Laytonwoman Just Keeps Readin' Along (2nd Quarter 2015)
This is a continuation of the topic Laytonwoman sticks her nose in a book, and another book, and another....
This topic was continued by Laytonwoman's Third Quarter 2015.
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As April is Poetry Month here in the U.S., at least, I chose one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, to top this thread that begins in April.
The link above should take you to my first 2015 thread. My earlier stuff can be found here:
First thread for 2014.
Chapter Two is here.
And Chapter Three.
The Fourth and final chapter for 2014 is here.
This is my last thread for 2013.
My first thread for 2013 is here.
Here's where I began my 2012 reading record. And I continued with a second thread for 2012. Yet one more thread for 2012 can be found here.
My first 2011 thread is here. and Part Two and Third and final thread for 2011.
My 2010 reading thread can be found Here. and Here and
Links to my 2009 threads at Laytonwoman3rd ups the ante for 2009
and its spin-off here with yet another extension here.
My 50 Book Challenge thread for 2008 is here
This is my 2007 thread
For those who do not know me yet, I am Linda, born 63 years ago during a snow storm that people still talk about in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I have worked for a mid-sized lawfirm since 1976, and these days look forward to retirement in 2016. I think 40 years at the same job is enough, dammit.
My husband (flamingrabbit) has been retired for 3 years already, and he is now the self-styled "house serf". We have one daughter, lycomayflower, who lives in Virginia. As she has pointed out on her thread, we tend to banter a bit here on LT, as we do in RL, and it sometimes amuses people. It amuses us too. I don't remember not being able to read, and losing that ability is the stuff of nightmares for me. My reading tastes are fairly broad, although I tend to need superior recommendations and encouragement to read anything that smacks of fantasy, science fiction or horror.
I proudly proclaim a deep love and affinity for American literature above all others, and long before I found LT, I had a list of what I considered the top candidates for Great American Novel (doesn’t everyone?) This was it:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Sometimes a Great Notion
All the King's Men
and one more
I’ve read hundreds of books since setting those titles down together for the first time, and many of them were worthy contenders, (Finn, Lonesome Dove, Ragtime, The Grapes of Wrath), but I haven’t yet felt comfortable filling in that last slot (well, come on…there NEED to be five, don’t you think?). And people keep writing brilliant stuff. So what can I do but keep reading?
2015 is my 7th year keeping track of my reading with the 75'ers. Before that I logged my reading in the 50 Book Challenge for 2007 and 2008. I didn't know my own strength! I finished 100 books in 2014, a new high for me. I’m on pace to do that again, but I don’t expect it of myself. The numbers are just the numbers…I try not to obsess.
As I said, I try not to obsess, but I do like to keep track of my numbers. These tickers make it fun.
EDIT 11-7-17 Tickers removed due to McAfee warning about TickerFactory.com
In this post I'll keep a list of the books I finish sorted by months, with the most recent on top. The titles on this list will link to the post below (or in a previous thread) where I review or at least comment on each particular book.
* Indicates a book borrowed from the public library.
LOA means I read this selection from a Library of America edition
ROOT means it qualifies for the count on the second ticker in No. 2 above, that is, it's from my own shelves, and has been waiting to be read for over a year.
44. The Unvanquished by William Faulkner ROOT, LOA
JUNE This 'n' that...as I am moved.
43. Disarmed by Ginger T. Manley
42. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner ROOT, AAC
41. A Lucky Life Interrupted by Tom Brokaw
40. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
39. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
MAY Murder & Mayhem; finish my Erdrich selection for April's AAC; perhaps read Dodsworth for May.
*38. Sycamore Row by John Grisham Audio, with some print reading to speed it along
DNF Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis ROOT, AAC
37. The Bedquilt and Other Stories by Dorothy Canfield Fisher ROOT
36. Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen ROOT
35. The Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds by Matt Adrian
34. Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron, ROOT
33. Burning Bright by Ron Rash e-book
DNF With a Crack in Her Voice by Judi Dench and The Christmas Carol Murders by Christopher Lord 2 ROOTs
*32. The Shadows in the Streets by Susan Hill
31. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich for AAC, ROOT
APRIL Atwood April; finish Julius left over from March's BAC; Maugham for April's BAC; Louise Erdrich for the AAC (Can I do all that?)
30. An Open Life by Joseph Campbell and Michael Toms
29. Doc by Mary Doria Russell
28. Arthur and Guen by Jon Koons
*27. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood for Atwood April
26. Julius by Daphne DuMaurier BAC, ROOT
MARCH Mystery March, DuMaurier for the BAC, and Richard Ford for the AAC
25. The Secret Place by Tana French
24. Canada by Richard Ford for the AAC
23. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler LOA ROOT
22. The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria ER, ROOT
*21. Wings of Fire by Charles Todd
20. The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy
FEBRUARY Short month=short books
DNF Pepper, Silk & Ivory by Marvin Tokayer ER, ROOT
19. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh Audio & print, BAC, ROOT
18. Bayou Suzette by Lois Lenski
*17. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
16. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters OK, not so short, but a fast read just the same. For the BAC, ROOT
15. The Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett
14. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri ROOT
13. The Aspern Papers by Henry James LOA, for the AAC, ROOT
*12. A Little yellow Dog by Walter Mosley
11. Life & Death on the Loxahatchee by James Snyder ROOT
10. Negotiating With the Dead by Margaret Atwood ROOT
*9 Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke
*8. The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively for the BAC
*7. If You Ask Me by Betty White Audio
6. The Cutting Season by Attica Locke ROOT
*5. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
4. A Commonplace Book of Pie by Kate Lebo
3. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers LOA, for the AAC, ROOT
2. Practise to Deceive by Frances & Richard Lockridge ROOT
1. Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island by Will Harlan
2015 American Author Challenge
This is the second year of this challenge, hosted by Mark, msf59. It's a marvelous way to read books I already own, reacquaint myself with old favorites among the Americans, and get around to some of those authors I haven't sampled yet.
This list includes books I have read up to the time of the most recent edit, and those I contemplate reading through the rest of the year. As to the latter, it is somewhat tentative, and incomplete at the moment.
January Carson McCullers -- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter finished 1-15-15
February Henry James --The Aspern Papers finished 2-7-15
March Richard Ford -- Canada finished 3-21-15
April Louise Erdrich -- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse finished 5-3-15
May Sinclair Lewis -- Dodsworth? DNF
June Wallace Stegner -- Angle of Repose finished 6-19-15
July Ursula K. Le Guin
August Larry McMurtry
Sept. Flannery O' Connor
October Ray Bradbury
November Barbara Kingsolver -- Flight Behavior
December E.L. Doctorow -- City of God?
2015 British Authors Challenge
PaulCranswick is hosting a British Authors Challenge in 2015, which I won't commit to entirely, but I will be following along to see what's going on, and will dip in and out as the spirit moves me. I'm not about the total planning thing, especially when it comes to reading. He has picked some interesting authors, though, and I'll keep track here for my own ease of reference.
(You'll note there is one male and one female author for each month.)
