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.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

July 2021

 

THE CHIFF-CHAFF
             (Phylloscopus rufa)             
From Our Summer Migrants

Very good reading in July (other than the Ken Follett, which was dreadful).

Fiction: 
Vera by Carol Edgarian
 San Francisco, 1906.
The Hidden Palace (The Golem and the Jinni, #2) by Helene Wecker
 A thoroughly satisfying squeal. 
The Dark Library by Cyrille Martinez; translated from the French  by Joseph Patrick Stancil  
Red Island House by Andrea Lee
 Expats in Madagascar
The Paris Library by  Janet Skeslien Charles 
 The American Library in Paris during World War 2
Winter in Sokcho by by Elisa Shua Dusapin; translated from the French by Aneesa Higgins
 Off season in a South Korean seaside town.
A Thousand Moons (Days Without End #2) by Sebastian Barry
 I haven't read the first book but it didn't seem to spoil my enjoyment of this one.
Address Unknown by Katherine Kressmann Taylor
 The beginning made me think that this might turn out to be a DNF bummer, but then I really got into it and enjoyed it. Some background info on Emily Grant Hutchings.
 
The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett
  Read the first few chapters, then skipped and skimmed thinking it would get better. It didn't. This was very, very bad. Ugh!

Short Stories: 
Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat
Summer Guests by James H. Schmitz  (This etext was produced from Worlds of If Science Fiction, September 1959)
 One of my "Twenty Books of Summer 2021"
Summer Snow Storm by Stephen Marlowe (This etext was produced from Amazing Stories, October 1956)
 
Nonfiction:
The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal
Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Japanese Woman and Her World by Amy Stanley  
The Appalachian Trail: A Biography by Philip D'Anieri
The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany by Gwen Strauss
Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman
 A round trip adventure!  For more see her Beyond a Book
Our Summer Migrants by James Edmund Harting: An Account 0f the Migratory Birds Which Pass The Summer In The British Island; illustrated by Thomas Bewick
 The illustrations are lovely even though they are only in black and white. I found myself Googling for colored pictures. After reading Sara Dykman's Butterfly book where the emphasis is on protecting a species, it was rather disturbing how often these 19th Century ornithologists shot the birds in order to study and identify them. Of course in 1875 they didn't have color photography and fast cameras, but still....
 
Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember Their Mothers edited by by Esmeralda Santiago and 
Joie Davidow
Contents:
First born / Esmeralda Santiago
My mother in the nude / Maria Amparo Escandon
"Hello, Dollinks" : letters from Mom / Mandalit del Barco
Persephone's quest at Waterloo : a daughter's tale / Alba Ambert
Mami, a.k.a. Doña Lola / Piri Thomas
Mami's boy / Gustavo Perez Firmat
Travels with Mami / Liz Balmaseda
September 19, 1985 / Ilan Stavans
A mother named Queen Solitude / Jaime Manrique
!Mamita Linda! / Francisco Goldman
Mi Mommy / Dagoberto Gilb
How (in a time of trouble) I discovered my mom and learned to live / Junot Diaz
Just a woman / Gioconda Belli
Frida, Friduca, Mami / Marjorie Agosin.


Fiction, Juvenile:
Two picture books by French Artist  André Hellé (more, in  French, on  Wikipédia). Loved the pictures so much that I read in French (with a lot of help from Google Translate). It was worth the effort.

Poetry:
A Summer's Poems by Francis J. Lys
Written in August and September, 1893, in Halstatt, Austria. I didn't get much feel of place from them as the they seemed labored and overworked. Constrained, perhaps, by the requirements of rhyme and form.
  
Online:
Abandoned Rails about old railroad lines in the USA
 
 Brief essay on the importance of muleteers, newsboys, and spies in the forming of the nation of Mexico.


 Some background information about the neighborhood setting of The Hidden Palace.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June 2021

I wasn't planning on listing my non-reading, used to be routine, activities but getting my hair professionally cut for the first time in sixteen months was a really Big Deal! I cut it myself three times (with in between trims on the bangs) during quarantine: the first time I did a really good job but who could see it? the second time was so-so but it looked OK for a medical visit; the third time was a real mess and by the time I was fully vaccinated it looked terrible! 

Another biggie! I resumed my water exercise class. Ahh, did it feel good to be back in the pool! 

