Henry James: the Master

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Master (1901 – 1916), Vol. 5 Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1972.

Reason read: to continue (and finish) the series started in April in honor of the birth month of Henry James. Yes, this should have been finished in August. We won’t dwell on how long it took me to finish this series!

So, let’s recap. We started Volume One of the Henry James biography examining his childhood. Subsequent volumes traced his move to Europe and followed his social life as a freewheeling bachelor. By Volume Four James was settling down with the purchase of Lamb House in Rye, England. Throughout every volume we were able to chart James’s progress as a writer, a poet and even playwright but in Volume Five he is dubbed “the master” by his peers. By Volume Five we see James slowing down, becoming more domestic and worrying about his Lamb House gardens. Imagine! He has never had gardens of his own before. Even though James might be slowing down, the emphasis is still on his ambition. He wanted to be influential. He wanted to be remembered and admired. He took great pride to cultivate his craft.

Confessional: all the while I kept asking myself how James could call himself a true American when he was away from his homeland so much of the time and especially after he put down solid roots in London and Rye, England. It just goes to show you how complicated citizenship can be.

Author fact: It took Edel nearly 21 years to write the James biography. Talk about a labor of love!

Book trivia: like the other four volumes of Henry James Volume Five has interesting photographs.

Nancy said: nothing at all.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Literary Lives (the Americans)” (p 144).


Nod to November

What happened in November? I finished physical therapy. But really, PT is not finished with me. I signed up for a 5k in order to keep the running alive. As soon as I did that I needed x-rays for the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my hip and groin. Like stabbing, electrocuting pains. Diagnosis? More sclerosis and fusing. Yay, me! In defiance of that diagnosis I then signed up for a 21k. I am officially crazy.
Here are the books finished for the month of November:

Fiction:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB/print)
  • The Edge of the Crazies by Jamie Harrison
  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Beaufort by Ron Leshem

Nonfiction:

  • Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

Series continuations:

  • No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher (finally finished!)
  • Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel
  • I Will Bear Witness: the Nazi Years, 1942 – 1945 by Victor Klemperer

Early Review for LibraryThing: nothing. I jinxed myself by mentioning the book I was supposed to receive. Needless to say, it never arrived. So I never finished it. Ugh.


November Pain

The running – oops – I mean the training is officially over. I don’t know where the run will go from here. I am toying with a 5k for Safe Passage next month. To hell with toys. I WILL run for Safe Passage next month! But really, I don’t even want to think about that right now since PT has ended. For now, I still have the books. The list is long because we aren’t going anywhere for Thanksgiving. Here’s to four days off with nothing to do but read, read, read. Here is what’s on tap for November:

Fiction:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB) ~ in honor of November being the best time (supposedly) to visit India (AB / print). Confessional: I think I would like to remove the category of “Best time to visit fill-in-the-blank.” How am I to know when is the best time to visit a country when I have never been there myself? I’m getting a little tired of saying “supposedly” the best time to visit.
  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay ~ in honor of Kay’s birth month
  • Beaufort by Ron Leshem ~ in honor of Lebanon gaining independence in November

Nonfiction:

  • Gastronomical Me by M.F.K.  Fisher ~ to recognize National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month

Series Continuation:

  • No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue (and finally finish) the series started in August in honor of Idaho
  • Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents month
  • I Will Bear Witness/To the Bitter End by Victor Klemperer ~ to continue the series started in October in honor of Klemperer’s birth month
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ yes, I am still reading this. Just tying up loose ends.

Early Review for LibraryThing IF it arrives (so far it hasn’t):

  • Jam Today: a Diary of Cooking with What You’ve Got by Tod Davies

If there is time:

  • Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love (fiction) by Michael Malone ~ in honor of Malone’s birth month
  • The Edge of the Crazies (fiction) by Jamie Harrison ~ in honor of Montana becoming a state in November.
  • The Caliph’s House (fiction) by Tahir Shah ~ in honor of November being the month Morocco gained independence.

 


What’s More Scary?

