dchaikin part 2 - in the year of Wright (and Chaucer)

Tämä viestiketju jatkaa tätä viestiketjua: dchaikin part 1 - where plans still have a chance.

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dchaikin part 2 - in the year of Wright (and Chaucer)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 7:48 pm

Just carrying on and taking advantage of a thread refresh. I gently encourage anyone following to skip the rest of my previous thread, if you're behind, and start here. Upcoming plans include Edith Wharton, and the medieval Roman de la Rose, along with my themes, Richard Wright and maybe Chaucer's dream visions.

Currently Reading

Currently Listening to

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 7:34 pm

books read

Audiobooks completed

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 7:34 pm

Read in 2023, by date read

(these links go the review on my part 1 page)
1. **** Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet (read Dec 22, 2022 – Jan 11, 2023, theme: Booker 2022)
2. ***** Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright (read Jan 13-15, theme Richard Wright)
3. ** The Marne by Edith Wharton (read Jan 11-15, theme: Wharton)
4. **** A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark (read Jan 16-18, theme: TBR)
5. **** The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, read by Shivantha Wijesinha (listened Jan 1-24, theme: Booker 2022)
6. n/a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Basic and Beyond, Third Edition by Judith S. Beck (Read Nov 17, 2022 – Jan 25, 2023)
7. **** The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson (read Jan 3-26, theme: Naturalitsy)

(links here go the review on this page)
8. **** The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (The Great Courses) by Seth Lerer (listened Jan 25 – Feb 1, theme: Chaucer)
9. *** Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner (read Jan 16 – Feb 6, theme: Chaucer)
10 **** The Trees by Percival Everett (read Feb 6-8, theme: Booker 2022)
11. **** City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (read Dec 4, 2022 – Feb 10, 2023)
12. *** Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, From Myth to Reality by Helen Scales (Read Feb 1-16, theme: Naturalitsy)
13. ****½ The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride, read by JD Jackson & Susan Denaker (listened Feb 4-18, theme: random audio)
14. **** By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah (read Feb 11-20, theme: TBR)
15. **** Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess by Evan Drellich, read by Mike Chamberlain (listened Feb 20 – Mar 4, theme: random audio)
16. ***** The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (read Feb 13 – Mar 7, theme: Wharton)
17. ****½ Native Son by Richard Wright, (read Feb 20 – Mar 11, theme: Richard Wright)
18. **** Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson, read by C. M. Hébert (listened Mar 5-14, theme: random audio)
19. **** After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz (read Mar 15-25, theme: booker 2022)
20. **** Treacle Walker by Alan Garner (read Mar 26-27, theme: booker 2022)
21. **** Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (read Mar 27, theme booker 2022)
22. **** The Photograph by Penelope Lively (read Mar 28 – Apr 1, theme: TBR)
23. **** The Romance of the Rose (Oxford World's Classics) by Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun, and translated from Middle French by Frances Horgan (read Mar 3 - Apr 7, theme: Chaucer)
24. ***** The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson, read by Kaiulani Lee (listened Mar 14 – Apr 8, theme: random audio)
25. *** Collected Poems by Donald Justice (read Feb 11 – Apr 9, theme: TBR)
26. *** Geoffrey Chaucer: Love Visions (Penguin Classics), translated with introduction and notes by Brian Stone (read Apr 5-16, theme: Chaucer)
27. ***½ The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson, read by Kaiulani Lee (listened Apr 10-29, theme: random audio)
28. ***** Black Boy by Richard Wright (read Apr 16-30, theme: Richard Wright)
29. ****½ The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton (read Apr 11-30, theme: Wharton)
30. ****½ A Closed Eye by Anita Brookner (read May 1-7, theme: TBR)
31. ****½ Africa Is Not a Country: Notes on a Bright Continent by Dipo Faloyin, read by the author (listened May 2-11, theme: random audio)
32. **** A Sense of Where You Are: A Profile of Bill Bradley at Princeton by John McPhee (read May 14-15, theme: none)
33. **** Stay True by Hua Hsu, read by the author (listened May 11-18, theme: random audio)
34. *** Florence: The Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert (read May 22-29)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 7:35 pm

Read in 2023, by year published (links are touchstones)

1275 The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun
~1387 Geoffrey Chaucer: Love Visions
1918 The Marne by Edith Wharton
1920 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
1922 The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
1938 Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright (expanded 1940)
1940 Native Son by Richard Wright
1941 Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson
1945 Black Boy by Richard Wright
1951 The Sea Around by Rachel Carson
1955 The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson
1965 A Sense of Where You Are: A Profile of Bill Bradley by John McPhee
1988 A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
1991 A Closed Eye by Anita Brookner
1993 Florence: The Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert
1995 The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah
2003 The Photograph by Penelope Lively
2004 Collected Poems by Donald Justice
2009 Poseidon's Steed by Helen Scales
2013? The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (The Great Courses by Seth Lerer
The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson
Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner
2020 Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond, Third Edition by Judith S. Beck
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
The Trees by Percival Everett
Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz
Africa Is Not a Country: Notes on a Bright Continent by Dipo Faloyin
Stay True by Hua Hsu
2023 Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess by Evan Drellich

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 7:33 pm

Some stats:

Books read: 34
Pages: 7044 (251 hrs)
Audio time: 80 hrs
Formats: Paperback 14; ebooks 9; Audio 9; hardcover 2;
Subjects in brief: Nonfiction 15; Novels 14; Classic 9; Science 6; Nature 5; Poetry 4; Journalism 4; Biography 3; Memoirs 3; History 3; On Literature and Books 2; Short Story Collections 1; Anthology 1; Speculative Fiction 1; Religion/Mythology/Philosophy 1; Essays 1;
Nationalities: United States 18; England 7; Scotland 2; Sri Lanka 1; Sweden 1; mixed 1; Tanzania 1; Ireland 1; France 1; Nigeria 1;
Books in translation: 4
Genders, m/f: 19/14 (mixed 1)
Owner: books I own 30; amazon-unlimited 3;
Re-reads: 0
Year Published: 2020’s 10; 2010’s 3; 2000’s 5; 1990’s 3; 1980’s 1; 1960’s 1; 1950’s 2; 1940’s 3; 1930’s 1; 1920’s 2; 1910’s 1; 1300’s 1; 1200’s 1;
TBR numbers: +7 (acquired 38, read from tbr 31)

All stats - since I started keeping track in December of 1990
Books read: 1280
Formats: Paperback 672; Hardcover 258; Audio 205; ebooks 106; Lit magazines 38
Subjects in brief: Non-fiction 504; Novels 407; Biographies/Memoirs 220; Classics 197; History 193; Religion/Mythology/Philosophy 137; Poetry 98; Journalism 98; Science 94; Ancient 76; On Literature and Books 69; Speculative Fiction 67; Nature 66; Short Story Collections 49; Essay Collections 49; Drama 48; Graphic 46; Anthologies 46; Juvenile/YA 34; Visual Arts 27; Interviews 15; Mystery/Thriller 14
Nationalities: US 716; Other English-language countries: 278; Other: 280
Books in translation: 216
Genders, m/f: 800/383
Owner: Books I owned 914; Library books 285; Books I borrowed 70; Online 10;
Re-reads: 27
Year Published: 2020’s 51; 2010's 274; 2000's 286; 1990's 180; 1980's 122; 1970's 61; 1960's 54; 1950's 31; 1900-1949 78; 19th century 20; 16th-18th centuries 38; 13th-15th centuries 11; 0-1199 21; BCE 55
TBR: 673

side notes:
- I'm suddenly reading a lot of nonfiction this year
- milestones this year: 200th audiobook, 100th ebook, 500th non-fiction book, 400th novel, and, weirdly, 800th book by a male author.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 13, 1:00 am

8. The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (The Great Courses) by Seth Lerer
published: 2013 (?)
format: 6:10 audible audiobook
acquired: audible unlimited listened: Jan 25 – Feb 1
rating: 4
genre/style: Lectures theme: Chaucer
locations: 14th century England
about the author: A Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego, born in Brooklyn, 1955.

Seth Lerer is notable expert on Chaucer, cited, for example, by Marion Turner in a recent biography of Chaucer. This is a nice fast-paced entertaining overview. He gets to the heart of Chaucer without getting sidetracked by details. He reads Chaucer out loud in a very charming accent, which might be worth listening by itself, and he teaches the listener how to read Chaucer out loud. He stays big picture and selective. So don't expect much depth. I would liked to have learned a little more about Chaucer's contemporary poets and how his writing accent fit in with the different English dialects of the time. (Turner touches on this). But these are beyond the scope. I did get a sense of his language, and his themes, and that was terrific.

Also, I really enjoyed listening to Lerer. Recommended.

helmikuu 13, 4:50 am

Belatedly catching up. I commented on my thread recently that I'd listened to my first audio book but found that my attention kept drifting even though I was enjoying it. I'd say I missed 10-20% because of that.

I know you listen to quite a few - do you choose only certain types of books for audio?

helmikuu 13, 6:30 am

>7 dchaikin: listening to Chaucer read out loud without the text in front of you is a challenge.

helmikuu 13, 10:33 pm

>8 AlisonY: I do choose certain types of audiobooks, but my methods are a little quirky. I think it's hard to give audiobooks the same attention we give books we read, and I think that's ok with certain kinds of books. So I encourage you to search out books that you don't mind missing parts. Seems weird, but it actually makes sense with lots of books. Especially nonfiction, and then, especially, memoirs. If they capture you, and you relish every word (it does happen), awesome. But if not, then you won't feel bad. For novels, I press quite a bit. I use audio to get through the longer Booker list books, knowing I'm not giving them the same attention as when I read them, again, with notable exceptions. It's a little bit of a compromise for me. My current audiobook is terrific. A memoir, well read. If I miss stuff, no big deal. But it's so interesting and well done, I really don't miss anything. Also I like the Great Courses lectures. They're light and well done. And there are lots of great podcasts.

>9 baswood: Well, he only recites small pieces, and then translates it for us. But I agree, I would be lost. I might be lost with the text in front of me. Chaucer seems tricky.

helmikuu 15, 10:54 am

Looks like you like the 2022 Booker List so far.

helmikuu 15, 11:26 pm

>11 Trifolia: hm, I think I do. I still have three more to read. I've mostly enjoyed the ten I've read.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 16, 1:05 am

9. Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner
published: 2019
format: 508-page paperback
acquired: 2020 read: Jan 16 – Feb 6 time reading: 30:30, 3.6 mpp
rating: 3
genre/style: biography theme: Chaucer
locations: Chaucer (~1342 – 1400) lived mostly in London and later in Kent, near London, but traveled extensively in England, France, Spain, Italy, and elsewhere.
about the author: born 1976. A Professor of English Literature at Jesus College, Oxford.

A book full of details of the era, that ebbs and flows on these details. I learned a lot about the times, about the known details of Chaucer's life, about Edward III, and a surprising rich amount about Richard II, who became king in 1377 at age ten, and ruled until he was deposed in 1399. His reign was characterized by famous and very powerful parliaments, lots of executions, and a complicated peasants' revolt, the uprising of 1381. The book was not really what I was looking for, however. I was looking for an introduction to Chaucer, and this isn't ideal for that. Chaucer himself is actually spread a little thin through the book, lost in the details Turner tells of the era. And I was also hoping to learn about the influence of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio on Chaucer, who visited Italy and wrote his two major works under the influence of these writers. Troilus and Criseyde is a reinterpretation of Boccaccio's Filostrato. The Canterbury Tales are a variation on Boccaccio's Decameron, and a kind of response to Dante's Divine Comedy. But this book is oddly weak on exploring these connections. Turner does have interesting things to say about Chaucer's writing, but this book is a bit hit and miss when it comes to getting to the heart of Chaucer's works. The book ends with five very good extended essays on the Canterbury tales - with chapters names like Peripheries, What Lies Beneath & threshold, but the essays are as peripheral as the titles, if also as interesting. What's missing is the center of the Tales. (Lerer, in contrast, went straight to the heart in his lectures.)

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in 1342 in the Vintry Ward, a then immigrant-rich section of London, on the Thames. He was born to a family of merchants. His parents were in Southhampton when the plague struck in 1348-49, wiping out his entire London extended family, and leaving his parents as unexpectedly very wealthy inheritors. He would spend much of his life in the service of English higher nobility and rulers, connected especially to John of Gaunt, Richard II's uncle and regent, and eventually the husband of Chaucer's own sister-in-law. This made Chaucer well placed, and he was trusted with various clerk and diplomatic tasks. His wife, Philipa, was also well placed, serving a royal family. From 1374 to 1385 Chaucer worked as a clerk in London, living on the town wall in Aldgate. Turner feels (as do others) that Chaucer's living alone in London, while his wife travelled with the family she served, implies he had a very lonely if not failed marriage. There were three kids. But Chaucer was also sued over an affair and was accused of rape. Philipa died in 1387. Chaucer left London for the Kent countryside in (probably) 1385. He was active, taking a position in parliament, he still had young son to raise, but it seems he may have intentionally secluded himself, and this is when he wrote most of The Canterbury Tales. He passed away on October 25, 1400, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

An interesting aspect I picked up from this are the Chaucer had a strong dislike of absolute power expressed through his work, and that this seems to play into how intentionally unstructured The Canterbury Tales are. I haven't read these tales, but they are bawdy, and defy control, with various members interrupting and taking over the narrative with their own tales, squashing any authority over the tales. They undermine efforts for structure, or moral, or even a clear point and this seems to be by design. As Turner puts it, "The very structure of the Canterbury Tales privileges digression over progression, the pleasure of the text over a final determined meaning, the means over the end." Turner puts this in the context of Chaucer's experiences as a diplomate in Lombardy, then ruled by the Visconti, notorious repressive, cruel tyrants, and also promoters of the arts and an impressive library. They patronized Petrarch, and imaginatively tortured enemies. Dante, who lived before these Visconti, was a fervent promoter of empire (verse the pope), and also wrote a masterpiece of structure in his Comedy, with an extreme moral clarity, where all the moral equations add up to afterlife consequences. The Canterbury Tales are, in a way, an anti-Divine Comedy, and subversive towards the idea of absolute authority or absolute anything.

A messy review. This book would have benefited if I had held off and waited until after I read Chaucer. It's additive, instead of introductory or foundation setting, despite its massive amount of orienting factual detail. But it does me no harm. I'll gladly keep it in mind as I move along through Chaucer's works.

helmikuu 16, 9:31 am

I enjoyed reading your review, Dan, and am so sorry Marion Turner didn’t cover what you were really interested in. I have that book myself and will read it eventually, probably not soon. Donald Howard’s Geoffrey Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World was considered the definitive biography when it was published in 1989, and a glance at the table of contents shows exactly the topics you are looking for. Another old study helpful for understanding the conventions of courtly love is The Allegory of Loveby C. S. Lewis. Good chapters on both Troilus and Criseyde and The Romance of the Rose.

helmikuu 16, 12:40 pm

>14 dianelouise100: thank you. I’m noting these references. I recognize the CS Lewis title, but didn’t know he covered Chaucer specifically.

helmikuu 17, 2:30 pm

>13 dchaikin: Great review, thanks! I didn’t know a thing about Chaucer. In fact I don’t know a thing about the whole of English history, somehow we seemed to skip that at school. You made me want to try to read The Canterbury Tales.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 4:42 pm

>16 FlorenceArt: I’ll get there. First I’m reading Le Roman de la Rose, a book Chaucer translated from Old French to his English (Middle English). And I’m reading the romance as a buddy read with Dilara86 - she’s reading a modern French translation, and I’m reading a modern English translation. You’re welcome to join us. See our buddy read thread here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/348552

helmikuu 18, 7:25 am

>17 dchaikin: To clarify, I have a bilingual Old/modern French copy. I'll be reading the Old French version, referring when necessary to the modern French prose translation on the opposite page. I'm in love with the original Old French octosyllabic poetry. I'll have to remember to study its meaning, because it's easy to get lulled by the rythms and alliterations.

helmikuu 18, 5:56 pm

>18 Dilara86: I was wondering if you could read the Old French. I have no context for how difficult that might be for a French speaker. Cool

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 10:34 pm

10. The Trees by Percival Everett
published: 2021
format: 310-page Kindle ebook
acquired: February 6 read: Feb 6-8 time reading: 6:32, 1.3 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: Contemporary Fiction theme: Booker 2022
locations: Mississippi
about the author: American writer and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Born in Fort Gordon, Georgia in 1956.

