I have had a slow down. Not a slump! but a definite lack of time spent reading, it seems. I did attempt a re-listen to Lincoln in the Bardo but I didn’t finish it. I was looking listening for a pie mention that I thought happened. PLEASE ANYONE!! If you read or will read the eBook version — do a search pretty-please?
This week, I have rediscovered my ability to read read read. I am half through the 14 hour audiobook of Warren Zanes’ bio of Tom Petty. Wow, do I love biographies of interesting artists. I do. Mr. Zanes is an interesting character himself and he has an appealing literary quality to his writing. He has quoted Karen Blixon and Russell Banks and a few other authors I know of (but haven’t read.)
I’m still trudging through The Disappearing Spoon and not that it’s not interesting, it’s just that I have been not picking it up. You know what I mean? What interesting characters these scientists can be…
And finally, on the heels of the Pulitzer announcement of Colson Whitehead winning for The Underground Railroad, I decided to check if my library had a copy of The Intuitionist. They did and now I’m reading it. It’s got a scientific quirky vibe. Enjoying it very much so far.
I finally watched Far From the Madding Crowd with Carey Mulligan and Martin Sheen and it was wonderful! I loved it. If you loved this romantic triangle story with one fabulous independent woman lead, you should read my review of the book/audiobook… You should read the book first. Film was a fun adaption, in my opinion. And visually stunning. Oh! the costumes!! And I miss reading classics. I need to get back to my Classics Club 50. “It is my intention to astonish you all.”
I made pie for Easter.
The not so pretty but still rather interesting Carrot Pie and the Italian traditional ricotta cheese pie called Fiadone:
I miss not having a book review to post on this now-dusty blog… Soon, though. Hope everyone is reading something good. TELL ME! What are you reading?
Thoughts by Frank Delaney, Paladin Grafton Books 1987, 191 pages
Challenge: I traveled to Dublin for Spring Break! I brought this along…
Genre: Nonfiction/Literary Analysis/Travel
Type/Source: Tradeback/Sent from a friend
MOTIVATION for READING: Let’s back up to when I first had this book in my hands. It was January 2011 when I signed up for the “Jousting with Joyce” readalong. I never finished Ulysses and I have no record of what page/episode I stopped on.
So anyway, dear friend Jeanne sent me THIS book out of the blue back in 2011 and I have been treasuring it ever since, thinking “Some day, I will conquer Ulysses“. Rather, I was able to make a trip to Dublin happen instead.
Now I am even more eager to read it (Ulysses), to be honest.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Delaney chats with obvious affection for Joyce and his tale of Ulysses. He organizes his ‘Odyssey’ by the same structure as Joyce does in Ulysses and walks the reader through the story and what it might mean, then and now. This not a step by step walking tour of Dublin. It’s subtle – and it is also 30 years old so many things have changed from 1904 (year the book is set) and 1922 (year Ulysses was published) and 1987.
FYI, Ulysses follows two characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus – not always together, on walkabout through Dublin, basically. Joyce has stated that his book is a blueprint with which to rebuild Dublin if need be. Ready?
A sample of Delany’s words with Joyce’s:
Sandymount Strand, ineluctable as sin, sweeps wide and grey and beige, stippled with gulls and aeroplanes and lighthouses and ships and lone Dedalus-walkers. “Signature of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack the nearing tide, that rusty book.” Most of the thoughts in Stephen’s mind as he walked along Sandymount Strand were triggered by that ineluctable modality of the visible.
So for the ‘now’ of 2017, many signs and plaques identify Joyce’s locations and landmarks — these are not mentioned in Delaney’s book. Perhaps a map of these IS published by the James Joyce museum which I did not visit. I really let my wanderings and Joyce connections happen rather than seek them out. It was a vacation with the Husband who though sympathetic and/or amused, he did not share my enthusiasm. “He indulged me occasionally” would be the best way to put it. So, it was happenstance and sudden delights, when I found a Joyce marker.
