Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 3
This is a continuation of the topic Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 2.
This topic was continued by Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 4.
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The Cobb, Lyme Regis by Hilary Buckley
Off for my May hols tomorrow. Time with my sister, and my bro will join us for the first weekend. I rent the same apartment each year, so it is home from home.
It really is a rest holiday, there is enough to do, without having to do too much, so time to drift, to relax and read. And although I'm not a beach person per se, I can stare at the sea for hours.
Outline by Rachel Cusk - first in a trilogy, I'll buy the rest there if I like it.
Elegant Simplicity (Satish Kumar) I've read his work for years, this is the new one.
Underland (Robert MacFarlane)
To the River (Olivia Laing) her book about Virginia Woolf
And some poetry:
Lord of the Butterflies (Andrea Gibson) a wonderful collection I will reread before seeing her live later this month.
The Madness Vase (Andrea Gibson) an earlier collection
Sharks in the Rivers (Ada Limon) I loved her most recent volume The Carrying, so again, an earlier volume.
And of course Kindle, where I might read my first Denise Mina novel.
Read in 2019
The Red Notebook (Antoine Laurain) (01/01/19) (France) ****
Rooms of their Own (Nino Stratchey) (06/01/19) ****1/2
My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (09/01/19) (AAC) (US)ROOT *****
The Gift of Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (17/01/19) (AAC) (US) ****1/2
The Plot Against America (Philip Roth) (reread) (25/01/19) (US) ROOT (Book group)***
Thinking Like a Mountain (Robert Bateman) (25/01/19) (US) ****
Mr Darwin's Gardener (Kristina Carlson) (27/01/19) (Finland) *****
The Chosen (Chaim Potok) (01/02/19) (US) ****1/2
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World (Debbie Tung) (02/02/19) ****
Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym) (LL) (03/02/19) ***1/2
The Library Book (Susan Orlean) (06/02/19) (US) ****
Book Love (Debbie Tung) (07/02/19) ****
Across the China Sea (Gaute Heivoll) (11/02/19) (Norway) ****1/2
Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss) (14/02/19) ****
A Beautiful Young Wife (Tommy Wieringa) (Holland) ****
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) (21/02/18) (ROOT) (Reread) ****1/2
Mothlight (Adam Scovell) (23/02/19) ***1/2
A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway) (US) (reread) (01/03/19) ROOT *****
On Balance (Sinéad Morrissey) (Poetry) (Northern Ireland) (02/03/19) ****
Lord of the Butterflies (Andrea Gibson) (03/03/19) (US)(poetry) *****
The River (Jane Clarke) (22/03/19) (poetry) ROOT ***1/2
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) (AAC) (23/03/19) ROOT ****1/2
Morality Play (Barry Unsworth) (29/03/19) ROOT ***1/2
Memories of the Future (Siri Hustvedt) (11/02/19) ****1/2
The Samurai's Garden (Gail Tsukiyama) (13/04/19) ****1/2
The Glass Woman (Caroline Lea) (19/04/19) ***1/2
The Trauma Cleaner (Sarah Krasnostein) (21/04/19) ****
Hag-Seed (Margaret Atwood) (25/04/19) ***1/2
From a Low and Quiet Sea (Donal Ryan) ****
Transcription (Kate Atkinson) (02/05/19) ****
Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well (Satish Kumar) (07/05/19) ****
Kingfishers Catch Fire (Rumer Godden) (18/05/19) ****
One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner (Jay Parini) (27/05/19) ROOT (AAC) ****1/2
Milton Place (Elizabeth de Waal) (28/05/19) ****
Aristotle's Way (Edith Hall) (02/06/19) ****
Frankissstein (Jeanette Winterson) (05/06/19) ****
Walking With the Wind (John Lewis) (21/06/19) ROOT *****
The House by the Loch (Kirsty Wark) (23/06/19) ****1/2
Travellers (Helon Habila) (27/06/19) ****1/2
The Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell) (30/06/19) ***1/2
Across That Bridge (John Lewis (01/07/19) ****1/2
Sleepless Nights (Elizabeth Hardwick) (03/07/19) ****1/2
When All is Said (Anne Griffin) (08/07/19) ****
The Power (Naomi Alderman) (17/07/19) ROOT ****
A Lowcountry Heart (Pat Conroy) (20/07/19) ***1/2
Sharp (Michelle Dean) (20/07/19) ****
Momento Mori (Muriel Spark) (22/07/19) ****
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai) (27/07/19) *****
The Little Book of David Bowie (David Bowie) (28/07/19) *****
Stop Being Reasonable: Six Stories of How We Really Change Our Minds (Eleanor Gordon-Smith) (28/07/19) ****1/2
The Easternmost House (Juliet Blaxland) (01/08/19) ***1/2
A Crisis of Brilliance (David Boyd Haycock) (08/08/19) ROOT ****1/2
The Train was on Time (Heinrich Böll) (10/08/19) ****
The Odyssey (Homer) trans Emily Wilson (15/08/19) ROOT *****
Gender Fluid: 1
London Library (LL): 1
Other loan: 2
That's a beautiful image. I've always wanted to visit Lyme Regis. I hope you have a lovely and relaxing holiday with lots of good reading.
Happy New Thread, Caroline!
Lyme Regis - some day I hope to get there.
Can't wait to hear what you think of Andrea Gibson live! We're hoping Megan Falley is with her. We liked her a lot as well.
I'm glad you mentioned Sharks in the Rivers! I love Ada Limon, and didn't know about that one. I'm chasing it down.
Have fun on holiday!
Wishing you a lovely trip Caroline. I'm another one who would like to get there one day!
Happy new thread, Caroline and have a wonderful break. That topper is lovely - the colours are really beautiful.
>5 kidzdoc: thanks Darryl, Joe, Charlotte and Shelley.
Lunch in River Cottage Kitchen in Axminster tomorrow, one of my fave places to eat, run by chef Hugh Fernley-Wittingstall. I use his cookbooks a lot.
Happy new thread, Caroline, and happy vacation.
Lime Regis looks like a nice place at the topper, how long will you stay there?
I very much enjoyed The Trauma Cleaner and From a Low and Quiet Sea as well Caroline.
I think I'm with you on the Extinction Rebellion protests (from your last thread). I have signed myself up for a 'How to campaign against climate change' workshop run by Friends of the Earth in Cambridge next month. I'm very much hope that there won't be any compulsory nude gluing of body parts to windows involved though! And I am trying to change my behaviour as well. I have no intention of going vegan but I am trying to have vegan meals twice a week. And I'm trying to waste less food. Lettuce, herbs (mainly coriander and parsley), bread and potatoes seem to be our problem foods. I felt very virtuous tonight when I abandoned what I was intending to cook and made omelette instead, to use up some of the older inhabitants of the fridge.
>10 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita, I'll be there 10 nights. Bliss. And away from city pollution.
>11 SandDune: yes, omelettes are great for that Rhian.
I'll look forward to hearing if you find out anything new that is doable, to improve the way we behave.
I need to reduce my plastic use. But I recycle and take stuff to charity shops. I share a 'landfill' bin with my downstairs neighbour, and it is rarely more than a third full, except a couple of times a year after additional spring cleaning or the like.
I was a vegetarian for 28 years, became a pescatarian 3 years ago, as I needed some low fat protein in my diet. I'll never become vegan, but now there are some great vegan cookbooks about, like you, I will eat vegan more often. Certainly 2-3 meals (lunch or dinner) a week. Leon's is great for vegan and vege fast food, I go one evening a week after work, which also means I eat earlier, and just have some fruit when I get home. My fave at the moment is lentil Marsala.
Happy new thread Caroine and wishing you a wonderful holiday time with lots of R&R&R(reading). Lucky you to be going to River Cottage KItchen. I have had his books home from the library and they are wonderful.