My tenth on the Booker 2022 long list. I'm afraid this review is largely a spoiler of sorts.

This really threw me. I started knowing only that it's on the 2022 Booker longlist and gets a lot praise. I didn't imagine a fast-paced seriously gruesome and funny murder mystery. I kept wondering if I had the right book. And then I'm speeding along, enjoying the stories of the dying white racists in rural Mississippi, found with their balls torn off, and the incompetent investigations. Then Emmett Till comes up. That's not fun, funny or any of those adjectives. The book doesn't change tone. What to make of this? It's fun and I think I was supposed to enjoy that; but also it's serious in a not-fun way, and it carries on. I actually struggled with that, not knowing which emotion I should carry as a reader. Isn't that a weird comment? Anyway, it has some impact on us readers. And it definitely encouraged me to think about reading more by Everett.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 10:55 pm

11. City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
published: 2001
format: 306-page hardcover – 60th anniversary edition (2015) (City Lights Pocket Poets Series)
acquired: November read: Dec 4-12, 2022, Jan 16-Feb 10, 2023 time reading: 5:10, 1.0 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: Poetry theme: poetry

List of contributors (Which I hope is useful, because it took me an embarrassingly long time to put it together): Rafael Alberti – tr. fr. Spanish by Kenneth Rexroth, Antler, Alberto Blanco – edited by Juvenal Acosta, Robert Bly, Stefan Brecht, Dino Campana, Ernesto Cardenal – tr. fr. Spanish by Jonathan Cohen, Paul Celan – tr. fr. German by Jerome Rothenberg, Adam Cornford, Gregory Corso, Julio Cortázar, Kamau Daáood, Diane di Prima, Robert Duncan, Hans Magnus Enzensberger – tr. fr. German by Jerome Rothenberg, Allen Ginsberg, Günter Grass – tr. fr. German by Jerome Rothenberg, Nicolas Guillén – tr. fr. Spanish by Kenneth Rexroth, Helmut Heissenbüttel– tr. fr. German by Jerome Rothenberg, Jack Hirschman, Walter Höllerer – tr. fr. German by Jerome Rothenberg, Bob Kaufman, Jack Kerouac – edited by Ann Charters, Semyon Kirsanov – tr. fm. Russian by Anselm Hollo, La Loca, Philip Lamantia, Denise Levertov, Federico García Lorca – tr.fr. Spanish by Kenneth Rexroth, Malcolm Lowry – edited by Earle Birney, Antonio Machado – tr.fr. Spanish by Kenneth Rexroth, Vladimir Mayakovsky – tr.fr. Russian by Maria Enzensberger, Semezdin Mehmedinovic, David Meltzer, Rosario Murillo – tr. by Alejandro Murguía, Pablo Neruda – tr.fm. Spanish by Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Nichols, Harold Norse, Peter Orlovsky, Nicanor Parra – tr.fm. Spanish by Jorge Elliot, Pier Paolo Pasolini – tr.fm. Friulan(?) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Francesca Valente, Kenneth Patchen, Pablo Picasso – tr. by Paul Blackburn, Heinz Piontek – tr.fm. German by Jerome Rothenberg, Janine Pommy-Vega, Marie Ponsot, Antonio Porta – tr.fm. Italian by Anthony Molino, Jacques Prévert – tr.fm. French by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Cristina Peri Rossi, Charles Upton, Simon Vinkenoog – edited by Scott Rollins, Andrei Voznesensky – tr.fm. Russian by Anselm Hollo, Anne Waldman, William Carlos William, Pete Winslow, Yevgeny Yevtushenko – tr.fm. Russian by Anselm Hollo, Daisy Zamora – tr.fm. Spanish by Barbara Paschke

It's been a long time since I read a book of poetry (well, one published within the last 400 years). So I just went with the flow. I read this in 10- and 20-minute sittings, and I really enjoyed them. An entertaining and refreshing mixture to me. The contents are presumably Ferlinghetti's favorites. Lots of Ginsberg, and several entries by Kerouac. Also Pablo Picasso. A lot is translated, most authors are men, but there are several entries by several different women. Mostly this was a whole bunch of names I didn‘t know.

Rewarding. And, if nothing else, this made a nice filler as I waited for my morning coffee to cool.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 9:56 pm

12. Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, From Myth to Reality by Helen Scales
OPD: 2009
format: 272-page kindle ebook
acquired: February 1 read: Feb 1-16 time reading: 8:09, 1.9 mpp
rating: 3
genre/style: Nature theme: naturalisty
locations: lots of oceans
about the author: British marine biologist

This was a miss, a book I read with a Litsy group called #naturalitsy that just wasn't very good.

In my Litsy review I wrote: If you want to learn about historical trends in traditional Chinese medicine, the damage of trawl fishing, the history of fish tanks, sea-animal tourism, collecting, scuba and underwater photography, or about the impact of pollution and climate change on ocean life in general, this is a nice light book. The content on seahorses could maybe be summed up in a short paragraph.

But I did learn three cool facts:

- Seahorses are the only fish with necks.

- Seahorses change colors! This caused a lot of confusion in the science. Before 2004 there were well over a hundred identified seahorse species. But a review published then found a lot of duplicates based on the different skin color and that there were only about 30 known seahorse species.

- Genetics dates the first seahorses to about 16 or 17 million years ago. I thought that was pretty recent.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 10:32 pm

13. The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
readers: JD Jackson & Susan Denaker
published: 1995
format: 8:46 audible audiobook
acquired: February 4 listened: Feb 4-18
rating: 4½? 5?
genre/style: memoir theme: random audio
locations: Queens, and also 1930’s Virginia
about the author: American writer and musician born in New York City in 1957. He is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University.

Wonderful. James McBride had an African American father who died before he was born, and a white Jewish mother, along with 11 mixed-race siblings. This is his and her stories.

James grew up in a housing project in Queens in the 1960's with stepfather who he only saw on weekends, but who he and his siblings and mother adored. Confused about his identity, and why his mother looked like his schoolteachers, it seems he would ask his mother a lot of questions, and she would answer as you might imagine a mother of 12 children answers, with dismissive non-answers. He mother only preached to him and his siblings about school and God. All twelve kids were sent to better schools, in white neighborhoods (with white teachers), and all twelve are well educated and successful. They attended different churches regularly, especially the one his mother helped his biological father found. And the kids would watch in embarrassment as Mommy, the only white person in the building, would lose herself in the religious moment.

It was only later, after James became a reporter, that he started to research his mother's family. Born in Poland to an Orthodox rabbi and a partially crippled mother, she became Rachel Shilsky in America, arriving at age 2, about 1922. Her school years were mostly in 1930's depression-era Suffolk, Virginia, where the family kept kosher, and her father, the rabbi, became a shopkeeper who catered the segregated black part of town, with heavily inflated prices.

When Ruth married a talented but unemployable musician, Dennis McBride, in New York in 1942, her family sat shiva. Dennis was unemployable because no orchestra would hire a black musician in the late 1930's. He worked other jobs. Rachel was cut off from a terrible father, but also her mother, two siblings, and her relatively wealthy extended family. She, in turn, gave up Judaism (and changed her name to Ruth).

McBride intersperses his life in chapters in his voice, with his mother's life in chapters in her voice, and presumably in her own words. (This is very effective on audio.) It gives the book a natural structure where the reader learns about his background roughly in a parallel trend to how he learned about it himself, growing up without answers.

McBride gives us a story about life, race, identity, growing up Jewish in Virginia in the 1930‘s, and losing that life. And my 2005 edition has a ten-year reflection, as this book was successful enough to change his career and impact his mother's life. This is special and well done. I finished thinking this is the best book I've ever listened to. I mean, it's not, but you know that feeling. It's really that good.

Recommended to everyone, even you. :)

helmikuu 20, 5:54 am

>21 dchaikin: Excellent (and very thorough!) review! I really enjoyed your comments.

Perhaps you could cross-post an abbreviated review of the poetry anthology over on the poetry thread? Caroline and I both do that. Poetry volumes seem to have generally replaced crime novels in my reading these days.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 20, 7:45 am

>22 dchaikin: Poseidon's Steed sounds like a pass. BTW there was a breathtaking photo of a seahorse on my Facebook timeline from Earth's Treasures last week:

>23 dchaikin: Fabulous review of The Color of Water. I've owned a copy of it for at least 20 years, and I really should get to it soon.

helmikuu 20, 8:21 am

>25 kidzdoc: That is absolutely gorgeous. Breathtaking is definitely the word.

helmikuu 20, 8:41 am

>22 dchaikin: seahorses
Huh. The book seems to stray further afield than I care to, but I'd never thought about what a seahorse is. It is in the pipefish family, where one can see it morphing from fishiness.
>23 dchaikin: The Color of Water
I remember reading this with my book group in Boston, which means it was in the late 1990s and my memory has accordingly faded significantly. Also before the 10 year reflection which would be interesting.

helmikuu 20, 8:52 am

>27 qebo: Thank you, I just learned that there are fishes called sea dragons, and they look adorably weird!


helmikuu 20, 10:17 am

A great review of The Color of Water! And another entry for my ever-lengthening Wishlist.

helmikuu 20, 11:19 am

The color of water sounds wonderful. I’m going to add it to my out of control wishlist.

helmikuu 20, 12:58 pm

>25 kidzdoc: well, that’s just gorgeous. It looks like it has hands and fingers!

>24 avaland: good idea, Lois. I’ll re-post there

>25 kidzdoc: re The Color of Water - I hope you have a chance to read it (or listen to it?)

>26 Julie_in_the_Library: agree!

>27 qebo: yes, seahorses are part of the pipefish family, a strange family. They are not considered pipefish but to have evolved from them. As for The Color of Water, the 2005 ten-yr follow up is worth checking out (even if that itself is 18 yrs ago now).

>28 FlorenceArt: don’t neglect the leafy seadragons, which are gorgeous. They are a kind of pipefish: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leafy_seadragon

>29 dianelouise100: >30 NanaCC: - oh, good. Mission accomplished. 🙂

helmikuu 20, 1:31 pm

>13 dchaikin: Enjoyed your review of Chaucer: A European Life I think you will find all that background useful when you get to the texts.

helmikuu 22, 12:13 am

>32 baswood: Thank bas. I imagine you're right.

helmikuu 22, 3:49 am

>10 dchaikin: My approach to audiobooks is a bit similar to yours. I am not a very auditive person and only listen to my audiobooks while doing household chores or while getting ready to go out etc., so I cannot listen to anything I really need to concentrate on. For several years I have only listened to rather fluffy novels, novels that are fun but that I wouldn't pick up as a paper book (not for snobbish reasons but because as a paper book, really sitting down with them, they would bore me, listening to them as light entertainment while doing something else is fun, though).
Now I am listening to a memoir for the same reason (the one by Prince Harry - I wouldn't really sit down with it, but I am curious, so audiobook seemed perfect). It works very well for me, so I am planning to listen to more memoirs, even more serious ones, and I'm happy to see that you do that, too.

>13 dchaikin: Great review, I didn't think it was messy at all! I studied Middle English at uni, and read/translated a little bit of Chaucer, but not much, so sadly I only know very little about him or his works.

>23 dchaikin: Added to my audible WL!

helmikuu 22, 5:39 am

>23 dchaikin: Great and interesting review, for a book I had not heard about but that seems great as well.
I love your final recommandation, Recommended to everyone, even you. and might take it literally!

helmikuu 22, 4:45 pm

>20 dchaikin: Interesting comments about The Trees and your reaction to it. It echos how An Island made me feel uncomfortable, although for different, yet related reasons. Just interesting that you loved the one that made me feel a little unsettled and vice versa.

>23 dchaikin: I really liked Deacon King Kong, how is it that this has never even made it onto my wishlist? I've made note that the audio version is good.

helmikuu 22, 10:17 pm

>23 dchaikin: I've heard rave reviews of this for years but somehow didn't connect it to James McBride of Deacon King Kong or The Good Lord Bird. No idea why. It's not like changing up genres is that much of a stretch. Anyway, I should give it a go.

And seahorses are just so cool. That whole family is. Sea dragons!

helmikuu 22, 11:02 pm

>35 raton-liseur: oh, yay! please do. :) The Color of Water is really good.

>36 RidgewayGirl: I re-read your review of The Trees when I was thinking about what to say. I don't know of any other reader who had trouble with it in the way I did. One LT reviews says he makes a point by making his white character stereotypes, flipping racism norms. ...but _all_ his characters were intentionally stereotypes. At least I thought so. An Island, of course, is supposed to make us feel uncomfortable. Well, wait... they both are. We both just had opposite responses. And, McBride: I would like to read fiction by McBride. Noting your response to Deacon (I might vaguely remember your review. It was positive, anyway)

>37 lisapeet: hi. I can only agree, except I don't like the word "should", such a buzz kill with fun reading. But I hope you can check out The Color of Water.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 22, 11:36 pm

14. By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah
published: 2001
format: 245-page paperback
acquired: 2009 read: Feb 11-20 time reading: 11:09, 2.7 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: contemporary fiction theme: TBR
locations: England and Zanzibar
about the author: born 1948 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Fled to England after the Zanzibar Revolution in 1968. Now a retired professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent.

This is my third novel by Gurnah, and I certainly now see patterns. Each book has covered a different era in Tanzania, but this is a sort of hidden feature. We learn about this part of the world, but it's never the focus of the book. Gurnah writes about characters and interactions, within the context of this world of Zanzibar and its surrounds. He loves the complicated financial dealings: trading, borrowing, taking risks, the calculations, patience and impatience, the tensions and emotions. And he loves just spending time, wasting time, enjoying wasting time. His novels always make room to sit and enjoy the moment. And the overarching trend is the graceful kindnesses amidst his story tensions. Even when bad characters are doing bad things, intentionally, and they still yet have this cultural overlay, a kind of banter and caring, and it humanizes them in such unexpected ways...in such ways we just don't see in our own lives, but we could.

This is supposed to be a book review. This novel is about an intellectual in England, Latif Mahmud, who confronts a recently arrived refugee from his home country, a refugee using his father's name. The old man he finds, a kindly weak old man, brings him some of his own history, much unpleasant. They meet, they confront, they share tea, and bards, and they tell stories. It's really a beautiful book. And the reader, thinking about these men and their stories, happens to see a window into Tanzania just before and then after independence, a brutal independence.


I copied down some quotes.

I want to look forward, but I always find myself looking back, poking about in times so long ago and so diminished by other events since then, tyrant events which loom large over me and dictate every ordinary action. Yet when I look back, I find some objects still gleam with a bright malevolence and every memory draws blood. It’s a dower place, the land of memory, a dim gutted warehouse with rotted planks and rusted ladders where you sometimes spend time rifling through abandoned goods.