WHAT’s GOOD: Photos from turn of the century (late 1800s – early 1900s and some 1987.) Opportunity to consider how Dublin has changed in 30 years and 100+. But the best of the book is the author’s delight in talking about and sharing anecdotes and explanations of what Joyce was attempting with Ulysses.
Another paragraph of Delaney praise for what Joyce attempted in Ulysses:
“The Oxen of the Sun episode is the most difficult to read in Ulysses. All Joyce’s linguistic interests are on exhibition and he gives a foretaste of what was to come in Finnegans Wake. That it exhausted him is certain: in several communications with friends, he referred to “the Oxen of the bloody, bleeding Sun” and he admitted freely that the control of all the ideas, the mathematical nine-part divisions, the embryonic development and the endless parodies were almost as much as he could master. He managed brilliantly.
What’s NOT so good: Of course, I wanted better maps… LOL.
I failed this book as I do most travel books. Tedious to look at when I can’t relate, and too late for visits once I can. I admit, one of our favorite pub visits was to Bruxelles because it was around during Joyce times and is in a photo of Delaney’s book. I didn’t get any pics of our Guinness nor Irish Whiskey while there, unfortunately.
As typical, I now flip through Delaney’s guide and only want to go back to Dublin and see it all again, find the past anew.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am more willing to attack Ulysses some day. I do feel that it will require patience and a light touch – not taking it too seriously.
“Joyce said once, not without sadness, to Nora: “The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book, or worse, they may take it in some serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one serious single line in it.”
I am keeping this book as a guide when I do tackle Ulysses because of the same structure and the explanations, motivations, and landmarks in words.
Back to the Classics 2017 – click the button below for our host Karen’s rules for the Challenge:
The categories for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge:My choices in REDbut if this goes like last year, I won’t read any of my original selections! eeek.
1. A 19th century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899. Probably a Trolloppe. or a Hardy.
2. A 20th century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Rabbit, Run
3. A classic by a woman author. Cold Comfort Farm or Orlando
4. A classic in translation. The Three Muskateers or Love in a Fallen City
5. A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category. Candide!!
6. A romance classic. Jude the Obscure? 7. A Gothic or horror classic. Jane Eyre. 8. A classic with a number in the title. One Fine Day
9. A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title. The Bird’s Nest
10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. Love in a Cold Climate (whatever/whereever – will likely be English…)
11. An award-winning classic. ??? Will look at the Pulitzer list. Perhaps The Voice at the Back Door by Elizabeth Spencer. Uh, NOPE. Is listed on that page but I didn’t realize the award was NOT given that year. So maybe The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, 1965.
12. A Russian classic. Memories by Teffi, as suggested by Ruthiella. Or Dead Souls by Gogol?
Of the books I listed and expected to read for this challenge, I only read 3! So much for my predictions and selections. Unfortunately, the only translated classic I read was also the only 19th century classic that I read. I had the same problem with a re-read of a HS classic and a banned book classic, so I can only claim NINE classics completed for categories 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,10 & 12. I bailed about 1/2 in on the book for category 9 so not sure it counts but that’s ok because I still did nine… SO:
Thoughts by Beryl Markham, orig 1942 – rereleased in 1983, 294 pages
Challenge: Latest Classics Club Spin Selection (But I’m late – it was due by Dec 1st)
Genre: Adventure, Airplanes/Flying
Type/Source: Tradeback / Local Indie Bookstore
Why I read this now: Was late for the Spin but wanted to read it anyway.
MOTIVATION for READING: I can’t recall why exactly I put this on my Classics Club 50 but I was further enticed by the historical lit recently published by Paula McClain about Ms. Markham. I wanted to read the “true” version first.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: These are the stories of Ms. Markham; how she grew up in British East Africa now called Kenya, learned to train race horses, learned to fly airplanes, attempted to be the first to fly East to West from England to the US (managed to ‘safely’ crash in Canda), and and and… Nothing about her husbands and supposed multiple love affairs, darn it.
