Jill Rummages Among Her Books in 2023 - Part Two

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Jill Rummages Among Her Books in 2023 - Part Two

maaliskuu 21, 3:37 pm

Okay, shiny new thread time. Theoretically, at some point, I'll update this entry to reflect the books I got through thus far in 2023. I need to review what I did -- other than LOTR, The Dispossessed, The Warden, Barchester Towers, etc.

maaliskuu 21, 4:01 pm

Hey, I get to be the first to say happy new thread!

maaliskuu 21, 4:06 pm

And the second to wish you a happy new thread!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 21, 7:47 pm

Woohoo! Enjoy your new thread!

maaliskuu 21, 7:43 pm

Happy new thread!

maaliskuu 21, 11:35 pm

Happy new thread!

maaliskuu 22, 6:20 am

Happy new thread from me too!

maaliskuu 22, 10:25 am

Is there anything more dreary than a day when a book does not arrive in the mail? I have more coming but some were coming from overseas and I suspect may be caught up in Customs inspection.

Today's entry (fortunately there *was* a package in the mailbox) is another Harold Bloom Modern Critical Views. It's a collection of essays on Agatha Christie's work. Harold Bloom was clearly bored by Christie; he only managed an introduction of perhaps a thousand words.

As a note and you could already be well-aware of this -- sometimes academics are really quite weird...

maaliskuu 22, 10:39 am

>8 jillmwo:
Do I detect that you are eager for the arrival of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi?

maaliskuu 23, 10:44 am

Actually, that one did arrive safely. (And the end-paper are fantastically gorgeous!!! If it hasn't been obvious before this, I'm a sucker for a pretty book.) But I'd ordered something from Canada at roughly the same time which was to come via airmail and I couldn't fathom WHY it should take a full two weeks to arrive. I mean, it was just one book (all by itself, not part of a set) and yet it was as if the mail service was bringing it by CAMEL. Stuff from the UK took less time to clear the border than the stuff coming from Canada. It finally arrived this morning. (To their credit, the Canadian bookseller took a great deal of care in wrapping the book up to keep it safe while in transit.)

The other two items that tumbled in the door this morning were equally welcome. But those were coming from w/in the United States and were both as I recall coming from spots here on the East Coast. Those two were wrapped in those shrink wrap type packages that are terribly difficult to open with one's bare hands.

What do I not properly understand about the mails and current US - Canada relations?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 12:34 pm

>10 jillmwo: What part of Canada was it coming from? My heart sinks whenever I see that something I have ordered has to traverse the great expanse in the middle of the United States via USPS. The tracking never seems to work properly. Sometimes the tracking shows packages ricocheting from the Midwest to the West Coast and back again in the space of 15 minutes... Or it marks them as delivered 10 minutes after it logged it showing up in Indiana. I've had some things disappear completely, and others show up two or three weeks late. It's very sad.

maaliskuu 23, 4:11 pm

>11 clamairy: Manitoba. It finally made its way through the front door today, but it took a surprising length of time.

maaliskuu 23, 4:12 pm

It’s always interesting to hear the reactions of others to books one has read. pgmcc has commented now and again on reading Barchester Towers and loving the humor in it. I reread it over the course of this past week (after a gap of perhaps a decade?) and what struck me as I read it this time around was Trollope’s intent as well as some of his techniques. To me, The Warden had to do with what happens when an individual chooses to initiate change, fixing something about his environment. Mr. Harding is faced with an accusation of unfair advantage and the novel is how he chooses to deal with the need for change. The key aspect is that he isn’t necessarily obligated to make any change; neither the law nor the institutional Church as his employer demands it of him. But Harding, looking at his personal circumstances, chooses to make that change as a matter of personal integrity.

In my view, Barchester Towers has a different point. What do we do when change is thrust upon us? When the possibility of choice is removed and one is forced to adapt? How does that change the dynamic of power? BT opens with the death of the old Bishop, Theophilus Grantley’s father, and because of the change in government, the bishopric is awarded to someone other than the Archdeacon. The problem for the (hitherto complacent) community of Barchester is the culture war that is now launched. The story is all about hierarchies in personal and professional relationships and the exertion of power in those relationships. There is much maneuvering amongst a great set of characters and personalities and as Peter noted, the reader’s experience is riotous fun.

But what struck me as I re-read it for the first time in probably a dozen or so years is the character of Signora Madeline Stanhope Vesey Neroni. One might assume that she’s the real villain of the piece in some ways, giving Obadiah Slope and Mrs. Proudie a run for the title. She’s manipulative of all the bachelors who fall at her feet. (Men, particularly clergymen, shouldn’t be falling at her feet. She’s not a widow. She’s still got a live husband.) But she’s both beautiful as well as crippled for life and this is how she gets a bit of fun out of her life – engaging the affection and attention of the men in the room. She’s an unfortunate outsider in the marriage game so important to advancement in Victorian England but before the book ends, we realize that she’s not totally without redeeming qualities. She exerts her power on behalf of those in the community that the reader is really rooting for. ( As an aside, let me just say that I only really begin rooting for Eleanor when she boxes the ears of Obadiah Slope. The man is shown to be utterly without integrity in his job and general behavior and deserves to end up married to the sugar-refiner’s daughter. )

For a good portion of the plot, as Trollope himself notes as narrator, the conflicts could all be quickly resolved if various characters would just be open with one another, but no one ever is.

BT requires context. Trollope was making a point about the culture war of his time, one that had been simmering in the Church for roughly some 30 years. There was a power struggle within the Church that was affecting how some of the practicalities were managed in local communities and the nation was having to navigate a transition. Trollope, working as a public servant, observed and drew attention to some of the existing flaws in the social fabric. With gentle satire, he did so in The Warden and managed to do so again in Barchester Towers. The book may open with Archdeacon Grantley grieving over the change brought about by his father’s death but it closes with him celebrating the happiest of outcomes for him and for all of his family.

Of course, the real issue in reading Trollope is that one always wants to go on to the next one in the series to see what happens next. But if I move on to read Doctor Thorne and the other books, it will ultimately end with The Last Chronicle of Barset and the situation with Josiah Crawley. And that’s just too heart-rending for me to deal with at this point.

So I reiterate my fondness for these classics, recommend all six books to others, see different elements in each with every re-read, but for the sake of my emotional well-being carefully turn aside now to find something else. (Note that these will all survive the purging of the shelves.)

Honestly, I think my next writing project will be a series of unpublished essays introducing modern readers to the classics. I’m starting late, I know, but I think I can take on the job. I just hope the Folio Society will recognize in time that I’m the long-lost answer to their prayers!

maaliskuu 23, 5:14 pm

>13 jillmwo: Best wishes for your relationship with the Folio Society!

maaliskuu 23, 5:21 pm

>13 jillmwo:
My book club meeting has just ended and the group accepted my recommendation of The Warden as our next read.

I just hope the Folio Society will recognize in time that I’m the long-lost answer to their prayers!

Do they not already realise this?

By the way, I look forward to reading your unpublished essays introducing modern readers to the classics.

maaliskuu 23, 10:05 pm

>13 jillmwo: What >15 pgmcc: said, that sounds like fascinating reading!

maaliskuu 24, 7:52 am

>13 jillmwo: Honestly, I think my next writing project will be a series of unpublished essays introducing modern readers to the classics.
Sign me up!

maaliskuu 24, 9:48 am

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 4:42 pm

Quick review of Once Upon A Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller. As much as I enjoy Oliver's handling of the Sotheran's Twitter account, I'm afraid that I found his book to be a tad less satisfying. Perhaps the secret is to read just a chapter at a time from the book, rather than several of them in a row. The humor is there certainly, but the stories of his apprenticeship were less informative than they might have been and felt all too similar in tone.

>14 haydninvienna:, >15 pgmcc:, >16 Karlstar:, >17 Sakerfalcon: and >18 haydninvienna: Thank you all for the kind words. I don't think the Folio Society would consider me to be of sufficiently high profile to be included in one of their bound works, but I do appreciate the enthusiasm. I will be polishing off a title or two this weekend. I was disappointed in Once Upon a Tome as I think one or two of you might have been as well.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 5:24 pm

>19 jillmwo: Your first touchstone points to a book about the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. :o)

maaliskuu 24, 5:42 pm

>19 jillmwo:
We gave it the same star rating.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 7:56 pm

>20 clamairy: Fixed. >21 pgmcc: His work is better in short-form, like on Twitter.

Found in Books

Inside a copy of Barchester Towers

--Invitation to Join Trollope Society (properly sized; can also serve just as regular bookmark)
--Tourist Guide map to Salisbury Cathedral (where Trollope initially had the idea for The Warden and the rest of the Barset Chronicles. I’ve never been there so this is a delightful and informative thing to keep in place.)

Used as Bookmark in Old Books on Shelves

-- ATM receipt dated 2014 from Bank No-Longer-In-Existence
-- Ten year old bookmark from Amazon (Cheap s.o.b.s stopped the practice. Scuzz-buckets)

In De-Accessioned Library Book

--Old fashioned sign-out card in pocket appears to show that the book, published originally back in 1983, hasn’t circulated since 1987. (Pity because the introductory essay in the particular title is actually quite informative, if you're into little niche sub-sections of a historical topic.)

maaliskuu 24, 8:26 pm

>22 jillmwo: I haven't heard anyone called scuzz-buckets in many moons. It was truly fun and spirit-lifting to see it used so deservedly. Thank you for brightening my evening.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 2:52 pm

Passing thought w/r/t what makes a classic work a classic these days... What role does a movie or television adaptation play in fostering the status of a book becoming a classic? How much of a factor is that in establishing the place of good and/or bad books? (My example of a bad book would be The Da Vinci Code but an example of a good book might well be Peter Jackson's adaptation of Lord of the Rings and/or Amazon's adaptation of Doctor Thorne.)

It's an overcast and occasionally rainy day here where I am and I have watched two movie adaptations. One is the 1955 The Rains of Ranchipur with Lana Turner and Richard Burton and the other is a 1939 version of the same story with Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, and George Brent. The two movies are sufficiently different in terms of the story told on screen that I've ordered a copy of the original novel entitled The Rains Came by Louis Bromfield to see what the theme of the source material might have been focused on.

My question to you all is how much of a factor is encountering a story on screen when we think about whether something is or is not a classic?

maaliskuu 25, 5:59 pm

>24 jillmwo: I would argue that a film/TV adaptation of a book has never made that book a classic. It might might make the book reach a larger audience or even to become a best seller but if the book isn't good enough then nothing can make it better let alone turn it into a classic.

maaliskuu 25, 7:55 pm

>24 jillmwo: I'm pretty oblivious to movie and TV adaptations of books. I can't see what it would have to do with any evaluation of the book.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 8:26 pm

>25 UncleMort: and >26 Jim53: Having any kind of adaptation won't by itself make a book a classic, I agree. But we tend to think of the classics as something that carries its meaning to the audience across time. Might not Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea have fallen faster in terms of public awareness, if not for Disney's movie in the '50's? No one was paying much attention to The Phantom of the Opera until Andrew Lloyd Webber turned it into a musical. There hadn't been any new translations of it for 70-some-odd years until the Broadway hit made publishers think it would be worth while to have the work done to support the public interest.

