dchaikin - part 2

KeskusteluClub Read 2011

Liity LibraryThingin jäseneksi, niin voit kirjoittaa viestin.

dchaikin - part 2

Tämä viestiketju on "uinuva" —viimeisin viesti on vanhempi kuin 90 päivää. Ryhmä "virkoaa", kun lähetät vastauksen.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 29, 2012, 5:04 pm

I thought about titling this "dchaikin's deteriorating focus" because I seem to aimlessly wandering around with my reading...but, perhaps I'll find some focus, or at least enjoy not finding it. So, I settled on...."part 2"

My summary

old threads:
For my 2011 Part 1 thread click HERE

for other older threads: 2009 Part 1, 2009 Part 2, 2010 Part 1, 2010 Part 2.

Books finished in 2011: - links go to relevant post, which may be in my part I thread.


1. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Dec 29 - Jan 16)
2. Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout by Bob Cavnar (Jan 7 - 20)
3. A Murder of Crows by Larry D. Thomas (Dec 16 - Jan 24)


4. Towers of Midnight (Book Thirteen of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan (Jan 2-Feb 4)
5. The Everglades : River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Jan 21 - Feb 19)
6. Before the Troubadour Exits : Poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier (Feb 12 - 22)


7. The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (Feb 20 - Mar 1)
8. Persepolis : The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (Mar 2-4)
9. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi (Mar 5-6)
10. The Seven Sisters : The Great Oil Companies and the World They Shaped by Anthony Sampson (Feb 4 - Mar 8)
11. Barefoot Gen, Volume Six : Writing the Truth by Keiji Nakazawa (Mar 8-12)
12. High Tide in Hawaii (Magic Tree House #28) by Mary Pope Osborne (Mar 13)
13. Barefoot Gen, Volume Seven : Bones Into Dusk by Keiji Nakazawa (Mar 12-15)
14. The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar (Mar 17-20)
15. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (Mar 16-24)


16. Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Mar 8 - Apr 4)
17. Drowning in Oil : BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit by Loren C. Steffy (Mar 25 - Apr 6)
18. San Pedro River Review : Vol 3 No 1, Spring 2011 : Arrivals & Departures (started Mar 24 - Apr 7)
19. Dark Pearls by Larry D. Thomas (April 16)
20. In Earshot of Water: Notes from the Columbia Plateau by Paul Lindholdt (Early Reviewer, Apr 2-18)
21. Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster by Tom Shroder & John Konrad (Apr 7 - 21)
22. Barefoot Gen, Volume Eight : Merchants of Death by Keiji Nakazawa (Apr 21-29)
23. Florida in Poetry : A History of the Imagination by Jane Anderson Jones & Maurice O'Sullivan, editors (Jan 24 - Apr 30)

24. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (Apr 16 - May 10)
25. The Cape Rock : 20th Anniversary Issue, V19, No. 3, 1984 (May 1-12)
26. Blue Latitudes : Boldly Going Where Captain Cook has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz (May 18-31)
27. Hawaii (On-the-Road Histories) by John H. Chambers (May 18-31)


28. Unfamiliar fishes by Sarah Vowell (June 1-20)
- Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport (read 4/5 from June 1 - June 17, then abandoned)


29. The Way of Boys by Anthony Rao & Michelle D. Seaton (June 9 - July 4)
30. Island Fire - An Anthology of Literature from Hawai'i by Cheryl A & James R. Harstad (June 14 - July 7)
31. American Salvage : Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell (June 28 - July 8)


32. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (July 20 - Aug 8)
33. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (July 17 - Aug 11)
34. Fairie Queene by Edmund Spenser (June 21 - August 26)
I read from four different sources:
1. Edmund Spenser's Poetry (Second Edition) : Authoritative Texts, Criticism (Norton Critical Edition) edited by Huch Maclean (book 1)
2. http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/fqintro.html (book 2)
3. The Faerie Queene Book II edited by P. C. Bayley, P. C. (finished with Book 2 on July 20)
4. The Faerie Queene (Penguin Classics) edited by Thomas Roche, jr. & C. Patrick O'Donnell, jr. (books 3-6 and Mutabilitie Cantos)

35. The Faerie Queene : Educating the Reader by Russell J. Meyer (July 19 - August 26)
36. The Mutabilitie Cantos (Nelson's Medieval and Renaissance Library) by Edmund Spenser, edited by Sheldon P. Zitner (August 26-30)
37. Poetry : January 1981 (volume 137, number 4) (August 11-31)


38. The Atlas of Jewish History : Completely Revised and Updated by Martin Gilbert (Sept 17-19)
39. History: A Novel by Elsa Morante (Sept 4-23)


40. The Iowa Review : Volume 40 Number 3 Winter 2010/11 (May 12-Oct 3)
41. Woman of Rome : A Life of Elsa Morante by Lily Tuck (Sept 24 - Oct 9)
42. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (August 8 - October 11)
43. A Short History of Wisconsin by Erika Janik (July 1 - Oct 14)
44. Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by Joann Deak & Teresa Barker (Sept 25 - Oct 14)
45. RE:AL : The Journal of Liberal Arts, Volume 30.1 Spring/summer 2005 by Stephen F. Austin State University (Oct 6 - 18)
46. The Red, Candle-lit Darkness by Larry D. Thomas (Oct 11-20)
47. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (Oct 13 -23, read aloud with my daughter)


48. The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book by Timothy Beal (Oct 27 - Nov 8)
49. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (Sept 26 - Nov 23)
50. Good Book : The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz (Nov 9-27)
51. Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Annie Di Donna & Alecos Papadatos (Nov 5 - 29)


52. Blossom by Donigan Merritt (Nov 30 - Dec 7)
53. The People Look Like Flowers at Last : New Poems by Charles Bukowski (Oct 21 - Dec 11)
54. A Sea in Flames : The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout by Carl Safina (Oct 16 - Dec 16)
55. Shadows on the Gulf : a journey through our last great wetland by Rowan Jacobsen (Dec 16 - 24)

Currently Reading
- Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible by Karel van der Toorn (started Dec 25)
- Cimarron Reveiw : January 1997 (started Dec 11)
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville (started Dec 8)
- The Five Books of Moses : A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter (Read the intro Dec 3 - 8)
- How to Read the Bible : A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel (Read intro Nov 28-Dec 2. Will read the rest with the OT.)
- Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion by Dale McGowan (editor) (read a bit from Oct 15 - ~Oct26)
- Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen (started May 11 - 15, started again July 9-26, haven't read since then)
- The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (I've been sampling this since mid-January, I'm guessing Jan 20)

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 6, 2011, 1:28 pm

Part 2 starts here. No actual plan yet other than to catch up with the six books I haven't commented on, finish two books I'm in the middle of, carry on with Fairie Queene, and maybe even read more of The Story of Civilization...Eventually I will find myself reading History : A Novel by Elsa Morante and The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann...

heinäkuu 6, 2011, 4:04 pm

If you ask me, focus when it comes to reading is overrated, anyway. :)

heinäkuu 6, 2011, 5:04 pm

Oops! Wait! Did I miss something? Why have you stopped Shadow Country?


heinäkuu 6, 2011, 5:36 pm

#3 bragan - I won't know unless I get focused sometime...
#4 Robert - It was sidetracked by Hawaii, and then, as I proceeded to not get back to it, I started several other books...none of them novels. My mind seems to be resisting novels this year, I don't know why. I still want to get back to it...

heinäkuu 6, 2011, 5:52 pm

You could always focus on remaining unfocused.

Maybe your mind is telling you...

heinäkuu 6, 2011, 8:43 pm

I'm interested in the Morante bio you are reading. History: A novel is an awesome book.

heinäkuu 6, 2011, 10:20 pm

There is no need for focus. Read as much as you can, the focus will be there only for you, as in the books which belong to the core of what defines you. Focus restricts you in your choice of finding other great authors. It is like only eating your favourite food...

heinäkuu 7, 2011, 3:02 am

I was advised by wise people on an old thread of mine to not worry about focus for a long time yet - I think it was Murr who said so? Try anything that interests you, that was the advice, and so far I have found it good :)

I'm glad you found my part 2 eventually!

heinäkuu 7, 2011, 11:52 am

Murr - I started the bio on the airplane when I had a stiff neck and needed something that would keep me awake - it was perfect, the parts I read, really fascinating. But I wasn't ready to read it, so i've put aside. I hope to read it before (or while) reading History.

Edwinbcn - hello, and thanks for stopping by and posting.

Edwinbcn, Z, chocolate - thinking. I always thought that if I could focus my reading then I could become particularly familiar with one thing, even if I'm still clueless overall. The problem is that TBR -- as soon as I add something to it my interest goes elsewhere. Strange how that works...(although I do better with le Salon group reads)

heinäkuu 11, 2011, 1:54 pm

I've posted a quick review (and negative) of Shark Dialogues here: Review.

heinäkuu 17, 2011, 11:57 am

Hi Dan, amongst all those books on soccer, I noticed that you have just added to your library The Faerie Queene and the Middle English Romance by Andrew King. It looks a fairly serious tome, have you just bought it or was it in your collection? I will be interested to hear what it's like.

I enjoyed our discussion on Suzanne's thread.

Oh! by the way I am a big soccer (football here in France) fan. I am a life long supporter of Fulham Football club who are currently in the premier league in England. Have those soccer books you have any connection with the US team in the World women's cup final?

heinäkuu 17, 2011, 3:34 pm

Hi Barry - The soccer books are for the kids, from the library. I'm a clueless american who wants to understand soccer, but doesn't quite follow what he's watching : ) we have a team in Houston who I've watched in utter confusion a few times. They aren't one of better MLS teams this year.

The King book is also from the library, one of a handful of random ones I've requested. It's a dissertation, but it's also a second printing, so it had some success. I've scanned through it, but haven't yet figured out whether it's something I want to spend time with. It's sitting on the bedside table, top of the pile.

heinäkuu 18, 2011, 5:37 pm

Bas - glad to see you've finally come out of the closet with regard to your team....

heinäkuu 18, 2011, 11:31 pm

A quick review, as I start to think about catching up...

25. The Cape Rock : 20th Anniversary Issue (V 19, No 3) (1984, 55 pages, read May 1-12)
Was published through Southeast Missouri State University. Main editor was Harvey Hecht.

From what I can tell, The Cap Rock ceased publication in 2008 - at least I could not find any information on later issues. This issue from 1984 certainly has some obscurity points going for it. It came with boxes of literary reviews that Larry Thomas gave to me about five years ago, which I've begun to sample through. This is the first issue from this review that I've tried.

For their 20th anniversary issue, The Cape Rock editors came up with their own list of favorites from all the previous issues (including several poems by each editor). I'm always in uncharted territory with poetry, but I enjoyed this collection a great deal. As far as I could tell, it was high quality stuff with something extra that made it fun to read.

I've posted a couple excerpts on my old thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/104839#2676236 & http://www.librarything.com/topic/104839#2683034

Here's one more by Melanie Beth Brown, originally published in 1983.


If we had known how the swing set would become,
foreseen the rust, the broken, cock-eye swings,
the bent slide (a useless tongue), the fallen trees,
the rampant weeds, the rust, dead lichen
grown over the forgotten back yard-
If we had foreseen all this,
we wouldn't have been children.

heinäkuu 19, 2011, 10:54 am

Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up.

(from Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister, which was too sweet for me but had some good lines)

heinäkuu 21, 2011, 9:00 pm

Hi MJ - I slowly catching up with various threads (since June!), and just caught up with yours today so now I get the Bauermeister reference. :)

heinäkuu 21, 2011, 9:20 pm

It was really just in response to your poem in >15 dchaikin: (which spoke to me as the decay/death of childhood fun) -- an acknowledgement that there's fun in adulthood, too (and more pain; don't tell the kids).

heinäkuu 21, 2011, 10:06 pm

26. Blue Latitudes : Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz (2002, 452 pages, read May 18-31)

This was my first time reading Tony Horwitz, and also the first book I read on Hawaii for my June trip. Horwitz is along the lines of Bill Bryson in that his book informative, but mostly light and fun. However, whereas Bryson's books have a habit of drowning in trivia, it almost seems Horwitz can't go wrong. He has a charm, he focuses on interesting things, and he keeps the book entertaining throughout.

