Bill's Still Weird_O, Third Third 2019

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Bill's Still Weird_O, Third Third 2019

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Edited: Nov 5, 2019, 11:17am

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 9:18pm

  Current Reading

# 110.# 109.# 108.# 107.

# 106.# 105.# 104.# 103.

# 102.# 101.# 100.# 99.

# 98.# 97.# 96.# 95.

# 94.# 93.# 92.# 91.

# 90.# 89.# 88.# 87.

# 86.# 85.# 84.# 83.

# 82.# 81.# 80.# 79.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 3:05pm

Books Read, Third Third, 2019

December (11 read)
110. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (12/30/19)
109. The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet (12/26/19)
108. Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie (12/23/19)
107. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (12/21/19)
106. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien (12/20/19)
105. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (12/19/19) ROOT
104. Holes by Louis Sachar (12/18/19) ROOT
103. Hag's Nook by John Dickson Carr (12/11/19)
102. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (12/8/19) ROOT
101. I Was a Child: A Memoir by Bruce Eric Kaplan (12/5/19)
100. Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz (12/2/19)

November (5 read)
99. At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie (11/24/19) ROOT
98. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (11/19/19) ROOT
97. The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois (11/7/19) ROOT
96. Faust by Johann von Goethe (11/4/19) ROOT
95. The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes (11/1/19)

October (10 read)
94. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (9/29/19) ROOT
93. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (10/28/19) ROOT
92. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (10/24/19) ROOT
91.The Best Short Stories: 25 Stories From America's Foremost Humorist by Ring Lardner (10/20/19)
90. Anna Christie / The Emperor Jones / The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill (10/19/19) ROOT
89. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (10/18/19) ROOT
88. Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations by David Mamet (10/10/19) ROOT
87. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (10/7/19) ROOT
86. The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton (10/4/19) ROOT
85. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (10/1/19)

September (6 read)
84. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (9/24/19) ROOT
83. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead (9/23/19) ROOT
82. Bonk by Mary Roach (9/17/19)
81. Detective Stories, edited by Peter Washington (9/12/19)
80. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson (9/6/19) ROOT
79. The Hounds of Spring by Lucy Andrews Cummin [a.k.a. Sibyx] (9/3/19) ROOT

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 12:11am

First Third Reads: 32 inches of books

First and Second Third Reads: 60 inches of books

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 12:12am

Jacket Images, Second Third Reading

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 10:22pm

Books Read, Second Third, 2019

August (10 read)
78. Junky by William S. Burroughs (8/31/19)
77. Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco (8/30/19)
76. My Invented Country by Isabel Allende (8/27/19)
75. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (8/23/19)
74. A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines (8/22/19) ROOT
73. Montana 1948 by Larry Watson (8/16/19) ROOT
72. Tinkers by Paul Harding (8/14/19)
71. Hotel World by Ali Smith (8/9/19) ROOT
70. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (8/6/19) ROOT
69. The Making of THE AFRICAN QUEEN by Katharine Hepburn (8/1/19)

July (11 read)
68. Common Sense by Thomas Paine (7/31/19) ROOT
67. Eyewitness: 150 Years of Photojournalism by Time/Life (7/30/19)
66. The Ransom of Russian Art by John McPhee (7/30/19)
65. Mohawk by Richard Russo (7/26/19) ROOT
64. What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren (7/23/19)
63. The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell (7/20/19)
62. Watergate: A Novel by Thomas Mallon (7/19/19)
61. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (7/13/19)
60. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (7/11/19) ROOT
59. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers (7/6/19) ROOT
58. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers (7/4/19) ROOT

June (9 read)
57. Elvis Presley by Bobbie Ann Mason (6/30/19)
56. The North American Indians: A selection of Photographs by Edward S. Curtis (6/29/19) ROOT
55. In a Sacred Manner We live by Edward S. Curtis (6/28/19)
54. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan (6/28/19) ROOT
53. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (6/23/19) ROOT
52. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (6/18/19) ROOT
51. Fer de Lance by Rex Stout (6/14/19) ROOT
50. These Truths by Jill Lepore (6/13/19)
49. All the Names by Jose Saramago (6/6/19) ROOT

May (9 read)
48. What Now? by Ann Patchett (5/31/19) ROOT
47. Elmet by Fiona Mozley (5/29/19) ROOT
46. Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout (5/25/19) ROOT
45. One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner by Jay Parini (5/24/19)
44. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers (5/20/19) ROOT
43. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (5/19/19)
42. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz (5/11/19)
41. Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer (5/7/19) ROOT
40. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (5/3/19)

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 12:14am

Jacket Images, First Third Reading

Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 5:24pm

Books Read, First Third, 2019

April (9 read)
39. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (4/28/19)
38. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (4/25/19) ROOT
37. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (4/21/19) ROOT
36. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith (4/14/19)
35. Very Good, Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse (4/10/19)
34. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (4/10/19) ROOT
33. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (4/8/19) ROOT
32. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (4/4/19) ROOT
31. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (4/1/19)

March (10 read)
30. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut (3/28/19)
29. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler (3/27/19) ROOT
28. Slade House by David Mitchell (3/24/19)
27. Autumn by Ali Smith (3/23/19) ROOT
26. Grendel by John Gardner (3/21/19)
25. Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney (3/19/19) ROOT
24. Finn by Jon Clinch (3/17/19) ROOT
23. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (3/13/19)
22. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (3/5/19) ROOT
21. The Golden Cockerel by Alexander Pushkin (3/3/19) ROOT

February (10 read)
20. Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast (2/27/19)
19. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (2/26/19) ROOT
18. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson (2/24/19)
  Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson (3/7/19)
17. Pigs Have Wings by P. G. Wodehouse (2/21/19) ROOT
16. Educated by Tara Westover (2/15/19) ROOT
15. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (2/12/19) ROOT
14. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (2/12/19)
13. She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith and School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (2/8/19) ROOT
12. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid (2/3/19) ROOT
11. Last Friends by Jane Garam (2/3/19) ROOT

January (10 read)
10. Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper by Wallace Reyburn (1/31/19)
9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (1/30/19) ROOT
8. Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine (1/28/19) ROOT
7. The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam (1/26/19)
6. End in Tears by Ruth Rendell (1/20/19) ROOT
5. My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (1/18/19) ROOT
4. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers (1/13/19) ROOT
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (1/12/19) ROOT
2. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1/4/19) ROOT
1. Dali's Mustache by Salvador Dali & Philippe Halsman (1/1/19) ROOT

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 12:17am


Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 12:33am

2019 Reading Stats

First and Second Thirds 2019
Books read: 78
Authors read: 72 (including 3 co-authored books)
Single-read Authors: 64
Multi-read authors: 8*
New-to-me authors: 46

* Chaim Potok 2
  Jane Gardem 2
  Oliver Goldsmith 2
  Dorothy L. Sayers 3
  P. G. Wodehouse 2
  Edward S. Curtis 2
  Ali Smith 2
  Ernest J. Gaines 2

Author gender
Male: 53
Female: 28

Author Birth Country
US: 38
UK: 17
Ireland: 3
Russia: 1
Scotland: 2
Spain: 1
Latvia: 1
Canada: 2
Antiqua: 1
France: 1
Australia: 1
India: 1
Portugal: 1
Peru: 1
Romania: 1

Dead or alive
Currently breathing: 42 (afaik)
R.I.P.: 30

First published
Before 1700s: 3
1700s: 3
1800s: 2
1900—1925: 1
1926—1950: 8
1951—1975: 9
1976—2000: 19
2001—2010: 16
2011—2018: 17

Fiction: 49
Non-fiction: 17
Graphic/Photo/Art: 9
Drama: 4

Hardcover: 34
Paperback: 40
Mass-market paperback: 4

2019 acquisition: 30
ROOT: 46
Library: 2

Books Acquired
Total: 384
New: 9
Used: 375

American Author Challenge
1/19: Chaim Potok
   The Chosen

2/19: Louisa May Alcott
   BZZZT: Wild Card: Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

3/19: Jon Clinch

4/19: Jesmyn West
   Sing, Unburied, Sing

5/19: Jay Parini
   One Matchless Time

6/19: Pearl Buck
   The Good Earth

7/19: Founding Father
   Common Sense by Thomas Paine

8/19: Ernest J. Gaines
   A Lesson Before Dying
   A Gathering of Old Men

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 12:35am

Let the celebratin' begin!! (Oh, go ahead. You can post something now.)

Sep 1, 2019, 1:04am

Happy new thread!

>1 weird_O: Good for Bill!

Sep 1, 2019, 1:40am

>9 weird_O: Yikes. Were these sweets or something else?!

Happy new thread: impressive shelf of read-this-year.

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 7:43am

^Bill at a tender age!

Happy New Thread, Bill. LOVE the topper! A fantasy we all share!

Sep 1, 2019, 9:06am

Happy Sunday and happy new thread!

Sep 1, 2019, 9:59am

Happy new one, Bill!

Sep 1, 2019, 10:11am

>1 weird_O: looks almost real!! Woo!

Happy new one, Bill

Sep 1, 2019, 10:19am

Happy new thread, Bill!

Sep 1, 2019, 10:47am

Happy New Thread, Bill. Love that topper!

Sep 1, 2019, 9:10pm

Happy new thread!

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 9:57pm

Another wierd "o".

Sep 2, 2019, 12:15am

Happy new thread, Bill, and congrats on reading 75! I love your topper!

Sep 2, 2019, 5:35am

Happy new thread, Bill!

I still love the image of the books you have read on a shelf; 60 inches in 3 quartes is a perfect 20 inches per quarter ;-)
I have no shelves that are long enough to show mine, as all the shelves here are 58 cm (22.8 inches).

Sep 2, 2019, 10:28pm

Happy new thread, Bill.

Sep 3, 2019, 5:38pm

>12 quondame: Thanks, Susan. It's a blow for all of us.

>13 charl08: I think the product is pin-on buttons with weird faces on them, Charlotte. I'd like to see all your 2019 reads lined up on one shelf. Eight feet? Ten?

>14 msf59: "Doh..."

>15 figsfromthistle: >16 katiekrug: >17 jessibud2: >18 karenmarie: >19 jnwelch: >20 drneutron: Thank yeh, thank yeh.

Sep 3, 2019, 5:44pm

>21 laytonwoman3rd: Weirdos are all around, Linda. :-)

>22 Familyhistorian: >24 PaulCranswick: :-)

>23 FAMeulstee: Since I'm thinking of the year as divided into thirds, that 60 inches for 8 months could stretch out to 90 inches for the full year. Not quite 8 feet. I'm going to need a longer shelf.

Sep 3, 2019, 6:06pm

Completed my first book of the third third: The Hounds of Spring by Sibyx, a.k.a. Lucy Andrews Cummin. Quite an accomplishment. (Noooo, not the reading, the authoring.) A lovely tale of a very full day. Highly recommended.

Also have read the first three stories in Detective Stories, a collection of...ah...detective stories by the likes of Ian Banks, Ruth Rendell, Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, Conan Doyle, Poe, Christie, and their peers. Not much chance there will be a clunker in this assortment.

Isaac's Storm is on this evening's reading agenda. Seems apropos, probably too much so for some LTers.

Sep 3, 2019, 6:28pm

>27 weird_O: - I thought Isaac's Storm was excellent, as are all of Larson's books, in my humble opinion. You are in for a treat if you haven't read him before.

Sep 4, 2019, 11:07am

>26 weird_O: Sorry, you are right, my ability to count disappeared when I was typing that message ;-)
Now for proper understanding I have to calculate from inches to meters, you have read 1.524 meter!

Sep 5, 2019, 5:48pm

Sweet Thursday, Bill. Hooray for Issac's Storm. My very first Larson and what a little gem. I am really enjoying Deep River. Keep this big, family, logging saga in mind. Were you a fan of Matterhorn? I am hoping this is a dumb question. Same author.

Sep 7, 2019, 10:09am

>29 FAMeulstee: :-)

>30 msf59: Done with Isaac's Storm. Shifting to Silko for the AAC. Have to say that I know nothing of the two books you cite, other than that the author of both is Karl Marlantes. I know that thanks to the new Hover Balloons.

My wife is reading the new Louise Penny.

Edited: Sep 7, 2019, 10:15am

New (to me, anyway) book for all you scrapple lovers out there. Darryl...Darryl...

Saw it on sale at the butchers'. And yes, we did get a block of scrapple, which my wife and I had for breakfast. Two days running.