It seems to me that film/TV adaptations help to shine a spotlight on the bits that have meaning. Phantom of the Opera as a musical emphasizes the deformed and abused Phantom and his hopeless love for the singer, while the original text is more about the derring-doo of the romantic hero and the Persian coming to her rescue. It's the love story in either case that survives. The more that happens, the likelier it is that the position of the original source material is solidified as being one of the classics.

Again, I agree that it's hard to persuade anyone of the literary value of Edgar Rice Burroughs but the character of Tarzan will be part of the cultural landscape for a while. And the "classics" stand as landmarks in that landscape, for good or ill.

maaliskuu 25, 10:09 pm

>24 jillmwo: I was prepared to say that having a TV or movie adaptation doesn't make a classic, for me. However, your argument in >27 jillmwo: is a good one, having a TV or movie version has kept some books current (if that's the right word) longer than they might otherwise have lasted.

This is a tough one for me, because I see so many adaptations of the latest and greatest novel/series, while older classics that could make good material get ignored, it seems to me to be of little relation to what is a classic and what isn't.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 30, 2:43 pm

The Clergymen of the Church of England by Anthony Trollope. No worries. I realize this isn't going to be of particular interest to most of you, even those who have been dipping into the Barsetshire series.

The book is a collection of very brief essays written by Trollope, appearing in the Pall Mall Gazette in 1861. Read with a modern sensibility, the essays seem to be Trollope considering the Church of England as a corporate entity (rather than as a dispenser of religious belief) and discussing the economic status of specific positions, serving as the executives and staff that keep the entity going. Compensation is unequal, the opportunities for advancement and promotion are uneven, and one really has to sit and wonder what the intended purpose of the organization actually might have been. A good percentage of what's here reflects the clergy we encounter in The Warden and in Barchester Towers. Trollope seems quite aware that the class structure of Victorian England was just as readily built into the structure of the Church of England. (No avoidance of the idea that nepotism was part and parcel of the system...)

The best line is Trollope speaking of a characteristic of his Victorian culture: We hate an evil, and we hate a change. Hating the evil most, we make the change, but we make it as small as possible.

One quick note --
Bishop Colenso of Natal is referenced multiple times in Trollope’s Clergymen of the Church of England
https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Colenso/ Basically, he created difficulties for the Church by spreading what might have been viewed as heresy but Trollope was considering how the matter was being handled by the institution rather than as a religious body. If I understood the essentials of the conflict, Trollope felt that the organizational flaw was the historic tiers of authority which not having been revisited for generations left the corporate entity in a vulnerable state. In modern terms, poor management! (Worth noting that I only recognized the geographic name of Natal because of a conversation with hfglen on his thread here in the Pub.)

ETA: Fixed some missing punctuation and added one additional sentence in order to clarify meaning.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 29, 7:28 pm

Two other quick items to commit to the online memory book:

(1) The Bedside Barsetshire is a delightful little anthology of all the really good bits from Trollope's series of novels. Gwen Raverat who wrote Period Piece did the lovely nostalgic illustrations for this and so all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings ensue.

(2) The Saint of the Bookstore is a short story by Victoria Goddard. I read it one morning in bed with my morning coffee and, while utterly lightweight, it was a nice little read. Be warned there's a unicorn and the unicorn might be a tad over the top . But when you want something with a little bit of holiday season charm, this will do. If there's a subtext or a theme, the central question is how would you feel if your one great talent in life was something society would only need maybe six or seven times in all?

maaliskuu 30, 4:42 am

>29 jillmwo: FYI, there's a small town on the main road and railway line inland from Durban, called Colenso. It used to be the site of a large coal-fired power station, but that was shut down years ago.

The English-speaking citizenry of Natal, then as now, were a right-wing bunch, decades behind the rest of the world in their thinking. So it is hardly surprising that Bishop Colenso split the local Anglican church so deeply that even today, evidence of the permanence of that split is easily found.

huhtikuu 5, 8:32 pm

Two novels that I re-read in the first quarter 2023 represented Trollopian commentary on the mid-century culture wars within the Church of England. Doctor Thorne is decidedly different in tone; the humor is not nearly as broad as that encountered in The Warden or in Barchester Towers. In terms of the novel’s plot, it’s more than a love story between a young member of the gentry coming of age and a young lady who may or may not be considered his social equal. The title character is a middle-aged professional man, very practical and very caring. He models the good sense and prudent outlook that Trollope thought appropriate to any adult, regardless of social class. Readers can focus on the love story but Trollope has a number of other facets under consideration, all having to do with prudent behavior in public and private matters. Whether you’re running for election, seeking a marital match, or simply trying to keep a roof over your head, it’s critical that one be authentic in dealing with others and that one behave with circumspection. Doctor Thorne manages to behave that way; his niece, Mary, has absorbed the life lesson from him. Other families in Barset are far less successful in their handling of money, alcohol, attitude, and courtship. (It was rather thrilling when one man took a horsewhip to the individual who had jilted a member of his family; clearly there’s a gap between behavior the Victorians deemed to be appropriate and modern social norms.) Barsetshire is populated with many delightful characters.

I’ve shifted gears however and now I'm reading about lady pirates…

huhtikuu 6, 2:20 am

>32 jillmwo:
I have started the lady pirates book. The writing has captured me.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 7, 5:54 pm

Have just spent about 90 minutes working on my catalog. I discovered that I had never added about six books of poetry that have been obscured sitting on a shelf. Some of them must have been purchased in person from a real bookshop because Amazon denies any knowledge of my ownership. I also added my British edition of the lady pirate book that pgmcc and I have both been reading, The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi.

Beyond that, Amazon has once again failed to deliver The Rains Came as promised (although technically they still have until 10pm for delivery before one is permitted to grouse). I'm sure it's not worth very much emotional upheaval, but it's really annoying. I have a very real intellectual interest in seeing how much difference there is between the 1930's novel and the two Hollywood movies subsequently based on it...

huhtikuu 8, 9:22 am

So many of you rely on audio books, I'd love to hear your reaction and thinking to this article: https://english.elpais.com/culture/2023-03-25/to-book-or-audiobook-that-is-not-t...

I'd be particularly interested in hearing about general navigation practices, such as whether you do find it hard to go back to find something you've missed in the story or whether you speed up the audio that you're listening to.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 9:55 am

>35 jillmwo: I often listen to books I've already read and want to revisit. Or books I'm afraid will put me to sleep if I try to read them on paper. (The Great Courses on Audible are a perfect example of that.) There's a quick rewind of 30 seconds on the Audible app. I have to use that quite a bit if I get distracted. (Or, heaven forbid, a human interrupts me.) I'm much happier since I switched to wireless ear buds. A simple tap on either one pauses the book. I don't have to hit rewind as often. (With the wired ones I had to have my phone on me at all times, and pull it out of my pocket to pause.) I am much more like to get distracted and have to rewind non-fiction.

The only book I ever listened to at a higher speed was Bleak House, because the narration was a bit ponderous.

huhtikuu 8, 10:15 am

>36 clamairy: Quick response is that I'm laughing that you worry about the Great Courses putting you to sleep. (Me, too, upon occasion!!!)

huhtikuu 8, 11:34 am

It's enough of an issue that I've considered only reading non-fiction at bedtime.

huhtikuu 8, 1:29 pm

>38 clamairy:
So rather than dreaming about being on an epic adventure you will be dreaming you are in a class room?

huhtikuu 8, 1:31 pm

>34 jillmwo:
Currently on page 155. There is plenty if action.

I love the descriptions of corrupt officials and the actions of politicians.

huhtikuu 8, 1:35 pm

The best time for me to listen to audio books is when I am captivated, like commuting to work, or walking for exercise. Or recovering from a concussion. I am not able to listen in city traffic, or if my brain has to think about something else.

I tried speeding up a book which was boring me, but it only bored me faster and with a funny cadence, so I quit listening to it.

I very much dislike not being able to flip back and forth for references when I want to, and am to much of a Luddite to learn the tricks of bookmarking, etc. For that reason, I don't read much nonfiction as audio.

As for the memory of what I've read, well, that seems to depend more on the type of story than on the format it is offered. If it is an adventure one gallops through, details don't stick very long whether it is audio, ebook or paper.

huhtikuu 8, 1:48 pm

I use audiobooks and podcasts a lot for when my hands are busy but my brain isn't. Gardening, house cleaning, cooking, making art, etc. In those cases I seldom have to back up, but if I do, the 30 second reverse comes in handy. I also use the 30 seconds forward jump to skip commercials in podcasts. Either forward or back can be pressed multiple times if 30 seconds isn't enough.

I also use audiobooks to read me to sleep when my brain won't get out of a spiral and I need a distraction, or when I'm not feeling well and don't feel up to reading a print book. In those cases, I often nod off and miss things and have to go back. I use Libby (the Overdrive app), and I can skip back to the beginning of a chapter, or go back several chapters. I also use the sleep timer, set for 30 minutes, so if I do fall asleep I don't have to go back as far.

My selection of audiobooks is specific: it has to be something I've read and liked in print. That also helps if I miss a little bit as I don't completely lose the thread of the story. Generally, I want "comfort reads" in audio. I can listen to the same book multiple times - not back-to-back, but if I can't find something new, I will often pick an old favourite. The Goblin Emperor is one I've listened to many times, but there are lots of others.

huhtikuu 9, 2:10 pm

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi A ship's captain has withdrawn from the sea to care for her young daughter and to keep out of the sight of those who she believes may hold grudges. She is drawn back into the world by the demands of a powerful old woman and is driven to reconnect with senior members of her old crew -- her first mate, her navigator, her chief poisoner, an ex-lover. (The first chapter all by itself is a delightful attention-grabber.)

These are plenty of adventures and voyages here -- not unlike those of Sinbad. As the reader, one encounters the demons, the monsters, the elemental powers. But there is a strong narrative thread tying it all together. Where is the old woman's granddaughter? What of the Moon of Saba?

This book by Shannon Chakraborty is the set-up of a new series, one that draws on Arabic culture in much the same way The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper and The Empire of Gold did. The story here doesn't seem quite as complex as the books that made up the Daevabad Trilogy, but it does establish the personalities gathered around our brave sea captain.

If you're in the right mood, this book is a good deal of fun! The author knows well just how to bring in plot twists so that the reader is caught off guard. Magic is not always benign; generally speaking, it's more likely not to be. And be cautious of any contract entered into with those who have the means to wield such powers!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 2:21 pm

>36 clamairy:, >41 MrsLee:, and >42 tardis: Thank you for responding to the query. I remember being in the hospital and my mother reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm aloud to me. She was a good reader in that context. However, I remember as well the excruciating experience of having to listen to students in classrooms who were NOT good readers and I'm afraid that's always what has been part of why I never took to audiobooks.

>40 pgmcc: I enjoyed Adventures, as I hope my review conveys but haven't made up my mind as to the real question of whether or not I am apt to re-read it. (Although it cries out for an edition with a great illustrator, don't you think? Not just the fabulous British dust jacket but for a frontispiece and other plates as well.) Chakraborty has also made me stop and think about the narrator's voice. Trollope as author frequently makes his presence known; the preferred modern approach is not to do so.

huhtikuu 9, 6:07 pm

>43 jillmwo: I'm glad it was good. I'm borrowing it for now and will most likely buy the Kindle version once it finally goes on sale.

huhtikuu 10, 2:37 pm

>44 jillmwo:
I found your review interesting. It achieved what I strive for in my reviews; it is spoiler free.

