Laytonwoman reads on, with hope in her heart-- (Thread Two for 2016)
This is a continuation of the topic Laytonwoman declares "There Will Be BOOKS" in 2016.
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For those who do not know me yet, I am Linda, I'm 64, and I retired on December 31st. If you'd like the full story on that, you can go back to my first 2016 thread, post 1.
I've been reading for a long time, as you can see by the photo above. My reading tastes are fairly broad, although I proudly proclaim a deep love and affinity for American literature above all others, and I tend to need superior recommendations and encouragement to read anything that smacks of fantasy, science fiction or horror. My daughter, lycomayflower, takes great pleasure in attempting to broaden my tastes, and LT has done amazing things in that regard as well.
2016 will be my 8th 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 finished 100 books in 2014, a new high for me. I hit 86 in 2015...somewhere in the low '80's is about average for me.
Links to my previous threads, as much for me as for anyone else :
Here is my first thread for 2015, and
the second and the third. I finished 2015 with this thread.
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
EDIT 11-7-17 Tickers removed due to McAfee warning about TickerFactory.com
JUNE (How did it get to be?)
56. Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx ROOT, AAC
55. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
54. Known to Evil by Walter Mosley ROOT
53. Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobsen ER
52. Wolves & Honey by Susan Brind Morrow NF
*51. A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
50. Killer in the Straw by Frances & Richard Lockridge
49. The Straight and Narrow Path by Honor Tracy
48. Two short stories by Joseph Conrad ROOT, BAC
47. Powers of Attorney by Louis Auchincloss ROOT
46. New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini ER
*45. The Water Room by Christopher Fowler
*44. Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat
*43. Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins
*42. The Yid by Paul Goldberg
41. Work Song by Ivan Doig AAC, ROOT
40. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell ROOT
39. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
38. My Rebbe by Adin Steinsaltz NF, ROOT, CULL
36. and 37. Donkey Gospel by Tony Hoagland AAC, ROOT and Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy BAC
33. and 34. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver and In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard AAC
32. Limitations by Scott Turow
31. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson GN
30. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood CAC, ROOT
My lists of completed reads for January through March:
Titles will link to the post where I commented on the book. ROOT means it's been on my shelf for a year or more; CULL means I gave it away or donated it to the library after reading. LOA means it was read from a Library of America edition; ML refers to a Modern Library small format edition (beloved by me); FOLIO means I read it from a Folio Society edition; SF means I read a Slightly Foxed edition. Library books are marked with an *. AUDIO is self-explanatory.
29. The Shoe Bird by Eudora Welty
28. My Dog SKip by Willie Morris ROOT
27. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
26. The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin ROOT, Mystery March, CULL
25. The Peddler's Grandson by Edward Cohen NF
24. A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose NF, ROOT
23. Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany NF, ROOT
22. A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva Mystery March, ROOT, CULL
21. Hiding My Candy by The Lady Chablis NF, CULL
*20. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
19. Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie BAC, ROOT
18. Mohawk by Richard Russo AAC, ROOT, CULL
*17. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown Audio/print; NF Challenge
16. The Dutchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helen Hanff SF
15. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff SF
14. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
13. Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town by Stephen Leacock; e-book, CAC
*12. Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan
11. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
*10. Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
9. Primo Levi's Resistance by Sergio Luzzatto ER, CULL
8. Trade Me by Courtney Milan
*7. Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash
6. Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler ROOT, AAC
4 and 5. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic by Betty MacDonald
3. The Bird of Night by Susan Hill ; ROOT, BAC
*2. Ru by Kim Thuy CAC
*1. The Greater Journey by David McCullough AUDIO, NF Challenge
I'll keep track of my reading challenges here. I declare I don't want to over-plan my reading, but every year this group tempts me into yet another challenge. And then there are the well-meaning folks who aren't even members of LT who are always giving me lists to "help me out"...
I'm participating on some level with the American Authors Challengehosted by Mark msf59; with the British Authors Challenge hosted by Paul PaulCranswick; and with the Canadian Authors Challenge hosted by Ilana Smiler69. I have also committed to the group read of War and Peace beginning in January. EDIT: I must admit to having given up on War and Peace, possibly forever. I think this was my third try at reading it, and I tried two different translations this time. It just was not working for me.
AND, just for shits and giggles, I'll keep my hand in with the Non-Fiction Challenge for 2016.
I will read nothing but ROOTS for this challenge in 2016; here's what I'm thinking so far:
January- Anne Tyler - finished Noah's Compass
February- Richard Russo - finished Mohawk
March- Jane Smiley - skipped Smiley
April- Poetry Month finished Donkey Gospel by Tony Hoagland, Nancy Willard's In the Salt Marsh and Mary Oliver's Blue Horses
May- Ivan Doig finished Work Song
June- Annie Proulx finished Bird Cloud
July- John Steinbeck Again, I'm spoiled for choice, so will defer a decision until I see what appeals to me in July
August- Joyce Carol Oates - The Museum of Dr. Moses
September-John Irving I may try Son of the Circus, which I've abandoned in the past. Otherwise, I think I've read all his best stuff, and the others of his on my shelf are probably not ever going to get read.
October- Michael Chabon - The Yiddish Policeman's Union
November- Annie Dillard - Teaching a Stone to Talk I have several more of her non-fiction works and one novel, so this is subject to reconsideration.
December-Don DeLillo - Underworld I expect I will either love it or feel justified in removing its bulk from my shelves, leaving room for 3 or 4 other books.
2016 British Authors Challenge
I will be hit or miss with this one. Unlike the AAC, there are two authors per month, and I will probably read something by about half a dozen of them. I've linked the authors I have unread works by on my shelves, or whom I especially want to get acquainted with, and left the others in plain text:
January - Susan Hill finished The Bird of Night & Barry Unsworth
February :Agatha Christie & William Dalrymple finished Cat Among the Pigeons and read 3 Miss Marple short stories from The Tuesday Night Club series.
March : Ali Smith & Thomas Hardy finished Tess of the D'urbervilles
April : George Eliot & Hanif Kureishi Perhaps The Mill on the Floss
May : Jane Gardam & Robert Goddard Skipped; nothing on hand
June : Lady Antonia Fraser & Joseph Conrad selected short fiction finished "Youth" and "An Outpost of Progress"
July : Bernice Rubens & H.G. Wells
August : Diana Wynne-Jones & Ian McEwan
September : Doris Lessing & Laurie Lee
October : Kate Atkinson & William Golding
November :Rebecca West & Len Deighton
December : WEST YORKSHIRE writers Caryl Phillips
Wildcard :Rumer Godden and George Orwell
AND the Canadian Authors Challenge This is the one where I feel I have the most to discover. Again there are 2 authors for each month, and I have indicated those I may seek out or have on hand by giving them their links:
January: Robertson Davies, Kim Thúy finished Ru
February: Helen Humphreys, Stephen Leacock finished Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
March: Farley Mowat, Anita Rau Badami dipping into The Farfarers by Mowat
April: Margaret Atwood, Michael Crummey finished Surfacing by Atwood
May: Michel Tremblay, Emily St. John Mandel SKIPPING; nothing on hand
June: Timothy Findley, Joseph Boyden SKIPPING; nothing on hand
July: LM Montgomery, Pierre Berton
August: Mordechai Richler, Gabrielle Roy
September: Miriam Toews, Dany Laferrière
October: Lawrence Hill, Jane Urquhart
November: Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Laurence
December: Alice Munro, Rawi Hage
2016 Non-fiction Challenge:
finished The Greater Journey by David McCullough
February: History Finished The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
March: Travel A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose Yes, I know it's a cookbook; I'm counting it as travel, since it took me to the Mississippi Delta.