I have been in physical therapy for my hip for more than a month now and here’s the sad, sad thing. I don’t feel much different. I still have trouble sleeping a night (last night I woke up every two hours) and runs haven’t been that much easier. I managed over sixty miles for the month and finally finished the dreaded half (the one I have been babbling about for months now. Yeah, that one). I definitely made more time for the books. Here is the ginormous list:

Fiction:

  • Aristotle Detective by Margaret Anne Doody (finished in a week).
  • All Hallows’ Eve by Charles Williams.
  • Discarded Duke by Nancy Butler (finished in a week).
  • Beautiful Children by Charles Bock (AB / print). Word to the wise, don’t do it!
  • Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe

Nonfiction:

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison (AB / print; finished in less than a week).
  • Sense of the World by Jason Roberts (AB / print).
  • I Will Bear Witness: a Diary of the Nazi Years (1933-1941) by Victor Klemperer ~ in honor of Mr. Klemperer’s birth month.
  • In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy

Series Continuations:

  • We are Betrayed by Vardis Fisher.
  • Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman ( finished in four days).
  • Henry James: the Treacherous Years by Leon Edel (Can you believe I actually finished this within the same month?).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina (read in four days).

Henry James: the Treacherous Years

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Treacherous Years (1895 – 1901), Vol. 4. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1969.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April, in honor of James’s birth month.

The “treacherous” years, as Edel calls them cover 1895 to 1901. In the beginning of this installment Edel pays special attention to James’s playwright period. My favorite piece of history from this time is of H.G. Wells as a theater critic. I had no idea. Because of James’s limited success in the theater his plays are all but forgotten when one thinks of the works of Henry James, which is a pity since he cared about them a great deal. The failure stays with him for a long time and is referred to often. It is also during this time that James writes the well-known piece, “Turn of the Screw” and he settles down enough to buy Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, England. First, as a long-term rental agreement and then as an outright purchase (the biggest of his life). He ends up spending nearly twenty years in this house; a sure sign the bachelor is finally starting to slow down. During this time he surrounds himself with youth, preferably talented, sensitive young men.

Favorite confessional line, “Memory has a way of telescoping fact, and Sir Edmund’s reminiscences must be retouched by documentary evidence” (p 84).

Favorite fact about James: Dictating James and writing James were two different artists using two different voices. I find that really interesting.

Book trivia: Edel goes back in time and recounts details previously outlined in the Middle Years. While researching the Treacherous Years he found new details about the previous portion of James’s life.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Literary Lives: the Americans” (p 144). I have to ask. Can someone who has spent nearly his entire adult life residing in Europe really truly call himself an American?


Boo to You October

The month had finally arrived for the half marathon, my first and only of 2017. Enough said about that.
Here are the books I have planned:

Fiction:

  • The Aristotle Detective by Margaret Anne Doody ~ in honor of Greece’s Ochi Day
  • All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams ~ in honor of what else? Halloween.

Nonfiction:

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison ~ in honor of the first safari leader’s birth month (Major Sir William Wallace Cornwallis Harris born October 1848. How’s that for a name?) (AB / print)
  • Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts ~ in honor of James Holman’s birth month (AB)

Series Continuations:

  • The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents Day.
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ to continue (and finish) the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month
  • We are Betrayed by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue the series started in August

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina ~ and we are back to nonfiction.

If there is time:

  • Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe (fiction)
  • The Discarded Duke by Nancy Butler (fiction)
  • In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy (nonfiction)
  • I Will Bear Witness (vol.1) by Victor Klemperer (nonfiction)

So Long September

What an absolutely bonkers month. September was…How to describe September? The family had a reunion of sorts. The island suffered its fifth shock of the season with a quadruple murder. Running was another head-scratcher as I officially resumed physically therapy for my twisted hips. But. But, But! I was able to log over 30 miles. Nowhere near the 70+ I wanted, but it’s something. At least I haven’t stopped entirely. And the reading? Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (AB/print)
  • The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
  • Burton And Speke by William Harrison (fictionalized history/historical fiction…whatever)
  • My Dream of You by Naola O’Faolain (AB/print)

Nonfiction:

  • O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre – Confessional: didn’t quite get all the way through this)
  • Everybody was so Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill
  • Living Well is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins

Series continuations:

  • Passions Spin the Plot by Vardis Fisher
  • Henry James: the Treacherous Years (1895 – 1901) by Leon Edel

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Boat Runner by Devin Murphy (fiction!)