Happy new thread, Caroline.
I am fond of Lyme Regis but it always conjures up The French Lieutenant's Woman for me.
Have a nice break and plenty of reading and sea gazing.
Happy Saturday, Caroline. Happy New Thread. Have a wonderful holiday. It looks like a gorgeous locale.
It looks like you packed some promising books. And hooray for Lord of the Butterflies and hooray for Ada Limon, although I didn't connect with that particular collection. I hope it works better for you.
Happy new thread, Caroline.
I love the topper image. Your holiday sounds perfect.
Enjoy your down time with the sibs, Caroline. The seaside is so restorative if not mobbed.
Typical English seaside.
and this is one of the many favourite things in Lyme:
A Madagascan gecko, caught in amber.
It's colder than previous years, but it's so nice to be away from the city.
Online "Informed Collector" is now featuring a painting by Brian Blood that looks a lot like the location where the famous Lyme Regis fossils were discovered.
>21 Caroline_McElwee: We were in Lyme Regis for the first time a couple of years ago. I liked it a lot.
I'm sure we've had this conversation before but if I am not mistaken, isn't Lyme Regis the setting for the Tracy Chevalier novel Remarkable Creatures, based on the real life of Mary Anning. I absolutely loved that novel.
>21 Caroline_McElwee: Looks chill, Caroline.
I loved Hardy's novels when I was younger. The cottage he grew up in isn't too far from Lyme Regis:
I hope your holiday is everything you want it to be, Caroline. Lyme Regis looks delightful.
I too am concerned about the climate and try to do whatever I can to avoid adding any more trouble than I can help.
I’m glad you’re having fun in Lyme Regis, Caroline. Thanks for the pics - I’ve never seen a gecko caught like that.
I’d forgotten Lyme Regis also was in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It’s been so long since I read that one. It has such a strong presence in Remarkable Creatures and Persuasion.
Relax and enjoy, my friend. Sounds like you are!
>28 PaulCranswick: I'll have to investigate that on another visit Paul.
31. Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well (Satish Kumar) (07/05/19) ****
I've been reading Satish Kumar's philosophical and ecological writing for 35 years. This volume is a summary of his life and philosophy, culminating in his triumvirate 'Soil, Soul and Society', which he wrote about in depth in his last book.
>34 Caroline_McElwee: This one sounds good, Caroline. I haven't ever read Kumar. Would this be a good place to start?
Your holiday sounds wonderful. Thanks for the photos.
Today we went to 'Sculpture by the Lakes' which was lovely.
We came back the scenic route:
>36 Caroline_McElwee: We went there a couple of years ago. Very peaceful. I really wanted to rent one of the little summer houses and have a very elaborate picnic!
A visit to River Cottage Kitchen, on my way home. Lunch was lovely as usual, my main was fennel bhaji, with beetroot relish on splitpea dhal, too much of the latter though, lovely as it was. My sister had Quinoa with roasted rhubarb and crispy kale. There is always a mix of flavours and textures.
Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, I've had a thing going with rhubarb this holiday, starting with tea and fudge, and here with parfait, macerated and puréed, served with granola.
>39 SandDune: I love peaking into the beach huts Rhian. Some people really go to town on them.
Went to see the bio-pic 'Tolkien' which I enjoyed. Now to get to The Hobbit. I've still to read him, though am familiar with his art.
Went to see Ute Lemper give her performance 'Rendezvous with Marlene' last night. Wonderful voice and sassy performance.
The show is built around a three hour telephone call Lemper, then in her 20s, had with Dietrich near the end of her life.
The Arcola theatre is an intimate venue for this kind of cabaret performance.
As good as this was, I saw the actress Sian Philips do a show about Marlene a some years ago, and she brought the hairs up on the back of my neck.
Thanks to all my visitors popping your heads round the door while I was away.
32. Kingfishers Catch Fire (Rumer Godden) (18/05/19) ****
Godden's characters feel so authentic. After the death of her husband, Sophie takes her two children to live near a secluded village in Kashmir. Although her intensions are good, this independent woman, out of her time, manages repeatedly to not quite get things right. But she persists, against the odds, to unravel misunderstandings and maintain her independence and achieve respect.
I turned this up in a secondhand bookshop in Lyme Regis, and love this old cover.
Hi Caroline, your time by the sea sounds lovely. It’s always good to have a change of scenery and pace. I have a few of my mother’s Rumer Golden books. I must get to them soon as she has a loyal following on LT. Speaking of a change of scenery and pace, I love dipping into older books from to time.
>47 Caroline_McElwee: I've not read any of those - tempting!
The rhubarb dishes also sound wonderful - asparagus seemed to be everywhere on my trip (but I'm not a fan, so gave it a miss).
What a lovely holiday! And yum, rhubarb. We grew hat in our backyard.
>47 Caroline_McElwee: Please let us know how you like this one. I have his bio of Gore Vidal around here somewhere.
>49 charl08: >50 bohemima: I'm rattling away with the Faulkner biography Charlotte and Gail. So everything else will have to wait til it is finished. I suspect his novels will be added to my autumn reading, I've read 3-4 so far.
>50 bohemima: I have a friend who grows rhubarb, and I sometimes arrive home to find she has posted a parcel of it through my letterbox.
I really enjoyed Parini's biography of Steinbeck, and I have the Frost and Vidal ones in the tbr mountain.
Caroline, your holiday at the sea sounds absolutely lovely. I love the painting at the top of your thread and the photos make me sigh with relaxation.
'Rendezvous with Marlene' looks and sounds delightful, as well!
I'm noticing that you took Outline by Rachel Cusk with you. Did you read it? If so, how did you like it? I did some impulse buying of her work a few months ago and that is one that now sits on my shelves.
Mark is also reading a biography of Faulkner at present. This seems to be a trend. :-)
>52 EBT1002: Mark's reading the same bio of Faulkner, for the same reason....the author is this month's selection for the American Author Challenge. Not too late to get on board, Ellen! *waves pom poms and bounces up and down* I know...no reading challenges for you.
Rhubarb through the letterbox sounds wonderful. I had two attempts at growing it on the allotment, neither worked. Typically the guy on the plot next door, who didn't even like the stuff, had it coming out of his ears!
>52 EBT1002: not that you asked me Ellen, but my daughter Julia (whom you've met!) just read Outline while we were on vacation and loved it. I read it and liked it, but for some reason have no review posted on LT.
I'm glad you had such a good holiday, Caroline, and hope you are still feeling relaxed and rested from it.
>46 Caroline_McElwee: Kingfishers catch fire is based on events from Godden's life, which she talks about in A time to dance, no time to weep. Both are excellent reads. I've read a lot of her books and only disliked one.
>52 EBT1002: I did start Outline on the train Ellen, but I'd forgotten it was basically a volume of monologues, and I wasn't in the mood for that, so set them aside. I'll probably get back to it next month. >55 lauralkeet: Interesting Laura.
>53 laytonwoman3rd: And I'm really enjoying the Faulkner biography Linda.
>54 charl08: You need to come to 'an arrangement' Charlotte. Last year. I made rhubarb and beetroot soup, which was delicious. I can't remember whose recipe I used, but it wasn't much different to this:
>56 Sakerfalcon: noted Godden's autobiography Claire, I was thinking I'd look for that or a biography. I'll certainly be reading more of her work.
Looking forward to catching up with you and Darryl on Friday.
Went to see poet Andrea Gibson perform tonight. For their final show of the tour, they had a great venue in the Union Chapel. Buddy Wakeham also performed.
Wonderful poetry, energised work about life, love, sadness and pain, from a Queer perspective, with universal depth.
Joe and Mark are responsible my introduction to her wonderful volume Lord of the Butterflies.