January : Penelope Lively & Kazuo Ishiguro
February : Sarah Waters & Evelyn Waugh
March : Daphne Du Maurier & China Mieville
April : Angela Carter & W. Somerset Maugham
May : Margaret Drabble & Martin Amis
June : Beryl Bainbridge & Anthony Burgess
July: Virginia Woolf and B. S. Johnson
August: Iris Murdoch and Graham Greene
September: Andrea Levy and Salman Rushdie
October: Helen Dunmore and David Mitchell
November: Muriel Spark and William Boyd
December Hilary Mantel and P. G. Wodehouse
With the American Authors Challenge also on my plate, I will pick from the books on hand, and participate as far as that allows. The list below will be current as to what I have read as of the most recent edit; potential choices for the rest of the year follow:
Penelope Lively -- Read The Ghost of Thomas Kempe
Sarah Waters -- The Little Stranger finished 02-16-15
Evelyn Waugh -- Brideshead Revisited Listened to the audio version narrated by Jeremy Irons in conjunction with some print reading. Finished 2-26-15
Daphne duMaurier -- Julius finished
Somerset Maugham -- Of Human Bondage currently reading
Beryl Bainbridge -- Watson's Apology or short fiction from Mum and Mr. Armitage
Virginia Woolf -- Three Guineas, A Room of One's Own, or Mrs. Dalloway
Iris Murdoch -- The Green Knight, The Red and the Green, Acastos, Under the Net, The Book and the Brotherhood
Graham Greene-- This Gun For Hire, The Ministry of Fear, The Confidential Agent
Salman Rushdie-- Midnight's Children
Helen Dunmore -- A Spell of Winter
David Mitchell -- Cloud Atlas (The copy I have is my daughter's, and circumstances may take it out of my possession, or I may decide to read it sooner than October 2015)
Muriel Spark -- The Mandelbaum Gate, Symposium or Territorial Rights
Hilary Mantel An Experiment in Love or, I hope The Mirror and the Light, which I will buy, if available in time, and make an exception to the "off the shelf" nature of my reading for this challenge.
P. G. Wodehouse -- Oh, my, the choices here: Meet Mr. Mulliner, Joy in the Morning, The Clicking of Cuthbert, or The Brinkmanship of Galahad Threepwood, Lord Emsworth and Others
EDIT: Well, the latest word from the author herself is, it could be another 18 months or more before The Mirror and the Light sees the light. *sigh*
Books Acquired in 2015
(This one scares me...I haven't kept track this way before.)
1. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
2. Virginia Military Institute (The Campus History Series) by Keith E. Gibson
3. Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow
4. Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard by Isak Dinesen
5. Nashville 1864 by Madison Jones
6. Bruno, Chief of Police by martin walker
7. Margaret Mitchell, Reporter by Margaret Mitchell, edited by Patrick Allen
8. The Velvet Horn by Andrew Lytle
1. Troubles by J. G. Farrell
2. The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick
3. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
4. Swallowing the World, New and Selected Poems by Don Freas
5. Disarmed, An Exceptional Journey by Ginger T. Manley
6. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
7. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
8. The Classic Rockers' Reunion With Death by R. J. McDonnell (Kindle edition)
9. Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson
10. Jews, God and History by Max I. Dimont
11. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
12. Zealot by Reza Aslan
13. Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
1. Seasoned Timber by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
2. The Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds
3. The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck
4. A Distant Trumpet by Paul Horgan
5. Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney
April (These are nearly all my daughter's fault too--she's HERE, and we have to visit all the book shops and library sale shelves...)
1. Doc by Mary Doria Russell
2. Jacob's Oath by Martin Fletcher
3. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
4. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
5. My Losing Season by Pat Conroy
6. Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
7. Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples
8. The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
9. Stuart Little by E. B. White
10. Arthur and Guen by Jon Koons
11. Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
12. Vanity Dies Hard by Ruth Rendell
13. Colonel Jack by Daniel DeFoe
14. The Confederate Reader edited by Richard B. harwell
15. A Question of Identity by Susan Hill
16. The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill
17. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
18. Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
ONLY ONE! (And that's my daughter's fault; she sent it to me)
The Secret Place by Tana French
1. Death's Half Acre by Margaret Maron
2. The Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett
3. Bayou Suzette by Lois Lenski
4. Judy's Journey by Lois Lenski
5. The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria (An ER book)
6. The Essential Tales of Chekhov Edited by Richard Ford
7. Winter's Child by Margaret Maron
8. Lost Everything by Brian Francis Slattery
9. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Richard Fortey
10. Hard Row by Margaret Maron
11.- 14. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings leather-bound boxed set
15. Burning Bright by Ron Rash (e-book)
16. The Town by William Faulkner First UK edition, because I NEEDED another copy of this novel!
17. The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy
18. Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andrei Makine
19. In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard (poetry)
20. A Bit on the Side by William Trevor
21. My Old Sweetheart by Susanna Moore
1. The Christmas Carol Murders by Christopher Lord
2. Fear and What Follows by Tim Parrish
3. Children of the Dark House by Noel Polk
4. The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case by Michael A. Ross
5. Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron from PBS
6. A Commonplace Book of Pie by Kate Lebo
Happy new thread, Linda. Is it safe? What a treat is The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. I love that book. What about an Erdrich for the GAN?
I still need to get to Erdrich. What am I waiting for?
Love your new thread.
Happy new thread, Linda. I admire your restraint on the book acquisition front.
Happy New Thread, lady!
Hm, I've only read one of your Top Five...I sense a new reading list for me...
Plumping my cushion in your new thread. Nice to see Mary at the top.
>6 laytonwoman3rd: This really scares me. Maybe if I do it I will tame the beast.
In April, Knopf sends out an email with a poem a day. I've been getting them for years. I don't typically read poetry but I enjoy this small exposure to it. I didn't realize they did in it April because it was Poetry Month.
Yes, Morphy, I get those e-mails too. For years, at work I posted poems in the copy room (where everyone goes for one reason or another), not on a daily basis, but multiple times during Poetry Month. I'm not sure anyone read them, and I quit a few years ago. But now I post on Facebook. I love to promote poetry, 'cause there really is some good stuff out there.
Catching up! Re the Atwood (from January!) isn't it funny how you pick up a book one time and can't stand it and another you love it? It's one of the things that makes it hard to quit a book, hard to know whether to keep it and try again. I prefer not to keep the books I quit, when they hang about I feel like I've rejected them.
Your grandmother looks so wonderful in that photograph, I love her style!
Tana French is amazing isn't she?
And I'm a fan of Oliver too.
Congratulations on your new thread Linda which is also in time to allow me to wish you a wonderful Easter weekend. xx
Hi Linda! Happy New Thread!
Harkening back to your prior thread, I would be 100% in favor of including John Irving in the AACIII. I hope Mark is starting to make his list now!
And "a tour de force" for Secret Place. I still have to read Faithful Place and Broken Harbor before I can get to that one.... Now I must get moving.
I don't generally participate in Atwood April although I have read several of her works. I will try to get to The Blind Assassin this month as it will also help with my personal Booker Winers challenge.
>23 sibyx: Hi, Lucy! Often I can tell that it's just not the right time for a book that doesn't grab me, and I hold on to it. That's what I did with Negotiating With the Dead, I think. And then other times I think "this really is not for me, and I get rid of it. Judgment calls....I vow to live with them. They are mostly reversible, anyway.
>24 PaulCranswick: Hello, Paul. Thank you so much. We just returned home from a lovely dinner at my mother-in-law's...that involves a cross-country drive. She loads us up with an ice chest full of left overs and homemade chicken soup, so it's well worth the trip!