April: Religion & Spirituality (Easter/Passover) Finished My Rebbe by Adin Steinsaltz
May: The Arts
June: Natural History/Environment/Health Finished Wolves & Honey
July: Current Affairs
August: Science and Technology
September: Philosophy/History of Ideas
October: Politics/Economics & Business/Commentary
December: Quirky/Who Knew?
Coming and Going:
BOOKS ACQUIRED in 2016:
I'm doing this thing...and it isn't making me feel better. I was hopeful of moving more books out than in this year, because the floor boards are creaking. As you can see, the numbers ain't co-operating.
1. Reading Henry James by Louis Auchincloss
2. Mind You, I've Said Nothing! by Honor Tracy
3. The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
4. Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham
5. The State of Music & Other Writings by Virgil Thomson
7. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
1. Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells ed. by Graydon Carter
2. The Letters of Abigail Adams LOA
3. The Exorcism of Page 13 by Caryl Burtner
4. As Good As Gone by Larry Watson LT ER
5. Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb
6. An Owl on Every Post by Sanora Babb
1. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
2. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
3. American Gospel by Jon Meacham
4. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
5. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
7. The Life of Rembrandt by Hendrik Van Loon
8. The Interrogation by J. M. G. LeClezio
9. On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
10. Limitations by Scott Turow
11. Adam Bede by George Eliot
12. The Virgin and the Gipsy by D. H. Lawrence (Folio)
13. Complete Short Stories Vol. 1 by D. H. Lawrence
14. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
15. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
16. The Farmer's Daughter by Jim Harrison
17. The Woman Lit By Fireflies by Jim Harrison
18. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
19. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Folio)
20. Beyond the Style Manual, Bundle #1 by Laura E. Koons, Kris James and Stefanie Spangler Buswell
21. The Hiding Place by Robert Shaw
1. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
2. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
3. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
4. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
5. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
6. The Peddler's Grandson by Edward Cohen
7. Clear Pictures by Reynolds Price
8. When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley
9. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
10. The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal
11. Marrying Out by Harold Carlton
12. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
13. John Adams: Writings from the New Nation 1784-1826
14. The Shoe Bird by Eudora Welty
1. The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer
2. The Traitors' Gate by Avi
3. I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill
4. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
5. Everything in This Country Must by Colum McCann
6. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff Slightly Foxed edition
7. The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner
8. From a Cornish Window by "Q" i.e. Arthur T. Quiller-Couch
9. Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner
10. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
1. Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson from LT's ER program
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; a lovely Franklin Library edition with some rare 1855 illustrations. From my library's sale shelf ($2.!)
3. John James Audubon; The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes Also from the library's sale shelf.
4. Noonday by Pat Barker
5. A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent
6. Murder Out of Turn by Frances and Richard Lockridge
BOOKS CULLED in 2016 :
(Not all of these will be books I read...if I decided I'd never read it, or never re-read it, or if my husband culled it, or if my daughter re-claimed something of hers that's always been here, I'm counting it!)
1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
1. The Portable Mark Twain
2. Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright
3. Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather
4. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
5. Collected Stories of William Faulkner
6. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
7. The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad
8. One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
9. The Unvanquished by William Faulkner
All of the above titles are duplicated in my library somewhere, and so I donated these copies to the Indian Valley School Library in Northern California
10. Letters Between Six Sisters, The Mitfords
1-6. Miscellaneous useless books that had not even made it into my catalog, but were taking up space and putting stress on the attic floor.
1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
2. My Rebbe by Adin Steinsaltz
1. A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva
2. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold (old Scholastic paperpack replaced)
3. The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
4. Roughing It by Mark Twain Konemann Travel Classics*
5. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain Konemann Travel Classics*
6. Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain Konemann Travel Classics*
* These are nifty little editions with great covers, but I found the print akin to a grayed-out option on a web page, i.e., not easy on the eyes. Since I have all of Twain in LOA, as well as some treasured college paperbacks, I decided to part with these three.
1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff paperback copy
2. Mohawk by Richard Russo (given away)
3. Hiding My Candy by The Lady Chablis
1. The Devil's Workshop By Alex Grecian
2. Primo Levi's Resistance by Sergio Luzzatto
3. The Bird of Night by Susan Hill
4. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic by Betty MacDonald
5. War and Peace Pevear & Volokhonsky translation
6. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (inferior duplicate copy)
7. Maconaquah's Story by Kitty Dye
8. Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (old ratty pb, not in catalog)
Well you sure have prettied your new place up! Just try to imagine how many books you have read since picture #1.
>7 RBeffa: I'd give worlds to know, Ron!
And congratulations on being the first through the door.
>6 laytonwoman3rd: "Like"
Happy New Thread, Linda! Love the photo of wee you up top.
How did I not know that lycomayflower was your daughter? Very cool to have both of you as LTers.
What did you think of Rowell's Landline? After liking all her others, I was a bit disappointed by that one. I want to read her new one, Carry On, soon.
>1 laytonwoman3rd: oh I love that photo. You haven't changed a bit!! Seriously I can definitely tell that's you.
>9 jnwelch: Hi, Joe. Can't imagine how you've missed that the mayflower is my kid---she's actually the one who got me going here on LT. I liked Landline, but then I've never read Rowell before. If you click on the title in >4 laytonwoman3rd: above, it will take you directly to the post where I reviewed it. Did the "magical" parts throw you off?
>10 lauralkeet: Sure, Laura...well, my eyes ARE still brown... And would you believe my mother still has that chair in her living room? It's been re-upholstered several times, and it's a little hard to get out of, but there it is.
>11 laytonwoman3rd: No, I actually liked the magical parts in Landline; I usually respond well to that, e.g. Murakami and Sarah Addison Allen are two magical realism authors that I enjoy.
Landline is one of the few I've "read" as an audio book, and I wonder whether I just was a mismatch for that narrator. It seemed slow, and Neal (the husband) was like nails on a blackboard for me.
I loved her Eleanor and Park, and recommend that one if you haven't read it. Fangirl and Attachments were good, too.
Lovely new thread Linda. I love the stash of books at your side in >1 laytonwoman3rd:, always did like to know there was a choice to follow once I finished the one I was reading. Still do I suspect!
>12 jnwelch: My daughter is also the one who put me on to Rowell, Joe. She's read most of her output except Landline so I'm eager to hear what she thinks of it. We are going together to a reception for and lecture by Rainbow Rowell, sponsored by our public library when lycomayflower is home for a visit next week. Landline was a freebie for me, in conjunction with the county's "On the Same Page" reading program. (I have to say, I didn't like Neal much in print, either.)
>13 Caroline_McElwee: There's another picture from about the same time period of our bookshelves, and I think what I'm holding is part of a set of pictorial encyclopedias designed for children. I have a vague memory of those.
Happy New Thread, Linda! What a wonderful topper! That is precious.
I am really enjoying my Adrienne Rich collection. I hope this helps me turn the corner, on poetry...
30. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood This is, I understand, Atwood's second novel, and it's a good one, despite some reservations.
