of the century. In these few short stories he has some of the most amazing adventures and keeps his cool and keeps his feet on the ground.

In the doughnut story a new automatic doughnut making machine goes haywire and a rich lady and her chauffeur and a guy who walks around wearing sandwich boards for advertising get involved in the plot.

And always Homer of course.

Reading them again is bringing back my childhood - love this book - glad to have it back on my shelves again. No you can't borrow it

34magicians_nephew
Feb 17, 11:00am Top

>32 thornton37814: I imagine they just dumped a good old can of mushroom soup in there with the little bit of sausage - a tasty plate of food.

Thanks for stopping by Thornton

35magicians_nephew
Edited: Feb 22, 5:10pm Top



Judy and I had the opportunity to hear David Frum, the Bush era speechwriter and political journalist, in conversation at the NYU Law School last night.

His new book Trumpocracy is out and is a thoughtful informed and passionate call to arms in response to the first year of Donald Trump's presidency.

He spoke about the "unwritten Constitution" - things that, while legal, are by custom and tradition Just Not Done by American Presidents. Things like:
(1) Refusing to release his Tax Returns
(2) Refusing to disassociate himself from his private businesses
(3) Hiring relatives as senior advisors

and this is the big one:

(4) firing the head of the FBI for political reasons.

After the bad days of J. Edger Hoover's FBI the FBI directorate was established as a semi-autonomous figure, above politics and independent from the president and the executive.

Trump says no! The FBI director is part of my administration, he's my creature and he serves at the pleasure of the President. That's new - and different - and a little scary. As Frum points out - once "the rules" are changed like this it's really really hard to change them back.

Frum also had some things to say about the deep schisms that seem to be present in America today. To black vs white, educated vs less educated, immigrant vs Nativist he would add "men vs women". (and single men vs women and couples.)

He was asked in Q&A about "Gun Culture" and spoke about how some younger men, insecure and uncertain, gravitate to the solid reality of a bigger, harder,more powerful gun -- and the comradeship of others who feel like they do. We're not going to get our teeth into the gun problem until we get at the stuff underneath.

In our isolation and refusal to listen to each each the swampy growth of Trumpism finds a fertile breeding ground.

I've always thought of Frum as a bit of an opportunist and a trimmer, but I liked what he had to say last night.

He's been in the belly of the beast and he gets it. And he seems to have respect for the Constitution both written and un-, that I find quite admirable.

Now I have to read the book. And now I have a signed copy!

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
-- Abraham Lincoln

36magicians_nephew
Edited: Feb 28, 10:03am Top

Churchill is much in the news these days - not sure really why.

Judy and I caught up with "Darkest Hour" Gary Oldman and fifty pounds of latex and makeup really bringing the old dragon to life.

There are so many bad "impressions" of Churchill in the movies and on TV -- making do with the cigar and the paunch and the glare -- that it's a revelation to see Oldman really inhabit the character and show depth and complexity and humanity.

And the historian in me kicks in and I run right to the shelves for Winnie's War the indispensable Max Hasting looking over Churchill's shoulder from before he moved into Downing Street and then years and years after.

Churchill's own The Second World War is wonderful of course -- but it's more wonderful about the period of England standing alone and less wonderful about the period after the Americans and the Russians got in, Churchill and England had a lot less to do then.

But Hastings is wonderful about the year or so when The British Empire really stood alone against Nazi Germany and Churchill "Mobilized the English Language and Sent it off to War"

If you don't have the time to wade through five volumes of Churchill's own (Heavily redacted, and not so heavily truthful) telling, then you might give Hastings a try instead.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
-- Rudyard Kipling

37magicians_nephew
Edited: Feb 28, 10:14am Top

And here is a wonderful quote from Churchill that might go for all of us

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are.

Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”

38magicians_nephew
Edited: Mar 8, 4:12pm Top

Having fun visiting an old friend.

When I was a kid at the Elmhurst Library in Queens - a real old Carnegie building, I'll have you know - under the stairs was a section where the books were a little shabby and the binding not the best and were marked with a little yellow sticker of a spaceship on the spine.

This was the "science fiction" section where I first made the acquaintance of Robert Heinlein's provocative ironies, Arthur C. Clarke's scientific precision, and Ray Bradbury's sensuous fantasy.

And always Isaac Asimov whose robot stories made me laugh and whose
"Galactic Empire" stories taught me Roman History.

So I spent last week revisiting Foundation, Foundation and Empire and finally Second Foundation.

Of course it's Asimov and you got to go with it - no scenery, no pacing, no women characters (or not often) and all the characters sound just like The Good Doctor himself when they don't sound like bad Jewish vaudeville comedians.

But it's galloping story telling with a whiff of the Roman Empire and I curled up and enjoyed every word of it.