>25 EBT1002: We'll have to keep our own possibilities lists, Ellen, so we can champion our favorites when time comes for Mark to make next year's selections. I started The Penelopiad last night, and it's going to be a very fast and fun read.
26. Julius by Daphne DuMaurier Finished a little late, this was for the March BAC. I've read most of DuMaurier's other novels over the years, but this early one had escaped me. It is brilliantly written, beginning to end, and has some things in common with The Great Gatsby, but it lacks the love story. It is told, not from the perspective of an outsider, but by an omniscient narrator from the title character's point of view. Julius Levy was born to extremely poor parents who operated a produce stall in the market place of a small French village. As their circumstances go from bad to worse, the young boy reveals a talent for finding ways to produce "something for nothing", a phrase he learned from his maternal grandfather, and one that reverberates throughout the novel as Julius moves up and up and up in the world. Julius's rise is not, however, powered by pure greed; work, not money, is his overlord. He must accomplish, acquire, build, improve, save in order to expand, never wasting a moment or a cent. Eventually he spends freely to have impressive homes, to adorn his wife, to acquire valuable art, to indulge his only child in whatever her latest obsession may be---but these "things" are never his goal. He finds his wife more impressive in a single strand of pearls than another handsome woman who drips with diamonds. Power and control are supremely important to him; love and beauty are concepts he cannot get his mind around. He is, in fact, heartless and soulless. The picture is perfectly drawn, but the point of it all is missing. Julius never changes, never gets his come-uppance, never feels the ache of longing or the sting of loss. He suffers no consequences of the cruelties he heedlessly or intentionally inflicts on those he ought to love. It is as though Ebenezer Scrooge carried on without spectral visitations, and arrived at his death bed unrepentant. I must also point out that, for no good literary reason that I can fathom, DuMaurier has made Julius Levy a Jew, although he has no upbringing in the faith, and his mother is not a Jew. (The Torah forbids a Jewish man to marry a Gentile woman, but if he does, his children by that woman will not be considered Jewish.) The author and Julius himself both frequently make a point of his Jewishness, neither in a religious context, nor in any conventionally anti-Semitic fashion. The statement is just there..."I am Julius Levy. A Jew." And then chapter after chapter when Julius Levy could as easily have been named Jacques Marchand. Whatever the author intended us to take from this was lost on me. There was one brief episode in Julius' young life when he stumbled into a synagogue for the first time, and felt something...a connection, a belonging. Almost immediately, however, he found a way to use the Rabbi to teach him something useful, to gain another Something for Nothing by playing on the man's sympathy, and once Julius had taken what he needed, he left the Rabbi and the synagogue, never to return, changed in no way by the experience, except for the knowledge he had gained. Throughout the first half of the novel, I kept waiting for the smoking gun to appear---the phrase or episode that would tell me that Julius was going to embrace his heritage in a meaningful way, or, in the bleak alternative, that the author was going to reveal herself to be an insidious anti-Semite and I would feel obliged to remove all of her books from my house. Neither ever happened. I was as puzzled about her intent when I closed the book for the last time as I was when I began. So how to rate Julius overall? I think it suffers from the same lack as its main character---no meaning, no soul. It is, as I said, beautifully written, well structured, yet full of inevitabilities and ironies that ultimately signify nothing. Intellectually an interesting read, but not inspiring in any way. Better than "meh", but not quite "Mmmm".
Goodness, how did I lose track of your fascinating thread??? Never mind; fixed now.
>27 laytonwoman3rd: Is it possible that Julius's Jewishness is used to indicate his being an outsider? Just guessing, as I haven't read it, and probably won't, based on your review.
On your GAN: my little vote would be for Lonesome Dove as the quintessential novel of the West. Your mileage may vary, of course; McMurtry's work is diverse and some of it is excellent; The Last Picture Show comes to mind as another great novel. I haven't read Sometimes a Great Notion, but will try to remedy that soon (okay, this year, anyway).
Have a wonderful week.
>28 bohemima: Thanks, Gail. You know, you may have something there regarding Julius. He does seem to make that statement ("I am Julius Levy. A Jew") to set himself apart from other people, and there's no question that, even at the height of his success, he isn't "one of the crowd" by any means. It's mostly his own doing...he doesn't want to be friends with anyone...he has no time for socializing unless it serves a purpose. Human interaction for its own sake is not for him. I'm very glad I read the book---it was almost an academic exercise, but not an unpleasant one.
Lonesome Dove is certainly one of my all-time favorite reads. One of those books you just couldn't leave alone, and hated to have end. You really ought to give the Kesey a go. And when you do, I'll get around to reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, how's that?
>29 laytonwoman3rd: Lonesome Dove is one of a small handful of books that fall in my greatest novels ever written basket. I've held off on a re-read (although I've re-read hunks at various times), but one day I will go through the several book series in order and re-read Lonesome Dove. It's a top two or three all-time favorite of mine. What I find remarkable is how wonderful the TV adaptation was. That never happens. Except it did.
>30 RBeffa: Oh, I agree, Ron. The TV mini-series is a classic. Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones...perfect casting.
27. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood For Atwood April. What a treat this little book is! From the Underworld, Penelope and (as Greek Chorus) her unfortunate maids tell the story of the long wait for Odysseus' return, and what happened next. Wicked humor, no holds barred. This is apparently part of a series of modern myth retellings by various authors, and I must seek out some of the others.
>32 laytonwoman3rd: I finally broke down and bought that one. I may even read it someday...
Oh, read it, Amber! I can't imagine that you wouldn't get a kick out of it. Won't take you long, either.
Linda, I was just catching up on pieces of the last few days newspapers and saw that Ivan Doig passed away. Apr 9th I think.
>36 RBeffa: I saw that you had posted that on the In Memoriam thread, Ron. I'm very sorry to hear that. Haruf and now Doig. On the other hand...the good news is Jeffrey Lent has a new book coming out soon. I thought his In the Fall was remarkable. I'm currently reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell, and it's in a class with Lonesome Dove. Not to be missed.
>37 laytonwoman3rd: I've not read a thing of Jeffrey Lent. I have read Russell and I have Doc - I picked it up shortly after it came out but I never sat down with it. In fact I had kind of forgotten about it. I'm happy to hear it is so good.
I went to a small friends of the library sale and picked up several books a few days ago - heavily influenced by LT and some of your reviews. Two of Tana French's whose books I see now and then and which sound great if I'm in the mood. Also I picked up Ford's Canada and I will give it a serious try sometime this year. So many books ... I've taken a book reading break these last several days and will get back into it sometime this week.
In the Fall is the only thing I've read, Mark. But I have 2 others, and will try to get around to at least one of them before the discussion gets serious about next year's selections.
Maybe Doig should be in next year's AAC? He has quite a few books for people to choose from. I'm going to have a go with another of his this year, probably Whistling Season.
Lesser novel of a terrific writer. The Julius Levy. You wonder what the writer's internal motivation was.
28. Arthur and Guen by Jon Koons Bought it and read it simply because the author and my husband share the same name. A tale about an accidental but important meeting between Arthur and Guinevere when they were still children. Weak story, unfortunately. Illustrations by Igor Oleynikov are not bad.
>45 laytonwoman3rd: Ooh, I like the idea behind that one, and the illustrations do look pretty good. Too bad the story isn't.
>47 laytonwoman3rd: That's frustrating. I frequently say to myself, when reading a meh-ly written book, "If only this author had given this idea to Gaiman to write..."
