Travels of August

Since the Run for Nancy was only a few days ago I am still on a high from not only running four miles, but running four miles without pain. No pain whatsoever. The pain is so gone it’s as if I imagined the whole thing. Weird. Weird. Weird. As for books, since I don’t have any other running plans in the near future:

Fiction:

  • The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe – in honor of August being Chick Lit month.
  • The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – in honor of Courtenay’s birth month being in August.
  • Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts – in honor of August being Dream Month (hey, I read it somewhere).
  • Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett – in honor of Dunnett’s birth month being in August.
  • The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall – in honor of Rajir Ratna Gandhi’s birth in August.

Nonfiction:

  • A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird – in honor of Colorado becoming a state in August.
  • Eurydice Street: a Place in Athens by Sofka Zinovieff – in honor of the Dormition of the Holy Virgin.
  • A Season in Red by Kirsty Needham – in honor of the Double Seven festival in China.

Series continuations:

  • The Big Bad City by Ed McBain – to continue the series started in July.

If there is time:

Fiction:

  • Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman – in honor of Ekman’s birth month.
  • Crazy Jack by Donna Jo Napoli – in honor of Fairy Tale Month.

 


Grand Ambition

Michaels, Lisa. Grand Ambition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.

The year is 1928. America is spellbound by adventurous feats like the one of Charles Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight. Amelia Earhart is in the news with her own daring flight. It’s only natural that a man by the name of Glen Hyde, interested in running whitewater, would want to set some records of his own.

Grand Ambition starts with the first person narrative of Reith Hyde, father of Glen Hyde. Reith sets the ominous tone and the sense of foreboding. Keeping track of his son and new wife’s progress down the rapids of the Colorado River he knows they are late reaching their next point. Surely, something is wrong…
Glen, 30 and Bessie Hyde, 23 are a true life ambitious and adventurous newlywed couple who dared to go down the rapids of the Grand Canyon in a homemade boat in late 1928. Glen, an experienced boater, wanted to be the fastest man to complete the journey. Bessie was romanced by the idea of being the first woman to do the same even though she was a novice. They were almost at the end when something went horribly wrong and they were never heard from again. Lisa Michaels takes to task telling their heroic story, imagining what they went though and their ultimate demise. Interspersed between the adventure is the personal history of Bessie and how she came to meet Glen, fall in love with him and find herself boating down the rapids of the Colorado River. On the other side of the story is the search for Glen and Bessie. Glen’s desperate father, Reith, will stop at nothing to find his son.

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my friend and the book he wrote about his own adventure down in the Grand Canyon. I wondered if he saw the same rock formations, the same rapids untouched by time.

Lines to remember, “…she had been a brief accident of his early twenties made into holy law…” (p 21), “Death didn’t miss you because you stood still” (p 44), and “Love is another country” (p 195).

Reason read: June is adventure month. Knowing this always makes me feel like I should be living an adventure, not reading about one.

Author fact: Grand Ambition is Michael’s debut novel.

Book trivia: I could see this being a really cool movie, but it’s not.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Adventure By The Book: Fiction” (p 7). Also from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “AZ You Like It” (p 31). As an aside, Grand Ambition is indexed as just Ambition in Book Lust To Go.


It Must Be

Barnes, Scott P. It Must Be…(A Grand Canyon Trip): Drawings and Thoughts From a Winter Trip From Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek (December 19, 2010 – January 2, 2011). Charleston: 2011 [ISBN 9780615444055].

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit this upfront. Scott is a dear friend of mine. Gawd, that makes me (and him!) sound ninety years old. Let me rephrase. Scott has a piece of my heart, forever and always. As you might have guessed we were lovers, best friends, roommates, and even classmates at one point. We have 25 years of history. He is, and will remain, the only “ex” with whom I can have an intelligent conversation. To be more blunt, he is the only ex I talk to. Period.

