Resisting Everything Except Temptation: CarolineMc Reads in 2017 Part 2
This is a continuation of the topic Resisting Everything Except Temptation: CarolineMc Reads in 2017.
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At the Existentialist Café (Sarah Bakewell)
The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer)
Out of the Wreckage ( George Monbiot)
'Sicily'(John Jukius Norwich)
The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
Read in 2017
The Invention of Angela Carter (Edmund Gordon) ****1/2
A Florence Diary (Diana Athill) ***
A Jar of Wild Flowers: A Celebration of John Berger (Various) (Essays) ****1/2
Cataract (John Berger/Selçuk Demirel) ****
The Saffron Road: A a Journey with Buddha's Daughters (Christine Toomey) ****1/2
Smoke (John Berger/Selçuk Demirel) ****
Utopia For Realists: and how we can get there (Rutger Bergman) ****1/2
The Dark Romance of Dian Fossey (Harold Hayes) ****
Insomniac City (Bill Hayes) ****1/2
Soul at the White Heat (Joyce Carol Oates) ****1/2
South and West (Joan Didion) ***1/2
Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson) ****1/2 (book group) ROOT
Plot 29 (Allan Jenkins) ****1/2
On Tyranny (Timothy Snyder) ****
The Stranger in the Woods (Michael Finkel) ****
Dust Tracks on the Road (Zora Neale Hurston) AAC ***1/2
Politics: Between the Extremes (Nick Clegg) ****1/2
The Thoughtful Gardener (Jenny Blom *****
The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry ****1/2
Rooms of One's Own (Adrian Mourby) ****
Angela Merkel (Matthew Qvortrup) ****
A Secret Sisterhood (Emily Midorikawa/Emma Claire Sweeney) ***1/2
My Life with Bob (Pamela Paul) ****
Every Third Thought (Robert McCrum) ****
Plant Dreaming Deep (May Sarton) reread ***** ROOT
The Richard Burton Diaries (Richard Burton) **** ROOT
Hope in the Dark (Rebecca Solnit) (Essays) *****
The Mother of all Questions (Rebecca Solnit *****
What Happened (Hillary Rodham Clinton) ****1/2
Devotion (Patti Smith) ****
Jacob's Room is full of Books (Susan Hill) ****
Silence in the Age of Noise (Erling Kagge) ****1/2
Kindred (Octavia Butler) (AAC) (Kindle) ****1/2
A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles) ****1/2
The Mangan Inheritance (Brian Moore) **** (LL)
The Gustav Sonata (Rose Tremain) **** (Kindle)
Judas (Amos Oz) (21/02/17) (274/2,866) ****
Emily, Alone (Stewart O'Nan) ***1/2 ROOT
The Golden Age (Joan London) ****1/2
High-Rise (J G Ballard) **** (Kindle) (book group)
The Round House (Louise Erdrich) ****
The Harbour Master (Daniel Pembrey) (Kindle) ***
The Invisible Man (H G Wells) ***1/2
Larchfield (Polly Clark) ****
I Saw A Man (Owen Sheers)**** (book group)
Persuasion (Jane Austen) ****
The Unseen (Roy Jacobsen) ***
The Last Temptation (Val McDermid) ****
The Torment of Others (Val McDermid) ***1/2
Open City (Teju Cole) ****
Borderlines (Micheal Wrong) ***1/2
Cousins (Salley Vickers) ****
The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry) **** ROOT
'Beasts' (Paul Kingsnorth) ***1/2
Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon Re-read ***** ROOT
Swing Time (Zadie Smith) ***1/2
Midwinter Break (Bernard MacLaverty) ****
The One Inside (Sam Shepard) ****
City of the Mind (Penelope Lively) ***1/2
Forest Dark (Nicole Krause) ****
Home Fire (Kamila Shamsie) ****
The Red-Haired Woman (Orhan Pamuk) ***1/2
The Shape of Water (Andrea Camilleri) (15/10/17) (245/18,416) ***
Say Something Back (Denise Riley) ***1/2 ROOT
Life on Mars (Tracy K. Smith) ***
Collected Poems: John Berger (John Berger) ***1/2
Selected Poems: Emily Dickinson ****1/2 ROOT
The Simple Truth (Philip Levine) ****
The Beauty (Jane Hirshfield) **** ROOT
Imagining Alexandria (Louis de Berniéres) (poetry) ***1/2
Inside the Wave (Helen Dunmore) ****
Angel Hill (Michael Longley) ****
Bone (Yrsa Daley-Ward) (Poetry) *****
Elementum - One: Calling (Journal) (various) *****
Catching up with reviews:
40. The Unseen (Roy Jacobsen) ***
I enjoyed this quiet novel of Island life, but it didn't blow me away.
