Saturday, May 20, 2017

May (third week) 2017 Reads


Lots of online foodie stuff this week, then a few poems, a book of stories, and some journeys.
Whew! Unlike last week, the story this week is totally readable. And the card search was fun.

 “Deal Me In 2017!”
This week's story: Why I Can No Longer Look At A Picnic Blanket Without Laughing by Yukiko Motoya, translated from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda
What can a clerk in a trendy boutique do when a customer spends over twenty-four hours in a changing booth? a fun story that comes complete with diagram.

This week's card: the Three of Clubs  was a challenge--I wanted something innovative and possibly a little bit silly. It would have been a lot easier if it had been a face card or an ace. Maybe I could go with a pack design?


Here is one from Fashion Playing Cards by Connie Lim Pt. 3 but it's not right because there was only one customer in the changing room...so I looked some more..




...perhaps she was trying on these items
from Redbubble Ltd.




...but, then again, these are rather ordinary selections and by the end of the story...






... we aren't sure just who (or what) that customer was, but she certainly wasn't ordinary, so maybe this one from Hachimitsu Ink, which specialize in creating artwork featuring Djinns and Mermaids, will better illustrate the story.  

(Image is from PlayingCardCollector.net  I couldn't find the image on the Hachimitsu Ink site, but I had fun looking)


elsewhere online...

My current MOOC course: Food Security and Sustainability: Food Access  From Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands); a collaboration between Wageningen University and the Wageningen Research foundation.
Course goals:
  • understand the basic principles of food access
  • understand actors’ choices influencing food access
  • discern dilemmas at household, local, national and international levels get the big picture when the connections between levels and actors regarding access to food have been unraveled.

This article seemed to go along with the course goals. Dining in the Wilderness: The Restaurants in America’s National Parks by


and more foodie stuff...

The Global Feast: Writing about Food:
 "This month we welcome you to a banquet of international food writing.... Forced to cook in her father's dive restaurant, Ananda Devi's young girl finds revenge is a dish best served hot Argentine sensation Mariana Enriquez gets to the meat of the national dish. Jeon Sungtae meditates on meals turned sacramental. Greek cooking authority Diana Farr Louis reports on sustenance both figurative and literal in refugee camps. Kanako Nishi has a bone to pick with table manners. Manuel Vázquez Montalbán channels a gourmand Robinson Crusoe. In two nostalgic memoirs, Prasanta Mridha remembers that Bangla street food is right up his alley, and Moshe Sakal recalls one happy childhood in two culinary traditions"

Foods the Romans brought to Britain by Cindy Tomamichel. A brief survey of the changes in diet, agricultural practices, and food distribution that came with the Roman occupation of Britain.

How army rations helped shape food by Veronique Greenwood

not foodie, but fun...
The Fine Art of Cheating in Baseball : Remembering Red Faber, One of the Last Great Spitballers. An excerpt from Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and the Art of Deception by Terry McDermott.

from the library...

 
The Other Language by
Excellent collection of short stories, most featuring Italians in international settings.


Contents: The other language; Chanel; Big island, small island; The presence of men; An Indian soirée; The club; The Italian system; Quantum theory; Roman romance.


 





The cover, while appropriate,only tells a part of the story. The trip wasn't as tranquil as the photo suggests.




from my shelves...
Moving the Palace by Charif Majdalani, Edward Gauvin (Translation from the French)

A magnificent road trip! A Lebanese adventurer leaves his assignment with the British army to take over a perilous venture abandoned by another Lebanese adventurer. It's nothing less than moving an entire palace (in pieces) across deserts and seas from Tripoli to Beirut. By camel, mule, horse, and boat. In 1908. When the region is filled with unrest and feuding tribes. Not all is fighting--there are luscious banquets, merry story telling sessions, and a host of eccentric characters.
From my subscription to New Vessel Press.



Atlantic Hotel by João Gilberto Noll, Adam Morris (Translation)
In this short novel a man wanders around Brazil, sometimes by bus, sometimes by car, and sometimes by foot. He seems to encounter misfortune at every stop. Who is he? Why does he wander?

From my subscription to Two Lines Press.




The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan
When Noor was eighteen her father sent her and her brother out of Iran to the United States. He felt they weren't safe in the Islamic Republic. Thirty years later Noor, with her reluctant teenage daughter Lily, returns to Tehran for a visit. Noor's marriage has fallen apart and when she arrives at her childhood home, she finds her father is ill. Noor must cope with the changes in her homeland and her rebellious daughter. It's a difficult story,  well told but just a tad simplistic. It is a coming of age story for both Noor and Lily. Both make potentially disastrous decisions. At times Noor seems immature but she really doesn't seem to belong anywhere. The novels leaves us with that old question: Can you go home again?          Advance review copy via LibraryThing.
 