The book itself is an inspiring look at Captain James Cooke and, especially, at Pacific Ocean. Cooke made first contact in New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, and on several different islands throughout Pacific Oceania. An unusually expert charter, he filled out the map in the Pacific. He is roundly hated as the symbolic end of the native peoples in all these places. Either Cooke, or the mariners who followed his maps, brought the diseases and also opened the way to exploitation and colonization, leading to a wiping out of populations. Cooke the person was, however, was almost beyond reproach. The European mariners were a dark part of humanity, the worst of the worst, only more extreme because of the endless hardships they had to endure at sea. The record is painfully bad. But Cooke is an exception - responsible, knowledgeable, humble, he has a dignity in history...but it only lasts up to that point where he finally lost his cool and his life in Hawaii.

This was very enjoyable despite being a bit long, and despite being a terrible read for Hawaii. It's long because Horwitz covers so much. It's the wrong book for Hawaii as that was James Cooke's last and fatal stop and it doesn't really appear in the book until near the end. But, despite the length, it's light and quick and left me craving more information.

heinäkuu 21, 2011, 10:17 pm

#18 MJ - I did get the connection...and I like the line, although I don't exactly believe the logic. :) The poem speaks to me of childhood innocence...and then of all innocence...lost innocence, but before it was lost.

heinäkuu 22, 2011, 11:03 am

I read Blue Latitudes a few years ago and really liked it, although, yeah, it's not much of a Hawaii-themed read. (Now, if you were taking a trip to, say, New Zealand...) I keep thinking I really need to read more of Horwitz's stuff. I've heard Confederates in the Attic is good.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 22, 2011, 1:16 pm

Bragan - I have confederates in the attic on my wish list. I have a kindle version of A Voyage Long and Strange which i've telling myself to pick up for about 2 Years now...

heinäkuu 22, 2011, 1:04 pm

Thanks, A Voyage Long and Strange is now on my wishlist as well.

heinäkuu 22, 2011, 1:15 pm

Eek " braganza" (#22) was an autocorrect thing on the I-pad...fixing...

heinäkuu 22, 2011, 1:26 pm

I found it amusing. :)

heinäkuu 22, 2011, 10:19 pm

27. Hawaii (On-the-Road Histories) by John H. Chambers (2006, 299 pages, read May 18-31)

I never would have picked this up had I not been planning a trip to Hawaii, and had I not already had some trouble getting basic history of the Islands. But, since I did have the trip planned, and since I wanted to know about Hawaiian history, and since that history is so darn complicated, and since, therefore, what I needed was a very simple linear narrative to give me a detailed outline with all the key names, key events and basics …this was a perfect book. I picked it up once to scan and found myself reading the whole thing and enjoying it and getting what I wanted from it.

The book itself feels like a travel book with glossy pages, lots of pictures, along with random single-page articles. The history is interesting, nicely presented. No complaints.

heinäkuu 23, 2011, 11:01 am

I am always on the lookout for Hawaii reads, so I am appreciating your comments. On one trip I read a biography of Cook, but like you say, that's not so much of a Hawaii read after all.

heinäkuu 23, 2011, 5:49 pm

Hi Joyce, For more on Hawaii books, check my old thread, posts 279 & 281 (here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/104839#2768940 ). I have two more Hawaii books to review, my favorite, by far, being an anthology of mostly short stories and poetry called Island Fire because it touches on so many of the crazy variations that make up the islands.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 27, 2011, 8:16 am

28. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (2011, 238 pages, read June 1-20)

Before I review this, I should spend a couple paragraphs on Hawaii history in the 19th century. The century saw a complete overturning of the make-up of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1800 the newly discovered islands held a large population wholly within a rigidly hierarchical Kapu religious and cultural structure, with a powerful king at the top. In 1900 Hawaii was an American territory, recently annexed and completely controlled, economically, by American interests. The Hawaiians were a minority population, devastated by disease. Their kingdom had ended, and their culture and religion was no longer of any official significance. The ethnographic make-up of the islands now included American haole and large populations of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and other ethnic groups. The Philippines would come later.

In the interval, American Christian missionaries arrived and converted a King to Christianity, and few other key individuals. They also created a Hawaiian alphabet, and saw the Islands obtain 70% literacy in mid-century, about the highest in the world at that time. Then, a strange thing happened, the people who took over the country, American in all but citizenship, almost all had one thing in common – they were the descendants of the original missionaries.

It is unfortunate that Hawaiian history isn’t quite this simple because it makes Sarah Vowells’ efforts in Unfamiliar Fishes rather complicated. Unfamiliar Fishes is her attempt to look into this century and try to understand what happened. She tried to keep it light and entertaining, but at the same time made a serious effort to find some truth, to read between the lines and really try to see and present the motivations involved. I really appreciate her efforts and her insight and recommend the book to anyone interested in Hawaiian history. However, one problem here is that Hawaiian history is complicated enough that you really need a simplified historical summary before you can approach the history at any depth. You’ll need to find that summary elsewhere.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2011, 12:19 am

29. The Way of Boys : Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World (iBook) by Anthony Rao & Michelle D. Seaton (2009, 267 pages, read June 9 – July 4)

This was an Early Reviewer in 2009 that caught my interest and that I added to my wishlist. I didn't win the book, but recently when we were looking for books on young (and impossible) boys, I actually remembered this book. We chose it over several other options and bought a copy through ibooks.

The first two chapters are absolutely brilliant and have changed the way I look at and handle my almost 5-year-old son. It's in these chapters that Rao (Seaton only assisted Rao with the writing, she is not a child or parenting expert) introduces how boys are different than girls. Young girls tend to do this very normal thing, they look at you and try understand what you are saying, studying all the visual and verbal clues, and they become adept early on in understanding and communicating. Boys generally don't do this. They don't look you in eye, they don't pay attention to any of your body language, and couldn't care less about what you are saying. They aren't interested in communicating, but instead in other spacial/physical kinds of things. So, getting boys to pay attention is really frustrating and makes parents like me (and even our pre-school teacher, who we happen to adore) think about ADHD. Rao has found that it makes parents and teachers think regular healthy boys are "aspergy" and even leads to psychologists over-diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medicine (which affects these boys' natural development).

I'm probably exaggerating if I say that Rao saved my sons life, but I haven't killed him, and both my wife and I have changed how I deal with him. In the meantime, he's turned a corner and improved significantly in his own listening. There is nothing wrong with the rest of the book. The other chapters just tend to focus in on various specific things. All useful, but not world-changing like those first two chapters.

This book also has me thinking again on male and female authors and how much these difference in childhood affect the adults and their writing. For some time now I've been convinced that men and women do in fact tend to write differently and tend to focus on different things, but I haven't figured out what exactly those different things are, or how to describe the differences I think I do see...and I certainly don't have an argument to present.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 1:21 am

Dan, wonderful to hear of this book's impact. Does she advise getting down to a boy's level, redirecting his attention, and having him repeat back what he's heard? I'd love to hear more about improving a boy's listening. As you can imagine, this is still a challenge for elementary age students.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 7:24 am

Sounds interesting, Daniel! A good parenting book can be a godsend.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 9:26 am

Great review, Dan. It helped me understand why I relate so much better to my granddaughter than to my grandson, and may explain why the latter struggles in school even though he's a bright kid. I've sent your review to my daughter-in-law and hope she reads the book.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 11:25 am

>30 dchaikin: how boys are different than girls
and how men remain different from women? although we do acquire some balancing strategies.

Great review, I too want to read those opening chapters.
I've been convinced that men and women do in fact tend to write differently and tend to focus on different things
And I want to read about this.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 2:30 pm

Jenny, Joyce, Steven and MJ, thanks for all the comments. It's always a great feeling to get this kind of feedback on a review.

Jenny - his book is for boys up to about 7 or 8. I'll answer your other questions when I have more time, as I sort of need to compose an answer.

Joyce - so true. We've read a couple other winners, it makes a difference.

Steven - thanks! I'm so flattered that you sent my review on to you daughter-in-law.

MJ - I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to explain my thoughts there, at least not till I work them out better. To me they are not offensive in any way, but if I don't explain well, haven't thought something through enough or even if I just strike the wrong nerve I could get someone upset. Rule of thumb is to avoid the topic (a rule I broke here). I was, however, really entertained by the one mother who said that the techniques she used with her boys, from Rao, also worked on her husband.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 4:05 pm

Superb review of The Way of Boys, Dan. I've added it to my wish list, and I'll probably give it to several friends as Christmas or birthday gifts this year.

heinäkuu 30, 2011, 4:24 pm

the techniques {...} also worked on her husband
haha partly my interest

I remembered after I posted above that I'd recently heard about software that analyzes writing for gender. I don't remember where now, and perhaps multiple teams are working on it. But I did find this on the New Scientist site. (hmm needs perfecting: I tried three favorite posts from my blog and it identified me as neutral (96.65% likely), male (65.85%) and male (88.05%).)

heinäkuu 31, 2011, 11:32 am

In answer to Jenny's question (message #31), it really wasn't the techniques so much as our change in mindset. There were some techniques he mentions, of mixed value, such as giving the boy something for his hands to fidget with and then talking to them while their hands are occupied ( haven't really tried this with my son, but it works with me!) or sitting next to your boy instead of in front of him. But, the biggest change was realizing that my son, while more distracted them maybe average, was actually normal. Just knowing he doesn't have some of permanent problem, that he will grow out of this stage was a big deal. It gave me some reasons to be patient with him and to be more aware of what he's like, and more careful in how I communicate with him. For example, if I say something to him with out first getting his attention, I can expect him to ignore it (not true with my daughter). Sometimes, now, I come up to him face-to-face and ask him to look at me, which he doesn't seem to like to do. He is not shy, actually he is the complete opposite of shy, but he won't usually look me in the eye, even if I ask. He looks to the side or down. But it's not important whether or not he actually looks at me, what I have done was broken his thought process from whatever he was doing before and directed all his attention to me. Then he will listen and react.

One trick that does work is that Rao suggests sending worked up boys to their room. Don't bother with timeouts as they usually don't work (and haven't worked for us). We tried this with a tired boy who was acting up and not getting ready for bed. We gave him clear instructions, that he was going to his room, we were closing the door until he calmed down and got himself ready (in PJ's, teeth brushed, etc). This upset him a lot and we had to physically hold the door closed ( he's strong!) while he pushed and screamed. But then got quiet and came out dressed and calm and bragged to us about how he did calm down and did get himself dressed in time for start time. He was really proud of himself. So, what seemed torturous turned into a really positive, self-esteem building lesson. We've only had maybe one other episode quite like that. Typically, if we send him to his room, he goes; and he comes out he has calmed down (this, by the way, has not worked near as well with my almost 7-yr-old daughter)

There were a few other things I was thinking about yesterday....giving clear simple instructions with clear choices to cooperate or be stuck with some kind of punishment (that I can actually follow up on). Also, Rao likes teachers and pre-school carers, in general, as they seem to be much more practical about how to handle boys, because they need to be. Redirecting his attention is a big thing schools do. And he has some advice for boys having trouble in school, but I can't summarize that.

heinäkuu 31, 2011, 12:01 pm

#36 Darryl - Thanks so much. I would love you know your thoughts on it. By the way, any chance you happen to know of a similar book for girls? I've been disappointed to find that there are few books about pre-pubescent girls. All the girl books focus on the issues of slightly older girls.