Oh, I so relished these pointless little exchanges, these little sallies and dances, a small feint here and the subtlest gesture there. Not satisfied with my pointless and valueless life, I still want to relish its gigantic pointlessness

Latif to the old man:
"I think I imagined you as a kind of relic, a metaphor of my nativity, and that I would come and examine you while you sat still and dissembling, fuming ineffectually like a jinn raised from infernal depths. Do you mind my talking like this?"

Little could be done to lighten those sins, I needed to be shriven of the burden of events and stories which I have never been able to tell, and which by telling would fulfil the craving I feel to be listened to with understanding.

The old man to Latif:
"Anyway, you talk too much about words like honour and courtesy and forgiveness. They mean nothing, just words. The most we can expect is a little kindness, I think, if we are in luck. I mean, that is what I think. The big words are just part of a language of duplicity to disguise the nothingness of our lives."

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 23, 12:11 am

>34 MissBrangwen: hi. I missed your post in my replies. Several things to mention. I completely understand and appreciate your approach to audiobooks. I admit I’m pretty much incapable of just sitting there and listening. I have to be doing something else.

And I’m very interested in Prince Harry’s memoir. (In case i forget that, audible reminds me with an add for it _every_ time i open the app.)

Thanks for your kind comment on my Chaucer post. Very cool you got to study him. And, I hope you get to and enjoy The Color of Water.

helmikuu 23, 2:55 am

>39 dchaikin: Nice review. I will start with Paradise this year.

helmikuu 23, 7:50 am

>23 dchaikin: I used one of my audible credits and downloaded this for when I finish listening to Middlemarch.

helmikuu 23, 7:56 pm

>38 dchaikin: My should is a very lax concept, both personally and professionally—I am totally comfortable underachieving all my aspirational reading goals. So yeah, someday maybe!

helmikuu 23, 11:14 pm

>39 dchaikin: Audible will be not be releasing By the Sea till August, so I have a long wait.

helmikuu 23, 11:24 pm

>40 dchaikin: >34 MissBrangwen: I have to exert great self control when listening to audiobooks, as I too tend to want to do other things as well. I force myself to listen only. If I multitask I find I do not properly appreciate the novel. I made myself a rule. I bookmark as soon as I start reading, and if I turn my attention elsewhere for more than a few seconds I force myself to go back to the bookmark. I think I completely ruined my experience of The Dutch House by breaking this rule, because of the way the novel jumps between time periods. I was often unsure of what time period I was in. With the next novel that jumps around to the same extent I think I’ll bookmark at every time shift.

helmikuu 25, 12:03 am

>41 Ameise1: I was instructed by Lois to start with Gurnah's Paradise (she sent me a copy). It's terrific and a good place to start.

>42 labfs39: oh, yay. I'm happy you're trying The Color of Water out!

>43 lisapeet: :)

>44 kjuliff: August 2023 for By the Sea, and 2001 publication, by a 2021 Nobel Laureate. Bummer, but I'm glad it will be available on audio. Gurnah translates well to audio.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 12:10 am

>45 kjuliff: I'm admiring your commitment. I have a couple tricks, but nothing that rigorous. When even I park (because I listen driving), or finish a walk or whatnot, a click back a minute and then set my bookmark, because I figure it will take me 30 seconds or to orient next time i start. If I lose attention or can't figure out what's going on, I click back 30-second clicks until I reach something I remember well. But I'm forgiving of myself and my wandering and drifty attention. :)

Here's something that drives me crazy. I miss something important. I rewind, and while thinking about how annoyed I am for drifting off and missing something, I miss it again! I can do this four or five times before I actually catch the line.

helmikuu 25, 12:30 am

>46 dchaikin: Thanks so much. I put it on my library list.

helmikuu 25, 10:30 am

>34 MissBrangwen:, >45 kjuliff:, >47 dchaikin: Noting tips because I'm new to audio books. So far the only thing that works for me is walking in familiar and traffic-free territory; the slightest distraction and I realize I've missed something. I like that audio prevents me from skimming, dislike that I can't easily search backward for a name so I'll be wondering who was that again?

>47 dchaikin: I rewind, and while thinking about how annoyed I am for drifting off and missing something, I miss it again!
Glad I'm not the only one!

helmikuu 27, 5:59 am

>39 dchaikin: re: Gurnah
"And the overarching trend is the graceful kindnesses amidst his story tensions" ...I loved this, Dan!

Great review and nice re-visit for me! (I just have the one newest book of his to read, and I'm dragging my feet because I don't want to be "done").

maaliskuu 2, 2:46 pm

Great review of By the Sea, Dan! Your comments make me want to read it again right now.

maaliskuu 4, 1:57 pm

>49 qebo: sorry for the slow response. It takes a little time to figure what works and doesn't with audio. Sounds like you have a method of sort. The two main things I don't like with audio is my inability to flick through pages (and find stuff) and that I never know how any names or places are spelled. I have to look this up.

>50 avaland: thanks so much!. I really enjoyed Afterlives. It could tie directly into Paradise, if you change the names for consistency (which he must have had a good reason for not doing). I hope you enjoy.

>51 kidzdoc: Such a nice post, Darryl. I'm flattered. :)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 3:13 pm

Trying to take a moment to reflect on my reading in February. I was in Philadelphia two different weekends, which tired me out a bit, but was actually good for my reading. I managed 57 hours of reading over the month, averaging just barely over 2 hours a day. Probably 12 of those hours were while I was in flight.

For my Chaucer plan I finished the very long, slow, and thorough Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner. Yesterday (March 3) I started The Romance of the Rose, a 13th-century Old French work that Chaucer translated (into Middle English). I'm reading this with Dilara.

For my Richard Wright plan, I got half-way through Native Son by Richard Wright, which is a brutal, if powerful, novel. I actually planned to start it in March, so I'm ahead of plan. But it's not fun reading.

For my Booker list plan, I read The Trees by Percival Everett, an uncomfortably(?) very fun book.

For my Wharton group on Litsy, I'm leading The Age of Innocence, which won a Pulitzer Prize (the first for a woman), and is her most famous book. Possibly her best. We're 3/4 through today, and I was about halfway at the end of February.

For my nature group on Litsy, #naturalitsy, I read Poseidon's Steed by Helen Scales, on seahorses. But I didn't like it and I'm hesitant to join in on the groups next book - On a Farther Shore by William Sounder, a sort of biography of Rachel Carson, which gets generally meh reviews on GoodReads, but has one very nice positive review on LT.

My plan to read my actual TBR had me read By the sea by Adbulrazak Gurnah - my favorite book of the month.

Off the plans, I finished a poetry collection, City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology, my first in years. And i started a new one, the Collected Poems of Donald Justice. And, on audio, I finished The Color of Water by James McBride, one of my best audiobooks. And I started Winning Fixes Everything by Evan Drellich, a baseball book on how my favorite team cheated to win a championship. Maybe perfect for Spring Training. I'm now almost done, and have found it quite fascinating and surprisingly eye-opening. I suspect my idle moments are spent mostly thinking about this Drellich book.

maaliskuu 4, 5:16 pm

>52 dchaikin: I never know how any names or places are spelled
OTOH you know how they're pronounced. I've been reading to my mother (in skilled care and fading in many ways) for several months, and even though it's a straightforward enough book I stumble over words and place names that are perfectly familiar but I've never uttered them out loud.

maaliskuu 4, 9:45 pm

>54 qebo: :) good point! I have that issue too. But I don't read out loud to anyone, so it mostly goes unobserved (and uncorrected).

maaliskuu 4, 11:16 pm

I have a hearing loss; so even if someone was reading it there would be a good chance I missed some sounds. I read the word, know what it means, but if I try to say its often wrong. I get lots of grins and 'let me help' and I get embarrasd but what else can you do but remember it!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 11:33 pm

15. Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess by Evan Drellich
reader: Mike Chamberlain
published: February 14, 2023
format: 13:07 audible audiobook (272-pages in hardcover)
acquired: February 20 listened: Feb 20 – Mar 4
rating: 4
genre/style: Baseball/Journalism theme: random audio
locations: Houston
about the author: an American sports journalist and author based in New York City

A book for baseball fans, a pretty good one. The Houston Astros won the World Series in 2017. After the 2019 season two reporters broke a story on how the Astros cheated during that pennant season, using cameras to read other teams pitching signs and relaying that to their batters in real time by banging on a trashcan. The last part is especially ironic as, until they were caught, the Astros had a reputation as being the most technically advanced team in the sport, leading the league in the collection and application of data analytics. And yet they banged a trashcan.

Evan Drellich was one of the reporters who broke the story, along with Ken Rosenthal. Here he writes the whole story about that Astros team, focusing on the "toxic" culture that built it, and problems within that culture that allowed this cheating and other issues. It's really the story of the Astros owner, Jim Crane, who bought the team in 2011, and especially the rise and fall of his wiz-general manager, Jeff Luhnow. When the cheating scandal broke, Crane dumped all the blame on Luhnow, how was fired and is out of baseball, likely permanently. About everyone else involved feels bad for being caught, and has otherwise carried on, including the team itself, which has continued to win, and won the 2022 World Series (with only 5 players left from the 2017 season).

Baseball fans have a lot to gain here because of the insight into the Astros management, into baseball's corporate culture, and because this is the story of how the Astros built a great team, the technology they used, and the decisions, good and bad, that they made. (Why, for example, they infamously traded away prospect Josh Hader in 2015, who became a dominant reliever for the Brewers.) But the focus is the Astros management culture.

----I get a little carried away beginning here---

So, I'm a big baseball fan, and I've followed the Houston Astros since I moved to Houston in 1998. When the Astros were sold, I was pretty content with new ownership, and with the first four terrible seasons as the team intentionally tanked in order to push through a complete rebuilding effort. I loved this team they created and loved this genius GM Luhnow. I was ecstatic when they won the 2017 World Series. It was a dramatic series, with a surreal classic back-and-forth game 5. (A game in which the Astros used their cheating system). When the story broke, I admittedly wasn't that upset about it. It seemed so unsophisticated that I couldn't imagine they used it that much, and I could imagine my favorite players could be very dependent on it. I figured the manager mishandled some clubhouse nonsense. What I actually was upset about was that the Astros genius GM, Jeff Luhnow, was fired and no longer leading team. So, this is a disclosure. These are not reactions to be proud of.

Turns out the Astros corporate culture was really polluted and poisonous under Luhnow, toxic. I mean, keep in mind that no matter how bad or acrimonious or stressful the experience was, everyone working there still will all look back and remember this either as the best fun they had in any job in their lives, or, if they stay in baseball, as part of that baseball experience. And this was an innovative team doing stuff no other teams were doing, in non-traditional ways, and even with non-baseball people. Luhnow was a business guy, a Wharton graduate who got obsessed with fantasy baseball. Brandom Taubman*, at one time Luhnow's main assistant, was an investment banker. Sig Mejdal, a key analytics expert, was a NASA engineer. It was an unusual group. And that poison created a really great team. But it was pretty ugly. Cut-throat & ruthless, and far more "corporate" than any other baseball team. There was no warmth in the front office, no support and no principals. The technology used to evaluate players was also used to mathematically come up with ways to limit players' salaries and to determine how many scouts to fire (a lot). But the biggest problem was Luhnow. Insecure and a poor communicator, he created a culture of damaged communication, and with no ability for anyone to effectively question or challenge his own bad decisions. Complaining was a way to get fired.

So I learned a few lessons. First, the cheating was really a big deal. The Astros stole the championship. Second, while Luhnow didn't come up with the cheating concept or initiate it, he encouraged it and pushed it hard from up top. He was really deeply responsible. He comes across as really an unpleasant guy, and, after having read this book, I'm glad to see him go from the sport. On the other hand, the Astros field manager, AJ Hinch, the one I personally initially blamed, comes off really well and likable. This was someone trapped by this system, driven by a lunatic GM, and pushed by problematic coaches. I think he had two choices, complain and get fired or try to manage it. He made the wrong decision, but it wasn't an easy one. Of everyone with any responsibility, he comes out easily the best.

Two other less surprising lessons:

Astros owner Jim Crane got off scot-free from all this. Crane still owns the team, a team worth 3x what he paid for it (his collection of investors paid ~$680,000,000), and he faced no disciplinary action or criticism. The book highlights he has a track record of this, with companies he owned getting pressed with obscenely extreme racist hiring practices and with war profiteering, things that got people in big trouble, but not the company owner, Crane. Which makes him ethically very repulsive and also ethically about average among the major sport franchise owners.

And, no surprise to baseball fans, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is truly incompetent when it comes to handling major problems in the sport - whether steroids, cheating with technology or the sticky stuff most pitchers use today. It's not your imagination.


Anyway, if you want to learn about any of this, or about the collection of the main influencers in the creation of the Astros championship teams, in the good and bad scouting perspectives and decisions regarding various key players, in why the Astros were successful, or how Jim Crane made them more corporate-like than other baseball teams, or about anything above, this book is a good place to start. It's not perfect, or genius or mind-altering, but it's effective and well written.

*So Brandon Taubman is also out of baseball. He was fired by Luhnow in 2019 before the cheating story broke. He was fired for yelling drunkenly at female sports reporter, bragging about an Astros player who had once been charged for severely beating up a girlfriend**. He then lied about it, and claimed another female reporter, who witnessed the event and reported it, was reporting falsely.

**That player is Roberto Osuna, a talented pitcher. After being accused of beating up his girlfriend, his team, the Toronto Blue Jays, wanted to get rid of him at any cost. When Jeff Luhnow traded for him, he overrode the entire Astros management and scouting staff. The staff was universally against it, according to this book. After the trade, three key members of the Astros management, people who helped design the system that created the current team, left because of this decision (analytics gurus Mike Fast, Mike Elias, & Sig Mejdal)

maaliskuu 4, 11:19 pm

>56 cindydavid4: Are you able to follow audiobooks?

maaliskuu 5, 8:15 am

Fabulous review of Winning Fixes Everything, Dan. It is ironic that in an era of analytics and advanced technology, the Astros were aided in winning their first World Series by banging on a trash can. Does the author speculate how much this crude technique made a difference in beating the Dodgers? Would they have likely won if they didn't cheat?

I wondered if Roberto Osuna was related to the similarly named Marcell Ozuna of the Atlanta Braves, who was also suspended by Major League Baseball for domestic assault, until I learned that the spellings of their last names are slightly different.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 10:27 am

>59 kidzdoc: you might be one of two or three Club Readers interested in the book. It’s a very baseball-fan specific book. Thanks for the comment. There is so much more I didn’t say! 🙂

Regarding the WS against the Dodgers, there are no specifics except that the Dodgers were warned and only one pitcher headed the warning and mixed up his signs - Wood, who shut down the Astros at home. Kershaw, the Dodgers best pitcher, didn’t take any precautions and was notoriously hammered in game 5. Also bench coach Alex Cora, who helped implement the system and won the 2018 World Series as manager of the Boston Red Sox (hmm) and drinks too much was quoted by other sources as drunkenly claiming the Astros stole that series. So, the answer seems to be yes.

Regarding Roberto Osuna and Marcell Ozuna : they share in both being charged with but not tried on domestic abuse. Osuna’s girlfriend left Canada for her home in Mexico and refused to return. Ozuna’s charges were dropped based on some video evidence that seems indicate he didn’t grab his girlfriend by the neck and throw her on the ground.

maaliskuu 5, 10:38 am

Fyi - Most teams legally steal signs. The teams most likely to have cheated are the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros. The Yankees and Red Sox were each busted in 2016 (?) for less offensive systems and fined. The weak mlb response allowed the Astros to cheat more in 2017. The Dodgers are famously technical, but it’s not clear if they ever broke rules. The book quotes accusations about other teams (Mariners and then Indians/ now Guardians). The Astros were ironically paranoid, hired spys to find how other teams cheated, and made many accusations against other teams before they were busted.

maaliskuu 5, 10:59 am

>58 dchaikin: I don't listen to them coz I get too distracted

maaliskuu 5, 12:59 pm

>57 dchaikin: I have absolutely not the slightest interest in baseball and your review was interesting and a lot of fun to read.

maaliskuu 5, 2:40 pm

>57 dchaikin:, >63 RidgewayGirl: I had much the same reaction. I don't follow any sports but now baseball almost seems intriguing.

maaliskuu 5, 8:36 pm

>60 dchaikin: you might be one of two or three Club Readers interested in the book

The others would be Jerry, for certain, and possibly Kevin, right?

