Avaland and Dukedom in 2023, Part 2

Tämä viestiketju jatkaa tätä viestiketjua: Avaland and Dukedom in 2023, part I.

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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Avaland and Dukedom in 2023, Part 2

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 22, 4:13 pm


LOIS'S current reading

Sky Above Kharkiv: Dispatches from the Ukrainian Front by Serhiy Zhadan, 2022
So Far So Good Final Poems 2014-2018 by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Carrying Poems by Ada Limon , 2018
The Bloody Chamber and Others Stories by Angela Carter (reread)

MICHAEL'S Current Reading :

The Undertow: Scenes From a Slow War by Jeff Sharlet (Nonfiction, 2023)

Ongoing reading:
Novelties & Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction by John Crowley (2004)
Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor by Peter Watts (Revenge Fantasies and Essays)
Failed State by Christopher Brown

Muokkaaja: elokuu 29, 7:06 am

Lois's Third Quarter Reading

The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (Australia, 2002) REREAD!
Cardiff, by the Sea: Four Novellas by Joyce Carol Oates (fiction, 2020)
AfterLives by Abdulrazak Gurnah (partial re-read)
Walk the Blue Fields: Stories by Claire Keegan
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Irish, 2021)
Foster by Claire Keegan (Irish, 2022)

Partial read: Writing from Ukraine: Fiction, Poetry since 1965 edited by Mark Andryczyk (2017)
Worn: A People's History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser (2022)


Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 3, 6:07 am

Lois's Second Quarter Reading:

The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart (novel, Canadian)
The Forester's Daughter by Claire Keegan (Faber Stories, Irish)
Antarctica by Claire Keegan (1999; short fiction)
Dark Paradise (stories) by Rosa Liksom (1989, trans from the Finnish, 2007)
Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart (novel, Canadian, 2013)

The Arctic Diaries by Melissa Davies (poetry, 2023)
Best Canadian Poetry, 2023
Content Warning: Everything Poems by Akwaeke Emezi
Tender the River: Poems by Matt W. Miller (US, New England, 2021)

Lois's First Quarter Reading:

Tangible Things: Making History through Objects by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich et al. (nonfiction, 2015)
Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life by Pamela Erens (2022, Literary commentary)
The Psychology of of Stupidity Explained by Some of the World's Smartest People by Jean-Francois Marmion (trans. French, 2022)

The Selected Works of Audre Lorde (US, 2020. literary studies)
Best of Australian Poems 2022 Guest eds. Jeanine Leane & Judith Beveridge
No Place Like Home: Poems Everyman's Library (poetry, 2022)
The Forward Book of Poetry 2023, (UK, 2023)

Cancion by Eduardo Halfon (2022)
Journeys by Ian R. MacLeod (UK, fantasy, short fiction 2010)
An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl (Denmark, 2004)
Pilgrim's Way by Abdulrazak Gurnah (fiction, UK, 1988, reread)
This Other Eden by Paul Harding (fiction, US/Maine, 2023)
A Memory for Murder by Anne Holt (Norwegian, 2021) skimmed the second half....
Salonika Burning by Gail Jones, (Australian, 2022)
Storytellers by Bjorn Larssen (Nordic, 2018)
Dinosaurs A Novel by Lydia Millet (US, 2022)

huhtikuu 22, 6:46 pm

Some good reading Lois.

huhtikuu 23, 8:58 am

Thanks, Caro. I haven't been reading as much as I've been outdoors doing stuff.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 23, 2:49 pm

Best Canadian Poetry 2023

Series editor: Anita Lahey
Guest editor: John Barton

As the title suggests this is an anthology of the "best" of new Canadian poetry published for 2023. After introductory pieces by both editors, this collection offers the reader fifty poems on a multitude subjects, by a wonderfully inclusive list of talented poets. The editors note that much effort was made to have representation of “historically marginalized voices”. At the end of the poetry, there are the contributors’ short bios, and commentary.

I very much enjoyed this collection, I might say, a bit better than some of the other anthologies I’ve read recently, but if you ask me tomorrow or next week I might have a different answer. The editors’ introduction pieces were interesting, but I suggest reading the poetry first and going back to those pieces on your second run through the book. The commentary from the poets, which came after their bios in the back of the book, were a terrific addition.

And, of course, so many good poems. Here is one, relatively short, poem I really liked (and yes, I have tinnitus)

Colin Morton

I read John Cage and, in a silent room,
listened to the low thrum of blood in my veins,
the hiss of nerves in my head.
Proprioception I called it, after Olson.

For years I believed what I heard
was the microbiome of my inner ear—
cells living out their lives in there–
and I wondered about this thing called me.

How much of me is a population
of microbes doing I don’t know what
to or for me, living and dying
as I say these words.

Now I accent the first syllable,
call it tinnitus, as if that’s an explanation.
I told the doctor, I guess there’s little I can do.
You can complain, he said.

First published in PRISM international

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 23, 7:30 pm

Dark Paradise by Rosa Liksom
c. 1989, translation 2006, this edition 2007

I have read two Liksom novels in translation* and enjoyed both very much, but this slim book, which I picked up way back in 2010, kept being passed over for no good reason…until now.

This 1989 book is a collection of very short fiction, which might be called ‘flash fiction” these days. It’s 117 pages of short pieces varying in length from a half page to perhaps six pages (and the pages have fairly liberal margins top and bottom). But, those stories!