The narrator voice set-up is interesting. It tells us Amina survives, which takes the edge off parts of the story. It also indicates there is a back story yet to come about how Amina is telling Jamal the story.

I never get hung up about what modern opinion is on such things. So many old books are related by the primary character and yet are still great novels.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 12:11 pm

Finally, after a two-week tussle, the copy of The Rains Came arrived. I had no idea of the size! 800+ pages, no chapter breaks, divided up into 4 sections. The first section by itself is novel-length (250 pages). Talk about an author's intention to paint a canvas and create a slow build!

For what it's worth, clearly the author knew India; the novel (written in the mid to late 30's) is ALL about India in the final period before independence from the British, the various colonial powers and influencers (missionaries, doctors, etc.)

What makes this interesting in my mind is that earlier today, I weeded my copy of The Cardinal, a book written about the Irish Catholic population in between the wars. It too is a sprawling novel which I read back in high school, revisited and reviewed here on LT back in 2010, and felt comfortable sending off to be re-homed in 2023. The novel made quite the impression on me in my early teens in high school, but I felt no particular tug to keep it now.

The two novels each cover something absolutely massive -- the tensions of cultures and citizens being hard pressed by foreign entities and/or those foreign cultures. What are the pressures on countries and people over time... This one may take a while to get through.

huhtikuu 13, 4:50 pm

Most recent white paper for client: https://www.accessible-archives.com/2023/04/white-paper-contribution-of-african-...

March Newsletter with shorter article on Myra Bradwell, the feminist lawyer whose case went before the U.S. Supreme Court: https://accessiblearchives.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/AAI-March-2023-ArchiveByte...

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 14, 12:36 pm

>48 jillmwo: Thanks for the links!

Edited: It was late last night when I posted this, so I'd only started reading the whitepaper. I thought it was excellent, thank you for writing and posting.

huhtikuu 14, 3:19 am

Thank you for the articles. I have started reading the first one.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 15, 9:47 am

What Author Charles Frazier Thinks About Reading Classics (From the NY Times, I am gifting this article -- to you here. It is safe to use this link...)

huhtikuu 15, 10:13 am

>51 jillmwo: Thank you. Since I switched to digital only I often forget about the book section of the NYT. (Oddly, sometimes that was the ONLY section I read of the physical paper when I was crunched for time.)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 15, 5:03 pm

The Rains Came takes place in the India of the 1930s. (Bromfield started it in 1933, but didn’t finish it until 1937.) In its opening segment of 250 pages, we’re introduced to the Europeans who have taken up residence in Ranchipur, a smaller well-populated state in India, one somewhat remote from Calcutta. These non-natives come from everywhere, England, the United States, Switzerland, etc. Each has different reasons for being there. Some seek to escape from the stifling social structures back home, others are operating from a serious desire to help improve living conditions of the Untouchables, Some are there by the invitation of a surprisingly forward-thinking Maharajah; some are simply fools inflicted on them by a Viceroy currying favors with the Government. The first 250 pages set up the personalities and the conflicts between them. Ultimately, Nature takes a hand – monsoons, earthquakes, and a break in the dam constructed by a cheating and corrupt engineering firm. There’s very little romance in this novel, despite the impression one might have gathered from the two movie adaptations (1939, 1955). On the other hand, there’s a surprising amount of sex (pre-marital and adulterous quickies – clearly implied if not detailed in the text) and great quantities of mud and disease (plague, cholera and typhus).

The writing style is heavy. There is much mental agony expressed by the characters and a somewhat minimal set of verbal exchanges (usually not saying anything of substance). I'm sure this might have been considered to be a shockingly frank novel at the time it was published. I think Bromfield’s overall point was that India was something of an unknown and unrecognized entity and that no Western nation or set of expatriates were particularly well-positioned to help move things forward politically. India’s problems and complexities were unique to India; to further complicate things, Bromfield says – “out loud” as it were – that Nature has never been fully subdued in India). The monsoons drive lush vegetative growth overnight and the humidity is hard to escape. (Having lived in Bangkok where there was a similar monsoon season, I absolutely felt this via Bromfield’s descriptive passages.)

The 1939 adaptation is slightly more faithful to the book than the 1955 adaptation, but as one might expect from the novel’s 800+ pages, no scriptwriter would have been able to get everything in. Thus, there are many characters and incidents that lend depth to the novel that get dropped from the on-screen versions. (Undoubtedly due as well to the Hays Code in place in Hollywood; again there’s a fair amount of loose behavior).

I’d only recommend this novel to those who might have an interest in learning about some of the contemporary attitudes and resentments under British rule in India during the 1930’s. Bromfield may have won a Pulitzer Prize for literature, but it wasn’t for this one.

For context, this was a top bestseller in 1937; it shared a place on the list with Gone With The Wind and Northwest Passage. See https://www.librarything.com/topic/34211

huhtikuu 15, 5:28 pm

>51 jillmwo: In general I'd agree, there are a lot of classics I appreciate more than when I first read them. On the other hand, there's quite a few classics than can and should be enjoyed by younger people. Plus, we should continue to ask more of our younger folks, not less; removing all 'classics' from their reading lists would be less, to me. Since that author and I seem to have absolutely zero reading in common, we may be looking at this from entirely different perspectives.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 15, 8:12 pm

>51 jillmwo:
Interesting views from this author. I think any good book, classic or not, will yield more to reader when read later in life. My comment begs the question of what is a good book. Do we have two eternities to argue over answer to that question?

I obviously have some differing views to the author in terms of authors I admire. Of the authors he listed that I have read, I do not admire Cormac McCarthy’s books. I consider them well written, but for various reasons I felt cheated by the books of his that I have read. The other authors we have in common I would agree to liking. There are more authors in his lists that I have not read than have read.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 16, 10:14 am

>54 Karlstar: and >55 pgmcc: I agree that we should continue to introduce the usual classics to high school students -- Jane Eyre is a worthwhile read, once one has entered puberty, although I am aware that teenage boys generally find it "stupid" or "boring". Like you, I don't really share Frazier's favorites and I can count on the fingers of one hand the classic Russian texts that I've actually made all the way through. (Anna Karenina wasn't one of them.) But OTOH, I do realize that I might actually get something more or something different out of The Ox-Box Incident if I tried to read it NOW. In high school, I just saw it as a dull book about grown men behaving badly.

I of course will continue to read and re-read my own collection of classics (in part to find out if I still agree with the assessment of them being classics).

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 19, 5:31 pm

I am jumping between two books -- The Secret Poisoner and The Ability to Kill. The first I'd started to read back in February (and somehow got subsequently distracted) and the second I'm reading on the recommendation of pgmcc. The Secret Poisoner is excellent non-fiction about the rise of forensic technology in 19th century England and one section of Ambler's The Ability to Kill is a surprisingly humorous overview of murder, specifically the four installments of the Lizzie Borden Memorial Lectures. In the serious non-fiction, I read about William Palmer, the Rugeley Poisoner who poisoned something like 14 people before being caught and then in the other, I encountered Ambler's anecdote about how the good people of Rugeley wanted to change the name of the town because of all the bad press. They approach the prime minister with the request and he blithely agrees to sign off on it with the proviso that the town be named after him (Palmerston). I snorted quietly, then whooped out loud and stamped my feet in utter delight. (All of which shows that I'm not at all the nice person one might have assumed...I probably ought not to be permitted to mingle with respectable sorts.)

Edited to add in a missing word here and there...

huhtikuu 19, 2:49 pm

>57 jillmwo:
I am glad you are finding amusement in The Ability to Kill. The Secret Poisoner sounds good. The unexpected corroboration between the books is interesting.

That PM obviously had a wicked sense of humour and an eye for a good promotional opportunity.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 2:20 pm

More on the Rugeley Poisoner (from Frank Leslie's Weekly, Feb 1856):

"William Palmer is a member of a very wealthy family, and is now in his thirty-fourth year, or thereabouts. He was educated for the medical profession, was a pupil at St. Bartholomew's, received the diploma of the College of Surgeons in 1846, and settled at Rugeley, his native place. He seems, however, to have paid more attention to the “turf,” and to what are commonly called sporting pursuits, than to his own profession, and to have confined his practice to his own family and friends. In physique he presents none of the points of a man of finesse, either as a “sportsman” or for a “poisoner.” He is clumsily built, with a coarse red face, thin fair hair, and sandy whiskers.

Palmer's wife upon whom he had insured £15,000, died suddenly; his brother died suddenly; his friend died suddenly and in his very arms. He forged the name of his mother, as an acceptor of a bill of exchange for £2,000, and charges the deed upon his dead wife! whose remains under the fearful scrutiny of chemical analysis now cry for vengeance from the grave. The dead—the injured woman has spoken, and science has presented itself as interpreter between her and the judges of the crime attributed to her husband. Not only is the tale of poison told with wonderful precision, but the poison itself is produced in court. “The antimony in this bottle,” says what remains of the murdered woman, “was given to me days before I died; here is the antimony given only a few hours before my death; this again is the poison that ran through my heart.” For its inevitable certainty, for its utter freedom from all human passion, science in this form in the witness-box must surely seem as awful to the criminal as any sudden dropping of blood from the corpse, which in old days was supposed to give supernatural warning of the presence of the murderer. Against this witness nothing can contend."

Boy, you just don't get true crime reporting like that these days...(I have not yet read it, but there's a mystery called The Barchester Murders set in Trollope's England and one can only hope it takes advantage of this kind of thing...)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 3:42 pm

Worthwhile coverage of discussions emerging from the London Book Fair this week: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=4463


https://publishingperspectives.com/2023/04/at-london-book-fair-tuesday-copyright... (Just follow some of the links in that one.)

huhtikuu 20, 10:27 pm

>60 jillmwo: Good articles, thank you.

huhtikuu 20, 10:38 pm

>60 jillmwo:
Newton, meanwhile, said he was of two minds about AI. On one hand, AI-driven tools have the potential to create a "huge competitive edge" for the publishers who get it right. AI could help with marketing, academic research, peer review, and the supply chain, and publishers should "embrace it" and be "front of queue." On the other hand, he remarked, "I think it really may kill us all." --Alex Mutter

Oh my...

huhtikuu 21, 10:58 am

>62 clamairy: On the other hand, he remarked, "I think it really may kill us all."

A pertinent article, perhaps?

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 21, 11:02 am

>63 ScoLgo: Yikes. I double checked to be sure that wasn't the April 1st edition.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 2:27 pm

Pertaining to a previous chat about writing introductions to old classic texts: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/articl...

Another gifted article from the NY Times about the Modern Library back in 1992. Note the reference to the Landmark series of books for kids. (I remember those!!) https://www.nytimes.com/1992/12/06/books/why-i-carry-a-torch-for-the-modern-libr...

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 6:46 pm

>65 jillmwo: I have a few Modern Library volumes inherited from my mother and grandmother, although I think all my bindings are cloth.