Sep 7, 2019, 1:42pm

>32 weird_O:'s that time of year. My MIL can still get "homemade" scrapple from a small market. She usually gives us a couple pounds around Thanksgiving.

Sep 7, 2019, 3:02pm

Huhh. Never thought of scrapple as seasonal. The butcher we get meat from has it all the time.

Sep 7, 2019, 5:36pm

Well, you USED to be, because it was made by processing the scrappy bits left over after butchering a hog...and butchering only happened after the weather turned cold.

Sep 7, 2019, 9:41pm

# 80. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson Finished 9/6/19

The Weird ReportTM

It's hurricane season, and as Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and threatened American's southern Atlantic coast (and while scientists corrected an infantile politician on the projected storm track), I spent time reading about a portentous hurricane that tiptoed noisily but without notice from the western coast of Africa across the Carribean and the Gulf of Mexico to practically obliterate Galveston, Texas. The year was 1900, and (weirdly) the landfall date was September 8 (I say weirdly because I completed my read on 9/6/19).

Looking on-line at archival photos taken following that (unnamed) storm was like looking at news photos of the Bahamas. (Isaac's Storm, sadly, has no photos and the map depicting the areas damaged by the storm is irritatingly out of sync with the narrative.) Here and there are scattered still-standing structures, some canted, most missing roofs, porches, and windows. The ground, roads, walkways all are covered layers deep with boards scattered every whichaway. Neither the text nor the photos can convey the stench of decaying corpses—not only human remains, but hundreds and hundreds of horses, family pets, livestock. The death toll can't be known. People were swept out to sea, buried beneath the rubble. The smell, the logistics, and public health concerns prompted on-the-spot burials and on-the-spot pyres

The focus of Erik Larson's narrative is just how this event happened, and most significantly, why there was no warning. The short answers: ignorance, folly, and hubris. For the long answers, do read the book. Even the most informed and thoughtful "experts" at the 19th century's close did not understand—at all— the science of hurricanes, cyclones, and tornados. But the "experts" were loath to project any uncertainty. What they didn't know killed a lot of people.

Two thumbs up.

Sep 7, 2019, 10:09pm

>36 weird_O: - When I read the book, Bill, it occurred to me that this was early days of what has become the science of weather prediction and no one yet had, as you say, the expertise to really understand or believe what they were just beginning to learn and figure out. I guess trail and error in this case, involved a lot of error (and tragedy). Frankly, what makes me crazy is how today, given what we have learned and do know about the science, there are still those who refuse to heed the warnings, yet expect to be rescued when disaster strikes. What is wrong with people, anyhow?

Sep 7, 2019, 10:23pm

Good review of Isaac's Storm. If you post it, I will Thumb it. In regards to Marlantes, do you at least have Matterhorn on shelf? If not, WTH?

Which Silko are you going with? I just finished and loved Storyteller.

Sep 8, 2019, 10:59am

Hi Bill!

More Isaac’s Storm love from me – excellent book. Larson is such a good writer and always seems to tackle things that are totally fascinating.

>31 weird_O: Hover Balloons. Yup. I like ‘em, too.

>32 weird_O: I'll have to check out scrapple - don't know if we can get it here in central NC.

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 12:04pm

>36 weird_O: and >37 jessibud2: I've just been reading (totally out of chrono order) a long NYer piece about the origins and development of weather forecasting -- well worth tracking down. An inexact science made up of putting together enough pieces of information to make an educated guess about what will happen in one, two, ten days . . . very cool piece.

And, I hope you don't mind -- LT has snuck in a new policy, I think, that book covers must be LT uploaded to show. The easiest way to do this is, when you put in a new book, go to the Change Cover option and see if there are any "member uploaded covers" already there, if so pick one. If not click on the cover you have and choose the Save image address then put it in the "Grab" box and Bob's your uncle. It's cumbersome but I can only hope it serves a security purpose and isn't just to madden! (I put this here because almost none of your covers showed for me.)

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 5:07pm

>37 jessibud2: Willful ignorance does abound, doesn't it, Shelley. Flat earthers. Ride-out-the-storm-ers. Trickle-down economists. Good guys with guns. Thought-and-prayers antidotes to mass killings. Moscow Mitch. Every Trump supporter known.

>38 msf59: Mark, I've never ever seen a copy of Matterhorn. Guess that means it's a keeper, since copies aren't donated for library sales. :-)

I'm starting Ceremony.

P.S. I've posted my "Storm" report on the book page.

>39 karenmarie: Yes, it was pretty good, Karen. Good luck on finding scrapple. My wife's niece who remembers the scrapple her father's parents and grandparents made was able to find some in the Fort Worth area where she lives. I think it was in a blister package in a supermarket. If you really want some, our local butcher I'm sure will UPS some to you. (

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 1:29pm

Gave your review of Isaac's Storm another thumb, Bill. That one has been on my wish list for a long time, and it seems like very timely ready just now.

lauralkeet and I asked you over on Mark's thread, but if you answered I missed it----where did you come across the Penguin edition of The Philosopher's Stone? I can't seem to find any reference to it on the interwebs, except in your post. I even looked at the Penguin joy.

Sep 8, 2019, 3:29pm

Uh oh. Tumblr strikes again and I bit. Here's the link:

When I googled the owl image just now, it comes up as the cover image for a Deftones album titled Diamond Eyes. Here's the link to the image search result:

Perhaps...or likely...someone extracted the owl image and paired it with a mockup of the nice clean Penguin cover template with the author and title in the proper typeface. Bingo! A bogus cover to seduce book lovers. If you follow the first link (to the Tumblr post), you'll see it features a lengthy synopsis of the book. That's a common format for this particular Tumblr blog. Quite often, the text is in an unfamiliar-to-me alphabet. Here's a link to a sample:έλληνας-γεννιέσ...

Ah well. I assume it's a fake. Makes me a dupe, or a dope, or something.

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 5:05pm

Son of a b*tch! I just wrote a lengthy post about the Potter Penguin cover, complete with multiple links for your edification, and Russian hackers (or someone) gobbled it up. It vanished. I'll redo it in Docs, then copy 'n' paste it into LT. Stand by.

ETA: Please.

E again TA: Well there it is. At >43 weird_O:. I've never had such a delayed response on LT. I couldn't get a preview and it seemingly wouldn't post either. So I didn't lose it; I don't have to finish the second draft. I feel so much better.

As Emily Lutella used to say, "Oh! Never mind."

Sep 8, 2019, 4:39pm

How's this for weird ... You and I both made it to the "Hot Reviews" list today.

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 4:58pm

>45 RBeffa: That IS weird.

ETA: I don't know if it is weird or not, exactly, but I didn't ever see that "Hot Reviews" aggregation feature. It's typical weird_o though.

Sep 8, 2019, 5:51pm

>45 RBeffa: >46 weird_O:

Do LT reviewers get notified when listed as "Hot?"

I wrote to Penguin Books asking about the OWL cover, but haven't heard back yet.

Sep 8, 2019, 6:09pm

>47 m.belljackson: There is no notification Marianne. I might be misremembering but I think in the past on LT, some years back, things like "Hot Reviews", What's popular, and maybe other things showed up on the bottom right of your profile page. Either I turned it off somehow or more likely it was redesigned away. I take a look at the Zeitgeist page (up there top right on the page header for LT is a link to it) a couple times a year. Once you go to that page you can then select subpages like popular or reviews. So today I randomly visited there and noticed Bill's review and then mine a little ways below it.

Sep 8, 2019, 8:55pm

You can choose and reorder what you want to appear on your Home page, including "Hot Reviews."

Sep 8, 2019, 10:23pm

>49 katiekrug: Thank you Katie. I don't think I've seen it on my homepage since whenever they did the redesign. I had to hunt a little but finally found the module place to add it back.

Sep 9, 2019, 11:39am

My Ceremony read started in some confusion but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'm quite sure I'll be liking it.

I'm alternating books, reading pages of Ceremony in between short detective stories in an Everyman's Pocket Classic anthology. Getting introduced to some esteemed writers—Jorge Luis Borges and Georges Simenon—that I haven't read as yet.

I'd like to force out a report or two on good books I've read without comment, and there are a lot of those.

Oh, and book sales comin' up.

Sep 9, 2019, 9:09pm

>43 weird_O: Oh. Poo. I was afraid of that. It's one of those things that certainly OUGHT to happen.

Sep 13, 2019, 2:21am

Finished with those Detective Stories. A terrific collection, featuring the acknowledged masters and a few under-known, under-appreciated masters. Perhaps you know Susan Glaspell or James McLevy or H. R. F. Keating, but I didn't. Glaspell's story, "A Jury of Her Peers", is especially good. Also in the collection, a Miss Marple from Agatha Christie; a Continental Op tale from Dashiell Hammett, a Maigret case by Georges Simenon. But a Marlowe-less story from Raymond Chandler and a "Leg Man" by Erle Stanley Gardner who isn't Perry Mason.

The touchstones offer a measure of how bloomin' many books are out there with the phrase "detective stories" as their root. This particular book was 48th on the list of alternative titles; had to be about 100 alternatives all together. So this isn't a story collection that got a lot of exposure. But it's a good read.

Okay now. Back to Ceremony.

Sep 13, 2019, 2:22am

>52 laytonwoman3rd: Your opportunity, Linda. Get after those Penguin People.

Sep 13, 2019, 11:06pm

Book sale tomorrow. I imagine I'll go, see if I can find anything interesting. Yaaaawn...

Sep 13, 2019, 11:18pm

Thought I'd make a big deal out of this collection of short stories after taking a BB in my twin granddaughters' "forensic fiction" class last year. I audited the class for one day, Grandparents' Day.

# 81. Detective Stories edited by Peter Washington Finished 9/12/19

The Weird ReportTM

Top row, center to right: Sara Paretsky, Ian Rankin. Middle row left to right: Ruth Rendell, Georges Simenon, Jorge Luis Borges, Erle Stanley Gardner. Bottom row, left to right: Susan Glaspell, G. K. Chesterton, Bret Harte, Edgar Allan Poe.

It's not a best-seller by any means. Not flashy or trending or anything like that. Detective Stories, a collection put together by Peter Washington for Everyman's Pocket Classics, is a concise history of "detecting" stories and, many, many of us readers just LOVE such stories. Great fun they are.

This collection gives us contributions from writers across the globe, from both men and women, reflecting nearly three centuries of crime fighting. Scores of well-known crime solvers have been birthed by writers throughout the years. Poe's Auguste Dupin was not the first, Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus not the last, but they define the parameters and timeline of this collection.

Featured are acknowledged masters of the genre as well as a few under-known, under-appreciated talents. Perhaps you know Susan Glaspell or James McLevy or H. R. F. Keating, but I didn't. Glaspell's story, "A Jury of Her Peers", is especially good. Also in the collection, a Miss Marple from Agatha Christie; a Continental Op tale from Dashiell Hammett, a Maigret case by Georges Simenon. But a Marlowe-less story from Raymond Chandler and a "Leg Man" by Erle Stanley Gardner who isn't Perry Mason are also in the mix.

The touchstones offer a measure of how bloomin' many books are out there with the phrase "detective stories" as their root. This particular book was 48th on the list of alternative titles; had to be about 100 alternatives all together. So this isn't a story collection that got a lot of exposure. But it's a good read.

Stories included are:

    The Takamoku Joseki by Sara Paretsky (1947– )
Paretsky created a female protagonist, V. I. Warshawski, who has appeared in multiple novels and stories. When a man is stricken and dies during an informal GO tournament, Warshawski's help is sought by the Asian-American couple hosting the weekly event.

    Window of Opportunity by Ian Rankin (1960– )
Rankin's Scottish policeman, John Rebus, arranges the temporary release of a small-time con man to help the police nab a bigger-time crook. Clever.

    People Don't Do Such Things by Ruth Rendell (1930–2015)
An accountant tells his wife that his best friend, a philandering novelist, is hiding (at home) from his most recent girlfriend after having told her and all his friends and neighbors that he was taking a vacation trip. "...[W]hen I reached the bit about his car being in the garage," says the accountant, "she stared at me and all the colour went out of her face. She sat down, letting the bunch of knives and forks she was holding fall into her lap…
  "'How could he be so cruel? How could he do that to anyone?'
  "'Oh, my dear, Reeve's quite ruthless where women are concerned. You remember, he told us he'd done it before.'"