#37 MJ - my results:
post #38 - 59.59 % female
post #30 (my review) - 54.48% male
post #29 (an unrelated review) - 63.85 % female
my Brothers Karamazov review (from January) - 55.97 % female

So, I went to my review pages, sorted by thumbs and selected everything (the 1st 30), and tried to erase titles & excerpts....an waited awhile...and waited some more...and got an error :(...I might try again with less text.

The direct link is here: http://stealthserver01.ece.stevens-tech.edu/gendercreatetext?count=9885

heinäkuu 31, 2011, 2:49 pm

Very interesting. I tested it on 10 of my most recent reviews (not using the shorter ones), and got: 60.99% F, 59.11% M, 56.98% F, 66.06% M, 96.56% neutral (!), 84.65% M, 73.94% F, 66.27% F, 66.95% F, and 73.74% M. So, 5 female, 4 male, and one neutral. I'm going to have to read more about what factors they use to distinguish male and female writing styles.

heinäkuu 31, 2011, 5:10 pm

Dan, wonderful honest post about parenting. I love what you said about your son calming down and being proud of himself. He's learning and maturing and with your clear guidance will, no doubt, make a wonderful elementary student. my hats off to you

elokuu 1, 2011, 8:42 am

I'm not aware of any similar books for girls, Dan. I'll ask my LT and non-LT friends, and let you know if I learn of any good ones.

elokuu 1, 2011, 10:19 am

My seven-year-old goes to his room on his own when he feels a need to melt down. We'll hear him yelling, then loudly discussing and then he falls silent and a little while later he rejoins us, friendly and cheerful. I think it's a brilliant coping strategy, and not that different than the one a friend is teaching her autistic son to use when he is overwhelmed.

And it's not that different than how an hour or two alone with a book can render me once more able to deal with a hectic life with cheerfulness and flexibility.

elokuu 1, 2011, 11:23 am

The counselor at my daughter's school gave a workshop on “The Subtleties of Raising Girls”. I was unable to attend, but I thought you might find something helpful on the list.

· Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters, JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. (2002) Hyperion Press.
· The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons (2009) Penguin Press.
· Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children, Michael Thompson, Ph.D., and Catherine O’Neil Grace (2001) Ballantine Books.
· Little Girls Can Be Mean, Michelle Anthony, MA, Ph.D., and Reyna Lindbert, Ph.D. (2010) St. Martin’s Griffin.
· Odd Girl Out, Rachel Simmons (2002) Harcourt Press.
· Odd Girls Speaks Out, Rachel Simmons (2004) Harcourt Press.
· Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules, Journal for Girls and Their Moms, Meredith and Sofie Jacobs (2010) Chronicle Books.
· Parenting From the Inside Out: How a Deeper Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive, Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. (2003) Penguin Press.

elokuu 1, 2011, 11:45 am

My seven-year-old goes to his room on his own when he feels a need to melt down.

I can think of several adults who would benefit from this strategy...

elokuu 1, 2011, 1:26 pm

#44 - Lisa - thanks! I will look those up.

#43 - Alison - I really hope my son figures this out someday...also, if only I could convince my office that when I'm stressed and frustrated, they should simply let me go read a book for an hour or two, to relax...

#41 - Jenny - thanks, but honestly it came straight from the Rao book.

Darryl - re #42 - thanks!...re #45 - if only we could...

#40 - Rebecca, I'm curious what you find on the gender algorithms. It looks to me like it would work best using conversational posts, and not well using reviews. That is because when most of us write reviews, we tend to keep a more neutral voice, which also comes across as more gender-neutral...on the other hand, I would think most authors would lean towards gender neutral.

(side note - my IPad has this autocorrect thing that is really unpredictable. I found some very strange replaced words when proof- reading. So, apologies for any i've missed. And, if any words seems really strange, it probably was my autocorrect, and not me, so you know.)

elokuu 1, 2011, 2:33 pm

I put in a couple of my reviews to see what came out, but thought that the program might have a strong bias towrds he/she pronouns and depending on the sex of the author might spit out differing results. As an experiment I used a heavily male pronoun biased (76% male) piece of writing and changed all the pronouns to females and got 68% female. Not sure what to make of that really since it is such a small sample size. As another experiment I pulled examples of gender neutral paragraphs from around the web written by "experts"on gender-neutral writing and consistently got 55 to 56% male over a dozen different paragraphs. It would be interesting to see how their alogrithm works.

elokuu 1, 2011, 6:40 pm

#46 Well, I tried a few other excerpts and either I write like a guy or the gender algorithms don't work: e-mail about personal matters M 59.55%, e-mail about business M 64.97%, LT posts that weren't reviews M 59.32% and M 93.61%, excerpt from a draft of a short story neutral 100%*, excerpt from a newsletter article M 76.33%. Perhaps because my professional background is science editing and writing, my writing appears more "male" if the algorithm incorrectly associates that kind of writing with men.

*I should note that this story is told by a female narrator who refers to herself as a woman and a mother in the excerpt.

elokuu 2, 2011, 7:39 am

I appreciate your suggestion, Dan. Le Salon seems to be a very interesting group, which I would be very tempted to join. I agree, there's a very good choice of readings, and active participation of some really interesting, motivated people.

Unfortunately, most books are not available to me in China, neither from book stores nor libraries. While not impossible, it would be difficult to obtain those books.

Another thing is I do not really want to tie myself down to an external choice of readings. I own a great number of books in various languages, which I hope to finish reading at some time in the future. I have to keep going at my own tbr pile.

I have a busy job, and do a very considerable part of my reading on buses / subways or between classes; it would be hard to find time and concentration to read the Faerie Qveene (again).

For me, much early poetry is re-read, usually partial, when I am in the mood. I have three copies of the Faerie Queen, a Norton edition (complete & annotated), an Oxford edition (in The Poetical Works by Spenser and a fine, blue, 2-vols Oxford edition (1900 & 1899),which I have here with me in Beijing, ideal for a stroll in the botanical garden.

I love reading by the small pools near the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in the botanical garden, or the Temple of the Azure Clouds, a bit further to the west at the foot of the Fragrant Mountains.

elokuu 2, 2011, 10:07 am

Edwin, I wish I had a small pool near a Temple of the Reclining Buddha to read at. I've been doing most of my reading inside an air-conditioned Starbucks early in the morning before work because it's 100-deg F everyday, and I can't find any other coffee shop ...or place to read...near my office.

elokuu 6, 2011, 6:37 pm

I'm in two places right now. Most of time is with Spenser, like this:

Through which aduantage, in his strength he rose,
And smote the other with so wondrous might,
That through the seame, which did his hauberk close,
Into his throate and life it pierced quight,
That downe he fell as dead in all mens sight;
Yet dead he was not, yet sure he did die,
As all men do, that lose the liuing spright:
So did one soule out of his bodie flie
Vnto her natiue home from mortall miserie.

But nathlesse whilst all the lookers on
Him dead behight, as he to all appeard,
All vnawares he started vp anon,
As one that out of a dreame bene reard,
And fresh assayld his foe, who halfe affeard
Of th'vncouth sight, as he some ghost had seene,
Stood still amaz'd, holding his idle sweard;
Till hauing often by him stricken beene,
He forced was to strike, and saue him selfe from teene.

The other part of my time is with Bruce Chatwin in thoughts like this:

Pascal, in one of his gloomier pensees, gave it as his opinion that all our miseries stemmed from a single cause: our inability to remain quietly in a room.

Why, he asked, must a man with sufficient to live on feel drawn to divert himself on long sea voyages? To dwell in another town? To go off in search of peppercorn? Or go off to war and break skulls?

Later, on further reflection, having discovered the cause of our misfortunes, he wished to understand the reason for them, he found one very good reason: namely, the natural unhappiness of our weak mortal condition; so unhappy that when we gave it all our attention, nothing could console us.

One thing alone could alleviate our despair, and that was 'distraction' (divertissement): yet this was the worst of our misfortunes, for in distraction we were prevented from thinking about ourselves and were gradually brought to ruin.

Could it be, I wondered, that our need for distraction, our mania for the new, was, in essence, an instinctive migratory urge akin to that of birds in autumn?

All the great teachers have preached that Man, originally, was a 'wander in the scorching and barren wilderness of this world' -- the words are those of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor -- and that to rediscover his humanity, he must slough off attachments and take to the road.

elokuu 7, 2011, 6:22 am

dan - glad to see you are reading Chatwin. It has been a long time since I last read him, but it all still resonates with me.

elokuu 7, 2011, 7:25 am

Z - He's been a terrific discovery for me. I'm under his spell.

elokuu 7, 2011, 7:57 am

Some gloomy thoughts from Bruce. You could hardly be spending your time better Dan. Two fine writers indeed.

elokuu 7, 2011, 10:23 am

Ah Bruce Chatwin, one of my favourites. Is that from Songlines, dan? Fabulous stuff.

elokuu 7, 2011, 4:20 pm

Bas - i'm tempted to agree, although it's not clear to me what draws me to Spenser. Chatwin i understand, he's on my wavelength, but so much deeper. He's a well for me.

Murr - i owe you a thanks, since it was your comments in a le Salon thread that inspired me to pick up this Chatwin now (Z commented there too). Yes, it's Songlines. I also recently picked up a copy of In Patagonia in a wonderful tiny used bookstore I stumbled across in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (very sad I only had a half hour there, and can't be sure I'll ever get there again).

elokuu 7, 2011, 5:28 pm

Dan, the frustrations of being time limited in an interesting book store!

elokuu 9, 2011, 12:57 am

Glad it resonates with you, Dan.

elokuu 10, 2011, 10:59 am

>51 dchaikin: - Beckett was influenced by Pascal and Waiting for Godot can be (partially) seen as a dramatisation of divertissement - Estragon & Vladimir constantly filling in the time with meaningless acts and conversations.

elokuu 10, 2011, 11:09 pm

#59 - Very interesting...although I'm feeling undereducated. I haven't actually seen or read Waiting for Godot. I know somewhere around nothing about Pascal...and a number of other people Chatwin mentions within the length of a notebook note.

elokuu 10, 2011, 11:45 pm

I read Waiting for Godot in conjunction with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which would be twice removed from Pascal? Both are very interesting to read, but I wish I had seen them performed...

elokuu 11, 2011, 12:14 pm

>56 dchaikin: You wouldn't happen to know the name of that bookstore, would you? Doylestown is the seat of the county my parents live in, so I might look for it next month when I visit them. (Central Books? Bucks County Bookshop?)

elokuu 11, 2011, 1:45 pm

Darryl - I'm jealous...

It's Buck's County Bookshop. There are two adjacent used-book stores with a single street entrance. If you go in and go straight or left, you are in a decent used book store. If you go right, you are in "Bucks County Bookshop" - this is one I fell in love with. They have an "emphasis on scholarly books and world literature" and they are very organized with some fiction sections organized by geographic location or otherwise. I found that I could go to any section and immediately find several books up interest, mostly not best sellers, but, for example, books I probably could not find electronically.

as an example, I was looking for Bruce Chatwin and asked for travel books. I was shown a large book shelf. One shelf was travel guides and two shelves were "literary" travel books. When I asked for Chatwin, I was directed to fiction (Chatwin's "travel" books are actually fictionalized)... and they had several books by Chatwin, even his his biography by Nicholas Shakespeare (which I should have bought!).

Street address: 35 West State St Doylestown, PA 18901
LT local : http://www.librarything.com/venue/8161/Bucks-County-Bookshop

elokuu 11, 2011, 1:46 pm

#61 - Lisa - i had those two in mind together...but perhaps I should start with MacBeth...(haven't read that either...)

elokuu 12, 2011, 4:19 pm

>63 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. Doylestown is ~20 miles NW of where my parents live, but I haven't been there in years. My mother likes going there, so I'll almost certainly go with my parents when I visit them next month.

