October Okay

Fiction:

  • The Master of Hestviken: the Axe by Sigrid Undset.
  • October Light by John Gardner.
  • Jamesland by Michelle Huneven.
  • The Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows by Patrick Chamoiseau.
  • Isabel’s Bed by Elinor Lipman.

Nonfiction:

  • Wyoming Summer by Mary O’Hara.
  • Obsession with Butterflies by Sharman Apt Russell.

Series continuation:

  • Running Blind by Lee Child.

Early Review for LibraryThing

  • Lou Reed: Notes From the Velvet Underground by Howard Sounes.

Wyoming Summer

O’Hara, Mary. Wyoming Summer. New York: Doubleday, 1963.

Reason read: October marks the month O’Hara passed away. Read in her memory.

Wyoming Summer unfolds as a love letter to the wild west. Originating from O’Hara’s journals, it tells the story of her life on a Wyoming ranch. She loves her horses, her dude-ranch summer camp for teenage boys, and even a wayward bull who keeps getting loose and raising hell across the prairie. Her music, milking cows, and marriage to husband Michael help keep her grounded, for it isn’t an easy life on the range. Setbacks come in the form of unpredictable weather, failing crops, and rejection letters and yet O’Hara finds perfection in all of it.
People will probably recognize O’Hara’s book, My Friend Flicka, more readily than Wyoming Summer. I enjoyed the small introduction of acquiring the horse at the end of Wyoming Summer. A glimpse of things to come as My Friend Flicka is also on my Challenge list.

Author fact: O’Hara was also an accomplished pianist and composer.

Book trivia: I wish there were pictures but sadly, there are none to be found.

Nancy said: Pearl said Wyoming Summer isn’t really set in Wyoming but the small sections that are make us feel as though we are really there. Did she and I read different books? I felt that a great deal of Wyoming Summer took place in Wyoming. The dude-ranch camp, the farming, the raising of horses…I didn’t count the pages but I felt it was significant enough to call it Wyoming Summer.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “WY Ever Not?” (p 262).


October Late

I am so frigging late with this it’s not even funny. Here are my excuses: I was home-home the first weekend in October. I am hosting an art show. I’m trying to hire a new librarian. And. And! And, I have been running. Only 13.25 miles so far but it’s a start, right? I’m thrilled to be putting one foot in front of the other. But, here are the books:

Fiction:

  • October Light by John Gardner – in honor of October being in the the title of the book and the fact that it takes place in Vermont, a place that is simply gorgeous in the fall.
  • Jamesland by Michelle Huneven – in honor of October being Mental Health Awareness month.
  • Long Day Monday by Peter Turnbull – in honor of police proceedurals.
  • The Axe by Sigrid Undset – in honor of the fact I needed a translated book by a woman for the Portland Public Library challenge. Weak, I know.
  • Isabel’s Bed by Elinor Lipman – in honor of Lipman’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • Wyoming Summer by Mary O’Hara – in memory of O’Hara dying in October.
  • An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair by Sharman Apt Russell – in honor of Magic Wings opening in October and the fact that Monhegan was inundated with monarch butterflies for the month of September. We even saw a few while we were home.

Series Continuation:

  • Running Blind by Lee Child – started in honor of New York becoming a state in July (where Lee Child lives). However, big confessional: I am reading this out of order. My own fault completely.

LibraryThing Early Review:

  • Notes from the Velvet Underground by Howard Sounes

“Brokeback Mountain”

Proulx, Annie. Brokeback Mountain. New York: Scribner, 1997.

Reason read: June is Short Story Month and LGBTQ Pride month.

Confessional: I saw the movie before I even started the Book Challenge. As a a rule, I would rather read the book first so my imagination is not tainted by images of the movie. I can only compare this avoidance to a hearing a song and how you sometimes lose the interpretation after you see the accompanying music video.
Having said all that, I was surprised at how the written story moved so fast. In a mere sixty-four pages Proulx tells the devastating story of Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar. Both young men find themselves on the same job as ranchers guarding sheep on Brokeback Mountain in beautiful Montana. One accepted amorous advance leads to a deep connection that time and space cannot sever or erase. The love they have for one another remains strong despite the fact they put distance between them and move on to have relationships with women.

Line that moved me the most, “In a disquieting way everything seemed mixed up” (p 16).
Oddly enough, I didn’t take notice of the movie’s most famous line “I wish I knew how to quit you.” It is an original line from the book but there were others I liked better.

Author fact: E. Annie Proulx has ties to Connecticut.

Book trivia: Everyone knows of the 2005 movie starring Jake Gellenhaal and Heath Ledger. It won an MTV award for best kiss…or something like that.

Nancy said: Pearl called “Brokeback Mountain” Proulx’s “most famous story” (Book Lust To Go p 264), but that surprised me. In regards to the written word I would have figured Postcards or Shipping News to be more well known. Maybe the movie is the reason “Brokeback” is more widely known. Pearl calls the movie “superb.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “WY Ever Not?” (p 264).