>49 EBT1002: I highly recommend it, Ellen. The tone is so perfect--irreverent, wicked woman, that Penelope. And Atwood could write an interesting history of mud.
I have finished two books in the last week or so, but haven't found time to post about them. Hope tomorrow I can remedy that!
29. Doc by Mary Doria Russell Yes, this is every bit as good as all the warblers say it is. The story of John Henry Holliday (Doc, we always call him), the legendary gun-fighter who really wasn't one, but who could by God shoot, among other things. The first sentences of the book set the tone, and tell the reader what to expect... "He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle. The disease took 15 years to hollow out his lungs so completely they could no longer keep him alive. In all that time he was allowed a single season of something like happiness." This is the story of that season, Doc's days in Dodge, where he practiced some real fine dentistry, dealt a ruthless game of faro to keep money in his pocket, forged an uneasy friendship with Wyatt Earp and shared his love of classic literature and music with Kate Harony, a prostitute of possibly noble Hungarian heritage. He also learned to Live as much as his stricken lungs would allow, and pursued the truth about the death of a young boy whose fate no one else seemed to care about. However many versions of the Earp/Holliday legend you've read or seen, I guarantee Russell's characterizations will blank those others right out, and THIS is what you will believe about these men. No Val Kilmer, no Kurt Russell, no Hugh O'Brian, no Cesar Romero, no Kirk Douglas...the real deal in my mind now and forever more will live in the pages of Doc. And, btw, this woman can tell a story. I'm thrilled she turned her talents to this one.
30. An Open Life Joseph Campbell in conversation with Michael Toms A short book that collects various interviews with Joseph Campbell over a period of ten years, this covers much of the same subject matter that Bill Moyers made popular in his PBS interviews with Campbell 25 years ago. I recently watched that series in re-broadcast, and read through this excellent overview of Campbell's inclusive and affirmative perspective on spirituality.
>51 laytonwoman3rd: I clearly need to move this book to the sooner rather than later TBR stacks
Love your review of Doc! What a book! What an author!
I'm afraid to go on and read the sequel...
31. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich Complicated relationships, shifting points of view, interwoven chronologies---all these things made this a challenging and highly engaging read for me. The story begins with an ancient priest, Father Damien Modeste, writing as he clearly has done many times before, to an unresponsive church hierarchy. We discover almost immediately that Father Damien has a fundamental secret, and then we are transported back to the lives he lived before arriving at the Ojibwe reservation of Little No Horse, where he has served a remarkably long tenure, and where additional secrets abound. There is something Faulknerian in the structure of this novel, although on a sentence level Erdrich's writing is clear and crisp, never convoluted or streaming. As the narrative moved from one time frame to another, I found myself re-reading sections 50 or 100 pages later when it became clear how That Part related to This Part. I don't consider this a criticism; I immersed myself in this story in a way that doesn't happen often to me, even with books I admire and enjoy. And I may just read it again from beginning to end. 4 stars.
" Yes, this is every bit as good as all the warblers say it is." Amen, Linda. I am so glad you loved Doc. Now, you have Epitaph to look forward to.
I am currently reading the Round House, my second Erdrich, for the AAC. I think she ended up being a very good choice for the AAC.
I hope all is well with you.
Way back when I had caught up sort of : "Better than "meh", but not quite "Mmmm"."
I like that one, Linda. It is a useful guide I suppose as to whether to bother picking something off of the shelf or not.
I am sort of back posting and I am a little optimistic I'll be able to keep it up a bit better in May.
Thoughts on Little No Horse now included in post >61 laytonwoman3rd:.
32. Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill Another entry in the Simon Serailler series, which I continue to love, despite the extremely unlikely recurrence of serial killers in a small cathedral town. The characters make these stories; police procedure is quite secondary. Very very high quality "cozies", if you like.
Hi Linda - I've only read the first in the Simon Serailler series and want to continue. Maybe this summer... I loved The Last Report on the Miracles on Little No Horse -- and will definitely read it again. It is one of my favorite Erdrichs.
I've weeded out two books I find I don't need to read:
With A Crack in Her Voice by John Miller; a biography of Dame Judi Dench. I love Judi Dench, and will watch almost anything (barring James Bond films) that she's in, but I find I really don't care to read her life story. I browsed through it, enjoyed the photos, and went looking at Netflix to see when the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will be available (unknown at this time).
The Christmas Carol Murders by Christopher Lord. Too cozy by far for me. A town named Dickens Junction where absolutely everything is named for or has some kind of connection to Charles Dickens. 50 pages in, I was rooting for the stranger who was trying to buy up property, threatening to "destroy what the town has spent so long building up". I thought maybe that might turn out to be a good thing, but of course said stranger turned up murdered, so I Pearl-ruled it. This is of the character of the "Cat Who..." mysteries, I think, although those might be slightly better written.
Send me the too-cozy?
Actually, also, if the Judi Dench belongs to you and you are getting rid of it anyway, I'd take it off your hands too.
Thankee. I don't know that I will read the bio any more thoroughly than you did, but I will enjoy the pictures very much in any case.
Dickens Junction is in Oregon, btw, in case you thought you were getting a British cozy.
Is cool. I may Pearl it too. But I wanted to give it a go, so. My tolerance may be a wee bit higher than yours.
You'll probably appreciate the protagonist, a gay man named Simon, who operates a bookstore called Pip's pages. What drew me to the series in the first place was that someone here praised it and it sounded different enough to be appealing. I think I do have low tolerance for nifty little made-up towns as settings. Could never get into the Three Pines series so many people are crazy for, either.
33. Burning Bright: Stories by Ron Rash An excellent collection of short stories set in Rash's very own postage stamp of soil, the North Carolina hill country, at various times in history. The writing is superb, with characters that step right off the page (or in my case, screen) and inhabit my world for the span of their story. Someone is dead or dying in almost every selection, and not much pretty stuff happens, but there is little real violence here, despite portrayals of grim poverty, desperation, defeat and greed. As always with short story collections, there were a couple that didn't quite work for me, and a couple that will stick with me a long time. I give the collection 4 stars. This was my first e-read, and I think short stories will work quite well for me in this format.
Aaarrggh! Stop that! I was about to get ahead of you in numbers!
Good review of the Rash collection, Linda. I have only read one of his novels and it was good but not great. I WANT to read his short fiction.
Ron Rash is new to me. I shall add him to the list, now n which book pile did I secrete the list?
34. Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron Judge Knott prepares for her own wedding; an old murder case re-surfaces when two law students take on the convicted murderer's cause, hoping to save her from execution; an ADA who has recently asked to see those old files is murdered...usual page-turning stuff. No. 11 in the series.
35. The Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds by Matt Adrian Well, I read this one right out of the package, before supper, and I laughed myself foolish. This is just the kind of brilliant nonsense that can strike me square on the funny bone, but might leave other people totally cold. I don't know how to recommend it, because response to humor is so subjective. It's a collection of one-page imaginings (many of them conversations with psycho birds), faced with lovely captioned illustrations like this one:
Here, we find out what happened when the chickens discovered what people really do with their eggs..."The offer I make is this: give us back the uneaten eggs, and we'll let the woman and the children live. We'll give you five minutes. Just say your fare-thee-wells and tell the woman we expect to continue to be fed and watered, and we will raise our young in peace. Refuse this offer, and all manner of beaked and flapping hell will come through glass and wood until by dawn the farm will be ours..."
