Sunday, November 17, 2019

THE GIRL IN THE TOWER


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The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden, Del Rey, 2017, 363 pp
 
I do like fantasy novels when they are done to my rather picky standards. The Girl in the Tower is #2 in Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy. These books hit all my loves in fantasy. I would call this trilogy historical, myth-based fantasy.
 
Vasya is a complex yet believable heroine. She was raised on tales from her nanny, including one about the Frost King, a tale that opens the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale. She can see the spirits that inhabit hearths and barns. Morosko, the Frost King, is a character in these books and someone who Vasya has strong feelings for. Because of all this, she is considered a witch by her family and community.

So, I loved The Girl in the Tower as much as I did the first book. Vasya has grown into a young woman in this one, impersonating a boy and trying to avoid marriage vs the convent as she tries to help her brother who is a monk and her cousin, the Grand Prince of 14th century Moscow, save the kingdom from their dangerous enemies. She also has a fabulous horse!

Lots of story, action, tension and I never wanted to put the book down. So glad there is still one more book to read.

Friday, November 15, 2019

A PASSAGE TO INDIA


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A Passage to India, E M Forster, Harcourt Inc, 1924, 362 pp
 
This was the second most challenging book for me in October. It is a classic. I have only ever heard the highest praises for E M Forster and I discovered for myself that he was a wonderful writer. My trouble with it stemmed from the characters. Not that there are too many but each one had a first name, a last name and many of them also had an office title such as Civil Surgeon, the Collector, etc.
 
Had I not been entranced right away by Forster's melodious language, I might have noticed sooner that he used these names and titles interchangeably as he went along with his story. In the back of my mind I felt there were triple the number of characters than there actually were as Mr Aziz became the underling of the Civil Surgeon, Cyril became the headmaster, etc.

Finally I came to my senses and sought out a character list online. As I studied this, suddenly the whole story came into focus. I admit I felt a bit tricked or perhaps taken advantage of by Mr Forster. I think though that novels from earlier times coddled readers less than our carefully "edited for the masses" bestsellers of today. Another reading lesson learned.

A Passage to India is truly a wonderful story about the clash of cultures, the insensitive ways of colonialism, prejudice, racial tension, religious conflicts, etc. It even contains a mystery centered around a perceived assault by an Indian native on a young British woman. #MeToo in 1920s British ruled India. Who knew? Not me, until one of my reading groups sent me there.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

THE GAME OF KINGS


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The Game of Kings, Dorothy Dunnett, G P Putnam's Sons, 1961, 543 pp
 
Note: I have some free time this week, something I've not had much of recently. So I am going to pour on the posts in an attempt to get caught up on all the books I have been reading. I hope I don't subtract too much from whatever free time you have!
 
Summary from Goodreads:
Dunnett introduces her irresistible hero Francis Crawford of Lymond, a scapegrace nobleman of elastic morals and dangerous talents whose tongue is as sharp as his rapier. In 1547 Lymond is returning to his native Scotland, which is threatened by an English invasion. Accused of treason, Lymond leads a band of outlaws in a desperate race to redeem his reputation and save his land. 

My Review:
This was the most challenging book I read in October. Normally I read about 30 pages an hour. It took me three days to read 119 pages and six more days to finish. In the end, it was also one of the most rewarding.

The barriers to my reading speed were the time period (1547 was not a known time to me), the humongous list of characters (though thankfully a character list is provided), the politics between Scotland and England in that time, and a fairly convoluted plot. With quite a bit of help from the internet, I conquered all!

A Game of Kings is the first in Dorothy Dunnett's six book series, The Lymond Chronicles. Francis Crawford of Lymond is a fantastic character whom I now intend to follow to the end of the series. He reminded me of one of my favorite Neal Stephenson characters, Jack Shaftoe from his Baroque Cycle trilogy.

