Archive for the 'Biography' Category

Tropic of Cancer (eBook & Audio)

Thoughts  tocbyhm Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, Grove Press 1961 (orig 1934), 318 pages

tofcaudionbycs Narrated by Campbell Scott, Harper Audio 2008, 10 hours

For the John Cusack Reading Challenge

The blurb from goodreads:  Now hailed as an American classic, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller’s masterpiece, was banned as obscene in this country for twenty-seven years after its first publication in Paris in 1934. Only a historic court ruling that changed American censorship standards, ushering in a new era of freedom and frankness in modern literature, permitted the publication of this first volume of Miller’s famed mixture of memoir and fiction, which chronicles with unapologetic gusto the bawdy adventures of a young expatriate writer, his friends, and the characters they meet in Paris in the 1930s. Tropic of Cancer is now considered, as Norman Mailer said, one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century.”

WHAT it’s ABOUT: Well…

If you are completely new to this, I shall tell you that this book is somewhat autobiographical of Henry’s struggling writer days in France, mostly Paris. If you have ideals and dreams to be a writer in Paris, you might want to experience this book. It does include descriptions of the city plus a myriad of thoughts on a variety of topics; a lot of musings about being poor and wanting to be a writer and how depraved the world is. Set in the Thirties, one might not expect all the sexual adventures that Mr. Miller shares but then one – or is it only me? – is often reminded that just because a book is set in “OLDER TIMES” does not mean people were always good, chaste and respectable. Not that I would use those descriptions to describe any era, but I do admit that I view the past, the “good ol’ days” as being more wholesome and less crazy. This book should change your mind – I admit to being shocked. (yep, still clinging to my naïveté.)

Sir Alexander Cockburn, the Lord Chief Justice of England said,

“I think the test of obscenity is this: whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall.”

- the Hicklin Rule (1868)

If you DO know what this book is about and think you are not sure you would ever want to read it, I suggest the audio. I wonder if I would have finished this if I had only read the print. On the other hand, I am glad I have the eBook to refer to now. And if you care not to read blunt descriptions of the sexual act(s), perhaps this is not a book for you.

“And there are of course, many people who are genuinely repelled by the simplest and most natural stirring of sexual feeling. But these people are perverts who have fallen into hatred of their fellow man: thwarted, disappointed, unfulfilled people, of whom, alas, our civilization contains so many.”

- D. H. Lawrence

What’s GOOD: Henry Miller did have a talent for creating mood and atmosphere with words.

“The night hung close, dagger-pointed, drunk as a maniac. There it was, the infinitude of emptiness. Over the chapel, like a bishop’s miter, hung the constellation, every night, during the winter months. It hung there low over the chapel. Low and bright, a handful of dagger points, a dazzle of pure emptiness. The old fellow followed me to the turn of the drive. The door closed silently. As I bade him good night I caught that desperate, hopeless smile again, like a meteoric flash over the rim of a lost world.”

I might also be tempted to say that sometimes it felt like bad performance art. But sometimes, it was amazingly achingly hauntingly beautiful.

I am now more interested in reading about Anaïs Nin:

“If there is here revealed a capacity to shock, to startle the lifeless ones from their profound slumber, let us congratulate ourselves; for the tragedy of our world is precisely that nothing any longer is capable of rousing it from its lethargy. No more violent dreams, no refreshment, no awakening. In the anaesthesia produces by self-knowledge, life is passing, art is passing, slipping from us: we are drifting with time and our fight is with shadows. We need a blood transfusion.”

FINAL Thoughts: Not for the faint of heart. For those who are inquisitive of the controversial classics that many say are MUST-READS. For adventuresome souls who want to read all about “Writers in Paris”.

RATING:  Three slices of pie and a shot of Pernod.

Click on this image of the original book cover to go to Wiki and read more: TropicOfCancer

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Called to Coach

Thoughts ctcbybb Called to Coach: Reflections on LIfe, Faith, and Football by Bobby Bowden with Mark Schlabach, Howard Books – A Division of Simon & Schuster 2010, 276 pages. Autobiography/Nonfiction, Hardback.