Thanks for your replies to my questions. I had forgotten that the domestic abuse charges against Marcell Ozuna were dropped. However, he was arrested a second time last year, as he was caught driving under the influence by police in suburban Atlanta. Braves fans got so fed up with him that they booed him once he resumed playing, IIRC.

maaliskuu 5, 11:50 pm

>63 RidgewayGirl: >64 qebo: It's really nice to read these posts. Thanks. I got really into this story (I kept telling myself the "review" is far too long.)

>65 kidzdoc: Actually I only had Jerry in mind. Kevin is a soccer fan. But, since baseball and reading make nice partners, I thought there just might be one or two quiet baseball fans out there in our group.

No comment on Ozuna. Sorry he has whatever personal issues he has, and I'm especially sorry for anyone he may have hurt. The baseball minor leagues aren't particularly skilled at making these kids into first-class individuals.

maaliskuu 10, 4:00 pm

>57 dchaikin: Another non baseball fan here, but great review.

What do CR's three resident baseball fans think of the new rules for speeding up the game?

maaliskuu 11, 9:39 am

>67 SassyLassy: I watched a few spring training games and it’s a lot faster. Even announcers were adjusting. There might be an awkward adjustment period. But I’m not sure how I feel about it personally. On one hand I didn’t like that the games go very long, on the other I liked the slow pace. I’ll have to wait and see.

maaliskuu 17, 10:50 pm

>67 SassyLassy: I haven't watched any spring training baseball games yet, as my focus is on the men's and women's college basketball tournaments. I'll pay attention once Opening Day is here.

maaliskuu 18, 5:15 pm

16. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
introduction: Regina Barreca (1994)
published: 1920
format: 329-page Signet Classic paperback (1996?)
acquired: 2021 read: Feb 13 – Mar 7 time reading: 15:49, 2.9 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: classic theme: Wharton
locations: 1870’s New York City (with trips to Newport, Boston and elsewhere)
about the author: 1862-1937. Born Edith Newbold Jones on West 23rd Street, New York City. Relocated permanently to France after 1911.

Wharton's most famous novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921, the first time the award was given to a woman. It's still her best known book, and arguably her best novel. It does something none of her previous novels had done, place her story, in the first sentence, in a historical setting that she had personally witnessed. "On a January evening if the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing Faust at the Academy of Music in New York. - fifty years ago in an opera house, sheltered from the snow or whatever image it brings to mind. It welcomes imagination while providing precision. We're in high class New York City, the lost world of Wharton's youth. It sparkles of money, leisure, jewels, opera house lighting, singing, winter streets, and memory. It's gorgeous.

It's not the first time Wharton wrote of New York, but it's the first time she wrote a novel of this lost New York of her youth, and it fits her style and mindset wonderfully. Amdist this, flagged by Faust, we follow a troubled love story reeking of sin, and then strangle in within the oppressive expectations of moneyed culture. The desire for freedom, and the reality of social pressure mingle and pull taught against each other.

The novel follows Archer Newland, on the eve of his engagement to May Welland, a perfect New York match between two established families. But Archer finds himself hopelessly attracted to May's cousin, Countess Oleska, currently in New York, fleeing her bad marriage and husband, the count, in Europe. He is caught paused (Hamlet-like), between his attachment to the mores of his world, and the desire to break away free and runaway with the countess. The heart of the novel rests on his hesitation on the cusp of acting.

Wharton could be savagely wry. Here she criticizes that old New York world of the 1870's, but she does so while staying very attached to it, and it comes out beautiful.

maaliskuu 18, 5:59 pm

>70 dchaikin: Now you can watch the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis.

maaliskuu 18, 6:16 pm

17. Native Son by Richard Wright
Introduction : Caryl Phillips (2000)
published: 1940
format: 464-page paperback
acquired: February 2022 read: Feb 20 – Mar 11 time reading: 15:17, 2.0 mpp
rating: 4½
genre/style: classic novel theme: Richard Wright
locations: 1930’s Chicago
about the author: American author born on a Mississippi plantation, 1908-1960

And something complete different. A dark classic look at American racism in fiction. Richard Wright wrote for purpose. He was determined force the reader's eye coldly on the hard fact of racism. No cushion of sympathy, or pity, he draws the reader in so we can't look away, holds us by force of the novel, looking wide-eyed and horrified.

The first 200 pages of this novel were as intense as anything I have ever read. But it wasn't fun, it was awful, painful, yet still compelling. This is his masterpiece. Bigger Thomas, like the strongest of Shakespeare's villains, is all calculation and doomed for lack of consequential foresight. We're in a tragedy, but our villain is not part of noble house maneuvering for power, he is confined in all space, physical and mental, by white American racism. He acts within and against these confines, and when he crosses a line, he thinks only how to clean it up and get away. And it's here, Fargo-like, or Parasite-like, to name a couple movies, Wright leaves us. Shocked, stunned, trapped strangely in slow motion, horrified.

Mixing a few books at a time, I put the book down there (exhausted). When I picked it back up, the worst of the intense horror was past, but the book still had another 200 awkward pages of consequences, and contemplation, mentally search for ways to come to terms, and, even more awkwardly, toying with communist concepts. Bigger enters the legal system defended, without cost, by a Jewish American communist.

There is a nothing perfect in this book. It goes from evocative to uncomfortably horrific to oddly awkward. It doesn't fail. I was able to coast through these last 200 pages, and think about all that had happened, but it's a strange way to wrap this up.

Wright wanted to create a look at the human cost of racism without pity - and it certainly has done something of that sort. Five yucky stars for those first uncomfortable 200 pages, but less for the work overall.

maaliskuu 18, 6:16 pm

>71 labfs39: oh, right. I need to!

maaliskuu 18, 8:31 pm

maaliskuu 19, 9:09 am

>74 dianeham: Thank you for the link. Fascinating. Now I want to rewatch the film.

maaliskuu 19, 1:17 pm

>69 kidzdoc: probably a better move right now

>68 dchaikin: >69 kidzdoc: I don't think even these new rules could convince me to watch baseball. Ice hockey moves much faster!

maaliskuu 19, 2:24 pm

>74 dianeham: cool article. Thanks

>76 SassyLassy: no matter how much they speed up the game, baseball hopefully will never be a fast sport.

maaliskuu 19, 4:45 pm

18. Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson
reader: C. M. Hébert
published: 1941
format: 5:46 audible audio* (~137 pages of original paperback)
acquired: March 5 listened: Mar 5-14
rating: 4
genre/style: Nature theme: random audio
locations: Atlantic Coast
about the author: 1907 –1964, born on a family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania. Carson was an American marine biologist, writer, and conservationist whose influential book Silent Spring (1962) and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

*The audiobook length is 6:38, but the glossary started with 52 minutes left and I stopped there. The original paperback is 157 pages.

Another classic, but one again completely different.

I didn't know what to expect here in Rachel Carson's first book, from 1941, published shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I learned in the The Book of Eels by Patrick Svensson that Carson wrote an essay as a contribution for a book on coastal animals and was told that what she wrote wasn't a good fit for the book, but that she might try the Atlantic Monthly. She did, it got published and she expanded it into this book. I didn't know what that meant. Svensson has really nice things to say about Carson, and that's why I picked this up.

So, unprepared, I started, and an elegant-paced reader read to me:
The island lay in shadows only a little deeper than those that were swiftly stealing across the sound from the east. On its western shore the wet sand of the narrow beach caught the same reflection of palely gleaming sky that laid a bright path across the water from island beach to horizon. Both water and sand were the color of steel overlaid with the sheen of silver, so that it was hard to say where water ended and land began.

Carson tells her natural stories without introduction, explanation, purpose, or any authorial intervention. No commentary, no authorial side notes and presence. She just begins to tell us, and she never pauses to talk to the reader about what she's doing or where her information comes from, or what her message is; she stops only to change location for the next chapter. Each coastal environment is captured by a string of striking prose on natural experience and sensations - the sights, sounds, feelings, sensations present and absent, animal awareness, its limitations. There is a sense of these animals' fragile existence.

Each chapter centers on a named animal. So, everything is personified.
On the south beach of the island, where water no deeper than a man’s hand ran over gently ribbed bottom, Rynchops began to wheel and quarter over the shallows. He flew with a curious, lilting motion, lifting his wings high after the downstroke. His head was bent sharply so that the long lower bill, shaped like a scissor blade, might cut the water.

The blade or cutwater plowed a miniature furrow over the placid sheet of the sound, setting up wavelets of its own and sending vibrations thudding down through the water to rebound from the sandy bottom. The wave messages were received by the blennies and killifish that were roving the shallows on the alert for food. In the fish world many things are told by sound waves. Sometimes the vibrations tell of food animals like small shrimps or oar-footed crustaceans moving in swarms overhead. And so at the passing of the skimmer the small fishes came nosing at the surface, curious and hungry. Rynchops, wheeling about, returned along the way he had come and snapped up three of the fishes by the rapid opening and closing of his short upper bill.

Striking prose and simple format. Carson imagines the experiences of her birds fish, etc. using the information of her time, 1941, which was a lot of information. No purpose is presented, but the reader should understand they are learning something. And the reader can't but help notice the poetic sense of experience. If you happen to drift, the narrative forgives, and experience maintained by that voice. I can't promise I diligently captured the full story details, but I'm glad I stopped here. It's a curious audio experience, with an exceptionally good reader (C. M. Hébert) who joyfully, after the briefest pause for affect, calls out all the distinct bird sounds.
Ah-h-h-h, called the black skimmer. Ha-a-a-a! Ha-a-a-a!

maaliskuu 19, 5:22 pm

>78 dchaikin: Enjoyed your review - I read her 1951 book The sea around us which stayed 86 weeks on the best seller lists. She knew how to write science for a popular audience and her passion for her subject comes through.

>72 dchaikin: Native son is a book I will probably never read and so it was good to hear your thoughts on it.

maaliskuu 19, 5:25 pm

>79 baswood: I’m listening to The Sea Around Us now. A bit different. I’m really enjoying the pre-plate-tectonics speculation. I didn’t know it was such a huge success!

maaliskuu 19, 7:21 pm

Part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is only an hour away, and I've gone walking there a few times. There's a nice loop trail for the girls. Her summer cottage in Southport is two hours away, and I've never been, but would like to.

maaliskuu 19, 9:07 pm

Great reviews of The Age of Innocence, Native Son, and Under the Sea Wind, Dan. I probably started reading Richard Wright's masterpiece in high school or after I received my undergraduate degree, but I'm sure that I didn't finish it. I have the Library of America's edition of Richard Wright: Later Works, which includes that novel and The Outsider, so I'll try to get to both books soon.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 19, 10:00 pm

>81 labfs39: I only learned about the Carson Preserve after I wrote my review today. I couldn’t even tell, in the book, when the location was offshore Maine. That would be special to see her summer cottage.

>82 kidzdoc: I’m worried whether i will be able to read The Outsider. It’s a long book under the influence of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir etc, on a brutal topic. But I will likely give it a shot.

maaliskuu 19, 11:19 pm

>83 dchaikin: >82 kidzdoc: I strongly recommend The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud which is essentially CamusThe Stranger from the Algerian position. Mersaut is “the Arab” in The Stranger - deliberately un-named by Camus. Daoud gives the character a name.

With The Stranger be sure if possible that you get the Matthew Ward translation which correctly translates the first and famous opening line.

maaliskuu 20, 4:28 am

>72 dchaikin: >82 kidzdoc: I too couldn't finish Native Son. It's such a painful read. I really want to finish it one day, so it's good to know the first 200 pages are the most intense.
>78 dchaikin: And now, another book bullet...

maaliskuu 20, 4:39 am

A series of excellent reviews!

>70 dchaikin: I am planning to read The Age of Innocence next month, I was toying with the idea and your review really made me want to get to it.

>78 dchaikin: I have never heard of this author, but have added this book to my WL. The quotes you included are wonderful.

maaliskuu 20, 8:46 am

I have been absent for a while, so I have a lot of catching up to do. And inevitably, some of the books you've read have caught my attention:

>20 dchaikin: - The Trees by Percival Everett: this book keeps popping up and is calling me but I really can't see why. Maybe I should give it a try, to get it out of my system.

>23 dchaikin: - The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride: that one sounds like a well-written, heartwarming book. Excellent review too (or maybe because of the review).

>39 dchaikin: By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah: Gurnah has been on my radar as well, mostly because / since he won the Nobel, but I'm a bit reluctant because for some reason I think he's a difficult writer for me to tackle. Your excellent review makes me more inclined to give his books a try though. I notice you read three. Is there one you'd recommend to start with?

>70 dchaikin: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton: Another reminder that I Really Should Read Wharton soon. What's keeping me?

>72 dchaikin: Native Son by Richard Wright: if ever I needed motivation to read a book way out of my comfort zone, you review did it. I made a reservation in Cloud Library.

maaliskuu 20, 3:19 pm

>84 kjuliff: I agree, Kathleen; I gave 4-1/2 stars to The Meursault Investigation.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 20, 5:40 pm

>84 kjuliff: I took against the book The Mersault Investigation believing it to be a cheap parody of a great novel.

maaliskuu 20, 5:51 pm

>89 baswood: I didn’t see it as a parody at all. Certainly it wasn’t the writer’s intent. Have you read The Guardian review?

maaliskuu 20, 5:58 pm

>88 kidzdoc: Snap! As did I. I really enjoyed this novel on many levels. I feel also it was a novel that had to be written.

maaliskuu 20, 6:04 pm

>90 kjuliff: Yes I have read and now re-read the Guardian article, but I beg to differ. Only my opinion though as I know the book is highly rated. Winner of the Goncourt and all. It is not worthy to stand beside Camus novel in my opinion.

maaliskuu 20, 7:30 pm

>87 Trifolia: By the sea was my first by this author and I had no trouble 'tackling' him, actually rather easy I plan to read more of him, but too many shiny covers and all that. Id say jump onin the waters fine (um, sorry)

maaliskuu 20, 7:53 pm

>92 baswood: Yes, well on the latter I agree with you. Kamel Daoud is not on Camus’ level by any standard. But nevertheless I found his novel interesting. And yes, if Camus had not written The Stranger then Daoud’s novel would not have any meaning. It doesn’t hurt to look at a storyline through another lens.

I’d add that the two novels are about two entirely different things. Dawud is writing from a post colonial viewpoint and using the beach scene as a statement on race, which was never Camus’ intent.

maaliskuu 20, 8:27 pm

>94 kjuliff: The joy of reading and sharing opinions on books is what makes LibraryThing such a good platform. We can't always agree and I tend to be too critical of contemporary literature. Here is my review of The Mersault Investigation, which was coloured no doubt because I reviewed it alongside the excellent Children of the New World, Assia Djebar


Sorry to have taken over your thread Dan

maaliskuu 20, 10:37 pm

I’m a little distracted tonight. But I’m enjoying the chat. I haven’t read Camus. So someday I will need to correct that, and then check out Daoud’s response.

maaliskuu 20, 10:49 pm

>84 kjuliff: funny enough I think this all started from Richard Wright’s novel The Outsider - because the touchstone defaults to alternate translated title of Camus’s The Stranger. (Perhaps Wright intentionally referenced Camus? Perhaps i should read The Stranger before Wright’s The Outsider.)