Winner of the Man Booker International Prize.
41. Inside the Wave (Helen Dunmore) ****
Sadly the final poetry collection by Helen Dunmore who died earlier this month.
'And now we come to the unknown land
With its blue coves and inlets where sweet water
Bubbles against the salt. Its sand
Is ready for footprints. Give me your hand.'
From Terra Incognita
42. The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry *****
An extraordinary collection of Berry's essays spanning a lifetime of writing, and so very relevant still today.
I always intend to make notes about individual essays, but I tend to just want to sink myself into them. These will get a second, more thoughtful, reading in time though.
43. The Last Temptation **** and 44. The Torment of Others ***1/2 (Val McDermid) vols 3&4 of the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series
I really like Hill and Jordan and enjoy their relationship unfolding, but it is the complexity of McDermid's plotting and the fascinating knowledge she infuses her novels with that draw me back each time.
>1 Caroline_McElwee: A very composed composition. xx
Happy new thread, Caroline.
Happy New Thread, Caroline.
Looks like I should read some Jane Hirschfield poetry, yes?
Happy new thread Caroline, love your topper and the other work of Ellen de Groot on your previous thread.
>4 Caroline_McElwee: The small owl is cute!
Sorry to see that the Paddington Bear creator, Michael Bond passed away this week, Caroline. I remember reading his books to the kids at bedtimes probably 13 or so years ago.
Have a lovely weekend.
Happy New Thread, Caroline!
Back to your prior one and the discussion about solitude, introversion, and extroversion.....
The film I saw at the visitor's center in Fairbanks was indeed, I think, Alone in the Wilderness. The man's name was Dick Proenneke and his experience was fascinating.
I'm extroverted in two senses: I process information out loud (I sometimes preface comments at work with "I don't yet know what I think about this, I just need to talk out loud about it for a moment" so that people know that the first thing out of my mouth is not necessarily my final opinion). And I draw energy from time with other people. I usually come away from social situations amped up and energized. Of course, it depends on the dynamics.
And I crave solitude and I need alone time every day. I think that is especially true living in a busy city and working at a people-intesive job. I once heard someone say that how much alone time you need depends on how much you easily get. That made total sense to me.
>14 tiffin: >15 NanaCC: >16 FAMeulstee: >17 laytonwoman3rd: thanks for peeping in ladies. Dante is rather special. The de Groote was a lucky find.
>18 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, well he was an older gent, and I suspect had a fine life. Paddington goes on.
>19 EBT1002: >20 EBT1002: I shall have to look out for that film Ellen. Dante is ceramic.
I've been sidetracked Ellen, so may not get to it until next week. I've read it several times before, and loved it, but not read it in the last ten years, so will be interesting to see if it still holds up. It is a slow burn.
I'm leaving apologies here for not keeping up with all your threads this past week or so, I've just not been in the mood to offer the attention I would like. But I'll catch up soon, and hope you are all well.
I'm just a bit out of steam at the minute Darryl. Decided not to spin quite as many plates as I sometimes do. Thanks for asking.
Agreed, Caroline. Sometimes it's best to cut back. Debbi and I send warm wishes.
"Decided not to spin quite as many plates as I sometimes do."
Amen to that, Caroline! I think we all need breaks from LT (just like we need breaks from other things in our lives) now and then. I hope you're doing well.
I am another one struggling, Caroline.
Never had such an unproductive month reading wise and life pretty much sucks at the moment too.
Have a lovely weekend and I do hope that those plates start twirling again vigorously.
So sad to learn about the death of Sam Shepard. One of the great American Playwrights IMO. His work has been in my life for maybe 35 years. Last night I watched some interviews and readings by him. Never dull. This morning I pulled Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon off the shelf for another reread. It’s one of my favourite books. I bought my copy in 1990. I’ve bought copies of this book for several people over the years, it gets harder and harder to get in the Faber and Faber edition I have. I love his eye, his tone, his thought processes. The plays are painful, hard, harsh, edgy. His characters suffer pain. Actors must fight to take those parts. I wish I’d got to see Ed Harris in one of his plays recently, I kept putting off getting a ticket.