 

May 28, 2013

Dear Coach Bowden,

Thank you for pursuing your dream to coach football and writing books about your life. Thank you for going on the lecture circuit where I would be able to have the chance to meet you and listen to your stories. I admire you.

I might not have said that during the years when Florida State was beating up on my Big 12 teams in bowl games, but I will say it now. Truthfully, the movie We Are Marshall opened my eyes to how great a man you are and not just – what I assumed – an arrogant coach of a football powerhouse. I humbly acknowledge that I have been too quick to judge and often make negative assumptions far too quickly and hold far too long.

I met you a few months ago in Florida when you came to speak at a dinner I attended with my husband. You were gracious and very funny. I was very impressed and was eager to read your book. I especially loved all the connections you shared with players and coaches from my school, Kansas State. But what I loved best were the stories about love and relationships, about your wife and your family, about your career goals and trusting in God to make your path known.

Wishing you all the best,

loveCare

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Private Demons

Thoughts  Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson by Judy Oppenheimer, GP Putnam’s Sons 1988, 304 pages Hardcover

I had no idea.

What an interesting life! and yet, I don’t think that says anything at all. You might think by my saying she had an interesting life that she traveled and did amazing things. But no, not really. She was a mom. She was a wife. She wrote books. She collected things.

but WOWZA!

She had agoraphobia. She was a partier and also extremely private. She resented and rejected her mother and also earnestly wanted to please her.

She was complicated!

RATING: 

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Invention of Clouds

Thoughts  The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn, Farrar Straus and Giroux 2001, 403 pages

subtitle:  How An Amateur Meteorologist Forged The Language Of The Skies

Defin’d the doubtful, fix’d its limit-line,
And named it fitly – Be the honour thine!

LOVED THIS and yet I didn’t finish it before it had to go back to the library.  *sadface* However! I’m considering buying this as a gift though I am really not sure if the intended recipient will enjoy it. I think he might? But I also have no clue what his reading tastes are. I always seem to buy him books, though and I never remember to ask if he liked ‘em. We don’t talk often. Sometimes that’s the way it is with family… Or maybe just my family. We’re not of the demonstrative types.

Anywhoosie.

This book was sweet, in a way. It had poetry! It really showed a sensitive side to the author, methinks. You could suppose a history book — a biography book, to be cut and dried and just-the-facts, but we must consider this guy – the subject, not the author – was  ‘discovered’ around the end of the Age of Enlightenment and kicking off the Romantic era. [Not that I'm an expert - I had to go look that up.]

So, in 1802, Luke Howard presented his nomenclature for identifying clouds. And it was GROUNDBREAKING!  WHY had no one ever figured this out before?!  astonishing! I loved this part and learning about Luke’s early years and then his being thrust into fame.

I was not so keen as to the actual cloud details and who else had done some findings or tried to piggy-back on Howard’s labels and ideas. I just had too many other books shouting at me to read and this one was too quiet.

I did attempt to flip through and skim to the end. I’m a horrible skimmer. Impatient readers cannot skim. Thus the need for skimming and then the frustration and then guilt and then the downhill fall to just giving up.

I found it fascinating that these public lectures on the wonders of science put these guys into rock star acclaim.

I loved that his grandchildren were fond of him.

I was delighted at the bit about how Mr. Howard surely must have met Miss Jane Austen – his carriage is documented as traveling the road on which her house was set. Being of similar class and stature, it would not be at all unheard of that he would stop and pay a call. But not record exists of such.

I loved loved LOVED the poetry!

Science, illuminating ray!
Fair mental beam, extend thy sway,
And shine from pole to pole!
From thy accumulated store,
O’er every mind thy riches pour,
Exacted from low desires to soar,
And dignify the soul.
                              -Sarah Hoare, 1831

and how about this, written by Goethe and based on one of Howard’s essays?

Stratus
When o’er the silent bosom of the sea
The cold mist hangs like a stretch’d canopy;
And the moon, mingling there her shadowy beams,
A spirit, fashioning other spirits seems;
We feel, in moments pure and bright as this,
The joy of innocence, the thrill of bliss.
Then towering up in the darkinging mountain’s side,
And spreading as it rolls its curtains wide,
It mantles round the mid-way height, and there
It sinks in water-drops, or soars in air.