Liksom is a master of dark humor. Many of her first lines seem so subtle, so ordinary, to the reader, one hardly expects to be caught by it, but so we are. A few examples of first lines:

"I got out of the handcuffs on Friday morning",
"The sun was shining behind the factory"
"Every day I eat at least two bars of Marabou Chocolate"
"While the ‘soldiers at the military were putting on their leather suits and flying boots…"

So, yes, I was hooked.

I note that user "bluepiano" has an excellent 2016 review of this book on the book’s page

*Compartment No. 6: and The Colonel's Wife

huhtikuu 29, 1:03 pm

Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout

As a newly-minted, 20 year old jazz fan, I didn't give much thought to Louis Armstrong. Knew him then as the smiling singer of popular tunes, not much like the Coltrane/Davis/Sanders groups I was discovering. But then there was that famous four-word summary of the history of jazz from Miles Davis: "Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker." I understood about Parker, but why Armstrong? He had disparaged Parker and the other beboppers, younger musicians who played edgier music and didn't care about pleasing their white listeners. I later discovered Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens from the 1920s; OK, he'd been one of the inventors of jazz. Over the years, I heard more Armstrong recordings, and gained new appreciation for ones I already knew.

Armstrong (1901-1971) was born in deep poverty, deprived of even knowing his birth date, which was about a year later than the July 4, 1900 he claimed. He supported himself with his music from age 17, spending most of his life on the road. Beyond helping to invent jazz, he gave us some of the most sublime versions of Great American Songbook tunes - "Blueberry Hill", "Mack the Knife", "What a Wonderful World" - singing in his gravelly voice, proving that art needn't be pretty to be beautiful.

Teachout looks to reclaim the long middle part of Armstrong's career, normally associated with mediocre backup bands, especially in the 1930s. He notes some fine work in the period, but I'm not sure he makes the case. Armstrong had to live with the presence of gangsters in the music business, and seems to have accepted the protection of one in particular, his longtime manager Joe Glaser, at the cost of half of his earnings. Maybe Armstrong thought such a disadvantageous deal was his best prospect, as a Black man in America, for getting on with his music and a secure living.

As usual in a biography, I discovered endless facts I hadn't known. Armstrong was self-taught on the cornet and trumpet, and his technique caused steady harm to his embouchure. He had the first star billing for a Black performer in a Hollywood movie, and at one point in 1941 was associated with an Orson Welles project to make a movie about jazz. He and Bing Crosby were friends. The book includes 54 pages of notes with lots of bits like these. Teachout drew on much previously unavailable material for this book, including many hours of candid recordings Armstrong made of himself.

Besides wanting to know more about Armstrong, I read this book for insight into the late Terry Teachout (1956-2022). I followed Teachout's twitter account for several years, and found him an interesting and humane writer on the arts. But he was a political conservative, working for National Review and organizing "The Vile Body, a social club of right-wing intellectuals from the fields of publishing and journalism in New York City." Considering the general barbarity of right wing discourse in the US today, I wondered how Teachout could exist as an exception. I still don't understand it, except that we all compartmentalize.

There's a conservative aspect of his subject that must have appealed. Armstrong was abandoned by his father at birth, and later wrote of his contempt for those of his race who shirked their responsibilities. Still, Teachout does not downplay Armstrong's own recognition of racism: "Why, do you know I played ninety-nine million hotels I couldn't stay at? And if I had friends blowing at some all-white nightclub or hotel I couldn't get in to see 'em - or them to see me."

This is from one of the finest musicians America has produced. Armstrong's life is as inspiring a testament to overcoming odds as we could ask for.

Four and a half stars

huhtikuu 29, 6:19 pm

Enjoyed your review of the Louis Armstrong biography. I have not read any biographies of Louis Armstrong, but I love his music, especially the early stuff.

Armstrong's life is as inspiring a testament to overcoming odds as we could ask for. This is the right wing stance that smacks of self help, which might put off some readers.

huhtikuu 29, 11:29 pm

>9 dukedom_enough:

I met Teachout a few times in 2000-2001 (he was a good friend of someone I dated at the time--or at least he made her feel she was a good friend. Whenever we met it was on her arrangement.) Whatever bad and ugly that you could point out to him on the conservative side was no match for the crimes and hypocrisy of the left, as he saw it. (On his spectrum Hitler wasn't a right-winger but somehow an "extreme" result of leftism, which is basically equivalent to the Trumpian claim that antifascists are the "real" fascists.) Abortion was a big stumbling block to his ever making a rapprochement to the other side, far greater a problem than any unease he might have felt about the discourse of the Tea Party.

To generalize from the handful of such conservatives that I have met, they all had this in common: a cherished experience of all-white smalltown America, which is then idealized for the entire life, a reverence for the Western Canon in its all-white-male form, a deep conviction (perhaps deep enough to be correctly described as unconscious) in the superiority of Western thought, a love of discipline and hierarchy. They were also all religious, although some were reluctant to admit a great zeal. Not Teachout, though, who said once he was Christian before anything else.

I've wondered exactly the same the same in relation to that woman I was dating. We bonded over love for Shakespeare--but aside from that, she was a self-described libertarian who voted Republican (her family was prominent in the party for several generations), whereas I'm, to cut things short, a communist. She couldn't understand how I could be a communist and love Shakespeare. I couldn't understand how she could love Shakespeare and be a conservative. I suspect this reflects a more basic difference between the US and Europe even more than it relates to different ways we had of reading--"high culture" has been made inaccessible to the not-haves in the US even more than it is in Europe and thus a more sure marker of class (ironically enough) in the US than anywhere else.