>85 Dilara86: well, on not finishing Native Son: random but it reminded me a lot how I felt watching the movie Parasite. We watched at home during the height of Covid isolation in the spring or summer of 2020, and i had a panic attack and had to stop watching. I still don’t know how it ends. I had the same feeling during parts of Native Son - but the world wasn’t ending so i dodged the panic attack.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 20, 11:50 pm

>86 MissBrangwen: oh, thank you for this note. Age of Innocence awaits you! 🙂 As for Rachel Carson, she kicked off the international environmental movements when she published her last book, Silent Spring, in 1962. She was a marine biologist and, as I learned, a lovely prose writer.

>87 Trifolia: thanks for spending time catching up! Everyone loves The Trees, so do consider. I had an outlier weird reaction…but i still liked it. For Gurnah, Lois was so certain I should start with Paradise, she sent me a copy! I did and it worked. But By the Sea is really good, probably before or after (editing to add, I agree with >93 cindydavid4: ! ). I do recommend Paradise before Afterlives, his latest novel. It isn’t a sequel, but in a way is. On Wharton - I’m leading Glimpses of the Moon with a group on Litsy in April. Seems to be a generally well-liked, if less well-known novel. If you’re interested in starting there and joining…🙂…let me know. And, finally, glad you’re checking out Native Son. Strap in first!

maaliskuu 21, 3:35 am

Hi, Dan. Somehow I got very far behind on your thread, here. But since I can't sleep tonight, here I am catching up. As you most likely recall, I love The Color of Water, and your terrific review really does it justice, in my view.

Also, thanks for going into such depth on Winning Fixes Everything. Your review was extremely informative, and I really appreciate that. Lots of odious goings on, but I was happy to learn that Hinch turns out to be a mostly good guy.

I remember enjoying but not entirely loving The Age of Innocence when I read it in grad school. Thanks for the reminder.

And one of these days I'm going to have to read Native Son.

As to the new baseball rules, I have to say that I'm pretty much in favor of all of them, except for the horrific desecration of making that automatic runner at second base in extra innings permanent. I'm not surprised, though. When they announced they were continuing it last year "just for one more year," I knew it was here to stay. Bleh.

maaliskuu 21, 6:50 am

>99 rocketjk: sorry you couldn’t sleep but it was nice to read your post this morning. I don’t like that runner on second either. Statistically, it bothers me. But it does end games.

maaliskuu 21, 11:25 am

>100 dchaikin: "But it does end games."

Well, that's what bothers me. I do like the idea of the pace of the game being quicker, which is why I like the other new rules. But that doesn't mean I need the games to be shorter. Why don't they just go to penalty kicks and be done with it?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 21, 10:32 pm

>99 rocketjk:, >100 dchaikin: I also hate that runner on second in extra innings rule as much as I dislike college football teams starting overtime possessions at their opponents' 25 yard line, which has led to numerous ridiculous final scores.

>101 rocketjk: Why don't they just go to penalty kicks and be done with it?

Yikes. Don't give the MLB powers that be any ideas...

maaliskuu 22, 8:04 pm

>102 kidzdoc: close game

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 5:34 am

Reading this thread I realized that I don't know anything about baseball (and I mean NOT ANYTHING, I didn't even know it was played with a bat. In my defence, it is not common in Germany, we never played it at school, and I am not a sports person.) I skimmed the wikipedia article and am astonished that the common English (or rather I think AE) language terms of how far you got at a date (first base, second base etc.) are derived from baseball. I think that is such an interesting linguistic influence!

maaliskuu 23, 5:57 am

>104 MissBrangwen: LOL, I know that first base, second base come from baseball but that’s about all I know. Baseball is a complete mystery to me, as is cricket. But then I’m not a sports person either.

maaliskuu 23, 6:46 am

>104 MissBrangwen: There are so many baseball expressions in American English!

Anything to do with "three strikes" being a limit.
You're in the ballpark.
That came out of left field. (Also "you're way out in left field")
He/She is out of my league. (I'm guessing, anyway.)

I'm sure there are more, those are just the ones that came to me off the top of my head.

maaliskuu 23, 3:15 pm

Hi all. I tried to post a note yesterday but couldn’t find the words. I have been with my mother these last couple days. She passed away last night. I will be quiet here a bit. I actually find comfort here so I probably won’t be away too long (and I am thoroughly entertained that teenagers in non-baseball countries that can still get around some bases!). Still i need to find some peace. Cheers and love to all.

maaliskuu 23, 4:28 pm

I saw your post on Facebook a few minutes ago, Dan. I'm very sorry for your loss, and you and your family will be in my prayers.

maaliskuu 23, 4:33 pm

Sorry to read this, Dan. I know the sense of loss is profound. I'll be thinking of you.

maaliskuu 23, 4:44 pm

I am so sorry, Dan. Hugs!

maaliskuu 23, 4:46 pm

I'm so sorry, Dan. Thinking of you!

maaliskuu 23, 4:58 pm

I'm so sorry, Dan. Peace to you and your family.

maaliskuu 23, 5:57 pm

>107 dchaikin: I'm sorry. Good that you could be with her.

maaliskuu 23, 6:41 pm

May her memory be a blessing. Thinking of you

maaliskuu 23, 7:10 pm

I'm so sorry for your loss, it must be difficult, something that can't be prepared for even if expected. I hope you find some comfort and peace.

maaliskuu 23, 8:03 pm

>107 dchaikin: oh so sorry to hear this! Wishing you peace and comfort, and good memories. May her name be for a blessing, You will be in my thoughts

maaliskuu 23, 10:13 pm

Dan, I'm so sorry. Take care of yourself. I'll be thinking of you and your family.

maaliskuu 24, 12:24 am

I’m so sorry, wishing you all the best for getting through this difficult time.

maaliskuu 24, 12:36 am

I’m so sorry for your loss, Dan. May the warmest memories of your mom be a blessing through which you may find some comfort.

maaliskuu 24, 12:46 am

Thinking about you, Dan.

maaliskuu 24, 12:57 am

I‘ll be thinking of you throughout the days to come.

maaliskuu 24, 6:24 am

I am so sorry, Dan. I have been through this, and I know how hard it is. Sending virtual hugs and love to you and your family.

maaliskuu 24, 6:52 am

Oh Dan, I’m so sorry to hear that your mother passed away. Please accept my sincere condolences for your huge loss. I can imagine that this is a difficult time for you.

I hope that you find comfort in the beautiful memories that you have of her and in the support of your family and friends. I wish you a lot of strength in these dark days.

maaliskuu 24, 10:34 am

I’m so sorry Dan.

maaliskuu 24, 6:08 pm

Sorry for your loss Dan and come back when you are ready.

maaliskuu 24, 8:00 pm

My condolences Dan, there really are no words... I hope you find peace.

maaliskuu 25, 10:04 am

I am sorry for your loss. Take care

maaliskuu 28, 12:53 am

Thank you everyone for these comments. All these mean a lot to me.

maaliskuu 28, 11:29 am

I'm glad you were able to post - it means you're still around! - and I hope you find strength and peace in the coming days.

maaliskuu 30, 5:59 pm

I’m returning from vacation, Dan, and just saw the post about your mother. I am very sorry for your loss. I know how difficult this is. Keep all of the good memories close to your heart.

huhtikuu 1, 1:55 pm

>129 Dilara86: still around, or coming back around.
>130 NanaCC: Thanks Colleen (and also, again, to everyone else)

I'm coming around. It's my birthday today. I was not crushed by mom's death, because we really lost her slowly over many years. But coming to terms has different meanings in different contexts. Here, in LT, it's tricky. I'm used to thinking things through before I "say" anything here. And there's enough confusion whirling about in the many parts of the brain, that it made this a more sensitive format. So I waited. On Facebook where I felt the need to post something because that's how my mom's extended world would learn about her passing, it was actually easier because I didn't really need to think about it, just get the info out. One thing I'd like to share here is that I was able to say something during Mom's funeral. That can be really difficult for me. But I was able to write down somethings about her, and it was only then, writing that, reading that, rewriting, that I actually broke down in tears. Well, and speaking it. It's odd how tied my brain is into these visualized words, even my own words. But that's where my emotions rolled over. (And it was nice what I wrote and it was special to say it at her funeral. My niece, a college senior also spoke. And my sister gave a long speech capturing all these aspects of mom's life. I wrote as if to my children, who never got to know her, since we started to lose her in 2010, when they were very young, and since she didn't live nearby. I wrote it as about a mom, not about the person she was to everyone, but my mom. So I didn't have any details beyond anecdotes. But it was heart. I was happy to get it out, and it feels good having said it and thinking about having said it).

So, it's my birthday. Farewell 40's. I will miss you. I bought 8 books today, undermining all my TBR efforts for the year. Before buying them, I had read seven more books than I had acquired since January 1. But now I've cumulatively added one. (and the day isn't over)

This is what I bought for myself today:
Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time by Penelope Lively
Asphodel by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
Silence: A Thirteenth-Century French Romance - edited by Sarah Roche-Mahd
Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
Enon by Paul Harding
This Other Eden by Paul Harding

And I have been reading. When life was normal my March reading included finishing Winning Fixes Everything, The Age of Innocence, Native Son and Under the Sea Wind, all reviewed above. When Mom died I was in the middle of After Sappho, on the Booker list, and I was thoroughly entranced by its play on the Sappho fragments. In 2016 I spent 3 hours in a coffee shop reading a 1958 translation of Sappho's fragments by Mary Barnard. That's all it took. But it was such a nice memorable experience. And Selby Wynn Schwartz does a really nice job of echoing this experience, and these fragments and all their lost implications, in her look at famous (infamous?) open lesbians before and after WWI. After mom's death, I found only a poetry collection I was reading worked - the posthumous collected poetry of Donald Justice. It's a collection that previous was only going ok for me. But anyway, once I was able to read again, After Sappho became just ok, and too long. I then finished the Booker 2022 longlist in one day (March 27) - because the last two books took a combined 4 hours (and that was reading slow), and I had 4 hour flight. Treacle Walker is a book that demands you meet its playful/thoughtful/childish-not-childish mindset, but I finished well before I had a chance to do that, so I didn't get much out of it. I did better with Small Things Like These, which starts off plain, but becomes a nice book and was a nice 2 hours of reading. Then I moved on to The Photograph, a 2003 novel by Penelope Lively about a widower finding a photograph of his diseased wife discretely but intimately holding hands with another man. It's well written, and I enjoyed it. But don't imagine I will ever recommend it to anyone. I finished this morning.

And, Dilara, I'm still working on Romance of the Rose. I'm on pace, but I haven't been posting. Sorry. I will post on it again eventually.

huhtikuu 1, 4:10 pm

Hi Dan, really belatedly catching up. I'm so sorry to hear of your mum's passing. Your eulogy speech sounded wonderful - truly heartfelt.

A very happy 'big' birthday for today! I'm sure you have mixed emotions so soon after losing your mum, but I hope you're finding some way to mark the occasion. I'm sure I'm not at all biased to say that '73 was a great vintage... ;)

Back to your post a while back on The Age of Innocence, interesting that you really loved it. I really didn't take to it, which was a disappointment after loving The House of Mirth. Ah well - different strokes and all that.

huhtikuu 1, 4:27 pm

Eight books to mark your birthday sounds perfect and about the right amount. We'd been losing my mother for years before she died and it made mourning both harder and easier. I'm still working at remembering her when she was still herself, instead of what she became. Glad you were able to look back and share what she meant to you as your mother.

huhtikuu 1, 4:38 pm

Another aires. Happy Birthday. You sound very balanced. Were you in Philly? I’m only 90 miles away from philly and haven’t been there in years.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 1, 4:47 pm

Lots of transitions and raw emotions swirling around them, Dan, would take it out of anyone. Just breathe and you'll settle down in the right rhythm, to new melodies.

ETA: oops, forgot the "happy birthday"--you're the second person today I'm wishing it! Mine was on the 26th--a bouquet o' rams in springtime! :)

huhtikuu 1, 5:05 pm

Dan- I'm not a member of this group but noticed you hadn't been on Litsy much so I was checking in here just to make sure you are ok. I am so sorry for your loss. Please accept my condolences.
Best, Ann
(Welcome to the 50's club. This probably isn't the happiest of birthdays but I wish you some better times in the years to come. Sorry, this felt weird putting all these divergent thoughts in one message. I hope it came across okay.)

huhtikuu 1, 7:43 pm

Only 50 what's taking you so long. Good to see you posting again

huhtikuu 1, 8:24 pm

>132 AlisonY: phew, 1973. Yes, I adored The Age of Innocence. I'll have to give it more time to see how I feel within the context of other works, but I liked the looking backward setting.

>133 RidgewayGirl: I've added more books, for an even ten. We visited Houston's only really good independent bookstore, Brazos bookstore, and I came up with Annie Ernaux's The Years and Lost & Found, a memoir by Kathryn Schulz, a journalist who wrote one of my favorite audiobooks, the nonfiction Being Wrong

>134 dianeham: Cheers fellow Aires. I was in northwest Philly - in Blue Bell and Ambler, and the funeral was in Jenkintown.

>135 LolaWalser: yes, you nailed it. Lots of emotions. And, to you, happy belated birthday.

>136 Ann_R: Hey there. Thanks for finding me here. I haven't been able to address Litsy yet, so have stayed off. Probably I'm ready now. And sorry, yeah, a lot of adjacent conflicting emotions in one place...in one post.

>137 baswood: Thanks. And thanks for making me feel young. :)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 1, 11:06 pm

>131 dchaikin: you do not have to apoligize for writing or not .. We are here for you when you need to post, you make the choices that make you comfortable. ok? give your self all the break you need

Thank you for sharing your mothers funeral with us Im glad that your eulogy went well and probably meant a lot to all attending,along with you children

On a happier note Happy Birthday!!! glad you celebrated by buying books I love Lively; Im currently reading the road to Litchfield and really enjoying. hope you like yours as well

I wish you a splendid year reading Happy birthday!! If it helps, my life improved after I turned 50, Not sure why but Im having fun. enjoy

huhtikuu 2, 12:42 am

March proved a chaotic month for me, making me less able to keep up with threads. So even though quite late, I do offer you my sympathy on your mother’s death. I am glad that her funeral has passed and that some slow healing seems to have begun. And also, Happy Birthday and a good year to come.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 2, 9:44 am

Happy birthday, Dan! I have a big 0 birthday coming up this year too, but with another decade on top of yours. This is... some year. Happy belated birthday to you too, LW!

I also lost my mom by degrees, but yeah, that finality—it's a different animal altogether. It sounds like you were able to mourn and celebrate her as the occasion called for. My mom died right before Covid hit, so we never got to have a funeral or memorial service—we did something over Zoom, but it just wasn't the same dynamic. I'm glad you were able to gather your family.