Henry James: the Middle Years

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the middle Years, 1882 – 1895 (Vol. 3). Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1962.

Reason read: believe it or not I started this series in April, in honor of Henry James’s birth month (4/15/1843). I should have finished The Middle Years in JUNE (yes, June). Technically, if I had kept to the schedule I should be finished with the entire series by now…but as it stands, I am STILL reading.

Henry James is approaching middle age. As Edel describes, “…when James is in his forties, the center of his life” (p 18). When we last left off, James had gone back to Europe and preferred a residency there, bouncing between Rome, Paris and London. He no longer considers Massachusetts home. As James builds his literary reputation so grows his social relationships as well. As a self proclaimed “eternal” bachelor, James cultivates long standing close relationships, mostly with married women. Most notably during this time is his friendship with great-niece of James Fenimore Cooper, Constance. We would know much more about James’s social life if he had only stopped burning his letters and asking his relationships to do the same!
It is at this time James starts toying with the idea of becoming involved in the theater. He is asked to dramatize The American and realizes working with actors was a whole different game.

As an aside, reading about Nathaniel Hawthorne and Virginia Woolf at the same time as plodding through James was interesting. The other biographies gave me a different perspective on James and his work.

Author fact: Edel won a National Book Award and Pulitzer for his work on Henry James.

Book trivia: My favorite picture is titled “Henry James at Cornwall” and shows James lounging on a step while Mrs. Leslie Stephen and her son Adrian look on. In the background, with his back to the camera, is an unnamed man presumably reading a book. Another piece of trivia: The Middle Years is also a short story by James. Well played, Mr. Edel.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Literary Lives: the Americans” (p 144).


August and Alaska

If I was California dreaming in July, then I will be Alaska cruising in August. Since there were a few books on the July list I didn’t finish I am punishing myself by not starting my August list until the July list is completely cleared. This is a first and totally off the Challenge protocol. Here’s how the reading should go:

To Finish:

  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel (280 pages to go)
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (300 pages to go)

When those are finished I can tackle the AUGUST READS:

Fiction:

  • Possession by A.S. Byatt ~ in honor of Byatt’s birth month

Nonfiction:

  • Miami by Joan Didion ~ in honor of Castro’s birth month

Series Continuations:

  • Henry James: the Master the Treacherous Years by Leon Edel (will this series ever end? Apparently, I am eager for it to be over since I skipped a volume!)

Early Review:

  • Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie

July Unraveled

What can I tell you about July? What a crazy effed up month! For my state of mind it was better than the last simply because the Kisa and I ran all over California for a week. I was terribly distracted from the run and the books. Once you see the numbers you’ll understand. For the run I conquered only two runs in sunny CA and totaled 20.5 miles for the entire month. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Anna and Her Daughters by D.E. Stevenson
  • The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins

Nonfiction:

  • Pacific Lady by Sharon S. Adams
  • Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple

Series Continuations:

  • Moment of War by Laurie Lee

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein

Did Not Finish (still reading):

  • Henry James: The Middle Years by Leon Edel -STILL! Since June!
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Never Started (didn’t arrive in time):

  • In Tragic Life by Vandis Fisher

July with a Bang

The one good thing about July is that I am starting to train for a half mara in October. I am praying this gets me out of my funk…

Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins ~ in honor of Higgins’s birth month
  • Anna and Her Daughters by DE Stevenson ~ in honor of July being Ice Cream Month (this is further explained in the book review).