Did you visit New Hope, PA while you were there?

elokuu 12, 2011, 6:43 pm

Darryl - I have never been there. We are in the area about once a year to visit my sister, in Blue Bell (~30 miles SW of Doylestown). We were in Doylestown for a castle playground for the kids. :)

elokuu 15, 2011, 4:50 pm

Just catchin' up with you, Dan. :-)

elokuu 16, 2011, 9:12 am

Hi Lois, glad to know you stopped by.

elokuu 23, 2011, 12:46 pm

Just catching up. Loved your review of The Way of Boys. I'm from a family of 3 girls as is my mother. My father, however, was the oldest of 6 with only the youngest being female. He did an excellent job adjusting, though I think the harder years for girls are the 10+.

Just spent a good amount of time piddling with the gender classification from text thing. Either it is using some faulty formula or it can tell that I'm a tomboy. Only one hit for female, and that on an email about my husband's birthday.

Reviews (5 thumbs +)
The Road - male 78.68%
My Antonia - male 70.59%
Light in August - male 68.41%
The Barefoot Book - male 71.11%
Wizard of the Crow - male 82.41%
Texas Tough - male 73.17%

Post 106 in my thread - male 74.08%
Post 2 from my architecture thread in Le Salon - male 82.40%

Work email 1 (to boss (M)) - male 80.60%
Work email 2.1 (to client (F)) - male 64.07%
Work email 2.2 (to client (M)) - male 71.67%
Work email 3.1 (to consultant (F)) - male 78.39%
Work email 3.2 (to consultant (M)) - male 61.76%
Work email 3.3 (to consultant (N)) - male 76.36%
Work email 4.1 (to contractor (F)) - male 62.32%
Work email 4.2 (to contractor (M)) - male 76.96%

Personal email 1 (to M&F friend (couple)) - male 58.71%
Personal email 2 (to all M friends) - female 53.39%

I do find it fascinating. My sister said one of the most amazing things to me when she came out that really impacted the way I see myself. I asked her how she would calssify herself or what I should call her/think of her as. She feels 'queer' is the most all encompasing - she is attracted to both males and females, but has trouble forming emotional connections with men. That blew me away specifically because my sister and I have never been close, and I've never had many female friends - in fact feel exactly the opposite to her in that I cannot emotionally connect with women. It was a revelation for me as to why we have not gotten along most of our lives.

So long, personal, story short, I wonder if my, I'm not sure what to call it, male-centric? personality/attitude, is being picked up by whatever algorithm they are using.

elokuu 23, 2011, 2:47 pm

Jane - That is fascinating about you and your sister. I'm unimpressed with the algorithm and wouldn't advice interpreting it very far. But that doesn't change the rest of your thought process.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 27, 2011, 12:50 am

30. Island Fire : An Anthology of Literature from Hawai'i by Cheryl A. & James R. Harstad (editors) (2002, 237 pages, read June 14 – July 7)

I stumbled across this book in a small “antique” store in the tiny town of Paia, on Maui. I had been looking for more books on Hawaii, but I didn’t expect to find any books in that store and was simply killing time after a chiropractor appointment. What an unexpected little gem.

The collection was originally published in 1981 as one volume in a three-volume anthology titled Asian-Pacific Literature. This volume, all on Hawaii, was apparently popular enough that it was republished by itself 20-years later, in 2002, with some updates. The editors made a strong effort to capture the cultural variety of Hawaii. They collected mostly modern (circa 1978) local literature, including even selections from 8th and 11th grade authors. They also include some Hawaiian-language chants, printed with English translations. And they avoided the biggest Hawaii-associated literary names. In the intro they state “By no coincidence, none of the authors was named Twain, London, Maugham, Stevenson—or Michener!” The result is a rich colorful collection that touches on a number of different aspects in the diverse Hawaiian spectrum.

Flipping through the stories again I’m really struck by how much of Hawaii this brings out. In The Surfer a character takes care for his dying friend (with maybe hinted homosexual overtones) by sitting by him and talking about surfing. The dying man is of Japanese-descent. The other man is happy to criticize himself as Haole (a native Hawaiian somewhat derogatory term for Caucasians)…and yet there are no native Hawaiians in the story. In Oranges are Lucky an elderly, maybe somewhat senile Chinese woman remembers her past in perfect clarity when she lived happily in China until being forced to move to Hawaii by her husband who mainly wanted a new identity. In The Luna on the Landing and old man of unspecified origin (Japanese?) takes cares of an unrelated boy in an abandoned cliff-side boat landing where he spent the entirety of his working life.

Hawaii has a sad post-discovery history characterized by a sharp decline in the native population and western exploitation. Desperate for labor, the western-run plantations imported large numbers of people from China, Japan, Korea, the Philipines, and elsewhere. The modern result is something special, it’s a beautiful cacophony of clashing cultures. The literary possibilities seem enormous.

For a better sense of the book (and for my own reference), I’ve posted the table of contents with some ethnic or other important description of each work. The asterisks mark favorite stories.

1. Fire Chant for King Ka-la-Kuau (Hawaiian chant) translated by Mary K. Pukui & Alfons L. Korn
2. The Queen's Prayer (poem in Hawaiian) by Queen Lili'uokalani
*3. Pele's Own (short story, Hawaiian theme) by Charles M. Kong
*4. The Mystery of the Ku'ula Rock (short story, Hawaiian theme) by Joseph Keonona Chun Fat
5. Three Island Images (three poems) by David C. Farmer, Mudra & James N. Gusukuma
6. "Malie" (excerpted from Moloka'i, Hawaiian theme and ??, also leprosy theme) by Oswald A. Bushnell
7. Songs of the Chanter Ka-'ehu (Hawaiian song) translated by Mary K. Pukui & Alfons L. Korn
8. Tearning Down a Planation House (poem haole?/Hawaiian/Japanese? Theme) by Vittorio Talerico
9. Hanapepe, Kaua'i (poem) by Geralding Heng
*10. The Luna of the Landing (short story, maybe Japanese theme) by Marshall M. Doi
11. Plantation Christmas (short story) by Vivian L. Thompson
12. New Year (poem, Japanese theme) by Gail Harada
13. Comfort Woman (short story, Korean theme) by Nora Okja Keller
14. Juk (poem, Korean theme) by Wing Tek Lum
15. Oyako-Donburi (poem, Japanese theme) by Sera Nakachi
16. Girls, Are They Worth It? (short story, 11th-grade author) by Jonathan Kim
*17. A Small Rebuttal (poem) by Barbara B. Robinson
18. Lost Sister (poem Chinese theme) by Cathy Song
*19. Oranges are Lucky (drama, Chinese theme) by Darrell H.Y. Lum
*20. Ancestry (poem) by Eric Chock
21. Here I Am (poem, Japanese theme) by Gary Tachiyama
*22. Old Kimono (short story, Japanese theme) by Marie Hara
*23. The Surfer (short story, Japanese/haole theme) by Asa Baber
24. Ramble Round Hawai'i (Hawaiian chant) translated by Mary K. Pukui & Alfons L. Korn
25. Son of the Shark-God (Hawaiian myth) retold by Alfons L. Korn
*26. The Pool (short story, Hawaiian/haole theme) by John Dominis Holt
27. Turtles (poem) by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
28. "Great Grandfather of the Sandalwood Mountains" (excerpted from China Men, Chinese theme) by Maxine Hong Kingston
29. The Hongo Store, 29 Miles Volcano, Hilo, Hawai'i (poem) by Garrett Hongo
30. excerpt from Sachie, A Daughter of Hawai'i (Japanese theme) by Patsy Saika
31. The Mystery Writer's Class Reunion (short story, 11th-grade author, haole theme) by Lisa Horiuchi
32. Awapuhi (poem) by Puanani Burgess
33. A Fire (short story, Korean/Chinese theme) by Ty Pak
34. The Men Whose Tongues (poem) by Dana Naone
35. A Chant for a Wedding (poem) by Alfons L. Korn
36. The Grandmother (short story Japanese/Haole? Theme) by Susan Nunes
37. Hybrid (poem) by Juliet S. Kono
38. Bonsai (poem, Japanese theme) by Frances Kakugawa
39. Papio (poem) by Eric Chock
40. The Million-Dollar Mango Tree (short story, 8th-grade author hapa-haole/Filipino theme) by Ryan Monico
41. More Precious than Pineapples (poem) by Vittorio Talerico
42. Chinatown (poem, Chinese theme) by Cathy Song
43. A Haole Stops in Kaimuki (short story, Portuguese/Haole theme) by Jim Harstad
44. Pele's Children (short story, grade-school author?, haole tourist theme) by Alissa Fukushima
*45. excerpt from A Pilgrim's Kisses (essays) by James D. Houston

elokuu 27, 2011, 5:16 am

The modern result is something special, it’s a beautiful cacophony of clashing cultures. I like that idea Dan.

elokuu 27, 2011, 10:29 am

thanks bas. I was tempted to erase that paragraph. It captures my first thought about the book, but didn't quite fit perfectly in the flow of the review. Glad i left it in.

elokuu 27, 2011, 11:35 pm

31. American Salvage : Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell (2009, 170 pages, read June 28 – July 8)

Bonnie Jo Campbell tells in her acknowledgments “The events and characters depicted in these pages are fictional, but my hometown of Comstock, Michigan, where many of these stories could have taken place, is very real.” Comstock is in southwest Michigan, very close to Kalamazoo.

While reading this I really liked pretty much every story individually. But as a collection, it felt repetitive in style and in subject. Every story takes place in southwest Michigan, and each one looks at some sad, financially desperate, rural bubba-type character and the people around them. Methamphetamines, fear of a Y2K apocalypse and hunting are re-occurring themes. Looking back now I can better appreciate the efforts Campbell put into exploring several different aspects of this region.

The standout stories for me had stronger characters, with something to appreciate in them, and maybe a positive tilt. In The Inventor, 1972, winner of the 2008 Eudora Welty Prize, a young man with almost no possessions, who partially survives by hunting, hits a teenage girl with his car by mistake, severely injuring her. Heinously deformed from a burn in accident, scary to look at and barely able to talk, he has some trouble trying to comfort the young girl and trying to find help. Campbell gets under his deformities and past his other problems to the young, optimistic, more-or-less normal man that was once there and still sits in the background of his psyche. In Family Reunion a very young victim of an unreported rape deals with her emotional confusion by isolating herself, becoming mute and also a brilliant hunter. We sense her adolescent confusion and watch as, unguided, she begins to work her own psychological way. In Boar Taint a young woman almost capriciously deciding to raise pigs finds herself alone in the deepest backwoods of Michigan, where electricity hasn’t even arrived yet, to buy a sickly male pig that is in much worse shape then she imagined. There is a moment when she walks into the house “which seemed doomed to collapse”, her eyes adjusting to the dim light, observing a woman, when “three more silent men materialized at the table, and a boy…The men all had a forward curve to their shoulders, with their forearms resting on the table as thought they were defending bowls of food, only there were no bowls.” In the silence, the story pauses, allowing the image to begin to crystallize – a window into a very foreign existence.

A valuable collection as is, this is also promising as there is clearly more here to develop.

elokuu 28, 2011, 3:58 am

Superb review of Island Fire, Dan; I've added it to my wish list.

elokuu 28, 2011, 1:13 pm

I think I liked American Salvage better than you did, and have also enjoyed reading Campbell's earlier work (less good) and recent novel, Once Upon a River. It's always nice to see a writer developing.

elokuu 28, 2011, 1:39 pm

I have American Salvage on my bedside table, waiting to be read. I think I'll get started tonight and leave time between each story.

elokuu 28, 2011, 2:24 pm

I actually read American Salvage in almost one sitting.

elokuu 28, 2011, 7:18 pm

#75 - Darryl - Thanks, you're too kind.