    Inspector Ghote and the Miracle Baby by H. R. F. Keating (1926–2011)
A young Indian woman, who vows she is still a virgin, gives birth at Christmas, and Inspector Ghote of the Bombay CID is assigned to identify the baby's father to avert civil unrest and clashes amongst religionists. An Englishman, Keating built a career upon novels featuring Inspector Ghote.

    Mademoiselle Bethe and Her Lover by Georges Simenon (1903–1989)
Extraordinarily prolific, Belgian writer Georges Simenon poured out about 500 novels and stories, many of them featuring the fictional police detective Jules Maigret. In this tale, the trusted, famous, now-retired Maigret is lured by a young woman into protecting her from...well, she never is quite specific. But she wants his protection.

    Death and the Compass by Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986)
According to the flap copy, the cerebral Argentinian writer wrote this story as "a postmodern tribute to Poe." It was only after reading both Borges and Poe that I understood the tribute.

    Leg Man by Erle Stanley Gardner (1889–1970)
Knowing a gold-digger has her hooks into Harvey Pemberton, Mrs. P. contacts her lawyer for help. He puts the firm's enterprising researcher/investigator/leg man on the job. Lots of twists and turns.

    I'll Be Waiting by Raymond Chandler (1888–1959)
They called him a hotel detective, but Tony Reseck is more a security operative than an investigator as he negotiates through the mob's threat to the hotel's tranquility.

    The Gatewood Caper by Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961)
Hammett's Continental Op is investigating the kidnapping of a blustering bully's daughter. Not the best of Hammett or this collection.

    The Blue Geranium by Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
A Miss Marple vehicle. She solves the mystery, of course.

    A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (1876–1948)
I never heard of Susan Glaspell, but I sure did like her story. Born an Iowa farm girl, she attended college before it was deemed an appropriate venture for Iowa farm girls. Just her beginning. This story she adapted from her one-act play, Trifles, written in 1916 (sometime after she and her husband founded the legendary Provincetown Playhouse on Cape Cod). The story follows the thoughts and interactions of two farm women, one married to the county sheriff, the other to the neighbor of a farmer who's apparently been strangled by his wife while he slept. The menfolk trapse back and forth through the house and farm, looking for evidence, for some sign of a motive. What the two women achieve isn't important to the men.

    The Blue Cross by G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
If you know Chesterton's Father Brown from the PBS series, you probably won't recognize him in this story. The tale begins with Valentin, "the head of the Paris police and the most famous investigator of the world," in pursuit of Flambeau, an international criminal, who is believed to be in London. Valentin's instincts prompt him to tail a mismatched pair—one very tall (like Flambeau), the other rather short—from the center of London to Hampstead Heath. At each stop on their walk, one of the pair does a juvenile prank, seemingly to attract attention without provoking arrest. Valentin does get his man. And something of a lesson as well.

    Silver Blaze by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)
A valuable racehorse disappears, his trainer murdered, and Sherlock Holmes solves both the disappearance and the murder. I was quite surprised to discover in this story the title of a novel about an autistic boy:

  "...I saw by the Inspector's face that his attention had been keenly aroused…'Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?'
  "'To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.'
  "'The dog did nothing in the night-time.'
  "'That was the curious incident,' remarked Sherlock Holmes."

    The Stolen Cigar Case by Bret Harte (1836–1902)
A wicked parody of Sherlock Holmes, created by an American writer best known for stories of prospectors and prospecting in California and Nevada, stories like "The Luck of Roaring Camp" and "The Outcasts of Poker Flat".

    Long Looked-for, Come at Last by James McLevy (1796–1875)
A police detective in Edinborough tracks a particular crook during a long career and at long last makes the collar. The author was a prominent detective in Edinburgh during the mid-19th century, and later an author of popular crime mysteries.
    The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)
Dupin's analytical intelligence finds the titular letter after the protracted, diligent, action of the Paris police's finest cannot. Of course, compare Poe's approach to Borges'.

Two thumbs up!

Sep 14, 2019, 1:29am

>86 That's not a book available in my libraries!

Sep 14, 2019, 7:40am

Good review of Detective Stories. Sounds like a good one to dip in and out of. Happy weekend, Bill!

Sep 15, 2019, 12:00pm

>57 quondame: Uuuuuuu, So many anthologies, so many options for the librarian spending an acquisitions dollar. Amazon will sell you a copy, and probably an independent bookseller, too.

>58 msf59: It is a break-time read all right, Mark. I started it a couple of weeks ago, and read a story whenever I needed/wanted a break from whatever book-length thing I was reading. (I got a couple of volumes of short stories yesterday—by Miss Welty and by Updike*—that I can read in the same way.)

*Yeah, yeah; I know. He's not only dead, he's despised by the literary cognoscenti. An unbounded horny guy, condescending to women and dullards. But dead.

Sep 15, 2019, 12:18pm

>51 weird_O: Book sales coming up! Yay. Ours is September 26-28. I'm already trying to clear LAST book sale's books off my "To Be Shelved" table in anticipation of new ones.

Sep 15, 2019, 12:19pm

Hit one of my favorite book-sale venues (Bethlehem Public Library) yesterday. Not too big a crowd, happily for me, but not so much to choose from either. But...I was able to get a couple or three good'ns.

Bonk by Mary Roach (pbk)
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike (pbk)
A Splintered History of Wood by Spike Carlsen (pbk)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (pbk)
Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (pbk)
The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead (pbk)
Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin (pbk)
The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (pbk)
Portraits by Helmut Newton (pbk, oversize)
The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, edited by Robert Mankoff (pbk, oversize)
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (hc) HP
Macbeth by Jo Nesbo (hc)
Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann (hc)
Trust Me: Short Stories by John Updike (hc)
A Suitable Job for a Woman (Cover Her Face/A Mind to Murder/An Unsuitable Job for a Woman) by P. D. James (hc)
How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom (hc)
Napoleon by Paul Johnson (Penguin Lives) (hc)
Selected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty (hc)
Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx (hc)
Great Maps of the Civil War by William J. Miller (hc, oversize)
Germany by Alfred Eisenstaedt (hc, oversize)

Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 9:28pm

I'm reading Bonk just now. Ceremony's been set aside for the moment, but expect to be back into it tomorrow.

The internet dropped dead early yesterday afternoon and was still not breathing late last night. Back to life this A.M., happily.

Sep 19, 2019, 9:55pm

Yes, I finished Bonk by Mary Roach; didn't find it as entertaining as Stiff or Gulp. I was surprised that Masters and Johnson didn't retain/archive all of their visual evidence on which their conclusions were based. It's a dicey subject.

Read some more in Ceremony and have yet to get sucked in by the story. So I'm taking another breather with Colson Whitehead. Sag Harbor.

Also located The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, a collection of 12 stories, the first being "The Blue Cross," which was in Detective Stories. Couldn't remember what special place I had stashed it in. Enjoyed re-reading the end of the story. I do believe the current PBS series with Mark Williams as Father Brown is quite a departure from Chesterton work. Anyway, I want to read the stories soon.

Edited: Sep 21, 2019, 11:41am

>56 weird_O: Dammit.
*trudges off to Ammy*

>60 karenmarie: Dammit!!
*fumes enviously*

>63 weird_O: *baaawww* nubbin a dognose

Ceremony was not a happy reading experience for me.

Bonk was disappointing. I am a real adorer of Mary Roach usually...but Spook and Bonk were misfires for me.

Sep 21, 2019, 7:53pm

Good to see you here, RD. I'm encouraged that I'm not alone in finding Ceremony something of a slog.

Spook, yeah. Another Mary Roach that disappointed.

Sep 22, 2019, 11:31am

Commemorating Talk Like a Pirate Day

Sep 22, 2019, 12:17pm

>66 weird_O: HA!! Beautiful.

Sep 22, 2019, 1:51pm

>66 weird_O:

Your dog is VERY funny!!!

Sep 22, 2019, 3:12pm

Happy Sunday, Bill. Back home and planning on catching up on some of the reading I have neglected. Sorry, Ceremony isn't grabbing you. I hope to read it, in the next few weeks.

Sep 22, 2019, 4:02pm

>68 m.belljackson: Fortunately, Marianne, that's not my dog. I just have the photo to remind me how fortunate we are to have the pooch we have.

>67 richardderus: :-)

>69 msf59: I'm reading here and there that I'm not alone in my reaction to Ceremony. See the comments of the Silko AAC thread. I do want to finish it. I'm close to the end of Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead; it's a lot more pleasant than Ceremony.

Think I'll tackle some Brain Candy next.

Sep 23, 2019, 6:10pm

>70 weird_O:
I Pearl Ruled Sag Harbor it just wasn't grabbing me.

Edited: Sep 24, 2019, 3:05pm

>71 benitastrnad: It isn't grabby, is it? Sag Harbor is a low-key teen-hood memoir. I quite enjoyed it. The subtle observations of a 15-year-old who is trying to sort out the endless parental admonitions, the pull of friends, the undercurrent of social chaos. Assessing and reassessing family relations and traditions. Being responsible. Transitioning. So many moments that had me thinking, "Oh yeah, oh yeah. I remember that." Interpreting the language of relationships. Nobody got arrested, no knockdown drag-out fights. A few Darwin Award escapades (having a BB gun combat, for example)

The Brain Candy is working. Started The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton just yesterday and expect to finish it off this evening. I am having some resistance from my disbelief. I tried to lock it out in the shed, but I can hear the door rattling, the ranting and appeals. "Oh, come ONNNN! You can't believe that, you're too smart to overlook this, to accept that."

Sep 24, 2019, 4:50pm

>72 weird_O: Our respective disbeliefs take their periodic suspensions with the good grace of goalies, I see.

Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 8:52pm

>72 weird_O: I love, love, love The Andromeda Strain. Both the book and the movie. Sure its VERY unbelievable, but it is a favorite guilty pleasure. Just give in and let it wash over you. :)

Sep 29, 2019, 9:40am

>73 richardderus: Yes, yes. :-)

>74 mahsdad: I enjoyed the read, Jeff. Not my favorite, but decent fun.

Shamed by Linda, I picked up Ceremony once again. Halfway.

Edited: Sep 29, 2019, 12:17pm

Happy Sunday, Bill. I hope Ceremony isn't a struggle in the second half. I am starting it next. I might even dip into it today. I read several Crichton books over the years, but I never got to The Andromeda Strain.

Sep 29, 2019, 5:20pm

>75 weird_O: There is no shame. A little guilt, maybe....

Edited: Oct 1, 2019, 2:24pm

# 84. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton Finished 9/24/19

The Weird ReportTM

This book is fifty years old. 50! Published in 1969, it was Michael Crichton's first novel. It spent a half year or more on the NY Times best-seller list. Millions of copies sold. Launched Crichton's hugely successful career. My reading of it this week is my first (even though it's been on my shelf since about 1987). Despite many reviews panning it—"average", "boring", "slow and dull", "Great until it wasn't", "Too much science, not enough action", "too much explanation and not enough story", "Really, really dull"—I thought it a good yarn, one that keeps you turning the pages. Yeah, it provided a lot of unintended laughs. But, hey, it's Brain Candy.

The Andromeda Strain is a turnabout on War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, in which space invaders attack mankind with devastating effect, only to succumb to the earth's plethora of bacteria and viruses to which they lack immunity. In Crichton's story it's mankind that lacks immunity to invading space pestilence.

In the opening pages, two soldiers searching for a downed U. S. satellite follow its tracking signal into an isolated town in northwestern Arizona. They are horrified to discover corpses littering the main street. And then they die too.

It turns out that the government has been preparing for this eventuality—lethal microbes from outer space. Jeremy Stone, Crichton's unbelievably brilliant, Nobel-winning (youngest ever!) scientist (and, by the way, lawyer), marshalls the scientific community to persuade the government to create a mammoth and, naturally, highly secret cutting edge laboratory buried deep under the desert of northwestern Nevada. When those space invaders salt the earth's atmosphere with alien bacteria to decimate mankind, a select team of scientists (5 only, men only) will be whisked to this lab, investigate the bacteria, contrive an antidote, and save our world.


In a different theater of the military-industrial complex, an ongoing operation (a secret operation) has been launching satellites specifically to troll for alien vectors that may be out there and return to earth with their catch. Several launch-and-retrieval cycles in, nothing suspect is caught. Then a satellite's orbit shifts inexplicably and is brought back to earth. The wrong people retrieve it, a misguided soul cracks it open, and quite a few people die (including those two men rightfully assigned to retrieve the satellite). The race begins!