 
Can you go home again? For me, the answer has often been "No." But sometimes you can visit your childhood in someone else's poetry...

So Sweet Against Your Teeth: Poems from Childhood's Fall (Woman Song Book 1) by



Saturday, May 13, 2017

May (second week) 2017 Reads



This week's story:    The Ice Palace (in Flappers and Philosophers, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
 “Deal Me In 2017!”
"The sunlight dripped over the house like golden paint over an art jar, and the freckling shadows here and there only intensified the rigor of the bath of light. The Butterworth and Larkin houses flanking were entrenched behind great stodgy trees; only the Happer house took the full sun, and all day long faced the dusty road-street with a tolerant kindly patience. This was the city of Tarleton in southernmost Georgia, September afternoon.

Up in her bedroom window Sally Carrol Happer rested her nineteen-year-old chin on a fifty-two-year-old sill and watched Clark Darrow's ancient Ford turn the corner. The car was hot—being partly metallic it retained all the heat it absorbed or evolved—and Clark Darrow sitting bolt upright at the wheel wore a pained, strained expression as though he considered himself a spare part, and rather likely to break. He laboriously crossed two dust ruts, the wheels squeaking indignantly at the encounter, and then with a terrifying expression he gave the steering-gear a final wrench and deposited self and car approximately in front of the Happer steps. There was a heaving sound, a death-rattle, followed by a short silence; and then the air was rent by a startling whistle."

And that, Folks, was as much as I could take. Well, I did skim enough to find that it seems to be that Sally is rumored to be engaged to a Yankee, but I just couldn't bring myself to read this story. "...her ninteen-year-old chin on a fifty-two-year old sill..." ????




This week's card: Eight of Diamonds. "Biba" Playing Card 

OK, so in the spirit of the story I didn't read, here is a girl resting her twenty-something-year-old-tush on a two-day-old stool.





from my "owned-but-unread" shelf...
 
Voroshilovgrad by Serhiy Zhadan; Reilly Costigan-Humes (Translation), Isaac Wheeler (Translation)
In trying to save his brother's business (a gas station) Herman encounters thugs, gypsies, refugees, smugglers, ghosts, and various kinds of fanatics.Life is not easy in post-USSR Ukraine.

From my subscription to Deep Vellum Publishing





from the library...



 The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink, Bradley Schmidt (Translation)
The story starts in Germany with a painting, three obsessed men, and a woman (the model for the painting). The model's husband owns the painting, the artist steals the wife, and the third man is a lawyer representing the artist. The painting is stolen and the all--the painting, the woman, the three men--end up in Australia where the majority of the story takes place.

It's a strange "love" story, maybe more about self love, than romantic love since no one here is really able to relate to the other.



 Gutenberg find...
Book Cover

With a Camera in Majorca by Margaret D'Este (With Illustrations from Photographs by Mrs. R. M. King) Putnam, 1907
Not just pictures, there is a lot of prose description. It was fun to read and view this 1907 book about a place I frequently visited in the 1980's.
Also includes Ibiza and Minorca. The prose is typical of travel writing of the time and I probably would have skimmed more if I weren't so familiar with the terrain and curious about how they saw it.




online...


I finished  the MOOC   Antarctica: From Geology to Human History
This was really interesting and well organized. It's a place I'm curious about but not interested in visiting.




Saturday, May 06, 2017

May (first week) 2017 Reads

The novels I read (or finished) this week were fairly light reads, not so much in subject, but in presentation. There's nothing really light about WW1 infantry combat, poverty stricken Hondurans traveling north through Guatemala and Mexico, murder on a luxury yacht, but all of these were quick fictional reads. The biography of Isabella of Castile was comparatively heavy going.

Then it was time to play...
 “Deal Me In 2017!”

the story...The Punctiliousness Of Don Sebastian (in Orientations, by William Somerset Maugham; on Gutenberg).
The narrator impulsively gets off a train in a remote Spanish town. There he encounters an impoverished nobleman who sells him an old manuscript. It is a family document revealing the origins of the family title. It is a tale of infidelity, fratricide, and greed.

An interesting coincidence to have a story about Spanish noblemen when I was in the middle of Isabella and Ferdinand's Spain, although the Maugham story was set in an earlier period.