Speaking of Armstrong, I've linked this somewhere before but it's worth repeating:

Not a wonderful world: Louis Armstrong tapes reveal how racism scarred his life and career

It's a problem of generational difference, same problem that actors like Mantan Moreland and Butterfly McQueen faced. On the one hand it's true that "for some reason" their movies get a portion of praise from racists (enough to look at YouTube), but at the same time, they worked, survived, and opened doors to others. Without Armstrong, where would Parker and Davis have come from?

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 30, 8:55 am

>11 LolaWalser: "high culture" has been made inaccessible to the not-haves in the US even more than it is in Europe and thus a more sure marker of class (ironically enough) in the US than anywhere else

I was made aware of this as a young adult on the bus of all places. In Europe, especially Eastern Europe, people on the bus would be reading Anna Karenina or Kafka. It seemed incongruous to me to see little old babushkas in their kerchiefs with a grocery cart reading the "classics." When I returned to the US, it was glaringly obvious that hardly anyone was reading and those that were it was usually newspapers and magazines (this is pre-smartphones).

P.S. Thanks for the link about Armstrong too. Have you seen the documentary they were making? How is it?

huhtikuu 30, 5:31 pm

>10 baswood:

This may be why the project appealed to Teachout. The bits playing up Armstrong's conservative facet are only a small part of the entire narrative, though.

huhtikuu 30, 5:31 pm

>11 LolaWalser:

How interesting to have known Teachout. Hitler as a leftist is pretty crackpot. As for his growing up in a small-town, white world, I lived my teens in a somewhat similar world; anyone who cared about books and culture in that kind of place risked getting beaten up or ostracized. You'd think that would reduce one's idealization of the experience. The American right wing used to have a niche for the Teachouts, to exemplify the Western Civ they claimed to be guarding. Maybe fitting that niche reduced the sting of youthful maltreatment? In its current form, that niche seems to be growing smaller. I wonder if Teachout noticed that. I'm thinking this shows the importance of life experience on who we are; raised in a milieu, hard to escape it.

Thanks for the article link. The Armstrong tapes were among Teachout's sources, and so not as new as the Guardian implies.

huhtikuu 30, 5:32 pm

>12 labfs39:

The documentary is currently on Apple TV here in the US, I see.

huhtikuu 30, 9:04 pm

>12 labfs39:

I don't think I've seen that docu. Regarding reading classics and similar, I used the term "inaccessible" which may be misleading--I'm guessing it's more about some general cultural attitude that gets (or doesn't get, as the case may be) inculcated in school, a question of education, of what is considered worthy etc. and not a physical lack (if anything, books are far more affordable and easy to procure in the US than anywhere in Europe). Shakespeare becomes "inaccessible" not for the lack of editions but the lack of education that places value on Shakespeare. One can have a peasant society with universal valuation of "high culture" (see ancient Greece).

Europe can (or could) also be seen as simply lagging behind the US on this trend. However, it's true that economic inequalities are much sharper in the US and this is also increasingly visible in who gets what kind of education.

>14 dukedom_enough:

The Norman Rockwell nostalgia may be easier to nurture once you leave the small town and find yourself surrounded by the big city godless who seem to diss everything your grandparents held dear... I really can't figure it out, I just assume there are some complicated psychological reasons behind it all--in the end I too could never reconcile humanities and conservatism. But maybe it's some extinct kind of conservatism. And there are perplexing people on the left too--Nat Hentoff, for instance, almost a perfect Teachout counterpart, was also vehemently anti-abortion. Frankly it bothered me more in him; the other one at least wasn't supposedly on "my side".

huhtikuu 30, 10:49 pm

>16 LolaWalser: I think of it more as anti-intellectualism in the US, as Michael says, "anyone who cared about books and culture in that kind of place risked getting beaten up or ostracized."

toukokuu 1, 2:15 pm

>17 labfs39:

Agreed--anti-intellectualism exists everywhere but the US seems unique in promoting that as a kind of virtue, or in the success that view has had.

toukokuu 2, 8:59 am

>18 LolaWalser: Especially dismaying given that whole dream of the 1950s in which much of American culture would be in reach of the average joe. Obviously unrealistic in hindsight—that would be the average white, working- or middle-class English-speaking joe—but it was a decent ideal that tanked hard in this century.

toukokuu 2, 2:22 pm

One of my favorite telling details about the shift in American culture involves the old game show What's My Line?. There might be a few here too young to remember it, but it involved a panel of four celebrity wits attempting to guess the profession of mystery guests by asking yes/no questions. In 1962, William Schuman was one of the show's mystery guests; he was an American classical composer and the president of Lincoln Center. The panel was blindfolded -- not the usual procedure -- before Schuman made his entrance; the assumption was that they'd all just recognize him if they saw his face. Sixty years later, is there a classical composer whose presence would require the panel to be blindfolded on today's version of the show?

toukokuu 2, 3:50 pm

>20 KeithChaffee: did they guess correctly?

toukokuu 2, 4:32 pm

>21 dianeham: Yes, they did.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 2, 6:19 pm

>9 dukedom_enough: "But then there was that famous four-word summary of the history of jazz from Miles Davis: "Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker."