Plot and technology and science surpass all in this yarn. The characters are from central casting, most embellished with a frightful secret or irritating (or endearing) quirk or tick. In addition to Stone, the Wildfire team includes microbiologist Peter Leavitt, an "ingrained" pessimist, "thoughtful, imaginative and not afraid to think daringly"; pathologist Charles Burton, often called " 'the Stumbler,' partly because of his tendency to trip over his untied shoelaces and baggy trouser cuffs and partly because of his talent for tumbling by error into one important discovery after another"; and surgeon Mark Hall, a compromise choice, an unmarried (essential) medico knowledgeable about "...electrolytes…&$91;b]lood chemistries, pH, acidity and alkalinity, the whole thing." A fifth member escapes service when duty calls by being hospitalized by appendicitis

I detected no evidence of the story, published in 1969, being set into the future. Was the science and technology upon which the story was built contemporary to 1969? I doubt it. My sense of disbelief was formidably challenged by the flawless operation of all the lab's gee-whiz features and equipment. Too, I just couldn't help but laugh at the lab protocols. Five levels, descending, each new level more strictly sanitized than the one above. The team members are subjected to increasingly stringent, even invasive, dipping, bathing, steaming, showering, immersing, and forced air drying. But what about the skilled and efficient lab assistants and techs awaiting the appearances of the brainiacs? Did they go through the same ream-steam-and-dry-clean protocol? Does each person go home each day? Or does each serve an extended weeks-long or months-long tour? They are simply cyphers who materialize as needed, then vanish.

Needless to say, science triumphs and most of America and the world hear not a word about.

Oct 1, 2019, 2:37pm

Holy Moley. Here it is, October. And I didn't get the requisite books read. Still wrestling with Ceremony. It is sooo compelling that I switched effortlessly from it to the NFL's Battle of the Beatens (0-3 Bengals vs. 0-3 Steelers). That brought me happiness because the Steelers finally got a win.

I read only six books in September. Even my acquisitions flagged.

I think I'll read this next:

Oct 1, 2019, 4:00pm

>78 weird_O: I've never read this...I don't think I've read this...have I read this...? Anyway. Forgot everything if I did. Never watched the movie, either.

>79 weird_O: Group read!

Oct 1, 2019, 4:36pm

>79 weird_O: That looks mysterious...

Oct 1, 2019, 9:49pm

>78 weird_O: I remember being really captivated by the movie version. And I think I did read the book later on----read most of Crichton's stuff. It probably all played better 40/50 years ago when we'd read and seen less of everything than we have now.

>79 weird_O: I had a slow September too, but then I finished Ceremony...twice. So there is that.

Oct 1, 2019, 11:07pm

>79 weird_O: Impure thoughts often find their way into my psyche whilst I am watching the Modern Family series on Netflix. I have done 8 seasons already in a month and whilst every red blooded male gets intoxicated by Sofia Vergara, I am enchanted by Julie Bowen!

Oct 3, 2019, 9:08pm

>83 PaulCranswick: I'm reading that book for the ideas, Paul. The stranger the better. Naturally, my thoughts always are pure...wait, ah...impure...hahaha...I was correct the first time...pure.

Oct 4, 2019, 6:38am

Happy Friday, Bill. Enjoy the cooler temps. I'll be finishing up Ceremony today. I think it got stronger in the second half, less bleak. A challenging, but very ambitious novel, with touches of Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.

Edited: Oct 4, 2019, 7:19pm

Are you are an Agatha Christie fan? I'm finishing up a collection of Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton (The Innocence of Father Brown). Have you read them? A recurring character called Flambeau appears in many of them. In the first story Flambeau is a master thief. In a later story, Father Brown collars him yet again and convinces him to give up his criminal life. Then in later stories, Flambeau is a private detective.

In the last story I read, Chesterton revealed his full name: Hercule Flambeau.

The collection was first published in 1911, and I do believe Dame Agatha didn't publish until the 1920s.

This illustration depicts Flambeau's vacation boating excursion with Father Brown in the story "The Sins of Prince Saradine."

Oct 5, 2019, 2:56pm

I like that Father Brown illustration. Thanks for the reminder about these mysteries - I added a collection of them to my WL.

Oct 8, 2019, 7:41pm

Having finished Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk, I've started scene one of The Emperor Jones, an early one-act play by Eugene O'Neill. I also discovered Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations hiding under documents on my desk. Also considering a mid-fifties collection, Best Television Plays, edited by Gore Vidal. Eight plays by the likes of Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, Rod Serling, and, of course, Vidal. Count it as one book.

Oct 9, 2019, 3:13pm

I've only ever come across Father Brown in radio dramatisations: shall have to have a look for the books. The pictures were good on the radio too.

Edited: Oct 17, 2019, 7:50am

Hi Bill!

>86 weird_O: I watched the BBC series and Flambeau was in it but don't recall if his first name was ever mentioned. Being a Christie fan, I think I would have noted it.

Edited: Oct 18, 2019, 10:33pm

Quite a miserable week has passed and I'll let it go at that. Didn't get much reading done. But I'm feeling considerably better and I did just finish number four in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, Something Rotten.

The Hairy Ape is next. I've read through the third scene, so I'll pick up from there.

Then something else. I've got a list of books, numbered A through P, that I want to read before the end of December. No, I'm not going to jinx the pooch by citing the titles. But I have finished books B and N. And I have started books A, C, G, H, I, and M. Book O is a re-read.

Oct 18, 2019, 10:34pm

>91 weird_O: I'm pleased to hear that you've recovered, sad you were miserable, and annoyed that you're being coy about A, C–M, O, and P.

Edited: Oct 18, 2019, 11:00pm

>89 charl08: I'd never seen any of the Father Brown stories in print either, Charlotte. A found an old mass-market paperback (a British edition at that) at a library sale and got it for my wife, who likes the Mark Williams BBC series still running on our local kinda down-market PBS station. Of all things, she wasn't interested. Hrumph!

>90 karenmarie: My wife tells me she's seen Flambeau in an episode or two of the MW BBC series. I was taken not simply by the two characters' first names as by the rhyme in the surnames: Flam-bŌ and Poir-Ō. I didn't think it was coincidental.

>92 richardderus: Hiya, RD. I'm okay with coy. I've found nothing that ices an anticipated read faster and colder than posting a title. So coy. Yeah.

By the bye, >90 karenmarie:, just today I saw this movie poster from the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express. Fabulous.

Oct 18, 2019, 11:52pm

>79 weird_O: September and October have been slow reading months. Although I have been doing okay on the acquisitions. ; )

Are we having a group read? Yes?!

Oct 19, 2019, 4:33am

>93 weird_O: Ooh, I like that. Very creepy.

Glad to hear the bad week is over - wishing you a better weekend (and fancy turning down a Fr Brown book - crazy stuff. I went and had a look for the ones I listen to, it's Andrew Sachs, but they are quite a different tone to the TV ones, less Sunday cosy. I think they're also on audible / audio).

Oct 19, 2019, 10:50am

>93 weird_O: "Like!" The graphics would make for a good book cover, too.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 8:00am

How are you doing, Bill. Everything okay at the homestead? We worry, when a friend doesn't show up for awhile. Have you received the package yet?

Oct 21, 2019, 3:08pm

>94 Berly: Slow reading months for me too, Kim. That reading mojo has been kind of punchless lately. But the current read, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is off to a good start.

That book there (>79 weird_O:) could be one hell of a series. Maybe it is!

>95 charl08: I pretty much liked all the dozen Father Browns in the collection, Charlotte. I got almost done with a report on it, but ran aground. Gotta get it finished and posted.

>96 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. Every little "like" helps. It is a splendid graphic, isn't it?

>97 msf59: I was doing pretty great, Mark, until the mailman dropped off this here brick. OMG, BRICK!! My neighbor with the forklift has been working overtime, so I was left to my own devices to get that there BRICK! up the driveway and down to the house. Near to kill me.

And now you expect me to actually read that there BRICK! Tell me again how it'll be a treat.

So yeah, Mark. I got the package.

We're just coasting.

Oct 21, 2019, 6:02pm

>98 weird_O: Glad you got the book, Bill. Yes, it is a brick but a worthy read! You will blast through it.

Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 11:00pm

I just finished listening to One of Our Thursdays Is Missing. I think it is book 5 in the series. I put in an Inter Library Loan request for the recorded version of the last one Woman Who Died A Lot. That will leave me only 2 Fforde books to read.

The literary puns keep rolling in Book 5. Fun reads - all of them.

Oct 23, 2019, 12:07am

>98 weird_O: Bill--good luck with the brick and I hope you are feeling 100% soon.

>100 benitastrnad: Love that series!!!

Oct 23, 2019, 2:18am

>98 weird_O: I have that very same edition of 20000 leagues sitting on my read this year shelf. It is a lovely book.

Oct 23, 2019, 8:33am

Hi Bill! Glad you're feeling better and thanks for >93 weird_O: that lovely Murder on the Orient Express poster.

Oct 24, 2019, 10:19pm

A great mask for Halloween. Smoked hog's head.

Oct 24, 2019, 10:39pm

>99 msf59: :-)

>100 benitastrnad: I've got the next in the series (can't think of the title), but I'm missing the one after that. You are right about the series being lots of fun. My reading needed a goose, and Thursday Next provided it.

>101 Berly: I do feel a lot better, thanks, Kim.

>102 RBeffa: It is a lovely edition. I like the illustrations. That book is one of about 125 Heritage Press editions I got for about $130 from an e-Bayer who bought them at an estate auction, then concluded he wasn't going to be able to resell them individually. So he sold 'em all at once; I had to pick them up at his place near Oyster Bay, L.I., about two hours away. Weirdly, googling for information on Heritage Press led me to LT. And the rest is weird too.

So... Are you going to get it read this year?

>103 karenmarie: Isn't that poster great? Probably could find one online to decorate the library. Except there's no wall space. :-)

Oct 24, 2019, 10:51pm

>104 weird_O: It's a bit of a start when the opening door jumps to your mask, it certainly is......

Oct 24, 2019, 11:04pm

Available from our butcher. Always makes me think of Lord of the Flies for some reason.

Oct 24, 2019, 11:25pm

>105 weird_O: Considering how lovely some of these Heritage Press editions are I'd say you hit the jackpot. I have about 25 or more books remaining on my read this year shelf so odds are I won't get to Jules Verne, but I'd like to. After all, Captain Nemo is calling

Oct 25, 2019, 10:00am

Hi Bill!

>104 weird_O: No. Just no.

>105 weird_O: What a deal on the Heritage Press editions!! And, interesting way to get to LT. The rest is … weird… as you say.

>108 RBeffa: I have 17 Heritage Press editions. They’re absolutely lovely and I’m always on the lookout for more.

Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 11:28am

>109 karenmarie:, Karen, I only have four Heritage Press books (I think) The Jungle Book, The Master of Ballantrae, Green Mansions and Twenty Thousand Leagues. Each one is lovely in its own way. I passed them up for years (stupid me). Only my Ballantrae has a slipcover and spyglass insert.

ETA: I started Twenty Thousand Leagues last night - read the introductory chapter about Jules Verne and then the first two chapters. This will be fun.

Oct 26, 2019, 3:51pm

>108 RBeffa: >109 karenmarie: Bear in mind that condition issues prompted the batch sale. Quite a few are in decent condition, but the majority would be rated in fair condition...or less. Just not suitable for resale as individual books. I was pleased. The seller was awfully startled when I told him I was buying them to read.

>109 karenmarie: re: >104 weird_O: Awwww. Come on, Karen. You know you want one.

>110 RBeffa: I'm sure you'll enjoy the book. I must put together a report on it this weekend.

Oct 28, 2019, 1:51pm

Done! Pachinko turned out to be just excellent. I'm glad I stuck with it.

Oct 29, 2019, 1:41pm

>112 weird_O:
Can I say - I told you so?
I have to admit that I had trouble with it at first as well. I wondered why it had been nominated for so many awards because it just wasn't clicking in the beginning. However, since it was for my real life book club and it was my turn to lead the discussion I pretty much had to stick with it. It turned out to be one of my top reads for the year. It was also very educational. I had no idea that there were that many Korean's living in Japan and that they essentially have few rights. Since I read this book, I have had the reference to Koreans in Japan pop up in several other books.

Oct 29, 2019, 3:10pm

>112 weird_O: YAY! Now you're ready for the new Apple (shudder) TV show. It's a terrific book, I hope the techbros at the Blotch of the Half-Bit Fruit don't eff it all up.

