Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 2021

Eyes still a problem hence not much online reading because of the brightness of the screen. However the major problem is that one eye has been cleared of cataracts and has new lens but the other eye hasn't been done yet (scheduled for next week). Still, I managed to read some good books. The novel about Coco Chanel was the only disappointment. Loved the Walser biography (a nice birthday present!). The two translated novels were excellent!
 
Fiction: 
The Interim by Wolfgang Hilbig; translated from the German by Isabel Fargo Cole
The Teacher by Michal Ben-Naftali; translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir  
The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine
 Yes!
Feral Creatures (Hollow Kingdom #2) by Kira Jane Buxton
 Liked the first book better, but this was pretty good.
Still Life by Sarah Winman 
 A delightful romp with some serious moments. Must read more by Winman.
Airadne by Jennifer Saint
 An OK retelling bit not a great one.
No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield 
  A nice diversion but Gone Girl it ain't.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Before the Coffee Gets Cold #1) by Toshikazu Kawaguchi; translated from the  Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot  
  This was fun I may seek out #2 when I want something not too challenging.
Mademoiselle Chanel by by C.W. Gortner 
  Bah!
Nonfiction: 
Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser by Susan Bernofsky
The Vanished Collection by Pauline Baer de Perignon; translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer 
  This was a LibraryThing advance reader copy giveaway. A bit dis-jointed but interesting account of a search for Nazi looted family art.
Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America by Mayukh Sen
  The seven are:  Chao Yang Buwei, Elena Zelayeta, Madeleine Kamman, Marcella Hazan, Julie Sahni, Najmieh Batmanglij, and Norma Shirley. (There is also a brief nod to Julia Child.) Although I had previously heard about or seen tv/books/recipes by most of these, the only one whose background I knew much about was Elena Zelayeta. The chapter on Najmieh Batmanglij was my favorite.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

October 2001

Quite a few books considering blurry vision and eye surgery. One (by Jeffers) was 800 pages and well worth the time and energy spent reading it. Cuba, another good read, was over 550 pages.  The first four on the fiction list were outstanding. The next pretty good. I enjoyed the poetry. I also had some fun exploring on Gutenberg. Only dud this month was Maud Dixon.

Fiction:
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Four Minutes by Nataliya Deleva; translated from the Bulgarian by Izidora Angel
Olga by Bernhard Schlink; translated from the German by Charlotte Collins
Oh William! by Elizabeth  Strout
Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams 
Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  the least of the bunch, I can't figure out why I bothered to finish it.
The Liberry by Ian Hay
 Fun short story
 
Poetry:
Two Half Faces by Mustafa Stitou; translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

Childrens:
The Woodcutter's Dog by Charles Nodier; translated from the French (unnamed translator); illustrated by Claud Lovat Fraser
 

 
Nonfiction:
Cuba: An American History by Ada Ferrer
Modern Dancing and Dancers by J.E. Crawford Flitch
 Love the pictured in this 1912 publication.
Isadora Duncan

Regina Badet

The Book Collector essay by Charles Nodier; translated by Barbara Sessions; foreword by Philip Hofer
 

Friday, October 01, 2021

September 2021

A mixed bag for September. Having eye problems so not reading much at night. (Surgery Scheduled for late Oct-early Nov.)

Fiction:
Slipping by Mohamed Kheir; translated from the Arabic by Robin Moger
The Last Debutantes by Georgie Blalock 
 Gossipy London on the eve of WW2
Season of Ash by Jorge Volpi; translated from the Spanish by  Alfred J. MacAdam
Monkey Hunting by Cristina García
The Island  by Victoria Hislop
 Life in a Greek (Crete) leper colony
Indiana, Indiana by Laird Hunt
The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue
Love Like Water, Love Like Fire by Mikhail Iossel
 Meh. Advance Review Copy via LibraryThing

Nonfiction:
Eye to Eye: Photographs by Vivian Maier by Richard Cahan
 Didn't care much for this collection.
Europe in Sepia by Dubravka Ugrešić: translated from the Croation by  David Williams
 Essays
The Field House: A Writer's Life Lost and Found on an Island in Maine by Robin Clifford Wood 
  Liked the biographical part about Rachel Field; did not like the Robin Wood memoir part written as letters to Field.
Far Away from Close to Home: A Black Millennial Woman In Progress by Vanessa Baden Kelly
 Essays to make you thing. Advance Review Copy via LibraryThing

Online:
 If one can get past the notion in the title that "Africa" is a nation, this is an interesting study of a game that has (and was in 1894 when this was written) a distribution far wider than Africa.