If you are interested in the process of creativity itself, Sam was too, there is a great collection of letters and writing between he and Joseph Chaikin Letters and Texts 1972-84
The most recent film I saw him in was August, Osage County, wonderful. He'll now become one of my 'dead friends' as my living friends call my dear creative passed-over!
Thanks Darryl, Jim, Joe, Ellen and Paul. I just needed to duck out of a few things for a while, and I may come and go a bit ongoing. Not sure why. Sometimes it is just too much to do, mostly just grabbing a bit more quiet/me time. I've swung past your threads to catch up a bit.
>32 Caroline_McElwee: I never heard of Sam Shepard before, Caroline.
A search tells me that there are only a few plays translated into Dutch. And I saw Paris, Texas, great movie!
>32 Caroline_McElwee: Echoing your thoughts on Sam Shepherd. Somewhere along the line I culled the first two volumes of his collected works, but there was nothing in them to dismiss. My favorite was "Curse of the Starving Class"; back in my acting days, I relied on a monologue from it. Have you ever seen the film, "Cold in July"? He is terrifying in it. Not a great film, really, but wonderful for his and Don Johnson's flamboyant performances.
>35 majleavy: No, I haven't seen that movie Maj. He did a lot of films that didn't look like they were my cup of tea in recent years. That said, maybe I'll have a Shepard movie blitz over Winter.
It was so long ago that I read or saw most of the plays, but Fool for Love was good, and I saw it more than once. It put me in mind of Tennessee Williams.
>36 Caroline_McElwee: "Fool for Love" was, wasn't it? "Buried Child" and "True West," too.
It's a big loss with Sam Shepard gone, Caroline. Our local Steppenwolf Theater produced a lot of his plays, including remarkable productions of Buried Child and True West.
Shepard was truly wonderful in August, Osage County. And also very good in Mud, which was a strange little movie; and Raggedy Man (another excellent, but often overlooked movie, in which Henry Thomas, the E.T. kid, made his film debut). But let's not forget his turn as a drummer with the Holy Modal Rounders, particularly on Bird Song in the classic movie Easy Rider. I know so much less about his writing, and I must do something about that.
>37 majleavy: I've seen Buried Child live, but not True West, though I saw a recording of that with John Malkovitch and Gary Sinese in (I think a Steppenwolf production) Maj.
>38 jnwelch: >40 jnwelch: I think the True West Steppenwolf production was the one with Malkovitch and Sinese Joe, did you see it, or any of the others?
Yes 'Days of Heaven' too. I think the first film I saw him in was The Right Stuff.
>39 laytonwoman3rd: Now I'm not really familiar with his music, I heard he was in that band/created it, but not got round to listening to anything they have done, I'll have to check it out.
I watched the first episode of 'Bloodline' last night on NetFlix. I can see how it ties into his theatre work, which is solidly about the exploration of the dynamic of family. I'm not sure if I'll get through 3 series, though think they might be short series.
>41 Caroline_McElwee: His music wasn't his strong suit, Caroline. It's funky and off-beat, to say the least, and he didn't stick with it very long.
>41 Caroline_McElwee: Yes, we did see the Sinise/Malkovich True West; Buried Child featured the exceptionally creepy Ted Levine. We're lucky - we've been Steppenwolf subscribers forever, and we also got to see William Peterson/Gary Cole/Amy Morton at the Remains Theater before they all (I think all) joined Steppenwolf.
Lucky, luck, lucky you two re True West, Joe. Energy off the Richter scale from the recording I saw. I did see Malkovitch in Landford Wilson's Burn This, twice. The description 'electrifying' certainly applied. I also saw him in a Dusty Hughes play a few years later too, but stagewise I think he mainly directs these days.
Wonderful piece about Sam by Patti Smith in the New Yorker:
>45 Caroline_McElwee: That is a great article, Caroline. Much understated and underestimated writer and playwright in my opinion.
Have a lovely Sunday.
>48 Caroline_McElwee: Look forward to seeing what you've been reading, Caroline.
This will have to do for now Paul
>50 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for updating, Caroline. Some favourite writers amongst your poetry reads although for some of them (de Bernieres and Dunmore for example) I have only read their prose. I like the unfettered directness of Philip Levine.
Have a lovely week.
Caroline, it was a pleasure to see your visit over on my thread. Somehow this year hasn't been quite what I'd hoped in a variety of ways, but I have managed a great deal of reading, some of it very good.
