This should be my favorite month because I’ve been so deeply tied to Just ‘Cause (think pink) and I love, love, love Halloween. But, all I can think about is the run. Here are the books, by the way!
Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan In a Strange City by Laura Lippman By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman Recognitions by William Gaddis Maus by Art Spiegelman Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan) The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat In Xanadu by William Dalrymple The Assault by Harry Mulisch Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London Alma Mater by P.F Kluge Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy Good Life by Ben Bradlee Underworld by Don DeLillo Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft Polish Officer by Alan Furst– Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan Walden by Henry David Throreau Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose Broom of the System by David Wallace Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan Little Follies by Eric Kraft Literary Murder by Batya Gur Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson Royal Flash by George Fraser Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma Petra: lost city by Christian Auge From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan Murder Duet by Batya Gur Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc Grifters by Jim Thompson Snow Angels by James Thompson
So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar Light in August by William Faulkner Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
Feed Zone by Biju Thomas Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis Faster! by James Gleick
Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett ADDED: Families and Survivors by Alice Adams Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving Petty by Warren Zanes
Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Homicide by David Simon
- Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
- Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
- Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
- ADDED: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
- ADDED: Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
- ADDED: Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
- Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
- Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
- Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
- Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)
DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book
May is going to be a crazy month. I have no idea why I have so many books scheduled for this month. Have I gone mad? I doubt I will get through nine, count ’em, nine books in 31 days but there you have it. This is the list. In other news May
is was: a trip to Toronto & a half marathon; & will be a trip to Bolton and a 60 mile walk. I think I am crazy. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan(DNF) In a Strange City by Laura Lippman By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB) Recognitions by William Gaddis(DNF) Maus by Art Spiegelman Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER) Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan) The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (AB)
In Xanadu by William Dalrymple The Assault by Harry Mulisch Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
Good Life by Ben Bradlee Underworld by Don DeLillo Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan Finnegan’s Wake by James JoyceDNF Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft Polish Officer by Alan Furst – AB Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan Walden by Henry David Throreau Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon – ER
Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
Broom of the System by David Wallace
Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan Little Follies by Eric Kraft
Literary Murder by Batya Gur
ADDED: Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker (ER) ADDED: Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder (AB)
Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
Royal Flash by George Fraser
- Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr – DNS)
Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan(DNF) ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine (EB)
Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan(DNF)
- ADDED: Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft (May/Feb)
Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren (ER)
- Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (May)
- Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
- Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
- Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
- From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
- Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
- Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (AB/May)
- Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (Jun/Apr)
- ADDED: What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft (Jun/Feb)
- Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett (Jun)
- Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
- Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
- Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan(DNF) Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan(DNF)
- At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Jul/Feb)
- Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
- Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
- New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
- Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
- Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
- Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
- Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
- ADDED: Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft (Aug/Feb)
- Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
- Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
- In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
- What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
- Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
- ADDED: Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft (Sep/Feb)
- Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
- Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
- Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
- Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
- Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
- Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
- Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
- Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
- Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
- Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
- Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
- Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
- Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
- Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
- Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)
DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = Electronic book
If it comes to you in ashes that means I burned it. Burned it, but sent it to you anyway. I am twisted enough that I would do something like that…just to show you my good intentions comes with an evil streak. I started this whole thing in earnest thinking I would, I could, build you a masterpiece. Something worthy of a bedside table as a good bedtime story..or maybe even a coffee table out in the open if I let myself dare to dream that big and ambitious and grandiose. Shopping for supplies was much like being a id again. I was drawn in by sparkly stickers, glittery borders, sticky glue, funky cutting scissors, colored paper of vellum and linen and cotton. So much to chose from I didn’t know where to begin or end. Embellishments aplenty. My credit card shook from exhaustion. I wish I could say my enthusiasm for the project held up through the piles and piles of purchases, pages and pages of printed out out-of-print pictures, the plethora of everything saved and once cherished. Suddenly, without warning I felt unworthy of the task at heart. Who was I to decide what to keep? What to exclude? How could I decide what was coffee table worthy? Every well-wished sentiment, every scrap of paper had something worth saving, keeping, holding onto. The insecurity grew and grew and grew with each passing page created until finally every page created became a page hated.