Louis Armstrong's musical contributions to American (and world) music cannot be overestimated. Tone, phrasing, use of time, technical prowess and inventiveness: it's all off the charts where Louis is concerned. Another Miles quote about Armstrong was, "You can't play anything on a horn that Louis hasn't played— I mean even modern."

Listen to Armstrong's duet work with Ella Fitzgerald sometime. Their recording of the music of Porgy and Bess is on my desert island list. Armstrong's singing on "I've Got Plenty of Nothin'" is among the swingingest male vocal work I can think of. That's the thing about Armstrong. He was highly influential both as a trumpeter and as a vocalist. Wynton Marsalis has written and spoken at length about this.* Or, as Tony Bennett put it, "The bottom line of any country in the world is 'What did we contribute to the world?' We contributed Louis Armstrong."

As a non-musician, it's hard for me to really hear how revolutionary his playing was back in the 20s and 30s. I know it sounds great, and I just have to take the word of musicians who know what to listen for regarding how ground-breaking that work was. But when you listen to his bands of the 50s and 60s, you can hear both how hard those bands swing and how shining Armstrong's solos are.

One of the things I can't wait to do when my wife and I move to New York for a year in June is visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens:

* Here's a decent enough article from the Smithsonian Magazine regarding Marsalis' appreciation of Armstrong:

toukokuu 2, 7:39 pm

>19 lisapeet: et al.

With apologies to Michael for going on, but I just came across Rachel Cusk's article on Annie Ernaux, and, in the spirit of "no, we're not crazy, other people noticed it"...

(...) It was pleasant, I had often been told, for a writer to live somewhere where reading and writing were accorded the highest respect, and it was true that — in Paris at least — these were semipublic activities: In every park and cafe, on the Metro and on the benches along the Seine, people were openly engaged in what for me had always been the most private and solitary of occupations. Bookstores still held their ground here among the shopfronts, and the deification of French writers living and dead was evinced everywhere in street names and statues and advertising hoardings for new novels. I listened on the radio to an astronaut reading passages aloud from Marguerite Duras from his space station to his earthbound audience below. (...)

During my initial months in Paris, when it seemed for the first time in my life that lying on a sofa reading a book was something I was not only permitted but encouraged to do (...)

It's that underlined part that's the difference.

(Not sure the link will work, but it's here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/02/magazine/annie-ernaux-delphine-de-vigan.html )

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 8, 5:29 pm

Earlier this year, I took a trip though my almost 17 years of books added to my LT library, curious about any highly-rated authors (of fiction, in this case) that may have fallen away as I discovered more and more new-to-me authors. Did I let these authors go because they were a 'lesser' author? Or Was I no longer interested in what they wrote about? Did I outgrow their works? Or did they just fall off my radar?

I actually went back and browsed my book entries beginning in Oct. 2006 (when I joined), page by page. I noted I had added to my LT library six books by Canadian author Jane Urquhart read during the era I was still a bookseller. Six books!…what has she written since?

Turns out, she has written nine works of fiction to date. I immediately chased down the two I had not read. Below is a short review of one of them, and I am currently reading the other.

Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart (2010, Canadian)

Liz Crane, a scientist, returns to her family’s farm and apple orchard on Lake Erie, Ontario to study the migration patterns of the monarch butterfly. The property has been deserted for years. In her solitude, she revisits family history, from the death of her cousin in Afghanistan, and the much earlier disappearance of that cousin’s father. She is haunted by old love affairs, a family secret, and tragic events.

This is an intimate family story, with a strong sense of both place and the connection of the people to the land. It is a wonderfully-rendered story, written with great empathy, and a reader has to give the time… to fall into it.

toukokuu 8, 9:34 pm

>25 avaland: How nice to fall in love with an old favorite author once again.

toukokuu 9, 7:09 am

>26 labfs39: Funny, though, I have only a vague memory of the earlier reads, but, six books....

toukokuu 9, 12:40 pm

>25 avaland: - I thought the author sounded familiar and, sure enough, I read The Stone Carvers 10 years ago. Even the description brought nothing to mind.

toukokuu 13, 6:38 pm

>28 dudes22: Thanks for stopping by, Betty. My reading is rather intermittent currently. Have several non-book projects I'm trying work on (like cleaning out the garage; getting the gardens up to stuff...)

toukokuu 13, 7:33 pm

>16 LolaWalser: Misogyny? Inability to think of women whom you don't know as people?

>20 KeithChaffee: Is there a composer people would know today even if given the name?

>23 rocketjk: The Armstrong/Fitzgerald Porgy and Bess was familiar to me before I picked up the book; great recording. Good to see Marsalis appreciating Armstrong.

>24 LolaWalser: I was fortunate to have parents who read at least somewhat themselves, and no one in my life who tried to get me to stop.

toukokuu 13, 7:48 pm

>30 dukedom_enough: They wouldn't recognize the face, probably, but most people would probably know who John Williams was, and there might be one or two other film composers in that category (Hans Zimmer, perhaps?). Among a certain demographic, some video game composers are fairly well known. And I suppose a fair number would know of Lin-Manuel Miranda or (shudder) Andrew Lloyd Webber. But composers known primarily for their concert music? Hard to think of any. Maybe Phillip Glass?

toukokuu 18, 4:15 pm

>9 dukedom_enough: Adding to my list Michael.

>25 avaland: I read this some while ago, gave it 4*s (no review) but have no recognition of it at all Lois. Not uncommon. It will probably come back to me or seem familiar if I reread.

toukokuu 20, 5:59 am

>32 Caroline_McElwee: I have that 'no recall' thing often while looking through my back reviews.