Have you read anything by May Sargon? Primarily a poet, she also wrote memoirs and essays. One title that leaps to mind is Journal of a Solitude, which I think you'd enjoy.
Gail, I love May Sarton and have read much of her work. I love that journal, as well as her other diaries. One of my favourite books of hers is Plant Dreaming Deep which I have moved near my reading chair for another reread soon. I enjoy her novels too. She is not, on the whole, particularly well known here. And I admit, after reading a very good, well rounded biography of her, I do wonder whether I would have liked her in person, she was quite self-centred and a bit thoughtless of the damage she could do to others.
I'm always conflicted when I love the work, but suspect I may not love the person in person!
>53 Caroline_McElwee: Very interesting point about Sarton's personality, Caroline. I'm quite sure I would have found her insufferable, but I enjoy her work. A lesson in compromise, perhaps?
I am keeping >2 Caroline_McElwee: up to date. Will try and do some reviews at the weekend.
Hi Caroline. I've enjoyed reading through the discussion of Sam Shepard and his work. I realize that I know little about the man but I will look into streaming a film or two. Part of it is that I don't see movies very often so I've only seen him in Steel Magnolias, Swordfish, Frances...
I don't think I've ever seen any of his plays but with his passing, maybe the Seattle Rep or ACT Theater will take something on in the next year or so.
Wishing you a fabulous weekend, Caroline.
I am hoping for a peaceful one before Hani goes off to the UK.
>56 EBT1002: Hi Ellen, well you will have such me good treats ahead on the Sam Shepard trail, a very talented man.
>57 PaulCranswick: thanks Paul, I'm enjoying a weekend in Brighton with a friend. Having a short break before an early supper. Breakfast is so huge we can never eat lunch. Hope your weekend was sweet.
>58 Caroline_McElwee: Hopefully you wont bump into Pinky or Spicer, Caroline. xx
>59 PaulCranswick: tee hee. So far not Paul, but there was an odd dodgy dealer in the pub me thinks...
Finally, very short notes on my reading over the past few months, I have got soooo behind with my reviews! No need to consume in one go, if at all :-)
45. Open City (Teju Cole) ****
A fine debut novel by Teju Cole, whose character Julius meets with strangers and friends as he wanders the City. Full of interesting reflections on life.
46. Borderlines (Michela Wrong) ***1/2
Read for my local reading group, the writer is an experienced journalist, and the novel has the feel of fictional biography. Interesting on this kind of life, but it has its flaws.
47.Rooms of One's Own: 50 Places that made literary history (Adrian Mourby) ****
Does what it says on the tin.
48. Cousins (Sally Vickers) **** ROOT
When Will’s night climbing of the spire of a Cambridge college goes badly wrong, we follow the impact as narrated by 3 members of his family.
49. Angel Hill (Michael Longley) (Poetry) ****
Longley continues his connection with the natural world in this new collection.
50. Angela Merkel (Matthew Qvortrup) ****
I really got a sense of Mrs Merkel from this biography. A thoughtful woman with a science background, who won’t be rushed into important decisions. More left leaning than is commonly perceived. A listener. A compromiser when necessary. Although she has had sticky moments in her political career, on the whole she is perceived as a safe pair of hands.
51. A Secret Sisterhood (Emily Midorikawa/Emma Claire Sweeney)) ***1/2
An interesting volume about literary friendships between women.
52. My Life with Bob (Pamela Paul) ****
A lovely literary gift – one woman’s Book of Books, her life in reading.
53. The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry) ****
An enjoyable read, and yet something was missing, that I can’t put my finger on.
54. Beasts (Paul Kingsnorth) ***1/2
Another novel that didn’t quite hit the spot with me, whilst still being interesting.
55. Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon (Sam Shepard) Re-read ***** ROOT
After Shepard’s death I had to pull this old favourite off the shelf.
56. Swing Time (Zadie Smith) ***1/2
Not quite sure why this received the hype it did. I have loved several of Zadie Smith’s novels, and certainly got very much into the second half of this novel, but it didn’t rivet me either on story or tone.
57. Midwinter Break (Bernard MacLaverty)) ****
Long awaited novel (16 years) from Bernard MacLaverty. A deceptively simple, but thoughtful novel.
58.The One Inside (Sam Shepard) ****
Sam Shepard’s final volume, described as a novel, but supposedly heavily autobiographical, it continues his theme of complicated family interrelation.