The first person narrator, who never tells us her name, leaves "the city" to return to the isolated French Canadian countryside where she grew up to see if she can find her father, who has disappeared into the bush. With her are friends David and Anna, who she hasn't known very long, but who have a car and agreed to take her where she needs to go; and Joe, her current lover (apparently one of a fairly long string--she refers to him as "this one"), a hirsute man of very few words. As you might expect, this is a journey of discovery for the narrator as she revisits old haunts, seeks out places her father might have gone searching for ancient native paintings, learns unpleasant things about the couple she had viewed as happily married, and wrestles with her own past. Early on it's clear she had been hiding things from her parents; soon we wonder what she's hiding from us, and even from herself. As time passes, she pushes civilization further and further from herself, along with rational thought, until we glimpse an almost feral creature desperate to dissolve into the natural world. There are some brutal images and abundant symbolism in this powerful work. Atwood's characters are brilliantly drawn; David, a self-absorbed jackass who punctuates his conversation with cartoon character laughs, simply made my skin crawl; Anna, a woman terrified of losing her husband, obnoxious as he is, and contrives never to let him see her without make-up, made me want to introduce her to some real people, male and female; Joe, a cipher, really, who is not up to understanding his lover, but tries his best, might be the most sympathetic of the lot. My one quibble with this novel is that I found the ending a bit unsatisfactory. I thought we were going to end up in one place, and apparently we did not, although I feel we should have. (Yes, I know that's clear as mud...sorry, but I can't do better without being terribly spoilerish.)
I started the Dutch translation of The Janissary Tree today, I like it :-)
31. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
*puts on Goldenloin's armor suit* Ahem. OK. I read this collection of what we used to call comic strips because lycomayflower made me do it. Very often, I am happy to have given in to her gentle coercion when it comes to reading things I would not have given my time to without it. Very often. But not this time. Seriously? I did not like anything about this book. Not the characters. Not the artwork. Not the story. Not the awkward physical format that made it hard to read some of the dialog tucked into the spinal crease. (Well, I was being very careful because it's not my book, and I was warned...)
Oh, I see the worth of it. It's probably cutting edge in its genre in many ways. The subject matter comprises loyalty, trust, emotional commitment, non-traditional relationships (I will admit to admiring the interaction of Goldenloin and Ballister), power, corruption, you name it. It's quirky, sometimes very funny (yes, I did laugh a few times). And I am not---for good reason---its target audience. This time, stepping out of my comfort zone just didn't work for me. So I feel unqualified to judge Nimona as it ought to be judged, and I offer for your consideration this review from Tasha Robinson, who surely knows whereof she speaks, and this one from the Mayflower herself. These two appreciative readers will be better at helping you decide whether this is your kind of thing.
>24 laytonwoman3rd: Oh dear. Perhaps this a rare example of a generation gap between us, Mims? Glad you see its worth for somebody, at least.
I don't know what it is. I've never been a big fan of the "comic book hero"--- maybe that's the issue?
Happy New Thread Linda. Glad to see you and your lovely daughter are still getting on swimmingly! I am missing my two while on my travels this last week or so.
>28 laytonwoman3rd: Those library sales are so hard to resist. That is a big batch of books!
Enjoyed your reviews Linda, and your book haul looks amazing! Among those I've read, I remember being very moved by On Canaan's Side. I've read the Blind Assassin twice, which I guess is some sort of praise. Unlike most readers here, The Absolutely True Diary didn't do much for me, but I'm definitely in the minority. A few books there on my tbr I look forward to getting to.
Great haul. I read the Obama book when it first came out, fascinating. And I've read The Blind Assassin too. Some good reading time on the sofa there, Linda.
Woot! Excellent haul, lady! I'm excited to see Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry nestled in those piles...
>33 scaifea: It's probably there because of your warbling, Amber.
>32 Caroline_McElwee: I don't know how I missed reading The Audacity of Hope when it was current, Caroline. I know it was widely talked about at the time.
>31 Smiler69:, >32 Caroline_McElwee: The Blind Assassin is one of those novels I've dithered about---do I want to read it or don't I? Having read and admired some of Atwood's non-dystopian fiction now, I'm leaning toward "I do". I know I heard good things around here somewhere about On Canaan's Side.
>30 RBeffa: Yes, I threw caution to the wind. In my defense, I have recently skipped a couple of these sales that I used to attend without fail, so I had a negative "credit" to fill! I was pleased to find two of Jim Harrison's books in good condition there, as I have never read him.
>29 NanaCC: Thanks, Colleen. Some titles from my wishlist among them.
>35 kidzdoc: I guess you must have donated them to my library, Darryl! Thanks.
>34 laytonwoman3rd: I skipped the last library sale. I have so much on hand and have been pulling a lot from the actual library that I just said no to myself. I already have a bunch of "maybes" as I call them around here! There is a big one on about a month, however, that I will be sure to catch.
Nice haul - but I'm trying to figure out how one could love books too much. That one must be fiction... :)
>38 drneutron: Well, you'll have to admit the title is catchy! It's about a thief who stole rare books for the love of them, not for profit. I think it will be very interesting.
Lovely haul. I liked the Sebastian Barry, the others would have tempted me mightily had I been there!
>28 laytonwoman3rd: And THEN....THEN, on top of THAT, my visiting daughter insisted (twisted my ARM) on going to our public library's mall branch which includes an ongoing used book sale and small stock of new stuff and I bought 4 more books, two of which are Folio edition (slip cases a bit the worse for wear, but otherwise wonderful). The Eliot was essentially free, as there was a whole BOGO collection of Signet Classics, and Laura had picked only 3 for herself. The copy of To Kill a Mockingbird was because (I know you will all understand) they aren't going to print mass market editions of that one anymore and it seemed wrong not to buy one. 'Tweren't nuthin', however, compared to what she toted home. They had to give her a free tote bag...had to.
32. Limitations by Scott Turow. A very good exploration of a tough subject in a limited context. Appellate Judge George Mason must revisit his own youth after hearing arguments in a case involving an old sexual assault. He and his two colleagues on the appeals court each see the case a bit differently. Although combining any two positions will result in a majority opinion, there is no real consensus, and a split opinion is likely to open many old wounds. Mason must decide how to mold an opinion that will not only be supported by the facts and arguments, but will be "just". This gets fairly technical on the legal issues, and it's a little hard for me to judge (sorry) how it will strike the average reader. Having lived with this kind of reasoning for nearly 40 years, I absorbed it easily, but I do think Turow did a decent job of making it accessible to the lay reader. Mason has personal and professional stuff going on that complicates his decision. (It wouldn't be much of a novel, otherwise.) Someone is sending him e-mail death threats, and it might be someone very close to him. His wife is under treatment for cancer, and he doesn't want to upset her by bringing THAT crap home, but his security people insist he must have protection. Intrigue and red herrings...the usual stuff well-handled. But the mature judicial male confronting his randy teenage self, and getting his consciousness raised in real time as well, is the best part of this page-turner.
A nice little haul there Mrs. Glad your daughter had her arm twister with her! I really like Adam Bede.
>42 laytonwoman3rd: excellent catches. I've passed up some signet classics in the past (as well as taking my more than fair share) and still find myself regretting the ones I didn't take. That Eliot looks brand new.
I almost never ever see Folio editions.