And better we don't mention foie gras at all...
>81 laytonwoman3rd: clever! and nice illustrations. Sounds like a perfect light read.
>81 laytonwoman3rd:. Who can't use a chuckle once in a while. :) this one looks like fun.
36. Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen My first foray into Hiaasen's whacky world. It won't be my last. A totally incompetent and unqualified, but highly successful plastic surgeon has caused and nastily covered up the accidental death of one of his patients, and then tries to arrange a hit on the inconvenient investigator who's getting too close to the truth. He turns out to be hysterically incompetent at that, as well. Satirical, farcical, ironic, and downright ridiculous ---what a hoot! I'm going to keep a few of Hiaasen's books around for those times when the brain wants a real vacation and the psyche needs a little nonsense.
Happy Sunday, Linda. Good review of Skin Tight. I am also a Hiaasen fan, although I have not read him in a few years.
>86 laytonwoman3rd: That's a Hiaasen that I haven't read. Added to my wishlist. He is a HOOT. Loved the first one I read, Skinny Dip, and the ones I've read since then are good too. His kids books are very well done. I've listened on car trips with my grandchildren. Best not to confuse the adult ones with the kid ones when traveling with kids, for obvious reasons. :)
>88 NanaCC: Skinny Dip will probably be next on my list, Colleen. It also feature Mick Stranahan, who was the investigator in Skin Tight. I can see why you'd need to be careful not to throw one of his adult books into the player with the kids in the car!
>87 msf59: Hey, there, Mark. Yup, Hiaasen seems like an author you'd have a good time with.
I like the review of The Kitchen Boy that you posted. I read it five or six years ago - apparently at a time when I wasn't recording the books I read and wasn't writing at least mini-reviews or notes to myself. Maybe it was just before I joined LT. At the time I think I liked it a little better than you seem to have, although I found it a little disturbing. I liked it enough to pick up the following book a few years later and that one started off so badly I bailed on it very quickly, although I can hardly remember a thing about it now. Nevertheless it managed to inflict some retro-dislike at the time for Kitchen Boy. It wouldn't be the first time a later book by an author spoiled earlier books for me.
37. The Bedquilt and Other Stories by Dorothy Canfield Fisher Dorothy Canfield Fisher was an educator, author and book-pusher who would have been on board with LT as sure as Vermont has maple trees. Some may recognize her as the author of the children's book Understood Betsy. She wrote several novels, short stories and essays, as well as numerous non-fiction works. She served on the selection committee of the Book of the Month Club for decades. She also translated books from the Italian, being fluent in several languages. She lost the Pulitzer Prize to Sinclair Lewis* in 1926, and her novel The Brimming Cup (reissued by Virago) was touted by a contemporary critic as an "antidote" to Lewis's Main Street view of marriage. Why her work isn't more widely read now is a puzzle to me after finishing this fine collection of short fiction and essays, which run the gamut from rural New England life to the hopes and terrors of French prisoners of war in WWII. I'll be re-reading these, and visiting Canfield Fisher's novels with enthusiasm.
* I have just Pearl-ruled Dodsworth, which I was attempting to read for the AAC. I see the "point", and perhaps in other hands I could enjoy watching it being developed fully with these very characters. I just find Lewis's style heavy-handed, awkward and tedious.
>91 laytonwoman3rd: Yes Linda. I searched back through comments and gave it a go at the start of 2012. I said this:
nn Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander, did not finish
This story hit me pretty quickly as awful. Shallow character, weak writing ... I didn't even have to make 50 pages to decide. This one gets deleted from the library and given to charity. Very poor follow-up to The Kitchen Boy. A real disappointment as I had been looking forward to this one.
38. Sycamore Row by John Grisham An extremely wealthy man, dying from lung cancer, renounces his highly crafted, professionally drafted, tax-sheltering will, cutting out his children and grandchildren, but not his long-lost brother (who may or may not be alive), and leaving the bulk of his multi-million dollar estate to the black woman who was his last caregiver. Before hanging himself from a sycamore tree on a remote piece of his property, he sends his new handwritten, unwitnessed will, along with emphatically specific instructions, to our man, Jake Brigance, a lawyer he's never met. Naturally, this kind of thing doesn't fly in Clanton, Mississippi, in the 1980's, and a huge kerfuffle ensues.
I mostly listened to the audio version of this in the car, and found it a bit draggy that way, although the reader (Michael Beck) was pretty good. I kept thinking "Get ON with it, already!" Part of that, I suppose, is that I've spent the last ~40 years involved in civil litigation, and Grisham explains every bit of procedure, court rules and judicial prerogative for the uninitiated. Still, trying to look at it objectively, I think this one was over-stuffed with that kind of thing, and a pretty good story got buried in too much tedium. It's awfully hard to make a fight over a will in chancery court exciting...not even master story-teller John Grisham can really make that work. It's the people who make the story here, and it would have been a better one with less legal procedure and more emphasis on the human drama. I checked the print version out of the library yesterday afternoon, and finished the last few chapters last night.
Thanks, Darryl...not one of Grisham's best, in my opinion. I usually just tear through his stuff.
>92 laytonwoman3rd: This sounds like fun, will add it to the wishlist, thanks. Odd how some authors seem to be forgotten for no good reason.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher rings a bell for some unknown reason...can't quite locate why in he labyrinth of my mind.
However, your review resulted in several Viragos added to the WL, the ever-growing WL.
>92 laytonwoman3rd: According to Sinclair Lewis, Mark Schorer's exhaustive bio, Main Street was selected for the 1921 Pulitzer by the jury. The trustees of Columbia University, who have the final say on who is awarded a Pulitzer, rejected that choice and awarded the prize to Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, which galled the notoriously thin-skinned Lewis. Two years later, Babbitt was beat out for the Pulitzer by Willa Cather's One of Ours, a book that Lewis felt was second-rate Cather. No indication that the choice was made by any other than the jury. He wrote to his father at the time, saying "I'm quite sure I never shall get the Pulitzer--my books are too critical to please polite committees." That said, Lewis decided to reject any literary prize, should it be offered. In 1926, when Arrowsmith was selected, he declined the Pulitzer. Four years later, he did accept the biggest of the literary awards (the Nobel).
The bio is mute on Canfield Fisher's candidacy.
Hi, Linda! Just stopping by to catch up and say hello. I must have accidentally "ignored" your thread when I was scrolling LT threads on my phone, because I lost you for a while.
>66 laytonwoman3rd: I'm glad to see you enjoy the Simon Serrailler series as much as I do -- I agree with all you say about it.
>86 laytonwoman3rd: I'm going to keep a few of Hiaasen's books around for those times when the brain wants a real vacation and the psyche needs a little nonsense.
Well said! That sounds like a good prescription for me at times. Our library has a few of those, so maybe I'll try one.
>94 laytonwoman3rd: Not a Grisham fan anyway, so your review sealed it for me!
Did I not see your name in the ROOT group?
>101 tess_schoolmarm: Yes, I'm in the ROOT group, but I'm afraid I haven't kept up with it very well this year. I am noting in my list in Post >3 laytonwoman3rd: when a book I read qualifies as ROOT. I was surprised to realize I'd had the Hiaasen for almost 3 years already; I thought six months or so!
>100 tymfos: Well, I'm very glad you found my thread again, Terri!
>99 weird_O: Very interesting that Lewis lost the Pulitzer twice to women authors...