As for the reading...some surprises, a couple of disappointments, but mostly good reading.

Fiction:

 Abide with Me by Strout, Elizabeth
 
Always reliable Ms Strout

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
by Zapata, Michael
 I loved this!

Summer : a novel by Wharton, Edith 
  Unusual Wharton - it's not about the gilded privileged set.

Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery by Lorac, E.C.R.
 So enjoyable to read the classic mysteries from the British Library/Poisoned Pen Press. Ah the world without smartphones!

Maids
by Skelly, Katie
  A graphic interpretation of a real crime (murder) that took place in France in 1933. Grisly but good. 

They Were Found Wanting - They Were Divided (The Writing on the Wall: The Transylvania Trilogy #2-3) by Bánffy, Miklós; translated from the Hungarian by Thursfield, Patrick and Bánffy-Jelen, Kathy
   The Trilogy has been on my to-read list for ages, I'm glad I finally got to it.
 
Turbulence by Szalay, David 
 Linked short stories. One of my favorite reads this month.

A Passage North  by Arudpragasam, Anuk
  I really liked the author's The Story of a Brief Marriage so I was looking forward to this. I received an electronic review copy from the publisher and it was a real struggle to read in that formatI think I need to get a print copy and read it again.

The Charmed Wife
by Grushin, Olga  
 I enjoyed this modern day look at the aftermath of the Cinderella story, but I liked Grushin's Forty Rooms more.

Migrations by McConaghy, Charlotte  
 An Irish/Australian woman breaks her parole to follow the migration of arctic terns from Greenland to Antarctica. 

How Beautiful We Were by Mbue, Imbolo 
 An African village vs American Oil interests. This one fell flat for me.

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop edited by Penzler, Otto
 Seventeen short mystery stories, each by a different author, set in and around Penzler's Manhattan bookshop.  A fun "summer" read.
 Authors:  Charles Ardai, Lisa Atkinson, George Baxt, Lawrence Block, Mary Higgins Clark, Thomas H. Cook, Ron Goulart, Jeremiah Healy, Edward D. Hoch, Rupert Holmes, Andrew Klavan, Michael Malone, Ed McBain, Anne Perry, S. J. Rozan, Jonathan Santlofer, Donald E. Westlake.
 
Juvenile fiction:
A Tale of the Summer Holidays by Mockler, Geraldine
  I was surprised. This was written in the 1890s. I expected tame and sedate. I got a contest the resembled the grass-bomb wars we had defending our "forts" in 1940s rural California.  Good fun.
 
Poetry:
Mortal Summer by Van Doren, Mark
 What a mishmash! Greek deities and Christian archangels journey to America and mess with rural (hillbilly?) society. Why? Not Van Doren's best effort.  It made little sense.

Nonfiction:
Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way
by Gaines, Caseen
 A learning experience.
 
The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History by Givhan, Robin 
  High fashion never made much sense to me. Still doesn't.
 
Letters to Camondo by Waal, Edmund de 
  Well worth the read..
 
Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Shoreline by Kahrl, Andrew W.
 Some Connecticut history. Wish it had been better organized because it's an important story.
 
Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook by Lipe, Mi Ae 
 Great book but its 4.1 pound weight overwhelmed me even more then the overabundance of collards, chard, lettuce & other greens in our very own CSA box!

My Summer in a Garden, and Calvin: A Study of Character by Warner, Charles Dudley 
  Warner was a neighbor of Stowe and Twain in the Nook Farm area of Hartford. Similar writing style to Twain. Fun to read. Gardening is not easy in these parts which is why I don't do it.

Online:


Six Degrees of Wikipedia: Find the shortest path between any two Wikipedia pages
 
Several short pieces at New World Writing (published on June 11):
 
   Mary Grimm ~ Her Sketchbook, Found Among Her Things
   Maria Robinson ~ The Requirement
   Mike Itaya ~ Rasthole Flats
   Laurie Blauner ~ Four Pieces
   Daniel Adler ~ The Lion Tamer
 
The Filing Cabinet by Craig Robertson "The filing cabinet was critical to the information infrastructure of the 20th-century. Like most infrastructure, it was usually overlooked."
 
20 Best Zucchini Recipes We signed up for a CSA subscription and expect the zucchini will soon be filling the box. I do know lots of zucchini dishes but more is more. In addition to the recipes, this site has tips for handling (including freezing) the squash.