33. One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner (Jay Parini) (27/05/19) (AAC) ****1/2
A fine telling of the life of writer William Faulkner, intercut with 'essays' on the writers work. Faulkner's renown, I feel, rests on two key aspects: his focus on, and passion for, a singular place, and his experimental writing, which could both awe and enrage his readers. This 'telling' of his life is both accessible and has narrative drive (Parini is also a novelist).
I've read maybe four of Faulkner's novels (one twice), and wondered whether reading summaries of his books might spoil the reading of the other books, but soon realised that I'd forgotten much of the detail of the books I'd read, so likely would have forgotten the summaries. What I hadn't forgotten was the tone and the feeling of reading the books, and some of the imagery.
Of his personal life, although far from uncommon, I found his drinking painful to hear about. His repeated visits to hospital after heavy intakes of alcohol consumption were painful examples of self-harm, that no-one seemed able to guide him away from.
A gentleman of the South, with manners, kindness and loyalty, yet still able to craft such scurrilous behaviours in many of his characters.
As Parini says, one doesn't read Faulkner, one rereads Faulkner. One might add, Faulkner didn't write, he rewrote.
I decided to go online and see if I could find a recording of Faulkner's voice, there are many. Interestingly, when I read his books, I heard a slow, Southern drawl, but in reality, he reads his work at quite a clip. I wonder if that will change how I hear his work going forward.
From As I Lay Dying : https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=upVi3BX5mUw
>59 Caroline_McElwee: Wonderful review, Caroline, and excellent comments of your own on Faulkner. Would you post it to the book page? I find I do NOT hear his voice when I read his books (probably because I had read so much of his work before I heard a recording of his voice). I'm grateful for that. I imagine he spoke more slowly than he read aloud, but there's no richness to his sound, is there?
>61 laytonwoman3rd: posted Linda. Thanks for the reminder that I said I'd do that.
Good review of One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner, Caroline. I also really enjoyed this bio. It was a 5 star read for me. I want to read more Faulkner and Parini.
I just read the Parini bio of Faulkner. A couple of years ago, I read a Faulkner bio by Stephen Oates, and while it was good, Parini's is much better. I believe I've read the novels that are commonly considered his best. Time to reread them.
Light in August is very good, and there's actually a sympathetic character or two in it!
>68 FAMeulstee: I haven't read the book you mention Anita, but it sounds like they are of a similar ilk. Compressing the practical advice into a version that is acceptable for modern readers, whilst giving enough of the original to woo the curious to read that if they are so minded. I've a tome of Aristotle's work, and thought this would be a good summary, before launching into the original at some stage.
It also draws to the attention how so much valuable wisdom is ancient and relevant to our lives. It's so easy for 21st century humans to believe everything started with them.
The work of a wonderful black British female artist
I want to try and get to this exhibition.
>58 Caroline_McElwee: Wow, how did I fall so far behind? I'm so glad you had a good time at Andrea Gibson's performance - and Buddy Wakefield is no slighter, is he. Debbi wished she could have followed Andrea G. to every tour stop like the old Grateful Dead-Heads did with that band, and I'd be happy to join her. AG's my favorite performing poet by a long shot.
Did the rest of the crowd enjoy her? It was a zealous group of fans in Chicago.
P.S. Thank you for the photos. What a venue!
>72 jnwelch: yes Joe, there was a very enthusiastic crowd. She talked quite a bit between poems, lots of humour. Autobiographical stories. I got the impression she was going to stay late talking to the audience after, but I had an hour's journey home, so didn't stay.
I shall look forward to new work.
34. Milton Place (Elizabeth de Waal) (28/05/19) ****
Written in the 1960s, one of the latest volumes from Persephone Books, a Country House novel. A stranger arrives, and the consequences on the family of this new arrival. Old Mr Barlow receives a letter from a woman in Austria whose life at the end of WWII has come unstuck. She is writing to him because her mother often mentioned him, and asks if he can help her find a position in England. He invites her to Milton Place.
35. Aristotle's Way: Ten Ways Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life (Edith Hall) (02/06/19) ****
A very satisfying read, and reminder that so much of what we believe to be modern attitudes, are often ancient wisdom. We are revisiting. This attempt to woo us to the original focuses on: Happiness, Decisions, Potential, Communication, Self-Knowledge, Intentions, Love, Community, Leisure, and Mortality. Much of this wisdom has been absorbed into current psychology, and other systems promoting potential and success.
I've had a volume of Aristotle on the shelf for a while, and will certainly be plumbing it's depths.
Frankissstein (Jeanette Winterson)
Galloping through this. I heard her speak about, and read from her novel last week. She's a natural performer.
Reality is Not What it Seems (Carlo Ravelli)
Walking With the Wind (John Lewis)
The Basic Works of Aristotle
This will take the rest of the year weighing in at 1,487 pages!
I think Elisabeth de Waal is related to Edmund de Waal (The Hare with Amber Eyes), am I right about that?
I admire you for taking on Aristotle, Caro. I admit I've never been tempted, but I look forward to hearing about it as you work your way through.
>76 lauralkeet: Yes, Elizabeth de Waal was Edmund's grandmother Laura. This is the second of her novels Persephone have published. They weren't published in her lifetime.
The Aristotle tome landed in the shelf in 2012 Laura. I can't remember what stimulated me to buy it beyond an interest in Philosophy generally.
>71 Caroline_McElwee: Ooh, I would love to see that exhibition, Caroline! I see that it's on until 8 September, so I'll add it to my to do list for one of my two probable return trips to London this year, in late July/early August or in September when Debbi and Joe will also be there. Thanks for mentioning it!
Caroline - >36 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely photos. Your holiday sounds wonderful.
>37 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for the Kumar recommendations. On my Wishlist.
The Faulkner bio sounds great. I am a fan of his writing.
I can't wait for the Winterson to become available. I love her; I would love to see her speak.
We've never been in Union Chapel, btw, Caroline. It's near where we stay in Islington? Must investigate . . .
36. Frankissstein (Jeanette Winterson) (05/06/19) ****
An enjoyable read, marrying Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with current scientific progress with AI. A serious, funny romp of ideas. Among the intentions of the novel is to highlight the need for women to become more involved in the conversation, as it would have the capacity to become framed against the benefits of women by male troupes (I've said this before, the fact that autocorrect always wants to give 'Male' a capital, says something about those who are designing our digital world!).
The modern characters all carry some mirror of the Romantic characters, but the weakest for me in mirroring was Ron Lord, who in no way spoke to me of Byron, who undoubtedly had monstrous characteristics, but he did have genius.
>82 Caroline_McElwee: Sounds good, Caroline. I've got this lined up (although when will I get the time). The thing about AI being shaped by all of us - really important.
>84 kidzdoc: I recommended it for our local RL book group Darryl, and it was accepted. I've only just started, but suspect I'll have read it by next week.
Great that he is your congressman.
>82 Caroline_McElwee: I hadn't heard of this til a day or so ago, but I keep stumbling across it now. Sounds really interesting!
>82 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds wonderful, Caroline. I have it on my WL for when it becomes available here.
>82 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds great. I will have to add it to my wishlist.
On Monday I went to see ‘Bitter Wheat’ the new play by David Mamet, starring John Malkovich. A story of the misuse of power by men, with the main character being something of a cross between Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump (the latter especially at times when the character is threatened with not getting his own way). As one would expect Malkovich was in his element playing this disgusting (in JMs word apparently) creature, but he did it with such pitch and relish.
I wasn’t too sure what I felt about the play at first, but came to feel it was about the deep metaphors behind rather than the story. How such men are able to reframe everything as the tide shifts so to speak, how they both can see what they are doing, and refuse to. Or are able to rewrite the story to make it more digestible for themselves. And then, of course, how the bad guy has all the best lines and making you laugh at them! I’m still thinking about it now, which, I guess, is the sign of a successful piece. It took me a while also to realise that one of the things was that it didn’t feel as contentious as I expected. Has Mamet mellowed, or was he just being cautious in the ‘me too’ age? It was certainly a play that put on display untenable behaviour to be perceived as such, although of course you could choose not to see it in that way. I’m looking forward to reading the reviews this weekend. I’m sure there may be a couple out there already. Must check.