>98 bohemima: Wiggle those memory cells, Gail...you've intrigued me to wonder why her name rings a bell with you. Of course, she is a Virago author, so possibly someone warbled about her in that group at one time.
>97 charl08: Canfield Fisher is definitely an author I'm glad to to have discovered (with the help of an LT friend!)
39. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith Down-on-his luck private eye Cormoran Strike, a veteran of the Afghanistan war with a btk amputation of his right leg, is consulted by a man who wants to prove that his famous and beautiful sister's death was not the obvious suicide it has been accepted to be. With the unexpectedly able assistance of his temporary secretary, Robin, Strike sets out to discover the truth that even he suspects has been known all along...Lula Landry jumped to her death from her own balcony. Well, what a shock...that's NOT what really happened at all. Good page-turning fun here. As we all know by now, Robert Galbraith is actually J. K. Rowling, and this is the first in a series of novels featuring Strike. I will be quite pleased to follow along with his next adventure.
Glad to see you enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling. It's a good series so far.
Happy Sunday, Linda! I am glad to that you enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling. I have this one saved on audio, but I have dragged my feet, on starting it, despite, the LT love I have seen.
I am enjoying Beyond the Hundredth Meridian. Stegner is one of my favorite American authors and it is nice to see, he excels at NF, as well.
>104 NanaCC:, >106 lauralkeet: I like these characters a lot, and am looking forward to spending more time with them. I'm not a big fan of the "detective wraps it all up in final confrontation with killer" technique used here, but many of the best authors have done it. I hope she doesn't do it every time. (Sssh now...dont' tell me.)
>105 EBT1002: I'm eager to get to Epitaph, too...had to have my own copy so I can share it with a few people.
>107 msf59: Ooops...hey, there, Mark...you sneaked in while I was typing. I decided to read Cuckoo, which has been lying around here for quite a while, so I can return it to my daughter when we visit at the end of the month. It's her copy. I don't think you should wait too much longer to plug it in. Good news about Stegner. I still have to locate my copy of Angle of Repose, which I want to start reading later today. EDIT: Found it, right where it logically belongs---what are the odds of that?
I think Angle of Repose is a perfect choice. It was my first Stegner and remains my favorite. Enjoy!
I read one Stegner years ago...All the Little Live Things, which isn't one of his better known works, I guess. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. It did make me think I wanted to read more of him, though. Here's my review of it.
EDIT: Just visited the book page for Live Things and discovered it's a sequel to The Spectator Bird, which I didn't realize when I read it. It stood alone quite well, but now I see I'll have to read The Spectator Bird and get the whole picture!
>110 laytonwoman3rd: I'm reading The Spectator Bird right now. A few nights ago, I finished an 800+ page biography and opened the Stegner book. Two paragraphs in, I thought, "Wow! It's so great to read someone who can write!"
Yesterday, my wife and I enjoyed a pool-side birthday party for our now-14-year-old twin granddaughters, held at their other grandparents' place, and I borrowed a bio of Stegner. Also have Joe Hill to read. I do like Stegner.
I try to start most work days with a quiet half hour in my reading chair, book in hand, cat in lap, heat pack on whatever's crankiest. This morning, I got caught up in Angle of Repose (after a rather rocky start over the weekend), and now I actually feel I'm reading it.
40. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher A fairly predictable children's tale about an orphan cared for by two very different sets of relatives, and the circumstances under which she thrives. It was clearly making a point about raising a child to think for herself, solve her own problems and value independence. Nothing to argue with there, but it's a bit heavy in its message at times. At other times, it's a delightful portrait of some excellent characters, and I enjoyed reading it.
Notes on this edition:
I had to look up the original publication date of this book (1916), as the edition I just purchased from Amazon is very modern, with no information about its own publication, let alone its history, and the blurb on the back speaks of "this anthology" and is plainly not related to this book at all. The same blurb appears on Amazon. The cover of the book is lovely, but it has no connection to the book itself either. On the last page, this notation: "Made in the USA San Bernadino, CA May 29, 2015" tells me this must be a print-on-demand edition, although the Amazon listing does not indicate that. Original illustrations are reproduced throughout; there is an unseemly proliferation of "typos", and the 8X10 format is awkward. So, I don't recommend this edition.
>112 laytonwoman3rd: I think the height of my ambition is to have a comfortable reading chair. Sounds like a great start to any day.
I need to peruse my shelves at home and remind myself which Wallace Stegner works I have on hand. I know I've read and loved Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety. I believe I loved them so much that I kept them, and it's been long enough that a reread would be a treat. Your comments about All the Little Live Things and The Spectator Bird have me curious...
Hi, Linda! Remember that line I quoted from your review of the Hiaasen book, last time I posted? I'm going to keep a few of Hiaasen's books around for those times when the brain wants a real vacation and the psyche needs a little nonsense. Well, I think I'm at one of those times, so I checked out a Hiaasen title, Double Whammy. Fun!
41. A Lucky Life Interrupted by Tom Brokaw A fast and fairly fluffy read, despite its subject matter, which is Brokaw's diagnosis and treatment for multiple myeloma, an incurable but treatable cancer in which the body's blood manufacturing system turns against itself. The title of this book is extremely apt---Brokaw had all the necessary equipment to fight his disease; physical fitness, can-do attitude, connections to the Mayo Clinic (he sat on its Board), doctors in the family to act as interpreters and ombudsmen, a brilliant supportive wife, resources to meet the costs of expensive treatment at the country's top medical centers--and his cancer responded well to chemotherapy, with few side effects. The book has a bit of a pot-boiler feel to it, I'm afraid. I suspect it was written to help defray the costs of Brokaw's treatment, and how lucky he is to be able to do that, eh? He drops a lot of names, shares a few poignant anecdotes, and offers some pertinent statistics and observations about cancer treatment and health care generally in the U.S. I don't think there's much in here to help the average American faced with that dreaded diagnosis, "You have a malignancy". Cancer may be the great equalizer, but even in the face of an indiscriminate killer, some people are more equal than others. I like Tom Brokaw, and I admire his work; I'm glad he's winning this fight and is unlikely to die of MM. I hope he gets to live a full happy life for many more years. I'm also glad I didn't buy this book; I would probably not have read it if it hadn't been placed on my desk by my boss, who recently faced a medical crisis of his own and bounced back.
I ended up not finding copies of any Stegner on my shelf. I'm truly surprised but apparently I let them go at some point in the past. So - I purchased Angle of Repose yesterday. It's long but I remember absolutely loving it. It deserves a reread.
>125 laytonwoman3rd: Sounds like a less-than-stellar work but I also like Brokaw and I'm pleased to see him winning the battle so far. It does highlight the role that privilege plays into one's ability to combat serious illness. I probably won't read A Lucky Life Interrupted (although I love the title) but thanks for giving us a peek into its contents.
>127 laytonwoman3rd: I'll probably nod my head in agreement and say no more. I keep stepping away from it for various reasons. NOT my usual thing for a normal novel. I'm curious to read your comments. I'm presently in Leadville.
I'm still waiting on the hold list for Angle of Repose, next in line. I have a mental images of all my library holds coming available at the same time . . . (they usually do) . . .
Sorry, to hear Angle of Repose didn't grab you the way it did me, Linda. Hey, at least you gave it a shot.
>130 msf59: Oh, it grabbed me. I want to read parts of it over and over again. But. And you'll still have to wait a bit longer for the "but" part.
