The Sport of Kings

Thoughts  by C.E. Morgan, Macmillan Audio, ~23 hours

Narrated by George Newbern.

(After listening for about 10% progress and realizing that I had accidentally skipped a few chapters, I stopped into my local indie bookstore and asked to see a copy of the print version so I could look up how to spell a character’s name (and check if I really did skip a few chapters!) I ended up buying it: Picador 2016, 545 pages.)

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2017 (yes, I am late; last one)
Genre: Epic Family Drama, Literary Fiction°
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible (later Tradeback/Indie bookstore)
 Why I read listened this now: Ready for a sprawling drama delivered over many hours.

MOTIVATION for READING: After skipping this during TOB, I realized during the discussion that it might be just my kind of book. I have a fondness for long audiobooks and now that it is lawn mowing season, I have more time and chores to listen through. Also, I admit that finding out that C.E. Morgan is a woman piques my interest.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This book is about a family who claimed property in Kentucky by way of Virginia and established their dynasty. Family name and heritage was everything. Until the father and son dispute just how to carry on.

Father says “Stay the course. Grow corn. Drink bourbon.” Son says, “Kentucky means Thoroughbreds. We need to breed horses.”

Father dies, son carries on as he sees fit and the family dynasty only grows in wealth and prestige. To be great, is the goal.

And then a daughter is born and she has her own ideas. We meet a few other characters, of course – this is a beast of a book.

WHAT’s GOOD: Drama!

What’s NOT so good: Near the end of the book, when the intensity was getting too intense, I tweeted for help. I was scared to read further, to find out what the characters were going to do.

I steeled myself and continued. It was as bad as I feared.

Then the Epilogue really screwed with my head, but after reading it again and listening to those 10+ minutes, I’m ok now. All O.K.

Reeling, but I’m a gonna be fine.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Racism, classism, plant and animal classification systems, genealogy, the color green, the word ‘karst’.

I had to know how it ended. I was bothered, at times, with tedious use of words-a-plenty and the over descriptions and the heavy import weightiness of many paragraphs. But the action and the drama were on a high level so I kept at it.

RATING: Four slices of Derby Pie.

“There was some poison in the pie; she wanted the treacly sweet of determinism with its aftertaste of martyrdom, but that came at too high a cost.”

“Hush, my sweet little horseypie,”

 

 

pierating

 °  “The main reason for a person to read Genre Fiction is for entertainment, for a riveting story, an escape from reality. Literary Fiction separates itself from Genre because it is not about escaping from reality, instead, it provides a means to better understand the world and delivers real emotional responses.”

Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.
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Broken Colors

With soaring lyricism, Zackheim limns an exquisitely haunting portrait of an indelibly scarred, yet deeply passionate, woman.”         – Booklist

Thoughts    Broken Colors by Michelle Zackheim, Europa Editions 2007, 318 pages

FIRST SENTENCE:   Sophie Marks never knew her parents.

MOTIVATION for READING:    Europa Editions Challenge.   Picked up at BEA 2010.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:    An artist woman’s life story of growing up an orphan in England, going to art school and falling in love (with consequences), being the lone survivor of a WWII bombing of her home, running away to Paris to paint, marrying another artist and living in Italy, fleeing that situation and hiding in the American desert while becoming famous for her art and finally realizing true love back in Italy with the Italian husband.  Hope that’s not too spoilerful.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so good:    Some sentences are truly beautiful.  However.   It all fell flat for me and I was so bored and non-impressed that I almost gave up on it 5/6 of the way through.   I slogged on anyway to give it:

RATING:  TWO slices of pie.

FINAL THOUGHTS:   Zackheim also wrote a NONFICTION book called Einstein’s Daughter  and I am intrigued enough by the premise/history/subject of this to give the author’s glimpses of glorious prose one more chance.   Someday maybe.

RECOMMENDED?     Possibly quite lovely for anyone who enjoys lyric prose, lush descriptions, and references to art technique.

OTHER REVIEWS:    Coffee Stained Pages gives a beautiful description (and less plot than I did) of this novel.   I’ll be watching for more on the Europa Editions Challenge.  If you have read this, please let me know and I will add the link.
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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.

