Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Little Ray of Sunshine

I've been reading up a storm, and mostly away from home ... so blogging has been difficult. Someone recommended A Little Ray of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich, which they called a smart, funny chick-litty type of book. I haven't checked it out yet. Chick Lit usually lets me down, but I've been told this one won't.

I've been reading a huge mix of things and am enjoying re-reading The Wind in the Willows which is marvelous.

Reading labels. This one was interesting, but American Absinthe? Really?

Interesting article on cruelty. It reminds me of a short story I read where this kind nurse (who imagines she has monumental healing and mystical powers) often feels depleted after being so wonderful, and to regain some energy (or her edge) does little cruel things to people that she usually fawns over. It gave her a little kick, like a sip of champagne to cause a little pain. I wish I could find the short story anthology it was in. It was a weird story, and twisted.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stuff and Nonsense

A Jamaican deli near my home has added this chair. I'm tempted to sit and read there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Current Reading

I'll be hiking a lot more this spring and summer since I joined a couple of outdoorsy groups. This is part of my reading material. I doubt if a bear would actually eat me--a bear would probably just eat my arm and maybe part of my face. Still, I wouldn't care for that.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Diagrams and Charts

I drew this diagram to help me understand why I don't read much in these three areas anymore. The central red area (area #1.) represents an author G.K. Chesterton, new to me, but his writing got me thinking... In the past I wouldn't have included mystery in my diagram, and I would have had a simple venn diagram of sci fi and fantasy. Not all fantasy includes sci fi though.

G.K. Chesterton’s the Man Who Was Thursday( a Nightmare) is a wild mystery story filled with strange yet entertaining twists. The story begins in the Saffron Park neighborhood of London. The hero of the story, Gabriel Syme rebells against the status quo and refuses to be zany. He speaks out as a normal person. Being a regular guy, the crazy world he lives in seems even more surreal. As I read the book, the thought popped into my head -- Vonnegut must have liked Chesterton -- then my mind wandered to Douglas Adams, Tolkien ... so I began assembling a list of other authors that might appeal to Chesterton fans. I had put Orwell down, but later did a little online research and discovered that while Orwell read everything that Chesterton wrote, he had declared that G.K. was the worst sort of anti-semite. (Orwell defended his friend P.G. Wodehouse when Wodehouse was accused of playing footsie with Nazis.)

More research showed other people creating what looked like sky maps of authors. One author in the center of the reading universe with others hanging in the blue space around him.

My primitive chart was going OK until I decided 1. to add Poppy Z. Brite (which lead somehow to adding Kafka ) and 2. I didn't know enough mystery authors to make the chart work. I started this chart awhile back and now I can't figure out how it works. Should have made notes.

My charts lead me to other subcategories. I'm reading a good Forensic Mystery by Kathy Reichs now. The chart could grow and grow... subcategories abound. I researched Vonnegut, who seemed to say no other author had influenced him, but great socialist leaders did. That didn't sound right to me, since Kurt was a great reader of fiction as a child and young adult, so... how can you not be influenced by the creativity in stories you devour? Maybe he was misquoted.

I was in line once at a post office near Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in NYC, reading a paperback-- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I heard people whispering behind me somewhere. It was a long inefficient line, so typical. I thought I heard a writer's name being whispered, and some book titles. I finally turned a little to see what the strange muttering and whispering was about. Directly behind me, looking really exhausted, was Kurt Vonnegut, holding a large box. Too dumbfounded to speak to him, I just smiled-- there was eye contact, but I couldn't think of anything to say. My thought might have been Me Friend, Me not talk about you as if you not here. I looked beyond him to the jerks whispering about him in line. Maybe I should have offered to let him go ahead of me, but I didn't think of that. I turned back and stayed facing forward as people in front of me turned and gawked at him. Who is He? someone asked in a loud whisper.
Now I was sorry I had turned and looked at him. He was in this long line with people and no one said "Hi Kurt" or anything, they just mumbled stuff, and explained who he was to others standing in line. It felt awful to me, and I'm sure it had some kind of depressing affect on him. The line was stalled, we had maybe a dozen people ahead of us and a half dozen behind us. The slowest postal worker ever was doing something in slow motion behind the counter. Outside it was a brilliant breezy spring day, lots of daffodils in planters, budding trees along the avenues. Inside it was overheated and airless. We stood and waited.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The New Animal

When I was a kid we had the How and Why books. Flimsy and inexpensive, they were pretty much replaced by the Eyewitness series.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What are Words For?