WHAT’s GOOD: What a way with words! I found it very easy to fall right into like relaxing into a gigantic bean bag to let the world fall away and allow me to be transported to another place and time.
What’s NOT so good: The prose is beautiful yet she can seem detached and aloof; she barely reflects that she is a woman doing more typical man things. This was both refreshing and almost frustrating. Other things were more frustrating and interesting (racist/classist) view of how the English colonists viewed the Africans. She also seems to scorn the practice of elephant hunting but was a full participant in the profit of it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not at all the dry and boring text I had imagined. It was lovely and tragic, poetic and appalling all at once. Certainly a remarkable woman.
RATING: Five slices of pie, of which I noted no mention.
Has anyone read a biography of Beryl Markham? If I enjoy the McClain (and I sincerely hope I do since I did not care for The Paris Wife), I might continue indulging my fascination.
Thoughts by Harper Lee, Time Warner Books 1989 (orig 1960) 281 pages
Genre: Southern Lit, Classics
Type/Source: Hardback / My school’s English teacher’s shelf
Why I read this now: for club…
MOTIVATION for READING: I actually wasn’t that enthusiastic about reading this. Shame on me. I have always TRIED to have high standards about never whining about a book assigned for bookclub because that is the POINT of bookclubs — to read a book you may not be excited about or never heard of. Bookclub ‘entertainment’ is the discussion. And we all know that when everyone loves a book, discussion is boooooorrrrring. And if half love and half hate dislike, WOO-BOYHOWDY = fun discussion.
Ok, the point of this post is my mea culpa: I really loved reading TKAM.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Do I really need to tell you? Young daughter of the upstanding town attorney starts school and learns about injustice and navigating ‘growing up’ in a small town in the 30s with a father who defends a black man accused of a crime where he is accused by a white woman; the white citizens just can’t deal with the situation.
WHAT’s GOOD: Scout is just great. She’s a tough kid, annoyed by the gender expectations being thrust upon her and she’s trying to figure out the big bad world. I loved the neighbor across the street.
What’s NOT so good: We’ve come not far in too much time.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m looking forward to discussion.
Great QUOTES: “Thus we came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies.”
“I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I new not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.”
“Dill was a villain’s villain: he could get into any character part assigned him, and appear tall if height was part of the devilry required.”
“For reasons unfathomable to the most experienced prophets in Maycombe Çounty, autumn turned to winter that year.”
“It’s not time to worry yet,”
“There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rock slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water.”
Thoughts by Dr. James Watson, Simon and Schuster 2012 (orig 1968), 368 pages [Edited by Alexander Gann and Jan Witkowski]
Challenge: Classics Club 50
Genre: Science History
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
MOTIVATION for READING: I love science.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: How Watson and Crick used models to figure out how DNA was structured.
WHAT’s GOOD: I did not expect the breezy style. It is very readable.
What’s NOT so good: Well, you may or may not like Dr. Watson at the end but he does tell a fun story, even if bits are regrettable. He was young and determined. He shares more than just the science, but also other activities these youthful scientists were up to – where and what they ate (gooseberry pie has a mention!), the girls they tried to meet, the famous people they encountered and traveled to visit. He talks about his troubles with the sponsor for his time abroad and quite a bit about the personalities of everyone he works with.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am so glad to have read this. The big question: did Rosalind Franklin get screwed out of the discovery and subsequent Nobel Prize. Question Mark. Let’s just say, it’s complicated and that I could say yes, but. It very much feels like facts happened and one’s viewpoint is X and the other is Y. This and that. Perspectives. And when you start to get snarky, it gets very ugly fast. Did circumstances make it difficult and thus makes it a helluva story? Oh yes.
She deserved more accolades and unfortunately she is getting it now and not in her lifetime. It is sad that she died so young. Was Watson a _____ (insert whatever nasty/relevant word you want here, but my answer is “he was a man”.)
And NOW: I get to read more about Rosalind Franklin:
RATING: Four slices of gooseberry pie. If you are going to read this, I suggest the annotated illustrated edition.