The Sea

Thoughts   The Sea by John Banville, Vintage Books 2006 (orig 2005), 195 pages, Winner of the Man Booker Prize

I loved this book.

Yet, is it true?   I only gave it 4 stars?!   Yes, I had to discount it one star because I was mad at it that it wouldn’t be finished in the year 2010 and cost me the completion of the What’s In a Name 3 Challenge.    I was mad at it because I had to look up a new-to-me word on every other page.   I dislike the uneasy idea that I lurve books that make me feel stupid and thus smarter because I am thus challenging myself to something ‘deep’ and to look up vocabulary.   SO there.

I was hooked and mesmorized by this book after the first page!   This book told me that I crave prose that is lush and confusing.   That I need to have THOUGHT-y books in my reading appetite;  books that are all in someone’s head, reflecting on life’s crap-filled past futures and present, with many a sentence fragments and/or multiple descriptors and then some.  Oh yea, bring it on.

This little bit is from the very first page, the first two paragraphs:

“The seabirds mewled and swooped, unnerved, it seemed, by the spectacle of that vast bowl of water bulging like a blister, lead-blue and malignantly agleam.  They looked unnaturally white, that day, those birds.  The waves were depositing a fringe of soiled yellow foam along the waterline.  No sail marred the high horizon.  I would not swim, no, not ever again.

Someone has just walked over my grave.”

Even now, knowing now what I didn’t know then, I am still pulled by this imagery.   I see SPOILERS!!   (oops)   FORESHADOWING!     and yet, I am still puzzled.*

What exactly makes this stuff something I like?   Is it really any GOOD?    Sure, are not my own aesthetics and opinions the only ones that matter?   How could I be so entranced by Banville’s Sea and yet, have a serious dislike of Nabokov (Banville reminds me of Nabokov;  or was it just the comparison made by The Sunday Telegraph on the back of the book blurb)?   How come so many others thought this book dull and I found it captivating in its contemplative quietness?

So, if you don’t like books like this, move along.   Go ahead and read all the negative reviews on goodreads.   I laugh HA HA!  at those people that think Mr. Banville is pretentious and show-offy.    Yea, I suppose...   The guy does have an incredible vocabulary – I say he has a right to use it.     [I would really hate to eavesdrop on a conversation between him and Martin Amis.   English?!  on which planet?]

I was sucked into this book and felt it.    The imagery, the soft colors, the muted tones.   The emotions;   young love, first kiss, the questions, the fear and the passion.   Heavy angry grief.

MOTIVATION for READING:   I have mentioned more times than you really care to be reminded of that this was for the What’s in a Name 3 Challenge but that does not explain why THIS book for THAT category (body of water).    I originally wanted to read this book because of Dewey.   And now I’m getting all emotional and sad.   Did Dewey review this?    Maybe; I have lost that link already.    Here’s the chain of events:     Dewey reviewed Christine Falls written by Benjamin Black and offers it to send it to anyone who wants it and I win!   Soon after, we receive the sad news that Dewey is no longer with us.    I will always think of Dewey now, when I think of Banville.   (and books and Weekly Geeks** and the Read-A-Thon and I’ll shut up now) and when I only gave the Black mystery two stars (in a post that included vocabulary!), I committed to reading more by Banville to find out why/how he is so critically acclaimed;  I didn’t want my memories of Dewey tainted by a book I didn’t love.

I committed to reading The Sea in 2009 for the Dewey Challenge.   I failed it that year.   I committed to reading The Sea for 2010 and failed that, too.  (I finished it on January 6th.)    And, it’s OK. I think I needed this book to be more than a book.   It needs to be a memory, a token.***    Something that provokes me.    (I’m all teary right now being sad about Dewey.)

And I’m glad that I have found John Banville a place in my heart as a brilliant-to-me writer.   I’m grateful to the universe for making this a special read for me.   Aw hell, I’m going to re-rate it to 5 stars.   It’s personal.

Where was I?

pg 57  “There was a day when the door did open but it was Rose who came out,and gave me a look that made me lower my eyes and hurry on.  Yes, Rose had the measure of me from the start.  Still has, no doubt.”