That's a great pile of books! I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about them.

huhtikuu 2, 2:56 pm

>131 dchaikin: I read Ammonites and Leaping Fish at the end of 2022 and thought of you as I was reading it, so will be interested in your thoughts.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 6, 7:18 pm

19. After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz
OPD: 2022
format: 267-page hardcover
acquired: January read: Mar 15-25 time reading: 8:02, 1.8 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: Contemporary Fiction theme: Booker 2022
locations: mainly fin de siècle Naples & pre-and-post WWI Paris
about the author: teaches writing at Stanford

Initially I was thoroughly entranced by this play on the Sappho fragments. It took me back to one lovely 3-hour Sunday morning I spent in a Houston coffee shop reading all of Sappho's fragments (in a 1958 translation by Mary Barnard). There's not much of Sappho left to us, and much is literally just tiny, isolated fragments, a few words, barely a phrase. Selby Wynn Schwartz does a really nice job of echoing this experience of reading these fragments and reaching out to sense all their firmly lost implications. Her novel is a look at the Lesbian world in the late 19th and early 20th century, its expression and its repression in a conservative era where money could bend social norms a little. She provides a collection of micro-biographic takes on the famous women of this world. That means the really famous women, like Sarah Bernhardt, and Colette, the sometime lovers Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. But also many lesser known but important names from Italy, France, England, the United States, Greece and elsewhere. Women like Rina Faccio, Lina Poletti, Romaine Brookes, Jean-Claude Baker, Eileen Gray, Nancy Cunard, Isadora Duncan, Ada "Bricktop" Smith. They all have Wikipedia entries and important accomplishments and influences. All were famous in their time, although all these names are new to me, personally. She also captures some of the disapproving contemporary male experts on lesbianism.

The book maybe goes on a little too long. It's a lot of names to keep track of, and I got little tired of it, and I felt it became a little repetitive. The silence of those who don't have wikipedia entries gets somehow louder, and more wanting. But that, of course, is part of the point.

My take is that this was a really nice experiment, but not a masterpiece and not quite something you all need to read. (but I can't recommend Barnard's Sappho enough)

huhtikuu 6, 6:58 pm

>139 cindydavid4: I was really glad to read your review of The road to Litchfield.

>140 dianelouise100: Thanks Diane

>141 lisapeet: I remember you had a tough series of events and I think about all you went through, along with Covid. Thanks for the note (On a different note, my pile of ordered books is starting to arrive)

>142 SassyLassy: oh. oh! I'm looking forward to it (but it's still on the way). I learned it was Lively's third autobiography. huh.

huhtikuu 6, 7:26 pm

20. Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
OPD: 2021
format: 152-page Kindle ebook
acquired: February read: Mar 26-27 time reading: 1:55, 0.8 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: folk-tale retelling theme: Booker 2022
locations: ??
about the author: An English novelist best known for his children's fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. Born in 1934 in Chester. His family has been associated with the village of Alderley Edge, now a suburb of Manchester, since the 1500’s

A child's perspectives of folklore and magic, one that is strikingly playful with language. I can relay that, but I actually struggled with this book. It demands you meet its playful-thoughtful-childish-not-childish mindset. But it's so short that I finished well before I had a chance to do that, so I didn't get much out of it. But, still, it was nice to get a window into this Alan Garner experience.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 6, 7:52 pm

21. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
OPD: 2021
format: 70-page Kindle ebook
acquired: March 25 read: Mar 27 time reading: 1:56, 1.7 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: contemporary fiction theme: booker 2022
locations: Ireland, 1985
about the author: Irish author born in 1968 (attended Loyola University in New Orleans, 1987-1991)

A look at the Irish Magdelan laundries, nun-run abbeys that took in orphans and unwed young mothers and used them as labor. But this is an oblique look because the book actually focuses on almost unremarkable Bill Furlong, an industrious Irishman managing to make do in a terrible economy. He and his wife just keep their five daughters free of strains of poverty. This is notably quiet and very mundane opening. But as story tensions develop, this opening comes to hold up the story. I got into it and enjoyed it and I had only about 2 hours in which to do that.

huhtikuu 6, 8:02 pm

My final personal 2022 Booker longlist ranking :

----The ones I really liked----

1. The Colony by Audrey Magee
2. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (made the shortlist)
3. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (winner)
4. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer (I keep nudging this higher)
5. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (made the shortlist)

----these were all good experiences for me----

6. Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
7. The Trees by Percival Everett (made the shortlist)
8. After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz
9. Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
10. Trust by Hernan Diaz
11. Treacle Walker by Alan Garner (made the shortlist)

----the ones I didn't really take to----

12. Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo (made the shortlist)
13. Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

huhtikuu 6, 8:34 pm

22. The Photograph by Penelope Lively
OPD: 2003
format: 231-page used Penguin paperback
acquired: May 2022 read: Mar 28 – Apr 1 time reading: 7:15, 1.9 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: somewhat contemporary fiction theme: TBR
locations: Across England, contemporary to time of writing,
about the author: English author born Cairo in 1933, who moved to England in 1945.

A widower finds a photograph of his diseased wife discretely but intimately holding hands with another man.

While the response lights up obsessive, if cooly reptilian, thoughts, emotions circling, it's still a thinner baseline to a story than I might have anticipated. But it's well written, and I enjoyed it. Each chapter is one character's perspective, and these chapters are short and fun and digestible. And the book manages to create some reflection and hints at something cathartic-like (even if Lively is just playing with this.), giving the novel a more complete feel.

I think a lot about Lively's Moon Tiger and all its history and playful intellect and serious emotions. This is not that kind of wow of a book. But it's a nice read. Recommended only to the curious.

huhtikuu 7, 9:19 am

Going back to >131 dchaikin:, Silence: A Thirteenth-Century French Romance sounds intriguing - I don't think I'd heard of it before. Hunting it down took quite a bit of effort, but it looks like it's included in an anthology of medieval romances carried by my library! I'll definitely be reading it at some point.

huhtikuu 7, 11:16 am

>149 Dilara86: someone online recommended it to me in a discussion of middle England stuff to read (yes, I know it was written in French). They sent me a list of titles and recommended this book, Silence, in particular.

huhtikuu 7, 1:12 pm

Although I'm late, may I add my condolences on the loss of your mother? I'm glad you were able to speak at her memorial and share some of what she meant in your life.

Interesting to see your birthday book haul as well. You have made me want to read some Rachel Carson, as well as possibly re-reading (or listening to) The color of water.

huhtikuu 8, 10:16 am

Thank you Ardene. I’m enjoying another book by Carson now.

huhtikuu 9, 12:39 am

Just catching up here. I'm so sorry about your mother's death, but I'm glad you were able to be with her at the end. You're speaking at the funeral sounds like it was in some sense a positive, or at least helpful experience for you.

I agree with you (reading between the lines) that The Age of Innocence is the best of the Whartons we've read.

I'm glad you got a copy of Annie Ernaux's The Years. It was one of my top reads last year, maybe the top read.

And how interesting that Claire Keegan attended Loyola in New Orleans (Tulane's neighbor). She was born the year I started at Tulane. I wonder if she went back to Ireland or stayed in the US.

huhtikuu 9, 2:41 pm

I'm looking forward to The Years! Keegan did go back. After Loyola, she studied at the University of Wales and, later, Trinity University in Dublin.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 1:17 am

23. The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun
translation and notes: from Old French by Frances Horgan (1994)
written: circa 1230/1275
format: 365-page Oxford World Classic paperback
acquired: January read: Mar 3 – Apr 7 time reading: 21:34, 3.6 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: medieval literature theme: Chaucer
locations: mythological garden
about the author: Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1200 – c. 1240). He is named within as the author of the first 4,058 verses, otherwise nothing is known about him. Jean de Meun, author of the remaining 17,724 verses, lived c1240-1305.

baswood wrote a terrific review of this book, and this edition, in 2011. I'll have to leave you to his review to capture the essence.

This was a really influential work. Dante and Chaucer, in particular took this in. Chaucer translated it from Middle French to his own Middle English in the late 1300s. The book is a simple story - a youth, in a dream, stumbles upon a magical garden of dancing immortals. Pleasure, Joy, and so on, fulfil their names. Love is there too, with a quill of arrows. Our youth, firmly struck by five different of Love's arrows, falls deeply in love with a "rose". But when he kisses the rose immortals of very different leanings appear, Jealousy, Shame, Fear, etc, and they react in anger, send him away, and build a fortress around the rose. The youth, now lovesick, strives to find a way back to his rose and appeals to the god of Love.

The work has its own little story. One author, Guillaume de Lorris, otherwise unknown, wrote a short incomplete opening in his own French. Then 40 years later another author, Jean de Meun, associated with the Paris university, expanded and completed it, without changing any of the essential story elements. There is no documentary evidence of this origin story, other than that the work itself states this, and that it changes tone. It opens light, creative, and fun. Then the monologues become really really long. Jean de Meun's section keeps the tone light, but he expands the monologues, touching on various philosophical ideas. It gets slow in places.

It's a playful work in several ways. There is, of course, the romance and sex. It gets very explicit, even if the wording is allegorical. But the philosophy is a game touching on serious stuff. The university in Paris was in some controversy at the time between, on one hand, devoutly religious strict scholars, and, on the other, liberal, lay, perhaps even atheist, scholars. There was real bitterness, with scholars getting excommunicated and exiled out of France. Jean de Meun was playing with some of the more serious ideas getting tossed about. But he's messing around. The references he cites are often misused, or not relevant. The ideas his characters work out get very convoluted, and it's hard to believe this wasn't made confusing by playful intent. In a way it was a Monty Python or Terry Pratchett of its own time - intelligent, fun, irreverent, and impudent.

The idea of tihs is wonderful. The execution will vary with the reader and their mood. I was ok with it but did not fall in love.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 1:27 am

24. The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson
reader: Kaiulani Lee
OPD: 1951
format: 9:09 audible audiobook (the original edition is 230 pages)
acquired: from Audible included listened: Mar 14 – Apr 8
rating: 5
genre/style: Nature theme: Random audio
locations: the oceans
about the author: 1907 –1964, born on a family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania. Carson was an American marine biologist, writer, and conservationist whose influential book Silent Spring (1962) and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

A time-capsule gem. A 1951 overview of what was known about the oceans - the sea life, the tides, bathymetry, geology (before plate tectonics!), ocean currents, weather, sediments and salt and oil exploration, and human history. She looks into warming oceans, rising sea levels and how all this effects the weather (all without any knowledge of CO2-driven climate change). It's biology, geology, climate, all wrapped together with the knowledge of that time. And it's elegantly written. Terrific.

I was mixed on her first book, Under the Sea Wind, despite its poetic writing (and exceptional reader). I was much more fully taken in this time.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 1:17 am

25. Collected Poems by Donald Justice
OPD: 2004
format: 281-page paperback
acquired: 2010 read: Feb 11 – Apr 9 time reading: 6:24, 1.4 mpp (note: I logged 29 reading sessions, most a little over ten minutes)
rating: 3
genre/style: 20th-century poetry theme: TBR
locations: a lot of Miami in the 1930’s and a lot somewhere and sometime else.
about the author: 1925-2004. American teacher of writing and poet, from Miami. He taught at several universities, including the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

I'm just not a very good poetry reader. I really wanted to like this. I love that David Justice is a major 20th-century poet out of depression era Miami - the time and place where my grandparents were struggling to start their adult lives. But I just never felt I linked into this. It had its moments, some very meaningful to me. He does a curious thing where he takes a source, sometimes classical, sometimes recent but maybe from another place or language, and writes his own kind of response. But everything in the response is American. Spanish, French, ancient Italian poetry are responded in terms of roadways, and suburbs. I like the idea of that. But much of this felt to me like not very much about very much. Seems likely I missed a lot, including the heart of this life's work. Justice put this collection together, with notes (and with help), but passed away before it was published.

huhtikuu 10, 1:47 am

>156 dchaikin: Hard to believe that plate tectonics were unknown in 1951!

huhtikuu 10, 7:49 am

A belated note to add our sympathy on the passing of your mom.

Have you read the Harding novels yet?

huhtikuu 10, 1:46 pm

>155 dchaikin: Thanks for the shout out Dan. It is not always easy to read, but I loved it in the end. I am not sure I want to read it again just yet. I followed your thread with Dilara86 with interest, but could not comment without re-reading.

I really enjoyed The Sea Around Us you are right it is elegantly written

huhtikuu 10, 8:00 pm

>158 FlorenceArt: pretty amazing for such a paradigm shift. The concept began to be accepted in the early 1960’s.

>159 avaland: thanks guys. The Harding novels are hear, but I’m not planning to pounce on them. (Have see how these plans shake out.)

>160 baswood: i love your review of Rose. And, of course, with Carson. 1951 has extra resonance around this place

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 10:39 pm

From Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea:

There is a common thread that links these scenes and memories—the spectacle of life in all its varied manifestations as it has appeared, evolved, and sometimes died out. Underlying the beauty of the spectacle there is meaning and significance. It is the elusiveness of that meaning that haunts us, that sends us again and again into the natural world where the key to the riddle is hidden. It sends us back to the edge of the sea, where the drama of life played its first scene on earth and perhaps even its prelude; where the forces of evolution are at work today, as they have been since the appearance of what we know as life; and where the spectacle of living creatures faced by the cosmic realities of their world is crystal clear.

huhtikuu 16, 10:53 pm

26. Geoffrey Chaucer: Love Visions
translation/introduction/notes: Brian Stone (1983)
OPD: ~1369-1387
format: 256-page Penguin Classics paperback (my copy is a 23rd printing of the 1983 edition)
acquired: January 2 read: Apr 5-16 time reading: 11:08, 2.7 mpp
rating: 3
genre/style: Middle English poetic works theme: Chaucer
locations: well, this is a little tricky to answer. Where to begin?
about the author: Chaucer (~1342 – October 25, 1400) was an English poet and civil servant. Brian Stone (1919-1995), who lost a leg in WWII, was a founding member of the Open University and a Reader in English Literature.

Four poetic works:
- The Book of the Duchess (c1369)
- The House of Fame (c1380)
- The Parliament of Birds (c1382)
- The Legend of Good Women (c1387, mentions all previous works)

This modern translation felt a little over-cooked to me. It's easy to read, and rhymes almost perfectly. But I found it a little tricky to parse with the original text. It's all re-written. Brian Stone was a WWII hero who lost a leg and had his life saved by enemy German field doctors. At his best he conveys Chaucer's light-hearted charm (I'm not sure Chaucer was ever able to be fully serious, even writing something like a eulogy) while giving easy access to difficult-to-read works. But at his worse, Stone oversimplifies the language, and leaves things feeling a little Dr Suess-y. There is just too much Stone and not enough Chaucer.

Some comments by work (I'm hoping these come out brief):

The Book of the Duchess (c1369) - Presumably this was written for Chaucer's main sponsor, John of Gaunt, in condolences for the death of his still young wife, Blanche. But it's a little less moving than you might anticipate. Our unnamed narrator, involved in a hunt with a large group but a bit lost, stumbles across a garden with a morose knight all in black. The humble narrator is hesitant to interrupt this honored upperclassman, but he is welcomed warmly, and the black knights tells his story. He found the rare perfect woman, and she has died, causing his sadness. What's odd is, first, this woman is so unrealistic, idealistically perfect, without any identifiable feature, it's hard to see this as a memorial to a living person. But second is the nature of dialogue between this very serious morose knight and innocently goofy narrator, clearly out of sync with mourning, responding awkwardly, asking borderline-inappropriate questions.

The House of Fame (c1380) - Our narrator discusses dreams, then has one where an seriously intimidating eagle swoops down, carries him off in its talons, and takes him higher and higher in the sky, so far, in fact, that he reaches, unharmed but a bit shocked, an in-between place, the House of Fame. This is where _all_ sounds reach, no matter how quiet. The sounds, via of curious physical oddity, recreate the shapes of those who made them, making the speakers identifiable. A little sci-fy/fantasy like, toying with the idea of outer spheres. And lots of room to play with who said what. Unfortunately, I really didn't like how Stone did this. I felt he oversimplified the language.