No production photos yet, but the cast photo:
I was sitting next to an older gentleman and his wife, and while she read the programme he chatted to me. He had seen Malkovich on stage in the US in the 1970s, and was a big theatre fan.
>89 Caroline_McElwee: Wow! That sounds really good Caroline. (And also grim, but at least it's fiction unlike politics!)
Visiting my sister in her new home in Shropshire, ten minutes from the Ironbridge (completed 1779).
The river is at its highest, as there has been ten days heavy rain.
>91 charl08: yes, both Charlotte. But I felt I had to challenge myself, and Malkovich is such a fine performer.
Hi, Caroline. I'm so glad you got to see Bitter Wheat, and had a positive reaction to it. Malkovich is a Steppenwolf ensemble member, and we got to see him a lot on stage over the years. He is a fine performer, as you say, and he loves those detestable parts, doesn't he. One of his best was in True West with Gary Sinise. and the film Being John Malkovich is a lot of fun.
>84 kidzdoc: I think I've admitted greenness before at you seeing Malk and Sinse in True West Joe. Last December I saw Kit Harrington and Jonny Flynn in it.
By all accounts, from people he works with, JM is a sweetheart, and a generous performer, clearly he loves playing against type Joe.
I loved 'Being John Malkovich' he seemed to enjoy taking the Michael out of himself.
>95 laytonwoman3rd: it really is Linda. It's a lovely area.
>92 Caroline_McElwee: Haven't been to Ironbridge for ages. I must get back there at some time.
Ha, I never thought I'd be posting this..
I was at the Oval Cricket Ground today....
to attend a conference.
>99 Caroline_McElwee: Oh dear. My dad is a big cricket fan and this has not been a good week for his team - defeated by NZ! Hope your conference was more successful. I imagine it's quite a nice venue?
37. Walking With the Wind (John Lewis) (21/06/19) *****
This is an incredibly inciteful autobiography and history of the Civil Rights Movement. A subject I knew something about, but learnt so much more. What an extraordinary individual Lewis is.
His deep belief in the possibility of an interracial community is still needed now. His clarity of thinking, his capacity to resist changes that go against his values, even when doing so makes him an outsider.
He describes the breadth and variety of the different civil rights organsations, and how and when they functioned together, or in resistance against each other. He introduces you to the men and women who dedicated (and some continue to) their lives to forcing change.
This book was written in the mid 1990s, I've just ordered the book he wrote in 2012.
I recommended this to my reading group, and it was selected, and I'm so looking forward to discussing it next Friday.
In tandem with this I was looking at the photos of Steve Schapiro in the illustrated edition of James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time where I found photos of all the men and women Lewis walked and worked side by side with, and many they did it for.
The volume of photos honours the participants of the Civil Rights Movement while refusing to glorify their oppressors, so some photos take you to the cusp of impending violence, without showing it. I'll be rereading Baldwin's essays in this volume, this week.
This photo of Baldwin sent me off to listen to The Contours...
Singing. .. 'Do you love me...now that I can dance..' years since I heard that song.
>99 Caroline_McElwee: I thought I had clicked on the wrong thread!
How are you finding the Parini essays? I haven't read those, and must see if I can find a copy of that collection.
>105 laytonwoman3rd: just started them Linda, but I think I'm going to like them. I wish there was a volume with more recent essays in.
I see that you have the John Lewis autobiography, have you read it yet?
I agree with Beth, John Lewis is absolutely incredible. He's one of those government figures that I wish could live forever, or at least until the current nightmare is over. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is another.
>106 Caroline_McElwee: I haven't read the Lewis book yet, but your comments make me want to move it way up the list.
Ditto, Caroline. I admire John Lewis, and that sounds like a very good book from him.
Obama and John Lewis talk to students, very moving.
Without John Lewis, there would have been no President Obama.
You won't regret a minute of your time Beth, Laura, Linda and Joe. I give very few books 5*s on first reading.
>103 Caroline_McElwee: - Sounds excellent, Caroline. I will seek it out. Have you read the 3-volume graphic novel about Lewis's life, March? Really excellent. Those were my first introduction to this man.
I read The Fire Next Time as a reread recently (maybe last year?) because I had first read it as a teenager, many moons ago. I did not now thee was an illustrated edition.
>111 Caroline_McElwee: - Thanks for this. Wow
>103 Caroline_McElwee: Great review of Walking with the Wind, Caroline. As I've mentioned several times, John Lewis has been my United States Congressman since I moved to Atlanta in 1997, and he is absolutely revered and respected by everyone here, even those who don't necessarily share his political views. He continues to be a voice of reason and morality in this fractured and broken democracy, and once again he took a strong stance and made national headlines this week. Joe Biden, the former Vice President under President Obama and a long time member of the U.S. Senate, who is running for the presidency in 2020, made a comment while campaigning this week about his collaborations with the former arch-segregationist senators Herman Talmadge of Georgia and James Eastland of Mississippi, who he was morally opposed to, in order to pass legislation to benefit poor and working class Americans. Cory Booker, one of the two U.S. senators from New Jersey, who is the only African American man who is seeking the presidency, blasted Biden, who was active in the Civil Rights Movement for many years, and said that this collaboration was morally offensive to him and many African Americans. Lewis could have expressed support for Booker's position, but instead he stood behind Biden, which I thought was a brave position to take, although it was undoubtedly easier for him to do so, given his unshakeable credentials as a leader in the Black community.
I should take a photo of the mural of John Lewis on Auburn Avenue this weekend, and post it on my thread. The barbershop I go to is also on "Sweet Auburn", on the same intersection as Ebenezer Baptist Church, where "Daddy" King preached for many years before his more famous son came to prominence, and barely a stone's throw away from the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. I never think to do that, even though the church and park are amongst the most popular sights for tourists to visit in Atlanta, since they are places I've passed by on hundreds of occasions in the 22 years I've lived here. I usually visit my barber at 7:00 on Sunday mornings, and will do so next Sunday, which would be a perfect time to play tourist and take photos.
The Fire Next Time is nothing short of brilliant. I love James Baldwin's novels, but his essays are searing and are definitely relevant in the current political climate in the US.
>111 Caroline_McElwee: I agree 100%. Without John Lewis there would never have been a Barack Obama. I'm happy that Congressman Lewis lived to see him inaugurated as our 44th President.
>115 kidzdoc: Sounds like a very tricky situation Darryl. I guess Lewis knowing Biden's Civil Rights record helped. But also the nonviolent movement that Senator Lewis was a part of, and still stands by, does not blame the individual oppressors, but the society in which their views were formed, so he can view the (? once) segregationists with a more tolerant disposition than those not trained in non-violence values.
I look forward to seeing your photos.
Well, as you know, I've been reading Baldwin since I was 14, I think there is only one novel I've never read. I've read several of the books several times, and am slowly rereading them all again. I was introduced to his work by a mixed-race English teacher, a rarity in the 1970s, she shared him with us as there was almost no black literature in the UK at that time. I fell in love with that writing, and have never fallen out of love with it. Like Lewis, Baldwin believed in the integrated community.