The garden work and some household organization is getting in the way of writing some sort of reviews (the longer it goes, the harder it's going to be)

toukokuu 20, 4:19 pm

>33 avaland: Well, this is the time of the year where needing to do work in the garden and wanting to be outside in the garden happily coincide! As for household organization, I love having everything organized and clean, but I dislike the activities required to make things so.

toukokuu 20, 8:43 pm

>34 RidgewayGirl: So true on both accounts! Thanks for stopping in. I think I'm going to have to catch-up by doing some short reviews (perhaps better called 'comments'. I no longer finish books that aren't doing anything for me, so ....

toukokuu 21, 9:09 am

A series of injuries/ailments has hindered my gardening, but I'm slowly making progress. My daughter gave me a 6' long gardening box on legs that I'm eager to plant with some veggies. Cut down a little tree that was too close to the foundation and pulled up a juniper in preparation for redoing the beds in front of the house. Rock garden is looking good, but the side garden still has leaves on half of it. Mowed the lawn for the first time yesterday.

toukokuu 22, 4:53 am

>36 labfs39: Oh, very nice (the box). That gardening stuff tends to interfere with reading....

toukokuu 25, 9:18 am

>32 Caroline_McElwee: My favorite jazz-star biography (that I've read) is still Kansas City Lightning by Stanley Crouch, about Charley Parker. Unfortunately Crouch died before he could publish the second volume.

toukokuu 30, 10:08 am

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds

I ought to be a big Alastair Reynolds fan. PHe has physics and astronomy training, writes a lot of space opera, with nanotech, ancient civilizations, and kilometers-long relativistic spacecraft crossing between stars; just my thing.

This volume collects two novellas set in his Revelation Space series. In "Diamond Dogs" the protagonist is tempted by an old friend/rival to meet the challenge of a fantastic structure on a distant planet. Progress through the serially arranged rooms of the Blood Spire is achieved by solving increasing tough mathematical problems. Choosing the right solution opens the door to the next room. The wrong solution draws attack from hidden weapons. The expedition members must repeatedly retreat to their spacecraft to replace missing body parts with prosthetics, before they can go back in. As the explorers' bodies become increasingly artificial, the protagonist wonders just why he is doing this.

In the second story, the planet Turquoise is mostly covered by an ocean which hosts a complex ecology of organisms humans call Pattern Jugglers. Swimming among them allows telepathic contact. The human settlers comprise a scientific backwater, engaged in a slow paced research project into the Jugglers, until a spacecraft arrives with sweeping plans for change.

As with other Reynolds stories, I find these lacking. He is as inventive in this genre as one might want, but the vividness of his descriptions disappoints. It's had to pin down, exactly, but I've yet to be enthusiastic about any of his work.

Two and a half stars

toukokuu 30, 10:37 pm

>25 avaland: Interesting that you've dug out some old Jane Urquhart novels. I too read a lot of hers back around that same time. I've read 6, and I'd like to pick her up again one day. I own two more, one I think is short stories.

kesäkuu 5, 2:56 pm

>40 Nickelini: The last one read seemed a bit long....I think her work is better when a bit shorter 350 pages or less.

We have been much distracted by other things. Besides the gardens and setting up to the year's charity quilts, we had the 8 yo grandson for the weekend. We took him to Portsmouth to the old Albacore submarine, which he really liked.

Got home and at dusk onef our NH bears paid a visit The neighbor texted that a bear was headed our way and sure enough it was in the back yard. After a tour of the property and the perimeter of the house he headed elsewhere

(We assume this same bear had come through late the day before and took down all my bird feeders (we usually take these down late afternoon but it was raining and we were tired from the trip so left them up. Lesson learned as the critter took all the feeders down for me and not gently).


We'll catch up as soon as possible!

kesäkuu 6, 7:35 am

I started feeding the birds again just recently. I was into it in WA, but hadn't set up feeders in Maine because of the bears. Not that we didn't have bears in Woodinville, but we had a tall wooden fence that deterred all but the most determined. Here we are wide open.

Sounds like a fun outing with your grandson. He is getting so big!

kesäkuu 7, 6:37 am

>42 labfs39: I think we get them because we might be the only house that doesn't have a dog. Yesterday a rangy doe wandered into the backyard to eat from the 'freedom lawn'... between that and the pair of pileated woodpeckers and their jungle cries it seems and sounds like an episode of" Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" LOL

kesäkuu 7, 11:18 am

>41 avaland:

Omg that is serious wildlife!

Cute grandson.

kesäkuu 7, 7:04 pm

I can't believe how big your grandson has gotten. Seems like just last week I sent him that reading pillow.

And - Yikes! That bear!

kesäkuu 8, 3:46 pm

>44 LolaWalser: I agree on both!

>45 dudes22: I know, time is flying!

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 19, 8:39 am

Bookstores we visited in the area of Northampton, Massachusetts (mid-state, where Smith College is)

BOOKLINK This bookstore was downtown, part of a large indoor 'marketplace'; remember those late 19th century buildings? this is one of them. Here us the history: https://www.visitingnewengland.com/thornes-northampton.htm The bookstore was a bit congested but was a good size. They sold new books and has some sale books.