Oct 31, 2019, 8:02pm

Hey Bill,

Thanks for the Halloweenie wishes over on my thread. I see your dark eerie pumpkin and raise you a really creepy one.

Happy Halloween!

Edited: Oct 31, 2019, 9:30pm

The connections to Pachinko just keep happening. I think it is a case of once you are really aware of some kind of historical event or person it is amazing how many times it dings for you.

If you watch Henry Louis Gates, Jr show on PBS, Finding Your Roots, this last Tuesday night one of the guests on the show was a man named Fred Armisen. Turned out his grandfather was a famous Japanese classical dancer who spent the WWII years in Europe. But the really freaky part was that his grandfather wasn’t Japanese. He was Korean and because he was so talented his teachers and family went along with his “passing” as Japanese in order for him to continue to get the training he needed to advance in his career. Armisen thought he had a Japanese grandfather but he actually had a Korean grandfather. The Korean side of his family can trace their ancestry back to the year 69 B.C. It was an amazing connection to Pachinko for me and made the book even more outstanding.

Nov 5, 2019, 11:46am

Holy moley!! Back from the Dark Ages. Huzzah! My internet was restored this morning after four days.

Nov 5, 2019, 1:23pm

Whilst I was off-line, I did get reading done.

Last Friday, I took delivery of a book the twins read last year for the "forensic fiction" class they took. I got the reading list from them, and The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes was the only one I didn't have. So I got it Friday and finished it before turning out the bedside light. Short and violent.

Gotta run, but I'll be back to say more. Have to vote.

Nov 7, 2019, 8:28am

Hi Bill!

Glad you've got internet back. I like short and violent - although it's not quite so short, I just finished Blue Moon, the latest in the Jack Reacher series.

Nov 7, 2019, 9:14pm

>112 weird_O: Pachinko is slated for December--glad you approve!

>113 benitastrnad: Good to know I need to stick with it--thanks for the heads up.

>115 mahsdad: Nice one!

>117 weird_O: Congratulations!! Welcome back.

>118 weird_O: Good job voting!!

Edited: Nov 8, 2019, 7:07am

We missed you while you were away, Bill. Glad to have our favorite Weirdo back. Glad you got some extra reading in. Those books keep piling up.

Nov 8, 2019, 9:09pm

I just noticed your topper GIF, fantastic. :)

Have a good weekend!

Nov 9, 2019, 12:29am

Roddy Doyle...
-D’you ever have dreams?
-I do, yeah. I had one there a while back – abou’ Nigella.
-Were you asleep?
-Good man. I had a horrible one there tonigh’ - before I came ou’.
-Were you in the scratcher before you came here?
-No – no. I fell asleep in front o’ the telly.
-I hate tha’.
-Same here – but I couldn’t help it. Nationwide was on.
-Oh, for fuck sake.
-Ou’ for the fuckin’ count I was. Slept righ’ through The Kids Are Alrigh’ and Eastenders. An’ I wake up in the middle o’ the News – an’ there’s Boris fuckin’ Johnson, righ’ in front o’ me.
-Yeh poor cunt.
-The problem – the fuckin’ problem. Was. I didn’t know where I was. I thought he was one o’ me kids.
-A nightmare.
-An obsolute fuckin’ nightmare. You know the way – Johnson, like – the way he holds his fists, kind o’ punches them in front of himself?
-Well, one o’ mine did that – when he was a toddler. Whenever he wanted somethin’. A biscuit or a tractor or whatever. An’ – fuckin’ hell – I thought he’d turned into Boris Johnson.
-D’you want a small one with tha’ pint?
-I think I fuckin’ need one.

Nov 10, 2019, 11:55am

>121 msf59: Excellent message, Mark. "At least they are mine now."

>122 mahsdad: I replaced that gif for Halloween, but now it is back.

>120 Berly: Thanks for stopping by, Kim. I voted, yes I did. And the Democratic votes of my wife and me tipped the scales. Our county went Blue for the first time in decades, joining all four counties surrounding Philly.

Nov 10, 2019, 12:03pm

I finished Goethe's Faust; only so-so to me. The Souls of Black Folk, read for November's AAC, was excellent in my estimation. I learned quite a bit about slavery, about the post-war "reconstruction". I'm now about halfway through Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which is going reasonably well. Started Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita last night, and it has drawn me in.

Nov 10, 2019, 1:37pm

# 95. The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes Finished 11/1/19

The Weird ReportTM

I discovered this Chester Himes novel during my grandaughters' 12th-grade lit class, which I attended as a part of Grandparent's Day activities last year. The teacher handed out copies and had a student start reading it. (Meanwhile, I'm reading a squib from a reviewer that the publisher highlighted on the book cover: "The action is slapstick, preposterously violent." Hmmm.)

On page one, the black patrons of Harlem's Dew Drop Inn are hoppin' and dancin', laughing and singing, to raucous jukebox music. A tall white man stands near the bar, scanning the crowd, when a loud voice says, "Ah feels like cutting me some white mother-raper's throat." The scrawny man voicing the thought wields a switch-blade knife and—zzzpp—like that, slashes off the white man's blood-red necktie right through the knot. Missed his throat. The bartender takes exception to this conduct, and as the slasher slices open his forearm in reply, he's able to swing the hatchet he keeps behind the bar and lops off slasher's knife-wielding arm just below the elbow. The slasher drops to the floor, sweeping with his remaining arm, hopeful of finding the disembodied arm so he can retrieve the knife and further the mayhem.

By page five, the white man's on the sidewalk outside the bar. There he's accosted by yet another black man, this one with a revolver. " 'You there!' this one shouts. 'You the man what's been messing around with my wife.'...Orange flame lanced toward the big white man's chest. Sound shattered the night." The white man takes off, running as fast as he can, the gunman and two henchmen in pursuit.

This ruckus naturally brings the police, and in particular officers Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. Coffin Ed and Grave Digger are protagonists in all of Himes' Harlem Detectives novels. The police hierarchy turns a blind eye to the methods of the pair, so long as they get results.

As the lit class wrapped up everyone was at the end of the seven-page first chapter. Well, except for the guy who had tuned out the discussion to focus on reading; he was on page 40. It's that kind of book. If you like it, you just read straight through to the last page. I liked it.

Nov 10, 2019, 1:53pm

Happy Sunday, Bill. Ooh, I also have The Souls of Black Folks lined up on audio. Glad you enjoyed it. Hooray for the AAC.

Nov 10, 2019, 2:41pm

At >91 weird_O:, I posted this:

I've got a list of books, numbered A through P, that I want to read before the end of December. No, I'm not going to jinx the pooch by citing the titles. But I have finished books B and N. And I have started books A, C, G, H, I, and M. Book O is a re-read.

RD was put out that I wasn't revealing the book titles. So here are the titles from the list that I've read so far.

AThe Emperor Jones / Anna Christie / The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill (October AAC)
BSexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations by David Mamet (October AAC)
CFaust by Johann von Goethe (Classics Challenge) (Faust Legend)
ETwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Classics Challenge)
HThe Best Short Stories by Ring Lardner (started...)
IPachinko by Min Jin Lee (started...)
KThe Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois (November AAC)
NSomething Rotten (Thursday Next # 4) by Jasper Fforde (Brain Candy)
PThe Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes (Forensic Fiction)

Below are the two titles I am currently reading. The remaining five titles (F, G, L, M, O) will remain unnamed for now.

D...Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne (Classics Challenge)
JThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Faust Legend)

For what it's worth department:

"Classics Challenge" refers to Fuzzi's thread Classics-I-Have-Not-Read - A Challenge Continued.

"Faust Legend" refers to my own challenge to myself to read various works based on on Faust. I read Christopher Marlowe's play and then realized how many other plays and novels have been inspired by the legend. I've now read Goethe's version and am reading Bulgakov's. I have Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus but won't get to it this year.

"started..." simply denotes a book I stalled out on, but—Damn!—really want to finish.

"Forensic Fiction" was the course my granddaughters took last year in high school. I got the book list from them and have read the books. One to go (a re-read).

"Brain Candy" is self-evident, isn't it?

Nov 10, 2019, 6:07pm

# 92. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne Finished 10/24/19

The Weird ReportTM

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a classic adventure story from the 19th century, centered on a mysterious sea captain, Nemo, in control of a wondrous (and terrible) undersea boat. The story's author, Jules Verne, didn't give Nemo any more than a sentence or two of backstory, so the reader has no idea what drives him. And in the end, the reader has no idea of his fate.

Briefly, the story is that the maritime world is threatened by a hostile vessel or maybe creature that attacks and sinks ships at the cost of every life on board. Several naval powers collaborate to build, equip, and staff a special ship to search for and detain/destroy this creature/vessel. When the hostile attacks and sinks the special ship, three survivors are taken aboard the hostile vessel, with the dire warning that they'll never be freed from it.

Then begins a fantastic travelogue under the sea. Twenty thousand leagues is the distance traveled by the vessel, known as the Nautilus, as it wends its way beneath the seas of the entire globe. The story's narrator, one of the three survivors, is an oceanographer, one of the best, and he catalogs all the marine life he sees. Exhaustively. Endlessly. Chapter after chapter. Occasional excitement bubbles up, but on the whole, the cruise isn't entertaining.

Example excitement. A squid tangles with the submerged Nautilus, arresting its movement. The vessel surfaces, Nemo emerges topside and slashes ineffectively at the creature's tentacles, is seized, then is rescued by deft harpooning by one of the three captives. Verne covers the event in a page or two. Walt Disney made a highlight of his film version of the story. I kept waiting and waiting for the damn squid's Big Moment, then almost didn't recognize it when it appeared (under an assumed name; my edition of the book called it a poulp. What!?)

What drives Nemo's seemingly aimless course is any reader's guess. Nemo is brilliant but, of course, moody and taciturn. He's not claustrophobic, and certainly not a sun-worshipper. Moreover, he's surrounded by silent, obedient, competent, selfless worker-creatures. Where did they come from? Why are they loyal to Nemo? What do they expect from the tour? (I know, don't ask. It can't be explained because the author can't come up with an explanation. No one could. But they are essential for getting the ship built and provisioned, the meals prepared, the toilets cleaned. Ok?)

Read at your own peril.

Nov 10, 2019, 6:39pm

>129 weird_O: It is a weird book, certainly. I suspect I enjoyed it a tad more than you but I have already commented on how tiring the endless documentation of sea life was. Poulps had me also. I'm pretty sure I liked the movie better.

Nov 11, 2019, 3:03pm

Hi, Bill.

Good review of Real Cool Killers. I want to read more Chester Himes. I liked A Rage in Harlem a lot, and I'm pretty sure he's the one who wrote Cotton Comes to Harlem (yup, touchstone confirms) that was made into a very good movie.

As I told Ron, when I was a kid I read every Jules Verne I could get my hands on. Twenty-Thousand Leagues would be at the bottom for me, although it had its moments. I thought the movie was better, too. My favorite was Mysterious Island. Journey to the Center of the Earth was pretty cool, too.

Nov 12, 2019, 12:09pm

>131 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. I read Cotton Comes to Harlem a couple of years ago. Ha! I kept waiting for the character named "Cotton" to show up. The two Harlem Detectives novels I've now read fit into that "Brain Candy" category.

Verne is a different story. I read Journey to the Center of the Earth and thought it preposterous. To be fair, I do think that mid-19th century "scientists" did have a penchant for disappearing a extraordinary explorations with way too much gear and nary a lifeline to the civilized world. The only other Verne adventure I've read is Around the World in 80 Days, which I really enjoyed. (Mike Todd's spectacular, star-studded version of it was the opposite of Disney's interpretation of Nemo and his Nautilus.)

Nov 12, 2019, 12:10pm

# 83. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead Finished 9/23/19

The Weird ReportTM

Grabby it isn't. Sag Harbor is a low-key teen-hood memoir. I quite enjoyed it. The subtle observations of a 15-year-old who is trying to sort out the endless parental admonitions, the pull of friends, and the undercurrent of social chaos. Assessing and reassessing family relations and traditions. Being responsible. Transitioning. So many moments that had me thinking, "Oh yeah, oh yeah. I remember that." Interpreting the language of relationships. Nobody got arrested, no knockdown drag-out fights. A few "Darwin Award" escapades (having a BB gun combat, for example).

I think some readers were let down by the absence of tumultuous conflicts or harrowing crises. But I liked it for that. I'll give it two thumbs up.