Francis is  a wily, outrageous, determined patriot of Scotland, carrying deep personal burdens, who comes within inches of being hanged by his own people. It is as though he embodies all the evil of those he fights against. He understands the craven qualities of his enemies so completely that he defeats them by aping them.

I learned a lot more than Scottish history by reading and figuring out The Game of Kings. It was an education in how to read. If I want to read such deep and twisty historical books (and I do), I have to put in some work of my own. 16th century Scotland had many differences from present day America.
 
A big theme in the book is chess and I have never mastered that game's intricacies, but I was forced to understand it a bit better as Dunnett uses it as a metaphor for the times when kings and queens ruled the world.

So, thank you to Dorothy Dunnett (1923-2001) and to Helen at She Reads Novels. Dorothy must have been someone close to genius. Helen is one of the most knowledgeable bloggers I know when it comes to historical fiction and she introduced me to Dorothy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

THE BLUNDERER


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The Blunderer, Patricia Highsmith, Coward-McCann, 1954, 265 pp
 
This was Highsmith's third novel, published a year before The Talented Mr Ripley. As in Strangers On A Train, her first novel, it concerns a double murder. Two men lose their wives to what appears to be murder, but one of those men did kill his wife and the other did not. To twist things a bit more, both wives died in similar ways.
 
The two husbands become involved with each other in an antagonistic manner. Then there is the cop who wants to make a name for himself by solving the murders and pits these two men against each other further, in an effort to get confessions from both.

Her theme of the psychology of evil and violence which pervades her novels in is full play in The Blunderer. I have quite a few of her novels left to read and I am curious as to whether she just keeps working on that theme or if it evolves into more.

I guess I will find out eventually.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A DECADE OF CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNERS






 THE SUNDAY FAMILY READ

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It has been awarded annually since 1938 by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

I do not know how this whim came about but one day I got the idea to read a decade of Caldecott Medal winners. I have always included the Caldecott winners in the years of My Big Fat Reading Project. When I read those winning books from the 1940s and 1950s I recognized a few because my mom read to me and my sisters every night before bed. For some reason I wanted to compare the books from a decade I had not gotten to yet.  I chose the 1990s.

Here are the ten books I read with short comments on each:
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1990: Ed Young translated and illustrated this Chinese version of the Red-Riding Hood tale. Po Po is the grandmother. The mother of her three grandchildren leaves to visit Po Po because it is her birthday. While she is gone, a wolf comes to the children's home, claiming to be their grandmother. After figuring out that it is not Po Po, they trick the wolf. In fact, the kill it!
The illustrations are watercolor and pastel, appearing in panels, soft-edged with mists and shadows but also lots of color.

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1991: I had to read this one several times before I "got it." Each double-page spread is divided into quadrants, each showing a part of four different stories that by the end seem to merge. I wonder if a child would understand it more easily than I did.

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1992: This story involves frogs who fly about on lily pads one night. Leaving their wetlands pond they invade a neighborhood where they frolic about in the yards and streets in the moonlight until they return to their pond at dawn. 
The story is as crazy as a cartoon but the illustrations have the look of art.

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1993: One of my favorites. With illustrations reminiscent of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the author creates a story based on Charles Blondin, the famous 19th century French tightrope walker. Mirette, a daredevil of a little girl who is always climbing on things, meets a famous tightrope walker who has come to rest at her mother's inn after an accident. He has become afraid of heights.
By convincing the man to teach her, she helps him recover from his fear. A more magical and beautiful picture book I had never read.

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1994: Allen Say wrote and illustrated this one. He honors his Japanese grandfather with his own paintings to recreate the love of both of them for Japan and America. The grandfather was an immigrant who took Allen to visit Japan years later. Both felt a constant desire to be in each country at the same time.

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1994: Sometimes the winning books are both written and illustrated by the same person. In this one, the author wrote a fine story about what riots might mean to the children who live through them, inspired by the Los Angeles riots in 1992. 
David Diaz won for his striking illustrations with boldly colored drawings of the characters set against collages of objects. The results are a stunning synergy of talent.