The other stories in the collection are: A Bad Example, De Amicitia, Faith, The Choice Of Amyntas, and Daisy. Haven't read them yet, but I will.

https://pageshot.net/images/cfdca463-ac91-4ee7-8c41-48f2a8ab6b13.png
the card...
Royalty, but English, not Spanish, and an earlier period than Isabella (Henry VIII is the 4 of Clubs)

Three of Diamonds: from  The British Museum "Incomplete pack with 27of 52 playing cards depicting the kings and queens of England, including Oliver Cromwell; each monarch portrayed full length, with (except in the case of Cromwell) date of beginning of reign and length of reign; suit mark at top left..."



from my "owned-but-unread" shelf... 



Tender: Stories by


Mind bending, mind expanding and, at times, mind exploding sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian stories. It’s writing like this that keeps me reading “outside my comfort zone.” This one's a keeper - I want to read many of them again.
Advance review copy through library Thing.



 
The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward
Two stories running concurrently in alternating chapters. It's no spoiler to say they eventually converge--that's pretty obvious. One is Alice: hardworking (she and her husband own a barbecue restaurant) and happily married except for infertility. The other is Carla: living in the slums of Honduras until she sees a way out and makes the hazardous journey north. This was a quick read, presenting many of the problems of contemporary life without going into great depth. Not a bad book, but it could have been so much more.
Advance review copy.


 
Time and Regret by









Perdita by Hilary Scharper
Maybe Marged Brice really is 134 years old...and maybe somebody else will see what she sees...I enjoyed the story, but ... it built up to a letdown...






And this cover (and the two immediately above above) blah..



From the library...
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
The usual suspense stuff. Slightly (very) drunk woman witnesses (or thinks she witnesses) something happen--a scream and a splash. She tells her story but no one believes her. Was there ever a woman in what should have been a vacant cabin? It is a closed situation on a luxury cruise yacht. Who can she trust? etc. Not bad, not great. I had part of it figured out, no great effort required. Gave it a generous 3 Goodreads stars.

Note: Can I please read a novel in which the protagonist does not have vivid, easily interpreted expository dreams?




A Piece of the World  by








Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen by Giles Tremlett
Comprehensive, readable biography.Times were terrible then and it is easy to draw parallels between the expulsion of the Jews and Moors from Spain and the plight of refugees in the world today. Do we ever get better?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April (fourth week) 2017 Reads

Not much online stuff this week, just the search for the Queen of Hearts--which was fun. The short story this week was one in a collection I own, so I read the entire collection. The novels are a mixed bag and I enjoyed them all for very different reasons.Read one library book, three others in my stack but I may not finish them next week.


 “Deal Me In 2017!”
This weeks story: This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila (in This is Paradise)
A young tourist in Hawaii is observed by three different groups of island residents: young women surfers who see her at a club; some slightly older career women who view her in a hotel lobby; and a group of housekeepers waiting to clean her hotel room. Like many locals in tourist areas, each group has reasons to resent the visitors' rosy visions of being in Paradise. Then something bad happens and each group wonders if they could have done something more to prevent it.

I really liked this story so I read the other five stories in the collection (which was on my "owned-but-unread" shelf). All six of the stories deal with universal themes with a particular Hawaiian viewpoint. I almost didn't read Wanle because it involves cock fighting, but it is more about revenge. The Road to Hana is about young couple on a weekend trip, she is an Hawaiian who was born in Las Vegas; he is a white was born in Hawaii. So what does it mean to be Hawaiian? Thirty-nine Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funeral into a Drinking Game is very much about what it is to be Hawaiian. In Portrait of a Good Father a girl questions her family relationships and in The Old Paniolo Way a gay man ponders whether he should come out to his dying father.

A very good collection which I won some time ago on the blog Guiltless Reading



This week's card: Queen of Hearts. I couldn't resist this delightful teapot which I found in a collection of amazing  Sculptural teapot tempests at one of my favorite websites.

The pot, titled 'The Queens Tea Yara' is by Meryl Ruth (photo by Robert Diamonte). Follow the link to find out more about this one, then explore her site for more ceramics and she also does Fiber Art  



from my "owned-but-unread" shelf...
 
Day In Day Out by Terézia Mora; translated from the German by Michael Henry Heim
A strange novel, part picaresque, part hallucination, and sometimes it almost makes a whole lot of sense. Able Nema's main skill is learning languages. Officially he knows ten. His only other skill seems to be a sporadic ability to pass himself off as normal. We follow him for ten years that he spends as a refugee (in Berlin ?) from an unnamed Balkan country. He has various adventures meeting colorful characters who are almost as weird as he is. I read this in small doses, it was excellent that way.

Cover design and illustration by Milan Bozic

 
On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe
Four African women have been lured to Europe to work in the sex trade. Each has had a traumatic childhood and the promise of a better life has led them to accept becoming prostitutes. When one is killed, the other three bond and reveal their real life stories. The difficult subject matter is dealt with in a rather straightforward, almost journalistic, manner.