#75-78 - Rebeccca, it's true that I didn't like American Salvage quite as much as most who have commented here in Club Read, where it gets raves. I did really enjoy it though, and I'm happy to have read it.

Alison - It can be a one sitting book. It's nice and small (which is part of the reason I read it when I did. My neck problems stared at that time, and I needed a small book I could hold while learning to maintain a new upright posture.) and the stories run nicely together, I think.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2011, 8:55 am

32. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (1987, 294 pages, read July 20 - Aug 8)

The Australian Aboriginal songlines, or dreaming tracks, are a fascinating part of a mythology that, after reading this book, I only partly understand. They are geographic paths of stories which cut across Australia in different directions from end to end, marking, within the story, every significant natural landmark. A person who knew the songlines would learn the stories about places he or she would probably never see, and then he would pass these on through a complicated cultural system. Later, someone otherwise unfamiliar with these areas could use the songs as map, maybe to find waterholes, and, essentially, as an information source. The songs were kept constant on some level even as the language dialects changed. So, two people from different parts of Australia would know the same songs. Further, there is a larger mythology behind and around the songs, and a whole cultural system that they are an integral part of…at least that’s what I got from Bruce Chatwin.

Chatwin visited Australia in order to gain a more intimate understanding of the songlines. With some help, he wandered through central Australia interviewing various people he came across. However, he wasn’t simply out to learn and report about this mythology. His explorations were a means to end, a part of an ongoing search he had obsessively set himself on. Early in the book Chatwin mentions a manuscript that he had written on nomads. He burned the manuscript, but kept the notes. Now, in Australia, he is continuing along the same themes, observing, for example, the similarities between these Aboriginal Songlines and the Homeric epics. He postulates that the ancient Greek mythologies are the remains a similar type of mythological atlas.

Perhaps it’s in the book somewhere, but I didn’t read closely enough to gather exactly what Chatwin is looking for. At one point he gets stuck, partially by choice, in a tiny isolated village, and goes through his notebooks and this book either explodes or dissolves in to a list of notes on nomadism and, in general, on some search for some kind of deep understanding of humanity. He later wanders back to the Songlines, but a conclusion is elusive.

I started this book while I was reading Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, which, to me, felt like an interesting walk in deep obscurity. Nothing else was getting through to me, but Chatwin briefly broke through and I fell in love with this book, with the idea of Chatwin’s pursuit, and with his intense sincerity. Of course, this is a work of fiction (or “a truth and a half”, as Chatwin’s biographer Nicholas Shakespeare put it), which, at least for me, leaves element of confusion. Also, I was left with a sense of incompleteness and of needing, and wanting, to go back here again to try to understand Chatwin and his notes better...without Spenser distracting me in the background. This was a memorable read, and a favorite book.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2011, 9:01 am

I finished The Faerie Queene on Aug 26, and now I'm trying to catch up with reviews. Four more to go, but I have no idea how to review the FQ itself.

ETA - I mean five more to go...

elokuu 31, 2011, 9:09 am

The Songlines sounds fascinating, but I'm not sure I'm up to the effort right now. I'll keep it on the mental TBR.

elokuu 31, 2011, 9:29 am

Hi Rebecca, if you get here, it's painless, and I would love to read your thoughts.

elokuu 31, 2011, 12:27 pm

I agree, sounds quite intriguing.

elokuu 31, 2011, 12:35 pm

Glad you liked Songlines so much Dan. It does have a special feel to it and Chatwin writes so well, that you get sucked into the mystery of it all. It's a long time since I read it, so I think it is due for a re-read.

elokuu 31, 2011, 9:30 pm

Hi Jane & Bas - thanks for stopping by. Bas, not sure when I might re-read it, but I really do hope to...I might have to actually buy a copy next time, since the copy I read came from the library.

elokuu 31, 2011, 9:32 pm

I'm surprised that you said it's painless, Dan. I would have assumed it was a poetical and thus difficult read.

elokuu 31, 2011, 10:12 pm

#87 CMuse - No no, not difficult in that way. He's not direct so you need to do your own thinking and figuring out, but a special thing about Chatwin is that he's a terrific storyteller.

syyskuu 1, 2011, 1:18 am

Indeed you interest me. I'm gearing up for Magic Mountain now, but after that... hmmm.

syyskuu 1, 2011, 2:38 am

excellent job Dan. one of the things I liked about Songlines is that it blurs the line between landscape, song and wandering, so that landscape is song is the journey, the song is the journey and the landscape and the journey is the song and the landscape: these three concepts are in fact one and the same in the mind of the Aborigine. I thought that was a beautiful idea.

syyskuu 1, 2011, 9:20 am

Murr, thank you, I did not put it together that way, but it makes sense - an interweaving of the real ( the landscape), a human action within the real (wandering, but also more) and a purely mental construct (the songs) linking all three together and perhaps putting in some kind of meaning. Also, I didn't quite put together how Chatwin's own wandering echoes his own writing. He has found the real and his own real response, his wandering, but he can't figure out what do about the mental construct; this is his struggle.

Muse, no History? It seems Morante has no leader and few takers. I'll try out Morante first, than, unprepared, start Mann.

syyskuu 1, 2011, 9:22 am

There is also history in the songs...

syyskuu 3, 2011, 4:20 pm

I love your review of Songlines and am intrigued by the discussion. I think I will try and find a non-fiction book about them. I'm too jet-lagged to try and sort out truth and story from this one; or at least for now. :-)

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 3, 2011, 11:52 pm

Hi Lisa, Thanks and welcome back. In Chatwin's case I think the book works regardless of the actual truth of his travels.

syyskuu 4, 2011, 4:48 pm

Like bas, I read Songlines years ago and found it haunting -- deep myth -- but I really don't remember the particulars. I should take another look, but ah---time.

syyskuu 6, 2011, 10:37 pm

Hi Jane - thanks for stopping by. I'm surprised by how many lter's I know have read Songlines, and have re-read it or thought about re-reading it. I had never heard of it before this year.

syyskuu 7, 2011, 12:10 am

Nah, not History. I'm not a good group reader. But it'll be good to join you in the Mann, unprepared or not!

syyskuu 19, 2011, 1:07 pm

We have a trip planned to Israel next summer for my nephew's Bar Mitzvah. I've never been there before. I've begun checking out books from the library on various Israel-related themes. While I'm unsure of where it will lead, I am finding that part of my resistance to going here, toward looking into Judaism and Jewish history over the last several years, is the massive extent of what there is to explore. If I get obsessed, I may never get out again.

Anyway, I spent the weekend completing a first book, The Atlas of Jewish History by Martin Gilbert. It's a book of maps, terribly designed and very interesting, originally published in 1969, and updated in 1992. I consider myself more-or-less aware of the extent of the dark cloud over Jewish history, but still found this very depressing...

Other than that I'm reading Elsa Morante's History: A Novel, and occasionally picking up a Iowa Review and Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia.

syyskuu 22, 2011, 10:03 pm

33. horoscopes for the dead : poems by Billy Collins (2011, 106 pages, read July 17 - Aug 11)

Nothing much to say about this one. Collins was one of the first poets I was able to read and feel like I gained something of value. I've appreciated the accessibility and playful complexity in his poetry. But this collection just didn't very much for me.

syyskuu 24, 2011, 10:59 pm

Catching up on your thread Dan. Always interesting things here.

I'm glad to see you liked The Songlines. We are taking a trip to Australia and New Zealand in a few weeks, and I've been reading Australian and New Zealand books for a couple of months now. I have The Songlines, but I've been putting off reading it (and The Bone People) because I thought it would be too difficult to enjoy. Glad to hear it's accessible. I haven't read anything by Chatwin, but his biography by Nicholas Shakespeare was excellent.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 7:39 am

Aruba, I think you would enjoy Chatwin. Your trip sounds wonderful.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 25, 2011, 11:16 am

Just to skip back to add to Jane's posting in #69 (and those previous), here are my results:

Excerpt from my African Psycho review: Female, 53.81%
Excerpt from my Living with Complexity review: Male, 52.91%
Excerpt from my Hygiene & the Assassin review: Male, 64.43%
Excerpt from my Five Bells review: 100% neutral
Paragraph written about an article on artist Alexander Hogue: Male, 67.91%

ok, so I thought I'd try some other writing:

Except from a personal political rant posted in a private group: male, 61.31%
Except from personal rant about a book industry topic also posted in a private group: male, 62.95%
Paragraph written in a more personal tone about the colors I was having painted in some of the rooms in the house. male, 77.69%

**Dukedom says it's a good thing we live in Massachusetts where writers of any gender can be married! :-)

It's addicting and fascinating...I keep trying to outsmart it.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 11:26 am

I tried the gender classifier also. So far:

Excerpt of my review of Red Plenty, Francis Spufford, 96.9 neutral,
Excerpt of my review of Embassytown, China Mieville, 69.7 male,
Excerpt of my review of Was, Geoffrey Ryman, 53.3 male,
Excerpt of my review of Zendegi, Greg Egan, 87.5 female,
Excerpt of my review of Yellow Blue Tibia, Adam Roberts, 65.2 female,
Excerpt of my review of Palimpsest, Catherynne Valente, 59.2 female,

As far as I can see, the Egan and Roberts "F" reviews are maybe a bit more informal in tone than the others, but the Valente review doesn't seem to be in that category. I don't vary my tone in reviews very much.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 11:34 am

I read The Songlines back in the...1980s I think. Liked it; it's indeed accessible. I seem to recall some degree of controversy about its accuracy, but that'd be the case for any book by a nonspecialist.

During our Australia vacation in 2007, avaland and I were told that the only stories Aboriginal Australians make available, about their beliefs, to outsiders are those they tell to children, not the ones known by initiated adults. Might that be the "larger mythology" you mention?

syyskuu 25, 2011, 2:19 pm

#102/3 I think you would be OK in Texas. The marriage seems to be heterosexual in writing, it's just the reverse of the biology.

104 - re "larger mythology" - no, nothing that specific. There is just more too to it, and Chatwin only touches on the other aspects. Songlines is fiction, I don't think he was overly worried about accuracy. I think that if someone wants an accurate picture of the Aboriginal mythologies, they should look for something else to pin down the facts and only use Chatwin for some color. Still, I don' think it detracts from the book, which is really about Chatwin and his thought process more than it's about Australia.

syyskuu 25, 2011, 6:57 pm

Unable to keep up with everyone's threads, for about a week I've tried reading them in alphabetical order, by thread name. I'm working on K...

syyskuu 25, 2011, 8:06 pm

>106 dchaikin: Wow, alphabetical order. I'm am impressed!

syyskuu 25, 2011, 8:35 pm

It's a challenge, Dan -- I dip in and out, but yours is one I dip into regularly. ;-

syyskuu 26, 2011, 12:18 pm

As a relative newcomer I am addicted to these threads. I read em all.

syyskuu 26, 2011, 12:33 pm

bas, I try...

This isn't really working, by the way, the alphabetic bit. Once I've passed a thread, it suddenly accumulates a bunch of new posts. So, I'm suddenly about 18 posts behind on Lois's thread...but I'm over 40 posts behind on Kidsdoc...so K first. (I just caught up with Katie ("a" before "i"). She who has a great review of Netherland...posted ten days ago! sigh.)

Jane, thanks!

syyskuu 26, 2011, 10:38 pm

She who has a great review of Netherland

Thanks, Dan!!

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 29, 2011, 11:21 am

Katie - you're welcome. (i"m up to "n" now)

from Girls will be Girls by JoAnn Deak, with Teresa Barker
... current* brain research is beginning to support the view that most females experience their emotions more frequently and more intensely than most males. Why this is so is unclear, and probably will be an open question to speculation forever. Evolutionist declare that caring and nurturing, and therefore emotion, are programmed into the females of the species so that the offspring will be cared for, insuring survival of the species. I'm sure that other mind and body experts have some different views, but whatever the explanation or cause, the idea that females are more emotional—feel emotions more acutely—is gaining more and more scientific validity.