So, I started again. Tearing the old masterpiece down and starting new. Different ideas flowed and I worked feverishly to retain the enthusiasm. I worked methodically, determined to use everything given to me, entrusted to me. Everything meant a creation oversized and bulging. Bigger and bigger. But, like a sandcastle caught in a rising tide my enthusiasm ebbed away…again. This time it was my displeasure with how cramped and crowded every page looked. Bigger didn’t mean better. My eagerness to please was obvious overkill on every page. With remorse, I tore it down again and again.
I ended up rebuilding a third time. I started with all new supplies. This time I dared to play god to the creation. I dared to determine the worth of each scrap. When it was done I was proud of it but also insecure. I needed more time to reconcile the conflicting emotions before I sent it off.
I never sent it. It’s still here. I sent a decoy, a fake. something to placate you and keep me covered. I still want to burn it. I still want you to have it. Two conflicting emotions. So, maybe it will come to you…in ashes.
A couple of years ago I had a dream about my death. Two friends were dragging me across a field to lay me in a field of daisies. They talked about me as if I had wronged them by leaving them. Here’s the freaky part. When they let go of me – to drop me off in my final resting place – when my head hit the ground – I woke up. This is what I wrote afterwards:
Here I am. Stuck on the wrong side of sleep yet again. A dream startled me awake and that’s simply all it took. I’m reduced to prowling the cyberworld once again. I won’t go into details because even though my dream was troubling I don’t want to read into it anymore than my psyche already has. I will say this, it has me thinking about human perception. Friends and death. When do you know you have a friend? Really, truly know someone is your friend? Is it based on how many comments they leave you on MySpace? Is it weighed by how many times they call your cell phone? Is it the amount of concern they show you in times of trouble? Is it by their reaction to you when you are falling down drunk? I am losing my grip on what constitutes a real, honest to goodness friend.
the death perception is easier to figure out. It’s easier to define because my trouble is a single ponderance – why does a person lose all they love then they die? At what point does a person go from being Dear Uncle Joe to “the body” they must do something with as quickly as possible? Why is it that we are a society that can;t get rid of the dead fast enough? I know I have questioned this before. In other cultures they take turns washing and dressing and sitting with their dearly departed. It’s a rare society that will not say “that’s not Aunt Julie anymore.” Our society means it when we say “She’s gone.”
So how are friends and death connected? Simple. Friends, when I die please don’t be so quick to get rid of the vessel that has housed my soul. Hang out for a little while, tell me ghost stories, play the music I love to hear, laugh about what I’ve lost because you know wherever I went I can’t find my keys.
“Grave digger, when you dig my grace could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain?” ~ David J. Matthews
I think what I was really asking was this: please don’t drag me across a friend and leave me to push up the daisies.
Someone unexpected lifted me out of my self-imposed anger today. I had been walking about with this you done me Wrong attitude and she turned it into a Right. Not only unexpected but downright heart stopping shocking. I had written her off a long time ago. Suddenly, I am seeing the faint lines of forgiveness coming through the hate. Am I mad?
I hate being lied to and this lie was self-indulgent and stupid. I could have handled the truth but something chose to make it worse by putting my heart in the mix. The smokescreen was as ridiculous as the lie. Could I not see through it? I couldn’t help but vent. After all, I am allergic to smoke. A sort of blood letting for the hurt, so to speak. The kicker is that I chose to spew my frustration to someone who used to produce just as much irritation as I was trying to release. I couldn’t help it and to make matters worse, there was no stopping me once I got going…you know how it is.
Surprise of all surprises, my rant was met with calm. Understanding. Even a solution of sorts. I couldn’t help but laugh, feel a litte silly. Just how old am I anyway? So, there we are: the barnacle, the newbee, the about face and me. Go figure.
I want a love I can’t get from just anyone. To be hugged for no reason is a rare thing. It’s the little gestures. I could care less about gifts. I’m tired of it all and when I’m tired I tend to look at the should haves, could haves, would haves, if onlys. Oh Romeo, take me dancing. Keep me up for all hours of the night; make me feel I am worth all the late night hours. Have fun. Life as we knew it ended today. I want a drink. I want to make love to someone who whispers my name. I ‘d love a love so deep it forsakes everything else.