Nov 12, 2019, 6:03pm

>133 weird_O: Hmmm....BB gun combat. I've been told stories of my husband and one of his good friends in their early teens putting on their heavy winter coats and hats, and shooting at each other with BB guns in the empty barn...apparently that's fun. They both still have all their eyes, but I'd have worn them out if they were mine and I caught them at it. I do need to read that Whitehead.

Nov 13, 2019, 4:09pm

>133 weird_O: Sounds good. Adding to the wishlist.

Loved the description of grandparents' day. What a lovely idea. Do the kids get honorary ones if their own are not available?

Nov 14, 2019, 11:51am

>134 laytonwoman3rd: I guess paint-ball arms hadn't been invented at the time. BBs? Not for me.

>135 charl08: It's a private day school, and the day is scheduled at the holidays on the theory that grandparents who retired to Florida (for example) might be visiting. You go to their classes, share lunch, and the like. And then the school has you contact info and can hit you up for donations.

Nov 14, 2019, 5:03pm

Looks like you turned your internet outage to a reading advantage, Bill. Chester Himes looks like an interesting author. I’ll have to search out some of his books.

Nov 15, 2019, 12:17pm

I'm adding this to my wantlist:

In Secondhand, Adam Minter tracks what happens to your old stuff – it becomes part of a vast global market of used hard goods. “With grace, a keen eye for detail, an interesting cast of characters who spend their life reselling used things, and the perennially curious mind of a great journalist, Minter takes readers from the backs of thrift stores all across the United States to small apartments and vintage shops in Tokyo, and from a truck in Mexico to an office in Mumbai, to show the inner workings of one of the world’s largest markets,” says our [NPR's] critic Gabino Iglesias

Nov 15, 2019, 2:11pm

Happy Friday, Bill. I just heard someone praising "Secondhand" on a book podcast. Sounds fun and interesting.

Nov 16, 2019, 1:44pm

Hi Bill!

>138 weird_O: Drat. Another book for my wish list. I want it now.

Nov 16, 2019, 3:12pm

>138 weird_O: I will be watching for that one. Thanks.

Nov 16, 2019, 7:33pm

>138 weird_O: Oh damn. *trudges off to Elfster it*

Edited: Nov 18, 2019, 11:03am

I registered for ALA in Philadelphia on Friday. The conference is January 24 -28, 2019. It is still early to be thinking about it. LT and I won't start planning anything until after January 1, but if you are thinking about going, you might put it on your radar.

I went to the used bookstore run by the Friends of the Public Library and ran into a retired colleague who is working there on weekends sorting books and shelving them. I walked out with 10 books that about $3.00 each. Of course, I don't need the 10 books, but they were all titles on my wishlist, so ...

Nov 20, 2019, 3:11am

>138 weird_O: Sounds really good, Bill. I've not come across this one.

Nov 20, 2019, 12:50pm

I've added another book to my wish list. I see there currently are six reviews of it on LT, despite its having been published less than a month ago. New from John le Carre and dealing at least in part with Brexit. Agent Running in the Field. Le Carre was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning, and that was my introduction to the book.

My daughter is a le Carre fan, so maybe I'll get a couple of copies quick so we can have a father-daughter read. (Her birthday was 4 days ago, and she'll be joining us for a couple of days next week. Whoop! A belated b-day gift.)

Nov 20, 2019, 12:54pm

Nov 20, 2019, 12:59pm

I have a number of thoughts in mind (Oh! Thank God something's in there) but I need to get a flu shot. Right now. Before I get sucked onto some other tangent.

Be right back.

Nov 20, 2019, 2:18pm

Hi, Bill. The Souls of Black Folk has caught me by surprise. It is much more "readable", than I expected. Such a smart and insightful man. I am also having a good time with The River Why. Have you heard of this fly-fishing gem?

Nov 20, 2019, 3:36pm

>146 weird_O: Yeah...that's the gawd's-dishonest truth.

Vaccinate well.

Edited: Nov 20, 2019, 9:48pm

# 86. The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton Finished 10/4/19

The Weird ReportTM

If you know Chesterton's Father Brown from the recent PBS series featuring Mark Williams, you may not recognize him in this story collection. The Innocence of Father Brown is Chesterton's first story collection, published in 1910.

Brown is a cleric, as he says in one story, "a fisher of men." He's not always intent on identifying a miscreant and turning him (or her) in to the authorities for trial and earthly punishment. In the run of these stories, he thwarts the famous thief Flambeau in several capers, and eventually he persuades Flambeau to give up his life of crime. In one story, he sorts out the event to his own satisfaction, then walks away. In another, Father Brown counsels a murderer, privately telling how he committed the crime. Further, he promises that he, Brown, will say no more of the crime to anyone. And he makes the promise, confident that the murderer will confess to the police.

Among the stories:

The Secret Garden
Valentin, a highly respected French police official, has guests, including Father Brown, for dinner at his home. Though not all the guests are on good terms with each other, the occasion proceeds pleasantly. Then a man's body is discovered in Valentin's walled garden, which is accessible only from the house and only through one door.

  'Examine him, doctor,' cried Valentin rather sharply. 'He may not be dead.'
  The doctor bent down. 'He is not quite cold, but I am afraid he is dead enough,' he answered. 'Just help me to lift him up.'
  They lifted him an inch from the ground, and all doubts as to his being really dead were settled at once and frightfully. The head fell away.

The Queer Feet
Father Brown is called to an exclusive hotel to conduct last rites for a waiter who has died suddenly. At the same, a quirky and exclusive and reclusive men's club is holding a banquet meeting. As the fish course ends, the wait staff realizes that the valuable silverware has disappeared. Father Brown returns it.

  'I don't know his real name,' the priest said placidly; 'but I know something of his fighting weight, and a great deal about his spiritual difficulties. I formed the physical estimate while he was trying to throttle me, and the moral estimate when he repented.'
  'Oh, I say—repented!' cried young Chester, with a sort of crow of laughter.
  Father Brown got to his feet, putting his hands behind him. 'Odd, isn't it,' he said, 'that a thief and a vagabond should repent, when so many who are rich and secure remain hard and frivolous, and without fruit for God or man? But there, if you will excuse me, you trespass it little upon my province. If you doubt the penitence as a practical fact, there are your knives and forks. You are The Twelve True Fishers, and there are all your silver fish. But He has made me a fisher of men.'

The Flying Stars
Brown and Flambeau tangle again, and again Brown talks to the thief.

  'I want you to give them back, Flambeau, and I want you to give up this life…
  'Your downward steps have begun. You used to boast of doing nothing mean, but you are doing something mean tonight...'

The Invisible Man
An inventor and businessman (Mr. Smythe) gets a series of letters threatening his life. He locks himself in his apartment (which has but one entrance). A team of watchers see no one enter or leave, yet Smythe vanishes from the apartment, leaving behind a large blood stain on the floor. A policeman discovers the body about a block away. Whoever the villain is is invisible. To all but Father Brown, who exclaims to his fellow (unofficial) investigators:

  ...'Stupid of me! I forgot to ask the policeman something. I wonder if they found a light brown sack.'
  'Why a light brown sack?' asked Angus, astonished.
  'Because if it any other coloured sack, the case must begin over again,' said Father Brown; 'but if it was a light brown sack, why, the case is finished.'

The Eye of Apollo
After all is said and done, Father Brown tells his friend:

…'I knew...the criminal before I came into the front door.'
  'You must be joking!' cried Flambeau.
  'I'm quite serious,' answered the priest. 'I tell you I knew he had done it, even before I knew what he had done.'

Oh, I do like this Father Brown.

Nov 21, 2019, 1:27pm

>143 benitastrnad: An ALA in Philly, end of January, enticing. Yes. Could work for me. I'll look forward to getting more info in the new year.

>139 msf59: >140 karenmarie: >141 RBeffa: >142 richardderus: >144 charl08: Gotch-yas! Mark, Karen, Ron, Richard, Charlotte. It appeals to me.

Nov 21, 2019, 8:18pm

# 96. Faust by Johann von Goethe Finished 11/4/19

The Weird ReportTM

Faust, Johann von Goethe's influential version of the Faust legend, is a play in verse. Oh how I wish this had been prose. Rhyme and rhythm, I regret to say, didn't enhance the tale for me. Rather it gave me considerable difficulty in untangling the meaning of passages. Sentence structure is frequently convoluted. I caught my brain reading passages in nonsensical sing-song, disregarding punctuation and ultimately losing meaning.

In this telling, Faust is a medieval scholar and alchemist who's chaffed because he hasn't been able to master all the knowledge in the universe. Yes, he makes a deal with the devil, but the devil previously has made a deal with The Almighty. In the prologue, Mephistopheles crashes a gathering of the Heavenly Hosts to grouse about the lives of men on earth.

  "Must you endlessly complain?" asks The Almighty. "Is nothing ever right on earth?"
  "No, Lord, life is as rotten as before!"
  "Do you know Faust?" asks The Almighty, asserting the Doctor is His servant, and implying that the Devil might tempt him but won't win him over.
  Mephistopheles dares the Lord: "What do you wager? You will lose that man/If you permit me then to lead/Him subtly into the path I plan." And the Lord accepts the challenge.

Needless to say, the frustrated Faust is quite easily persuaded by Mephistopheles. But instead of leading Faust into greater learning, he leads him into debauchery. He introduces Faust to an innocent young girl called Gretchen in some scenes, Margarete in others. (In my head: "Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy.") Pregnant with Faust's child, Gretchen sees her family and future fall apart. After his birth, she drowns her son. As sheperishes, a Chorus of Angels appears and welcomes her into heaven. Faust is left with Mephistopheles.

The edition I read, published in 1959 by Heritage Press, presents only Part I of Goethe's two-part work. I have the impression from reviews by other LTers that Part II isn't very good, which may be why HP didn't present the full work. Fine with me. I'm proud of myself for reading Goethe's Faust. (The Devil made me do it!)

Nov 22, 2019, 8:53am

Hi Bill!

>145 weird_O: I didn’t realize he is still publishing, at 88!, and has written 25 novels. I’ve only got Our Game on my shelves, currently tbr.

>147 weird_O: Yay for getting your flu shot.

>150 weird_O: I just found The Complete Father Brown Mysteries on Amazon for $.99 and have downloaded it to my Kindle. BB for sure. We watched the Mark Williams TV series and liked it, too. I've got A Year with G. K. Chesterton 365 Days of Wisdom, Wit, and Wonder, which I just pulled off my shelves. I looked at today's entry and have found it intriguing enough to perhaps read the book next year, one day at a time. Next year's a leap year, and darned if the editor, Kevin Belmonte, didn't put in an entry for February 29th!

>152 weird_O: You’re really digging into some serious stuff. Good for you.

Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 12:49pm

Hi yo, Karen. Hope your weekend was good. Mine was mixed, but on the whole, good. Had a swell visit with my brother; I'll see him again on Thursday. Attended my BiL's 70th birthday feast last evening. Didn't waste a minute of my time watching Penn State's loss to Ohio State (I knew what was gonna happen) and watched five or so plays of the Philly-Seattle game (five plays culminating in a fumble by the tight end, and yes, I knew that loss was in the cards). Did the book sale was didn't find much, so I tried to bolster my acquisition with a stop at Goodwill and found only five books worth buying.

>153 karenmarie: I planning a stop at a local bookstore to see if I can get two copies of Le Carre's new novel for the father-daughter clique read I mentioned at >145 weird_O:. She's bringing her copy of Spying on the South, Tony Horwitz's last book (*sob*), when she arrives tomorrow. We can launch that read, and I can hit her with Le Carre for her birthday (last week).

Good on you for the Father Brown trove.

Hmmm. Serious stuff followed by an Agatha Christie stemwinder to revive myself. (Up to 99 books.)