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1995: This was the funniest of the books I read for the project. In fact, it is hilarious.
Officer Buckle collects safety tips and goes around to schools sharing his tips with the kids. They are very bored.
Then his department gets a dog named Gloria, a trained K-9. Buckle starts taking Gloria along on his safety speeches and the kids love it. You'll have to read it to see why.

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1996: I felt this one might be too scary for little children. It is based on the medieval legend of the Golem, a tale of supernatural forces called upon by a rabbi to fight the oppression of Jews in 1580s Prague.
The illustrations are stunning. There are many more words of text than in most picture books. I loved learning the original legend and I think somewhat older children would benefit from learning it too.
I also admire the ALA for awarding the prize to this author.
In A Note at the back of the book, a fuller explanation of Golem and its history is given, along with details about how oppression of Jews gave rise to the establishment of Israel.

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1998: Another one of my favorites for the decade. The author and illustrator creates a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale based on several different versions.
The illustrations are all his original oil paintings with lots of peacocks! As well as recreating the tale, his paintings are in the Italian Renaissance style. 
In his author's note he references the history of the fairy tale and mentions the versions he consulted. The book is so beautiful, I want to purchase my own copy.

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1999: We come to the end of this project with a biography! Wilson Bentley was born in 1865 in Jericho, VT, where he lived all his life. His family were farmers. He is the first known photographer of snowflakes.
First line: "In the days when farmers worked with ox and sled and cut the dark with lantern light, there lived a boy who loved snow more than anything else in the world."
The author tells the story of Bentley's life and that is a story of what can happen when you follow a passion.
Mary Azarian, the illustrator who won the medal, filled the book with woodcuts colored in the blues and whites and grays of a Vermont winter, accented with reds, greens and wood shades.
A wonderful book because it is filled with wonder.

I hope you enjoyed this brief tour through a decade of Caldecott Medal winners. All of these books are in print and available at your favorite bookstore or local library. My gratitude goes out to the Los Angeles Public Library for keeping all the books in their catalogue and to my local branch librarians who helped me locate the books. 

If you have little ones in your life, any of these books would make excellent holiday gifts.

Do you have any tales of your own about reading these books to kids or having them read to you?




Friday, November 08, 2019

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY


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The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E Harrow, Redbook Books, 2019, 371 pp
 
Just today I was proclaiming on one of my friend's blogs that I don't read romance novels. Then I sat down to write this review and realized that I do like love stories. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is built around two wonderful love stories set amidst a complex historical tale in the 19th century. The narrator is a woman who lost her mother in infancy and whose father comes and goes, so she is a little more than half an orphan.
 
When our heroine, named January, was seven she found a door to another world. The world she lived in was a world of privilege as the ward of an extremely rich man who seemed to be her protector. He was also the man responsible for sending her father on long journeys for reasons unknown to January. The door she found as a young girl and and a strange book she found later may contain answers to the mystery of her life.

I loved this book with all my heart. Not everyone does, including the other two readers with whom I discussed it, but I love them for leading me to the book. Alix E Harrow was trained as an historian, though she jumped that track and wrote a debut novel that may have a flaw or two but deals with portals to other worlds. The villains of the story are evil rich men who would have those portals closed lest they let in new and strange ideas that might upset the order upon which their wealth depends.

Ever since I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child, I have been fascinated by the idea of portals that lead to other worlds. Therefore this novel was just right for me. There are wonders beyond portals, full of adventure and often danger, but always possibilities that you might find your true self, not to mention true love.

If that sort of thing appeals to you, you will want to read The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

NOVEMBER READING GROUIP UPDATE


Big month for reading groups, though two of my groups are reading the same book! Watch for it.

Molly's Group:
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Tiny Book Club:
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One Book At A Time:
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Carol's Group:
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Bookie Babes: 
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Have you read and/or discussed any of these? What will your reading groups discuss in November?