59. City of the Mind (Penelope Lively) ***1/2
Not my favourite Lively, but I suspect I will pull it off the shelf again down the line.
60. Elementum - One: Calling (Journal) (various) *****
Beautiful new nature periodical, originally illustrated with thoughtful contributors.
61. Every Third Thought (Robert McCrum) ****
Another fine memoir from McCrum meditating on the touchstone of death in people once they pass that boundary of the age of 60.
62. Plant Dreaming Deep (May Sarton) reread ***** ROOT
Fourth reread of Sarton’s lovely, plangent memoir about moving to a new home as she hits 50. Lovely meetings with her neighbours and other friends, as well as offering a powerful sense of place.
63. The Richard Burton Diaries (Richard Burton) **** ROOT
I wasn't sure I'd carry on at 100 pages (of 650) but it got better. It's intriguing, repetitive, fascinating, maddening, heartbreaking, warm, passionate and probably very much the man he was. I'd have liked him I'm sure.
In summary, he was a contradiction, loved life, yet suffered depression, enjoyed fame but needed solitude. Greatly generous of his time and with money. LOVED the written word and read voraciously from detective novels to serious history, literature of all shades. He worked hard, but had little respect for his profession (compared to work others did). In his dreams he would have been an academic and writer. He was a self-taught linguist, fluent in Welsh, English, French, Spanish, Italian, had a little German and was dabbling in Serbo-Croat whilst working on a film, and tried to learn to read Russian. He was a self-confessed drunk, who knew how boring and verbally aggressive he became under the influence, but he couldn't stay dry for long. And he loved deeply. He was obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor. Barely spent a week apart at any one time. They were a volatile match, but a match all the same.
64. Hope in the Dark (Rebecca Solnit) (Essays) *****
Solnit’s work is never less than thought provoking, and will always be returned to. I will never take it all in in one read.
I think it is that one Linda, though she wrote another book for a later move as well.
Lots of good reading! Mark had the same kind of problem with Swing Time. Doesn't sound like one of her best.
Wish we were going to be seeing you soon in London. Next year!
Hi Joe, yes disappointed not to be seeing you and Madam MBH this year, but will enjoy it all the more next year.
Caroline, I will have to go and find those Richard Burton Diaries - he was such an interesting fellow.
Have a lovely weekend.
65. The Mother of all Questions (Rebecca Solnit) *****
Another of Solnit's very fine collections. I'm hopeless at taking serious notes when I read, I just want to sink myself into the work on first reading.
Covered in this volume, in the title essay is the obsession with why a woman does not choose to become a mother, and how women in the public domain are expected to account for their choices. A man will never be asked in interview why he chose not to be a father. As with other essays, this one looks at one of the many ways women are not permitted ownership of their own bodies.
Other essays look at the different aspects of silence, and being silenced, including how that differs between men and women.
Solnit is not anti-men, but much of her work looks at paternalistic society and hence can appear to those who do not actually read her to be so. One of the many ideas in her work is the assumption that by oppressing women, men are also damaging themselves.
>68 Caroline_McElwee: that sounds fascinating, Caro. I'm familiar with Solnit's work but have not read any of her books. Looks like it would be worth seeking out.
That is also a fine volume Anita. I've not been disappointed in her work so far.
66. Forest Dark (Nicole Krauss) ****
Review to follow.
67. What Happened (Hillary Rodham Clinton) ****1/2
I have really enjoyed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened. She is a fully rounded, bright, intelligent woman. Totally aware of her flaws. Totally aware that many of her own choices led to the result that occurred in 2016.
Probably the most consistent thing she does is acknowledge all those people who have supported her throughout her career, and all those people she has met who have offered her private insights into their lives so that she can be a more effective policy maker, responder, supporter, to her nation and others. No-one else’s work goes unnoticed by her. She also has a strong sense of her own skills and of what she is capable of, and she says so. This clearly offends some people and she knows it. She has a capacity she wishes every girl or woman had, faith and confidence in her own abilities. She contextualises, not just with recent but historic information/data. This is her story, but it is a story also of women who strive, whether in politics or any aspect of life.
She not only tells us what she would have done if she had become President, but how she would have achieved many of the things on her list. She describes herself as a policy wonk, and suggests her passion for the detail, and the budget stacking up before she commits to moving forward, are things that go against her because the media can’t use those things in the way they can inflate ‘big promises’ that can’t be backed up with how they can be achieved.