Edited: Nov 26, 2019, 9:29pm

Pickin's were slim at the library book-sale I went to Saturday.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute (mmp)
The Devil Soldier by Caleb Carr (pbk)
"Master Harold"...and the Boys by Athol Fugard (pbk)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (pbk)
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (pbk)
Flight by Sherman Alexie (pbk)
Mr. Potter by Jamaica Kincaid (pbk)
Nothing to Lose by Lee Child (pbk)
Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child (pbk)
The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough (pbk)
Mythology by Edith Hamilton (hc)
The Songcatcher by Sharon McCrumb (hc)
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (hc)
Another World by Pat Barker (hc)
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (hc)
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman (hc)

Especially pleased to get The Johnstown Flood and Norwegian Wood. A measure of my disenchantment: I picked two Lee Child tomes (and yes, everyone loves his guy but I've been NOT going there. Well, I'm there. *sob* Same with Stieg Larsson. *sob*

On the way home, I stopped at Goodwill, fantasizing about rescuing the excursion with a boffo score there. Nope.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (mmp)
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (pbk)
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (pbk)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (pbk)
MacBook Pro: Portable Genius, 2nd edition by Brad Miser (pbk)
The Great Divide by Joseph Stiglitz (hc)

Expectations just too high. And I did find some top-knotch books. Besides, here's one last sale next week.

Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 1:08pm

>151 weird_O: Hm. Yes. Chesterton's Father Brown resembles Mark Williams's portrayal almost not at all, and transmogrifying the stories to 1950s England does them no service. But the punters love them some Father seasons to date.

>152 weird_O: The Divine Author of All Things taking bar-bets on how far a mortal can be pushed is my principal round in the salvos I regularly shoot at religious folk. Job turned me from an agnostic to an atheist.

Happy child time, and Thanksgiving week in general.

Nov 25, 2019, 4:31pm

>155 weird_O: This seems like a pretty good haul to me, Bill!

I've asked for Spies in the Attic for the Xmas swop: warbling has been effective!

Nov 25, 2019, 4:55pm

>155 weird_O: Funny, you consider this a washout. LOL. I think it is pretty damn good. I truly loved An Officer and a Spy. I am sure, you will too.

Edited: Nov 27, 2019, 11:11pm

>158 msf59: A bit weird, I admit.

>157 charl08: I'm reading Spying on the South right now, Charlotte. Or did you mean Confederates in the Attic? Both written by Tony Horwitz.

>156 richardderus: I am in agreement with you on the BBC's Father Brown and on religion as well. Daughter Dearest arrived Tuesday evening and spent a lot of time preparing food today. Son the Elder stopped in as well and did some cooking as well. He thought beets would be a tasty addition to our traditional menu, so he brought some. Mmmm.

Looking forward to the feasting and stuff. No parades or football.

Nov 27, 2019, 11:14pm

My One Hundredth Book for 2019 will be Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz. Daughter Becky and I are reading our copies simultaneously. I'm approaching page 100 (of 414). Likey likey.

Nov 27, 2019, 11:33pm

>159 weird_O: I wish you a Happy paradeless and sports-free Turkey Day! Son the Elder is a man after my own heart! Beets would make any dinner more delectable...though I'm not having them this year. Tomorrow's menu is cornbread stuffing with celery, carrots, onions, and corn, plus sausages with mushroom gravy. My Young Gentleman Caller, Rob, is working (chef), so I'll see him Friday. He's requested green goddess seafood rice for our dinner, and wants a carrot cake with pineapple cream cheese frosting *drool* and we'll have whatever he brings to drink. And no effin' Old Stuff (my deeply unloved roommate, gone to visit his son in Connecticut)!! Yay!!

>160 weird_O: Nothing not to like in that milestone read.

Nov 28, 2019, 6:50am

Hi Bill! What an excellent way to celebrate your 100th book! Looks like Mark and I will have a shared read in January - there's just too much going on for me to be able to enjoy it properly between now and the end of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope the beets work. *smile*

Nov 28, 2019, 7:41am

Have a happy Thanksgiving, Bill. Enjoy the clan!

Nov 28, 2019, 4:11pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Bill!

Edited: Nov 28, 2019, 8:29pm

^I hope you had a great holiday with the family, Bill. Yep, I have had a longtime crush on Barbara Eden.

Nov 29, 2019, 11:53pm

Bill--So, of your book haul, I approve of several:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson -- thumbs up
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (pbk) -- thumbs up
Flight by Sherman Alexie (pbk) - not read, but I like Alexie
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman -- thumbs up
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (pbk) -- thumbs up
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (pbk) -- thumbs up
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (pbk) -- thumbs up

You are in for some good reading! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that there are some leftovers. : )

Congrats on starting #100!

Nov 30, 2019, 7:31am

Hi Bill!

So what did Son the Elder do with the beets? Enquiring minds and all that.

Dec 1, 2019, 11:20am

>161 richardderus: >162 karenmarie: >163 jessibud2: >164 quondame: >165 msf59: >166 Berly: Thank you all for the Thanksgiving wishes. I hope all of you had as good a time as we did.

>166 Berly: Nice to have your endorsements. :-) I have been resisting the Stieg Larsson work because...well, because. I have to walk back my comment about the slim pickings, since I am happy to have gotten the books you noted, plus The Johnstown Flood, which I've been looking for for several years.

Last sale of 2019 coming on Wednesday and Saturday.

>167 karenmarie: StE sliced the beets into discs (like hockey pucks), marinated them overnight in olive oil with thyme, and roasted them in the oven (I think). I ate some. Good.

Dec 1, 2019, 11:26am

We DO have leftovers—turkey (of course), some sweet potatoes, a dwindling among of filling, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, a spoonful of dried corn, about three beet pucks, apple sauce. Pie is all (as we say around here, meaning it is all gone). My wife may make some turkey soup.

Less than 100 pages to read in Spying on the South.

Dec 1, 2019, 11:31am

"Beet pucks". I like it. I'm not sure I would have liked actually eating them, though - my favorite way to eat beets is cold and pickled.

Dec 1, 2019, 11:36am

>170 karenmarie: Do you do red-beet eggs? Hardboiled eggs steeped in beet juice. Served cold. Great picnic fare.

Dec 2, 2019, 8:52pm

Done it. Number One Hundred.

Great book.

Dec 2, 2019, 9:26pm

>172 weird_O: Yay! Congratulations!

Dec 2, 2019, 9:35pm

Thanks, Susan.

Dec 2, 2019, 10:08pm

>172 weird_O: Too soon for chocolate cake?

Dec 3, 2019, 4:01am

>172 weird_O: How about balloons?

Dec 3, 2019, 6:38am

Congrats on hitting #100, Bill! Yahoo! Hey, I am just finishing up Shot All to Hell. If you have not read this one, keep it in mind. I think it would be your cuppa. Have you read Gardner before?

Dec 3, 2019, 10:41am

>175 richardderus: Never too soon for chocolate cake, RD. Mmmmm. Breakfast.

>176 Berly: Uh oh. Choking hazard. I'll stuff my head into one of those zeroes to wear as a triumphant wreath. Exuberance ensues. Zero descends...guwk agk ohhggg...breathing stops...

Ok then. Let's read some Marilynne Robinson.

>177 msf59: Thanks, Mark. Of course, you've ripped through about twice that number of books. Good on you.

I have not read any books by that Gardner. John Gardner is the one I've read. I'll keep Mark Lee Gardner in mind. Book sale tomorrow. Maybe I'll be surprised.

Dec 3, 2019, 10:57am

Congrats on reaching 100, Bill!

Dec 3, 2019, 12:26pm

I noticed on another thread that you are going to read Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson. I read it a couple of years ago and liked it, but I did find it to be different from Robinson's other books. Can't wait to hear what you think of it. Let us know.

Dec 3, 2019, 3:00pm

Way to go, Bill, finishing 100!

Dec 3, 2019, 4:57pm

Congrats on turning 100, Bill. Oh, that was books. Well congrats anyhow! ;-)

Dec 5, 2019, 12:08am

>179 katiekrug: >181 jnwelch: >182 jessibud2: Thank yas, thank yas. Don't rush me on the aging business, Shelley. I've still got five years to go to double my dad's life span of 40 years.

Reading Housekeeping. But also I Was a Child by the New Yorker cartoonist BEK. That I got today at the year's final Bethlehem Library book sale. Along with some other books, which I'll confess to Thursday. I expect to finish BEK tonight before outing the light.


Dec 5, 2019, 1:06am

I did. I finished it. Just hold the applause, please.

Dec 5, 2019, 2:58pm

I believe I mentioned that I stopped in at the Bethlehem Area Public Library's last book sale of 2019. Wednesday was the first of the two-day event and there were so many customers one could turn around only with difficult. The checkout line was soooo long, I parked my bag and went out to move my car (only two hour parking around the lib), get a big bottle of seltzer and a snacky, reparked and went back in. Ha! No line, no waiting.

Here's the list:

The Private Patient by P. D. James (pbk)
Hunger by Knut Hamsun (pbk)
Naked by David Sedaris (pbk)
The Circle by Dave Eggers (pbk)
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (pbk)
Leave It to Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse (pbk)
Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh (pbk)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (pbk)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (pbk) GNF Pulitzer 2017
The Overstory by Richard Powers (hc) Fiction Pulitzer 2019
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (hc)
Lord Peter and Harriet, Part 1 by Dorothy L. Sayers (hc)
The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (hc, ML)
I Was a Child: A Memoir by Bruce Eric Kaplan (hc)
Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith (hc)
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (hc)
The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (hc)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (hc)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (hc) upgrade
Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (hc, HP)
Prints and Photographs: An Illustrated Guide by the Library of Congress (pbk, oversize)
Faces: The Great Process Behind Great Portraits by Jane Brown (pbk, oversize)
The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich (hc, oversize)
Mr. Lincoln's Camera Man: Mathew B. Brady by Roy Meredith (hc, oversize)
Margaret Bourke-White by Susan Goldman Rubin (hc, oversize)

Couple of recent Pulitzer winners (both of which were lauded her on LT), a hardcover Gamache mystery my wife didn't have, and two Peter Wimsey novels I have been missing. Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson is an early Modern Library edition with a fairly tattered jacket and a note on the front endpaper, "Xmas 1932".

Already read I Was a Child by Bruce Eric Kaplan.

Dec 5, 2019, 5:46pm

>185 weird_O: That is one impressive haul, good sir. It is, it is.

Have a terrifying and appalling Krampusnacht!

Dec 6, 2019, 6:59pm

>186 richardderus: I escaped unharmed, RD, but our niece Coreen, who lives in Italy, was grabbed. FB evidence:

Dec 6, 2019, 9:40pm

>187 weird_O: ...only the Germans could come up with Krampus...

Dec 9, 2019, 10:29am

Finished Housekeeping. Dare I admit to being baffled?

Dec 9, 2019, 11:27am

>189 weird_O:
i give you permission to be baffled. I was as well.

Dec 9, 2019, 11:35am

Oh, thank you, Benita. I was just talking it out with my wife, describing the plot and characters, and failing to capture the story. Nevertheless, it's a burr. Have to see what reactions others have.

Dec 9, 2019, 11:43am

I myownself find the Marilynne Robinson raptures a bit baffling. I mean, yeah, it's great if you cherry-pick the best lines but as a whole it's like finding the occasional pecan in your oatmeal cookie. It shouldn't be such a pleasure in a thing that's meant to be a whole pleasurable experience, if that makes sense.

Dec 9, 2019, 1:06pm

>186 richardderus: and >187 weird_O: Krampus. Heh. My sister wanted to watch a nice Christmas movie one year when the two of us were alone in her house and for some unfathomable reason chose Krampus. By the time we figured out how awful it was, we sat in stunned silence through the end. The next Christmas she sent me the DVD of it and some microwave popcorn, and it's been going back and forth for Christmas ever since. Awful, nasty, evil. I simply don't get it.

Edited: Dec 10, 2019, 10:16am

>189 weird_O:

I rated Housekeeping a bare 2-1/2

The story was captivating until Chapter 8 when it became boring, redundant, and tedious -
too many "unsheltered" people going nowhere and cluttering up Sylvie's random madness,
plus Ruthie's odd attraction to her.

Though I'm rarely drawn to great conformity in Housekeeping, the descent into filth, mold, and sloth
turned me into Susie Cream Cheese and thankful that Lucille escaped.

There was no reason offered why all this was okay with her sister, Ruthie.

Yes, living in nature (Emerson would have loved the descriptions of leaves)
can be great, but this house must have stunk and been crawling with rodents and vermin, no?

Too many stretches, like the grueling and unnecessary boat trip, to get to burning down
Grandfather's old house, the point of which I entirely missed.

Dec 11, 2019, 9:04pm

>189 weird_O: I read some of Housekeeping early this year and gave up on it after skimming ahead. I didn't get it. I think in one of the LT book reviews (or maybe it was goodreads) someone said they didn't have the "Marilynne Robinson" gene. Neither do I. I started Gilead early this month and was bored and pearl ruled it. It wasn't terrible, just boring.