Nonfiction:

  • Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple ~ in honor of Hawthorne’s birth month
  • Pacific Lady by Sharon Adams ~ in honor of July being Ocean Month

Series Continuations:

  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel (didn’t finish in June) ~ to continue the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month.
  • A Moment of War by Laurie Leeto continue the series started in honor of April’s Madrid festival.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year That Change Literature by Bill Goldstein

June Jumping

I see June as jumping over spring. We went from low 50 degree temps to mid 90s overnight. Not sure what to make of this abbreviated spring. I’m not sure what to make of myself either. I all but stopped running (eleven miles for the entire month). Even when I was home on Monhegan I didn’t lace up. My only saving grace is I’m to start training for a half in July. Sigh…

Here are the books:

Fiction –

  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth ~ in honor of Father’s Day (AB)
  • Under the Gypsy Moon ~ by Lawrence Thornton
  • The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett

Nonfiction –

  • Death, Taxes and Leaky Waders by John Gierach
  • Provence by Ford Madox Ford (DNF)

Series Continuations –

  • Cider with Rosie (illustrated) by Laurie Lee
  • Henry James: the Middle Year by Leon Edel (not finished yet)

For the Early Review program for LibraryThing:

  • Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, From River to Table by Langdon Cook
  • The World Broke in Two by Brian Goldstein (not finished yet)

Here are the short stories –

  • “Artie Glick in a Family Way” by Joseph Epstein
  • “Executor” by Joseph Epstein
  • “Mendocino” by Ann Packer
  • “Babies” by Ann Packer
  • “General Markman’s Last Stand” by Tom Paine
  • “The Spoon Children” by Tom Paine
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me” by Richard Bausch
  • “Aren’t You Happy for Me?” by Richard Bausch

Henry James: the Conquest of London

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Conquest of London (1870 – 1881), Vol II. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1962.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April in honor of Henry James’s birth month.

At the end of Henry James: the Untried Years the year was 1870 and James had just returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts after his first major jaunt through Europe. His beloved cousin, Minnie Temple, had succumbed to a very long illness and James was finding his way as a successful writer. Now, in Henry James: the Conquest of London James is broadening his horizons with another trip to Europe. Volume One outlined James’s personality and temperament and the seedling of his career as a writer whereas Volume Two waters that seedling and produces the blossoming of a true novelist. The parallels between Henry’s characters and that of his own grow. It is life feeding art. The art that begins to blossom is the ever-famous Portrait of a Lady.

As an aside, James’s story Watch and Ward reminded me of the poem “If No One Ever Marries Me” by Laurence Alma-Tadema. Both narrators say if they are unlucky in love they will adopt/buy a little orphan girl to bring up.

Quotes I liked, “He thrived more on people than upon scenery” (p 88),

Author fact: Edel read some 7,000 letters to and from Henry James in order to write the series.

Book trivia: Like Vol. I there are eight photographs in Conquest of London.

Nancy said: Nancy said if you want to learn about the life of Henry James you can’t do better than Leon Edel’s “magnificent”  five volumes (p 144).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Literary Lives: the Americans” (p 144).


June Jitterbugs

May was a month of real struggle. Suicides, known and unknown, sucked the life out of my psyche and I had a hard time staying afloat myself. I became obsessed with the sinking of the Lusitania and devoured every documentary I could find. Yet, I was unsure of my own mind’s footing; enough so I couldn’t trust me or myself to stand at Monhegan’s cliff edge. A first for me. Upon returning home I found myself amazed to be so relieved at being landlocked once again.

Here are the books I have planned for June:

Fiction:

  • Under the Gypsy Moon by Lawrence Thornton
  • Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth (AB)

Nonfiction:

  • Provence: by Ford Madox Ford
  • Another Lousy Day in Paradise by John Gierach ~ June is Fishing Month

Short Stories (June is Short Story Month):

  • “Artie Glick in a Family Way” by Joseph Epstein
  • “The Executor” by Joseph Epstein
  • “Mendocino” by Ann Packer
  • “Babies” by Ann Packer
  • “The Spoon Children” by Tom Paine
  • “Gentleman Markman’s Last Stand” by Tom Paine

Series Continuations:

  • Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel

Early Review for LibraryThing (maybe – I haven’t received it yet):

  • Upstream by Langdon Cook

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