After finishing there the five of us went out and around the corner to to visit RAVEN USED BOOKS . https://www.ravenusedbooks.com/

After this shop someone mentioned lunch and we all were happy to sit down at a nearby tavern/brew pub. Decent meal, GREAT company. it was then suggested we go next to BOOKENDS, a store of used books about three miles north, in a part of Northampton called Florence. Note: No bathroom here. It was a short visit before we decided, at different times to head south to find BOOK MOON in Easthampton.

We found BOOK MOON BOOKS ( https://www.bookmoonbooks.com/) on a busy side street. What a fab bookstore! This store was established by authors Kelly Link and Gavin Grant who run Small Beer Press. Their published books were there, of course, but also an eclectic selection of new books: general poetry, poetry, social issues, history...etc. It really was a wonderful little bookshop.

Books were bought BUT as we are all over the age of 50 and have homes full of books*, we did not buy recklessly but a good time was had by all.

*Lisa's house still might have room :-)

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 19, 9:27 am

Books we bought

Lost Places: Stories by Sarah Pinsker (new)
The Undertow: Scenes From a Slow Civil War by Jeff Sharlet (new)

Season of the Rainbirds by Nadeem Aslam (used)
Wondrous Journeys in Strange Land by Sonia Nimer (new)
All the Women Inside M9newe by Jana Elhassan (new)
Foster by Claire Keegan (new)

Shared: White Cat, Black Dog: Stories by Kelly Link (new)

kesäkuu 19, 8:54 am

>47 avaland: I used to go to Harvard Square for bookstore runs. There were so many there. Last I saw, it was down to just Harvard Bookstore, which isn't even in the square proper. Northampton/Easthampton recreate a little of that experience. Except that I'm no longer in my 20s/30s.

kesäkuu 20, 3:57 pm

It was a fantastic trip. Thanks for letting me tag along. My favorite bookstore was Raven, because as soon as I walked in I saw an entire table of NYRB and Archipelago Press books. Just my cuppa!

kesäkuu 20, 4:04 pm

You got me with The Arctic Diaries Lois.

kesäkuu 20, 4:09 pm

>47 avaland: Sounds like a great trip, but great restraint shown here!

There is a great used book store in Burlington VT. Are they connected?

kesäkuu 21, 6:34 pm

>48 avaland: Great, yet suitably restrained haul of books!

kesäkuu 29, 4:07 pm

I am horribly behind with my reviews and I'd just jump to the most currently finished book except all the others deserve a bit of attention....

You might remember I went back in my EARLY years on LT to look for authors I enjoyed but who got lost in the constant wave of new or new-to-me authors. I've already reviewed Jane Urquhart's Sanctuary Line but I also very enjoyed her The Night Stages, great storyl lovey landscapes, although I thought the book a bit long. The publisher's description is thus:

After a tragic accident leaves Tamara alone on the most westerly tip of Ireland, she begins an affair with a charismatic meteorologist named Niall. It's the 1950s, and Tamara has settled into civilian life after working as an auxiliary pilot in World War II. At first her romance is filled with passionate secrecy, but when Niall's younger brother, Kieran, disappears after a bicycle race, Niall, unable to shake the idea that he may be to blame, slowly falls into despondency. Distraught and abandoned after their decade-long relationship, Tamara decides she has no option but to leave.

Jane Urquhart's mesmerizing novel opens as Tamara makes her way from Ireland to New York. During a layover in Gander, Newfoundland, a fog moves in, grounding her plane and stranding her in front of the airport's mural. As she gazes at the nutcracker-like children, missile-shaped birds, and fruit blossoms, she revisits the circumstances that brought her to Ireland and the family entanglement that has forced her into exile. Slowly she interweaves her life story with Kieran's as she searches for the truth about Niall.

(A bit of a cheat, but it's the only way I'm going to catch up :-)

kesäkuu 29, 4:36 pm

>54 avaland: I have one book by this author sitting on my tbr shelf, The Underpainter. I'm going to have to get to it soon.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 1:14 pm

>55 RidgewayGirl: Oh, I read that one when I was still at the bookstore, before LT. Very good. One has to wonder if a now 26 year old book reads the same....

heinäkuu 2, 9:56 am

The Best of Michael Swanwick by Michael Swanwick

The stories in this volume have picked up numerous awards and award nominations, befitting one of the best SFF writers of his generation. I had read most of them previously; on re-reading, motifs become apparent. Psychological experiments on the Moon? "Trojan Horse" and "Griffin's Egg". The ambiguous, dreadful results of optimizing human intellect? "Griffin's Egg" again, and "Wild Minds". "The Dead" and "Radiant Doors" are the most obvious examples of Swanwick's fondness for grim, meathook futures. Looking for stories about cryptic alien intelligences on moons of the outer planets, showing up during a life-threatening emergency? See "Slow Life" and "The Very Pulse of the Machine".

The stories start at quite good and get better from there. One of my favorites is "Legions in Time", involving time travel, evil supermen, and a plucky heroine. It's an homage to A. E. van Vogt and, in the grand van Vogt tradition, it's fast-moving, tremendous fun while making no sense at all.

There are fantasy stories too. In "The Changeling", an old man tells how he left his village to join the warrior elves, and what that cost him. "The Edge of the World" is located somewhere in the Middle East; one can stand at the edge and look down into endless sky. But mainly we have science fiction here.

In "Griffin's Egg", the small population of Lunar settlers watch nuclear war unfold on Earth. They will have to survive without Earthly supplies, and baseline human personalities won't be sufficient.