When I was homeschooling, our community of families used the Landmark books extensively to introduce subjects of history in an interesting way.

huhtikuu 25, 10:03 pm

>65 jillmwo: I wish I had money and the shelf space for more books from collections/editions like that. I have a few Everyman's Library, up to 7 now, but I sure wish I had a bunch more.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 29, 5:18 pm

Note to self: Dot screen overlay appears on spine and front cover of Everyman's Library dust jacket.

Scratchpad note re Calvino and his 14 definition of what makes a classic: https://www.themarginalian.org/2012/07/06/italo-calvinos-14-definitions-of-a-cla...

Scratchpad note on what makes a classic:
AND why physical books are good.

huhtikuu 30, 10:10 am

Found this in another LT group and wondered how much of it might apply to the readers here in the Pub? What is the single most important factor for you when purchasing a book? Now in the other group, this was asked in the context of collectible editions. Here in the Pub, there are ardent supporters of libraries as well as those who buy new or used copies of stuff from bookshops. For the sake of discussion, let's start by assuming that content is the primary point of interest; even if it comes in a beautiful binding, you're not apt to buy Dracula if you regularly have nightmares about vampires. But you are standing in the bookstore, you've picked up the volume, and it looks promising as your next read.

Here, we're talking about the second or third factor that springs to your mind when considering a decision to purchase. There's no line at the cash register. What is it that drives (or checks) your move to purchase?

Price? An author signature? An attractive dust jacket or binding? The nternal illustrations or photographs? Concern for availability in the future? (By which is meant the likelihood that it will be out of print in 3 years.) Something else?

huhtikuu 30, 12:34 pm

>69 jillmwo: Breaking them down.

Price? Have to admit this is a factor, I most likely won't pay $40 for a 'standard' hardcover novel.

An author signature? Definitely a factor if I care about the author.

An attractive dust jacket or binding? Good covers, bindings, jackets are definitely a factor. I love a quality book.

The internal illustrations or photographs? Not a big factor unless it is a history book and then there better be maps.

Concern for availability in the future? (By which is meant the likelihood that it will be out of print in 3 years.) Not really a factor.

Something else? Good, crisp dark font, good quality paper. If I can't physically read it, I'm not interested.

Essentially, if I'm at all interested in the author and content, I'll pay more for a quality, good looking book. I definitely have 'I read this' books and 'LOOK AT THIS BOOK!' books.

huhtikuu 30, 2:56 pm

>70 Karlstar: In a bookshop of new books, not used, I am unlikely to buy a book unless I know the author, unless it is under $5, and about something in very interested in, or it is non-fiction and about something I'm very intersted in. If it is a known author, I don't have that book, and/or it is a lovely edition, I am likely to part with cash. That scale will be tipped tenfold if it has illustrations by one of my favorite illustrators.

In a used bookstore, really the same rules apply, but condition and smell play a bigger part than price.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 1, 8:28 pm

>70 Karlstar: I'm laughing because I think I absolutely understand what you mean when you say "I definitely have 'I read this' books and 'LOOK AT THIS BOOK!' books.. It's true that I have been known to stroke a cover that is particularly amazing.

And >71 MrsLee: Price is a consideration for me, although I also tend to be a little suspicious as well of any book that seems to be priced too low. That said, I want to be sure that I will actually read something or use it as a reference before I buy it. (Even if it's only a $1.99 cheapie.) There have been instances where I spent way more than I ought to have done...

The production values are important to me as well. I am aware of one or two publishers where their books have brightly colored dust jackets but otherwise beneath are simply black bindings with minimal title/author information on the spine. It's a cost containment thing; it makes their production process a bit easier, but if you ever lose the dust jacket or if it gets torn, the book will be less identifiable on the shelf. And I really do prefer photos on glossy stock. I really hate books printed on the equivalent of newspaper stock.

As to future availability, so much depends on the content itself. As an example, I have a mass-market paperback that dates back to the mid-sixties. It was a best-selling novel back then and it is no longer available in any format. At the moment, there is serious deterioration due to the amount of acid in the paper stock. The cover is not doing well, beginning to detach at the hinge at the bottom and chipped at the top. I'm sure it's time to let the book go, let it die a natural death in a recycle box, etc. but it might be hard to find another copy to replace it. (Of course, the question then becomes one of whether I've already absorbed all that the book had to teach me. In which case it ought to be fairly simple to pitch it. I'm very nearly to that point in reality. And yet...)

I don't think I particularly care about an author's signature unless the signature was on a special occasion (like the one I got upon my retirement).

toukokuu 2, 9:51 am

>69 jillmwo: I've been thinking about your question and my answer seems to come back to the same thing each time. I read for pleasure and enjoyment so that's the main factor in if I buy a book or not. Fiction, non-fiction, it's the same. Even when I want to learn something I want the book to be a good reading experience. Sure, I have a couple favorite authors on insta-buy but if I'm taking a chance on something new it always comes back to if I think I'm going to enjoy the book. If I'm unsure then there's a fair chance the book won't come home with me that day. I used to be sucked in by beautiful covers but that doesn't always work out. I've read books with blah covers that were fantastic and ones where the cover art was the best thing about the book. Price is also a lesser factor for me these days at least for new releases.

Special edition books I only buy of books/authors I already absolutely love. I think we have 4 copies of Lord of the Rings, two of which are special collectors editions ;) Same thing for signed books. This is where cost can become a factor. I'd love a signed copy of The Hobbit but holy wow are those books pricey!

Books required for a class or work are excluded from the above.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 3:24 pm

Dagnabbit! I'd written a post and either my browser or the LT platform swallowed it. *murfle*

At any rate, I was in the middle of telling you that I was a sadly distracted flibbertigibbet when it came to reading selections. After saying that I wasn't going to read another novel by Trollope, I fell into Framley Parsonage. It's not a romance novel at all; it's all about how the character weakness of misplaced or misguided pride can interfere when one individual tries to offer support to another. A review will come presently. But really, I do love Trollope.

And the second thing I was going to tell you was how I just discovered Alberto Manguel's book, A Reader on Reading. And his other book Packing My Library. How was I so slow? He's wonderful and he makes me feel like I'm all thumbs when trying to write elegant prose.

Also to come is a review of The Secret Poisoner by Linda Stratmann. Yale University Press has been busy.

And just before bed, as soothing reading, there's Victoria Goddard's The Return of Fitzroy Angursell and Sarah Caudwell's Thus Was Adonis Murdered (previously read, but which I am happily revisiting).

As they say, So many books, so little time.

Edited to Add: Great review on Manguel that resonated with me: https://criticalinquiry.uchicago.edu/timothy_morris_reviews_packing_my_library/

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 10:50 am

>73 Narilka: I agree that covers can be really misleading. As you say, one can be sucked in by beautiful covers but that doesn't always work out. And honestly, I like the appearance of Folio bindings, but in some ways, it seems overly ostentatious to have too many of those. I want a mix of ordinary day-to-day bindings (hardcover or paperback) alongside the fancy ones.

Actually, I've been working on a blog post for an industry outlet that talks about the tie between production values and publisher brand. A buyer picks something up because they think they're interested in the content (subject matter), but the production values of the physical product itself make an impression on the individual. If the cover material is crappy, that can put off a buyer. (Faux leather at least for me is a real turn-off but the real thing can be too heavy in the hand.). If the paper stock is too flimsy, that can offend a reader's senses as well. Trim size is an individual preference as well because of how the book fits into a particular set of hands. And as prices climb, the buyer has a different set of trade-offs when thinking about whether to buy a Penguin Classic in paperback or the same content from the Library of America. (For the record, the paper quality you encounter in an LOA volume is the most highly rated stock available. It's intended to last several hundred years. I actually went and read the standard for it. ANSI / NISO Z39.48-1992, in case you were wondering...)

Additional useful background on how publishing is working in the 21st century is here: https://www.janefriedman.com/key-book-publishing-path/ Jane Friedman is a very good person to follow.

toukokuu 5, 10:21 am

Also, I went on a book buying binge in the past ten days (new books, second-hand books, etc.) so deliveries will be arriving soon and it will be soothing to spend an hour or so updating my catalog. (Also, I have to clear out shelves to contribute to the local Library Friends Book sale next week.)

toukokuu 5, 11:34 am

And *BOOM* one of my two on-going freelance contracts just got cancelled. DAMN.

toukokuu 5, 11:53 am

>77 jillmwo: Uh oh, sorry to hear that. I hope something else turns up soon.

toukokuu 5, 3:16 pm

>77 jillmwo: Sympathy. I know how that feels--but something else will turn up.

toukokuu 5, 3:17 pm

>77 jillmwo:
Sorry to hear that. Best of luck finding a replacement…if you want one.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 5:08 pm

>77 jillmwo: Sorry, but at least this means more reading time!!! At least until you find another gig...

toukokuu 5, 8:11 pm

>77 jillmwo: That stinks. I'm sure something else will turn up soon.

toukokuu 9, 5:23 pm

>69 jillmwo:
This is a fascinating question and I want to give it good consideration before giving my considered conclusion when I am home and have access to my own laptop. Currently I am typing on my wife's tiny laptop that we brought to France.

What I can say is that there is no single factor that drives me to buy/acquire/borrow a given book. I want to consider a sample of my purchase decisions in the context of your question. I know different books will have been bought for different reasons, not all of the rational. These decisions would include:
- wanting to collect a complete set of books, be it the Lord Peter Wimsey Stories or another admired author,
- wanting a complete set of books from a given small press publisher (The Swan River Press is my only example of this),
- being taken by the blurb on the cover
- a particularly nice edition of one of my favourite books
- wanting to read the book
- it has been recommended by a friend
- the book club has selected the book for reading
- the book has some fascinating ideas around a particular topics of interest
- wanting to support an author whom I know

There may also be reasons why I selected one particular edition over another edition of the same book.

I have not really addressed the reasons why I might select particular types of content when making a purchasing decision. That will probably have as many sub-reasons as the non-content factors listed above. Summer time, with the days still getting longer, is probably not the best time for this sort of research.

I am looking forward to carrying out research on my purchases but the cheese, wine and chateaux are distracting me at the moment.

I will get to this research soo; maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow; but soon.

toukokuu 10, 4:17 pm

First up - Framley Parsonage is frequently characterized as being one of Trollope’s marriage plot novels. I think that’s something of a mis-characterization. The final chapter may document four weddings, but there is actually a more complex narrative than your standard romance.

The two main individuals whose stories we’re following are Mark Robsart, an ambitious member of the clergy, and his sister, Lucy Robsart. The female characters driving events around the two siblings are Fanny Robsart, Mark's wife, the American heiress, Martha Dunstable, a Mrs. Howard Smith (whose Christian name I don’t believe we ever learn) and the conservative dowager, Lady Lufton. The male characters are Nathaniel Sowerby – brother to Mrs. Howard Smith – and Ludovic Lufton, son of Lady Lufton. Framley Parsonage also introduces the rigorously ethical Rev. Josiah Crawley.