There’s more to that – he has three more stanzas…

So. If you love science or the weather, or dreamily gaze up at the clouds, or love odd little biographies of interesting dudes from the early 1800’s, and certainly if you like poetry that was written during those times, I suggest this wonderful book.

And a big thank you to Vasilly for recommending a book that helps identify clouds: The Cloud Collector’s Handbook. I’m thinking of buying that for my nieces and nephews. Here’s another one that looks enticing:  The Cloudspotter’s Guide.

Do you not love white fluffy clouds in a bright blue spring sky?

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Musings about Clouds and Such

“Then what do you love, you extraordinary stranger?”

“I love clouds . . . drifting clouds . . . there . . . over there . . . marvelous clouds.”

-Charles Baudelaire, 1862

Mailbox Monday? Nope. the only books I got in the mail, I’ve already told you about or are gifts that I will wrap and send on. Wouldn’t want to ruin a surprise.

Library Loot?  Yes, I should look for that meme… YES!  FOUND IT.  I still have time to participate. (Looks like it starts a new week tomorrow.)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. 

From the library; inspired by my current reading of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell:

 The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn

The Invention of Clouds is the true story of Luke Howard, the amateur English meteorologist who in 1802 gave the clouds their names — cumulus, cirrus, stratus. He immediately gained international fame, becoming a cult figure among artists and painters — Goethe, Constable, and Coleridge revered him — and legitimizing the science of meteorology. Part history of science, part cultural excavation, this is not only the biography of a man, but of a moment: the cultural birth of the modern scientific era.

Oh, I thought it was a memoir – WRONG, it’s a biography. Cool. Not sure I will do more than flip through and skim around but it captured my imagination in some way so, here it is.

I am enjoying Cloud Atlas very much! It is just screaming to be finished and I’m showing tremendous restraint not devouring it right to the end. I just finished the second Timothy Cavendish section.

But I have decided to put it down, not rush it and see if I can finish Byatt’s Angels and Insects. JUST found out this morning that a movie was made of the first novella “Morpho Eugenia” but was titled Angels and Insects and I so want to get my hands on it!

So far this month, I have yet to finish a book. Egads.

Letter writing is going well, though. I’ve slowed to down or returned to my goal of one a day so it seems more relaxed than February. Now that I’m receiving more letters, I have a list that includes my new penpals and not so many family members. Though, glancing at the calendar, I need to put a birthday card for my cousin in today’s mail or it will be late.

Happy Monday!  What are YOU reading?

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Thoughts    Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife, Viking Penguin 2000, 248 pages.

Hardback; from the library. Nonfiction: Science genre.

FIRST Sentence: “Zero hit the USS Yorktown like a torpedo.”

I loved that this started with a story of how a computer program includes a zero where a zero should never be: in the denominator of a fraction; in a “CANNOT-HAPPEN” equation that attempts to divide something by zero. Program fails, engines seize, big boat stops. In this case, a billion-dollar missile cruiser stuck on the open seas.

The history was fascinating but a little over-bearing and repetitive that “zero was bad.” A few uninteresting tidbits that stopped the narrative for me and made me question why these tidbits were included. Sure, a fair share of complicated mathematical concepts that didn’t inspire me to think at all.

RECOMMENDED for math geeks and ‘odd subject’ historians; possibly for fans of the Big Bang Theory TV show.

FINAL Thought(s):  One of the more difficult to write reviews because I fail to find the words for why this didn’t captivate me as much as I had hoped.

RATING: Three slices of pie. Coconut pie because it seems you either love coconut or hate it. Infinity or zero.

  

OTHER Reviews:  Eva at A Striped Armchair mentions this in a lengthy post from 2009.

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Just Kids

Thoughts  Just Kids  by Patti Smith, Ecco (imprint of HarperCollins ) 2010, 306 pages

Interviewer:   Care, how did you hear about this book?

Care:  I think I first learned of it from Amazon; in one of those emails they regularly send to tempt me to purchase books.

Interviewer:  And then you researched it or did you instantly know you wanted to read it?

Care: I saw that it was Rock Star Patti Smith’s memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the famous photographer. It’s a National Book Award winner.