It is hard to believe 12 years have passed since I felt this, this…whatever. I don’t even know what to call it. The man I thought I knew admitted he was torn between love and hate of me. Yet, I stayed committed to being unwanted for no reason whatsoever. Even after moving on I was determined to play the fool.
What a difference a decade makes! I could kick my own self’s ass for being so silly. I could laugh in the face of such stupidity. Yet, those things were put in my way for a reason. Lessons to be learned and not lightly. Love is not to be awarded like a trophy just because you are gorgeous on the outside. Love is to be hard earned because you are beautiful on the inside. Instead of Work It Girl it’s Work For It. The relationships in my life didn’t love me like they should have because I didn’t. Respect didn’t walk in my door and own my pride. It took those silly, stupid moments for it all to make sense.
These days I have a love that forsakes all others. It dances me til dawn. I have it not because I deserve it, but because I earn it. Everyday.
The black cloud just paid a visit to my neighborhood. It’s not exactly over my head but it will be there soon enough. I just got word that B’s father lost the battle against brain cancer. Wait. Let me take that back. There was never a fight. There was never a fighting chance. Because of that B moved his wedding date in the hopes Mr. B would be able to attend, to see his only son get married. In the end he was too sick to be there despite the (very) moved up date.He was told he had X amount of time to live. So he did. Now he’s gone. Just like that. The emotions inside of me are like fireworks, each one a different color and size and intensity. I’m angry at the very word cancer. I’m hurting because I know what it’s like to lose a father before your life really gets started.
Another friend is dealing with a different kind of death. The kind that comes after a breakup. The person might as well be dead to him because of the way she is handling the goodbye. He calls it immature and I can see why. But, what he doesn’t realize is that it is hard to be mature when you feel you have been wronged on so many different levels. It’s difficult to think in terms on “just friends” when you want something more. In response she acts, rude, forgets her manners, all common decency goes out the door. Still, I hurt for my friend. The death of anything is never easy.
Something I wrote almost 16 years ago:
Early, early in the morning and late, late at night I find peace walking. I don’t know what it is that makes me feel so okay, but I’m glad it’s there. It’s quiet. 4:30am and 11:30pm. just me and the stars…and the moon. This is the time I try to think of good things, and better things, and maybe the best things. I wonder what will happen to me. What happened to dad? What is he doing now? Is he in heaven? Does heaven even exist? I don’t know. For some reason at that time of day, walking all alone, it doesn’t hurt to think about things like that.
My childhood has crept up on me. Daily, I think about my younger days. A psychic once told me that to ponder my past meant an imponderable future…an impending death. Interesting. I just think it means I’ve been reminded of when I was a kid so it’s been on my mind more than a lot lately.
My husband and I watched a program about the strangest creatures to roam the eather (BTW: the male angler was number one because he attaches himself to the female and becomes part of her body; an odd appendage of sorts). Anyway, horseshoe crabs made the list. I forgot where on the list they ranked. They are not crabs at all, but rather relatives of the spider with 12 legs and ten eyes. I used to find horseshoe crabs stranded on the beaches of Quogue. Thanksgiving. Visiting my wealthy grandmother on Long Island. I remember a picture of me bravely holding up the tail of a beached and decided dead one. I wore a Dorothy Hamill haircut and a big cheesy grin. I was fascinated with the creatures.
S and I went to dinner tonight and I saw the dreaded whoopie pie. I’ve sworn off them, by the way! I still say my mother’s whopper of a whoopie is still my ultimate favorite. Standing at least 4″ high and easily a hefty pound I won’t be able to resist. I long to stand at her side, frosting spoon in hand.
This weekend I skimmed through the books I bought my nephew. The Lorax, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, The Five Chinese Brothers, Blueberries for Sal, Goodnight Moon, Tiki Tiki Tembo, Ferdinand the Bull…all the stories from when I was a kid. I still read them as an adult. I have Shel Silverstein poems solid like cement in my head….memorized for life. “I cannot go to school today said little Peggy Anne McKay…”, “The crocodile went to the dentist and he sat down in the chair…”, “Enter this deserted house, but walk softly if you do…”
I have no idea why we attach ourselves to the childhood things and think they are the greatest. Batman, Lincoln Logs, Nancy Drew. Flour, salt and water. 64 colors and the built-in sharpener. I still love the smell of grape bazooka bumble gum and drinking Sprite through a Twizzler is still one of the coolest things to do.