>116 Caroline_McElwee: Right. However, John Lewis has known Joe Biden for decades, knows what kind of man he is, and was able to stand behind him without having his credibility come under question, by Cory Booker or anyone else. I don't think that anyone, even trump and those arch-segregationists, are entirely evil, though I may strongly disagree with their opinions, and in a country as divided as this one is we will have to put our differences aside and come together as Americans to keep this democracy from descending into chaos. As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
I think that I've read most of James Baldwin's work, but I definitely haven't gotten to all of it, especially his latter books. I'm definitely an integrationist, as you can probably tell, but I've become much more skeptical and distrustful of white Americans since trump came to power. Sadly, one of the consequences of Barack Obama's election to the presidency was the normalization of the white supremacy movement in the US, and although trump will hopefully be overturned in next year's presidential election those people aren't going anywhere, and they and the "Moral Majority" of social conservatives will continue to be a force in this country for the foreseeable future.
I'm taking your five star rating seriously and adding Walking with the Wind to my wish list. I agree that John Lewis is such an amazing and iconic man; and we need more optimistic visionaries in our world!
>115 kidzdoc: I haven't been following the national scene very closely and did not know about this; thanks for posting, Darryl. And as you say, Caroline, it's a tricky situation but Lewis' firm commitment to fairness and to finding common ground even across vast ideological divides -- I have to admire that. I wholly agree that we are going to have to find common ground if we are to save our democracy in the US. I get the need to call out sellouts and, in the long run, acknowledging that our society is hardly "post racial" as so many believed when Obama was elected. White supremacy is alive and well, not just among trump and his supporters. Liberal white supremacy needs to be addressed as well as the virulent and violent variety. I fear for our country if we can't find a way to focus more on our commonalities and less on that which divides us.
And I agree that The Fire Next Time is nothing short of brilliant. I've read it twice and will likely read it again during the heart/heat of the next presidential election in an attempt to keep myself grounded.
>118 EBT1002: You're welcome, Ellen. The Democratic candidates for POTUS were making public appearances in South Carolina this week, which as you know has a large African American minority that tends to vote Democratic. Biden remains the front runner among likely voters in this group in SC, and there is an apparent split between older voters, who were either willing to give Biden a pass on his comments or accept what he said, given his long history of being active in the Civil Rights Movement and serving faithfully under Barack Obama for two terms, and younger voters who were more offended by his comments but were more likely to vote for Cory Booker or Kamala Harris. I tend to identify with the former group, and although I like Kamala Harris's passion and positions the most important thing to me is that we get rid of trump, and whomever has the best chance to do that while staying true to my principles will likely get my vote. It's way too early for me to render a definitive opinion about one person, but I'm leaning towards Biden, Harris and Elizabeth Warren at the moment. Booker's comments and past confrontations in the Senate are laudable, but I can't seem him appealing to more than a tiny minority of white Americans.
I own the Library of America edition of James Baldwin's essays, which I know that I haven't finished yet. I should do so this year, and start reading them again, as I read most of them before trump took control of the country.
Caroline: Did you read the Lewis' graphic memoirs March: Book 1? I think you would love them as well. There are three volumes.
38. The House by the Loch (Kirsty Wark) (23/06/19) ****1/2
I really enjoyed Kirsty Wark's second novel, the story of a family between the 1940s and the current time, in Scotland.
The further you get, the more layers there are. What feels like a predictable occurrence, a quarter in, burgeons into something far more complicated. The characters are well drawn, and their journey has emotional breadth, and they are embedded in a real sense of place.
>120 BLBera: I suspect I will eventually get to those Beth, but I'm not a big GN reader, and am resisting at the moment.
I've just ordered his Across that Bridge: Life, Lessons and a Vision for Change, which I will probably read next month.
I'm well into Travellers (Helon Habila), and enjoying it. My first Habila novel, but it won't be my last.
39. Travellers (Helon Habila) (27/06/19) ****1/2
A wonderful, sad, eloquent novel about displacement and home. About being lost and found and lost. About suffering and survival. About leaving and not always returning. About refugees of all stripes. About the friendship of strangers, and the strangeness of friends.
Across that Bridge (John Lewis)
The Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell)
It's a while since I've laughed out loud while reading, but the first entry - 5 February - did it! Thanks for the recommendation Joe/Debbi.
ETA: still laughing...
And : When All is Said (Anne Griffin) , a recommendation from Beth.
>127 Caroline_McElwee: I think March, will be an exception to the rule. It is outstanding.
>124 Caroline_McElwee: I'm still not there with this one, but more my reading mood at the moment than the book. I love Habila, and am quite glad I've never seen him in person as I fear I would embarrass myself by being very gushingly fan-like.
>129 charl08: Habila was new to me Charlotte. I hope you get there with it, but mood is a tricky thing sometimes.
Ooh. I'll look for Travelers (we Americans spell that word with only one "L") when I go book shopping this weekend, as it was released here last week. Thanks, Caroline!
>135 Berly: It was actually your review that made me click, Beth. About to start it today.
I went to see an exhibition of the work of John Caple today. He was brought to my attention a few years back by Lynne Hatwell (dovegreyreader blog).
This exhibition is called 'Twilight and Silence'
In some ways, although very different, I am put in mind of Samuel Palmer, who also often painted twilights.
I was also an extremely lucky girl, as one of the young Gallery assistants gifted me several copies of the catalogue, one signed by the artist, who I actually saw walking towards the gallery as I left. I wasn't bold enough to approach him.
Then I headed to the London Library for a few hours quiet reading.
LOL! Yay for Diary of a Bookseller! I'm glad you're enjoying it. Among other things, I got a kick out of his never-ending battle with go-her-own-way Nicky.
>119 kidzdoc: "...the most important thing to me is that we get rid of trump, and whomever has the best chance to do that while staying true to my principles will likely get my vote." Yep. I totally agree. I'm a fan of Kamala Harris and I continue to watch her but with slim hope. I don't love Biden, not because of the kerfuffle to which you refer but just because I'm tired of old white guys (I know, I know) leading our country. AND I want a Democratic nominee who can beat Trump. I'd love it if we also took the Senate and could make some headway on national health care but I don't hold out much hope for that either.
The Diary of a Bookseller has a cat on the front and it made you laugh. Enough said. It's on the wish list.
And Beth had already gotten me with When All Is Said. How are you liking it?
I love the images of the work of John Caple. I am not familiar with him but I do love those images.
40. The Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell) (30/06/19) ***1/2
I enjoyed this romp through the booksellers life, and the eccentricities of both Nicky, his key staff member, and some of his customers, including some wonderful descriptions of them. And there were certainly a few laugh out loud moments.
It's impossible to avoid repetition in the diary of a business, which occasionally bored, but I found the world of the bookshop and it's transition over recent years, as interesting as the characters that people the book. I'm sure Nicky would have something withering to say about this review though!
>138 jnwelch: Well the book would have been very different without her Joe.
>139 EBT1002: Good to see you peak round the door Ellen.
I'm not listening to the political debates until the field has narrowed, though agree it needs to be someone with a strong record and the capacity to not wither under the crazy attack that Trump will mount. Ironically it also needs to be someone squeaky clean, with no skeletons to hide, despite that most of Trumps many skeletons are in full view and have done little to obstruct his tenancy of the Whitehouse.
>140 FAMeulstee: I really love his work Anita. It was lovely to catch a glimpse of him, as he is quite reclusive.
>137 Caroline_McElwee: I LOVE this guy's work, especially the top painting. Thanks, for sharing.
Happy Sunday, Caroline. One more day of vacation left. Yep, feeling bittersweet...
>137 Caroline_McElwee: Wow! Thanks for introducing me to a great new artist, and how marvelous that you got an autographed copy of th e catalogue!
>141 Caroline_McElwee: That’s immediately going on my wishlist. It looks like it’s right up my alley.
I’m trying to avoid the political things for a while, as I get disheartened fairly easily. But I’m not giving up the fight, by any means.
I hope your week is calm and peaceful, Caroline.
It would be welcome if the Democrats would just simplify the election with a LIST:
LIES = D. Trump @ 11,000
Kamala Harris @ 1?