Jacket design by Kimberly Glyder
Jacket photo by Debra Lill



 
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Lilian is a widow with two young daughters. She has an alcoholic mother, a bossy sister, and a decent job as an illustrator. Through a gardening class she takes because of her job, she meets an assortment of interesting people and there is some bonding among the group which stretched my ability to suspend disbelief. Still, there was enough substance and sarcastic dialog to keep me reading. There is a snarky comment about Meg Ryan, but, really, this is her kind of role. A pleasant, light read.


from the library...

Celine by Peter Heller
Celine is a tough old broad. A sixty year old private investigator who, in spite of her emphysema, travels in the Rockies to track down a man who went missing 23 years ago. It's a well told story with plenty of well developed, interesting characters. The relationships the missing man had with his two wives and his daughter are revealed as the story unwinds. Celine's own backstory explains some of her actions. Mostly I liked this book, but there were a couple of things that bothered me. One was a showdown Celine has with a motorcycle gang. It really didn't add to the narrative and seemed to have been thrown in just to show her toughness, but it was unnecessary--we'd already figured that out. (Actually this bit could almost stand alone as a short story.)


Saturday, April 22, 2017

April (third week) 2017 Reads

From last week's trip to the library three great books and one dud. I also read one from my backlog. The story for the Deal Me In Challenge is the first story in the Library of America three volume set of Singer's Collected Stories. I won the set last year at The Mookse and the Gripes

 “Deal Me In 2017!”
 
This week's story: Gimpel the fool by Isaac Bashevis Singer (in Collected Stories I); translated from the Yiddish by Saul Bellow
Gimpel, a simple baker, is the butt of all the jokes in town but is he really a fool?




This week's card - the Eight of Spades - made me want to do a little Homage to Crazy Eights, a game I loved when I was a child.
On the left is a vintage pack like the one I remember using. It was published by Whitman in 1951. This and several other packs are on eBay. On the right is an electronic version of the game published by GASP Mobile Games Inc. It is available free from the Microsoft Store.

Three "great ones" from the library...
Vampire in Love and other stories by Enrique Vila-Matas; Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa (Translation)
Nineteen delightful stories. As is often the case with me, the title story which is available online from Two Lines was not my favorite. Wish this could stay on my shelf forever...but it's a two-week loan.
Contents: A permanent home; Sea swell; Torre del Mirador; I never go to the movies; Rosa Schwarzer comes back to life; In search of the electrifying double act; Death by saudade; The hour of the tired and weary; They say I should say who I am; Greetings from Dante; Identifying marks; The boy on the swing; An idle soul; Invented memories; Vampire in love; Modesty; Nio; I'm not going to read any more e-mails; Vok's successors. (my favorites are highlighted, but they are all good.)
Cover design by Rodrigo Corral




Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
This is both story of a marriage told from the point of view of a wronged wife and a story of a father/daughter relationship based on wrong assumptions and false memories. Wonderful writing. So very different from Fuller's debut novel Our Endless Numbered Days. Looking forward to what she does next.

Cover design by Diane Chonette
Pattern design by Ákos Néma





Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner by Franny Moyle
At times I got bogged down in detail, but overall it was a rewarding read. A number of plates are included in the book, but not all the ones that are discussed as Mayle traces Turner's artistic development over a long and prolific career. I did a lot of Googling to find the referenced paintings.

Jacket design by Gabriele Wilson
Jacket art: The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October 1834; Joseph Mallord William Turner (at the Cleveland Museum of Art)


The "dud" from the library trip...
City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly Tucker
I know I shouldn't let one factual error early in a book put me off reading the book. Even though they bug me,  I often forgive geographical errors in fiction. When a book is non-fiction--especially history--such errors make me doubt everything else in the book. On page six: "On the Left Bank of the Seine sat the castle-like Châtelet compound..." (interesting error as the map in the book places it correctly on the Right Bank.) I became obsessive, fact checking everything. No fun at all, this book isn't worth the trouble; did not finish.

from my "owned-but-unread" shelf...
Go Away Home by
A pleasant, not particularly challenging story about a woman's life on a farm and in a small town in Iowa just before and during WW1.  Liddie faces the limited options available to women of the times. This book was from a 2014 (!) blog win at Let Them Read Books

online...

I started another online course; Antarctica: From Geology to Human History  This one is taught by Dr. Rebecca Priestley, Senior Lecturer Victoria University of Wellington, and Dr. Cliff Atkins, Senior Lecturer Victoria University of Wellington.