Later he tried to merge the Robot stories with the Foundation stories and in my opinion made a terrible hash of it. But in these three - the Foundation Trilogy - he struck sparks again and again.

Loved it then. Love it now.

The future ain't what it used to be
-- Yogi Berra

39magicians_nephew
Edited: Mar 14, 10:09am Top

Ironweed is that rare book a Pulitzer Prize that's really really really as good as they say.

Francis Phalan is an Irishman, an ex-ballplayer, a murderer, and by his own admission, a bum.

He had a wife and children - in this town of Albany New York between the wars -- and now he has the daily challenge of finding a meal and finding a drink and finding a warm place to sleep that night.

And looking out for his friends when he can. As best he can.

Never have I seen the day to day misery and struggle of a homeless person described so clearly and so vividly. As Judy said, it's hard to read this book and walk past a poor man on the street the next day.

In the tales of memory and the friends and foes he gathers around him is a powerful story of guilt and loss and identity and family and survival. Can't really describe it. In the end there is a sort of forgiveness - and a sort of new beginning - or maybe not. My book group loved it. I loved it too.

I wish the night would last forever as the song assures,
Though it never does. I make my way not knowing
Where it leads or how it ends—in shocks of recognition,
In oblivion deferred, too little or too late, consumed
By fears of the forgotten and of the truly great.
-- John Koethe

40magicians_nephew
Edited: Jun 5, 12:17pm Top

My book group is reading Mrs. Bridge which is just an amazing perfect little book. and while I am re-reading it for the group I am also casting eyes on my favorite book of all time, Evan S. Connells Son of the Morning Star.

This is the book that takes the deepest dive imaginable into the Custer Battle, the Battle of Little Big Horn, where 300 plus US Calvary faced off against perhaps 3000 plus hostile Indians.

It's an important moment in American History so for that alone its a lovely little book.

But it's also a quiet little meditation on America at the turn of the Century, frontier washerwomen, hard scrabble "journalists", Indians, dogs, horses and just about everything else too.

Connell takes each chapter and seizes on a thread - Custer, or Mrs. Custer, or Reno, or Benteen, or Sitting Bull. and then tells you everything you wanted to know about them and how they relate to the big event. You might think this is uninteresting. Actually its deeply fascinating and engaging.

If you want to know if Sitting Bull ever went to West Point (he didn't) or if Custer took an Indian woman as his "forest wife" (he did) this is the book for you.

"Son of the Morning Star" was the name that the Indians gave to Custer. Curiously it's also one of the names given to Sitting Bull.

Just lovely wonderful elegant writing about people and history and America. How we got from there to here.

My favorite book ever. Not kidding.

There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry.
-- George Armstrong Custer


41The_Hibernator
Mar 20, 7:33am Top

Interesting you should comment on Churchill. There's a book club just for Churchill here in Meetup Minneapolis, and I thought it was a strange niche book club.

42magicians_nephew
Edited: Mar 23, 9:31am Top

>41 The_Hibernator: reading ONLY books about Churchill? Reading only books BY Churchill?

Yes that would be a niche book club -- like reading only books about peach pie.

43quondame
Mar 30, 12:31am Top

>38 magicians_nephew: As to women characters, I'll never forgive Asimov for Dr. Susan Calvin. I hated what he did with her when I read the robot stories as a teenager and even more as an adult, when I also took a dislike to the presentation of Arcadia Darell in Second Foundation. I do agree that all the later Foundation books were unfortunate, whoever wrote them.

44magicians_nephew
Edited: Apr 30, 4:38pm Top

>43 quondame: if you ever read Harlan Ellison's never produced screen play for i, Robot he made Susan Calvin a much more interesting, dynamic and even sexy character.

never saw the Will Smith movie of i, robot - don't know if Susan even appears.

Yes i didn't mind Bayta Darrell in Second Foundation but her grand daughter Arkady was teeth grating. Asimov's daughter Robyn thinks so too

eta: apparently Susan Calvin does appear in the I, Robot movie

45quondame
Mar 30, 2:40pm Top

>44 magicians_nephew: I'm pretty much of a non movie goer and hardly watch TV - my hearing is just bad enough that I'm always asking what was just said and get kicked out of the family room for interrupting the shows.

Even back in the 50s & 60s, the technical women were among the most attractive of the women in our highly technical (military weapons development center) community. All of them were married. Our small desert community might have been unusual, and there were lots of unattached, hetero men checking out any new woman who showed up - new school teachers rarely finished their first year without a proposal or two.

46The_Hibernator
Apr 30, 5:37pm Top

>42 magicians_nephew: Reading ONLY books by Churchill. So I don't know how long it will last. lol

47PaulCranswick
May 6, 7:38am Top

I do enjoy Churchill's books but I wouldn't want to not get to read anything else as I might get smothered in hyperbole!