" Poppycock! Balderdash I say! Bugduggery I say! I think a good swear word, creatively placed shows mastery of the English language." ~ Craig Ferguson

I have to agree.

Once when I was visiting Donegal, I was telling a male cousin about this tourist from Manchester who'd been in town and trying for days to get me to visit his hotel room. I had said no & had been very rude, but every day he'd pop up wherever I was and try to chat me up. Finally the guy told me he'd had a vasectomy. I told him if he didn't leave me alone I'd pick up a chair and bash his F-ing skull open with it. He scurried off and never bothered me again. Apparently he was offended.

But my cousin was horrified by the fact that this man had tried to lure me with the vasectomy remark. Indeed, it was a new low in trying to pick up a woman, but... had I whipped out my F word too soon, I would have never gotten to hear the word vasectomy while on holiday, or the word my cousin uttered in while in shock.

Cousin: He said THAT? What a Bletherumskite!!!!

Me: What???

Cousin: Nothing, em, I meant to say he was... indecent!

Me: No-- what did you just say... leather-um-what???

Cousin: Nothing, nothing it's a terrible word, just slipped out, sorry, sorry...

It took me awhile to figure out he'd said Bletherumskite which was considered a truly filthy word in his home growing up. It's a word with several meanings, one being the lowest scummiest type of lying scoundrel there is. Much Worse than bastard, which everyone in town used with carefree abandon -- like when they were looking for something. "Well, I'm off to work --where's my bastard coat?" or "My bastard keys have gone missing again!" I once heard an old woman who'd been menaced and then stung by a wasp say: "I've no quarrel with bees, they're furry and they contribute -- but wasps are bastards!"

"The whole concept of the swear word is strange to me. You create words that are naughty to say and then you don't let yourself say them. It's pointless, it's like, alright, there's a collection of letters, put them together and that's the word that we must never say... What the hell is that? It's completely stupid and pointless." ~ Craig Ferguson

Imagine certain novels with no swear words. Wambaugh's latest is loaded with them --it would be unrealistic if he had tough cops and rough gang members swaggering through the pages being careful not to use a bad word.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thrift Store Books

I like looking through the books, always surprised at the things I find. Want to take many books home with me, but limit myself to spending a dollar or less. Sadly, if I'm on foot I will pass up a huge volume of something I want, only to go back and find it gone. (Now I know to just buy it if I really want it, and leave it at a friend's office directly across the street from the store.) In the case of the old hymnal above, a photo was enough--but if I found a hymnal in really bad shape in the trash, I might take it for collage purposes. recycle, right?

I have not read any of the books pictured above.

Another blogger sent me a news item that revealed that many British peeps pretend to have read certain smartypants books to impress others; 1984 by George Orwell topped the list I think.

I'm embarrassed to reveal that I've read Down and Out in Paris and London by Orwell three times in the past twenty years. I'm never embarrassed to reveal that although I gave it a half-hearted try years ago, I could not get into reading 1984. I don't feel bad.

If a bunch of smartypantsers were discussing 1984 at a cocktail party, (the British ones all pretending they read it...) I could just enjoy listening in, and if asked anything, I could mention some of his other works and/or simply say I haven't read Nineteen Eighty Four ... (maybe adding a yet as if I was planning to, or maybe ask why I should read it --but so far I've never been to a party where it was brought up.)

In the thrift store, I did find a good book by Ignazio Silone (who has been compared to Orwell, so that's something, right?) and find it highly readable so far--(more on Silone once I've finished the book )-- Bread and Wine.

A quick film of my visit to the thrift store, with the easy listening station they play supplying the soundtrack.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Remembering Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan (poet, novelist, author of the memoir "Under the Eye of the Clock") died in a Dublin hospital a few weeks ago. Nolan was paralyzed, but as he said, he became liberated when he was able to type on a keyboard thanks to special technology.

