By May

I thought May was going to be a disaster. The first two and a half weeks were nothing but rain and way cooler temps. I worried about my garden. I didn’t feel like running. It felt like a downward spiral. I ended up running only 28 miles and running away to Monhegan for a week so it ended better than it began. But…it’s still raining.

“…when May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour” ~ Natalie Merchant, These are Days.

“I wanted to be there by May, at the latest. April is over. Can you tell me how long before I can be there?” ~ Natalie Merchant, Painted Desert.

Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • H by Elizabeth Shepard (read in one day)
  • Nerve by Dick Francis (read in two days)
  • A Gay and Melancholy Sound by Merle Miller

Nonfiction:

  • Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves
  • Age of Gold by HW Brands
  • Lusitania: an epic tragedy by Diana Preston

Series continuation:

  • “Q” is for Quarry by Sue Grafton (finished the series)
  • As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee (okay, so I didn’t know this was part of a trilogy).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • At the Broken Places by Mary and Donald Collins

H

Shepard, Elizabeth. H. New York: Viking, 1995.

Reason read: May has a Mental Health Day.

In a nutshell: H is an epistolary novel about a 12 year old boy named Benjamin. In the first third of the book (50+ pages) it is through a series of letters written by his parents and sister, a therapist and camp employees that we learn Benjamin has mental issues (Autism? Depression? Bipolar? It’s never fully explained.). For the rest of the book Benjamin gets to speak for himself via letters to “Elliot” his female stuffed letter H. These letters, found hidden under his camp bed, reveal just how disturbed Benjamin’s thoughts can be. After camp his condition worsens and he is sent to a psychiatric hospital where, under doctor supervision, he is finally medicated. But is he cured? Is there such a thing as cured?

Throughout the reading of H there was the constant bubbling up of questions. If Benjamin is twelve years old and is not already medicated for his issues, why not? His therapist says he is considering medication; why now? Has Benjamin’s condition worsened? How long has he been considered autistic and/or depressed? Is Camp Onianta specialized enough to handle mentally troubled campers? What kind of camp writes a letter to inform parents that the bus arrived? And if Benjamin is considered a mild case; mild enough to attend a generic camp, why so many letters of warning from his parents and therapist before the start of the season? And speaking of the parents, camp is supposed to be a sociable event. Why tell the directors Benjamin is happiest when left alone? Isn’t that the antithesis of “camp” atmosphere? Why is mommy the only one who writes? Why do Benjamin’s parents contradict one another about his interests in letters to the camp directors? Do they not know him? Or do they want different things for him?

I find it really interesting that the camp directors give in to Benjamin’s whim by referring to his stuffed H by name. It’s “Elliot is an obstacle” rather than “the stuffed H is an obstacle.”

As an aside, I have lost track on what is a short novel and what is a long short story. H is only 160 pages long. Nancy Pearl could have included this in her “Good Things Come in Small Packages” chapter.

Author fact: H is Shepard’s first book.

Book trivia: What makes H unique to me is the multiple points of view. Letters from camp directors, parents, counselors, siblings, even the stuffed ‘H’ paint a fuller picture.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Epistolary Novels: Take a Letter” (p 80). For those of you keeping score I know you are saying I just read a book from this chapter. But. But! But, it was for a different reason. Sometimes it just works out that way.

 


May I Read Another Book?

Confessional: I don’t have any runs planned for May. I don’t have any travel planned for May (except going home-home). All I want to do is read, plant my gardens & master the grill. While the garden and the grill ambitions cannot be quantified, here are the books!

Fiction:

  •  Nerve by Dick Francis ~ in honor of the Kentucky Derby being in May
  • A Gay and Melancholy Sound by Merle Miller ~ in honor of Miller’s birth month. BTW – This is a behemoth (nearly 600 pages) so I am not confident I’ll finish it in time.
  • H by Elizabeth Shepard ! in honor of mental health month. This is barely 160 pages & will probably finish on a lunch break or two.

Nonfiction:

  • Age of Gold by H.W. Brands ~ in honor of History month being in May (confessional – this looks boring)
  • Lusitania: an epic tragedy by Diana Preston ~ in honor of the month the Lusitania sank
  • Goodbye to all That by Robert Graves ~ in honor of Memorial Day

Series continuations:

  • “Q” is for Quarry by Sue Grafton ~ to continue, and for me, finish the series started in April in honor of Grafton’s birth month (AB). Should be able to finish this in a weekend (AB + print)
  • Henry James: the Conquest of London (1870 – 1881) by Leon Edel ~ to continue the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • At the Broken Places: —- by Mary and Donald Collins