>46 RBeffa: It is brand new, Ron. Most of those my daughter bought were new Signets or Penguins, which were offered at extremely good prices. Buy one get one free on the Signets, and $5.00 a piece for the Penguins.
Folio editions are rare in the wild, but I've been very lucky in the last couple years.
>45 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. I don't think I've read Adam Bede, so I may open it up soonish.
>44 NanaCC: Ah, good. I think it will appeal to you, Colleen, and possibly to Chris as well.
Nice book haul, Linda! And an even better job of throwing your daughter under the bus.
Are you sure that you only bought four books?
Morning, Linda! Sweet book haul! I like that PB edition of Mockingbird.
I think I finally opened that door, on poetry. A long time coming and, as usual I owe my LT friends for showing me the way. Smiles...
Lovely haul. I'm all for the free bag - was there nothing else you wanted to make up to that level?! :-)
>51 charl08: The selection there is fairly limited, except that I always seem to find one or two nifty editions (like the Folios). Their classics section is terrific, but at this stage of my life I already own copies of most of those. And, actually, my collection of tote bags is a bit out of control as well!
>50 msf59: Mark, I'm delighted to hear that you are taking to poetry. It just needs the right one to get you started.
>49 kidzdoc: Oh, please, Darryl. Had it been the other way around there would be tire tracks across my skull, never fear! And let's be precise--I only bought THREE books. The fourth one was free.
>48 scaifea: Yeah, we're all good at it, aren't we?
>41 Berly:, >40 charl08: Somehow I missed you guys before. Thanks for stopping by!
I know I've heard good things around about On Canaan's Side, and I've read Barry's Annie Dunne, which begins his Dunne family set.
>49 kidzdoc: And an even better job of throwing your daughter under the bus.
*snort* Good thing I just finished off my coffee, otherwise it would be all over my keyboard and monitor.
33. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
34. In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard
Two wonderful collections of poems, read for poetry month, and for the AAC which is concentrating on poetry this month. It's hard to say much about poetry, as response to it is so personal, but these two women really speak to me with their relatively simple evocations of the beauty to be found in nature. A couple samples, perhaps, will do the trick:
From Willard's "Choosing a Stone"
The tide pulls back, leaving its cargo of stones
on the broad counter of sand.
A boy takes only black stones halved with a white thread,
like a parcel too private to open.
His mother gathers stones that mimic food:
two quartz eggs and a granite potato
and a loaf of bread with a cold crust.
From Oliver's "Watering the Stones"
Every summer I gather a few stones from
the beach and keep them in a glass bowl.
Now and again I cover them with water,
and they drink. There's no question about
this; I put tinfoil over the bowl, tightly,
yet the water disappears. This doesn't
mean we ever have a conversation, or that
they have the kind of feelings we do, yet
it might mean something. Whatever the
stones are, they don't lie in the water
and do nothing.
From Willard's "The Way She Left Us"
Oh, ancient lady, I hope you are streaking to heaven
in new sneakers, your best broom in your hand.
From Oliver's "The Hummingbirds"
In this book
there are many hummingbirds---
the blue-throated, the bumblebee, the calliope,
the cinnamon, the lucifer, and of course
Well, that's all you can do.
For they're swift as the wind.
I love the Oliver.
Nice book hauls, Linda. Hey, you're kind of making progress. Baby steps, right?
Surfacing sounds good; I have a copy, too, so it might be my Atwood of the year.
I keep seeing things about The Woman Lit By Fireflies. I have never heard of Jim Harrison (have I? -- must check to be sure that is true).
Oh. He wrote Legends of the Fall. Okay, so I have "heard of" him.
Anyway, your book haul from the library sale looks terrific. I love the no-restraint approach you took. ;-)
And I love the excerpt from "The Hummingbirds." Lovely.
>54 laytonwoman3rd: love the poems, especially 'Watering Stones'. Must pull Mary Oliver's two volume set up the pile.
>57 Caroline_McElwee: I'm drawn to rocks and stones myself, so that poem really set my bells ringing. I love Mary Oliver's "eye".
>56 EBT1002: "Oh. He wrote Legends of the Fall. Okay, so I have "heard of" him. " Yes...that is exactly where I stood when news of his recent death brought him to my attention.
>55 BLBera: Progress... is that what we're calling it? OK...I'm good with that!
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy I feel like this one deserves the full treatment, but so many others have done it already...let me just say I read this novel with great admiration and appreciation for Hardy's skill and art. He does "doomed" with the best of 'em; perhaps he IS the best of them. Even when Tess finally gets the gumption to rise up against one of the males who have been unfairly dominating her existence all her life, it is not to secure her freedom, but to seal her fate, which of course is inevitable given the context of her story. I do think Hardy could have given Tess one or two moments of true happiness in there somewhere; an occasional bit of lightness would not have gone amiss in nearly 500 pages, and lordy, did Alec d'Urberville have to show up at precisely the wrong moment every. single. time? Still a brilliant read, a classic 19th century portrait of social injustice and moral confusion.
Lapped up the poetry of course and am so pleased that Thomas Hardy, that renowned comic writer made you smile. I know I don't do irony so well at 3:15 a.m. as I cannot sleep and await my loved ones returning from Johor Bahru.
Have a great Sunday, Linda.
>60 PaulCranswick: A barrel of laughs he ain't, Paul! Hope everyone is safely home and you're now sound asleep.
>61 laytonwoman3rd: Well still not sleeping but the crew are back safe and sound.
36. Donkey Gospel by Tony Hoagland A collection of poems, read for the AAC and Poetry Month. Hoagland is very good; his subjects often include manhood and they're insightful, but not apologetic. Not lovely, feel good stuff, but worthy.
37. Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney Another collection of nature-related poetry (those are my favorite kind), a bit gutsier (literally sometimes) and less warm than Willard or Oliver. Fewer rocks, more rats. Good stuff.
>63 laytonwoman3rd: Heaney's debut created an enormous stir when it was released in the British Isles and marked him out with Ted Hughes as the new poetic geniuses of their age. I have a picture of Hughes drinking with T.S. Eliot, Spender, MacNeice and Auden as Eliot handed on to Auden and his clique so did Auden to Hughes and Heaney. I don't think either has a satisfactory baton carrier in the UK presently although Simon Armitage and Don Paterson show some promise.
>64 PaulCranswick: That slim volume was a freebie with some book order---perhaps from Slightly Foxed, or the Folio Society. I also have a volume of Heaney's Selected Poems: 1966-1987, and will definitely be reading more of him. I love his translation of Beowulf.
>65 jnwelch: I think I enjoyed What Narcissism Means to Me a bit more than Donkey Gospel, Joe. I need to revisit some of those to see just why that was.
So Tess is another barrel of laughs from Hardy, eh? Well, good. Great. Can't wait to get to it.
>67 scaifea: Oh, it's a good read, Amber, really. Just don't ever start to feel sympathy for her, and you'll be fine.
38. My Rebbe by Adin Steinsaltz This is a biography, remembrance and tribute to Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 7th in line of Lubavitcher Chasidic Rebbes, or leaders of the Chabad movement within Orthodox Judaism. Probably of limited interest outside the movement, but well written, and informative. I read it because I saw reference to it in something else I read some time ago (can't recall where now) and thought it might be worthwhile. I admit to skimming certain portions (it does get a bit repetitive), but there is much to further understanding of this small but remarkably resilient group of stringently observant Jews and the philosophy that guides them. Not as personal as I anticipated, and therefore of a less spiritual nature than I expected.