Although her team sometimes tried to steer her to taking less confrontational places to visit, especially after a speech where something had been taken out of context and manipulated by the opposition, but instead she always chose to go to the areas where she knew people would have been more hurt by her decontextualized words (the mining areas are a key example here), who were likely to be more aggressively confrontational. I must have been wondering as I nodded off to sleep, how she girded herself for volatile, contentious situations like this, and when I woke, I came up with the thought that she can deal with the situation (not without being bruised) because she is so sure that her actions are/were incontestable. Her intentions were manipulated, and although she may have used careless language, her intentions were and are not in opposition to the needs of the community/person concerned. Such self-awareness is not ego, but because she has done her homework, and revised it and improved it and she knows that it will change things. She also understands that you cannot get anything done without reaching across the aisle. That that often means more compromise than most people would wish, but it leads to action. Being unbending leads to words, and words and no action, which adds to the voters feeling that government do nothing for them.
Throughout, but mostly in the final chapters of the book, she looks at the external interference in the election and sets out what occurred, to our current knowledge, acknowledging that we are still understanding what happened. But her ultimate focus is on facing up to the vulnerabilities of our technological age, and how we might protect ourselves more effectively going forward. This is not just a US problem. There have been suggestions that the Russians had some effect on the vote as to whether the UK should stay in the European Union, it would favour them to have a destabilised bloc of European nations going forward.
The book enhanced my feeling of a lost opportunity, a President Hillary Clinton would have been a powerful and effective leadership, inspirational to all young people, but especially young women. Whilst she would have dragged the best of the past forward, she is a forward thinker and an encourager of challenge, imagination and striving. She is a true server of her people. I look forward to reading about what she does in the future.
>73 Caroline_McElwee: Nice review Caroline. I have been reading some of the excerpts that have been in the press here. I don't think I can read this book right now. My emotions remain to raw. I cannot imagine how she summoned the ability to write a book on the subject so close to the events. It feels like something people would never recover from.
Nice review of Hillary Clintons book, Caroline, I will impatiently wait for the Dutch translation.
>74 Oberon: On some levels she will never recover from it Erik, but she is smart and pragmatic, and knows there are things she can do to try to shape the future, to continue to serve. I'm pretty sure she won't run again, but she is already helping to support potential Democartic leaders going forward, and organisations who aim to obstruct the worst actions of the current administration where possible, or help those worst hit by their acts. Writing it now was probably quite carthartic too Erik.
>75 FAMeulstee: I hope you don't have to wait too long Anita.
>73 Caroline_McElwee: Good review, Caroline.
I firmly believe that HRC was the wrong candidate to have put up against trump and the strategy of avoiding some of the key battleground states - especially Wisconsin - as her team clearly felt they were in the bag, lead to the loss despite gaining more votes overall. There is a serious flaw in the American process when the whole nation votes to elect one man or woman to its most important office and all the votes don't count equally. They should simply poll all the votes and who gets the most becomes President.
That said she is obviously a woman of immense calibre. I will never be a fan but I would like very much to read her views.
Very sketchy notes for these books, but I may come back and fill them out later:
68. Devotion: (why I write) (Patti Smith) ****
Part of Yale Universities ‘Why I write’ series, Patti Smith offers some short essays to show how she came to write a particular short story, and then includes the story. The layered process of inspirations across time, that play into the final piece. But with Patti, little is final.
69. Home Fire Kamila Shamshie) ****
2017 Man Booker shortlisted, a fine novel that broadens out the Muslim experience when 3 children are orphaned, and raised to adulthood by the oldest. The experiences of the twins make the central plot, as the brother becomes radicalised, and his twin tries to bring him home. (fuller review to follow).
70. The Red-Haired Woman (Orhan Pamuk) ***1/2
With echoes of the story of Orpheus and the Persian Shahnameh mythologies Pamuk weaves a story about father/son relationships in modern Turkey, and how they are bound to traditions of the past. I expected to like this novel more than I did, I found it more contrived than I would wish.
71. 'Bone' (Yrsa Daley-Ward) *****
A really fine debut volume of poems from Yrsa Daley-Ward. Powerful, insightful, full-blooded. Life felt deeply.
Off to Sicily tomorrow, I always take too many books, but hey!
At the moment the plan is:
First 4 Montalbano novels
Jacob’s Room is Full of Books (Susan Hill)
At the Existentialist Café (Sarah Bakewell)
The Waves (Virginia Woolf) – reread
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (Jack Kornfield)
Essayism (Brian Dillon)
Kindle (I have Lampedusa's The Leopard on it as well as loads of other stuff).