Have a great Sunday, Jim.

48magicians_nephew
Edited: Jun 5, 3:32pm Top

So after Son of the Morning Star we took a deep dive into Mrs. Bridge and coming away still not sure how to describe it

In some respects it's domestic comedy - a woman in the midwest marries, has kids, interacts with her friends, feel discontented grows old.

But it's so much more than that, with the lovely grace notes of Cornell's writing at its best.

Mrs. Bridge - and her first name is "India" which hints at the strange and exotic - lives her life and accepts it. She's sort of a female Bartleby the Scrivener. She goes to her husband for sex (and love?) and doesn't get it - and accepts that love sometimes means being disappointed.

She sees her son building a tower in the vacant lot next door and watches - and watches and then quietly arranges to have it knocked down. But never talks to him about it.

Her daughter can play with the smarty pants little black girl but only when both children are . . . little.

What does Frost say? "(S)He will not go behind his(her) father's sayings" Mrs. Bridge is a little bit like that. But her awareness of her limitations -- which comes and goes - makes her an almost tragic figure.

It was called to mind by this wonderful little appreciation in the New York Times a while ago.

in Praise of Evan S. Connell

There is a companion piece Mr. Bridge but it seems to be just an addendum. Mrs. B is the real deal.

Lovely and unforgettable

I shall be telling this with a sigh.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
. . . . and that has made all the difference
‎-- Robert Frost:


49magicians_nephew
Edited: Jun 8, 2:28pm Top

My book group chose The Sea, the Sea this month, and as always it's a treat to see any relatively literate group of people turn their eyes towards Murdoch.

The left half of the room get her right away, and the right hand half of the room is bored, restless, unhappy and annoyed about it too.

Charles Arrowby is a retired actor, theater director, busybody, and textbook narcissist. He hasn't really retired from those last two

He buys a ramshackle casa loco of a cottage by the sea and settles down to "Adjure his magic . . . and study to do good" So we're talking about "The Tempest" here - or are we?

AND he meets an old love of his life in the village and -- egomaniac that he is -- drops everything - decides that he is still in love with her and she is still in love with him -- and it's off to the races.

The sea outside his window is wild, beautiful, calm, embracing, and deadly.
As Charles ruthlessly stages this last best drama of his life and bends all around him to his will, the sea outdoors pushes and pulls and roars and whispers and takes life and gives life with a matching cruelty and indifference.

A casting couch load of Charles' town friends drop by - and there is some low comedy right out of "I Love Lucy". Theater gossip is the best gossip.

But also James, his cousin drops in to remind everyone of the Buddhist virtues of listening and studying and being, after all, at rest.

Murdoch is such a wonderful writer - her descriptions do go on but that's all right with. Her descriptions of the sea are worth the price of admission. .

And all these people who run around comically and tragically have life and heart and humanity. You care about them.

a Long book and a slow book - you have to downshift. It's worth it. Or go sit over there until we're done.

“God is really another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.”
— Pablo Picasso




50ffortsa
Jun 8, 2:09pm Top

>49 magicians_nephew: Well said, sir.

51libraryperilous
Jun 21, 9:35pm Top

>49 magicians_nephew: LOL your second sentence. Need some tea to sip in that shade. I really need to read Murdoch. I recently acquired a copy of The Green Knight.

I've enjoyed catching up on your thread, Jim. The Baldwin quote is one of my favorites, so hopeful and yet so sharp. Exactly what you'd expect from someone unafraid to say, "“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

52The_Hibernator
Jul 2, 7:20am Top

LOL at your Murdoch review as well. Never read anything by this author.

53magicians_nephew
Jul 3, 4:43pm Top

Thanks for stopping by you two.

54magicians_nephew
Edited: Jul 3, 5:14pm Top

I wanted to read an Anne Tyler book i hadn't read before and Breathing Lessons fell out of the bookshelf.

and left me sort of non-plussed.

Tyler has written so much lovely deep textured writing that this one felt thin and shallow in comparison.

A rather batty and impatient woman and her husband set out to visit on old friend who is having a memorial service for her husband.

Along the way they meet people, stop, go back go forward split up and get back together again. There is a long aside in the middle about a Black man they run into the ditch and then feel bad about.

There are lovely little stories about the children and the failed marriages and the lies people tell just to get along.

Tyler can write and there is good writing in here. But sometimes I think the side dishes - the short asides, the little vignettes, are more interesting than the main characters not very interesting journey there and back again.

Back to Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant maybe for a palate cleanser.

I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both; and I believe they both get paid in the end; but the fools first.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

55libraryperilous
Jul 7, 6:15pm Top

My first and last attempt at Tyler was Breathing Lessons, which I remember as being two miserable people miserable about being together and then miserable when apart.

Her latest is out this Tuesday, July 10th, and it's been getting good reviews.

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