"The Dead" imagines that the recently dead can be revived. They are perfectly obedient servants, excellent workers, and beautiful besides. What will become of the living people they replace? Maybe Swanwick's overarching theme is survival - of the body, in emergencies, or of the spirit, in the face of the plans that the powerful have for us all, or that we have for our own upgrades.

If I have a reservation, it's that most of these stories lose some impact with a second reading. The brutal ending of "Radiant Doors" is not a surprise the second time, and provides a different experience.

One story that did hold up for me is "The Edge of the World". In the 1960s, the Twilight Emirates where the Edge lies are an American protectorate. If you're a bored teen, brought there by your US-official parents, the idea of skipping school to climb down the precarious cliff face at the Edge is irresistible. Swanwick gives us a perfect mix of teen angst and weird menace.

There's also "The Dog Said Bow-Wow", the author's most popular story, featuring two rogues, one of whom is a bio-engineered, bipedal dog, looking for the main chance in a future London. Swanwick is most inventive. If you're interested, better start now, because The Best of Michael Swanwick, Volume 2 should be published this month.

Four and a half stars

heinäkuu 6, 9:58 am

>57 dukedom_enough: I'm not looking ....

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 6, 2:53 pm

Darwinia: A Novel of a Very Different Twentieth Century by Robert Charles Wilson

This novel starts out with an uncanny event that transforms the world. One night in 1912, a giant circular patch of the Earth, roughly Europe and a bit of North Africa, goes silent. Arriving ships find that all the people and every trace of their works have vanished. The general topography of the land is the same, but its flora and fauna are nothing that have ever been seen in the planet's history - yet nonetheless betray an evolutionary history just as long as the one we know.

The history of the world proceeds differently. No 1914-1918 Great War, slower technological progress, the US the sole world superpower, and a revival of creationist explanations of the origin of Earth and life follow the apparent miracle. In 1920, Guilford Law and his wife and child travel to England, which is being resettled by the remains of the British Empire. He will join an American scientific expedition into the interior of the land now called Darwinia. But Guilford is haunted by dreams of another life, one that ended in a war that his history and his memory say never occurred. Other men around the world are likewise haunted, by dreams or, for certain men without conscience, by terrible phantoms they think of as gods - evil gods with real-world powers.

Wilson loves setting ordinary human relationships against a backdrop of cosmic scale, and Darwinia eventually becomes cosmic indeed - this 1998 release is a very 1990s SF novel. Not Wilson's best, but quite satisfying.

Four stars

heinäkuu 7, 3:18 pm

Tender the River: Poems by Matt W. Miller 2021, Poetry

This book of poetry takes as its inspiration the Merrimack River which is an 117 mile long river which begins in Manchester, New Hampshire and ends in northeast Massachusetts.


The Merrimack River has a long history and has provided much to the people who have lived here for hundreds of years. Native Americans were known to camp on it’s shores and soon it became a star of sorts in the Industrial Revolution, first with water power, then steam…

Matt Miller grew up in the shadow of the river in Lowell, MA. He infuses in his poetry all aspects of the river itself and the world around it. There is even a poem about the filming of the 2010 movie “The Fighter” (Mark Wahlberg & Christian Bale). And while I read through the volume several times I often failed to connect with the poet’s writing. Which is not to say I didn’t like his work, I often did— on some level.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 4:30 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 4:28 pm

The Arctic Diaries by Melissa Davies (poetry, 2023)

In 2018 this author went to Fleinvaer in Norway, which is an archipelago off the Arctic coast consisting of 365 islands. She lived there, with the few adult residents from November - April (there were no young people)’

This is a wonderful little book, well-put together beginning with a short intro to the area of Fleinvaer and a guide to the Norse words used. She has separated the thirty-eight poems into three sections’Her poems are sometimes spare, which seemed appropriate…but the collection has many other pieces that are longer.

I’ve read through this small volume several times now and each time I pick it up I find something new in it’s pages. Here is a very short poem from the collection….


So black against the snow
I can taste the summer tang.
tiny bubbles
with the new shape
of my tongue.

Saliva rushes
to meet the salt
of their language

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 10, 7:27 am

Antarctica (Collection}, by Claire Keegan 1999

Walk the Blue Fields (Collection) by Claire Keegan (2007/UK)

The Forester’s Daughter by Claire Keegan (2007, novella published recently in this small independent booklet, 2019, but also included in the collection Walk the Blue Fields

Foster (novella, 2010) by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (2021) short novel

I was way back in my LT library some time ago looking at authors I had once enjoyed years back, but what with the overwhelming choices in books, many of these authors, after a few books, got lost (or maybe drowned) in the mountain of possibiliities. But while doing this, Claire Keegan's collection Antarctica popped up. Must have been a suggestion, because it wasn't in my library. I love fiction set in colder places,.. so call her first collection a 'gateway' read....

Prize-winning Irish author Claire Keegan is a gifted storyteller. She writes various short fiction from short stories to novellas*, she works with a brew, mixing brevity, emotional depth, a cast of very fallible and relatable humans...all in a way to pull in and bewitch the reader. It's as simple as that. I acquired and read her books in the order written, but it is no means obligatory.

*the latest is being marketed as a "short novel" but it's really another novella.

heinäkuu 10, 6:20 pm

>63 avaland: I think that Claire Keegan has reached the level where every single short story she writes is now published in hardcover to great fanfare. It helps that she writes so slowly.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 12, 2:16 am

>64 RidgewayGirl: I'm good with that, because I really dislike long short stories published in so-called short story collections, and I'm always looking for good novellas and short books.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 11, 4:22 pm

>64 RidgewayGirl: Really? I haven't bothered with chasing hardbacks, but if I had to....