Note: It’s funny. I didn’t write on 11/1/05 either. What’s even funnier is this post – from two years ago. I could have written it today.
What You Want to Hear
When does the game of he-said/she-said go from conversation to complication? When your heart is too involved…or not enough? When you are close to the subject or you can’t get away from it fast enough?
We played an intricate game of telephone and I’m still trying to sort out the winners and losers. What kind of game are you playing when you don’t have all the facts yet you are pressed for something? You keep saying “I don’t want to get into this” but yet, you do because you picked up the phone in the first place. An active participant without all the answers. Don’t they call that “not playing with a full deck, but playing nonetheless”? The sad thing is, my lack of facts gave someone else the excuse to only hear what he wanted to hear. I’m still trying to sort out if that was a good thing.
My husband is not letting someone else hear what he wants to hear. I admire my man for not giving in to apologies and rug sweeping. He’s smart enough to know this thing is too big to get under there anyway. I applaud him for his decision to confront because he’s not only trying to save a friendship, he’s trying to save a life. My only hope is that he won’t be told “it’s none of your business” because that’s not what he wants to hear.
Seriously, when is it okay to get involved? When is it okay to turn a blind eye? Is it ever okay to simply say I don’t care anymore and walk away? How can you catch yourself before you care too much and it’s beyond too late? How can you act of out love and hate at the same time? My answer would be you can’t but still, I wish I could battle through the pernicious and arrive at sanity’s doorstep unscathed. “We are the roses in the garden, beauty with thorns among the leaves. To pick a rose you ask your hands to bleed.” ~10,000 Maniacs.
Take the good with the bad. Suffer the pain with pleasure. Without one you simply cannot have the other. The trick is to know when to answer the phone…and hear what you want to hear.
All Things Evil
What is it about Halloween? The one night where pumpkins turn into jack-o-lanterns, shadows dart from house to house, leaves crackle under foot and the air takes on a crisp, smoky smell. Out come costumes that scare, masks that hide, cobwebs, candy and laughter. I love Halloween. I love the haunting, the magic, the feeling of something creeping just behind you.
Every year my living room turns into a shrine of all things October 31st. A pumpkin that screams, a skull that bleeds red wax, a gargoyle with ruby eyes, a witch who proclaims, “I aint yo mama”, a hissing black cat, several ghosts, life-like tarantulas…Every year I get something new. I’m a kid again, wanting to sit in the sincere pumpkin patch of innocence, waiting for the Great Pumpkin chanting “I believe. I believe.”
I love walking around our neighborhood on Halloween. One neighbor shows Nightmare Before Christmas on the side of her house, another has glowing faces in every window. Almost everyone has a creative jack-o-lantern on their stoop. Teenagers race around in the dark, hoping for tricks while excited, giggly children traipse from house to house looking for treats. Laughter is in the air along with something else…something spooky. I’d like to think the dead really are prowling the earth; authentic ghosts joining the fun, blending in for a night of mischief.
This is the time when I could use a drink. What is it that they say? Something to take the edge off…waking up to use the bathroom I find myself really awake as I lay back in bed. How do I get to this point? It happens all the time. I was dreaming of lip balm and Spoletos before. Why can’t I get back to slumber? How did I jump off the Sleep Express? Maybe it’s nerves. I’ll be meeting a bunch of new people today and I don’t think I brought enough makeup to put my best face forward. I pushed away a potential friend because the thought of that initial how-do-you-do terrified me. I’m not good at first impressions. If I could I’d have several first impressions. Like in the movie Groundhog Day. Until I get it right. Whoops! I stuttered. Let me go back to bed and try again. Ooops, I bumped your drink. Let me get back to you in 24 hours. Sorry! I mispronounced your name. Same time tomorrow? Until finally, finally my first impression is gracious and charming.
Insomnia leads to crawling around the internet. First stop, email and news of Natalie. Second stop, quick check of island life activity and photographs of heaven. Third stop, the sirsy message board to check the now grown silent chatter. Final stop, here. To confess my thoughts by the glow of the laptop and to wish for sips of icy cold limoncello….or maybe warm tuaca.