The Parliament of Birds (c1382) - The original title has "Foules", playing on "fools" (Stone made a derogatory comment on this in his introduction, implying "Birds" was the only decent translation. It's a judgment I found odd, quirky, and maybe a little revealing.) This is a terrific little poem. Also the rhyme scheme is complex enough that it overcomes some of Stone's simplification. It does not, unfortunately, have a parliament of fools. Instead there is one very eligible female bird (a formel, which is a female eagle), and a crowd (parliament) of birds of different species each pleading their case for marriage. The formel's response is simple and somehow makes the whole more charming.

The Legend of Good Women (c1387) - A play on Ovid's Heroides. It has a terrific prologue where the god of Love and Alcestis berrate the author on his treatment of love and women in his written works. What comes out is a playful autobiography, one where Chaucer comes across as bookish, isolated, unpracticed in love, and chastened. Then he wakes up and decides to follow Alcestis's dream-command and write about good woman. What follows are nine extended pieces on mythically good woman variously injured by their lovers. Chaucer tries to hard to keep up the charm with authorial asides - expressing backhanded doubt by saying something like, "or so this author wrote" when something impossible or unlikely happens. And he constantly claims to want to wrap things up quick–which he sometimes does. But ultimately these nine pieces are pretty boring...(and I can't help but suspect, however unreasonably, that even Chaucer sensed that these weren't working).

So overall this was mixed. It gave me a sense of the contents and Chaucer playfulness. But it was a little boring in places, and I feel I didn't get a real feel of Chaucer's own use language.

huhtikuu 17, 3:48 am

>163 dchaikin: That an interesting review of Brian Stones' translation. I have not read it. Translations like this can be useful to get some sort of grip on Chaucer's themes and ideas, even to be able to follow the sense of the poem. However as you say you miss an awful lot not reading the original.

huhtikuu 20, 2:13 pm

>107 dchaikin: Hi Dan. I’ve been away from LT for some time and I read your post only now. Sad news, and I hope you’ve found or will find the peace you need.

>131 dchaikin: Thanks Dan for this post. I’ve gone through exactly the same process just a few days after you (as I lost a family member I loved dearly), and it was nice to read your words. Writing a “speech” was such an important part of this early process of grieving. Reflecting on your post made me cry again, but tears are sometimes a good way to help let things go and rest in peace.

And, on a more cheerful note, I also went on a book buying spree just a few days after, and I’ve been more productive than you as I bought 13 books in one day! More than the total number of owned books I had read since the beginning of the year! But I had decided that I was suspending my no-more-bought-than-read-books rule for the day, so I am just not including them in my calculation. Hum, it can’t be cheating as I am the one making the rules.

>131 dchaikin: And may I say happy birthday, despite the hard time.

And as always, I enjoyed reading through your reviews!

huhtikuu 20, 4:56 pm

>164 baswood: You said it very nicely. Yes. I completed agree.

>165 raton-liseur: I’m really sorry for your loss. And thank you for this post. It’s been confusing for me. I haven’t really normalized all this with myself. i think it’s still impacting my reading and other things, or maybe i just have some other stresses. Not sure. But, on the brighter note, 13 reckless book purchases sounds wonderful.

huhtikuu 25, 3:26 pm

>163 dchaikin: re The Parliament of Birds (c1382) - reminds me of another title I would like to read someday, The conference of birds, a poem by Persian Sufi poet Farid Ud-Din Attar written in 1177 per Wikipedia. My library owns a Penguin Classics copy. Different plot than your poem however.

huhtikuu 25, 7:46 pm

>167 markon: I love the version Peter Sis did of The Conference of the Birds. Great illustrations

huhtikuu 26, 1:01 pm

>167 markon: well, that’s new to me. Could it be Chaucer didn’t know of this book? I’m curious now. Thanks for bringing this up.

>168 labfs39: noting

huhtikuu 26, 1:06 pm

>169 dchaikin: It is possible that Chaucer either did not know of it or he knew of a corrupted/incomplete version of it. Or he knew of it just as it is and decided to lift some parts anyway - originality in literature is a relatively new concept after all.

I enjoy reading your thoughts about Chaucer even I am in no mood to get to him just about now.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 27, 10:25 am

>168 labfs39: Wish my library owned the version by Peter Sis. We have lots of books illustrated by him, but not this one.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 27, 8:52 am

>169 dchaikin: I don’t think Chaucer would have known any Persian writers. His sources were mostly Latin, Italian and French, languages he read. The portrait of the goddess Natura in The Parliament probably owes something to Alain of Lille’s Complaint of Nature. (A French monk writing in Latin). Asian literature would be out of his European range of reference.

huhtikuu 27, 11:47 pm

>170 AnnieMod: my imagination has Chaucer coming across the title (in some language he knew) on a list and imagining where he might take that title. Who knows? 🙂

>172 dianelouise100: i’m pretty sure he read Alain de Lille. Anything Persian is hypothetical and would have been translated. (Chaucer also spoke his spouse’s odd dialect of French and presumably knew some Spanish) But not impossible. Boccaccio had eastern sources. There were some important manuscripts floating around that small intellectual community.

huhtikuu 29, 1:42 pm

Can't resist posting that Zadie Smith has written a play - Wife of Willesden - based on Chaucer's The wife of Bath that recently had its US premiere.

huhtikuu 29, 3:47 pm

>174 markon: Cool. And thank you for not resisting. I’m really happy to know about this. I think, if she pulled that off, it could be a terrific novel. (But I’ll wait for some reliable reviews…and until i read the original.)

toukokuu 6, 10:55 pm

27. The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson
reader: Kaiulani Lee
OPD: 1955
format: 8:45 audible audiobook (288 pages in the original edition)
acquired: from Audible included listened: Apr 10-29
rating: 3½ ?
genre/style: Nature theme: Random audio
locations: The North American Atlantic coast
about the author: 1907 –1964, born on a family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania. Carson was an American marine biologist, writer, and conservationist whose influential book Silent Spring (1962) and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

This was Carson's 3rd book. Early on she writes:
"There is a common thread that links these scenes and memories—the spectacle of life in all its varied manifestations as it has appeared, evolved, and sometimes died out. Underlying the beauty of the spectacle there is meaning and significance. It is the elusiveness of that meaning that haunts us, that sends us again and again into the natural world where the key to the riddle is hidden."

And she follows up, searching for that riddle with extensive detail. Here she combs the North American Atlantic cost, from Canada and New England's rocks and large tides to Florida's keys and the Ten Thousand Islands behind them. From barnacles (which I learned are arthropods, like lobsters and crabs, and not bivalves) to algae, seaweed, snails and worms. She zooms in again and again, pulling out the microscope at times, checking the different tidal zones and pools and niches.

I liked The Sea Around Us much more than this one. I just found that she asked a lot of me here, a casual listener. It was tough on my little attention span, focusing on animal after animal. Perhaps better a book to dip into, instead of march through. There is a lot of info within.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 6, 11:35 pm

28. Black Boy by Richard Wright
contributors: Foreword by John Edgar Wideman, Afterward by Malcolm Wright, “A Tribute to my Father” by Julia Wright (all for this edition, 2020), and extracts from a 1993 introduction by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
OPD: 1945
format: Harper Perennial Modern Classics 75th-anniversary edition paperback with restored text.
acquired: November read: Apr 16-30 time reading: 15:13, 2.0 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: Classic autobiography theme: Richard Wright
locations: Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN, Arkansas & Chicago.
about the author: American author born on a Mississippi plantation, 1908-1960

This is a special book. An eye-witness account of the 1920's Jim Crowe south from black perspective, and by a really talented writer. Wright's mind was built for this and the life story comes across so crystalline. He has this way of making himself a regular person in the deranged world. It‘s dystopian, and nonfictional. Add in his poverty, and constant hunger. His family sometimes simply didn't have food. His response, his strength, but also his tone towards those around him - expressing that shock of “What are these people thinking?!…Is this real?” - is incredibly powerful. It‘s simply an amazing window into that reality, our history.

The book was originally written in two parts, but only part one was published in 1945, titled Black Boy. This was Wright's account of growing up in the Jim Crowe South early in the 20th-century, Civil Rights nowhere in sight. It's a sparkling account and unrivaled classic. The second part, later published posthumously in 1977 as American Hunger, covers Wright's experiences in Chicago during the Great Depression, struggling to get by, and hungry enough he was unable to pass a post office weight requirement. It focuses heavily on his relationship and experiences with the Chicago Communist community, which was also his link to a white intellectual community, including artists of prominence. This part, to me, is a curiosity, but lacks the raw power of Black Boy.

It's certainly interesting that the Communist element was edited out of the book in 1945 and not published until after Wright died, but there is no question the better part was the part published. One interesting aspect is that the reconstructed book ends softly. However, when he agreed to only publish part one, he added a conclusion that is really quite beautiful and powerful, although relegated to a footnote in this reconstructed original text edition. The 1945 edition of Black Boy ends on a hopeful note, with Wright looking towards his life in the North. It doesn't address the drudgery of the life. He closes:
"Yet, deep down, I knew that I could never really leave the South, for my feelings had already been formed by the South, for there had been slowly instilled into my personality and consciousness, black though I was, the culture of the South. So, in leaving, I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom...And if that miracle ever happened, then I would know that there was yet hope in that southern swamp of despair and violence, that light could emerge even out of the blackest of the southern night. I would know that the South too could overcome its fear, its hate, its cowardice, its heritage of guilt and blood, its burden of anxiety and compulsive cruelty."

toukokuu 7, 12:38 am

>177 dchaikin: Great review and great quote.

toukokuu 7, 4:29 am

>177 dchaikin: Great review. Perhaps I will read this, it sounds like a powerful book. Some day, but not right now.

toukokuu 7, 6:55 am

>177 dchaikin: Thanks for a fine review of Black Boy. I’ve not read this and now see that I should, maybe in one of the months of the Faulkner group read. Interesting to note the connection with Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, which I’ve not read, but also have on the TBR.

toukokuu 7, 9:55 am

>177 dchaikin: Just adding my respect and thanks for your review of Black Boy. That's a classic I need to get to.

toukokuu 7, 11:10 am

Great review of Black Boy, Dan. I haven't read that book since high school, and I have not read American Hunger. I do own the Library of America edition Richard Wright: Later Works, which include those works, along with The Outsider.

That's a very interesting quote to me, especially since I spent over a quarter century living in the Deep South (New Orleans and Atlanta), and have a strong affinity to that region. I do want to read South to a Very Old Place by Albert Murray this summer, in which he returns to the Deep South he lived in for his entire childhood and his early adult life before he moved to NYC.

toukokuu 7, 1:18 pm

>181 rocketjk: Ditto. I now want to read this book. (It's been on my should read list, but this moves it over.)

>182 kidzdoc: South to a very old place also sounds interesting.

toukokuu 7, 1:33 pm

Thanks all. Side note - I read some or all of the 1st part in high school without noting the title or author. I only knew this was the book when episodes were told in a biography of Richard Wright i read last year. Rereading, I remembered nothing from Wright’s early childhood. But most of his later childhood stories I remembered, but the tone felt a lot different. (That’s both memory and perspective). But - these stories that I remember, they had a huge influence on me.

>178 labfs39: - thanks!
>179 FlorenceArt: - an easy recommendation 🙂
>180 dianelouise100: - the line that Wilkerson used in her title caught my attention too. Wilkerson’s book is terrific.
>181 rocketjk: - i don’t think it is on your list you shared. But it fits and it’s an entertaining easy read.
>182 kidzdoc: - i’m moved that the quote resonated. He was writing that in 1945! I’m intimidated by Outsider (the initial translation of Camus’s The Stranger). I decided i’ll read some of his other stuff first. I’ll then decide if I want to come back to it. South to a Very Old Place sounds terrific.
>183 markon: - well, “shoulds” can be tough. It’s a great book. So I only recommend it for the reading experience. 🙂

toukokuu 7, 5:48 pm

29. The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
OPD: 1922
format: ~300-page Kindle public domain copy
acquired: March read: Apr 11-30 time reading: 9:25, 1.9 mpp
rating: 4½
genre/style: Classic fiction theme: Wharton
locations: Lake Como, Venice, Genoa, Paris, London
about the author: 1862-1937. Born Edith Newbold Jones on West 23rd Street, New York City. Relocated permanently to France after 1911.

After a number of novels where marriage is socially sacred, and divorce a tool used only by the most immorally selfish, Wharton experiments with divorce as a game. Nick and Susy, each living parasitically off the leisure class community, having been accepted, supported and used socially, get married with no financial prospects and an agreement that should an opportunity arise, they will support each other towards it. It's temporary marriage by plan, and Susy has managed to work out a year of living off gifts and charity, all with strings.

This is a silly setup that should not work. But it works delightfully. Wharton seems to have been enjoying herself and she makes it very easy for her readers to embrace that. Although, knowing Wharton, we can only brace for catastrophe. Our homeless Americans never leave Europe, their break predetermined, shatters. And what next? The selfish, frivolous, socially exquisite, dorky, intellectually curious wealthy are all presented in all their flaws and elegance, exposed and accepted.

Wharton-lite doesn't mean her writing skills are compromised. This is a fine work of literature and a fun, rewarding read, even if she fails to dunk us, as expected, in deepest discomfort.

toukokuu 7, 6:22 pm

30. A Closed Eye by Anita Brookner
OPD: 1991
format: 263-page paperback (1993 edition)
acquired: May 2022 read: May 1-7 time reading: 9:17, 2.1 mpp
rating: 4½
genre/style: Novel theme: TBR
locations: London and Brighton, England and Switzerland
about the author: 1928-2016. English author and art historian who published a novel a year from 1981 to 2003. She was born in Herne Hill, outside London, and was Jewish and of Polish descent.

The first time I've read a novel by Brookner. This novel was so clean and polished and easy and perfect.

Quietly obedient Harriet Lytton has an imperfect, or worse, marriage to an older man, and pins her hopes a daughter she raises to be independent, and who naturally grows up to be independent of her mom. This novel does some really meaningful stuff, looking at loneliness, desire, and disappointment, the costs of time and aging, and how difficult all these things are to talk about. So much unspoken, undone. It all feels relatable and real.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 7, 6:32 pm

I always enjoy Brookner's novels, but I never remember them after a few months for some reason. I've read 6 and rated A Friend from England and Hotel du Lac highest.

toukokuu 7, 6:46 pm

>187 japaul22: that's interesting. Wonder what makes them that way. I'm not sure how I'll feel about this one down the road. If I read a lot more Brookner, it will stand out as a nice first.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 8, 11:57 am

>185 dchaikin: You just confirmed that Wharton is not a writer for me. I can read whole chapters without understanding a word, but discomfort and looming catastrophe are not for me.

toukokuu 8, 11:08 am

>186 dchaikin: >189 FlorenceArt: I on the other hand think The Glimpses of the Moon sounds interesting!

Nice reviews.

toukokuu 8, 12:55 pm

>189 FlorenceArt: that’s interesting. Although with Wharton it’s largely the author’s pattern that is looming, and less so that actual story trend. It’s sort of like - ok, this problematic situation might turn fine if such and such happens, and it was written by different author. Anyway, I wish you terrifically curious books without catastrophe.

>190 labfs39: thanks Lisa. Glimpses is enjoyable.

toukokuu 8, 1:06 pm

I tried to read Wharton once and stopped after a few pages, it was so obvious it was going to end badly.

toukokuu 8, 3:46 pm

>177 dchaikin: Great review. I read this book when I was around ten and do not remember it, except the title in English even for the French version.
Your review makes me willing to reread it. I guess I would get much more from it now than I did back then.

toukokuu 9, 12:25 am

”I’d like to hear five recordings of Louis Armstrong playing playing and singing “What Did I Do to Be so Black and Blue”—all at the same time. Sometimes now I listen to Louis while I have my favorite dessert of vanilla ice cream and sloe gin. I pour the red liquid over the white mound, watching it glisten and the vapor rising as Louis bends that military instrument into a beam of lyrical sound.”