SEXUAL ATTACKS = D.Trump @ 10? (and counting)
Kamala Harris @ zero
BANKRUPTING the U.S. = D. Trump @ 1.6 trillion (and counting)
Kamala Harris @ NO $
SELLING AN ELECTION TO RUSSIA AND PUTIN = D. Trump @ and 1 (and now another?)
Kamala Harris @ NO!
Etc. - give the American voters something they can ALL understand and see in front of them,
with updates every week...
>143 msf59: It is special isn't it Mark. Hope you are surviving your return to work.
>144 bohemima: Glad you like the paintings Gail.
I know what you mean about wanting to avoid the politics. Neither of our potential Prime Ministers are men I feel we can trust, but Boris least of all.
>145 m.belljackson: that should be on a big banner Marianne.
41. Across that Bridge (John Lewis) (01/07/19) ****1/2
Another fine volume from John Lewis, a series of meditations for potential activists, but they are valid also as Life shapers:
Faith (in your goal, whether or not you subscribe to a religion)
There are many nuggets, anecdotes and a few wonderful quotes from those who inspire/d him.
42. Sleepless Nights (Elizabeth Hardwick) (03/07/19) ****1/2
What a nugget of a book. A slender novella/with some semi-autobiographical elements, the narrator, who shares the name of the author, Elizabeth, is traversing her memories, talking out loud to herself and in letters, about the people who have peopled her life. Shifting across the years, making random or no links, this plotless character driven gem has some fine lines. It's tone is mostly brittle and cool, with some warmth here and there. The eye for detail is very sharp. Early on I almost felt what it was like to BE Billie Holiday..
This essay is what sent me there:
>149 Caroline_McElwee: That looks like one to look out for, Caroline.
>137 Caroline_McElwee: I hadn't heard of John Caple before now, and I wish I'd been able to get to that exhibition. From your pictures his work looks to be just the sort of thing I like.
>149 Caroline_McElwee: I have this on my shelf. I'll try to get to it this year. Thanks for the link to the article!
>149 Caroline_McElwee: Like Paul I will have a look for the book, Caroline - thank you!
Yesterday I went to see 'Vita and Virginia', which was better than I expected. Visually beautiful, and clever in trying to communicate what Virginia's mental lapses might have felt like to her.
They quote from both Virginia and Vita's letters, and make me want to return to VW's (I got to vol2), and read VSWs.
Their 'affair' was relatively fleeting as far as we know (Vita had a voracious sex drive and many affairs with both men and women), but their friendship lasted until Virginia's death.
Virginia's diaries I could not live without, and will get a reread next year.
43. When All is Said (Anne Griffin) (08/07/19) ****
84 year old Maurice Hannigan sits at a hotel bar making five toasts, in his head, each to important people in his life. With each toast we learn about his life, his relationship to the hotel, and the people he loved and why. Entwined throughout are layers of secrets that even Maurice only learns over time.
I've Beth to thank for reading this finely crafted debut novel.
Currently Reading and enjoying...
Sharp (Michelle Dean)
So far I've read chapters on Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Zora Neale Hurston, and Hannah Arendt.
This will also fit with this month's Non-Fiction challenge of biographies.
Caroline - Every time I visit your thread, the painting of Lyme makes me happy. It is so pretty. I love all the art you post.
I'm so happy you also loved When All Is Said - it IS a good debut, isn't it?
The Hardwick sounds good; I think I might have a copy on my shelves somewhere. I'll have to pull it out.
Sharp sounds like one I would like.
>162 BLBera: I love Lyme Regis too, Beth, although I don't get the opportunities to visit there as often as Caroline.
Caroline, I am hoping that my finances improve enough for me to make a further visit to England by October in order, amongst other things, for us to hit the poetry shops together.
Have a lovely weekend.
>162 BLBera: >163 PaulCranswick: Lyme is definitely one of my favourite places, Beth and Paul.
>162 BLBera: Glad you are enjoying the art too Beth.
>163 PaulCranswick: We'll get that poetry crawl in sometime Paul. Glad you will be moving in to your new abode soon.
>164 jessibud2: Well, how delightful being 'stuck' in a bookshop Shelley. Aside from watering flowers and trees, there had to be another fine purpose to rain.
44. The Power (Naomi Alderman) (17/07/19) ****
I had some complicated feelings about this novel. The tables are turned, and the world is controlled by women, but it is almost as violent as the paternalistic world we live in. The suggestion is that it is physical strength that dictates who has power, and women have come into a physical, electrical, power that men rarely have, and those who do are perceived as freaks.
The most interesting aspect for me is about how the supposed first generation of women learn to deal with and use their new physical power, which is held in the skein on their collarbone, but presents itself through their fingers. And how they learn how to re-empower the dormant skeins of older women, which suggests that their female ancestors had the power long ago.
Set over a ten year timeline, that to our office reading group felt too short, a lot of things had been thrown at the novel, without having enough time to explore them fully.
There was also a passage that suggested that a paternalistic world order would be gentler that the feminine world order, so the grass is always greener on the other side?
There were some interesting characters, and a couple of swerves, but on the whole, I felt it was quite flawed, and wasn't sure it needed the book within a book aspect at the beginning and end. That felt like a publisher had imposed it on the writer to offer some clarification.
45. A Lowcountry Heart (Pat Conroy) (20/07/19) ***1/2
A posthumous collection of Conroy's blog and other short essays and speeches. His writing is most vivid when he is talking about his friends, and about the books he loves, which is why this didn't sing for me quite as much as My Reading Life did. But I felt I got a powerful sense of the man and his life, and having recently located my buried copy of A Prince of Tides, I'll be nudging that up the tbr mountain.
Momento Mori (Muriel Spark)
And I have a couple of non-fiction's mentioned earlier on the go too.
46. Sharp (Michelle Dean) (20/07/19) ****
Interesting potted and intertwined biographies of writing women, primarily who started out in journalism, but many of whom wrote novels too.
Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Zora Neale Hurston, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Janet Malcolm, Mary McCarthy and a couple of others make shorter appearances.
It was interesting to read how often their lives crossed in friendships and rivalries, and although Dean while noting it, attempts to deflect from the capacity of most of them for cruelty at times, inferring that acknowledging women could be cruel in some way devalues them, it is certainly a constant.
None of these women had uncomplicated lives. All of them to varying degrees were fine writers, and all of them had, at some point, had solid reputations. On collecting their stories Dean has offered up a volume of journalistic founding mothers, perhaps, though it would have been interesting maybe to have included some lesser known women writers too.
>168 jnwelch: I think it will be tomorrow before I get to TGB Joe, and it will likely be a slow read, as I have the hardback, so don't want to tote it around.
>169 kidzdoc: there is certainly plenty to think about Darryl, and it will possibly get another read down the line, as there was a lot to digest.
>170 charl08: I suspect I will be as impressed as everyone else Charlotte. It is a rare novel I've heard no descention of to date, on LT or elsewhere.
>171 Caroline_McElwee: - Sounds really good, Caroline! I wonder if it's available here. I will have to look (or look for it through AbeBooks) ;-)
Dark, dark humour from director Sally Potter in this ensemble piece.
Caroline - Great comments on The Power; I've read it a couple of times and agree that it is flawed, but it gives us so much to think about. I used it in my dystopian lit class, and it generated a LOT of discussion. I did like the framing device.
>167 Caroline_McElwee: I loved both of these. Which reminds me, I should get back to my reading of Spark... Too many books.
47. Momento Mori (Muriel Spark) (22/07/19) ****
Reread this for my local book group on Friday, and it was as dark and funny as I remembered from reading it in my twenties. Several groups of manipulative oldies some of whom having their lives stirred by anonymous phone calls telling them 'remember you must die'. Spark's eye as sharp as ever. Her skill for capturing human idiocyncracy and flaw, highly acute.
Hi, Caroline. I'm underway with The Great Believers, but not far enough in yet to say I'm hooked.
