A Moment of War

Lee, Laurie. A Moment of War. New York: The New Press, 1991.

Reason read: I started the Lee series in April in honor of the Madrid Festival. This concludes the series.

As a impressionable young man Lee wanted to fight alongside the Spanish as a volunteer during their civil war in 1937. He made the trek across the Pyrenees expecting Spain to welcome him to the conflict with arms wide open. Much to his surprise he was immediately arrested as a spy. So begins Lee’s memoir of a naive coming of age in wartime Spain. Throughout this short little memoir Lee’s disillusionment becomes stronger and stronger until when he is finally sent home he has this last parting shot: “Here were the names of the dead heroes, piled into little cardboard boxes, never to be inscribed later in official Halls of Remembrance” (p 174). Sad.

Favorite quotes, “We were young and had expected a welcome of girls and kisses, even the prospect of bloodless glory; not till the Commander had pointed it out to us, I believe, had we seriously considered that we might die” (p 59).

Book trivia: A Moment of War is really short, only 176 pages. I read this in a weekend.

Author fact: Laurie Lee had a love affair with poetry.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Spain” (p 220).


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

Cider with Rosie

Lee, Laurie. Cider with Rosie. New York: Crown Publishers, 1984.

Reason read: to “continue” the series started in May in honor of Spain’s Madrid Festival (although Cider should have been read before As I Walked Out).

Cider with Rosie begins when Lee is just three years old. He belongs to a family of eight. Lee’s father had eight children with his first wife (who died in childbirth) and four more with his housekeeper who became his second wife. Of the twelve children total, only eight survived. Lee’s father may have left the family when Laurie was only three but his memories of childhood are simply magical regardless. I think he was raised with the expectation that his father would be back. Here is one memory about sleeping with his mother as a toddler: “They were deep and jealous, those wordless nights, as we curled and muttered together, like a secret I held through the waking day which set me above all others” (p 22).
Cider with Rosie is a study in innocence. Lee sees the world as a place of discovery. Even when he was thought to be on death’s door he analyzed all that was around him. I won’t spoil what the title means except to say it’s the end of innocence.

Quote which confounded me: About bread – “We tore them to pieces with their crusts still warm, and their monotony was brightened by the objects we found in them – string, nails, paper, and once a mouse; for those were days of happy-go-lucky baking” (p 14). What?

Book trivia: My edition of Cider with Rosie was wonderfully illustrated. I would advise anyone wanting to read Cider to find it. 35 different artists had a hand in beautifying its pages. While most artists contributed only one or two illustrations,  C.F. Tunnicliffe is credited with thirteen. In total there were over 200 illustrations of various sizes, over 50 of them being full page and 45 photographs (some from Lee’s private collection). Mu favorite illustration was the dragonfly on page 34.

Nancy said: Nancy called Cider an “affectionate memoir” (p 164).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Me, Me, Me: Autobiographies and Memoirs” (p 162). As an aside, Pearl makes no mention of the other books in the series.


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

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