- from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

toukokuu 9, 12:28 am

>192 FlorenceArt: It usually does

>193 raton-liseur: quite a book to read at ten. Did it leave an left an impression?

toukokuu 9, 2:21 am

Great reviews Dan, have somehow never read Carson but need to fix that. Doing a little catch up. So sorry to hear about your mom's passing, always rough no matter the circumstances.

toukokuu 9, 5:55 am

>195 dchaikin: No, unfortunately, I do not remember anything except that I have read it. It was the first book I read with a title in English, that might be why I remember it. I'm not sure I knew what "black" meant at that time.

It's probably one of those books that are considered teen books because they feature a ten-year boy, but that you end up reading far too young. That's why I should check if I own a copy and take some time to read it. It will be like a first read for me.

toukokuu 9, 6:37 am

>194 dchaikin: I love the imagery of that quote.

toukokuu 10, 9:56 pm

>194 dchaikin: That is a fabulous quote. I read Invisible Man in high school and remember so little of it... and remember none of the discussion about it among my mostly white and well-off classmates, though I imagine there must have been some. Anyway, that makes me want to read it again.

toukokuu 12, 11:48 pm

>196 stretch: I had never thought about reading Rachel Carson until she came up in The Book of Eels, which I read recently. You might enjoy the pre-plate tectonics view in The Sea Around Us.

>197 raton-liseur: I think Black Boy has a very natural strong appeal, and that makes it really nicely accessible to teens. There was an early French translation, 1948-ish.

>198 labfs39: , >199 lisapeet: - I'm still trying to get into Ellison, but he's been terrific so far. Always playful and serious at the same time, and he doesn't shy away from getting really weird and making good use of that weirdness. It's my first time reading Invisible Man, and I'm really pleased by how all over the place it goes in a way that somehow makes it a better more powerful book.

toukokuu 13, 12:07 am

So, April was a really tough month for reading. I had some kind of quiet persistent anxiety this entire month. Lots of stressful things, including processing my mom. It made reading so difficult. I read to help find peace, and it was really hard to find that, and when I did find it, it was very hard to maintain. 30 minutes of reading is a lot these days.

April was supposed to be about Chaucer's earlier works, but I shunted in The Romance of the Rose, which is such an oddball medieval book. It spilled over from March into April. Then the Chaucer I did read, Penguin's Love Visions, was translated to the point it lost the Chaucer linguistic feel. (Although it picked up on his playfulness) The book that worked the best was Edith's Whartons The Glimpses of the Moon. I only read about 2 hours a week, but I was somehow always able to relax reading her prose. I also read the powerful Black Boy and a very good Penelope Lively novel, The Photograph. Both would have benefited by a better reading mood. With Black Boy, I managed it by just spreading it out a bit, over two weeks. I ended up reading 47 hours in April.

Audio was Rachel Carson, which was, unfortunately, interrupted by my mother's passing. I had planned to finish The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea and move straight on to Silent Spring, but I needed a break.

One extra note. I finished two book on April 30, Black Boy and The Glimpses of the Moon. It meant that I started fresh on May 1. Alas, the anxiety continues. I stumbled through the very well written Anita Brookner novel, A Closed Eye, and now I'm trying to get into Invisible Man and Walden. Walden is tough, but Invisible Man is terrific. Just struggling to find that reading mindset.

toukokuu 13, 12:31 am

Im not surprised you are stressed; you are grieving; that will affect your day to day life for a while. Dont be surprised that reading is hard right now maybe take a break from it and try another activitiy. Exercise helps me when I am anxious, just walking is good, I also do tai chi. Hope things ease up for you

toukokuu 13, 6:02 pm

Dan, I am sorry to hear of your loss and sorry to not to have said so before. I've not been keeping up (even less than usual) and mainly just posting on my thread and reading. I get how reading can be impacted at such a time. I'm sure you are but take good care, as cindy suggests and whatever works for you.

toukokuu 15, 10:26 am

I hear you on the 30 minutes of reading, Dan. I'm so burnt out and eyestrained from work a lot of the time that 30 minutes is my peak time, if that.

toukokuu 15, 1:44 pm

>202 cindydavid4: thanks. You’re probably right that I’m still grieving, but it’s in some weird way I don’t fully understand. I’m still drawn to reading, trying.

>203 tonikat: thank you. Appreciate the comment. It’s hard to keep up here - even when everything’s good, and time is free and energy is there.

>204 lisapeet: Goodness, you sound so much more pressed lately. A different kind of stress. When I’m drowning at work, reading gets lost.

So one of my big stresses has been work, but the opposite from too much. My team has been sweating the lack of demand on us. That’s stressful. And it hit today. We cut 4 from my little group of ten today, making six for the year. Somehow not me yet. I’m still employed, if without enough to do today (other than process another round of this stuff)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 15, 5:44 pm

>205 dchaikin: I really sympathize with you, as during my career as a small team consultant the backlog of work to support the team occupied 100% of my time. I only read during time spent on airplanes. Very stressful being self-employed and so difficult telling other employees that they have been cut.

toukokuu 15, 5:42 pm

>205 dchaikin: Not having enough to do at work is the worst! And worrying about whether you'll still be employed makes it more stressful. Hang in there.

I'm glad you're enjoying Invisible Man. I read that one for a college English class, and while I appreciated it, it had even more impact when I re-read it several years later, with some life experience under my belt.

toukokuu 16, 4:28 pm

>186 dchaikin: Oh I love Anita Brookner. Haven't read A Closed Eye, though. Her books are always a little bleak, but she's a great writer.

toukokuu 20, 11:35 am

>205 dchaikin: Oh man, I don't envy you that work stress. Mine is starting to let up a little in terms of getting my feet under me and getting the hang of all the moving parts, but the sheer amount of screen reading I do all day really tires my eyes out. I have eyedrops and all that, but it's a deeper kind of reading exhaustion. I try to give myself breaks when I knock off for the day between work reading and home reading, and that helps. But a lot of it is just about getting into bed and passing out...

toukokuu 20, 1:24 pm

I'm sorry that you're dealing with personal and work stress, Dan. I can certainly sympathize, as I'm also experiencing increased stress about my mother, about not working and what this means for my future retirement plans (moving permanently to Portugal now seems like a pipe dream), and about my responsibilities to the home and my family. I've now started having pretty bad panic attacks, along with lesser but still troublesome and frequent anxiety attacks, and I have an appointment to see my mother's wonderful psychiatrist on Friday.

toukokuu 20, 3:14 pm

>206 JoeB1934: thanks Joe. Sounds stressful.

>207 markon: true. And I’m enjoying Invisible Man a lot. As much as I’ve heard about it, it’s a not simple to describe and I’ve never read a good description. Which makes it all a very welcoming surprise.

>208 AlisonY: A Closed Eye seemed like a good intro to Brookner. I think I would like to read more by her

>209 lisapeet: sounds like your finding your balance, or groove. You always sound like you love your exhausting job. 🙂

>210 kidzdoc: oh, I’m sorry about that stress. I’m glad you’re seeing that therapist. Anxiety is merciless little beast. I do hope you get some help with your mom. She needs you, but she needs a healthy you.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 20, 5:04 pm

31. Africa Is Not a Country: Notes on a Bright Continent by Dipo Faloyin
reader: the author
OPD: 2022
format: 9:14 audible audiobook. 400 pages in hardcover
acquired: May 2 listened: May 2-11
rating: 4½
genre/style: Journalistic essays theme: random audio
locations: Africa
about the author: Writer and editor born in Chicago (~1989), raised in Nigeria

I wish I had reviewed this when I still under its spell. Fayolin, an editor at Vice Magazine (which went into bankruptcy Monday), writes, and narrates, like an online personality. He has charm, a sense of how deep to go without losing a reader's interest, a sense of storyline, and he ties it altogether in theme. And he has a lovely engaging voice on audio.

The book is entertaining - fun and serious, ranting and thoughtful, and intentionally extending itself out to its readers. He begins in Lagos, then goes to Africa's tragic colonial history, then works around the surprising realities of various African countries - the arbitrary borders, tensions from colonial divisions, their youth and variability, and success and failures and new successes. And he rants on the western perspectives. And then he comes back again to his clearly beloved Nigeria.

One thing that really stuck with me was the lessons from attempts by Band Aid and We Are the World to address the Ethiopian famine of the 1980's. Racist implications aside (in the Band Aid song), the charities addressed a man-made famine. That was news to me. I think I was in the majority in assuming the famine was a natural unfortunate event. The Ethiopian ruling powers used normal seasonal cycles, interrupting tradition management and migrations, and created a massive famine in groups that they considered opponents. The results were devasting. The charity money, of course, went to that government. Well...damn.

Among other charms here are his long chapter in praise of Marvel's Black Panther movie, where African creative staff were intentionally responding the colonialist and western perspectives of Africa. Which is maybe silly (although less silly than his cringe-worthy claim that Eddie Murphy's movie Coming to America broke stereotypes...eek), but also thoroughly entertaining.

Despite the ranting, and tragedies, the book is really about accomplishments of young countries dealing with democratic and autocratic power struggles, racial and clan divides, of places where the independence leaders are often still alive, and sometimes very difficult and power-hungry. Whereas Robert Mugabe held on until a coup, Nelson Mandela stepped aside, and in the middle, Ruwandan president Paul Kagame appears to have managed a post-genocide country, instead retaliating, but then he committed other crimes in the process...in order to stay in power.

Recommended if you want to spend time on any of these steppingstones, or want an entertaining look an Africa, or just want a fun, well-written, magazine-article-style, book.

toukokuu 20, 5:37 pm

32. A Sense of Where You Are: A Profile of Bill Bradley by John McPhee
OPD: 1965
format: 144-page 1978 paperback edition (which added some post-1965 photos)
acquired: May 12, from my library's $1-per-book fund-raising shelf
read: May 14-15 time reading: 2:52, 1.2 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: creative nonfiction theme: none
locations: Princeton, NJ
about the author: Nonfiction writing instructor at Princeton University. He was born in Princeton, NJ in 1931.

My brain needed a rest, but of some specific, hard to figure out kind. Well, this must have been close to because I took to this short book.

Somehow this works. It's basically of hagiography of Bill Bradley in 1965 - when he was known as a Princeton University basketball star, but before he become a Rhodes Scholar, played basketball for the Knicks, became a US senator and a serious presidential candidate in 2000. McPhee is all praise - his athletics, his insane dedication, his perspective, along with his academic commitments and success made possible partially by his lack of sleep. The title comes from Bardley explaining how he can make shots without looking at the basket, routine training him to know where on the court he is. We are stunned to learn perfect Bill didn't carry Princeton to four national championships, as it seems he could do no wrong. But what's weird is the book is terrific. McPhee clearly adored Bradley's approach to life with his unique skillset, and I thoroughly enjoyed McPhee's take.

(sidenote: I had this book on my wishlist, entered in August of 2010, with this comment: "I've known about this one for a while. kidzdoc's review convinced me to add it here.")

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 20, 5:58 pm

33. Stay True by Hua Hsu
reader: the author
OPD: 2022
format: 5:28 audible audiobook (208 pages in hardcover)
acquired: May 11 listened: May 11-18
rating: 4
genre/style: Memoir theme: random audio
locations: Illinois, Texas, Cupertino and Berkley California, and Taiwan.
about the author: 1st-generation American of Taiwanese descent, author and academic at Bard College in New York City, and staff writer at the New Yorker. Born in 1977.

Scanning the recent Pulitzer Prizes, this memoir caught my attention. The audiobook samples well, read by the author (whose young-sounding voice makes a nice imitation of the college-self he portrays.)

This is really thin stuff, but it comes around, ties the plain beginning into the morning meaningful end, making for some impact. I was moved and enjoyed it. Hua Hsu is the son of Taiwanese immigrants who came to the US to study. He was born in Illinois. Later grew up in Cupertino, CA even as his father returned to Taiwan. The book is mostly about his days at UC Berkley in the late 1990's, and the lessons he learned there about life, along with a tragedy he had to manage. Of course, he has to make it do a bit more than that for the book be any good. He does.

toukokuu 20, 9:10 pm

>212 dchaikin: well said! also enjoyed the debate on how to make Jolo rice; reminds me of our relatives sharing there version of Tzimme s or Noodle Kugel, but not coming to blows over it. And I was blown away by the well intentioned but broken charity drives. I did lots of work for them at the time. we know better now; but he didn't answer a question I had - what should we (meaning general population and not NGOs or nations) be doing to best help? I understand that the countries are able to help themselves but suspect its not as easy as that. Or should we be focusing on the poverty and problems in our own country? And is there a way to put pressure on museums to return the stolen treasures?

toukokuu 21, 1:54 am

So sorry you're having a hard time right now. I'll keep my fingers crossed for your job situation. Processing grief takes a lot of time, but most of us do get there in the end...
It sounds like Africa Is Not a Country makes important points. I hope it gets to people who really need to hear them.

toukokuu 21, 7:51 am

It never rains but pours. I'm sorry job stress is rearing its ugly head at the same time that you are grieving your mother's death. Take care and be gentle on yourself, especially your reading self. Read what appeals for a while until you get your mojo back.

toukokuu 21, 10:12 am

>215 cindydavid4: these are tough questions, especially on the charities. Jollof rice Sounds delicious, in many different ways.

>216 Dilara86: thanks. As for Africa is not a Country, books never reach resistant ears, of course.

>217 labfs39: thanks!

toukokuu 23, 5:51 am

It's so difficult when everything seems not to go in the right direction anymore: personal, work...
I hope the situation will settle soon for you, and will get better as much as possible.
In the meantime, as others said, take care of yourself, and I hope you'll find a balance, including a reading balance, that will suit and comfort you.

toukokuu 29, 7:30 pm

>219 raton-liseur: thanks. trying. :)

We have a family trip to Italy coming up really soon, sort of a high school graduation present for my daughter. Nervously excited.

toukokuu 29, 8:31 pm

34. Florence: The Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert
OPD: 1993
format: illustrated 383-page paperback
acquired: 2000 (in Florence?) read: May 22-29 time reading: 18:45, 3.0 mpp
rating: 3
genre/style: popular history theme: Italy
about the author: 1924-2008, English popular historian and WWII veteran, born in Enderby, Leicestershire.

So, we bought this Florence, on our honeymoon. 22.5 years later I finally have read it (shortly before we return). It's... ok. Very 1990's in style and mindset. A little tough to read, a little fact heavy and dry. The notes are designed to help guide you through places, but this book is physically gigantic and really impractical to carry around for that. So, the notes are merely hard to read. But the book captures a bit of everything and the history here is fascinating. The book has its moments. It was the right book for me. Struggling to get caught up in any book, I was able to press on through this and even look forward to getting back to it when I set it down.

toukokuu 29, 11:12 pm

>220 dchaikin: oh we loved our trip there, went to Rome which I liked the least, Naples, Florence and venice which I loved the most.Your mileage may vary but you are going to have so much fun just seeing your young daughters reaction to everything

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 11:18 pm

a better book might be Mary McCarthy's Italy: The Stones of Florence and Venice Observed I read it while there and really enjoyed the essays on art, architecture and history, as well as travel info.

toukokuu 29, 11:51 pm

>223 cindydavid4: goodness, that sounds fantastic

toukokuu 31, 1:12 pm

>220 dchaikin: A family trip in Italy, it sounds so great. I hope you'll enjoy it!

toukokuu 31, 1:47 pm

Hope your trip is fantastic!