“Shadow Show”

Simak, Clifford. “Shadow Show.” Strangers in the Universe. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1950.

Reason read: June is National Short Story Month.

The show of life must go on, even though one of the key actors has passed away. Bayard Lodge, Chief of Life Team 3 with psychologist Kent Forester, must figure out how to keep their play going. Much back and forth debate is given to the question of who did the dead man embody? What was his part? Just who would be missing from the group? Unfortunately, the end was predictable but it was entertaining read all the same.

Author fact: Simak won awards for his short stories but none for the ones I am reading for the Challenge.

Book trivia: Strangers in the Universe is a very thematic book.

Nancy said: Pearl considers “Shadow Show” one of Simak’s best and shouldn’t be missed.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 213).


Medea

Euripides, Michael Collier, and Goergia Macherner, 2006. Medea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. eBook Collection: EbscoHost (accessed 5/16/18/2018).

Reason read: June is the first time the weather is really nice enough to get on the water. Medea uses the ocean in a rather cruel fashion…

The things women will do for love. The things men will do for greed. Medea’s father, King Aeetes had possession of the Golden Fleece. Jason of the Argonauts wanted it. Medea, seduced by Jason, went to great lengths to prove her love. How else to explain murdering her own brother and scattering his body parts over the ocean; making her father slow his fleet to collect them for burial? How else to explain getting Jason’s cousins to poison their father in an effort to bring back his youth? In the end, Jason marries a different princess because Medea is too dangerous. Go figure. Medea starts with Medea seeking revenge. Next on her killing list is Jason’s new wife, Glauce. She gets even more evil from there. She would make a good candidate for that Deadly Women show…

Author fact: If you have ever seen the statue of Euripides in the Louvre, you know he had some killer abs.

Nancy said: Nancy said Medea was one of the four Greek plays you definitely didn’t want to miss (p 11).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Alpha, Beta, Gammas of Greece” (p 9).


Marching Out

March was one of those weird months. A few Nor’Easters. A few miles run. A few books read. We had two school closings in back to back weeks so that helped with the reading, but not the run. I finished the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race just two minutes off my time last year. Considering I didn’t train (again) I’m alright with that. There’s always next year! Here are the books:

Fiction –

  • The Good Son by Michael Gruber
  • Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
  • White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling
  • Witch World by Andre Norton
  • Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis

Nonfiction –

  • All the Way Home by David Giffels
  • Slide Rule by Nevil Shute

Series Continuations –

  • Coast of Incense by Freya Stark – to finished the series started in honor of her birth month in January.
  • Entranced by Nora Roberts

Early Review for Librarything –

  • Oneiron by Laura Lindstedt (started)
  • Infinite Hope – Anthony Graves

Poetry –

  • New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz (not finished)

Fun – I’m not finished with either fun book so I won’t list them here.


Two Plays and a Premise

Dennis, Nigel. Two Plays and a Premise: Cards of Identity and The Making of Moo. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1958.

Reason read: March is National Read month. I’m reading this just because.

The entire story centers around the Identity Club, a group of psychoanalysts who come together once a year to discuss phony identity cases which don’t involve real patients. At the same time, the local townspeople are being brainwashed into believing they are servants for the psychologists. They lose their identities in order to serve the whims of the shrinks. The end of the story, which I never got to, involves a Shakespearean play. For me, the plot disintegrated midway through the story and I gave up. It started off great. The slow brain washing was sinister in places. Miss Paradise’s brother goes missing and she doesn’t recognize him as the therapists’s servant. Or calling the doctor by different names in order to confuse him. Both scenarios were funny and evil and brilliant.

Confessional: I was supposed to read the full length novel of the same title but I ordered the play instead. By the time I noticed my mistake it was too late. I never would have been able to finish the 300+ page novel in time so I stuck with the play.

Line I liked, “Many a man’s life has been thrown away through the mumbling of his survivors” (p 61).

Author fact: Nigel wrote a smattering of other books but this is the only one I am supposed to read for the Challenge.

Book trivia: Card of Identity is both a novel and a play. For the latter it becomes a play within a play.

Nancy said: Nancy listed Cards of Identity as one of her faves (p 33).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the odd chapter called “The Book Lust of Others” (p 33). Cards of Identity was discovered in Writer’s Choice: A Library of Rediscoveries compiled by Linda Sternberg Katz and Bill Katz.


King Lear

Shakespeare, William. “King Lear.” The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974. 1249-1305

Reason read:Billy the Bard was born in April.

I think I have had to read King Lear half a dozen times in my academic career. It keeps coming back. It is interesting to note that this time I didn’t read it as a Pearl pick, but rather as a Pearl comparison. King Lear is compared to a Jane Smiley novel in More Book Lust in the chapter, “Big Ten Country: The Literary Midwest (Iowa) (p 27).

So, back to Mr. Shakespeare and his brilliant tragedy. To sum up the play in one sentence: this is the story of a king seeking to divide his kingdom among his three daughters based on who could articulate her love for him the best. Beyond that it is the tragedy of emotional greed – of wanting to be loved at any cost. It is the tragedy of politics and family dynamics. Youngest daughter Cordelia is unwilling to conform to her father’s wishes of exaggerated devotion. Isn’t the last born always the rebel in the family? As a result Cordelia’s portion of the kingdom is divided among her two sisters, Goneril and Regan. The story goes on to ooze betrayal and madness. Lear is trapped by his own ego and made foolish by his hubris.

Author trivia: it makes me giggle to think that Shakespeare was married to a woman named Anne Hathaway, only not that Anne Hathaway.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called (as mentioned before), “Big Ten Country: the Literary Midwest (Iowa)” (p 27).


Oedipus the King

Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1954.

Okay. Raise your hands. Who had to read Oedipus in high school? Who had the name come up in at least one college psychology course? Better yet, who acted out the play at any time in their life? I’m guessing most people are not strangers to the story: Mythological king is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. End. Of. Story. That’s the gist of it anyway. There are many different versions out there, depending on which translation you read. MY take-away is this, if it was meant to happen, it will happen. There is no getting out of it. You can twist fate by taking someone else’s fortune cookie, but the right words are destined to find you. So, even though everyone knew the prophesy and tried to avoid the disaster, Oedipus still managed to come across his father, have an altercation, kill him and end up marrying the widow…his own mother. Like I said, you can’t sidestep what will be.

Confessional: Freud ruined this for me. Whenever I hear the name Oedipus I think “complex” and not “ancient Greek trilogy.”

Reason read: May is the best time to visit Greece.

Author fact: Sophocles was one of three Greek tragedians.

Book Play trivia: There’s a lot of music in Oedipus.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Alpha, Beta, Gammas of Greece” (p 11).


White Devil

Webster, John. The White Devil. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960.

I have to admit, anything written in the early 1600s is a chore to read. Especially if there isn’t a 19th or 20th century translation around. The White Devil was no exception to this belief. I found it tedious and tough. Three words: Bored. To. Tears. I’m sure the plot was racy in it’s day but I couldn’t get beyond the language. There is rumors of adultery, exile, fake deaths, corruption and family drama.

Reason read: with all of its revenge and corruption it should be perfect for Halloween. I wouldn’t know because I couldn’t finish it.

Author fact: John Webster was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. I have to wonder what their conversations would have sounded like. Competitive?

Book Play trivia: when this was first introduced to the English public it bombed. Webster blamed it on the weather because turnout was low. However, in more recent years it has been reintroduced and adapted.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 216). Pearl lumps The White Devil in the horror category but I wouldn’t know. It’s definitely a tragedy, but not I’m not sure about horror.