July ’09 Was…

July ’09 was yesterday, but it was also a really fun month (despite the pool letting go). First there was meeting a friend for dinner and asking her to come work for me! Then there was Rebecca Correia’s Iron Horse show. Of course I rallied the troups (all 12 of us!) and we had a great time. I really need to blog about the three-way Kisa had with the girls and who can forget the Wicked Wally?
How could I forget Boston? The trip into the city was amazing because the company couldn’t have been more perfect. They caught the mandarin fish! I have a few pictures from the day of my way, but I’m dying to see theirs!
July was also the return to running. I am proud to say I logged 35.21 miles in July.

  • The Skull Mantra by Eliott Pattison ~ this one stayed with me for awhile. I think it should be a movie.
  • The Stillmeadow Raod by Gladys Taber ~ cute.
  • Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx ~ ugly.
  • The Enemy by Lee Child ~ fascinating. Can’t wait to read the others!
  • Morningside Heights by cheryl Mendelson ~ middle class society in Manhattan.
  • The Light That Failed by Rudyard Kipling ~ a little tough to get into at first.
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne ~ back to a classic!

For the fun of it:

  • Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

I was supposed to read a couple of Early Review books but only one arrived in July. I will have to review it in August (I’m reading it now).


Close Range

Proulx, Annie. Close Range: Wyoming Stories. New York: Scribner, 1999.

I am fascinated by Wyoming. Have been ever since I was a teenager. I think it started when a boyfriend of mine enthralled me with stories of Coffin Lake. It sounded so beautiful and wild and so far away. Close Range is a collection of short stories that take place in Wyoming. Here is a list of the short stories:

  • “The Half Skinned Steer” ~ a creepy story about an over-eighty year old man who travels from New England to Wyoming by car for his brother’s funeral. It’s an odd story because he and his brother weren’t close. Favorite line, “He wanted caffeine. The roots of his mind felt withered and punky” (p 29) and “He traveled against curdled sky” (p 34).
  • “The Mud Below” ~ a desperate tale about a man obsessed with bull riding because it’s all he knows how to do.
  • “Job History” ~ Literally, a fast-forward version of the job history of Lee Leland.
  • “The Blood Bay” ~ okay, I admit it. I don’t know how to describe this story. Just read it for yourself!
  • “People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water”
  • “The Bunchgrass Edge of the World” ~ Girl talks to a tractor.
  • “Pair a Spurs” ~ favorite line, “I get the rough end a the pineapple every day” (p 153).
  • “A Lonely Coast”
  • “The Governors of Wyoming”
  • “55 Miles to the Gas Pump”
  • “Brokeback Mountain” ~ I think everyone knows this story, thanks to the movie.

Confessional: I read Close Range at the same time as Stillmeadow Road by Gladys Taber. Bad idea. Not because one made the other worse. It was just that they were too completely different books and the contrast made it difficult for me to concentrate.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories sets a very harsh, violent, sad landscape for its characters. Poverty and a sense of futility is in every story. Every situation is a lesson in survival and dealing with the crappy hand you have been dealt. Words like stark and bleak and depressed come to mind. The characters are born into a way of life that has barely any opportunity for change. There is no easy means of escape. The brutality of the landscape is matched only by the grit of its inhabitants.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Companion Reads” (p 64).


July ’09 is….

I am feeling better about July. Much better. It’s like the sun has come out (literally and metaphorically). I think I am finding my way out of the darkness. July is social. Dinner with good friends. July is a Rebecca show at the Iron Horse with a whole host of people. July is more attention paid to Hilltop. Reconnecting with Germany. Maybe Norway and Lebanon. Wouldn’t that be cool?
For books, here is the endeavor:

  • Skull Mantra by Eliott Pattison ~ in honor of the best time (supposedly) to visit Tibet (in my dreams)
  • Stillmeadow Road by Gladys Taber ~ okay, this is a stretch: Nancy Pearl calls this book a “cozy.” I translated that to mean “happy” and July is National Ice Cream Month. Ice cream makes me happy and happy is cozy…told you it was a stretch!
  • Close Range by Annie Proulx~ on honor of Wyoming becoming a state in July
  • The Light That Failed by Lee Child~ here’s another stretch: Lee Child lives in New York. July is the month NY became a state. If anyone knows what month Lee Child was born in please let me know!
  • Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne ~ to celebrate Hawthorne’s birth month
  • Morningside Heights by Cherilyn Mendelson ~ in honor of New York becoming a state.

If there is time I would like to add The Light That Failed by Rudyard Kipling or The Making of the Atom Bomb by Richard Rhodes. Also, I’m supposed to have an Early Review book from LibraryThing – something about getting along with you mother-in-law (or something like that), but I haven’t seen it. Janice Schofield Eaton’s Beyond Road’s End: Living Free in Alaska was a bonus book.