Did you ever read an Eliot Pattison Inspector Shan mystery? The series is set in Tibet, and the Inspector has to walk a tight rope between the Tibetans and the oppressor Chinese. He's fallen off more than once. I find them fascinating. The author's political view of the Chinese takeover is hard to miss. I'm reading the latest one, Bones of the Earth, and liking it very much.
>180 Caroline_McElwee: Good for you. My gallop is more an amble, but I'll keep amblin'. Out to dinner tonight with some friends, so I'll get back to it tomorrow.
>181 jnwelch: hope you have a nice dinner Joe. Yup, I'm a bit ahead of you. I had a quiet evening in.
>182 msf59: That owl enjoying his splish splash was definitely smile worthy Mark.
I am really into The Great Believers Mark. The characters are so well drawn. Sad it is, and sadly I remember that time here and lost a couple of friends to HIV AIDs. I also was the secretary for a while, to one of the first specialist doctors in the field, working in the UK. He was so exhausted one morning, from being with his patients over a 48 hour period, he didn't even recognise me. How wonderful the drugs are now, that allow a long life for those infected.
I also loved The Great Believers, Caroline. I think it's one I'll go back to at some point. It was a horrible time, when the diagnosis was basically a death sentence.
A cinema legend has left us, the Dutch actor Rutger Hauer. He starred in two of my all time favourite movies, Blade Runner and The Legend of the Holy Drinker, was one of the first actors to star as an AIDS victim, 'On a Moonlit Night'; enjoyed creating all kinds of mythological characters including in 'Ladyhawk' and others movies. His latter years were spent as a guide and mentor to new generations of film makers.
He ran a charity for sufferers of AIDS especially in Africa, and in the Turks and Caicos Islands, focusing on pregnant women and children with the disease.
>166 Caroline_McElwee: I loved The Power, and raved about it among my group of friends who are readers, where it has sparked some very different reactions. One hated it and couldn't finish, two liked it but found it problematic like you did, and one loved it as much as I did. I always find it interesting when people who have fairly similar reading tastes are so divided on a book. The thing that I liked was that Alderman didn't take a utopian view of a female-dominated world -- ultimately I think she was arguing for balance and compromise, and I really like that message. I agree, though, that the framing device wasn't really necessary.
>178 Caroline_McElwee: I'm really looking forward to reading The Great Believers. I've been in the Hold queue at the library for so long!
Too darn hot here.
>188 FAMeulstee: it was definitely too young to lose him Anita.
>189 Cait86: I like a book that does that sometimes Cait. It can give you more to think about. It's one of the reasons I enjoy my real book group. Every now and then there is a real split. But also others pick things up that passed you by, just didn't register.
I'm three-quarters through The Great Believers and really enjoying it. Being unable to sleep in this hot weather has helped with pages turned.
>190 Caroline_McElwee: The same here, Caroline, way too hot, record breaking temperatures. The long standing heat record from the summer of 1944 (38.6°C) was broken, the new record in our country is 40.7°C :-(
All I am able to do is sit quiet on the couch and read, or write some replies on LT.
Hi, Caroline. I'm trailing you in The Great Believers. I'm about halfway through.
Sorry your weather has been so darn hot! I'm glad reading is some solace.
48. The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai) (27/07/19) *****
Set in the 1980s when a modern 'plague' swept the earth - HIV AIDS, and in 2015, this is an extraordinary novel about a sad and dark time, but the characters are so authentic and three dimensional, that you are engrossed in their lives, you are almost their friends eavesdropping.
I can only guess that the survivors of this community at the time it is set, as well as feeling the pain, will welcome a novel that so beautifully records their lives and losses. As someone who would now be termed an ally, who lost two dear friends to this disease, there was some pain in reading the novel, but a sense of triumph that so much has changed, although there is still much work to be done.
This too is a novel about love, about friendship, loyalty, about memory and the responsibility of memory. About the flaws of the human creature, about the capacity to succeed and fail, which is to succeed, for we can only do so via failure.
>193 Caroline_McElwee:. LOL!
>194 Caroline_McElwee:. Nice review! I finished TGB and see why folks have raved about it.
I liked Nora’s comparison of friends lost to this plague to her loss of friends in the war.
You probably think about it with your dear friends; with mine, I think, if the timing had been different, better drugs could’ve kept him alive - and what would he be like today?
I agree, Yale was such a great guy, without seeming to be 'Mr Perfect'.
>193 Caroline_McElwee: I suppose they'll use artistic licence in lieu of a medical certificate!
Nice comments on The Great Believers, Caroline. I suspect this one is going to be on a lot of year end "bests" lists.
I hope the weather is getting cooler.
I'll have to buy and read The Great Believers. I nearly purchased a copy of it from a bookshop in Philadelphia International Airport earlier this month; if I see it there tomorrow I'll get it.
>194 Caroline_McElwee: Great review: the what if questions are heartbreaking.
49. The Little Book of David Bowie (David Bowie) (28/07/19) *****
A life of curiosity and experimentation. Some of Bowie's recorded quotes.
>193 Caroline_McElwee: I love it!
>194 Caroline_McElwee: Good review of The Great Believers. Nice to see so many of us, embrace this one. I want to track her earlier story collection down.
Happy Sunday, Caroline. Are you reading any poetry? I am slowly making my way through a Joy Harjo collection. Have you read her?
>209 No, I've not read Joy, Mark. I'll take a look at her work.
I've not read much poetry in the past couple of months, but plan to read Deaf Republic next, which I've had on the pile winking at me for a while.
I just ordered Makkai's The Hundred-Year House. I'll look forward to your thoughts on her short stories.
50. Stop Being Reasonable: Six Stories of How We Really Change Our Minds (Eleanor Gordon-Smith) (28/07/19) ****1/2
It's complicated, but fascinating. Lots of ideas to be revisited.
More once I've digested.
ETA: my sketchy notes:
Using six case studies Gordon-Smith looks at ways in which people may have to change their minds about significant things, and how complicated how they achieve it (if they do), can be.
Words don't share the same value in different mouths.
No matter how often the author tells men she is interviewing, that women don't enjoy being catcalled or being grabbed by strangers (sharing recent statistics), the men continue to say she can't speak for all women. And insist on reading women's smiles as pleasure than possibly as armour to ensure they get out of the situation.
Rationality is compromised when words don't carry the same value whoever the speaker is, so women saying the identical thing as men are not heard. Not an unfamiliar experience, I had it in a meeting myself recently. Being one of only two women out of ten in the meeting, and the most junior staff member, my comments were passed over, but when a male colleague half my age said exactly the same thing, the idea was given debate!
People of colour experience similar devaluation.
So how can a decision-making situation be totally rational under these circumstances.
'don't believe what other's tell you', except much of what we believe comes from the testimony of others, we don't/can't always demand to see the evidence, even if there is evidence beyond testimony.
(My thought: the whole court system is based often on testimony alone. Testimony that only partially may have evidence to back it up).
In relation to cult believers, you need them to interrogate who is telling them to believe something (and why they believe them/trust what they say), before changing what is believed.
Narrative of the self. Can we change it? Programme 'Faking it'. A young toff participated in an early reality tv programme, where people are asked to train, and present themselves as different people during a four week period. Alex trains to be a London East End club bouncer. The programme concludes with the participant trying to pass him or herself off in the new role, and experienced people have to choose out of five contenders who is the fake. Alex managed to convince the pro he was for real. After the show aired, Alex did not return to his old life, but emigrated to Australia with his partner, where he still lives, the confidence he gained in transforming himself for the programme helped him find a more authentic self.
Doubt. Susie learns her husband is a paedophile. How could she not have known, is what others ask. In order to trust, in relationships, does one have to suspend doubt?