All that being said, I found It Must Be to be a tease, disappointingly short. That was my very first thought upon seeing its size and opening its first pages. It was my last thought when I finished reading it the first time; well after I had seen and imagined its potential. My mind exploded with the possibilities for this slim missive. To say that I wanted more, more, more is a good thing. But, in the end I changed my mind about it all. First, let me back up and write a proper review:

At first glance It Must Be looks like a self-indulgent diary. One of those “vanity press” books when one wants to see themselves in print. In reality It Must Be is an unflinching look at our greatest natural resource, water. Specifically, the Colorado River. Hidden in the journal of a winter adventure down the Grand Canyon Barnes plays devil’s advocate and dares to ask about man’s wanton waste while recognizing we need water for work and for play beyond sustenance. It Must Be speaks to the naturalist, the avid boater, the ecologist, and the historian, but his most obvious audience is the artist. Brilliant color and detail explode from nearly every page. Canyon walls come alive in shades of red and blue, black and green, while the river’s ever-changing energy is captured in the same. While It Must Be is short and sweet (46 pages cover to cover) its final message is loud and clear, “how much do you need?”

Here are the places I thought could have had more “meat.” Barnes mentions Matkatamiba and Havasu Canyon as being highlights of the trip (p 22). I wanted to know why. What made these places worth mentioning? Also, I was intrigued by “mailboxes on page 37. Even though this is a “gimmick” that has been done in the past, I would have enjoyed a sample “note,” something to delicately lift from an envelope, unfold and read (think Nick Bantock). I had questions about these notes (beyond the obvious what did the notes say?), like ‘were the notes weathered and fragile?’ and ‘Were the notes dated and if so, how old was the oldest note?’ As I mentioned before, I thought It Must Be ended way too soon. I wanted more description. What was it like to have those majestic canyon walls crowned over your head? Maybe photographs instead of just a link. More visuals. More stories. Sights. Sounds. (Lights, camera, action!)
But, then again, no. Maybe not. Maybe the point was just what it was, a simple reflection on a meaningful trip. Maybe you as the reader are meant to hunger for more. Maybe the goal was not to satisfy a curiosity but to create one?

Favorite quotes, “Humans fool ourselves, so our desires must be” (p 2, if It Must Be had pages), “We cannot control what we don’t know” (p 10), and “The river must be allowed to flow” (p 30).
Favorite pages of art – 12, 20 & 33.

Author Fact: Barnes has a wicked sense of humor that is laced with sarcasm. It Must Be has hints of that bite.

Book Trivia: It Must Be is part journal, part retrospect, part sketchbook, part didactic, part lecture, and all heart.


Snagged

Southern end

I hate this murky underwater apathy. This floating through things on tired waves of discontent. Lately, all I want to do is give it up. Why am I exhausted and who should I blame? Maybe it’s the dreams. At night I have nightscares that frighten me so badly I wake disorientated and confused. I struggle to ask myself why do I repeatedly have visions of bombers flying over Monhegan, dropping weapons of mass destruction? Masked fighter pilots spewing hundreds of rounds of bullets into people and places. We run, we scatter, yet there is blood. There is death I can’t explain. The sad thing is this. In my dreams I see them coming from miles and miles away. The sky is crystal clear, glaring and brilliant blue. At first they are dots on the horizon, yet I know who they are and what will happen when they arrive. I am powerless to stop it. As they get closer details emerge until I can see their faces. My dreams make them human and cruel.
Another repeat offended is the dream of drowning. Monhegan is hit with a wave as big as Texas. Again, there is that sense of foreboding. I can see it coming from miles away but I’m powerless to stop it.

Some say I want to destroy home. Some say I am started to dread the return, but what part I always ask. It’s true that Colorado started out as a joke, but has become more of a deep wishful thinking as time goes on. I fantasize about being snagged by the Rockies. I dream about being trapped miles from New England with no direction (or desire) to go home. Is that what I really want?