>70 Familyhistorian: I just know it will not end well.
Mmmm, yes well, Meg, it is Thomas Hardy - even his comedies make you cry.
Have a lovely weekend, Linda.
39. American Gods by Neil Gaiman Gaiman's very ambitious romp across America in company with members of various pantheons---Egyptian, Native American, Norse and Irish among them, is a fantastical adventure leading up to an epic "storm", presumably intended to be Armageddon. I know a lot of people love this book. I wish I could be among them. I do see the magic in it, but it just doesn't work for me. Like one of Shadow's coin tricks, the illusion should have swept me away and made me exclaim "How did he DO that?", whereas I simply kept saying "WHAT is he trying to do?" instead. There is so much going on that in the end it seems that nothing is really going on. I see many references to the "central premise" being that gods only exist because people believe in them. I don't dispute that, as Gaiman TELLS us that from time to time, but he never SHOWS us that through the stories, at least not very well. And there are too many stories which fail to blend together into One Story. There are terrific characters here, and I'm sure if I had a better grounding in some of the mythology he's drawing on I would have been delighted with them. I'm also sure Gaiman had a grand time putting this all together. He just left me behind. I am relieved to see, after reading some of the reviews and talking with another Discerning Reader (you know who you are) that I am not alone in feeling that the author may have bitten off more than he could chew here. I am reminded that when I read Eudora Welty's The Robber Bridegroom, in which she did a somewhat similar trick with Grimm's fairy tales and American tall tales in a much more concise manner, I thought the result was brilliant.
Updating my Challenges here....for May I have nothing on hand for either the British or the Canadian Challenges, and I'm determined to read more from my own shelves, so I think I will be passing over these two this month. HOWEVER. I did want to read Eliot for April and haven't managed it yet, so perhaps I will squeeze one of hers in. I will definitely get to Ivan Doig (one of my favorites, and I have many of his books unread on my shelves...therefore no challenge at all). I will also try to find something to fit the Non-fiction "Arts" category this month. Beyond all that, I now have 3 ER selections that I have not read, so I hope to complete at least two of those this month. One is a collection of Jay Parini's poetry, and I know that won't give me any difficulty. The other two are from the Hogarth Shakespeare re-tellings---those I view with some slight trepidation, especially the one written by Howard Jacobsen.
>73 laytonwoman3rd: Hm. Well, I'm sorry it didn't work better for you. I'll just say a couple of things and then leave it, if that's okay with you:
1) I don't think the idea of the gods only existing because people believe in them is the central premise at all, really. It's there, yes, as a sort of foil, I think, but it's too simplistic an explanation for what is, surely, not a simplistic book. Which in part leads to my Number Two:
2) Sometimes the problem is the point, no? And I think that's at least part of what's going on here with all of the small stories not blending into the One Story for which you're looking. And I think this is why so many folks who don't like Gaiman's writing don't like Gaiman's writing - these sorts of problems are too pointy for their liking. And that's totally fine, of course. I just happen to like my problems pointy, I suppose. Mythologies are never neat and tidy, and Gaiman matches that sentiment beautifully.
To be clear, I'm not trying to win you - or anyone else, for that matter - over to Gaiman's fan club; you either like his stuff or you don't and of course it's fine either way. I guess I'm only trying (with questionable success, I admit) to explain why I'm a member of the club.
>76 scaifea: Thanks, Amber. I'm really glad you took the time to spell this out. I agree that sometimes the problem is the point. I think I'd have been happy if I felt Gaiman had merely raised a question without answering it. I didn't get the question, even. I'm not at all puzzled by you and many others being "members of the club" because I do see that there is appeal in what Gaiman is doing. And his "writing" isn't the issue....he's great at getting his world set up, creating characters, making it all feel real and moving things right along. (I never felt the book was dragging, and I never hesitated to pick it back up---I didn't seriously consider quitting on it either). I think I will boil it all down this way...It's like reading some poetry. Often I find a poet's own vision is so personal that very few readers will be able to share it, although they will be able to detect the depth and brilliance of it. I know there's depth and genius in what Gaiman creates. I'm just afraid I'm not one of the select few who can truly appreciate it.
>77 laytonwoman3rd: Ooof, I like the comparison with poetry, Linda. Nice one. And I get where you're coming from, appreciating why he's appreciated by some but just not you - I'm that way with certain authors myownself.
40. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell Angela Thirkell hit the spot with me today, as I was foggy-headed and not up to much that couldn't happen in my reading chair with a cat in my lap. I therefore felt right at home with Lady Emily and her lovely daughter Agnes, both of whom are fond of silk shawls and comfortable seats. Summer romances and hi-jinks in "Barsetshire". Just lovely comfort reading.
>79 laytonwoman3rd: lovely comfort reading is right. It's great there are so many of them.
Oh really? I didn't realize, now I'm blushing. :) was this your first Thirkell?
Interesting that in your opening photo, you still have many of the same features, (these few years later)...
Happy Day to you.
>79 laytonwoman3rd: Ah, the joys of retirement, not up to much that couldn't happen in my reading chair with a cat in my lap. I feel like that many days but still drag myself in to work *sigh*
>79 laytonwoman3rd: Ah, the joys of retirement, not up to much that couldn't happen in my reading chair with a cat in my lap. I feel like that many days but still drag myself in to work *sigh*
>91 laytonwoman3rd: How cute. They do look like a lively pair!
41. Work Song by Ivan Doig This is the middle volume of the trilogy that begins with The Whistling Season and concludes with Sweet Thunder. I read the first novel in 2012, and the third in 2013, having requested an ER copy not realizing the two were connected or that there was another in between. Work Song tells the story of Morrie Morgan's arrival in Butte, Montana, in 1919, where he hopes to make a fortune and escape his past. But, as well-read and resourceful as he is, even his best-laid plans are not proof against company goons and outside agitators as the miners take a stand against Anaconda Copper’s recent cut in their daily wages, and Morrie finds himself taking sides, against his better judgment. Morrie is one of my favorite characters of all time. He is charming; knowledgeable; good-intentioned but slightly unreliable (he’s apt to pack up and run---he’s done it before). A mining town on the brink of a strike is an odd place to set one, but this is pretty much a comfort read, when all is said and done. I’m fairly sure that I’ll be re-reading all three of these novels one day; they are very easy to settle into. I sure wish Doig could have stuck around and given us more of Morrie.
>73 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, I have to agree with you about American Gods. I was SO looking forward to reading it, but it really fell short for me, as well. It was the first Gaiman I had read, and I've been hesitant to try others, although I did read The Graveyard Book and I did like it more, but of course, it's a children's story. Interestingly, for some reason (and I have no idea why) I get a Stephen King sort of vibe from Neil Gaiman. I read quite a bit of King when his books first started coming out, but I sort of grew out of him, if you will. I think I might have enjoyed Gaiman back then as well.
I've been hesitant and perhaps not brave enough to read Hardy, although, I've had Tess on my reading list for some time. Perhaps I need to just find some time and settle down to it.
>96 rretzler: Hi, Robin! Well, on the basis of just the one Gaiman book, I'd have to say I really prefer Stephen King. A few of his have been real winners for me, but then again some of them just didn't work. My husband appreciates him more than I do. I hope you give Hardy a try. He isn't THAT scary!