* circa 2002

This is just a side note in a chapter about how emotional tween-girls are prone to get.

syyskuu 29, 2011, 3:07 pm

As the mother of a ten-year-old, I have to agree. While I remember how it was (vaguely), it still surprises me how her moods can shift so quickly. She's very much a tomboy, math-oriented and has more friends who are boys than girls, but she still reacts in ways that leave her father and brother astonished.

syyskuu 30, 2011, 6:20 am

Dan - I remember reading Gilbert's The Atlas of Jewish History many years ago. Although there is a lot to be depressed about, there is also the resilience and the willingness to adapt to other cultures. I recall being pleasantly surprised to read about communities in the Indian subcontinent, Japan, and potentially in Africa.

I visited Israel to work on a kibbutz in the 1980s and loved Jerusalem, so much history and colour (as well as tragedy).

syyskuu 30, 2011, 9:31 am

#113 Alison - I have a few years (my daughter turns seven in a few days). I'm reading ahead... but this struck me.

#114 Z - There are fascinating positives, too. Also, I think the most successful aspects of Jewish culture and history aren't mappable in any traditional sense of a geographic map. I'm really looking forward to the trip next year (although, I'm concerned about the format. it will be a guided tour the whole time)

syyskuu 30, 2011, 7:04 pm

Since you de-lurked in my thread, I thought I'd drop by yours. I see you've been sampling Andersen ... how do you like him? I recently purchased the complete tales after learning that my supposedly exhaustive collection was a mere selection—horrors! I'm not sure I ever made it through the whole of the Brothers Grimm, either. That'll be a project one of these coming years.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 30, 2011, 10:31 pm

Welcome Nathan. I've read about 150 pages of HCA in nine months. They're wonderful, charmingly told odd tales and fascinating because we know so many of them in bits and pieces in popular culture here and there. For awhile I was able to read for 15 minute stretches while my son played in the bath, and that was my HCA time. But, he doesn't really like to play in bath anymore, and I haven't found another excuse to routinely pick it up.

syyskuu 30, 2011, 11:00 pm

A moment to brag about my kids...We spent the evening at an event for children's book author Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Last year he came to my daughter's school and the librarian set-up a movie contest. My daughter played Annie in her kindergarten class's version of Annie Was Warned, and the movie made it on his website. So, tonight, he recognized my daughter and then, while he read that book, he pointed her out and had the movie playing in the background. My daughter is convinced she's a star... If you want to watch her budding acting career, go HERE, she's the one waving the flashlight around.

lokakuu 1, 2011, 12:43 pm


lokakuu 1, 2011, 7:33 pm

Dan, "Annie" is wonderful. You never know where it will lead. I have a niece who probably got her start this way, and now she is an aspiring Shakespearean actress in graduate school. After seeing your clip I wondered if maybe she was on You-Tube, and, sure enough I found an audition tape of hers.

lokakuu 2, 2011, 12:09 pm

That was great, Dan! Thanks for sharing "Annie" with us.

lokakuu 4, 2011, 9:03 am

Jane, Steven & Darryl, thanks for the comments.

At some point I really should post a review of Faerie Queene. I think I will need to keep it purely personal and avoid anything "useful"...there is just too much scholarly information and anything I try to say will be under- or misinformed. I have something in mind, I just need to set some time aside to actually figure it out.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 4, 2011, 9:55 am

Cute video! (and a busy author!)

re: catching up on threads, whenever zeno and others post a link to some music, it seems serendipitous to listen while catching up on posts :)

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 13, 2011, 11:57 pm

An effort to catch up a bit...

34. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (1596, 1219 pages, read June 21 - August 26)

I had a complicated relationship with this book that I spent two months on. I started it hesitantly, with the mindset that it was an experiment. I was not sure if I would be able to catch on, or if it I would want to keep reading it. Then I kept reading. On one hand I was very dedicated, reading at least a canto a day (roughly a little less than an hour of reading for me) and reading about it in several other books. On the other hands, I didn’t take it too seriously. I let myself get lost in it. The reading I did about it was not carefully selected, but just random, whatever I stumbled across. It was all new to me anyway.

So, now, when it comes time to review, there isn’t much there for me to say of value. I can tell you that Spenser made up more words than I’ve forgotten. He writes in a language that never existed, a pastiche made to sound old for his time. And I can somewhat place it in a time period: after Spenser’s own work The Shepheardes Calender (published 1579) and before Shakespeare’s prime. The Shepheardes Calender is credited in some places as the being the work that opened English-language poetry to the Renaissance, and, hence, a pivot point in English poetry. Shakespeare’s first play dates from about 1590. Also, I can probably argue that The Faerie Queene is a failure, but a most beautiful failure.

My experience was something like wandering aimlessly through odd stories full of elegant spelling variations and alliterations. The stories are violent, sensuous, repressed, humorous, painfully serious, clever, silly and so on. They are about chivalry, and chastity and all variations of sin. They ooze with classical references, especially to Italian Renaissance works. It’s all in heavy overdone allegory, usually very obvious, but sometimes quite subtle. And I didn’t get the half of it. It was a nice walk in the woods, but it just didn’t leave with all the much to talk about.

35. The Faerie Queene : Educating the Reader by Russell J. Meyer (1991, 129 pages, read July 19 - August 26)

Looking for books available in my local library on The Faerie Queene, I stumbled across this one by a University of Houston professor (which is probably why my library had it). This was OK, accessible and easy to read. I gained a lot, but Meyer sometimes used up his space to state the obvious without going deeper. The best section of the book for me was his discussion of the overall structural themes in the six books of the FQ (summarized in post #106 HERE, if you’re interested)

36. The Mutabilitie Cantos (Nelson's Medieval and Renaissance Library) by Edmund Spenser (editing, introduction and notes by Sheldon P. Zitner) (1609/1968, 156 pages, read Aug 26-30)

The Mutabilitie Cantos are two extra Cantos, originally published in 1609, that appear to be related to the rest of Spenser’s unfinished Faerie Queene. There is no existing documentation as to how or where they were found, or why they were included in that one 1609 edition. Spender had published his existing FQ books in 1596, and died 1599.

Thomas P. Roche, Jr. (editor of the Penguin edition TFQ) says "The sweep of her {the Goddess Mutabilitie's} claim calls into question not only Renaissance cosmology but also the value and dignity of human life within the Christian scheme." The inside cover-flap of Zitner's book claims the Mutabilitie Cantos "are generally agreed to contain some of the finest poetry in The Faerie Queene, and are of central importance in the study of philosophic and religious beliefs in the late sixteenth century.

These comments compelled me to read Zitner’s long introduction and re-read the Cantos with his notes. The introduction was difficult to read and had limited reward. Re-reading the Cantos was an enriching pleasure. My impression follows none of the seriousness implied by the two excerpts above. Instead, re-posting what I stated elsewhere, my strongest impression is of the smile Spenser must have worn as he completed each stanza. He was having fun, in his own way.

37. Poetry : January 1981 (volume 137, number 4) (58 pages, read Aug 11-31)
John Federick Nims – main editor

This was my first try at reading an issue of Poetry Magazine. The poems here were long and too difficult and subtle for me to get much out of. There was, however, a wonderful and long piece by John Simon that critically looks at the translation of poetry, focusing on various recent (for January 1981) publications. He generally slams these new translations, but in the most varied and interesting of manners.

38. The Atlas of Jewish History : Completely Revised and Updated by Martin Gilbert (1969, revised 1992, 130 pages, read Sep 17-19)

Restating from post #98 above : This is a book of maps, terribly designed and yet very interesting. It was originally published in 1969, and updated in 1992. I consider myself more-or-less aware of the extent of the dark cloud over Jewish history, but still found this very depressing.

lokakuu 14, 2011, 12:27 am

How is The Faerie Queene a failure? I read a large chunk of it for a Renaissance Lit course but I'm dashed if I can remember a line of it. I had few problems comprehending the other texts we read for the course (Shakespeare comes pretty naturally to me), but Spenser had me stumped. I'm not sure I even made it through all of the assigned reading, I'm ashamed to say.

lokakuu 14, 2011, 1:03 am

Yep, I touched on The Faerie Queene at uni too, and I have to say, the time was wasted on me. That's some difficult stuff, and I didn't get far enough to at least find the reward in it. Good for you for tackling it.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 14, 2011, 1:08 am

Nathan - That idea for me originated with from Urania from something she posted before I started reading. She says "FQ begins ambitiously. Spenser planned for FQ to be a celebration of/education in the virtues: holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice, and courtesy. Project falls apart, collapses under the weight of its own contradiction. The work in its unfinished entirety ends w/ an unfinished book on mutability."

So, I read the whole thing with this in mind, and not getting it. But thinking back, actually, book I, on The Red Cross Knight and on Holiness, is incredibly ambitious and remarkably successful. It's a elegant use of allegory that works on several levels. None of the other books approach that kind of structural elegance. What happened with the later works? They aren't able to match his preconceived ideal. Part of the problem is the amount of complexity needed to make book I work is hard to reproduce. But also, each virtue is supposed to build on all the previous ones. I think this is a problem in concept. It makes the work much more difficult and confines what he can do. So, in hindsight, I agree with Urania, it does collapse under itself, even if the poetic quality stanza-by-stanza is still there.

Spenser wanted to write THE English language epic for all time around a allegory and as a morality guide. He had enormous complexity in mind. He was a master wordsmith and was already very highly regarded before he began writing FQ. I think all this combined raised expectation and ambition way beyond what he could possible produce...and it's in that sense that I might argue it's a failure.

lokakuu 14, 2011, 3:50 am

Dan, I like your idea of a walk in the woods to describe your reading of The Faerie Queene. There is much walking in the woods involved. A difficult book to review in its entirety (this is said by someone who has got stuck at the beginning of the third book). Full marks for finishing it and for commenting on it. I love the poetry though and intend to finish it this winter.

lokakuu 15, 2011, 9:14 am

During the early Renaissance, Europe was still largely very wooded, and remember that the woods were places where funny things happened. Just go over the Shakespeare plays in your mind, the wood is usually the place where all kinds of magic and transformations happen.

I read large parts of The Faerie Queene as a students, and remember is (nostalgically) as a pinnacle in English literature, not as a failure. A fantastic journey through a dream world.

I did not join the reading in the Salon, because I came late to it, but later realized that it took many members much longer than they had anticipated. Although I have several editions of The Faerie Queene here with me, I would prefer to get back to reading the large critical edition published by Longman, which I used as a student, and left in the attic of my Mom. Another reason for not joining the group read over the summer is that, despite the fact I can still find "relatively" quiet moments in a rather hectic a busy existence, -- not enough to take on such a huge work of poetry. Ideally, I would read my 1898 edition, two small octavo, blue cloth, Oxford University Press, in the shadow beside the dragon lotus pool, sipping a freshly brewed fine Tieguanyin tea.

lokakuu 17, 2011, 2:39 am

#126 Joyce - I think you would find it easier without an academic schedule. It takes some getting used to, and, for me, some outside help. But, otherwise, it wasn't painfully difficult. It was pleasant to read.

#128 Bas - Thanks and good luck. I'll look forward to your comments as you go.

