The Most Memorable Games

Baker, Jim and Bernard M. Corbett. The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History: the Oral History of a Legendary Team. Bloomsbury, USA, 2012.

I think I was rubbed the wrong way by this book immediately. In the introduction there is an assumption about the reader (and ultimately of the New England Patriot fan); that their involvement with football is “from the comfort of your couch” (p vii). How do you know your reader hasn’t shelled out thousands of dollars to be season ticket holders? How do you know your reader isn’t some lowly ball boy or towel warmer who, for the love of the game, is on the sidelines come snow, sleet or hail every Sunday, a random Monday and sometimes Thursday? Maybe the owner of the New England Patriots is reading your words?

The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History starts at the very beginning, September 9th, 1960 with the Boston Patriots. There is an astonishing overabundance of far reaching detail not necessarily related to the New England Patriots; so much information it would take a lifetime to confirm it all if you had to. I found that the appendices in the middle of each chapter were, more often than not, irrelevant to the title of the book. In fact, a bulk of The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History had nothing to do with the most memorable games in Patriots history. A chapter could be called “Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Divisional Playoffs January 5, 1997” but contain a section called “the 1996 Giants.” Approximately two thirds of the narrative is dedicated to setting the stage with approximately 150 pages dedicated to each game. Throughout the book you will find information on the most years without a home playoff victory (any team), the history of the tiebreaker game (any team), a history of other Boston-area sports inaugurals (Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, even the Boston Marathon), a bio on Jim Nance, single score games since 1943 (any team)…I could go on. All of this information is interesting. I just wish it had been organized in the book better.
My favorite parts of the book were the detailed play by plays of what happened on the field during each of the most memorable games…when they finally got around to talking about them. It was especially exciting if it happened to be a game I attended. I could relive the game through the players own words. However, Baker and Corbett take a long time to set the stage. This is not for the casual football fan.

Up Country

Kumin, Maxine. Up Country: Poems of New England. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1972.

There is no doubt Kumin knows New England and knows it well. Her poetry reflects the deep woods and country living that is so typical of life in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Her style of writing is plain and straightforward, without complicated phrasings or over the top descriptors. Every line is a perfect image as clear as day. Reading Kumin’s poetry is a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively. Nearly everything she writes about the reader is able to relate to if they know living in the country. For example, if you are a dog owner and your beloved pooch has ever wrestled with a skunk then you know how impossible it is to get ride of that smell. Kumin writes, after many attempts to clean her dog, “skunk is still plain as a train announcement” (p 4). Exactly.

ps~ if you want to read this, try to find the copy illustrated by Barbara Swan. Her artistry is beautiful and compliments Kumin well.

Book Trivia: Up Country won Kumin a Pulitzer for poetry in 1973.

Author Fact: Kumin has experience with New England living. She is rumored to live in New Hampshire.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Prose By Poets” (p 194). In this case this is poetry by poets.

October (2009) was…

October has always been my “hang on”” month. It’s the month I hold my breath for while waiting for September to release me. This October was no different. It started with a trip to Maine to see West Coast family (and a great foggy run), a trip homehome andandand Kisa got to go (yay), Hilltop got a much needed haircut, there were a ton of new Natalie sightings, and, dare I say, the promise of a Hilltop Thanksgiving? The end of the month was a little stressful – a lump in the breast and a missing ovary. No wonder I read so many books and here they are:

  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis ~ sci-fi story about a man who is kidnapped and taken to Mars.
  • The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis ~ coming of age story about a young girl who is a chess playing phenom.
  • A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle ~ a ghost story about a man who lives in a graveyard for twenty years.
  • Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters ~ a mystery about two unmarried women traveling through Egypt and being pursued by a mummy.
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ~ nonfiction about the role of women through the ages (up to the 1960s when the book was written). Oh, how far we’ve come!
  • House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier ~ a spooky tale about time travel.
  • When Found, Make a Verse of by Helen Smith Bevington ~ a commonplace book full of poetry, proverbs and excerpts.
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ a novel about small town life (read because October is the best time to visit New England).
  • The Natural by Barnard Malamud ~ a novel about a baseball player (read because October is World Series month).
  • In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu ~ a compilation of short stories all on the dark side (read in time for Halloween – you know…horror, fantasy, mystery, etc).
  • The Life You Save May Be Your Own: an American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie ~ biographies of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy in one book (read for Group Reading Month).

For fun, I am rereading Mary Barney’s Ring That Bell (2003) because I want to challenge my cooking and make every recipe in the book. So far I’ve cooked/baked my way through nine recipes.

For the Early Review program from LibraryThing I was supposed to read Ostrich Feathers by Miriam Romm. It hasn’t arrived as of yet, so it may very well turn into a November book.

Empire Falls

Russo, Richard. Empire Falls. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2001.

It took me forever to read Empire Falls. Aside from having several different storylines each character is artfully developed in full. People and places are vividly described to the point of comfortable familiarity for the reader.
Miles Roby is a soon-to-be divorced father who seems to have lost all passion for life. He has been working at the same restaurant, the Empire Grill, for twenty years. He suffers through constant, obnoxious reminders that his wife is marrying someone else as soon as his divorce from her is final. He tolerates a mischievous, thieving father who is always telling him how not to be a loser. He squirms under the thumb of a woman who has ruled him, his family and the entire town of Empire Falls for generations. Miles’s only solace is in his daughter, Christina (Tick, as she is affectionately known by everyone). Despite everything Miles has going against him throughout the story he remains a graceful, if not tragic, hero.
Even though Miles Roby is the main protagonist of Empire Falls the entire town comes alive by Richard Russo’s artistic and skillful writing. Like any small community Empire Falls has its fair share of quirky people and Miles Roby’s personal life is not only know by everyone else, but is commented and cared about by all.

Favorite lines: “…both men had pushed their conversations until their words burst into flame rekindling age-old resentments, reopening old wounds” (p 115), “One of the odd things about middle age, he concluded, was the strange decisions a man discovers he’s made by not really making them, like allowing friends to drift away through simple neglect” (p 261), and “Janine knew from experience that it was a lot easier to forget a thousand things you wanted to remember than the one thing you wanted to lose sight of” (p 271).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “New England Novels” (p 177).