Friday, May 23, 2014

Holly West on "Nine Book Experiences You Should Have Before You Die" at Do Some Damage, and a few of my own

I came across this POST by Holly West over on Do Some Damage a couple of days ago and thought it might be a good one to link to in the absence of a review here. But I've been too busy to even do that, until now. I liked her list a lot, and should probably add to the list in her comment field, but I'll just do it here.

Book reading experiences I think you should have before you die:

Slog through a book to the bitter end before you decide whether you love it or hate it. (Don Quixote, I'm looking at you. By the way, the progression was: hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate...wait a

(That's Picasso, folks. Because it takes a Spaniard to know a Spaniard)

Read a book in the wee hours of the morning when you're really supposed to be doing something else--like studying for a final. My aunt sent me a copy of Pride and Prejudice at a really inopportune moment in my academic career, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

My professor Mary Holmes said that the reason library stacks should be open and not closed is that it's never the book you're looking for that grabs you, it's the other one.

Always give at least a look at books that seem to come to you in an extremely random way. I was delighted to have read John Krich's Music in Every Room: Around the World in a Bad Mood when I was in Southeast Asia, for instance. Someone had left it on a table. Apparently just for me.

And if a book literally jumps off the shelf at you, stop what you're doing and TAKE A LOOK. Even if you just open to a random page.

Somewhat contrary to my first piece of advice, every once in awhile, give yourself permission to just stop reading something. If it's really worth it, it will probably come back round your way again.

Read a book in the company of friends. I know some people look down a little on book groups for a variety of reasons. (Personally, I think one of the reasons is misogyny, as for various reasons it seems to be more of feminine activity than a masculine one.) And sometimes I get tired myself of reading what other people want me to read. But reading and discussing together is a great bonding experience, and even if half the time you're talking about your kids or pets, there's always at least some time you're talking about the work of literature itself. And putting your minds together to talk about a creative work is a wonderful way to get to know other people and how they think.

Trust me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

You saw the movie--now read the book. Walkabout, by James Vance Marshall at Escape Into Life

I forgot to put up a link to the post I did about the short novel Walkabout for Escape Into Life. I saw the Nicholas Roeg movie quite a long time ago. The book is quite different in tone from the film, at least from what I remember. I think perhaps the best part is the evocation of the Australian Outback. But check it out yourself.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tra la, tra la, Trollope

Reviews may be a bit thin on the ground here for awhile, as I've undertaken to read The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, which in the Penguin edition weighs in at around 750+ pages. In small print. I must have wanted to read it, as I already owned a copy somehow, but the catalyst for actually doing so is a once a year book group I'm in. (Although last year was the first year and this year may well be the final one.) I've read Trollope before, and enjoyed him, and I would say that he is a very smooth writer. I find little resistance in myself to the project. Still, I feel a bit melancholy reading this, as I know in an earlier era in my life there seemed to be more time for big, leisurely books than there is now. I suspect that is true for many of us.

I am going to be very curious to hear what others have to say about the book, as it has some interesting parallels to the present day financial world, which I suspect some of my friends will be able to draw out better than I can.

There are several marriage plots going in the book, and as I reach the halfway mark, none of them are even close to being resolved. I am very interested to see how our plotmaker does this, because in two separate threads, a young woman must choose between the sensible choice and the romantic choice. In one case, neither answer seems very good. In the other, neither answer seems very bad. I am interested to learn what Trollope thinks is the right solution to these conundrums, and whether I agree with him.

What's funny about the cover art of the older edition I'm reading is that it's the same painting but reversed, and they've cut out the man on the left in the above version entirely...

To be continued...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sweet Thursday at Escape Into Life and a podcast

My review of John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday is up at Escape Into Life. I doubt I would have read this short novel without my book group choosing it because somehow I had mixed it up with another Steinbeck title and vaguely thought it was about a wayward Tuesday Weld. Sometimes it pays to read the cover copy. The book is actually a sequel to Cannery Row, and highly enjoyable. It spoke to my condition in a couple of ways--first in the recognition that there are different eras in a life, and second in one character's gradual understanding that slowing down a bit can actually be beneficial at times.

In other news, and I've already posted this a couple of other places, a story of mine called The Pirate's True Love was selected for a new fantasy podcast series and you can find it HERE. I was quite happy about it, but I've already gone on and on about it, so just check out the story if you're interested. You can listen to one by A.A. Attanasio first, or just hop to about 44 minutes in if so inclined.