Off to Sicily tomorrow - how great! Have fun, Caroline (I know you will).
I love the idea of your reading Montalbano in Sicily!
I enjoyed your review of Hillary's book. I saw her speak in Chicago several years ago, and she was brilliant. I'm still sad about what might've been . . .
Two weeks Anita. The first in Palermo, and then on to Taoarmina. I’ll post a few photos while I am away.
Have a wonderful trip dear Caroline. I have always wanted to go to Sicily so I shall be keen to get your impressions. Of course my idea of the place has been coloured by Montalbano and it gluttony and cheerful butchery. xx
Love the view, Caroline. Hope you are having a fine time. Like Paul, my only experience of Sicily has been from Montalbano.
>87 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely. Let me know when you bump into Montalbano or at least his hapless "Cat".
I can just about smell the seafood cooking - mullets for supper?
I have never read anything by Rebecca Solnit but I'm going to look for her next time I visit the bookstore.
I love the view from your Palermo balcony! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
Ha. It turns out that I have a copy of The Faraway Nearby somewhere on the TBR shelves (according to my LT collection). I just need to (a) find it, and (b) start digging into it.
Jacob’s Room is Full of Books (Susan Hill)
The Various Haunts of Men (Susan Hill) (Kindle)
Silence in the Age Of Noise (Erling Kagge)
Well none of these were on my original holiday reading list.... enjoying them all.
Posting these for Joe as he likes street art. These are at the bottom of Marcato di Ballaro, Palermo. It’s a very diverse, down at heal, but vibrant area. The market is mainly food, but with a mish mash of other domestic goods as well. Not to mention biscotti!
I think Joe has made us all lovers of street art. Those are magnificent...a South American influence in that first one?
I enjoyed The Various Haunts of Men and keep thinking that is a series I need to revisit before I completely lose the thread.
>97 EBT1002: I downloaded the series on my Kindle a while ago Ellen. So far so good!
I haven't lurked here for a while, but thought I would break cover to say how much I like the images of reading women and the holiday photos are wonderful. I've never been but would love to.
Reading wise I've added May Sarton to the wishlist and of the pile in >93 Caroline_McElwee: The lovely hand size edition of Silence looks very appealing.
Hi Charlotte, good to see you pop your head in. I’m enjoying Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge, very much. I wait until it is silent, at night, to read it.
I think the tickle to come to Sicily was ignited by an exhibition at the British Museum last year. Palermo is quite a poor, ramshackle but warm-hearted place. In the next couple days of days I’ll do a trip to Monreale to see the famous mosaics. I’m in Palermo until Saturday, then take the train to Taormina.
Wistfully looking at your photos, Caroline. Sicily is definitely on my bucket list. xx
72. Jacob’s Room is Full of Books (Susan Hill) ****
Another enjoyable romp through Susan Hill’s library and reading. We share many a reading pleasure. Only Shirley Hazzard’s essays fell into my shopping basket, I’d read many of her novels (which Hill doesn’t mention), but not the essays.
Susan Hill can come across occasionally as a bit of a grump, but I have to remind myself that is based on three or four moments, colouring a whole book, and I agree with one of her grumps: how good manners are on the wain, a brief moment of gratitude and politeness goes a long way.
Between the books are memories, especially of people, bird sightings, weather and occasionally a little repetitiveness.
>94 Caroline_McElwee:. I love it! Thanks for the street art photos, Caroline. Street art tends to show up in the edgier parts of town, doesn’t it.
It makes me happy to see the Montalbano books, too. Perfect for Sicily. Are you having a chance to read any?
>95 laytonwoman3rd:. Wow, that’s a very nice thing to say, Linda. Thanks! I just enjoy street art so much. I’m glad that’s been contagious. :-)
P.S. I particularly like the weird multi-colored dog in the Palermo street art.
>72 Caroline_McElwee: "...a brief moment of gratitude and politeness goes a long way." Well, I heartily agree with that!
I continue to enjoy your photos. The fig trees are pretty amazing. They must be quite old....
73. Silence in the Age of Noise (Erling Kagge) ****1/2
Not only a book of quiet wisdom, a beautiful artefact in itself.
Part memoir, part repository of learning. Often presenting an already sensed understanding of silence, it’s various guises and methods of attainment, its value and its gifts. I shall reread it again soon.
