As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

Lee, Laurie. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. New York: Atheneum, 1969.

Reason read: the Madrid Festival in Spain (obviously) happens in May.

Confessional: Once again I am reading books out of order! Dammit, dammit, dammit. When I planned to read As I Walked Out I had no idea Cider with Rosie was the first book in a trilogy memoir. No clue! Pearl does not make mention of the connection even though Moment of War (the third and final book of the memoir) is also included in Book Lust To Go. As an aside, Cider is listed in the index of More Book Lust. Again, I did not make the connection.

Laurie Lee left home in England to find, at the very least, fame and fortune as a musician. With mixed emotions he found he could make a dime on street corners but had to supplement his income with other vocations like construction work before moving on to his next adventure. At the heart of his journey was discovery; as he put it, “I felt it was for this I had come: to wake at dawn on a hillside and look out on a world for which I had no words, to start at the beginning, speechless and without a plan, in a place that still had no memories for me” (p 54). Most of his discovery takes place in Spain. As an aside, I loved his description of Madrid as an old lion with broken teeth and bad breath. As I Walked Out… ends with Lee being escorted out of Spain by a British destroyer and yet by summer he was fixated on getting back to Spain to join the war.

Quotes that gave me pause, “I was affronted by freedom” (p 6), “Such a narrow gap between consent and dispute” (p 45) and “Halfway up, in a recess, a small pale child sat carving a potato into the shape of all doll, and as we approached, she turned, gave us a quick look of panic, and bit off its little head” (p 93). What’s that all about? One last quote, “Fear lay panting in the street like a dog” (p 219).

Author fact: Lee was the youngest of twelve in his family. But probably the most fascinating fact about LL is that he met his wife when she was five years old and neither could understand the other’s language (she French, he English).

Book trivia: As I Walked Out… was illustrated by Leonard Rosoman. One of my favorite illustrations is on page 50.

Nancy said: As I Walked Out… is included in a list of books about Spain Nancy said should be tried (p 220).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Spain” (p 218).


July with a Bang

Switching it up a little for July. I removed the Cotterill series since I didn’t get to the first book in May. I also removed the other books I didn’t get to even start. I think I was too ambitious with the June books! I’ll have to make sure everything I didn’t read is all on the list for next year. Ugh. Anyway, here is the tremendous list (July’s books in bold):

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB)
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis (DNF)
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER)
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (AB)
  18. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce DNF
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst – (AB)
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
  37. Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon – (ER)
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
  39. Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
  41. Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
  42. Broom of the System by David Wallace
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  44. Little Follies by Eric Kraft
  45. Literary Murder by Batya Gur
  46. Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker (ER)
  47. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder (AB)
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  53. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  54. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine (EB)
  55. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  56. Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft
  57. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren (ER)
  58. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur
  59. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser
  60. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma
  61. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge
  62. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
  63. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  64. Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  65. What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft
  66. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett (Originally Jun – moved to September. I’ll explain the reason in the book review)
  67. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
  68. Ruby by Cynthia Bond (ER)
  69. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  70. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  71. Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser (Jul)
  72. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Jul/Feb)
  73. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
  74. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
  75. Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
  76. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)Removing because it’s in the wrong year.
  77. Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul/AB)
  78. ADDED: So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne (ER/AB/JUN-JUL)
  79. Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman
  80. Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman
  81. ADDED: Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin
  82. Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood
  83. Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  84. Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft (Aug/Feb)
  85. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
  86. Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
  87. In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
  88. What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
  89. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
  90. Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft (Sep/Feb)
  91. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
  92. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
  93. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
  94. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
  95. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
  96. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
  97. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
  98. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
  99. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  100. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  101. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  102. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = Electronic book


May 2011 was…

May was a month of deja vu. The Just Cause walk. Wanting to go home. Same old, same old. Nearly everything I read this month reminded me of something else I have already read. Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann reminded me of The Defiant Hero by the same author was the most obvious because the plot and characters were very similar. Almost too similar. To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite reminded me of Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell. They had similar plot lines: taking on a difficult classroom of students as a new teacher. Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham reminded me of Where the Pavement Ends by Erika Warmbrunn. Two stories about traveling through difficult, foreign terrain by bicycle.