#129 Edwin - I'm not qualified to truly argue one way or another whether it's really a failure. I would be interested in learning about whether Spenser accomplished what he intended in FQ.

lokakuu 17, 2011, 11:03 am

Most things are easier without an academic schedule! Save for the books you would give up on without deadlines and pop quizzes, etc. I also really like rereading with an academic schedule.

lokakuu 18, 2011, 12:04 am

Sympathise with poor Nathan, who is reading Ulysses with an academic schedule.

lokakuu 18, 2011, 9:12 am

Actually, I was thinking of Ulysses when I talked about books that I would give up on if I didn't have deadlines, pop quizzes, etc. :P And the professor's taking it very slowly for maximum comprehension, so I'm not complaining too much.

lokakuu 18, 2011, 10:07 am

I definitely finished Ulysses because of a graduate course I was taking -- and read it alongside the very helpful James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study by Stuart Gilbert.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 21, 2011, 12:56 am

I’ve crashed and burned in LT, especially in Club Read. Not sure why. I would like to catch up, although I’m a little overwhelmed after so many missed posts and after being behind by so many reviews. Well, anyway, in brief, here are my last ten books.

39. History: A Novel by Elsa Morante (1974, 746 pages, read Sep 4-23)
translated from Italian by William Weaver (1977), foreword by Lilly Tuck (2007)
Pubilsher: Zoland Books, an imprint of Steerforth Press

This book stumped me when I tried to review because what I wanted to say kept expanding. I think there is something special about Elsa Morante and I feel enriched having read a second of her books. But they are a little work. This is a WWII “history” experienced in Rome by a partially-Jewish woman and her illegitimate child, and seen through a lens of big “History” with a capital H. In some ways this is spare and simple, with toned-down language. These are Elsa Morante’s words describing this book.

In this books, I—who was born at such a horrible time in the twentieth century—wanted to leave behind a testimony that described my actual experience of the Second World War, one that would expose it as the ultimate and bloodiest example of man’s inhumanity to man in the history of the past thousand years. Thus, here is History for you, just as it is and just as we all contributed to making it.

Since I am by nature a poet, I could not do anything else but a work of poetry. And in view of this, experience has taught me that, unfortunately, for many, even poetry can be used as an alibi. As if poetry should content itself with its own beauty, as if it were only an elegant arabesque designed on paper.

So I must warn you that this book, before it is a work of poetry, first, must be an act of accusation and a prayer.”

So, you’ve been warned.

40. The Iowa Review : Volume 40 Number 3 Winter 2010/11 (192 pages, read May 12 – Oct 3)
Main editor : Russell Scott Valention

There was a lot here that was either simply bad or beyond me. What struck me strongest was a pathetic excerpt from a new T.C. Boyle book (I was under the impression he was an author worth trying. I think I’ll pass). Also some work that felt like graduate school quality. The interesting pieces included part of an odd stage drama by Denis Johnson, called Purvis, a beautiful fictional-feeling nonfiction peace about Calcutta by Deborah Thompson, a spectacular non-fictional feeling fictional piece by Daniel Mueller about a hiking experience in Yellowstone National Park, and a essay by Patrick Madden that made me feel smarter. Titled In Media Vita, Madden opens by quoting Nietzche and then moves on to Dante, the Bible, Herodotus, Montaigne and many more in a exploration of life at his defined halfway point, age 35.

41. Woman of Rome : A Life of Elsa Morante by Lily Tuck (2008, 219 pages, read Sep 24 – Oct 9)

In many ways I liked this better than Morante’s actual fiction. Morante is hard, and she challenges the reader intentionally. Tuck writes beautifully and it’s just too easy to fall under her spell. She will leave you in love with this intentionally lonely, flawed gem of the 20th-century.

42. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (1977, 189 pages, read Aug 8 – Oct 11)

I broke up this already small book by reading a little here, a little there. So I can’t really review. Chatwin toned down the personal aspects that are so prevalent in his last book, Songlines. This is actually about Patagonia, to a large extent.

43. A Short History of Wisconsin by Erika Janik (2010, 239 pages, read July 1 – Oct 14)

I think it’s safe to say this has narrow audience appeal. It satiated some of my curiosity, but is no masterwork, more like a compilation of separate essays.

marraskuu 20, 2011, 2:08 am

44. Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by Joann Deak (2002, 290 pages, read Sep 25 – Oct 14)

I had some vague issues with the author, a sense that if we met I probably wouldn’t be comfortable with her. But somewhere it clicked that she really is very knowledgeable and has a lot of useful information to share. So, I stuck it out with some rewards.

45. RE:AL (Regarding Arts & Letters) : The Journal of Liberal Arts, Volume 30.1 Spring/summer 2005 ( 122 pages, read Oct 6 – Oct 18)
Published by Stephen F. Austin State University

This was a pleasure to read…but looking through now I don’t really remember anything…

46. The Red, Candle-lit Darkness by Larry D. Thomas (2011, 25 pages, read Oct 11– 20)

Just twelve poems here, plus a lot of artwork in the book itself. It’s a handmade, letterpress book with original woodcuts. What are the poems doing here, looking a Mexican silver miners in far west Texas, going deep into “the mouth of the mine” and working on the cinnabar? “The Faces/of cinnabar/loom deep/within the thick,/ palpable darkness/of the desert.”

47. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (2010, 145 pages, read Oct 13 – 23, out loud with my daughter)

As I posted elsewhere, for juvenile chapter books this one is a gem. It's has all the standard "juvenile" themes, where kids are bad, but never in way we find all that serious, yet it still managed to catch both my 7-yr-old daughter's and my interest. Angleberger adds some depth as we find ourselves exploring the psychology of strange boy who gives very good advice through his origami Yoda puppet, with a very bad Yoda voice. The book is one classmate's case study, where he tries to determine whether or not this Origami Yoda has real magic.

48. The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book by Timothy Beal (2011, 255 pages, read Oct 27 – Nov 8)

Part of the prep in my plan to read the Bible in 2012 (maybe even the New Testament). The first part of this book is a brilliant essay on the Bible as an icon… that it’s a huge seller that no one actually reads…that what we think the Bible is, or should be, and what is actually is are two very different things…that these two statements are related. Later he touches, lightly I think, on the history and nature of the bible and rather meaningful and deep contradictions within. Very enjoyable.

marraskuu 20, 2011, 3:02 am

Nice set of books dan. Morante looks like an interesting person, worth investigating further.

I am still quite interested in joining in your bible project for 2012.

marraskuu 20, 2011, 3:43 am

It's good to catch up on your read Dan, I have been following your posts too on the Magic Mountain thread

marraskuu 20, 2011, 7:30 am

Thanks for posting your books, Dan. It is easy to get so caught up in LT that it sucks up too much time away from real life -- and reading books, for that matter. I think we all need to constantly adjust how much time we spend here, and where, to fit our own circumstances.

marraskuu 20, 2011, 10:59 am

Always appreciate your reviews, Dan. I keep meaning to read Morante, but never seem to get to her.

marraskuu 20, 2011, 5:22 pm

>110 dchaikin: My thread was inactive for about 6 weeks, you should have been able to catch up:-) It will take me another 6 weeks to catch up writing about all of my reading (most of it piecemeal) and then I will be behind again. A vicious cycle, I'm afraid. I do manage to keep the list at the top of the thread current though.

Oh, interesting comments on the Elsa Morante bio...and by Lily Tuck! I remember seeing this in the pub catalog...

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 21, 2011, 12:55 am

#137 Z - We're staring Jan 1 at midnight over in le Salon. All four of us or so.

#138 Bas - I have been able to keep up with Magic Mountain threads, but not the personal threads. Mac is making TMM rewarding.

#139 Rebecca - yes, agree. It's fun, but needs some kind of pacing. I think I needed a break.

#140 Jane - Thanks. We should do Arturo's Island some time...like in 2013.

#141 Lois - I was caught up with you at one point...but I think that was more than six weeks ago... ETA, you might also want to consider Arturo's Island some time.

marraskuu 21, 2011, 1:32 am

I have the perfect solution: just read fewer books. Oh, wait...

marraskuu 23, 2011, 10:39 am


Truly, LT has lead to my reading more. Sometimes it rights the ship and keeps my reading exciting and something like relevant, sometimes it lets me wander off into Spenserian or biblical obscurity.

marraskuu 23, 2011, 12:06 pm

keep wandering Dan

marraskuu 30, 2011, 10:17 pm

49. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924, 706 pages, read Sep 26-Nov 23)
Translated from German by John E. Woods, 1995

It felt like something of an accomplishment just to finish this one, but really I only scratched the surface. Hans Castrop goes to a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps for a vacation before starting his first real job. He is visiting his cousin, a patient. But things are different up on the mountain, and somehow Castrop ends up as one of the patients and spends seven years resting and recovering.

There are multiple themes explored in this book, and all with ambiguity and without answers, and at length. Reading the text only gets into part of the conversation, as it's only one layer, or more like a hallway of open doors with rooms to explore. The main theme I took from Hans was one of reflection. Young, an orphan, educated but unbiased, he's a blank slate willing to listen to or read anything and everything, and then think about it during his "rest cures". And things do happen to him, but it's not always clear what.

Another is the theme of time, the magic mountain seems outside real time.

"So then, what is time? Will you please tell me that? We perceive space with our senses, with vision and touch. But what is the organ for the sense of time? Would you please tell me that? You see, you're stuck. But how are we going to measure something about which, precisely speaking, we know nothing at all--cannot list a single one of its properties. We say time passes. Fine, let it pass for all I care. But in order to measure it...no, wait! In order for it to be measurable, it would have to flow evenly, but where is it written that is does that? it doesn't do that for our conscious minds, we simply assume it does, just for the sake of convenience. And so all our measurements are merely conventions, if you please."

A masterpiece of sorts, I can't say this changed my life, but when I look back at the hours I spent reading, some of them very difficult and challenging hours, I don't regret a moment of them. If the stars align right and I get in the mood to read this again, to give it a little more of the time it deserves, it will be with anticipation.

marraskuu 30, 2011, 10:40 pm

A very helpful review, Dan. I had been planning to read The Magic Mountain this year, but somehow that didn't happen. From the sounds of your review, I think I will rest up for this one.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 30, 2011, 10:47 pm

50. Good Book : The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz (2009, 322 pages, read Nov 9-27)

The next book in my prep for starting the Bible in January. This is chapter by chapter summary of the Hebrew Bible from a lax Jewish perspective. In the intro Plotz says something like, "I realized I was 35 and had never read the Bible", which is me (I'm 38). This started as a Blog on slate and it kind of feels like something that started very casual and got more serious as it went on. In the first several chapters Plotz provides summaries, but not much more of value other then some wisecracks. But it evolves. Eventually he seems quite interested in what he's discovering, and at the end he even gains some sophistication; clearly he's done some more research.

Overall this gave me what I wanted, a quick sense of what is in the Bible, and what to expect and a good argument as to why I should actually read it.

marraskuu 30, 2011, 10:50 pm

Also, I should mention, for three years now I've been, casually, trying to read 50 books in a single year. Finally, I've done it. :) (yes, I'm aware this is small stuff compared to the 75ers, 100ers, 400ers etc...)

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 30, 2011, 10:59 pm

Lisa - It's a book you probably would enjoy, and it's a heck of a lot easier than Infinite Jest! But, I would wait until your ready to set aside a month or two for it so that you can read it a slow pace and enjoy it a bit more. And then there's all the stuff you might want to look up while reading it. (like Macumbeira's summaries in Le Salon).

ETA - oops, don't see IJ in your library. Why did I think you had read that recently? Not sure.

joulukuu 1, 2011, 12:55 am

Congrats on reaching 50! Even if you aren't dead set on reading a certain number of books, it still feels nice to reach a milestone.

I had a class on The King James Bible in college-the idea being that no matter what religion you may or may not practice, the book has had a major impact on Western thought. So we read and studied the entire KJ version. Since then I've made it through in its entirety once more. Beside being struck by the enormous change in God's identity as a literary figure as you pass from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament, I had never before realized how many proverbs and common figures of speech come from the KJB. It led me to read God: A Biography which deals specifically with the self-concept and identity of God from a literary standpoint. I've also enjoyed some of Karen Armstrong's books, which are good introductions to a number of related topics. A History of God and Islam: A Short History were interesting, quick reads.