I've been away from LT for most of a week, Linda, so just getting caught up here. I enjoyed your exchange with Amber about American Gods (which I own but have not (yet?) read). I am not well-versed in mythology of any sort, so I'm not sure I'm a good audience for it - hence it languishes on my shelf :-/
Hi Linda! I also enjoyed your thoughts on American Gods. Glad it rang your bells. It is not my favorite Gaiman but there is still plenty to admire in that book and I plan on revisiting it, before the cable series comes out.
I have still not cracked This House of Sky but it is coming up next. Grins...
42. The Yid by Paul Goldberg In 1953, in Stalin's Russia, a knock at the door in the middle of the night meant someone was going for a long ride to nowhere. Iosef Vissarionovich has planned his own final solution to the "Jewish problem" and is determined to succeed where Hitler failed. But a small group of mismatched comrades (small "c") decide they will not be taken, nor go without a fight when the Black Maria comes. They hatch a plot to take out Stalin himself, and from one outlandish improvised move to the next, they begin to make us believe they can do it. This is dark, sometimes brutal, satire, with overtones of the absurd. The presentation is very theatrical, and the characters allude often to Shakespeare, particularly to King Lear, as one of our protagonists is a former actor with mad skills in other areas. I think this novel is a masterpiece, and as with many such, it will take me more than one reading to fully appreciate it.
43. Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins Atkins continues the adventures of Spenser, Hawk, Zebulon Sixpack, and Susan Silverman. His plotting is more complex than Parker's, and while the characters are still recognizable, he takes a few liberties. He relies much less on choppy dialogue than Parker had come to do in his later novels. Arguably, he has freshened things up a bit. I enjoy reading these, but I miss the "old" Spenser too. He makes me want to go back to the beginning and watch it all unfold once more.
>102 laytonwoman3rd: I have seen that one in the shops. It is coming home with me tomorrow!
Have a great weekend, Linda.
>104 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. The Yid is definitely a worthy read. I did not find it "hilarious", as some blurbers did, but there is a lot of very black humor in it, that's for sure.
We're celebrating our 44th wedding anniversary today by attending our niece's college graduation (she was also married on this day five years ago). I expect we will be called into service to help manage her two little girls during the commencement ceremony and possibly at dinner following.
Here we are with all our living grannies at the time. (The gentleman cut off in the back was the minister.)
Happy anniversary, Linda! Hooray for 44 years! And congrats to your niece! Hope she has a shiny future ahead of her.
Congratulations on your anniversary. Love the picture with your grannies: such a nice idea.
Hurray for you and the guy you married, Linda. Seems you both chose wisely. I like that.
Happy anniversary - wonderful photo with the grannies.
I enjoyed your review of Work Song. I just finished it, too, and also enjoyed it. I haven't read the third one so I have one last Morrie to look forward to.
Thank you all for your anniversary and graduation wishes. The day was rather long (3+ hours on gymnasium bleachers is tough on the under-3 and over-60 crowd!), but we all managed, and the girls were remarkably well behaved throughout the ceremony and the informal dinner afterward. We ate at our "local", where there is a back room that doesn't get much use at 4:00 of a Saturday, so we had it to ourselves and could really relax. Nora's husband could not attend, as he is a civilian fireman at an Air Force installation, and he was on duty yesterday; and her father wasn't feeling well, so he didn't go either. But her mother, brother, grandmother and Aunt Linda & Uncle Craig (that's us) were there to cheer and to wrangle the sprouts. I didn't take any photos; there was just too much else to do with my hands!
44. Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat Drawing on her own childhood experiences, Danticat has written a sweet, comforting story of a little girl separated from her mother, who does not have the "proper papers" and is being detained by the immigration authorities. The colorful and magical illustrations are delightful. This is intended for quite young children, but I would recommend caution in reading it to yours, unless they have some reason to understand the situation. It is comforting to find that Saya's mother is eventually able to return to her family, and that Saya herself has a hand in that outcome. For a very young child with no experience of this kind of separation, however, I think it might raise unwarranted fears that Mama or Papa could be taken away. An older child would be able to understand.
>114 laytonwoman3rd: I agree that this one isn't likely meant for teeny ones, but Charlie liked it and it started a great conversation with him about the subject. In short, we loved it. I'm glad you enjoyed it, too.
Well, Finn, if you're fairly familiar with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If not, you might want to re-read that first. But Kings of the Earth is excellent as well, and you don't need any background for that one (although it is based on real people, it doesn't matter if you don't know anything about them).
Here's a link to my review of FINN
and My review of KINGS OF THE EARTH is here.
Thanks, Linda! I feel relatively familiar with Huckleberry Finn but this also feels like a good impetus to reread it.
Happy Weekend to you!
Okay. My brain is what my brain is. I have read Kings of the Earth (in 2011) and I now remember it well. I gave it four stars, less enthusiastic than your perfect rating but still very good. Thanks for the reminder!
Hi, Linda. Just catching up. I hope your weekend is a sunny one. And I'll second the nudge toward Finn. It was excellent.
45. The Water Room by Christopher Fowler This is the second in the Bryant and May series. As our two old soldiers of the Peculiar Crimes Unit of London's Metropolitan Police begin to adjust to their new headquarters, and their odd new assignment to the security division of MI7, a friend of Bryant's asks for his assistance in determining how his elderly sister came to be sitting in her basement bathroom, fully clothed and dry, yet dead of drowning. With a directive to clear this matter up in short order and prepare for a load of new case assignments, Bryant and May become immersed (sometimes literally so) in the rising underground waters of London's lost rivers, searching for clues both ancient and modern to what becomes a series of peculiar deaths in a single street in Kentish town. The plot is a bit overwrought, and in my opinion there is no way the reader can come up with anything like the solution to the mysteries. It depends too much on esoteric knowledge of London's "missing rivers" and underground engineering, the explanation of which overwhelmed the story at times. Then there's the obscure Victorian artist thrown in for good measure. I'll read at least one more of these, as I really enjoy the interplay of the characters; they are laugh-out-loud funny at times. But another complex plot like this, that requires one of the last chapters to be entitled "Mr Bryant Explains It All For You", will probably be the end.
>123 laytonwoman3rd: I've only listened to these books, Linda, so not sure what the experience reading the print version is like. But the reader is so good that I've enjoyed the whole series.
>123 laytonwoman3rd: Hmmm. I have this series on my radar (from you? from Colleen? from Tui? not sure), but I have no immediate plans to start. I will watch for your thoughts on the next one and use that as my guide ...
>124 NanaCC: I'd be interested in listening to one, Colleen. Sometimes that does work better, I think, if you have a good interpreter. Who is the reader on them, do you recall?
>125 lauralkeet: Mmm...I don't remember who got me started on them, Laura. Someone here, for certain. I just went to my review of the first Bryant and May, Full Dark House, and I see that my objections to that one were very similar....over plotted and burdened with detail. Now, if Fowler were to pick a subject near and dear to my heart to form the back-drop for his characters' shenanigans, I'd probably eat this stuff up. A theater buff, for example, no doubt would be thrilled with Full Dark House.
>126 laytonwoman3rd: Hi, Kim! Don't go far....I'm about to add a couple more reads!