So, here’s the list:

  • To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite ~ in honor of National Education Month. This was a really quick (but good) read. Read in one day.
  • Catfish and Mandala: a Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham ~ in honor of May’s Memorial Day. This was probably my favorite book on the list.
  • Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann ~ in honor of Brockmann’s birth month. I have mixed feelings about this book (as my review pointed out). Read in one day.
  • A Child’s Life and Other Stories by Phoebe Gloeckner ~ in honor of May being Graphic Novel month. This was super hard to “read.” Read in one day.
  • Antigone the play by Sophocles ~ in honor of May being the best time to visit Greece. I keep forgetting this plot so it was good to read it again. Read in one day.
  • Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong ~ in honor of Asian-American Heritage month. Read over a weekend. This was one of my favorites.
  • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery ~ in honor of Eeyore’s birth month. This was an audio book and very different than everything else I have listened to so far.
  • Seabiscuit: an American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand ~ in honor of the Kentucky Derby.
  • The Dean’s List by Jon Hassler ~ in honor of Minnesota becoming a state in May. This reminded me a little too much of my own work place!
  • A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters From the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward edited by Isaac Metzker. Read in two days.
  • City of Light by Lauren Belfer ~ in honor of history month. Interesting story about Niagara Falls and the advancement of electricity at the turn of the century.
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi ~ in honor of May being the best time to visit Iran. This was amazing. Can’t wait for part II. 
  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman ~ in honor of Prayer Day being the first Thursday in May. This was a fun murder mystery. Read in one car ride home.

I didn’t get to three books on my orginal list: China, To Me, House on the Lagoon, and, Art and Madness. I forgot to pack them and ended up finding Persepolis and Friday the Rabbi Slept Late at home.

May was also the month for crazy travel. I slept no more than two nights at a time in Bolton, Concord, Boston, Chicopee, Peaks Island, Rockland and Monhegan all in eleven days time. I took two boats, one bus and three different cars. Walked over 75 miles. Saw family. Saw friends. Breathed in the woods. Inhaled the ocean. I enjoyed every second of it.


Hoarder

I have gotten obsessed with the show, ‘Hoarders’ on A&E (at least I think it’s A&E…). It’s all about people who collect and keep things until the things control their lives. It’s rather scary, but I watch the show to encourage me & myself to take a keen eye to our own clutter. Books, hair clips, shoes, casserole dishes, letters, hotel lotions, charity walk t-shirts. It all starts to pile up after awhile. Loss of control isn’t all that out of the ordinary.

I’m feeling a little disheveled when it comes to the Book Challenge. Old blogs aren’t filed properly. They don’t follow format and are missing valuable tags. There is no order to the older stuff. At the same time, I have the sudden obsession to call Ms. Pearl out on a few things. Like, why are (nearly) whole chapters in More Book Lust made up of books already listed in Book Lust? There are over 100 titles listed in both books. Some have triple or even quadruple mentions.

In an effort to organize this whole project I am taking a closer look at all of the older book review blogs. I am cleaning up tags (and adding missing ones), including a BookLust Twist to the really old posts, and taking note of repeat titles. I realize this is going to be really annoying for anyone with an RSS feed to this blog. You’ll think I’m writing up a storm when really, all that’s happening is an update here or there. I am really, really sorry about that. I just need a little mis en place in my life.