His mother described his early works:
“He wrote of a family visit to a cave that was illuminated by electric lights: He said it was ‘a lovely, fairy-like effect to the work of nature,’ ” she told the Associated Press in a 1987 interview. “It was just that turn of phrase,” she said. “I thought, that’s unusual for a child of eleven.” ~ Bernadette Nolan

His father Joseph, a part-time farmer and psychiatric nurse, read his son poetry and passages from James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” Christy, as his family called him, took to writing early: He published “Dam-Burst of Dreams,” a collection of poetry, at 15. Even then, critics compared it to Joyce.

His novel, The Banyan Tree might be a good read for the Virtual Book Club sometime this year.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Reading Haiku

Glorious the moon
therefore our thanks, dark clouds
come to rest our necks. ~ Basho

too dark to read the page
too cold. ~ Jack Kerouac

Many years ago someone gave me a book called Pomes All Sizes by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac embraced non-traditional haiku, not worrying at all about how many syllables to count. Once I stopped counting I saw a lot more haiku floating around in the world.

Every morning (except Sunday) I get The Irish Times delivered to me in bed. As I decide whether or not to get up or fall back asleep, I riffle through the sections of the paper. Yesterday morning I saw this haiku in the science section. Maybe it's not really a haiku, but to me it is, and it stuck in my head all day, in a nice way. Moonlet is not a word you see every day. Newspapers, I've discovered, are filled with unintentional haikus.

Address label on an old LIFE Magazine.

Her name and address
Dingle, birds, green witch, nutmeg
my thoughts fly to her ~ Avid Reader

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Glass Family

Buddy Glass, of course, is only my pen name. My real name is Major George Fielding Anti-Climax. ~ J.D. Salinger

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


As much as I like the fortunes, I'd like to see bits like this inside cookies.

This is my new Lucky Hat. A nice present sent to me by a friend. Thank You although you do not read this blog (or even know it exists.)

I've been reading books on walking--there are many books on walking it turns out and one leads to another, now I have a pile of books on walking to read and one is filled with local walking maps making me anxious to get started.

I am beginning a quest to visit & photograph 48 different libraries this year. I have a list, and some are pretty far away ~ ( one is in Port Jervis, NY.) I quested over to a couple of libraries just down the road on Saturday. This was one of them. It had nice chairs. I sat down for awhile.

I always like to read these little Q and A things.

I'm hoping to find this during my quest. I can take a book out of any one of 48 libraries and return it to my local library. I actually envy the guys who drive around returning the books. I plan to find out the schedules so I can interview and photograph one of these people.

Monday, March 2, 2009


The cover illustration cracked me up a little. Or the crack did. But just a little.

In the YA room of a library is an interesting site to visit.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Weekend Update

As it turns out, Henry was a comic strip--I have no memory of this strip, just the Henry children's books. Henry was mute except for the very rare word or sound. Found this picture on a Carl Anderson site. Anderson created Henry.

I started reading "Biting Moon" by Martha Grimes.

Also from the library, a collection of poetry and
Writers at Work (second series of The Paris Review Interviews.)

(I tried to look at two Louise Erdrich books, but was thwarted when some crud flaked off a page onto my hand.I can only hope this flaking crud dust was due to someone reading while eating and not something worse. Both novels had the same messed up pages. People should be extra careful with library books while slurping.)

The Kindle 2 takes some getting used to, more options to play around with. I can only imagine a Kindle 3 will be out next year, and I'll probably want that version too.

I read a review of Stephen King's novella UR, and doubt if the reviewer actually read the story. He said King's character used a "Kindle-like device" in the story. But it's very clearly a Kindle. The guy orders it from Amazon and calls it a Kindle. The reviewer also got some facts about the story wrong-- sounds like he heard about the story from a friend of a friend. It was a short novella and a fun read, it got me thinking about how interesting a story can be when time is a major element or a character.

Last week I met two teens at the local cafe. One teen had a new iPod (He'd had several previous iPods) and the other said he was holding out for a Kindle. His birthday was coming up and he'd saved enough money for a good supply of Kindle books and half the cost of the reader itself He was hoping to get his parents to spring for the rest. I was surprised any teenaged boy would prefer a Kindle to an iPod, but this teen was a readaholic. I don't meet many teens like him, but I do meet kids who love reading much more often than I did 10 years ago. One of these days I might inherit a family iPod. I'm the only one in the family who doesn't have one. Since there are always new models coming out, I'm thinking I can snag a used one.

Suntorp ~ How goes the Nietzsche?

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)