Lady Lufton has managed the lives of her son Ludovic and his friend, Mark for years, setting them both on suitable paths for success in life. She wants her son to marry just the “right sort” of girl, someone well-prepared to take up the role Lady Lufton has held in the county hierarchy. She provides Mark with his living there in the parish of Framley and introduces him to his wife, Fanny. Lady Lufton is a sensible woman, but inclined to believe that she knows what is best for all around her.

Mark Robsart, wishing to rise into the higher classes of English society, thinks he will oblige the wealthy-if-profligate Sowerby’s request to co-sign a loan. This will prove to be unwise. (Sowerby, a member of Parliament, is always at loose ends when it comes to money, dishonestly “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, living above his means to impress others while avoiding loan payments.) Lawyers and bailiffs become involved.

Lady Lufton wants her son, Ludovic, to marry and carry on the line. She has ideas about who in the county would make an eligible wife and Lucy Robsart is not one of her choices. Ludovic finds his mother’s primary choice to be a cold fish, instead falls in love with Lucy, and meets resistance from both his mother and from Lucy, a young woman of some integrity.

Pride (misplaced and otherwise) is at the center of every character’s activity. Trollope’s larger questions have to do with discerning who in society benefits from assistance and then how can assistance be managed without harm. Can you feel me elbowing you to give this one a try? It was one of Trollope’s most successful novels.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 4:29 pm

Second up, I know there are readers here in the Pub who might enjoy The Secret Poisoner: A Century of Murder. The book narrates a fascinating account of actual poisonings that took place in nineteenth century England. Due to the criminal nature of the events, there is pressure to develop relable ways of identifying (after the fact) the poison used and of regulating dangerous substances. Stratman provides readers with stories of how nineteenth century scientists discovered the methods and tests needed to render justice in cases involving arsenic, opium, and strychnine. Her narrative spans a century of change (1815-1914). This is the period when toxicology as a scientific discipline began to emerge. Researchers in England and in Europe are developing reliable tests for frequently used poisons, differentiating between alkaloids (organic poisons vs metallic poisons).

The book offers an informative overview, an excellent read if you’re interested in either true-crime murders or in the history of science. After all, there are so many different ways to “off” one’s relatives in a less technologically advanced society. As testing methodologies get better, criminals become more clever in how they administer the poisons. The medical community as well as the government regulators become more particular in how pharmaceuticals are handled. Time and again, Parliament hands down legislation (such as the Arsenic Act, the Pharmacy and Sale of Poisons Act, and the Palmer Act), to satisfy safety concerns. The final chapter covers events in America and the Epilogue covers the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Back matter includes a useful glossary (with chemical formulations) and an index so that a reader can figure out the difference between a “cadaveric alkaloid” and a “corrosive sublimate”.

This isn't written as a traditional reference book, but it could prove to be a useful one for those having an interest.

toukokuu 10, 4:27 pm

>83 pgmcc: I think your bullet points largely match up to my own. There are specialty presses whose books I love. Persephone Books in the UK offers a wonderful range of women's literature in high quality format. (Of course, their prices have suddenly skyrocketed and I'm not sure if it's an exchange rate thing or if it's due to supply chain issues.) There are authors I discovered through them who I would never have encountered in a bookstore here.

And yes, I am a sucker for a nice binding and good illustrations. I'm trying to remind myself that those are not (or should not be) the sole reason for buying something if a more reasonably priced alternative is available. Hence, my need to get my catalog here on LT back in order. Very nearly bought an Everyman's edition of Silas Marner but discovered in time that there was already one on the shelf!! (I am unlikely to re-read it any time soon but I knew I'd enjoyed it the first time and might enjoy it a second time.)

Meanwhile I'm revisiting Winifred Peck and D.E. Stevenson. Very soothing to the fractious spirit.

toukokuu 10, 10:24 pm

>85 jillmwo: That sounds quite interesting.
Um... is this one of several books on poisoning you've read recently? *blinks*

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 12, 4:51 pm

For those readers of crime novels, see who is up for an award in the UK: https://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2023/05/cwa-dagger-shortlists-2023.html

And to answer the question from >87 clamairy: Let me just say this. There's always a certain amount of cross-fertilization of ideas when one reads a range of stuff. (But to alleviate any lingering doubts, I can assure you there have been no mysterious illnesses among my nearest and dearest of late.)

At any rate, just a few years ago, everyone was distressed over the number of highly literary axe-murderers that seemed to hang out on my thread. We've now switched over to poison which you must admit is far less messy in some ways...

P.S. Speaking of poisons, I note on that CWA list as well a very intriguing title The Poisonous Solicitor. I'm certainly curious as one might have thought a British solicitor would be a far more trustworthy sort.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 13, 2:16 pm

Honestly, I don't know what you have planned for the weekend, but if you are looking for something to read that may stab you to the heart with its understanding of an experience, please go find yourself a copy of Alberto Manguel's collection of essays, A Reader on Reading. The breadth and depth of his reading is amazing and his language is poetic. Two quotes:

I believe there is an ethic of reading, a responsibility in how we read, a commitment that is both political and private in the act of turning the pages and following the lines. And I believe that sometimes, beyond the author's intentions and the reader's hopes, a book can make us better and wiser. From the preface

AND from one of the final essays, The ideal library is an everlasting, ever-renewed anthology.

And I think I now understand what some people mean when they say that one of their goals is to read 12 books over the course of the year. To fully read and absorb a book, one needs to approach that book with precisely the kind of commitment of time and attention that I think Manguel means. Again, his language is poetic and his insights are amazing.

I despair of EVER writing as well as he has done.

toukokuu 13, 2:30 pm

>89 jillmwo: I will put it on the list and dedicate some time to it. I have to admit, the NBA playoffs are cutting into my reading time.

toukokuu 14, 1:33 pm

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 3:43 pm

More prizes being given out:

Note that Babel by R.F. Kuang won in the Fiction category. I found it to be a rough read in some respects, but a worthwhile one.

Was relieved to see that Murder Before Evensong didn't win in the crime category, as I found it *very* disappointing.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 18, 9:12 am

>92 jillmwo: I thought Murder before Evensong might have been a better book without the crime plot. I enjoyed the portrayals of village and church life and politics and felt the murder and its complications were unnecessary.

toukokuu 21, 9:45 am

Gift article from the Washington Post on the Supreme Court history of ruling on book bans: https://wapo.st/43jeP4X A lot of good information in this one.

toukokuu 21, 2:40 pm

>94 jillmwo: Interesting, thank you!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 3:47 pm

Been living in a bit of a fantasy/escapist reading mentality. I discussed Legends & Lattes with folks in a group yesterday, and also have been reading The Steerswoman. Off and on, I've been reading The Library of the Unwritten, a 2019 fantasy title that has not been overly praised either here in the Pub or in other review environments. (That said, I personally thought the literary duel between Bjorn the Bard and Clare the Librarian in the halls of Valhalla was a HOOT.)

In between those activities, I re-visited Miss Buncle's Book and Miss Buncle Married. Those two aren't really classified as fantasy, but I think those who've read them would agree that they're not particularly realistic in tone. They're light, frothy entertainment. To some extent, they belong at the same end of the spectrum as Legends and Lattes.

When I read them, I'm in what is largely (for me) a soothing fantasy world rather than an historical environment.

toukokuu 23, 5:52 pm

Gulped down a book today -- The Tragedy at Freyne. Totally mediocre prose, but still interesting as a social history. The book was published during the 1920s by a woman using a pseudonym (Anthony Gilbert). She wasn't particularly good at character development, but what I found fascinating were the behaviors that the characters found to be socially acceptable (or not). Burning an innocent letter received from the murder victim before 24 hours have passed because after all letters are PRIVATE. Or the bit where a gentleman (having left the drawing room with his guests) removes his dinner jacket to switch to a smoking jacket because the dinner jacket restricts his movement when he's sitting at a desk. (I mean, really, that aspect of masculine tailoring wouldn't have occurred to me. Certainly not as a clue.) I love the little tidbits like this.

Sadly there's a hefty amount of sexism and prejudice expressed. But I enjoyed some of the complexity of the narrative.

toukokuu 23, 5:59 pm

>97 jillmwo: Speaking of social mores, I have been enjoying the Poirot series with David Suchet. This time I'm picking up much more on the friendship between he and Hastings. Hastings is so proper on what "is done" and what "is not done." (Reading a ladies letters to another man is not done, or breaking your word to a murderer when you said you would give him a 24 hour start of he confessed. Not done.) But neither of those things bother Poirot.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 4:55 pm

>98 MrsLee: It's an interesting way of ensuring a certain degree of societal harmony, isn't it?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 8:44 pm

Okay, without meaning to sound breathless with excitement, I have just discovered that there is a THING. Looking for additional works by Alberto Manguel, I saw he'd written a lengthy essay (published in book form) entitled Bride of Frankenstein about the film of that same name. It's one of a lengthy series branded as BFI Film Classics, BFI being the British Film Institute. That series includes commentary on a hefty range of movies -- everything from Singing in the Rain to Metropolis to Chinatown. Based on reviews, some film buffs quibble with the various authors of each short text; the one on the 1950's film, The War of the Worlds, comes in for some serious irritation. But I am enthralled with the whole idea of this series. Film history and film studies for the great unwashed masses (like me).

Manguel's write-up of Bride is actually quite touching to read and makes one want to immediately re-watch the film. Based on what appears on Amazon, the print edition is less than 80 pages. I'm reading it on my Kindle and am roughly 2/3 through.

toukokuu 25, 7:48 am

>100 jillmwo: We have some of these in the collection at work. They are great little books, perfect for the time-pressed reader.

toukokuu 25, 9:43 am

>100 jillmwo:
That series sounds interesting. You will be credited if I acquire.

toukokuu 25, 3:30 pm

>100 jillmwo: That does sounds interesting and might be a thing!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 26, 5:58 pm

The Library of the Unwritten On one level, I should have loved this book. Libraries, books, literary allusions, power struggles – the hero, the Muse, the monsters that arise… But I think there might have been too many layers of intent to the narrative. (See also #96 above.)

In terms of theme, the intent was to discuss the writing/creative process, the role of memory, answering the question of who tells your story (to borrow from Hamilton). But the reader was having to juggle multiple universes (Hell, Valhalla, Earth, etc.) and four different voices – Claire, Leto, Ramiel and Brevity – as they wrestle with a variety of fantastical types – angels, demons, monsters, etc. The complexity worked against it in some ways. I got half-way through the book and then I ended up bailing because there was no straightforward narrative involved. There was too much going on – dynamics of rebellion against arcane rules and hierarchical structures. With one or two exceptions, nobody appeared to be operating in good faith and the voices of the narrative obscured awareness of who one might want to be rooting for. I was getting the author’s meaning as the story unfolded, but felt my eyes rolling at the length of the journey…DNF.


toukokuu 26, 9:35 pm

>104 jillmwo: With one or two exceptions, nobody appeared to be operating in good faith and the voices of the narrative obscured awareness of who one might want to be rooting for.

You might as well just read the news. Murfle indeed.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 26, 10:06 pm

>104 jillmwo: Not the dreaded eye roll! :D
It's definitely for the best that you bailed.