December ’09 was…

Where in the world do I begin with December 2009? What a freakin’ crazy month! I only ran 4.49 miles for the entire month (ha!), but have a sneaking suspicion my knees are thanking me for the time off. Weather wise we had a few snow storms, but nothing too dramatic. I wrote more reports and conducted more reviews and put in more work hours than I care to admit. But, best of all, most memorable of all was the trip home to Monhegan. I haven’t even begun to write about that (which is strange because it changed my life). With everything going on, books were low on the list:

  • Tiepolo’s Hound by Derek Wolcott ~ interesting but not my favorite.
  • Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle ~ memorable and moving, definitely one of my favorites.
  • Wonderboys by Michael Chabon ~ can’t wait to see the movie! I only have one question, “is the snake in the trunk?”
  • Soloist by Mark Salzman ~ amazing, amazing book. I’m a fan of Mark Salzman now.
  • The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs Deal ~ gossipy and girly, this was a fun one.
  • The Lost Steps by Alejo Carpentier ~ last book of the month…

From my list I didn’t get to Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling. It should have been on my November list, not December. Woops!

Something of interest – I didn’t read any nonfiction this month. Hmmmm…


Slipping Up

Confession time. I have fallen off the path of documentation somehow. It all started when my list of accomplished (read) books for the Book Lust Challenge on LibraryThing wasn’t adding up with the list I keep in a separate spreadsheet. LibraryThing had 298 accomplished books and my spreadsheet claimed 297. What’s one book you might ask? Plenty. That means some author’s work isn’t fully accounted for.

So. I started to investigate. To my horror not only were my numbers off, but somehow I had missed reviewing 17 books. Well, that’s not entirely true. I reviewed them here, on WordPress, but somehow forgot to transfer the “clean” version to LibraryThing. For those not in the know: I post the same review twice. First I write a review complete with personal observations and favorite quotes on WordPress, then I cut out the personal stuff and post the drab, shorter  “review” on LibraryThing. Neither is really a “review” per se. I don’t critique the writer’s style, find fault with plot, criticize timelines, etc. I basically am out to prove to anyone who cares (mostly myself) that I read the book by saying a few words about the general storyline, characters, and so on.

So. Now I am in the process of searching for 17 missing reviews. Did they all make it to WordPress and not LibraryThing? I already found two that way. Was I hesitant to review an entire book when I only read one story or poem out of it? What was my problem with the review process? This will take some time to sort out. I’m afraid to ask the bigger questions. Did I just get lazy? Am I slipping up?

ps~ The missing 298th accomplished book? Native Son by Richard Wright.


Jackson’s Dilemma

Murdoch, Iris. Jackson’s Dilemma. New York: Viking, 1995.

I hate it when I read a review that influences my way of thinking, my way of reading a book. This happened innocently enough. I was looking for more information about Jackson’s Dilemma. Was it ever made into a movie? Adapted for the stage? A musical? As a result of my searching I discovered Jackson’s Dilemma was Murdock’s last book. Not only that, but she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s right around the time of publication. Inadvertently, I read two reviews that seemed to blame the disease for the demise of Murdoch’s craft. In other words, Jackson’s Dilemma bombed. Because of the reviews I found myself wondering about the words. I will admit, the beginning was slow and the characters, curious, but in the end I didn’t think it was all that bad.

It starts off on the eve of Edward and Marian’s wedding. Edward is enjoying dinner with friends when he discovers a note under the door: an “I can’t marry you” letter from Marian. There is no explanation but the following day there is much hoopla about making sure people are “barred” from the church and from attending a wedding that won’t happen. All of Edward’s friends are absurdly devastated by this turn of events, so much so that I started to really question their sanity. Meanwhile, both Edward and Marian disappear (separately, of course). Enter Jackson (Just Jackson, no last name). Even his arrival is peculiar.

In the end the plot becomes a garbled mess. Everyone is trying to be in love with someone else, exclaiming undying devotion left and right. Even Owen (male) and Tuan (also male) have some kind of odd, unexplained relationship going on. Despite all this, I did have two favorite lines: “The moon was not present, being elsewhere” (p 22). Who actually knows where the moon was, but I thought that was funny. The other line: “After all, as Randall said, it’s the sea that matters” (p 100). Too bad Randall would lose his life to the very thing that mattered.

BookLust Twist: Book Lust in the chapter “Iris Murdoch: Too Good To Miss”. Leave it to me to read her last book (sorta) first.