The suspense is killing me...
I have read 4 of his now and Angle remains my favorite.
Nice review of A Lucky Life Interrupted, Linda. Given your comments I'll take a pass on it, though.
42. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.
I'm afraid I must come down solidly in the contrarian camp on this one. So many LT colleagues have loved and praised Angle of Repose, but rarely has a fine author frustrated me more than Stegner did here. When I started reading it, I thought I was going to set it aside almost immediately. I didn't "take" to the narrator, Lyman Ward, who sets out to research his grandmother's life and write her biography. Nevertheless, once the story of Susan Burling Ward began, I changed my mind, hated to put the book down, couldn't wait to get back to it.
With her talent for drawing, and his practical, idealistic plans for engineering projects, Susan and her husband Oliver seemed destined to leave their mark on civilization, setting out into the American West in the second half of the 19th century. These sections of the novel are often brilliant, containing icy-fresh prose and damnably fine evocations of terrain, weather, landscape and sky. But when the author reverts to Lyman's story, which is as grotesque as his mutilated calcified body, I simply could not care about, nor could I see the point of his torment, in the context of the novel. Ostensibly, there were to be connections made between his situation and his grandparents' life. He had known and loved both Susan and Oliver Ward, and he set out to understand something about their blighted marriage that he apparently hoped might help him deal with his own. As far as I could see, that didn't happen, while his story added nothing to theirs, which began to feel repetitious as one scheme after another came to nothing, and the elder Wards drifted apart. Although her writing and drawing were often the family's primary source of support, neither Susan nor her husband seemed to hold them in any particular regard. The respect and admiration Susan once felt for Oliver's single-minded pursuit of a dream dwindled with his prospects. As Oliver's latest venture failed yet again, necessitating yet another long separation from Susan and their children, not even Stegner's mastery of the language and talent for description of the grandeur of the American western landscape could make me want any more of it. And I grew impatient with Susan's interminable letters to her beloved friend back home, parts of which are apparently not Stegner's invention, but actual excerpts from correspondence written by the woman who was his model for Susan, Mary Hallock Foote. Frequently, Lyman Ward inserts himself into the narrative, telling us what he knows, and what he only imagines; where he got certain details, and which ones he has had to "fill in" when the source material is silent. I was overcome with irritation at what I call "TMA" (too much author). The distinction between fact and fiction, narrator and author became blurry. I'm not a fan of the modern frame for the historical story, as I have seldom seen it done without finding it contrived. Finally, I found the modern ending awkward, painful and bewildering, while the conclusion of Susan's story was abrupt and unsatisfying. It pains me to be so negative about Angle of Repose, which I have anticipated reading for several years. Unlike many other lauded works of fiction that just didn't work for me, I don't even feel inclined to give this one another chance some day.
you said it so much better than me and captured my feelings perfectly. we are on the exact same page here. too much author. I just called it pointless interjection or something but I love your phrase so much more.
and like you, the failure to tie the modern story to the historical, which seemed to be the intent throughout was never realized with the Bobby in the shower ending. It was esp annoying because I thought Stegner WAS going to give us some closure, a raison d'etre. sigh
you got a very quick thumbs up.
added: I guess we can be spoilery on these talk threads. Were you bothered by the quick and dirty handling of the death of the child and suicide by Frank? I thought when I first read through it that I had read over something ("zoned out") and missed a chunk of story, but when I later went back and read through it I still didn't get it. This is the big event of the novel and it barely is handled. I have read elsewhere criticism of Stegner inserting this fictitious event into the "real" story. For me the story just began falling apart towards the end of the Canyon chapter. As you note, "repetitive," and a very poor attempt to wrap up. So the grandparents spent the next 40+ years never touching and without affection because of a fictitious death. and the lousy Lyman sequence.
Lovely review, as usual, Linda. I'm sorry it didn't work better for you, though.
Good review of Angle of Repose. Sorry, it let you down. It has been about 20-plus years since I read it, so it is hard to defend. I'll have to revisit it, at some point and see how it holds up.
That's a superb review, Linda. I can understand your point of view even though I am one who loved the novel.
>139 RBeffa: Thanks, Ron. I made similar comments on your thread. Although I asked myself a couple times "Am I missing something here?" I never really felt it was ME.
"This is the big event of the novel and it barely is handled. " Agreed. I thought a good many things got short shrift toward the end, and nothing came together. Another omission that bothered me was the house in Grass Valley---Lyman moved into it, reminded us repeatedly that it was his grandmother's home, but he never showed us what it meant to her, because we never saw her living there. I muddled over that review for days, trying to see if I could soften it, or if reflection might change my impressions (it happens), but finally I was just done with the whole thing.
>140 scaifea: Thanks, Amber.
>141 msf59:, >142 lauralkeet: Thanks, you two. You were both in my mind while I struggled with that review, and it's mostly you I'm apologizing to for not liking the novel more! It's rare for me to disagree so strongly with either one of you.
>138 laytonwoman3rd: I enjoyed your review Linda, despite being someone who just loved the book first reading. I'm probably going to read it again next month, I'll read a shorter novel for the AAC.
I think I'm not a critical reader the first time I read a book, but that comes later. That said I know if I don't like something pretty quick. Sorry it is not going to go into your cannon of favourites.
>143 laytonwoman3rd: Yes, the whole end is just not handled well. We see the rose garden as the place where young Lyman and his grandfather intersect but we see nothing of the meaning of the house to the grandmother, and this house is where they spent half of their very long lives. The mines there in Grass valley were interesting. Several large, many small. They have even turned the largest, the Empire Mine, into a state park. It was very near my parent's house and we visited there. It is still full of gold and the lower levels are flooded so it is likely a partial model for Stegner's Zodiac mine.
I found the review I did when I read it, and didn't have any problems with the novel, I see.
Will be interesting whether I feel differently on the re-read.
43. Disarmed, An Exceptional Journey by Ginger T. Manley. A memoir of sorts, about life with a one-armed man and his "damned artificial arm". Although, it really should be his "damned artificial armory", since at any given time the author's husband has several different hands and hooks modified for various functions available. In 1967, Ginger Trundle, a slightly burned-out RN, was traveling through Europe on the cheap, trying her best to avoid Americans (particularly American men) when she encountered a spot of difficulty over a botched room reservation, and reluctantly accepted assistance from a young American tour director. He offered to lend her money for a decent hotel room, took her to dinner (at which she first realized one of his hands was prosthetic), and a two-week fling followed. Although she returned to the US, without telling him that she suspected she was pregnant, he contacted her again before long and announced that he couldn't imagine living without her, and after knowing each other for two months, they were married. His family thought he had won the lottery---an RN who could take care of him if his disability eventually required it, and a lovely girl at that; HER family thought she had lost her mind. The service-related accident that cost John Manley his left hand also involved a significant traumatic brain injury and loss of most of his left ear. As a second lieutenant in the Air Force, near the end of the training meant to prepare him for service in Viet Nam, John had somehow walked into the propeller of a single engine plane in which he had been giving a flying lesson. Decades later, when he heard the news story about a fashion model suffering a very similar accident, John got up from his breakfast table, went into his study and composed a letter to that young woman, encouraging her to believe that her life would go on, as his had, and that grace, dignity and even humor need not be lost to her. Much of this book is about the role humor has played in John Manley's life---both he and Ginger have an abundance of it, and as she says it not only has helped him to deal with what he no longer views as a "disability", but it is a great diffuser of tension and awkwardness when meeting "normies" who don't know what to say or where to look when confronted with an amputee. An example is this photo, which appears in the book, with the caption "Ginger gives John a hand with a drink"
This book was self-published, and I suspect printed-on-demand, but is of pretty high quality both in content and construction. There are some continuity issues, and overall it is more episodic than cohesive, but it's a satisfying and uplifting read.