HUH?   still has?  WHAT is going on!?

WHAT’s it ABOUT:      It’s about Max, whose wife has died.   To deal with his grief, he goes back to the seaside town he grew up in (or vacationed in? —  I was confused on this point.)    That’s pretty much it.      Mostly recent memories of his wife and her illness, the far past of his being a kid on the beach and the friends he made, his present – having to sort through all these difficult memories…   It’s almost a puzzle.    It definitely jumped around in time, a lot.   Confusingly.   I read the first 15 pages and then started over, I was so lost.    And Max wasn’t really a likable sort, either.

“Life, authentic life, is supposed to be all struggle, unflagging action and affirmation, the will butting its blunt head against the world’s wall, suchlike, but when I look back I see that the greater part of my energies was always given over to the simple search for shelter, for comfort, for, yes, I admit it, for cosiness. This is a surprising, not to say shocking, realisation. Before, I saw myself as something of a buccaneer, facing all-comers with a cutlass in my teeth, but now I am compelled to acknowledge that this was a delusion. To be concealed, protected, guarded, that is all I have ever truly ever wanted, to burrow down into a place of womby warmth and cower there, hidden from the sky’s indifferent gaze and the air’s harsh damagings. That is why the past is just such a retreat for me, I go there eagerly, rubbing my hands and shaking off the cold present and the colder future. And yet, what existence, really, does it have, the past? After all, it is only what the present was, once, the present that is gone, no more than that. And yet.”

Please link over to these EXCELLENT REVIEWS:    Jules – also for the What’s in a Name 3 Challenge (“elegant and poetic style of writing”) ,  Incurable Logophilia (“…a good author to take slowly, and I liked being able to take up with the book a little each day and meander through his careful sentences.”), Matt’s Views at A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook (“…a book of portentous rhetoric, a story of a ravaged self in search of a reason to go on in life cloaked in beautifully and meditatively constructed sentences.”)

The more I reminisce about my reading of this novel, I am conflicted about wanting to read it again or only share with a friend.  Make them read it and then discuss, discuss, discuss.   I want to talk about symbols, foreshadowing, crazy words.   Maybe I should have made this one a book club book.   Aw, they would have hated it…

BE READY for the upcoming post of vocab words…

.

*  WHOSE grave!??!    I am still not sure about this…
** Sadly, I have not done a Weekly Geek post in months.
*** TOKEN as defined as “a thing serving as a visible or tangible representation of something abstract.” and “done for the sake of appearances or as a symbolic gesture”.


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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.

Preview or INview?

Their Eyes Were Watching God tewwg by Zora Neale Hurston, originally published in 1937, my copy by HarperCollins/Perennial Classics 1998, 219 pages.

I had really hoped to finish this  in the month of March but SWOOOOOSSssshhHH!    did that deadline come and go fast.

So now it’s almost the fourth day of April and I’m still slowly working my way through this gorgeous novel.     I am finding the prose part beautiful – insightful – wonderful;  and I’m finding the dialog slow-going…   It’s almost like I’m translating the words – seeing the letters and tough spellings and hearing them in my head sounded out and then must re-read fast to get the rhythm and THEN pay attention to what’s being said, exchanged, communicated.

I’m loving every minute.

Thus, I thought I would instead remark on my thoughts so far (I’m on page 129), share some of my favorite passages, and a few of the words I’ve come across that I either loved or didn’t know the official definition.

I had always thought that I ‘should’ read this book.   I did not expect to find it some wonderfully delightful!   I’m telling everyone that I am loving it so much and it’s interesting how many people don’t seem to recognize the title.    Well, maybe next time they hear of it, they can remember that “Care told me to read this”!

On young love, awakened undefined and undirected passions:   (p. 11;  just before Janie gets her first kiss.)

It was a spring afternoon in West Florida.   Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back yard.  She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days.   That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened.  It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery.  From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds;  from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom.  It stirred her tremendously.   How?  Why?   It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again.  What?  How?  Why?  This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears.  The rose of the world was breathing out smell.  It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep.  It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh.  Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visistng bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her.  She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom;  the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming every blossom and frothing with delight.  So this was a marriage!