Interviewer:  Are you a Patti Smith fan or a Mapplethorpe fan, or both?

Care:  Actually, all I knew about Mapplethorpe was when his controversial photographs of nude males caused such a hullabaloo a few years ago. I’m dating myself, because the controversary about whether or not his work was pornography or ‘art’ had to have been before he died in 1989 which seems a very long time ago already, but I don’t really recall when I first heard about the artist. What I admit now, is that I had no idea that he was friends with Patti Smith. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about Ms. Smith except that she was grunge rock & roll. I’m still not sure if that description is accurate. To me, the image of Patti Smith that popped into my head was the parody of her on SNL by Gilda Radner! That was hardly flattering. I think…  I THINK, I was both shocked that Patti Smith would write a book AND that she knew Robert Mapplethorpe AND that I was obviously ignorant about a whole slice of cutting edge culture that I now want to know more about.

Interviewer:  So you bought the book.

Care:  Not at that time. I bought it at one of the GOOB sales at Borders.

Interviewer:  And now, you have added ‘Attend a Patti Smith concert” to your Bucket List on Pinterest.

Care:  Yes. I’m fascinated by her. I admire her. I think she is incredible. She has endeared herself to me and I think experiencing her art would be a tremendous thrill. I will probably buy her Horses CD and give it to myself for Christmas.

Interviewer:  So why did you give this book only 3 stars?

Care:  Oh. You saw that, did you?  Yes, well, I don’t really recall exactly and I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up. Let me please reiterate that a three star rating is GOOD. That I liked it. A three star rating is not something to be sorry for. Why do I have to justify this? OK, I’ll try anyway. If I had a rating scale for various categories of things I like/love/hate etc about a book, then this book hits many HIGHs and a few lows and so in average, three stars. I liked it.  (My ratings are for me.)

What I liked most was how it was a glimpse into a life I will never see. How courageous and independent and soulful Patti is. How she had fears and doubts but living true to her ideals was her utmost priority.

Current photo of Patti Smith found here on her website.

What I liked least was the ‘lack’. And even in that, I have to admire it as artistic story telling.  Most of the lacks I cite are mine which made me frustrated with myself, I suppose, but also good in that I now have lots more things to learn.  A lack of knowing a ton of names!  A lack of going in a direction I wanted to know more about.  A lack of my knowledge of New York City.  A lack of photos online when I googled ‘how did such&such hotel look then and now’, etc.

Interviewer:  and did you run to google a lot to look up stuff you didn’t know?

Care:  Yes. A LOT. I was very fascinated. I spent almost as much time online looking stuff up than I did reading this book!  And so this book could deserve 5 stars for provoking intense curiosity. Crazy things; she had an affair with Sam Shepard! the actor guy who plays admirable men in movies and is married to Jessica Lange?! WHAT?! and she bumped into Jimi Hendrix – HUH?!?!  and Grace Slick!  just amazing. The whole Warhol thing. That she bought and sold rare editions of classic books and sometimes it was lucky she found such so she could buy food to eat.

Interviewer:  But what about Mapplethorpe?

Care:  A beautiful tragic love story? They were friends — true friends and that is quite beautiful. I can’t say I am any more interested in him than I was before.  I was much more enthralled with the Patti Smith personality.

Interviewer:  Who would you recommend this book to?

Care:  Anyone who loves art and poetry. Anyone who appreciates true love stories and realizes that life sometimes sucks. Anyone who has interest in the history of rock and roll music.  Anyone who enjoys memoirs/biographies of extraordinary people.  And NewYorkCity-ophiles.

Interviewer:   In five words, describe this book.

Care:  Fascinating, passionate, endearing, heavy, surprising.

Interviewer:   Do you have any reviews elsewhere in blogland to point to?

Care:  Yes, I recommend a wonderful review by Beth Fish Reads as well as Books are My Boyfriends’ enthusiastic take on it. And there’s always Fyrefly’s awesome search engine for book bloggers reviews.

Interviewer:  Anything else you want to share?

Care:  Nope. Thank you for helping me with this post. Oh! I am counting this for a challenge; it fits the LIFE STAGE category for What’s in a Name 4.