>109 Caroline_McElwee: Mmm, that one is definitely one to look out for.
How is Palermo?
Palermo is very pleasant Paul. Off to see the mosaics at Monreale, just outside the city, this afternoon.
>109 Caroline_McElwee: Love that cover, and the idea of the book sounds wonderful.
>109 Caroline_McElwee: That looks like my kind of book, Caroline. It hasn't come out here yet. I added it to the WL.
>112 charl08: >113 jnwelch: I think you would both like it Charlotte and Joe. For a small book it covers a lot of territory. It’s not that you don’t know most of it, but in some ways it is that you do know most of it, and pulling it all together. There are of course little twists of perspective too, that make you think.
The most famous mosaic in Sicily
At the Cathedral at Monreale, about 40 minutes outside Palermo.
I move to Taormina tomorrow. Four hours on the train, one change, and a short taxi hop to my apartment with sea view.
>118 Caroline_McElwee: Taormina is lovely! We had a holiday there back in about 2005. Siracusa was somewhere else that was really interesting. Funnily enough we were just talking about our holiday in Sicily this evening as J is watching The Godfather and one of the places we visited near Taormina was the place where they filmed some of the Sicilian sections. It was a little lost on me at the time as I had never actually got around to seeing The Godfather, but we did watch it when we got back!
Yup, this is the view from my terrace....
I may not move from my terrace ha.
I have an apartment, so will do a mix of eating out and cooking in, as I did in Palermo.
>120 SandDune: I’ve not done more than get some groceries Rhian, but I will enjoy exploring tomorrow. I shall probably do two day-trips elsewhere as well in the coming week.
74. The Shape of Water (Andrea Camilleri) ***
By artist bruno
Finished the first Montalbano novel The Shape of Water. I thought I might be the only decenting voice, I don’t much like the tone, or the negative presentation of most of the women, but the plot has saved it, with some interesting twists and turns. I do think it’s of it’s time (25 years ago) so trying to take that into consideration where some of what I don’t like sits. I’ll probably go on to the second one and see how I feel then (I brought 4 to Sicily with me, but I won’t read them all).
>123 Caroline_McElwee: Still a chance - hope the next one goes over better with you, Caroline. No worries if not.
You win some, you lose some Joe. It wasn’t a total fail, I read it in a day, and did want to know what happened in the end. He gets a second chance. Maybe if you tell me which is your favourite. I have the first ten, but it doesn’t have to be one of those.
>126 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely, and so is the view from your terrace!
A lot of the pleasure in the Montalbano books lies, for me, in following Salvo and all the other characters, enjoying Camilleri's descriptions of Sicily (I want Salvo's home by the sea), the unexpected literacy - as a Guardian article says, one woman discusses Kafka while groping for Salvo's genitals, the food (mouth-watering), the humor, and the wicked takes on Italy and Sicily (Camilleri is a Marxist).
Having said that, the second one, The Terra Cotta Dog, is very good. Its success caused Camilleri to decide to continue the series, so maybe it will you, too.
Here's the pretty charming Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/oct/14/featuresreviews.guardianreview31
Taormina looks lovely from your balcony / terrace Caroline.
I hope the second Camilleri grabs you. I love them to be honest.
>127 jnwelch: Another one who wants his house by the sea - and his friends who cook for him.
The Greco-Roman Amphitheatre at Taormina
That is Etna in the background.
In case you were wondering Darryl lunch was a delicious Aubergine ravioli with a creamy Parmesan sauce, and just a grating of pistachio.
Followed by almond semifredo (half ice cream, half parfait)
>132 Caroline_McElwee: Yes!
One of my favorites, from early on:
‘But, Charles, no blame attaches to Miss Wraxton! She cannot help it, and that, I assure you, I have always pointed out to your sisters!’
‘I consider Miss Wraxton’s countenance particularly well-bred!’
‘Yes, indeed, but you have quite misunderstood the matter! I meant a particularly well-bred horse!’
'You mean, as I am perfectly aware, to belittle Miss Wraxton!'
'No, no! I am very fond of horses!' Sophy said earnestly.
Before he could stop himself he found that he was replying to this. 'Selina, who repeated the remark to me, is not fond of horses, however, and she-' He broke off, seeing how absurd it was to argue on such a head.
'I expect she will be, when she has lived in the same house with Miss Wraxton for a month or two,' said Sophy encouragingly.”
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