>105 Jim53: Touché!

toukokuu 27, 11:15 am

>105 Jim53: Hah! Yes!!! I've determined that, at least for awhile, I'm turning off the television. I may be ill-informed as a result, but I find myself utterly exasperated by all factions.

>106 clamairy: I think there was a really solid motive/point at the heart of the book, but once I figured out where I thought she was headed (and glanced ahead at the ending to see if I was right), all I could do was sigh. (And roll my eyes...) Marissa_Doyle and sakerfalcon were absolutely right about this one.

FWIW, clamairy, I think you were recommending the Southern Gothic, House with Good Bones and that may be more suited to my current grumpy little ol' battle-axe kind of mood. Definitely Southern Gothic.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 27, 1:55 pm

Oh good. A House With Good Bones was a ricochet* originating with tardis. It went a bit over the top in a few places, but the rest of it was so delightful that I did not bat (or roll) an eye!

*I'm not sure if ricochet is the right word, because it definitely hit me on its way to you.

toukokuu 27, 1:45 pm

>105 Jim53: >107 jillmwo: I haven't read a newspaper or watched TV news since 2016, and my life has not suffered noticeably as a result.

toukokuu 27, 4:45 pm

>109 haydninvienna: Hear, hear! My cut off was 2001.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 28, 3:48 pm

I remember many Memorial Day weekends spent in social situations: a blockbuster movie opening with friends, binge-watching something on TV (before the days of streaming when we had to rely on broadcast or very expensive cable to show us 18 straight hours of Star Trek or 24. A lively science fiction convention now and again. Growing up, my parents (military folks) didn’t overly emphasize the idea of Memorial Day and we didn’t watch war movies. Today (Sunday), my husband and I watched Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan with our lunch. I stand by my long-held belief that Ricardo Montalban should have won a major acting award for that movie. He did circles around William Shatner.

At any rate, I spent the past few days inhaling three of the BFI “books” (two in Kindle format, one in print). Because this for me is a movie kind of weekend. The TL:DR version of this is that if, while standing in a used bookstore one day, you see one of these publications and it’s about a movie you know well, go ahead and buy it. They may vary in density, but these are really quite informative essays.

The three I was dealing with were The Bride of Frankenstein by Albert Manguel for the BFI Film Classics series, The Big Sleep (BFI Film Classics) and The War of the Worlds (BFI Film Classics). Each one is by a different author so there are a variety of perspectives to be encountered as well as varying degrees of film expertise. The format of each is fairly consistent. You get information about the immediate context of the movie production process (casting, special effects, etc.), a summarized narrative of the film’s plot, and some sense of how the movie was received and evaluated over time. The individual essays include a full set of the movie credits and a *brief* bibliography. The bibliographies differ in terms of their academic density. The bibliography for The Big Sleep was far lighter weight than the one provided for The Bride of Frankenstein. In terms of page length, the things aren’t very time-consuming (60-80 pages or thereabouts) and the trim sizes for print appear to be in the 5-¼ by 7 inch range. Small and succinct in print and really quick reads on a Kindle.

With regard to specifics, I picked up the one about The War of the Worlds because I wanted to see how off the wall it actually was. (This was one that had gotten dinged in the reviews on Amazon and I will admit there was one BIG error that might qualify as inexcusable. The first victims killed off in that movie were three unnamed characters - a trio consisting of a government employee, a laborer and a well-to-do businessman.(Note: That was considered a show of diversity back in the 1950’s.) The author claims that the first victim was the priest – and while he might have been the first *named* individual to be killed, the trio of men I’ve named as well as a sheriff’s deputy all get killed before the member of the clergy buys it. But what makes this particular essay interesting is that he uses Wells’ novel as a jumping off point for exploring the whole sub-genre of alien invasion stories – everything from Orson Welles’ radio play up to Independence Day and the TV series, V. There’s some substance here.

The essay on The Big Sleep covers the Bogart and Bacall thing but also indicates the depth of Howard Hawks’ involvement in developing Bacall as a star. (There’s a brief bit about her going off into the desert to read The Robe to jack-rabbits as a way of teaching herself to deepen her voice when speaking.) But also of interest is the backstory on the actress who plays Carmen, the younger sister in the book. Apparently, she too was supposed to be one of Hawks’ discoveries. She just never made it. The other thing about The Big Sleep is how much they had to CLEAN IT UP for the screen. I mean, in the novel, the younger sister is supposed to be something of a nymphomaniac and the pictures everyone is so anxious to get their hands on are photos of her posing nude!

The Bride of Frankenstein was written by Alberto Manguel. The print copies of this are priced astronomically, so I stuck to reading the Kindle edition. Again, Manguel writes beautifully but also he understands the original source material of Shelley’s novel. The 1935 Bride movie was not part of the original but was simply planned as a sequel to the successful movie (the one from 1931). What I found intriguing in this essay was that apparently there were significant concerns that the movie would be viewed as blasphemous. The director had to run the movie past the Catholic Church in a variety of phases.

toukokuu 28, 3:54 pm

>109 haydninvienna: and >110 MrsLee: I live with someone who is something of a news hound, a former radio newscaster. He's sure that something is happening somewhere in the world and he wants to be the first to know about it so he can tell you about it. I only want to know what the weather is (roughly speaking) although I admit to beginning to be worried about the damn debt ceiling thing. Again I was suspicious as to whether anyone was negotiating in good faith.

Back to some binge-watching of Star Trek in some form. I like DS9 and I think at times that Benjamin Sisko was one of the very best captains. Heads and shoulders over James "Tom Cat" Kirk. (I also like both Picard and Kathryn Janeway.)

toukokuu 28, 4:14 pm

>111 jillmwo: For me, Wrath of Khan is by far the best of the Star Trek movies.

toukokuu 28, 4:24 pm

>112 jillmwo: I started to get doubtful about “the news” when I was an Australian civil servant. There were times when I had inside knowledge of something and saw that the press reporting was often inaccurate. Then there was the time when we peons were given a view of the life of a person on the Ministerial staff. (US: “Minister” corresponds very roughly to “Secretary”—the Minister is the political head of a Department. Each Minister has his or her own staff, separate from the Department although often seconded from it.) Apparently all the ministerial staff would be up at 6 am to catch the first radio and TV news and skim the headlines in the papers. I very quickly decided that I wasn’t playing that game.

toukokuu 28, 7:25 pm

>111 jillmwo: I so wanted Ricardo to make a reference to his rich Corinthian leather in that movie.

toukokuu 29, 6:49 am

>115 Jim53: He didn't get a chance to customize his starship seats.

toukokuu 29, 10:40 am

>114 haydninvienna: I share the concerns over accuracy vs. "spin". Having done corporate communications for a stint in my career, I am all too aware of how a press release gets pulled together internally and then how it may be stretched out of all shape by the time it shows up in publication. I've written quotes attributed to the various VIPs and heaven knows those never sound like something that would be part of a real conversation.

>115 Jim53: and >116 Karlstar: *snort*

toukokuu 29, 12:20 pm

>114 haydninvienna: & >117 jillmwo:

My faith in the press was shattered, like yourself Richard, when I heard or read reports on events that were totally at variance from what I knew or had witnessed of those events. The cherry on top was when I heard a report from a radio reporter who had based her report on an eye-witness account from yours truly. Her report bore no similarity whatsoever to the incident in question.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 29, 3:56 pm

Well, all this conversation about the lack of trust in the press appears to serendipitously relate to my reading this weekend. In the context of the BFI publication about The War of the Worlds, I re-read part of the original novel. In a book 125 years old, there is the same commentary as to the depth of distrust regarding the reliability and accuracy of news reports.

At lunch today, and in the same context of the BFI essay, my husband and I were watching the 1953 movie of WOTW, starring Gene Barry. Let me say that if I'd watched that movie in a darkened theater rather than always seeing it on a television screen, I'd have been thoroughly freaked out by it (most particularly when the Martian arm touches the girl's shoulder.) Watching it on television, one can calmly recognize the 'fifties' cheeziness and fears over nuclear destruction. In a darkened theater, it would have been far more unsettling, watching Gene Barry running through deserted streets.

The real difference between the fifties science fiction films and the science fiction television of the sixties was that Star Trek was a whole lot more optimistic...Back in the sixties, I think Gene Roddenberry's assumption was that we'd somehow find our way through all of this. Wells' novel ends with the assumption that the Martians would bide their time until the planets re-aligned and shortened the distance to be traveled. And then they'd be back.

toukokuu 29, 4:00 pm

>119 jillmwo: You're telling me Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Martian?

toukokuu 29, 4:04 pm

>120 pgmcc: Arnold Schwarzenegger is forever branded in my mind as a barbarian commenting on crushing his enemies and hearing the "lamentations of dere voomen".

toukokuu 29, 4:16 pm

Re trust in the press: there was a 1930s poet named Humbert Wolfe, who is now forgotten except for this:
One cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God! the British journalist.
However, seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no reason to.

toukokuu 29, 4:21 pm

>121 jillmwo: That came up not too long ago as a 80's movies question on Jeopardy and NONE of the 3 contestants could identify Conan the Barbarian as the movie.

toukokuu 29, 4:45 pm

>123 Karlstar: What is this world coming to when people don't recognize that Conan line.

toukokuu 29, 5:59 pm

Just because sometimes, I think I'll want the memory aid in future. I previously read The War of the Worlds back in 2006, based on what I found on my defunct blog. Back then, I wrote:

Wells was writing here to make a different point about an immediate issue in his time and culture (ie. integration of Darwinist thought into the popular consciousness). He uses the invasion by more advanced creatures as a trigger device for introducing a new idea to his fellow Victorians and as a philosophical suggestion as to how they might go on once the idea had been fully integrated. Rather than being the apex of God's creation, the invasion by the Martians suggests that man is neither at the top of the biological family nor at the bottom. His lack of characterization in portraying the curate and the artilleryman is to suggest that the right response is neither to surrender to despair (as the curate does) nor to indulge one's baser instincts (as he suggests when he accuses the artilleryman of gluttony). There is the middle ground found by the narrator in the end of the story which is neither surrender nor a ratlike survival. Instead Wells offers the recognition that we can only progress from where we are as creatures, being aware that there are forces in nature which take over and we must submit to the limits of our own knowledge of those forces and consequent lack of control. He was examining that idea for strength as one might test a bridge to see if it can hold one's weight.

Original post at: https://individualtake.blogspot.com/2006/10/war-of-worlds.html

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 7:03 am

>125 jillmwo: Oh, that's an awesome review. Spot on.

toukokuu 30, 2:45 pm

>126 clamairy: Thank you.

I finished Victoria Goddard’s book, The Return of Fitzroy Angursell, this morning over my morning cup of coffee. The main story has to do with a hero going off on adventures but at the same time, the larger point had to do with how one reconnects with others after a long separation -- when the individual has been hiding some portion of their own history and self. While (IMHO) not quite as satisfying as The Hands of the Emperor, the ending still worked that tiny stiletto knife into this trusting reader’s heart. Lots of connection between this one and titles in her Greenwing & Dart series, but still relatively able to stand on its own.

toukokuu 30, 3:35 pm

>127 jillmwo: That one is on my mental 'Read Soon' list. Thank you for the nudge.

toukokuu 30, 4:29 pm

It leads well into At the Feet of the Sun.

toukokuu 30, 6:08 pm

>129 reconditereader: I'm saving that one for Summer.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 4:17 pm

>129 reconditereader: and >130 clamairy: I have that one on my Kindle as well. I do think she's perfect for bedtime reading. For some reason or other, I mentally put Goddard's writing style in the same category as Katherine Addison. (There's someone else too but my memory is suddenly unable to deliver the other female writer's name.)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 4:31 pm

I am definitely experiencing one of those "dullard" mental states. I have the new Simon Winchester book on my couch, but it appears to require a real brain to absorb his thinking. In the first few pages of his prologue, he's talking about that whole data-->information-->knowledge-->wisdom pyramid and I'm just not able to cope.