And when she realizes that love and marriage are NOT necessarily the same thing:

Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought.   She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.  Then she went inside there to see what it was.  It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered.  But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams.  Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over.  In a way she tuned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further.  She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be.  She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about.  Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them.  She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen.  She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.

I noted SO many more paragraphs and passages!   I’ll spare you and tell you to just go read it, if you haven’t already.

I could have read this for Ali’s Diversity Challenge, but I didn’t officially sign up for that.    I do much better with these reading challenges when I don’t have that ‘have to’ pressure.

VOCAB
zigaboo –   a black man that is triflin’;  used as an insult.

monstropolous –  “Time makes everything old so the kissing, young darkness became a monstropolous old thing while Janie talked.” a made up word!?    Creative license by ZNH.

sankled –   “Therefore Janie drank her coffee and sankled on back to her room…” Perhaps, something like sauntered –  leisurely walked?    It’s not like this word is a stumbling block, the cadence and image seems to work, but is it a real word?

meriny –  “One big meriny colored woman was so ugly…”    Another creative ZNH neologism!    The internet search suggest light-colored; I was thinking maybe ruddy-red?

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston

word I found looking up a few of the words from this book!

neologism n. A new word, expression, or usage. The creation or use of new words or senses.

Other Reviews:
I know this is extremely lazy of me but all the linkings intimidated me beyond my time and effort allowance for getting this post done today!   BOO HOO!?

SO if you click on this sentence, you will be treated to all the results of Fyrefly’s awesome book blog search engine…

I think that will work, right?        Or leave a link in the comments here – I won’t read any reviews until I’m done reading the actual book.

Just another beautiful cover for this.
Just another beautiful cover for this.

Has anyone seen the movie starring Halle Berry?

My Name is Care, I’m a Weekly Geek

For those few who haven’t yet wandered over to meet Dewey at the Hidden Side of the Leaf, let me welcome you to a new activity being enthusiastically embraced throughout the bookblogdom:  Weekly Geeks.

The mission in this kickoff round is to explore new blogs!  Yippee!    My motivation to join was to not be left out, of course.   

On Monday, I happened to jump to some new-to-me blogs BEFORE I got to to read about the first week’s exercise.   Whoo hoo!  talk about serendipity!   (is that the right word?   I sure wish the opposite of looking up a definition could soon be invented…  ya know, when you put some long crazy combo of words that needs ONE word that means all that?   It just doesn’t quite work right for me yet, but I’ve attempted it many times…)

And then I was plagued – ok, I realize not a great word, I do not mean anything negative! – with the task of wanting to really discover new blogs that the readers of MY blog hadn’t already found through this exercise.   Which is exactly what happened when I started checking my regular blogs and found that they, too, having also declared themselves geeky, were finding new and exciting places!   which I had just found.    Uh oh.

This is getting to be a long and unwieldy post but I slog on.     What makes this a long and time-tasking post is that my linking mechanism in my wordpress editor doesn’t work because I have an outdated browser.   And I feel the need to tell you that.   But I love wordpress so I won’t change;  my goal is a new PC!     Anyway, without boring you – oh?  too late?! – I had to cut and paste and recheck my HTML to make sure the linking works…  and re-check the blogs I want to share, have to leave some comments!  and I want to tell more about why I LIKE these new-to-me blogs.

How is Dewey going to check all this?!    I am totally amazed at her enthusiastic slogging abilities!!!!  All hail Dewey!   clap clap applause…   I think there is something mentioned about all of us taking a week to suggest the next geeky thing to do, come to think of it.     Finally!   my sharings of new-to-me blogs!!!  (except, I also include blogs that I don’t check often enough, too, so some have been in my blogroll already.)

1.  Nancy J Nordenson at Just Thinking has well-written posts about books and bookshop tourism and other stuff worth of just thinking about.     I LURVE the banner at the top, too.    She doesn’t post often, but they are always insightful sharings.   She uses typepad blog.