Dan, I have a confession. I have no idea what the Le Salon thread is about or how to find it. It sounds like a great resource.

joulukuu 1, 2011, 1:36 am

Lisa - le Salon is a LibraryThing group (that constantly changes its name). Go here : http://www.librarything.com/groups/thequestforthelastpa

joulukuu 1, 2011, 3:45 am

Dan, from your postings over at the salon I got the impression that you were enjoying The magic Mountain and I think you are right to be thinking about it as a re-read in the future. It certainly came more together for me on a second reading. It's a great book to get lost in; just like Hans.

joulukuu 1, 2011, 8:37 am

bas - I certainly did enjoy it. I'm not sure I ever had too many moments where I lost myself in the flow, but I was thinking about constantly when I wasn't reading it.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 5, 2011, 10:03 am

51. Logicomix by Apostolos K. Doxiadēs & Christos H. Papadimitriou (authors) (2009, 347 pages, read Nov 5-29)
This is a graphic novel. Other contributors listed on the title page are: Alekos Papadatos (Illustrator), Annie Di Donna (Illustrator), Dimitris Karatzaferis (Inking), Thodoris Paraskevas (Inking), Anne Bardy (Visual Research & Lettering)

This graphic novel comes highly recommended here on LT. It opens on Sep 4, 1939, the day the UK declared war on Germany. Peace activists are confronting noted pacifist Bertrand Russell before a lecture at “an American university”, demanding he speak out against the United States entering WWII. Russell persuades them to listen to his lecture and then proceeds to tell his life story. Unless you know the history somewhat (I didn’t) it’s not clear what the purpose of this is. Russell was part of the crusade to find a foundation to logic – a field the lies somewhere between mathematics and philosophy. This was ultimately a failure, as there cannot be a foundation to logic; but, the search led directly to the Turing and the first computer logic.

This is fictional, with imagined conversations between people who never met. It’s actually very light on logic, but heavy on characterizations. We get a sense of who Russell was. We also meet Wiggenstein, Gödel and other key figures, many tragic, and quite a few nearly or completely insane. Sad, inspiring, fascinating and very fun.

joulukuu 4, 2011, 9:50 pm

Dan with your review I'll have to add Logicomix, I've wavered for too long but if brings out all those adjectives then it must be worth reading

joulukuu 5, 2011, 12:36 am

Kevin, lol. I'll personally recommend specifically to you, here.

joulukuu 13, 2011, 11:20 am

You will find Being dead a fast and gripping read.

joulukuu 18, 2011, 11:11 pm

Edwin - will try to get there. There are almost 500 books in the house on my TBR. :)

joulukuu 18, 2011, 11:12 pm

52. Blossom by Donigan Merritt (2011, 394 pages, read Nov 30 – Dec 7)

Desire. There is a meaning there that is almost ruined by the word itself. It’s a feeling, a need, a transient state, although one that can last a long time. Desire comes from something we want but only because we don’t have it, like hunger. The fulfillment destroys its existence.

This is what I was thinking about through the early part of this book, which is a little odd because while this book certainly explores desire in this way, it’s only one theme, maybe a sub-theme. This book is about the Deep South, small town Arkansas in the 1960’s and again in the 1980’s, about long memories and our inability to escape our personal histories, about racism (from a white perspective), about coming of age, and adolescent love and sex. Henry David Early, Jr. ran out of Blossom, Arkansas in 1965, abandoning his foster father, his college degree and his girlfriend, disappearing completely. He returns 20 years later, in 1985, only after finding out about his father’s death about six months before.

My pondering of desire came about as Davey reflects on his memories and as he observes the Blossom of 1985. Eventually the book evolves out of this and into something more of a plot and the book begins to fail, or at least develops a weak spot. There is an inherent weakness in writing sympathetically about the black experience in the south from a white perspective. The black characters tend to lose their flaws, and fail to materialize into personalities of depth. But, I shouldn’t dwell on this, the book moves on.

This is the third book I’ve read by Merritt, who I originally discovered through LibraryThing.com’s Early Reviewer program. It was eagerly anticipated by me and maybe ten and half other people. He’s a small hidden gem with very clean clear prose that encourages minds like mine to wander and reflect as characters reflect. I find it mentally cathartic.

joulukuu 19, 2011, 10:59 am

Excellent review of Blossom, Donigan Merritt Dan; however with your cathartic mind and zenmax's telepathic powers (see poquette's thread #85) I am beginning to wonder about the company I am keeping here on clubread 2011.

joulukuu 19, 2011, 11:10 am

The occult corner of Club Read...

joulukuu 20, 2011, 1:10 am

fingernails; nostrils; shoelaces

the gas line is leaking, the bird is gone from the
cage, the skyline is dotted with vultures;
Benny finally got off the stuff and Betty now has a job
as a waitress; and
the chimney sweep was quite delicate as he
giggled up through the
I walked miles through the city and recognized
nothing as a giant claw ate at my
stomach while the inside of my head felt
airy as if I was about to go
it's not so much that nothing means
anything but more that it keeps meaning
there's no release, just gurus and self-
appointed gods and hucksters.
the more people say, the less there is
to say.
even the best books are dry sawdust.
I watch the boxing matches and take copious
notes on futility.
then the gate springs open again
and there are the beautiful silks
and powerful horses riding
against the sky.
such sadness: everything trying to
break through into
every day should be a miracle instead
of a machination.
in my hand rests the last bluebird.
the shades roar like lions and the walls
rattle, dance around my
then her eyes look at me, love breaks my
bones and I

from The People Look Like Flowers at Last : New Poems by Charles Bukowski. A short review coming soon.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 20, 2011, 12:08 pm

53. The People Look Like Flowers at Last : New Poems by Charles Bukowski (2007, 301 pages, read Oct 21 – Dec 11)

it's not so much that nothing means
anything but more that it keeps meaning

These lines, which are quoted on the back-cover of my copy, stuck in my mind the entire time I read this, paced few poems a day. This collection is one of several posthumous ones by Bukowski, who passed away in 1994, but the first time I’ve read by him. What first strikes me about these poems is that they don’t read like poems. They read more like sketches, partially expressed thoughts quickly jotted down. I could race through them, only occasionally being forced to stop, but then I would miss a great deal. So I look it slow, a few poems a day...and suffered several days through a long section on poems about all the women Bukowski had and about how badly he treated them all (at least he seems honest).

Bukowski's poetry feels like an expression of his personality, or a personality anyway. They are bluntly honest, self-critical, and remarkably joyful in their celebration of a rather stark and meaningless world. And they are consistently on theme. The quality and depth seem to vary. There are a number of gems scattered about but also quite a few that seemed very light. Sometimes one that seemed more meaningful would come out of nowhere and catch me off guard.

These are very accessible, and maybe even something to recommend to someone who trying to figure out how to get started reading poetry.

ETA some grammatical fixes.

joulukuu 20, 2011, 12:00 pm

Great idea posting one of the poems Dan. Whatever Bukowski was on, I don't want any of it. Seriously having read some of his poems, I do find them depressing, but still worth reading.

joulukuu 20, 2011, 10:54 pm

Bas, I love that poem. As for Bukowski, I think he was mostly on liquor and nicotine.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 20, 2011, 10:56 pm

54. A Sea in Flames : The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout by Carl Safina (2011, 303 pages, read Oct 16 – Dec 16)

In the first 50 or so pages Safina covers what led to the blowout. This section is clear and concise and got me excited to read this book. Importantly, it let me know Safina can write, because the rest of the book is an unstructured ranting mess. After the blowout Safine goes month by month discussing what he saw and what he learned at that time, and expressing all this frustration. I stopped reading for over six weeks before forcing my way through. The wandering text makes it very hard to take much away. He wraps things up at the end, where he includes a fascinating interview with Admiral Thad Allen and NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco. But my feeling on finishing was the desire to tell Safina, “Ok, you’ve ranted, now go write the book.”

I did get some interesting information out of this. I was looking for a summary of the environmental impact, and quite frankly it doesn’t exist, we don’t have enough information yet. But Safina noted that the Gulf was remarkably resilient. The dying Louisiana coastal marshes didn’t suffer that badly overall. Most of the oysters are gone, but that was caused by stupid decision by the state of Louisiana, not directly by the oil.

So, some useful information, but not structured or clearly presented. This books a miss, unfortunately, unless you’re really desperate on the topic.

joulukuu 20, 2011, 11:21 pm

I like the poem too (though the mention of the chimney sweep seems rather anachronistic). I don't read much poetry, but I'll look for this one.

Nice review of A Sea in Flames. I've read other books like that where a nice intro dissolved into an unstructured rant.

joulukuu 21, 2011, 4:14 am

Hmm. A Sea in Flames is on my wishlist, but I'm certainly rethinking that now. It's a pity that it sounds so disappointing, because I really liked The View from Lazy Point. Safina can definitely write.

joulukuu 21, 2011, 8:55 am

168/169 - All the books I've read on Macando have been felt unpolished in some way and I imagine the rush to get them out resulted in a lot compromises both in the writing and what was covered. Safina was likely forced to rush his out too, maybe too soon.

I'm now reading Shadows on the Gulf by Rowan Jacobsen. So far this one is working for me.

joulukuu 21, 2011, 8:58 am

Dan, you must be something of an expert on The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout now.

joulukuu 21, 2011, 9:19 am

:) My understanding is very superficial. Macando became an accidental obsession earlier this year. It helps that this is where I have worked for 13 years - on seismic in the (ultra)deep water Gulf of Mexico. I may stop with Shadows on the Gulf, but then Daniel Yergin has a new book out (The quest : energy, security and the remaking of the modern world ).

joulukuu 23, 2011, 6:03 pm

It helps that this is where I have worked for 13 years - on seismic in the (ultra)deep water Gulf of Mexico. Interesting. I would love to hear more about your work.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 23, 2011, 10:25 pm

Lisa - No clue what to tell you. I interpret salt on seismic data in the Gulf of Mexico. There's no easy way to translate that sentence to common English.

Seismic data looks like this:

Salt is everywhere in the Gulf of Mexico and is a fundamental aspect of the geology. The map below covers US waters. Everything black is where there is what I would "shallow" salt. (By shallow, I mean these are variations of salt diapirs sourced from some place much deeper. The original salt, the Louann, is Jurassic and one of the oldest layers in the Gulf of Mexico.)

The salt in the GoM is also unique in its insane complexity. And it explains why maps of the Gulf of Mexico look like this:

In the map above the "Sigsbee escarpment" marks the edge of "shallow" salt. Also, notice the bumpy texture, this is caused by salt. You can see both of these features on normal maps too, like this, but it's less obvious.

joulukuu 24, 2011, 10:42 am

Dan, for your forthcoming Bible read, this may be of interest from this week's NY Times Book Review, on on what literature owes the Bible.

joulukuu 24, 2011, 12:02 pm

>170 dchaikin: mmmmm Rowan Jacobsen! Enjoyed his American Terroir last year (about food and place) and have been eyeing Fruitless Fall (about the collapse of honeybee colonies).

joulukuu 26, 2011, 1:02 pm

#175 Rebecca, great article. I've always been afraid of Faulkner and, especially, The Sound and the Fury, but that article makes me want to read it. Also, I'm going to post that link in the prep thread for the bible group read in le Salon.

MJ - i just finished Jacobson's Shadow on the Gulf, and it's very well done. Macondo happened shortly after he completed a book on oysters, so he was unusually prepared to cover the Louisiana gulf coast.

joulukuu 26, 2011, 10:26 pm

#174 Thank you, the images are fascinating. I tried reading more about it on the web and got as far as the Louann Salt.

joulukuu 27, 2011, 6:20 pm

joulukuu 28, 2011, 12:14 am

Thanks, Dan!

tammikuu 5, 2012, 11:27 pm

I'm officially moving to my 2012 thread here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/128182