Meanwhile I am reading A History of Reading which fortunately has many engaging anecdotes and tidbits from history. But it is like Knowing What We Know in that, it too deals with a BIG, BIG topic. Centuries of publications and reading and I'm feeling terribly shallow in terms of the depth of my personal reading choices. I mean I've never even attempted to read St. Augustine's Confessions -- classic or no -- and Manguel is so very clearly quite familiar with it.

(BTW, I don't ever see myself reading Augustine. Neither on spiritual grounds nor philosophical ones...I mean, anything before the Victorians is basically outside of my spectrum.)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 5:39 pm

Post Script to Above: Do you know that he opens A History of Reading with a segment about art works showing people reading in a variety of settings and poses? I was particularly taken by the one showing Mary Magdalene reading while reclining in the nude.

Also found this tidbit to be of interest:

Once silent reading became the norm in the scriptorium, communication among the scribes was done by signs: if a scribe required a new book to copy, he would pretend to turn over imaginary pages; if he specifically needed a psalter, he'd place his hands on his head in the shape of a crown (in reference to King David); a lectionary was indicated by wiping away imaginary wax from candles; a missal, by the sign of the cross; a pagan work, by scratching his body like a dog.

Of course, I knew that the monks kept silent for the most part during their work, but I'd not known of these types of gestures in lieu of shop talk.

toukokuu 31, 7:13 pm

>131 jillmwo: Yes, I can definitely see the similarities between Goddard and Addison. Give me a few days to try to think of anyone else.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 12:34 pm

>134 clamairy: I think I had Becky Chambers in mind. Not the same writing style by any means, but somewhat similar thinking in how you present people and their problems without allowing it to slip over in angst and despair.

kesäkuu 1, 2:14 pm

>135 jillmwo: That makes sense. I did see that some of the LT member suggestions included Victoria Goddard, Lois McMaster Bujold and Arkady Martine if you are a fan of The Goblin Emperor, and included both Bujold and Addison if you are a fan of The Hands of the Emperor.

kesäkuu 1, 4:44 pm

>136 clamairy: Bujold makes sense as well, although she's not as calming in some respects as Goddard.! (In my view, Arkady Martine is not all that reassuring a read. She can be a bit grim about some of the arcane aspects of Empire...)

kesäkuu 2, 2:52 pm

So the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. holds these virtual book discussion groups once a month. A friend persuaded me to attend the one last night when the presentation and conversation was to be give over to Josephine Tey’s novel, The Daughter of Time. The academic (a woman associated with the University of Toronto) provided a glimpse of Richard III and Tey’s novel in the context of the monarch’s scoliosis and how modern society has conditioned us to think about physical abnormality. (If you recall in Tey's novel, Inspector Grant is laid up in the hospital for the duration of the novel with an injury incurred in the course of his professional duties. He can’t investigate any crimes in the normal way because he’s immobilized. As a distraction from enforced boredom in a hospital bed, his various visitors assist him in looking at the accusation that Richard III murdered his nephews in the tower.)

At any rate, the event maxxed out the allowed virtual attendance; there were 150 people online for this. My friend and I were in entirely separate (randomly-assigned) small groups when it came to the discussion segment. What was interesting to me was how the group of which I was a part ended up approaching the discussion. There were a number of Riccardians who knew all about the accusation of murder against Richard and the 2015 discovery of the king’s skeleton buried in what had once been a church and which was in modern times intended to become a car park. There was some discussion as well – given the intro lecture – about how actors play the role of Richard III and how much they emphasize the deformity. (Names of actors mentioned in the role included Laurence Olivier, Anthony Sher, Ian MacKellan, and Benedict Cumberbatch. In particular, see Sher's book The Year of the King.)

The medical professionals in the novel of course all comment on how much pain Richard seemed to have experienced (based solely on the portrait that Grant has to study), but I never had any sense that Josephine Tey wanted her readers to think of Grant himself as anything other merely inconvenienced by being confined to the hospital. Certainly, he wasn’t in the same category as someone with a lifelong condition, like Richard suffering from scoliosis. Rather, read on a light, general level, the novel is (IMHO) about how investigators (detectives, historians, whatever) are able solve a mystery without necessarily being on-site of the criminal event. It was a clever device in the context of the genre and my group was actually pretty lively in commenting. No real dead-air problems in the discussion.

However, as I continued to read Manguel’s A History of Reading this morning, I hit a chapter (the fifth or sixth) where Manguel talks about the variety of ways we read a book. We can read it in a very literal way (The Daughter of Time as an entertaining detective novel.). Or we could read it in more of an allegorical way as the academic had done (The Daughter of Time as an illustration of how society responds to individuals suffering from some physical abnormality). OR we can read it as a corrective argument in re-positioning how we view Richard III in his political context (as the Riccardians in last night’s group did to some extent).

Manguel looks at the practice of reading in the context of these various layers as he finds them in reading Dante and Kafka. I might have felt rather detached from his arguments if I hadn’t just been through last night’s discussion. Instead, I find my enjoyment of his book deepening to some extent. (I’m still not sure that I’m playing in the man’s educational or intellectual league.)

Still it's been a good 24-36 hours worth of reading and thinking...

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 2, 4:08 pm

>138 jillmwo:
Be careful with that thinking; it can get you into trouble.

The thinking I am doing at the moment is that the strawberries I am eating go very well with the caramel squares my son made.

In relation to The Daughter of Time, the big point I took from it was the application of an evidence and data based approach to a problem is essential to avoid the sort of bias introduced by interested parties with certain prejudices massaging the truth and affecting public opinion. I am glad we live in an age when no such distortion of the facts can happen.

I am correct; the strawberries are delicious with the caramel squares.

kesäkuu 2, 7:05 pm

I THINK, my dear pgmcc, that it might be appropriate for you to offer me (as the other person in this shared conversation) a bite of the fresh strawberries, of the caramel squares and any alcoholic beverage that might be sitting in front of you...

kesäkuu 2, 7:12 pm

>140 jillmwo: , you know, if it were up to me I would be offering strawberries and caramel squares to everyone, but my wife has finished the strawberries, and I believe my son will have scoffed the last caramel square before you manage to get here. There will be plenty of Merlot available when you arrive.

kesäkuu 2, 7:16 pm

*thumbs up* Honestly, if I weren't so offended by the airline industry at this point in time, I'd be packing the suitcase and headed for the airport. But really, the airlines are wicked, soul-less corporate entities...

kesäkuu 2, 7:41 pm

>142 jillmwo:
Hear! Hear!

My son is making a new batch of caramel squares before Monday, so if you can get here for then...

kesäkuu 2, 9:57 pm

>132 jillmwo: I had The Confessions inflicted upon me during my senior year of high school. I recall being somewhat pleasantly surprised at the initial readability of it, having been led to believe that it was indigestible. This didn't last very long, however, as his ruminating about his own story soon required a shovel rather than a fork. I managed to get through it--it wasn't till a year or two later that I joyously realized that I needn't necessarily read every last thing that I was assigned--but I cannot recommend it unless one is deeply interested in the subject.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 3, 11:04 am

>144 Jim53: The thing that I'm finding most interesting as I read Alberto Manguel is how very different his educational experience was from my own in terms of assigned reading. I even went to Wikipedia to see what the age difference might be as a potential factor, but it seems to me that the real difference lies in a European intellectual influence vs an American intellectual influence. If I read Wikipedia correctly, Manguel didn't complete a college degree in any traditional sense, but was immersed in a different process of self-education, acquired through his reading and the work he did as a translator, editor, writer, etc. His whole story strikes me as amazing.

kesäkuu 3, 11:45 am

Side note with regard to observing one's Thingaversary: Are the enforcers more forgiving if you go on a buying binge a month early or do they require that Thingaversary acquisitions take place during the actual month one is due to celebrate?

Asking for a friend...

kesäkuu 3, 12:04 pm

>146 jillmwo:
The enforcers appear to have become quite soft, and apparently are prone to bouts of negligence when cheese enters the equation. Stinks of bribery and corruption if you ask me.

kesäkuu 4, 10:18 am

>146 jillmwo: Do whatever makes you happy. (I made donations and didn't buy that many books in April, but I've been making up for that...)

kesäkuu 4, 10:34 am

>146 jillmwo:
By the way, I like Gruyere and Munster.

Just sayin’.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 4, 10:40 am

>148 clamairy: Can I just say to you how much I love your focus in this long-standing context of Pub silliness? My comment was meant as somewhat rueful humor, but you are right. Will it make me happier to re-arrange the kaleidoscope of my shelves by re-homing some of the existing collection and filling the space gaps with new volumes? Do I read or re-read what's here in the house (while watching lots and lots of associated movie or TV adaptations) or do I go exploring some of the new authors I encounter here in the Pub (like T. Kingfisher)? For that matter, am I looking for the mental stimulation associated with learning things or am I just looking to be entertained?

Frankly, that last binge of book-buying I had thought would take time to arrive on my doorstep. (I'd thought it would take three weeks or so before I'd see everything...) I was a bit surprised when the books arrived so quickly. And I look at the volume of Icelandic Sagas (where the artwork was what got my attention) and wonder if that was an entirely wise choice. After all, am I apt to get much from that reading experience other than to say, hey, I gave the Vikings a whirl?

It's Sunday morning where I am and I'm just aimlessly nattering away here.

And >149 pgmcc: preferences have been noted. How well does the Royal Mail do with perishables?

kesäkuu 4, 11:37 am

>150 jillmwo:
I would avoid any long distance postage of perishables. What sort of perishables are we discussing?

From personal and professional experience I know that the US customs clearance procedures can take a while. Add to that the requirements of security clearance it can be difficult to estimate the likely arrival time of a posted parcel. It is the receiving countries customs and security procedures that ultimately determine how quickly, or otherwise, a parcel reaches its destination.

kesäkuu 4, 11:41 am

hmm >151 pgmcc: I suppose then that the enforcers will have to do without Gruyere and Munster.

kesäkuu 4, 12:18 pm

>152 jillmwo:
Where did Royal Mail come into the equation? If you are posting cheese from the US to Ireland (assuming you can get Munster and/or Gruyere in the US) it would be the USPS and An Post, the Irish postal administration, that would be involved. If you can let me know tracking numbers I will be able to make contact with people who can expedite the processes involved.