Interviewer:  You’re most welcome. Have a nice day.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Help Me Pitch Titles to My Book Club

********* updated after book club vote to let you all know that we chose EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER!!!    ***********

 

I will be pitching the following titles to my club on Thursday.   Which would YOU vote for?  The blurbs are from goodreads.com and I am including the Kindle pricing because almost all of my friends have that eReader.   Clicking on the book cover will take you to goodreads.

Everything Beautiful Began After    by Simon Van Booy.   A huge favorite of those bloggers who adore Mr. Van Booy.   I have read a short story collection and I must say, his writing IS beautiful.   I purchased a copy at the first day of the Borders-Is-Going-Out-Of-Biz sale.  #sob   Paperback 416 pages, Kindle $9.99

Simon Van Booy brings to the page his unique talent for poetic dialogue and sumptuous imagery in this his remarkable debut novel of love and loss, dependence and independence. Rebecca has come to Athens to paint. Born and raised in the south of France, Rebecca’s mother abandoned her and her sister when they were very young, left to be raised by her loving yet distant grandfather. Young and lost, she seeks solace in the heat of Athens. George has come to Athens to translate language. Dropped off at a New England boarding school when he was a child, he has close to no relationships with anyone, except the study of ancient language and alcohol. Henry has come to Athens to dig. An archaeologist, Henry is on-site at Athens during the day, and roams the Agora on the weekend. Three lost and lonely souls whose worlds become inexorable enmeshed with consequences that ripple far among the ruins of ancient Athens.

Two Rivers    by T. Greenwood.   I know absolutely nothing about this (and will TRY to not even even read the blurb I’m about to cut and paste!)   My friend just loaned this to me and it was included in the Reading Group Choices 2010 edition.     Paperback 367 pages, Kindle $9.60

“Two Rivers is a convergence of tales, a reminder that the past never washes away, and yet, in T. Greenwood’s delicate handling of time gone and time to come, love and forgiveness wait on the other side of what life does to us and what we do to it. This novel is a sensitive and suspenseful portrayal of family and the ties that bind.” –Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever and River of Heaven

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe     by Charles Yu.    I read a review of this at Ti’s BOOK CHATTER blog and knew that I must read.  I also think the idea of a book club is to read something one might never ever pick up without a nudge.   Hardcover 234 pages, Kindle $11.99

National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award winner Charles Yu delivers his debut novel, a razor-sharp, ridiculously funny, and utterly touching story of a son searching for his father . . . through quantum space & time. 

and finally, NOT that I have a favorite but this one excites me:   The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb   by Melanie Benjamin.    The subject of this historical fiction novel grew up in the town I now live in.   WICKED COOL!   And the reviews so far are GUSHING-good.   Hardcover 448 pages $15.44, Kindle $12.99

She was only two-foot eight-inches tall, but her legend reaches out to us more than a century later. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden away from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity.

A barnstorming novel of the Gilded Age, and of a woman’s public triumphs and personal tragedies, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is the irresistible epic of a heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams—and whose story will surely win over yours.

OK!  Time to vote!   I will be sending my club the link to this so they can vote as well.   I have the power to dictate WHICH book to read but not yet sure which one I would pick.   Thank you. And have a nice day.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I’m Joining the BAND

The Blogger’s Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees

or BAND for short…

What is one of your favorite types of nonfiction to read? OR What is one of your favorite nonfiction topics to read about?

I haven’t really thought about what types of nonfiction I like to read…    I like memoirs sometimes, biography often but not often enough, easy-to-understand science-y stuff, narrative nonfiction and …   um, I guess I need to check the definitive list.   [One second, please while I look again at my Sophisticated Dorky friend Kim's post that explains the BAND.]

travelogues – though I show little evidence, and even some self-help.   Even that self-help category is broad!   I own books to inspire creativity, how to write a letter, keep a journal, reference texts and quote books, etc.   And cookbooks!    Cookbooks are self-help, right?

I have a few essay books on my tbr. I love most anything penned by Tracy Kidder. I like books on feminism and want to explore further the topic of women and technology.

I ENJOY NONFICTION.    Do you?  


I prefer pi.

pieratingsml

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