What are you reading the week of March 21, 2020?
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Currently reading The Essex Serpent. Lots of reading time (in between cooking, baking, shopping for my mother & exercise) during this stay at home order in these scary times.
Eight Perfect Murders: A Novel by Peter Swanson
(book 1?/Boston/Malcolm Kershaw is a bookseller, classic crime fiction aficionado and murder suspect?)
OverDrive is a wonderful virus-period-stay-in-place service for booklovers!
Now, it is possible to sign up for an instant digital library card!!!!!!!!!
Finished Rick Bragg's The Prince of Frogtown, which is the final (?) piece of his family saga. It is, like the others (All Over But the Shoutin' and Ava's Man, beautifully written and incredibly difficult in spots due to the subject matter.
I should be getting more reading done than usual because of the self-quarantine situation. But I seem instead to be spending way too much time on the computer. Looking for some kind of human contact, I suppose!
Also catching up on some mags that have been sitting around, NYer, Smithsonian, Archaeology Today. Keep me from too much online, need a break I think
Last year I read the Memoirs of Hector Berlioz. The composer venerated Virgil so I've started to read The Aeneid which I last read when I was about fifteen, and it's as good as I remember.
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman is my current read-aloud book with my wife. I'd heard a heavily edited audio recording of the book years ago, but this is much better.
I also finished Hisham Matar's A Month in Siena which is a perfect coda to The Return, his book about his search for his father. (You don't have to have read The Return to appreciate A Month in Siena) I suppose it's only the title, but I also thought about A Month in the Country as I read Matar's book. So much to think about in Matar's work. I look forward to his next book.
Now I'm reading Michael Holroyd's Lytton Strachey (the 1994 edition)
OverDrive audiobook ~
The Knave of Hearts: Rhymes With Love by Elizabeth Boyle
(Book 5/Regency era/a wager leads to an unexpected romance)
OverDrive Kindle eBook Alexa will read to me ~
Wild Ride (Black Knights Inc. Book 9) by Julie Ann Walker
(spec-ops group disguised as a custom motorcycle shop/suspense and hot sex)
Agatha Christie proves herself again as a master mystery writer in this story of Mrs. McGuillicuddy, a woman on a train who witnesses a murder of a woman on a train passing hers. The authorities dismiss her claim as they can find no other witnesses or the body. Mrs. McGuillicuddy, a friend of Mrs. Marple, tells her the strange story of what she witnessed and if she could help. Mrs. Marple, then engages a smart, young woman, Lucy Eyelesbarrow to search the area where the body could have possibly been thrown off the train. Lucy ends up working for the Crackenthorpes who live near the tracks so she can search more for the body, not knowing that the body is hidden on their property. Very enjoyable!
The various Snopes have all (or almost all) one thing in common: they are "rapacious" (Faulkner's word for them, especially in the trilogy's second novel, The Town), with the "moral values of a wolverine." Some rise into state government or bank presidencies, some, at least figuratively, remain mean scrabblers in the dirt.
The overall theme of the trilogy seems to be the ways in which the rural American South was thrown completely off the rails of American society and political progress by the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the long, tortuous, and inevitably bent process by which these regions slowly--achingly and tragically slowly--eventually drifted or were pulled back into something like actual participation with the country as a whole. Faulkner ruefully kicks over rocks and logs to show the anthills and mold thriving beneath. But, and this is important in understanding this work, he is also very frequently and very wryly quite funny.
Next up for me will be a couple of rounds of my "between books," followed by a reading of The Off-Islanders, otherwise known as The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, and is the book on which the hilarious movie of the same name was based.
>30 seitherin: have you read anything else by Gabriel Kay? Loved his two about the justinan, and several others. Haven't read his newer books in a while because they started to sound alike. Tigana was good
Dear Mrs Bird – A J Pearce
Digital audio performed by Anna Popplewell
From the book jacket: London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
This had more substance than I originally thought based on the book jacket. Mrs Bird has some strict guidelines for the letters she’ll tackle – NOTHING unpleasant! No mention of sexual relations (in or – heaven forbid! – out of marriage), nothing about divorce, or complaints about the hardships endured during wartime, and she doesn’t want any letters that should belong to the food columnist, either! It seems that Emmy’s task is to toss just about every letter into the bin. But her heart breaks for the predicaments some writers convey, and when they give an address and ask for a personal response, well, Emmy just can’t help but respond.
Of course, there’s the personal drama of a young woman during wartime - a fiancé who is fighting in France, and a best friend who is trying to plan a wedding amidst the continuous bombing of London during the Blitz. Emmy is torn trying to be all things to all people and gets caught in a web of deceit that seems so innocent at the beginning.
I’m way past this stage in my own life and didn’t really relate to the characters. Oh, I recognized myself and my friends at that age, but “been there, done that” and I don’t really need to read about it again. The person I liked best was Emmy’s boss. Still, it was an entertaining, fast read, and I can see why it might be marketed for book groups.
Anna Popplewell does a fine job performing the audio version. I loved her interpretation of Mrs Bird! She set a good pace and I was never confused about who was speaking.
* “Ed Kennedy of the Associated Press Breaks the News of the Nazi Surrender” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “How to Win Cannibals and Influence Natives” from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* “The Duel that Failed” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “Shiloh” by W. W. Worthington from The Union Reader edited by Richard B. Harwell
* “The Empty Bottle” from Tierra del Fuego by Francisco Coloane
* “The Morgan Score” by Jack Higgins from Great Irish Tales of Horror edited by Peter Haining - Newly added
* “Wanted – A Butler” by Struthers Burt from Scribner's Magazine - March, 1936 - Newly added
One more round of the "betweeners" today.
* “from ‘Maggie May” from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
* Excerpt from Memoir of a Modernist’s Daughter by Eleanor Munro from The Norton Book of Women's Lives edited by Phyllis Rose
* “Humor as I See It” from Laugh with Leacock by Stephen Leacock
* "Ruth Simmons" from American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchison
* “Emergency Room Notebook, 1977” from A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
* “We Belong Together” from Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch
* “The Crisis and the Constitution – Part IV: The Roosevelt Record—Has the President Thought it Through?” by James Truslow Adams from Scribner's Magazine - March, 1936
Now I've started The Off-Islanders by Nathaniel Benchley. This is the novel upon which the hilarious movie, The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming was based. In fact, my copy is a movie tie-in paperback with the latter title rather than the former. And, wow, other than the basic concept of the storyline, which is that of a Russian submarine becoming caught on a sandbar off of an island near Cape Cod and the ship's captain sending a detachment onto the island to hijack a boat to tow the sub off the sandbar, the book and the movie are very different both in plot and tone. I'll have more on this when I review the book, quite possibly tomorrow.
Loved that book. BTW the movie is an excellent adaptation, well worth watching.