>65 Nickelini: Agree about very long short stories included in a collection.

heinäkuu 12, 3:00 pm

Worn: A People's History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser, 2022, nonfiction.

This is a brilliant and fascinating historical and social study of both cloth, cloth-making and clothing...an the consequences of (a sort of an holistic study) . The author covers so much in just 300 pages, the good and the bad about the clothing industry, and everything between...bringing us up and into the modern era.

I don't think I expected it to be so engrossed in this book. But, don't take just my word for it...https://mitpressbookstore.mit.edu/book/9780525566731

heinäkuu 22, 10:28 am

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah (fiction, 2020) Not really a proper review.

I chased this book when it came out in 2020 ...being a serious Gurnah acolyte. I began to read it, but partially into the story I panicked (?)...what if this is his last book?! I set it aside, half read.

...Until yesterday. As the rain fell and lightning and thunder kept up the drums, I was in Africa with Gurnah. I read Afterlives almost cover to cover (saved the last ten pages or so for this morning). Another wonderful read from a master storyteller, who infuses his stories with great empathy.

My first Gurnah was 2001's By the Sea which was published in the US while I was still working at the bookstore, before LT. I have been chasing his work for 22 years....

heinäkuu 22, 12:58 pm

>68 avaland: - I came across this author while I was researching books for our book club this year (theme - award winners) and managed to snag The Last Gift at a library sale earlier this summer. Sounds like I have some good reading in my future.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 22, 7:00 pm

>69 dudes22: This one is probably not for everyone…more complex, me thinks.Best to read some of the more usual reviews that are posted before deciding😎

heinäkuu 24, 7:34 am

>68 avaland: I too started Afterlives, but set it aside fairly quickly. I thought it was me. Perhaps I need to try again when I can dedicate some extended time to it.

heinäkuu 24, 8:45 am

>71 labfs39: It is somewhat congested, and I was prone to mixing up characters (which might be just me). You might check with Darryl on his experience, as he has read it.

elokuu 18, 5:11 pm

Finishing up JCO's collection of four suspenseful novellas, Cardiff, By the Sea. As with most collections some are better than others, and these were entertaining on varying levels (Having read so much of her work, I might be immunized from her suspense at this point....)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 20, 7:51 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

elokuu 21, 8:44 am

>68 avaland: Real life atmosphere can really make or break a book. What a great way to read this one.

Reminds me that I have a Gurnah to review. Still haven't made it to JCO - in another life maybe?

elokuu 21, 9:03 am

>68 avaland: glad you picked this latest Gurnah back up. I really enjoyed it on audio.

elokuu 21, 9:54 am

>75 SassyLassy: I'm wondering if JCO will be still read after her death....

>76 dchaikin: Glad you enjoyed it.


elokuu 21, 10:12 am

I'm a bit off new books these days..so I've decided to re-read some of my FAVORITE books (in all genres, and all eras).

I have begun with The Idea of Perfection by Australian author Kate Grenville, 1999 (read before LT while I was still at the bookstore). So much fun and yet....


elokuu 21, 12:26 pm

>78 avaland: I love the line from the Kirkus review, a cockeyed romance that will have you cheering for all of these unlikely, wayward lovers.

elokuu 24, 4:21 pm

>79 labfs39: There's more than just that romance ... good medicine all around.

syyskuu 6, 8:13 pm

On vacation lakeside with a pile of books

syyskuu 7, 10:04 am

>73 avaland: I'm a little worried that it might be possible to burn out on JCO! Incidentally, there is a new documentary out about her.


syyskuu 7, 12:50 pm

>81 avaland: sounds lovely. I’m hiding behind my air conditioner. We expect 105° tomorrow. (With my ebook phase, i’m holding all my books in the same tool I’m using to type this - my smart phone)

syyskuu 7, 1:48 pm

>78 avaland: This sounds really nice!

syyskuu 8, 7:50 am

It's been so hot and muggy, the lake sounds perfect. I hope the upcoming storms don't impinge on your plans.

syyskuu 8, 3:31 pm

>78 avaland: This sounds fun! Adding to Mt. TBR.

syyskuu 13, 7:34 pm

syyskuu 13, 7:40 pm

The picture above is Lois's, taken during our lakeside vacation in Maine. Looking westward from the eastern shore of Damariscotta Lake, a distant storm partly blocks the sunset. Later that night another band of the storm gave us a scary lightning show.

syyskuu 13, 10:12 pm


syyskuu 13, 10:19 pm

Really great photo. Was the lake swimmable? I see the deck has stairs leading into the water.

syyskuu 14, 8:11 am

>87 avaland: What a beautiful photo! I hope you both had a relaxing and enjoyable vacation.

syyskuu 14, 4:29 pm

>89 dchaikin: We've never seen this phenomenon before at the lake.

>90 LolaWalser: Yes, swimmable - Lois is the swimmer, not me (I went in once).

>91 labfs39: It was fun, if rainier and hotter than we looked for.

syyskuu 14, 7:07 pm

It's been a weird summer, weather wise.

syyskuu 15, 7:02 pm

>93 labfs39: indeed!

syyskuu 21, 10:14 am

>88 dukedom_enough: >92 dukedom_enough: Looks lovely! Rainier and hotter was a good motto for the summer in Georgia too.