As has been said in the past, "It is not what you know, but who you know." I also think we have moved on; "It is not who you know, but what you know...about who you know."

kesäkuu 4, 4:42 pm

>150 jillmwo: "Will it make me happier to re-arrange the kaleidoscope of my shelves by re-homing some of the existing collection and filling the space gaps with new volumes? Do I read or re-read what's here in the house (while watching lots and lots of associated movie or TV adaptations) or do I go exploring some of the new authors I encounter here in the Pub (like T. Kingfisher)? For that matter, am I looking for the mental stimulation associated with learning things or am I just looking to be entertained?"

What makes me happy changes from day to day, and even, sometimes, from minute to minute. So make yourself happy with your books whenever you can.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 5, 5:49 pm

>153 pgmcc: My mistake re Royal Mail. Insufficient quantities of caffeine and/or French brioche. I'll find some way of bribing the enforcers that won't alarm the sleeping enforcers...(meant to say, that wouldn't alarm the drowsing officials but got confused.)

>154 clamairy: Like you, what makes me happy is highly changeable. Oddly, for the past six months, I've kind of enjoyed the idea of grouping my books by recognizable publisher groups. All the Persephone books together, all the Library of American books together, all the Folio Society, Everyman's Library, etc. Not really useful in terms of immediate recognition of individual titles at point of need, but handsome on the shelves.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 5, 5:45 pm

Now, brioche is nice.

A few years ago we were in Tours and were admiring the front of La Gare De Tours. We were standing about 100 metres from the station entrance and were beside a strangely shaped little shop; it has a triangular footprint due to its being at the junction of two roads that meet at an acute angle.

It was about 5pm and we were not paying much attention to the shop until we noticed many people heading towards the shop entrance. It was at that point that we saw the shop assistants were loading the shelves in the window with large, small and medium brioche loaves.

Being the children of people who had lived through the shortages of WWII, and having experienced brief periods of various food product shortages, we say a queue and we joined it. It was not without its rewards.

We knew that French people love good food. A shop selling poor quality food would not last long in France. We also noticed that there was a sense of urgency in the crowd approaching this shop. These people knew something, and we discovered what that was. Namely, the fact that this particular briocherie produced and sold amazing brioche and they released a new batch of their beautiful product at 5pm every day.

Subsequent research revealed that Briocherie Lelong has been in existence since 1920. It has a long tradition of producing and selling delicious brioche. We pick up brioche from here whenever we get the chance.

Now you see what can happen when you mention brioche.

kesäkuu 7, 3:49 pm

Every once in a while, as one reads, you come across references to places you with which you’re familiar:

…Macdonald made his way down a narrow passage and into a parlour which made a perfect setting for Mrs. Blossom, the proprietress of The Green Dragon. From the lustres on the chandelier to the shell flowers on the draped overmantel the dim overcrowded little room was unspoilt by a single anachronism. The flowered walls were crowded, with heavily-framed pictures, photographic enlargements, texts, and coloured presentation prints from old journals. In one quick glance round Macdonald saw Wellington meeting Blucher, Cherry Ripe, Bubbles, Shoeing the Bay Mare and the Coronation of Queen Victoria. A family Bible and pile of albums stood on a table shaded by pampas grass, flanked by boxes garnished with shells.

Although I don’t think the main rooms of our Pub would necessarily look like the private parlor described there. I didn't include the bit about the beaded curtain in the doorway. Not sure how the Roombas might react to THAT.

kesäkuu 7, 7:41 pm

>157 jillmwo: Nice find! We don't want it overcrowded, or small, come to think of it. Do we want a draped overmantel?

kesäkuu 8, 11:11 am

My latest ArchivByte on the brother-sister team, Charles and Sarah Remond on the international lecture circuit. Of the two, she moved on to become a licensed clinical practitioner in Italy in the latter half of the 19th century: https://accessiblearchives.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/AAI-June-ArchivByte.pdf

Would someone please me know if that link doesn't operate properly?

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 8, 11:40 am

>158 clamairy: I wasn't even sure what that might look like, to be honest (*). I was focused on the box covered with shells and the beaded curtain. (The book takes place during World War II if that further aids in imagining the environment.)

(*) After a quick artificial-intelligence-driven Google query, I found images of several. I'm not sure that having a draped overmantle is necessary although I'm sure we'd be able to get a nice one at a reasonable cost...

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 8, 12:19 pm

>159 jillmwo:
I know it is not exactly what you requested, but can I let you know that the link is operating properly? It took a little while to load (only a few seconds, but in this day of impatient, 3 second attention spans, it felt like ages. It must have been almost 10 seconds.).

I look forward to reading it later. I am off out to dinner this evening with my wife and son-the-younger.

kesäkuu 8, 12:30 pm

>159 jillmwo: The link works well for me and the article looks fascinating. I have it tabbed for later reading.

kesäkuu 8, 1:42 pm

Receipt of a set of matched volumes of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass has caused me to randomly shout out "Beware the Jubjub Bird and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!" to which my husband was able to correctly respond with the bit about the vorpal sword. We live in a fun household.

One might also stop to consider the joys of "Father William" as well. A friend and I were talking last night about the lack of memorization practice for younger people. This is why it's a problem. It's nice when something tickles the back of your brain and brings something to the surface that you haven't had need to think about for ages. Because then you can suddenly perform a dramatic reading for an unsuspecting audience.

Think how much fun I'll be in the nursing home when I get there.

kesäkuu 8, 1:54 pm

>161 pgmcc: and >162 Karlstar: Thanks, guys!! You've both now been hired as tech back-ups. Compensation to take the form of book talks. (No cheese, no discount coupons, just chat...)

kesäkuu 8, 2:43 pm

>162 Karlstar:, given the content of post >164 jillmwo:, I think we should have a meeting to discuss terms and conditions before negotiating with jillmwo regarding cheese compensation.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 8, 4:28 pm

>163 jillmwo: There’s a few books around now promoting the idea of memorising poetry: one by Giles Brandreth and another by Clive James. And of course I’ll have to look up the titles because I can’t remember either one …

ETA, respectively Dancing by the Light of the Moon and The Fire of Joy.

Eilen, 11:57 am

>165 pgmcc: I agree, I was just about to agree to very lenient terms.

How about regular book discussions, book cover discussions and book writing discussions, for terms? A yearly bonus of cheese, food or travel talks?

Eilen, 11:58 am

>166 haydninvienna: Very clever!

Eilen, 12:43 pm

>166 haydninvienna: Do schools in England still provide a classical education? When I think of Tolkien, Lewis, Sayers and oh so many more of my favorite authors who could spout off quotes from this and that work of poetry or Greek, etc., I feel it will be a loss if those subjects aren't being taught anymore. I am pretty sure they are not in America, unless maybe you are majoring in the subject in a university.

Eilen, 12:49 pm

>169 MrsLee: Sadly, those subjects were taught in many US high schools during the same era that Tolkien and Lewis were in school in England. When I was growing up we had my grandfather's Greek and Latin HS textbooks with his handwriting in them. I believe he was born in 1896. (He was only 24 when my mother was born, but my mother was just shy of 40 when she had me.)

Eilen, 2:52 pm

>169 MrsLee: My knowledge of the English* school system comes only through my children. All 3 who are or have been here went to the local State-maintained schools, and I don't believe either the primary or secondary one even offered classics. The posh "public" (which means private) schools probably do. Lewis was educated at a public school and then by a private tutor; Tolkien went to King Edward's School, Birmingham (an elite "public" school), and Sayers was taught Latin by her father, who was, according to Wikipedia, "a chaplain of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School".

*Note I sais "English". Scotland has a separate system, as with so many things.

Eilen, 3:08 pm

>166 haydninvienna: And on the basis of that relatively casual comment, I have reached out for a used copy of The Fire of Joy. I shall continue to announce my presence through either apt or inapt poetic quotations. (As it happened, I was leafing through Walt Whitman just after lunch and encountered something of his that I have been puzzling over. Theoretically, he was thinking about death when he wrote:

WHAT ship puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?
Or coming in, to avoid the bars and follow the channel a perfect
pilot needs?
Here, sailor! here, ship! take aboard the most perfect pilot,
Whom, in a little boat, putting off and rowing, I hailing you offer.

BTW, I've noticed that you and clamairy are able to show your quoted material w/ code that displays as a grey bar on the left hand side. How do you do that? What's the magic/invisible code that supports that?

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 3:22 pm

As a follow-up, to commentary about schooling and familiarity with established authors, etc. I encountered a different bit this week in a relatively good mystery by E.C.R. Lorac -- Checkmate to Murder. She has one of the suspects make the following offhand comment in discussing a local murder:

"You can only take pleasure in fictitious corpses, mon cher," he replied..."or do you read Michael Innes for his literary style and Dorothy Sayers as an admirer of her encyclopedic information?"

That was written in 1944 so one supposes the public possessed some common familiarity with both Innes and Sayers.

And actually, now that i think of it, the book has a good opening paragraph as well, pgmcc.

Eilen, 3:14 pm

>165 pgmcc: and >167 Karlstar: We can discuss this, but remember that I work(ed) in publishing where none of the worker bees acquires wealth -- only those marvelously creative authors. I'm not a wealthy woman.

Eilen, 3:45 pm

>172 jillmwo: To put the grey bar down the side of an indented quotation, enclose it in blockquote tags, like this:
WHAT ship puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?
Or coming in, to avoid the bars and follow the channel a perfect
pilot needs?
Here, sailor! here, ship! take aboard the most perfect pilot,
Whom, in a little boat, putting off and rowing, I hailing you offer.
The open-block quote tag is that word enclosed in < and >; the closing tag is /blockquote inside the same characters. So for the quotation above I typed <blockquote>text here, note no line break</blockquote> (again, no line break).

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 3:48 pm

>175 haydninvienna: OH!! Thank you! I can comfortably manage that. I still struggle on adding book covers and photos here on LT.

Now my follow-up has to do with Whitman's snippet there. Does it seem to you as if he is speaking in any way about death?

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 4:05 pm

>176 jillmwo: On the two Macs I have a couple of small text macros in Safari that allow me just to type #lnk or #img and a space and it inserts the correct HTML code for a link or an image. Much easier. I don't know if there is anything similar available in Windows browsers.

You can find the good stuff about all this sort of thing in The New How To Do Fancy Things In Your Posts Thread. I have to admit that I have to look at that page pretty often if I want to insert an open caret character or whatever — I am definitely not an HTML guru.

In answer to your follow-up question, no, not directly. I can imagine that "the ship puzzled at sea" is the soul seeking the way, and "the most perfect pilot" is Christ. But is that too obvious?

Eilen, 5:54 pm

>173 jillmwo:
Hear! Hear!

Eilen, 6:07 pm

>171 haydninvienna: & >169 MrsLee:
To add additional complexity, the school system in Northern Ireland (NI) is different from the English and the Scottish systems. There are no “Public*” schools like those in England. It has Secondary Schools and Grammar Schools. Basically, if your child obtains the required examination results in the state exams they do at age 11, they get to attend a grammar school. Otherwise they go to a secondary. Well, that’s how it was in my day. I know things have changed a bit, but I still hear people talking about Eleven-Plus exams.

The point being, it is the grammar schools that would be teaching Latin and Greek.

*As >171 haydninvienna: pointed out “Public” in England means “Private” unless you can afford the massive fees required to send your child to one of these elitist establishments.