Dec 11, 2019, 10:08pm

Edited: Dec 11, 2019, 10:12pm

>190 benitastrnad:, >192 richardderus:, >194 m.belljackson:. >195 RBeffa:
Well thank you all, Benita, Richard, Marianne, and Ron for endorsing my response to Marilynne Robinson and her novel Housekeeping. It reassures me.

I just finished reading John Dickson Carr for the first time. What I read was Hag's Nook, the first story featuring Dr. Gideon Fell, one of Carr's several sleuths. 'Twas a book I picked up at Goodwill two days ago; I was attracted to the author's name, knowing only that Carr was cited on one or another "Top 100" crime stories lists. Great stuff!

Back to ...Tristram Shandy.

Dec 12, 2019, 1:51pm

>197 weird_O: If you go down the basement and shift the pile that's next to the oil tank, I'll bet you'll find a copy of John Dickson Carr's The Devil in Velvet, which is a terrific, corking read. It was published in, um, I dunno like one of Gutenberg's last English-language books, before Caxton took over the London trade...and reads like it was written last year.

Dec 12, 2019, 5:10pm

Just goes to show books strike us all differently, Bill. I join Kim's Wow!! and Eek!! when it comes to Housekeeping and Gilead, both of which I liked a lot, and Gilead I loved. Either the spell is cast or it isn't, I guess, and for me it was.

Dec 16, 2019, 9:19pm

Wha' happened? I tumbled off that reading routine about a week ago and haven't gotten fully back to it. I trying a reread of Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy. See if I figure out the "hidden meaning" this time through.

Dec 16, 2019, 11:04pm

>199 jnwelch: Joe, I'll confess I had high expectations for Gilead. I was expecting to be wowed like I was reading Plainsong or maybe one of Ivan Doig's better ones. But as I said, I was just bored. It just wasn't my kind of book.

Dec 17, 2019, 6:36am

Hi, Bill. I hope you snap out the reading funk quickly. I am blessed to say, I have never been in one, and Lord God, may that continue. And speaking of Lord God, I really enjoyed my reread of Gilead, but clearly understand, that it is not for all tastes. I think Lila is the one, that everyone can embrace. It is a fantastic and much more accessible novel.

Edited: Dec 17, 2019, 10:49am

I loved Gilead. Haven’t read Lila. I simply didn’t “get” Housekeeping. I kept thinking it would be like Gilead. It never was. If I had to do it all over again I would have quit on it.

Dec 17, 2019, 1:27pm

>200 weird_O: There's something hidden in those books? Do tell, as I *completely* missed my chance at being enlightened by it.

Edited: Dec 18, 2019, 1:43pm

I stumbled onto a reading tactic for the next few days. It's almost Christmas and I ordered a couple of YA books for Olivia, who is nine. One is the ...Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler book, which I have on my "I want it! I want it!" list. Then I remembered having a couple or three YA books in the TBR DungeonTM. I looked about and snatched Holes by Louis Sachar, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. So those three are my reading from now to late December 21.

Gotta make sure they're okay for our granddaughter.

I also picked Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Holiday Mystery from the Dungeon. A Holiday read.

This might divert my attention from putting lights on the tree and lugging the Nutcrackers up the stairs.

Oh, gracious. It'll be so Festive...

Dec 18, 2019, 3:38pm

>205 weird_O: Very impressive reading those books to check them for your granddaughter.

Good luck with the nutcrackers!

Dec 18, 2019, 8:33pm

>205 weird_O: Great holiday reading, Bill. I like your strategy!

Dec 18, 2019, 11:30pm

>206 charl08: >207 Familyhistorian: Glad you like the idea, Charlotte and Meg. It's working for me, anyway. I just now closed Holes, and I think I'll open that Diary of a Wimpy Kid next.

Having read it, I have no idea of whether or not it's appropriate for Olivia. Her mom and dad will be the final arbiters of that. She read the Harry Potter series last year and hasn't been scarred for life by some of the pretty horrible stuff in the later books. She did put one of them down and took a break from it (for several months, I think) until she felt ready to go back to it.

Who knows? Maybe she won't be interested in any other them. We'll see.

Jolly, jolly!

Dec 18, 2019, 11:50pm

>205 weird_O: That is so big of you, looking to make sure the reading content is appropriate for your granddaughter!! How altruistic of you. (snerk) Enjoy!

Edited: Dec 19, 2019, 12:03am

>209 Berly: Hey, hey, hey. What's this "snerk"? Are you shading my Gramps-ly concern?

Dec 19, 2019, 12:09am

>198 richardderus: How the hell did you know about the stack of books beside the oil tank in the basement, RD? Hah. But I've got inventory records, so I knew the book you mentioned was NOT down there. I will put it on one o' my lists.

Dec 19, 2019, 1:59pm

>187 weird_O: I remember when I was 4 years old we were in Austria for Christmas on Krampusnacht. They had this whole parade with many Krampuses wielding chains and whips. Behind them was a cage where they put children in it. I was so scared that I would end up in there that I hid behind my parents. Very scary! :)

Dec 19, 2019, 3:41pm

>212 figsfromthistle: That would've terrified me, Anita.

We have this Krampusnacht in the US, and we don't confine it to a single night. Every day, we have border and immigration agents roaming around, terrorizing folks and tossing kids into cages.

Dec 19, 2019, 3:57pm

Those seem like good YA/middle grade picks to me. I loved the Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler book, liked Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and I think Diary of a Wimpy Kid is one kids like, and adults mainly say, uh-huh, okay. Certainly those are a lot less to take on for a 9 year old, in terms of scariness or adult issues, then the Harry Potters she's already read.

Dec 19, 2019, 4:30pm

>213 weird_O: Too true. I wonder if there will be a fat, orange, over-coated monster to scare future generations children.

Dec 19, 2019, 8:08pm

>196 Berly: Thank ya, thank ya. My work here is done.


Edited: Dec 19, 2019, 8:42pm

>199 jnwelch: I'm so easy about some dreck, Joe, but there's a lot of esteemed work that I don't get. Ms. Robinson is a writer beyond me. I actually read Gilead in 2012, but I don't recall it. The Last American PresidentTM warbled persuasively on her behalf. So I am reluctant to write her off (so to speak). I do have copies of both Lila and Home.

>201 RBeffa: I agree with you about expectations not met. I have read Gilead but the story hasn't stuck with me. Perhaps I should scan its pages; I do remember highlighting passages. Ahh. Ain't going to lose any sleep over it.

>202 msf59: Well, I've said what I said about Marilynne Robinson's oeuvre, Mark. But my slump is broken by reading some books selected for my 9-year-old granddaughter, Olivia. I'm hoping to get and read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler before Sunday, when we're exchanging gifts with our family. Amazon promised it for Friday.

>203 benitastrnad: There ya go, Benita. I didn't get her '"hidden meaning."

Dec 19, 2019, 9:10pm

>217 weird_O: Looks like your strategy worked, Bill. Yay for your reading slump being over.

Dec 20, 2019, 11:39pm

>218 Familyhistorian: It has worked like a charm, Meg. Three books in three days. All of them very good.

Best of all, the postman brought four more packages (of gifts to wrap and present to children and grandchildren), including a copy of ...Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which I'll dig tonight before outening the lights.

I'm discovering that each day I'm waiting impatiently for the mailman to drop off packages of presents we're giving. I've got to wrap stuff tomorrow because we're doing the family gift exchange Sunday.

Dec 21, 2019, 3:47pm

Soviet Santa says "Happy Yule!" Solstice Greetings to all. Read more here:

Dec 22, 2019, 12:25am

Finished ...Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Sunday morning it gets wrapped and in the afternoon, it'll be one of five YA books for GrandOlivia to open, and perhaps in the coming months for GrandOlivia to read. I hope she will read 'em all and enjoy them. I enjoyed the four I read. The fifth, My Secret Garden, has the warm endorsement of her Gram. (It's in our house, but I'm not going to read it. Sorry.)

Happy gift-giving, folks!

Dec 22, 2019, 6:57am

Hi Bill!

My mother had the same reading strategy – buy books for others and read them first. She solemnly assured me that she never ate anything while she was reading any of her gifts.

>208 weird_O: Holes is great. Jenna and I actually just watched the movie last week and loved it all over again.

>213 weird_O: Sadly, a very good point.

>217 weird_O: The Last American President. Also sad.

Dec 22, 2019, 10:03am

Happy Sunday, Bill. I am glad to hear that this burst of YA reading, released you from the dreaded book funk. Are you heading out of town for the holidays?

Dec 22, 2019, 7:53pm

Thanks, Mark. I quite enjoyed all four books that I read. Today was the day son Ned's family could come, so all converged on our house to exchange gifts with them. I was pumped because my DiL Tara lauded four of the books in turn as "my favorite" as Liv unwrapped them: Holes, The Secret Garden, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. We had a really fun afternoon.

We're not really going anywhere, other than Son the Elder's place on Christmas Day, and that's not all that far.

Meantime, I'm savoring the Iggle's defeat of the 'Boys and the mysterious craft of Dame Agatha Christie.

Keep the holly in holiday!

Dec 24, 2019, 12:43pm

Have a comfy, caring, and very

Merry Christmas!

Dec 24, 2019, 12:51pm

Hi Bill!

Dec 24, 2019, 5:53pm

Have a great holiday season, Bill.

Dec 25, 2019, 9:57pm

Thank you for keeping me company in 2019.......onward to 2020.

Dec 26, 2019, 1:09pm

Thanks for the holiday wishes, folks. And the festive visuals as well.

>225 quondame:, >226 karenmarie:, >227 jnwelch:, >228 PaulCranswick:

I dropped off our daughter Becky at the local airport so she could catch a bus to Newark airport and a flight to Boston. Pro Tip: If you have to borrow a BIG suitcase, which you'll check because the check fee, though substantial, is less than UPS or USPS would charge to ship the goods, best to consult the TSA website for information on which goods to put into the check bag and which to put in a carry-on bag. Example: A cast-iron skillet with lid in carry-on is trouble, an Instapot is not.

A fair bit of tidying up to do, but it's not rush-worthy. Gotta catalog a tower of new books. Pretty much every one of them wants to be read first.

Dec 26, 2019, 2:13pm

Pretty much every one of them wants to be read first.

That is the story of my reading life right there.

Dec 27, 2019, 12:11am

Best wishes this holiday season!! See you in 2020!

Dec 27, 2019, 10:40am

Happy Friday, Bill. Looking to hearing about that tower of new books. It looks like I will be finishing out the year, with some reads. Love, going out with a bang.

Dec 27, 2019, 10:44am

>232 msf59: Just for you, my friend.

Dec 30, 2019, 4:17pm

I stayed up late last night to finish Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy. A re-read, I got more out of this clever but baffling novel this time through. I read it first in 2013, and the reaction I recall having then was: "Huuuhhh?" More than a year ago, my twin granddaughters were assigned it in a "Forensic Fiction" high school course. Claire told me the class's reaction was mixed, with some kids disliking it, others liking.

This time through, I grasped more. Scanning three dozen or more of the reviews on the book page has been helpful. I have to assemble a review. One of those Weird Reports.

Dec 30, 2019, 4:20pm

Oh, I was going to add to the just-above post that the book brings a close to the 2019 Reading Year. I got through 110 books, an all-time best for me. Is it repeatable? By me, I mean.

Dec 31, 2019, 11:41am

Katie posted a questionaire wherein you answer each question with the title of a book you read in 2019. Several other 75ers posted their completed questionaires. Here's mine.

Describe yourself: Rhinoceros

Describe how you feel: Junky

Describe where you currently live: My Invented Country

Your favorite time of day is: One Matchless Time

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: A Year in Provence

Your favorite form of transportation: Pigs Have Wings

Your best friend is: Grendel

You and your friends are: The Real Cool Killers

What’s the weather like: Autumn

You fear: Mary Poppins

What is the best advice you have to give: Steal Like an Artist

Thought for the day: When Will There Be Good News?

How you would like to die: Flushed with Pride

Your soul’s present condition: Survivor

What is life for you: Common Sense

Dec 31, 2019, 11:51am

You fear: Mary Poppins

Dec 31, 2019, 11:56am

>238 richardderus: - Same!

Hi Bill :)

Dec 31, 2019, 1:24pm

>238 richardderus: >239 katiekrug: Mmmmm. It's always rewarding to prompt a laugh or two. Thank you both.

Just a heads up. I'll be watching you both next year. Make sure you misbehave.