Ginger Manley is a sex therapist associated with the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; due to two knee replacements and bilateral hearing aids (John can only wear one) she now claims to be more "artificial" than her husband, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute who has had many jobs since being forced to abandon the Air Force career he had planned for, among them human resources director, labor negotiator, professional mediator and administrative law judge. John is also an avid golfer, fisherman, general risk-taker, and competitive as hell. In the interest of full disclosure I will point out that he is a distant cousin of mine, although I have not seen him since approximately 1970. His father was a distinctive, if occasional, presence in my life when I was a child, and his mother was a mentor to my mother's teen-aged self. I reviewed Ginger's previous book Gotcha Covered here a few years ago.
Wow! Triplets!! I've seen twins but never three.
Great reading going on here. I have Doc in my shelves and have been eyeing it, maybe it should be next!
As a Sarah Lawrence grad I am a huge fan of Joseph Campbell. He had just retired the year before when I arrived, but he came and lectured, thank heavens! I feel privileged!
Dorothy Canfield Fisher is a favorite of mine, I love her novels for adults. A couple of them are really good. The Brimming Cup comes to mind.
I can understand your frustration with Stegner. A thought I have had about him is that he sets things up and sort of approaches with deliberation something that sometimes turns out to be less than you expected. Nonetheless there are moments in his work.
Absolutely loved the review of Cousin Ginger's book! (I know her husband is yr. real cousin).
>151 sibyx: Hi, Lucy! Glad you could drop in and visit. I think hearing Joseph Campbell lecture must have been one of the very best things about the college years of anyone lucky enough to have the opportunity. I'm just a little green with envy.
44. The Unvanquished by William Faulkner In which our man Bill gives us the story of young Bayard Sartoris (whom we can meet again as a crotchety old man in Sartoris or its longer incarnation Flags in the Dust) coming of age during and after the Civil War. He is twelve years old when we first meet him, enacting the ongoing seige of Vicksburg with his childhood companion, a slave boy named Marengo a/k/a Ringo. The first element of his coming of age occurs when Ringo's uncle, observing the boys' mud and sticks construction of the battle site, sweeps it flat with one stroke of his hand, announcing triumphantly "There's your Vicksburg". By the end, we have 24-year-old Bayard faced with the responsibility of responding to his father's murder. The novel is not about the war, but it is about what the war and its deprivations did to the men, women and children who survived it. It provided opportunities for growth and destruction, love and loss, moral and emotional blossoming and decay. Here you will find some of Faulkner's best storytelling, complete with mules and preposterous math.
I believe this is my third read through of this novel. Read this time for a real-life book group discussion which will take place on July 7th.
>153 laytonwoman3rd: This sounds fascinating, the kind of historical fiction I enjoy. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read any Faulkner. Is this one a good place to start?
>153 laytonwoman3rd: I have it in my mind that I like Faulkner, and I have it on paper that I read The Unvanquished five years ago. Your description of it doesn't ring any bells (other than the alarm bell). CRS has transitioned from nibbling to feasting. Another book I has to (re)read. Oh thanks, Linda. Thanks a lot. Hahaha...
>154 charl08: There's a whole thread here about where to start with Faulkner, including my thoughts on the subject, and Faulkner's too. You can even listen to him tell you.
>156 weird_O: If it's time to re-read the man, what are you waiting for??? (You're more than welcome...you do know I'm fanatical on the subject of Faulkner, right?)
I have never read a Faulkner...always meant too. TY for your suggestions. I shall read one before school begins in the fall.
I see all you lovely visitors humoring me by "promising" to read Faulkner. I really hope some of you do, and that you enjoy him.
>157 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks for the link to the Faulkner discussion, and within it, to the UVa audio archive of Faulkner. I ain't promisin' nuttin', but I have read some Faulkner and do want to read some more. I may have to break Absolute Reading Commitments to wedge The Unvanquished (at least) into the remainder of 2015. That's a vow!
>160 laytonwoman3rd: I did try - I went into my second hand bookstore and asked! No luck though. Maybe next time.
>157 laytonwoman3rd: I got out my copy of The Unvanquished, skimmed the preface, and much of it came back to me. Last night I finished reading Joe Hill, a late finisher for the Wally Stegner AAC Sweepstakes. Read a bit more of ...Lovelace and Babbage, then started on the Faulkner. Only read a few pages, but I'm going to make it a leisurely venture. Thanks for the prod.
On Tuesday evening I attended a "real life" book club meeting, run by lycomayflower at her public library in Virginia. The Unvanquished was their June read. Her Dad and I planned our vacation trip to visit so that it would coincide with the discussion of this book. (I sorta got a personal invitation, y'know?) I don't have a lot of experience with in-person book discussions, and was prepared to be disappointed...I thought maybe everyone would hate the book, or no one would have anything to say about it beyond "his sentences are really looong". So I was very pleased to find neither of those things were true, and we had an interesting exchange of ideas and impressions about Faulkner's story and characters.
>164 laytonwoman3rd: Jealous, I am. I'd *love* to be part of a book club featuring a certain mother/daughter team *and* Faulkner!
>165 scaifea: You should have been there, Amber. You would have fit right in.
Glad the book group didn't disappoint Linda. I've been going to one for about 8 years now, and try at a minimum to attend 8 of the 10 meetings each year. I almost always learn something or have a fresh light shone on something. There are a core of about 7 long term members (3 who have been going for 12+ years), and then another dozen or so occasional participants.
45. Virginia Military Institute (Campus History) by Keith E. Gibson This is a pictorial history of America's first state military college, established in 1839 to give an education to Virginia militiamen during their tour of duty. On our recent trip we visited a Civil War battlefield at New Market, VA, one of the places where cadets from VMI saw combat. That, and the fact that my cousin John Manley (see >149 laytonwoman3rd: above) is a graduate of VMI, sparked an interest in this book. It's just right for a quick overview...lots and lots of great pictures with some fairly detailed captioning. Stonewall Jackson taught here, and intended to return to his position after the war, but did not live to have that opportunity. George Patton began his military education there, before transferring to West Point. His assessment: "The West Point cadets are better marksmen, but the VMI cadets are far more gentlemanly." Oh, and Dabney Coleman attended VMI.
DAMN, was he a beautiful cadet!
46. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith The second of J. K. Rowling's Cormoran Strike detective novels written under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. It's a page-turner. A deftly plotted murder has Strike and his new assistant, Robin, trying to figure out WTH, when a well-known author pulls a vanishing act just before publication of a new novel that will savage a good many of his colleagues and acquaintances. It's not the first time Owen Quine has turned up missing, but this time his wife thinks he's been gone a little too long, and she's worried about running out of money, since he managed all the accounts, so she contacts Strike to find him and tell him to come home. Only, it turns out Quine has been grotesquely murdered, in a manner described in his as-yet-unpublished manuscript, and WHO could have pulled that off? Neatly composed, and with clues you really can see if you're paying attention. Lots of fun. Go Jo. More of these, please.
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