Unreliable memory. A woman who as a child aged seven, reports she has been abused by her mother. Aged 17 she claims no memory of either the psychological analysis she underwent, nor the incidents, until she is about to see the original tapes of her testimony, when some of the 'memories' return. Over the following years other information comes to light, and the woman is led to constantly flip-flop her belief about what occurred. She doesn't believe she will ever know for sure.
Learning you may not be who you thought you were, in the way you thought you were. Peter learns aged 50 that the parents and family he believed his own, had adopted him, when his birth mother and half sister turn up on the doorstep. He also learns that everyone in the small town where he grew up knew, but no one told him. A complicated situation for Peter to parse.
>207 Caroline_McElwee: That sounds like a very interesting read, Caroline.
I will keep an eye if it gets translated.
Hmm. You hit me with two BB’s: Sharp and The Great Believers. Although I’m usually a backlist sort of reader, Makkai’s book would make a nice counterpart to And the Band Played On, which I read earlier this year.
I just loved Memento Mori, as I have most os Spark’s work. Her wry eye for the foolishness of the human condition is right up my alley.
I really need to get back to Muriel Spark. I have several of her works on the shelves.
>208 FAMeulstee: >212 Caroline_McElwee: it gave me quite a bit to think about Anita and Darryl. I shall be revisiting it a chapter at a time and thinking more about the premise of each.
>209 bohemima: well it's always good to land a few BBs Gail.
>209 bohemima: >210 laytonwoman3rd: Spark's work is usually darkly wry which I enjoy Gail and Linda.
51. The Easternmost House (Juliet Blaxland) (01/08/19) ***1/2
A year in the life of a house on the edge of a cliff, subject to the wiles of nature and ultimately demolition, before it falls into the sea. Blaxland and her family have lived in the house for ten years, seen the house next door disappear, until they are now the easternmost house.
Month by month we learn the country ways of the region, season by season we walk in the writer's footsteps, as someone who has lived in the area most of her life.
So sad to hear that Toni Morrison has left us. She is one of my all-time favourite writers.
52. A Crisis of Brilliance (David Boyd Haycock) (08/08/19) ****1/2
A joint biography of five British artists during WWI: Stanley Spencer, Richard Nevinson, Dora Carrington, Paul Nash and Mark Gertler.
A fascinating overview of the young artists at the Slade School of Art, just before and into WWI. Many linked into the Bloomsbury Group and their friends, as well as other 'groups' at the time. Their stories intertwined and overlapped in friendships and love affairs, and the darkness of mind and war.
I go to Cookham every year, and it really filled out my sense of Stanley Spencer's presence there. With his deep love and sense of that place, his home. The chapel is now a gallery with changing exhibitions of his work, there is a sculpture of him on the train station platform, and a plaque on his house. He is always in evidence. His painting 'Swan Upping' is a scene I know well.
(Photo from www)
>217 Caroline_McElwee: Sounds very tempting, Caroline! I'll have a look for it.
>217 Caroline_McElwee: - Me too! I love this type of street art. There is a sculpture in Montreal - several, actually, but one in particular that is reminiscent of the one. If I can put my finger on it, I will post it
Hi Caroline, There are some sculptures like that in Vancouver and it's fun to sit beside one and make the same pose. The 1st. one is near the Vancouver School Board and the 2nd one is near Stanley Park, the huge and awesome park near downtown.The third one is a girl in a wet suit looking at the water near Stanley Park with views of the local mountains.
Ok, I found my pictures too so I will line up after Mary and add mine here! :-)
First one is the same sculpture, taken from 2 sides. I love the detail (see the rat, near the guy's lunch bag?...;-). It is on the street across (or not far) from McGill campus:
The last one is further down the same street and the sculptor, Lea Vivot, has her wonderful work all over the world:
I sure hope these are not too big. If they are, I will delete one of the first 2.
>221 mdoris: - Oh Mary, I love *posing* next to statues and trying to imitate them. So goofy, especially since I otherwise hate having my picture taken. :-) I have posted a few of those on some of my previous threads.
>217 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds fascinating, Caroline. Love the street sculptures.
53. The Train was on Time (Heinrich Böll) (10/08/19) ****
An accomplished debut novel published in 1949. A young German soldier has a premonition that he will shortly die, somewhere soon. Somewhere during the next few days of his journey. We observe his thinking, his reminiscing and his activities as the train moves along the tracks.
>227 Caroline_McElwee: It is a classic that is on my TBR list, Caroline.
We have the German edition on the shelves. Frank loved his languages at school, he was even awarded as he had the best result in the country that year for his final exam in German. My German is not that good.
>227 Caroline_McElwee: I've been tempted by this one in the shops, Caroline. Will have to pick it up.
54. The Odyssey (Homer) trans Emily Wilson (15/08/19) *****
I finally finished this classical romp through mythology, in its latest translation. I can see why it still has potency into the modern age. It ensnares the universal strengths and weaknesses of human kind and delivers them in the one form we cannot survive without - story.
55. A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest J Gaines) (16/08/19) ****
Young Jefferson gets caught up in a robbery that goes badly wrong, leaving the young men responsible dead beside their victim, and Jefferson with no witness to prove his innocence. Sentenced to death, and described as 'a hog' by the prosecution, his Aunt Emma wants the town teacher to ensure that he walks to his death as a man, not the hog he has been named.
Mr Wiggins, the teacher, wears this burden heavily. Desperate to leave the town and create a new life for himself, he is held back by the love of Vivian, unable to do anything until her marriage is dissolved.
Jefferson obstructs all attempts to help him from his aunt, the Reverend, and Wiggins, until finally Wiggins wins a breakthrough.
I had not heard of Gaines until he won a place on the American Author challenge list this year (thank you Linda).
I found this a fine novel with flaws. At the outset the reader knows that Jefferson is innocent, and yet there is never an attempt to protest his innocence. I presume that there was simply no purchase against the twelve good white men and true of the jury, but somehow I felt there needed to be some attempt or exploration of this
Ultimately though, it was hearing Jefferson's own voice at the end, that made me feel we needed to have heard it from the outset, that led me to withhold that extra half a star. I think it would have offered an even richer reading experience if we had done so.
My Friday haul:
Currently steaming through the new biography Becoming Beauvoir, which is excellent. I've been reading, and reading about her since my late teens. Recent materials published, make this a good time for a new appraisal of her life.
>233 charl08: nope, I'd not be messin' with no hippo Charlotte. Great shot though.
Yay for another fan of The Great Believers! I had to be strong not to get hit by the flying book bullets around here, Caroline. I’m glad I’ve read some of the recent books that you’ve liked. I may succumb to The Diary Of A Bookseller for some laugh out loud moments. And some memories of the 90s when I took a break from teaching and worked in an independent bookstore. Good times but hard work.
>149 Caroline_McElwee: Ooh, that is going smack onto the wish list. As a lifelong insomniac myself, I think I would like this one.
Once I get through this difficult time in my life when my reading concentration is somewhat impaired by stress, I plan to read Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey.
I also loved The Great Believers; glad to see it was a 5-star read for you, too.
And I love all the sculptures! Thanks for pointing out the rat in the one of the boy on his laptop. Made me smile and I would probably otherwise have overlooked it.
Debbi JUST finished Great Believers, and also loved it. She was immersed the whole morning, unable to do anything but read it until done. Wonderful to see. I liked it, and knew it would be just her cuppa.
>241 Caroline_McElwee: - I requested The Hundred-Year House from the library and picked it up not long ago. I will be honest, though. I have returned it. I got about 50 or so pages in and it just wasn't grabbing me and wasn't holding my attention. The characters (at least those in the first 50 pgs) didn't seem, I don't know, 3-dimensional enough, to me. Anyhow, given my short attention span lately, and the other 2 library holds that arrived at the same time, I just decided to give it a pass. I hope it's a better fit for you.
This topic was continued by Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 4.
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