46. New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini. As the title suggests, this collection brings together many of Parini's previously published poems (those "written in the past forty years that I wish to stand by" says the author), with an entire volume of new poems called West Mountain Epilogue. I have read The Art of Subtraction and Anthracite Country before, and have considerable admiration for Parini the poet (and for Parini the novelist, the biographer, the essayist, for that matter. Good lord, the man can just write). Re-visiting the best of his work from those previous anthologies was a treat. Because I have lived in his Anthracite Country myself for the last 40 years; because I know well his Scranton and the West Mountain of his epilogue; because I can see, smell and almost taste his "copper river" and understand what he means when he says the smell of a burning culm dump "now passes for nature" and "would be missed", these poems speak to me in a way that they might not do to a reader from Maine or California. But his command of language crystallizes the natural beauty of Pennsylvania coal country, as well as the corruption of that beauty by decades of heartless mining, into diamond-bright verse anyone with an ear and an eye can appreciate. And then there's the new stuff...nature is still a subject, but more often so is God, belief, the old old stories that have comforted and frightened humans for two thousand years, and more. I know I will return again and again to these before I am comfortable with them, as it is with masterpieces of all sorts.
>129 laytonwoman3rd: "diamond-bright verse" I see what you did there.
>130 lycomayflower: Aw, shucks. I was hoping to get away with it!
47. Powers of Attorney by Louis Auchincloss This is a series of connected stories that do not exactly make a novel, but which together present a comprehensive portrait of the partners and staff of a somewhat stodgy Wall Street law firm in the middle of the twentieth century. Many of them were published individually in magazines like Scribner's, The New Yorker, and The Saturday Evening Post, back when magazines published decent fiction. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the heck out of all of them. Perceptive as Wharton, more readable than Henry James, Auchincloss belongs in just such company. I'm going to try to find more of his output.
>126 laytonwoman3rd: The narrator was Tim Goodman, Linda. I felt that he was Arthur Bryant, as he did that character so well. He did a good job with the other characters too. I think I tend to like the minutiae more than you do. I loved all of the historical tidbits about London.
>129 laytonwoman3rd: I've read Parini's biographies, and a novel, but only realised he was a poet too, at an earlier mention you made, I'll have to investigate Linda.
>133 NanaCC: Thanks, Colleen. I've checked and our library doesn't have any of the Fowlers on audio. Foo. I may have to agitate a little!
>134 Berly: Since I wrote that I looked at Auchincloss's author page, and find that he has written about both Wharton and James. I may have to look for his Reading Henry James.
>135 Caroline_McElwee: Always glad to get someone interested in a new poet, Caroline!
Lining up my challenge reading for June in one place for my own convenience...I hope to manage these this month:
selected short fiction by Joseph Conrad for the BAC;
Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx for the AAC;
Wolves and Honey for the non-fiction challenge (Natural History).
As I have nothing on hand by either of the Canadian authors selected for June, I'll be passing that one up this month.
48. Two longish short stories by Joseph Conrad will satisfy the British Authors Challenge for me this month:
"An Outpost of Progress" tells the story of two white men manning a trading station in Central Africa for a six month period between visits by a steamer. They are accompanied by a number of tribesmen from a distant location, and a local man and wife. But as Conrad points out, the white men were "two perfectly insignificant and incapable individuals... (who) like ...life-long prisoners ...liberated after many years, do not know...what use to make of their faculties, being both, through want of practice, incapable of independent thought." A common Conrad theme of the psychology of being outside the bounds of civilization and what it does to men. Though there is some paternalism and off-hand racism that jars the 21st century reader, the natives in this story are much more admirable than the whites, and I was left with a clear impression that Conrad was not on the side of "progress" and imperialism. I know this is subject to an ongoing scholarly debate, but that's what scholars are meant to do and I will leave it to them for now.
I also read "Youth", a gripping story of the tribulations of the Judea, a freighter attempting to transport 600 tons of coal from Newcastle to Bankok, as told years later by its second mate, Mr. Marlow (yes, he who also narrates Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim). Various leaky and stormy mishaps caused a nearly 3 month delay in taking on its cargo; this portion of the story became almost farcical at times (particularly as punctuated by Marlow's frequent requests to his listeners to "Pass the bottle"). Once loaded and at sea, things did not improve for Judea, its novice captain and its third crew. This is fine storytelling indeed.
>139 laytonwoman3rd: Very nice. I've been contemplating what to read of Conrad and "Youth" was on my short list and you raise my enthusiasm with your comments. I'll pair it with something else, one of his novellas that I haven't read yet, which are quite a few. I'm leaning towards "Typhoon".
>140 RBeffa: Thanks, Ron. I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to read Conrad. I may return to him before the month is out.
49. The Straight and Narrow Path by Honor Tracy Back to the 1950's again, this time in Ireland. Thank you to rebeccanyc, who mentioned this as an old favorite which she rereads periodically for the pure fun of it. It is pure fun...pure Irish malarkey, in fact. When an English anthropologist takes a holiday in a small Irish village, to calm his nerves after a long stay in the Congo, he gets embroiled in a culture clash and a libel action arising out of what he deems an innocent observation about the nuns in the local convent, and how they celebrate Midsummer's Eve. Delightful.
pure fun...pure Irish malarkey, in fact.
That sounds...well...fun! Maybe one for my list...
>142 laytonwoman3rd: Hmmm I remember buying that at Rebecca's recommendation, will have to hunt it down.
>143 tymfos:, >145 charl08: It might be a bit hard to find cheaply. I grab on to books of this vintage when I find them, because there really are some nearly forgotten gems of light entertainment dating back to before writing "literary" fiction became an avocation for so many. The author was quoted in her obituary as saying 'If something interests, pleases or amuses me, I imagine it may do the same for other people and I try to pass it on." And that's where good stories come from. She wrote a good many more satirical novels, as well as several books of travel writing. I'll be looking for more of her stuff.
>144 Caroline_McElwee: Lucky you to have a copy, Caroline. I think you'll enjoy it.
I did a little research and found that Tracy herself was sued for libel by a parish priest as a result of articles she published about his lifestyle compared to that of the poor people of his parish. So The Straight and Narrow Path is a bit autobiographical, with details changed to serve the humour, I imagine.
>146 msf59: I have not read that collection, Mark. The only short fiction I've read is the first of her Wyoming Stories collections, Close Range, which includes "Brokeback Mountain". I've loved her novels, Postcards, Accordion Crimes, and The Shipping News.
Youth is a good yarn. Haven't read anything by Conrad that I disliked. I'm so easy.
>149 laytonwoman3rd: Great! Thanks for mentioning that thread, Linda. I've commented and starred the thread.
>150 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. With the recent flurry of comments on that thread, maybe it will come again to the attention of the people who can (if they choose) do something about this situation.
>149 laytonwoman3rd: The Youth Touchstone went to Frankenstein 'cause I wasn't paying attention. I fixed it (now that the Creature has escaped). The fixer upper thread has been starred (shrug). I'll post there a screed about the site search feature. LT needs to outsource site search to Google.
>152 weird_O: I agree that the site search feature needs a lot of work. But that's a completely separate issue, and deserves a thread of its own in the Site Recommendations. The touchstones these days don't do what they're meant to do badly; they simply don't do what they're meant to do at all much of the time.
50. Killer in the Straw previously published under the title Death and the Gentle Bull, by Frances and Richard Lockridge A re-read of an old favorite, this time in a Mercury Mystery paperback edition. When a well-known breeder of Angus cattle is found trampled to death in the box stall of her Champion bull, Captain Merton Heimrich of the New York State Police finds himself faced with a bright young subordinate who is sure the bull didn't do it alone. The Norths and their cats are more fun, but Captain heimrich is always good for a summer afternoon of mystery.