Here’s an example of a first paragraph on a post from March:

This weekend I was in Chicago, the city that dyes its river green for St. Patrick’s Day. They tossed the dye in a few days early this year due to the Vatican’s worldwide request that celebrations take place on the weekend rather than during Holy Week. Besides stopping on Michigan Avenue next to the Wrigley Building to peer down into the river, thick and shiny like “Lucky Charm Green” poured from a can of Benjamin Moore, my husband, son, and I stopped at a few other city sites, maybe not as eye-popping but certainly equally or more gratifying.

Can’t you just see the green river?!   

 2.  Janice Harayda at One Minute Book Reviews.   Her latest post has a teaser for a book called Purplicious.    I am so looking forward to hearing about this and I want to hear it from her.  Because I love the color purple and she hints of controversy…    This site is very professional and current.    This is a WordPress blog which I found awhile ago by searching tags for book reviews.

3.  Brandon at BookStorm.   Great title, isn’t it?   I found Brandon from the comments at another of my absolute favorites:   Nonfiction Readers Anonymous.    Two reasons I am looking forward to this blog more:   he’s a guy and I want to talk with more guys who read.   That’s OK to admit, isn’t it?   for variety’s sake?    The second reason is because he’s reading Anna Karenina which I hope to get back to some month this year.   He’s another typepaddian.

4. Christine says SHE READS BOOKS.   She’s the one I found over at Bookstack and tracked back to find her post about Weekly Geeks.  Thank you Christine!   (Another wordpresser)

and,

5. Amateur de Livre’s Weblog Amateur de Livre To be honest, I’ve only read a few posts here – (thanfully,) lots of short ones! I found this blog through Chartroose over at Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage! SO, this is my example of finding a new blog from another’s weekly geek post! Only fair play, I say. (Yet another wordpresser)

Wow, I need to go read more blogs now… and the actual BOOK I’ve been reading…

I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody

A review.ijaam1.jpgI’jaam:  An Iraqi Rhapsody by Sinan Antoon

“An inventory of the general security headquarters in central Baghdad reveals on obscure manuscript.  Written by a young man held in security detention, the prose moves from prison life, to adolescent memories, to frightening hallucinations and what emerges is a portrait of life in Saddam’s Iraq.”     from the book jacket

Thank you, Softdrink, for this gift of a book. 

What strikes me the MOST interesting thing about this book is not just the words and the story but how the story is FRAMED.   There’s a ‘setup’; one might even call it a gimick.

The story begins with an explanation of a particular characteristic of the Arabic alphabet and language:  the use of dots.    And how this use of dots, or the lack there of, is a challenge to translators because a dot on a letter, a stroke or mark can change the meaning entirely of a word.

Then, we are introduced to the manuscript.    It is explained that a manuscript was found in a prison and because the author – unknown – has left off all the dots on his letters, a skilled translator is needed.

Then we are thrust right into the playful and honest stories of how the author remembers life outside of prison, before prison.   Drastically contrasting that, he describes prison torture and what is going on in his mind.   We read his poetry and songs of love for the woman he meets in college and how their flirty romance blossoms.  We are introduced to his grandmother who raised him in the Christian faith.   He discusses religion but with a  detachment.    We learn how the government and the Leader (may God preserve him) [as used in the book!   He is never named…]  slowly and effectively erode rights and privileges of its citizens, assuming compliance and suspecting all of treason.   Maybe it wasn’t so slow, but the story telling is so sharp, his own warnings to be careful unheeded, his sense of sarcasm right on, that the reader is reminded that the feeling of dread is a heavy heavy blanket that gently enfolds upon you.   It doesn’t crash and break you; it smothers you.   

The art of the human spirit will inspire you.

I found this to be a powerful book.    And the laying out of the manuscript being in need of translation as  “book ends” to the story is extremely well done.   It adds greatly to the entirety.    It is actually a funny book with great humor.    And the sadness and terror is not an opposite but a look in a totally different scary direction.    The power of corrupt governments is one to be feared and not ignored;  I actually want to embrace all those annoying lawyers and stupid reporters asking silly stuff and/or screaming about rights over what can seem to be common sense.   It can start so simple; we need to question everything.   

I recommend this book.  Five stars. 5stars.jpg

I read this as part of the novella challenge.

Read Softdrink’s Review at FizzyBeverage here.