The History of Coffee in France by Sue Aran

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 2021 - Second Half

Well I didn't manage to read everything on my "Twenty Books of Summer 2021" list. Actually there were 25 items on that list, I read 19 of them. There are a couple I probably won't read, the others? Maybe...

I also read a bunch of other things, several from my TBR shelves. Also did some weeding and got rid of some TBRs that I know I'll never read.

Here's what I read in the second half of August.
 
Fiction: 
Among the Hedges by Sara Mesa; translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (my copy)
  Teenage girl makes friends with older mentally challenged man. 
Villa del Sol by Martha Reynolds (on Kindle, gift from the author)
  Rhode Island Politician's widow seek privacy in one of my favorite places -- Lugano.
All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg (my copy)
  A tale of three women with breast cancer.
The Clerk by Guillermo Saccomanno; translated from the Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger (my copy)
Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri (advance review copy via LibraryThing
Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola (review copy via Goodreads) meh.
Two Lines 31  edited by CJ Evans (this was part of a subscription, it's been at the bottom of a stack for two years)

Childrens:
The Seashore Book: Bob and Betty's Summer with Captain Hawes story and pictures by E Boyd Smith
 Teachy but mostly pleasant text that tells kids what can be found at the seashore (in 1912). I liked the art work.

Nonfiction:
  This was a real slog. Ingersoll, his wife, and three companions explore the Rockies in a private train apparently provided by the railroad as a promotional journey. Ingersoll is coy about his companions identifying them as "At least two of the gentlemen you would recognize at once, were I to give you their names." He calls these two "the artist" and "the photographer" throughout the text, the third he calls "the musician." Since the three are along for about half the expedition (the first 15 of 37 chapters) I did a little Web sleuthing. A biography of Thomas Moran (Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains by Thurman Wilkins) provided the answer. They were Moran; photographer William Henry Jackson; and John Karst a wood engraver called "the musician because he brought along his violin.

Ingersoll doesn't provide exact dates but the journey seems to go on forever with way too much description of places that all begin to sound alike. 
 
Online: 
Thomas Moran and the Spirit of Place gives more info on Moran and links to more.
 
 "The world’s greatest violinist served as lieutenant in the present war until wounded by a Cossack’s lance in a hand-to-hand fight before Lemberg. This book is the record of what he saw and experienced. It is the first account of the fighting by a man who actually fought, a story of hardship and heroism as graphic as it is thrilling. Illustrated from photographs." from an advertisement by the publisher (Houghton Mifflin) in The Little Review, May 1915.  
Note: the photographs are not included in the main text in Project Gutenberg. They may each be viewed separately from the eight JPEG Picture links. 
 
I found a nice series of water color books on Gutenberg
Chester Water-Colours by Edward Harrison Compton
 No text, just lovely artwork.
The Phœnix Tower (King Charles’s Tower).
 Cotswolds Water-Colours by George Frank Nicholls
 
I'm currently exploring:
Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts a student run journal from the University of Houston English Department.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

August 2021 - First Half

I'm breaking August into two parts as it's getting rather long.
 
This month I have been concentrating on my "Twenty Books of Summer 2021" project. It's been going quite nicely. There have been a few interruptions as holds placed at the library ages ago have come in. Also there are several online wanderings mostly related to the project. Since the summer books are all on Project Gutenberg there is much Googling to identify people and places. 
 
 I have been updating the original post with "date read" notes. Of the 23 items on the list I read 4 in June, 5 in July, and 8 (as of Aug. 12) in August. That leaves 6.
 
