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.


No Villain Need Be

Fisher, Vardis. No Villain Need Be. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc., 1936.

Reason read: to finish the series started in August in memory of Butch Cassidy robbing a bank in Idaho in August 1896.

Confessional: I could not wait for this series to be over and done with! I found Vridar a very selfish and troubled man throughout the earlier books. He pushes his wife to suicide at the end of We Are Betrayed and then spends more of No Villain Need Be trying to sort out his guilt. Another trait of Mr. Hunter’s that I could quite reconcile is his lack of parenting. True, those were different times but when he moved to Baltimore all I could ask was, what about his sons? This does not get any better in No Villain Need Be. His common law wife at one point asks him if he is going to see his children and he replies that he is “not ready yet” to face them. In case, you are wondering – his parents have his two sons back in Idaho.
But, back to the plot. Vridar is now a so=called grown up. He keeps gin in the bathroom, has written more than half a dozen books and is teaching at a college. He has obtained his doctorate in philosophy and even has a common law wife, Athene (whom I’ve already mentioned). Athene is an admirable character. She seems the most honest, being above the game playing. She helps Vridar behave as a more mature adult. Despite all the drama in the earlier installments, the series ends without much fanfare.
A curiosity: Vridar teaches philosophy while his brother, Mertyl, teaches Psychology. Even more curious, Mertyl lives and teaches wherever Vridar happens to end up.

Spoken by Vridar, these statements have some truth to them – “Love sets out to lick the world and ends up by pushing a baby-buggy to Mobile (p 40) and “I don’t believe in legislating people into heaven” (p 93). Amen, brother. Earlier in the tetralogy I agreed with Vridar’s opinion of Greek life. Now in No Villain Need Be I applaud his stance on academic commencement ceremonies. We both think they are silly.

Another quote I liked, “Pleasure as a manic depressive, asylumed in Manhattan” (p 210).
Finally, I want to thank the University of Massachusetts (Amherst campus) for sharing Vardis Fisher’s tetralogy with me.

Author fact: so far I have told you this about Mr. Fisher: he was born and raised in Idaho and that he was married three times. Last fact: Mr. Fisher wrote a great deal more beyond the life of Vardis Hunter. Sadly, I’m not reading any of it.

Book trivia: No Villain Need Be‘s title came from George Meredith: “Tis morning: but no morning can restore what we have forfeited. I see no sin: The wrong is mixed. In tragic life, God wot, No villain need Be! Passions spin the plot: We are betrayed by what is false within.”

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Idaho: and Nary a Potato to be Seen” (p 121).


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).

We Are Betrayed

Fisher, Vardis. We Are Betrayed. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1935.

Reason read: to continue the series started in August in honor of Idaho.

We started the story of Vridar (Vreed) Hunter as a young boy in In Tragic Life. In Passions Spin the Plot Vreed is college age and still obsessed with his childhood love, Neloa. By the time we catch up with him in We Are Betrayed Vreed has married Neloa and she has given him a child without fanfare. Much was made of his virginity and his preoccupation with sex in the previous installments, so it was a surprise fatherhood was treated so nonchalantly. New also to Vridar’s character is his commitment to fight in the war. He develops a new sense of courage at the thought of fighting for his country in France. His desire to be a writer and scholar also takes hold. Fisher does a great job of maturing Vridar before our eyes. His attitude towards fraternities was the first admirable demonstration for me, but there is no doubt Vridar is a tortured¬† and obsessed soul. The terrible games he played to test Neloa’s love for him are despicable. In fact, it’s Neloa and Vridar’s relationship I found the most disturbing. I won’t give away the ending, but I found myself not wanting to finish the series because of it.

My personal gripe has been how depressing Fisher is with Vridar’s life. True to form, Fisher starts We Are Betrayed with, the sentence “When Vridar married Neloa Doole he was ashamed of her…” (p 5). Vreed can’t be happy about anything.

As an aside, there was one section which confused me the most. Vridar and Neloa have their first child and Vridar leaves for war shortly thereafter. In a letter to Vridar, Neloa talks about Agnes singing about daddy being somewhere in France and she tells Vreed, “your daddy has been preaching to Agnes…trying to make a Mormon of her” (p 93). Who is Agnes? Lincoln is Vreed and Neloa’s first child, a boy. Did I miss something?

Author fact: Fisher was married three times. Will Vridar marry three times?

Book trivia: this is the penultimate book in the Vridar series.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Idaho: and Nary a Potato to be Seen” (p 121).


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!)