I need to chime in on the touchstone protest. It has gotten rather bad....
Happy Sunday, Linda!
>156 laytonwoman3rd: Fifty up Linda, well done!
Have a great weekend. xx
Well, I went and left a comment. I will star that thread so next time I get a weird one I can leave specific info for them to fix.
You know, I paid to be a lifetime member but I can well imagine that keeping this site up-to-date is a big job. I wonder if they need small injections of income from all us users to pay someone to spend a couple of months working on the touchstones.....
51. A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch OK, I needed another series to follow like I needed ...well, yeah, another hole in the head. But I came across this one browsing the library stacks, and it got me. Charles Lenox is a Victorian gentleman who solves crimes. He's no Sherlock Holmes, but I like him. In this first recorded outing, he comes to the aid of his neighbor and childhood friend, Lady Jane Grey, who is concerned about the suspicious death of a former maid. With the able assistance of his doctor friend Thomas McConnell (who is not Dr. Watson, either; in this pair, HE's the one with the substance abuse issue) and his valet Graham (you guessed it, he's not Jeeves, but he's every bit as useful) Lenox sets out to determine who killed the girl and why. Excellent setting and character development. I'll definitely be reading more of these.
>163 tymfos: Ah, so you know about this one, Terri? I don't remember hearing anyone talk about it here, but that isn't conclusive of anything!
>162 laytonwoman3rd: The Charles Lennox series is a good one, Linda. I have to get back to that series - and many others!
>165 Familyhistorian: Good to hear from another fan of this series. It certainly had a promising start.
52. Wolves & Honey by Susan Brind Morrow I read this one for June's Non-Fiction Challenge, Natural History/the Environment. It's a short book, but just packed with word pictures of the natural world; with simple facts about bees and coyotes and apples (or figs); with bits of history, word origins and geology. And much to my delight, it is centered around all of those things as they exist (or once did) in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, a place I love and recognize. It is absolutely brilliant, and belongs on the shelf with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and High Tide in Tucson and everything John McPhee and Stephen Jay Gould wrote.
I'm reading A Beautiful Blue Death right now, and I'm also enjoying it. Another series for me too. Thank goodness for FictFact.
>168 Caroline_McElwee: I think you'll enjoy the Morrow, Caroline. Just discovered she's married to Lance Morrow, whose TV journalism I remember.
>169 NanaCC: Funny how this one just independently "found" me, Colleen. Apparently it is fairly widely known around here, but I've just missed noticing. And yes, indeed. Thank goodness for FictFact.
I have seen A Beautiful Blue Death mentioned somewhere else.... I can't remember where but I know it made me want to read it. Adding it to the wish list (maybe I can pick up a copy at Powell's later this month).
AND you totally got me with Wolves & Honey so I have just put it on hold at the library. *sighs with mock sadness*
Hi Linda. Trying to get around to my closest, dearest LT reader friends. Oh, and you too. Bwahhahaha. Jes' kiddin' around.
>176 laytonwoman3rd: I know, right?! I'm now officially ready for fall...
>181 Berly: Did you now? Yes, it's official...I attended my first meeting of the Board of Directors of Scranton Public Library this month. (I got a name plate and a binder and a pencil and everything!) I think this is going to be a very exciting new chapter in my life.
>182 rebeccanyc: Yes, I remember you and Laura and a few others found Jacobson a bit stinky. I don't think this one would change your mind.
54. Known to Evil by Walter Mosley This is the second in Mosley's Leonid McGill series. McGill is a middle-aged black man with an unusual marriage, three children (only one of whom is biologically his) and a history of working deep in the criminal underground. He has recently made the decision to go straight...or as straight as possible...and he works now as a PI in New York City. He still finds it useful, naturally, to call on former associates for assistance from time to time. When his oldest son disappears, and a man with a powerful but unofficial city job seeks his help in making sure a young woman has come to no harm, Leonid crosses paths with several different sorts of evil. Luckily he is fitter than he looks to be, and has virtually no fear. Fast paced and fairly intense, but no graphic violence.
Ah. I've got that on my M 'n' M TBR collection. Guess I gotta follow the leader reader.
55. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. I ordinarily wouldn't count a play as a "book", but I read this one from the Library of America volume, which includes Williams' introductory notes, the revised Act III that resulted from Elia Kazan's suggestions before the play was produced on Broadway (as well as the original version of Act III), and some other explanatory text from the playwright. I also intend to re-visit the 1958 movie with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. So all of that makes a book out of it, I think. (Well, anyway, it's my list, I can count whatever I want, really...)
I don't recall Maggie being quite so sympathetic in the movie as she comes off in the play. There is an awful lot of powerful stuff in Cat that just couldn't be made so plain in the late '50s on screen, and I don't quite remember how the movie ended, but the ending of the play has never really satisfied me. Maggie's too much like Scarlett O'Hara in her optimistic final speech...she might as well have just proclaimed "Tomorrow is another day!"
OK, have now watched the movie. It certainly ends differently, and the transformation of Brick's character from play to movie, and from beginning to end of movie is utterly unlike Williams. Only the barest suggestion of the relationship between Brick and Skipper survived, and it was almost completely converted to simple hero-worship. But lordy, what performances from Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives...just magnificent.
I have the LOA Tennessee Williams editions Linda. I always try and get to see his plays when they are staged in London. It's a guarantee you will be wrung out when you leave the theatre. I saw Lindsay Duncan as Maggie, to Ian Charleson's Brick back in the 80s at the National Theatre. I can still see them in my mind.
56. Finished my June reading last night by polishing off Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx. This is a memoir of her experience building what was meant to be her dream house and final home on 640 acres in Southern Wyoming, along the North Platte River, on the west slope of the Medicine Bow range, part of the Rocky Mountains. She was 70 years old when she began the process of buying the land, planning and building the house. Very little went as planned, everything took longer and cost more than expected, and ultimately Proulx realized that it would be impossible for her to live in the finished house through the deep Wyoming winters. Contrary to what she had been told, the county road leading to the house site was not maintained in the winter...the house would be inaccessible once the heavy snows came. All of this merely confirmed my long-held belief that I would never be tempted or persuaded to build a house, and made me wonder why anyone would choose Wyoming wilderness to live in. Proulx framed this central story with background on the history of the land and its previous owners, her own family history and genealogy, and best of all, the natural history of the area. I felt a bit bogged down in the discouraging details of the house construction, especially when the author reiterated periodically how she was running out of money, and yet went on to describe more and more projects, acquisitions, do-overs, re-designs, and trips that must have cost what I would consider a small fortune. Furthermore, a few of her design elements sounded like really bad ideas to begin with, to me. I mean -- a concrete floor in the kitchen? Mmmm...why? The reward for suffering through all of this with her was the final chapter, "A Year of Birds", which contains some really fine nature writing. I give the book as a whole a grudging 3 stars, as I just didn't think it was a cohesive whole, but I will keep it around for the possibility of revisiting the eagles, elk, falcons, mountain lion, horned larks, jackrabbits and rosy finches with which the author shared her months at Bird Cloud.
I agree it wasn't as good a book as I'd hoped either Linda. I read it when it first came out. And now she has left it, but I read still pines for it. It was too isolated for her older age I think.
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