Fiction:
Fault Lines by Emily Itami. (Advance copy via Goodreads) A pleasant summer read about a restless housewife in contemporary Tokyo.
A Song Everlasting by Ha Jin. (library book) A self-exiled singer from mainland China trying to make a go of it in New York and Boston.
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. (library book) The paths of two women immigrants one Cuban and one (undocumented) Salvadorian cross in Maimi.
Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce. (library book) A complicated, multi viewpoint, story set mostly in the Black nightclubs of 1920s Chicago.

Short Stories:
Rocket Summer by Ray Bradbury (This etext was produced from Planet Stories Spring 1947.)
Ham Sandwich by James H. Schmitz  (This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction June 1963.)
 
Poetry:
 A collection of nearly 60 poems, most of them mercifully short. As for the longer ones, I confess to not getting past the first few stanzas. Too much verse with too little poetry. Here's a sample, the eighth poem in the collection. I should have quit then, if not before.

SLENDER YOUR HANDS

Slender your hands and soft and white
As petals of moon-kissed roses;
Yet the grasp of your fingers slight
My passionate heart encloses.
Innocent eyes like delicate spheres
That are born when day is dying;
Yet the wisdom of all the years
Is in their lovelight lying.
 
Nonfiction:
Around the World in 80 Plants by by Jonathan Drori; Illustrated by Lucille Clerc. (library book)
 I love his descriptions and her lively illustrations.
 
Handbook of Summer Athletic Sports edited by Fred Whittaker. Published in 1880
  When I chose this one I hoped for something campy and that it is.
I had also hoped for more illustrations but what few there are entertaining. Who knew that walking was such a popular sport? In my surfing online I found that BBB.com recently published an article about it:
The strange 19th-Century sport that was cooler than football by Zaria Gorvett. This is well illustrated and great fun.

The Three Brothers, Yosemite National Park
"I spent the afternoon in a grand ramble along the Yosemite walls. From the highest of the rocks called the Three Brothers, I enjoyed a magnificent view comprehending all the upper half of the floor of the valley and nearly all the rocks of the walls on both sides and at the head, with snowy peaks in the background. Saw also the Vernal and Nevada Falls, a truly glorious picture,—rocky strength and permanence combined with beauty of plants frail and fine and evanescent; water descending in thunder, and the same water gliding through meadows and groves in gentlest beauty. This standpoint is about eight thousand feet above the sea, or four thousand feet above the floor of the valley, and every tree, though looking small and feathery, stands in admirable clearness, and the shadows they cast are as distinct in outline as if seen at a distance of a few yards. They appeared even more so. No words will ever describe the exquisite beauty and charm of this mountain park—Nature’s landscape garden at once tenderly beautiful and sublime. No wonder it draws nature-lovers from all over the world." from Muir's entry of August 13 [1869].

Pavlova
 
 
 Many of the subjects are 1920s Mexican political figures but there are also caricatures of William Howard Taft,  William Randolph Hearst, Henry Ford, Anna Pavlova, Jack Dempsey., and other internationally known people of the times. There are also cartoons of political and social issues.
 I had a good time Googling in order to compare his drawings with actual photograph of his subjects.


                                                                                                                                     
This was fun! The "Painter" in the title is never actually named in the text, he is simply referred to as  C_____.  But it was clear to people of the time (1859) that it was Frederic Church, a landscape painter of the Hudson Valley School. An exciting and interesting account both of travel of the time and Church's efforts to get up close and sketch the icebergs in spite of rough seas and bouts of seasickness. 
 I was curious of what became of whatever Church painted as a result of this trip. That led me to this gem:
 
The Voyage of the Icebergs: Frederic Church’s Arctic Masterpiece by Elanor Jones Harvey; Gerald L. Carr, contributor.
 This traces the history of the painting from an unsuccessful attempt by Church to sell it in New York, to it's shipment to London to a successful sale. Thence to obscurity in Manchester (England) until it was found and shipped to New York to be sold at auction in 1979. It was purchased by an anonymous buyer setting an auction high for any American painting. And then gifted to to the Dallas Museum of Art.
 
From there I went online to Olana, Church's Hudson Valley home which is now a New York State Historic Site. Lovely, and just a couple of hours away from my place. Have added it to my "Places to Visit after Covid19" list.