Sunday, November 03, 2019

THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD






Something a little different today. A week or so I was nominated for this award by Jessica at The Bookworm Chronicles. In all my 14 years of blogging I have never had such an honor. The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community. I didn't know that I spread sunshine to the blogging community but I do try to be creative, positive and inspiring, so I thank Jessica for including me is such company.
 
Now I am required to nominate others and do some additional steps. 
The Rules:
  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 blogs to receive the award and write for them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Here are my answers to Jessica's 11 questions:

1. What is your favorite childhood book?

I had so many favorite childhood books and I read them over and over. I read Little Women so many times I had the whole first page memorized so that must have been my favorite then.

2. Who is your book crush?

I don't usually think about having a crush on a character but I want to answer the question. I suppose the most recent character to whom I felt attracted would be the Frost King (Morozko) in Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy. I still have one book to go and there is a chance he will let both me and Vasya, the main character, down in the end.

3. What is your favorite book cover?

No problem with this question. Hild by Nicola Griffith.
4. What is the most inspiring book you have read?

Again, Hild for fiction. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir for nonfiction, because a woman was smart and fearless enough to figure out all she did about being a woman who was free.

5. Who is the character you most love to hate?

I love to hate the bad people in the crime/mystery books I read and can't wait to see them get what they deserve!

6. What is your favorite adaptation of a book?
 
Plenty of these too but most recently The Goldfinch movie. 
 
7. How many books do you have on your "to-be-read"?
 
Too many to count. If I did count them I would start would start wishing for immortality!
 
8. What bookish setting would you like to visit?
 
Narnia
 
9. Who is your favorite author?
 
I have a top three: Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver.
 
10.  What is your favorite book series?
 
Current favorites are by Sara Paretsky (have read all of hers), Nevada Barr and Daniel Silva. These are all crime thrillers and the bad people always get what they deserve-:)
 
11. What has been the best book you have read so far this year?
 
This is why I do a Top 25 at the end of each year but I must say that the book that surprised me the most is Disoriental by Negar Djavadi.
 
Now for my nominations. This is the coolest part because I can introduce bloggers I admire and hope they will get new followers. All of you inspire me in many ways. If you don't wish to nominate others, or answer my questions for you, that is totally cool.
 
1 Dorothy at The Nature of Things
2 Susan at The Cue Card
5 Brian at Babbling Books
6 CyberKitten at Seeking A Little Truth
7 mudpuddle at Mudpuddle Soup
8 Carrie at Butterfly Reader
9 Esther at Bite Into Books
11 JoAnn at Gulfside Musing

Here are my questions for you:

1 How did you get started blogging?
2 What do you enjoy most about being a book blogger?
3 How long have you kept your blog going?
4 Would you say you have a philosophy behind your blog? If yes, please say what it is.
5 What genres do you enjoy reading the most?
6 Who are your top 3 favorite authors?
7 Do you also attend reading groups? If yes, how many?
8 If you could invite a few authors over for dinner who would they be-even if you had to resurrect some from the dead?
9 How do you find the books you want to read?
10 Do you think authors today are as good as those from earlier years? Better? Worse? Why?
11 Name a few of the best books you have read this year.
 
I hope you all enjoyed this diversion today! 

Saturday, November 02, 2019

BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER






It is all mostly over, for now, but this is what many people's neighborhoods all over California looked like last week as well as earlier in the month. I was blessed to have no fires within view of my home but after three years in a row, we are coming to awareness that life has changed.

Today it looks more like this:



Despite all my drama I managed to meet my books read goal for the month. A mix of difficult and/or long reads, shorter smooth reads, and another 5 picture books to complete my 1990s Caldecott award winners study and I sailed into November feeling accomplished, smarter and entertained.

Stats: 14 books read. 13 fiction. 10 written by women. 2 mystery/thriller. 2 speculative/fantasy. 3 historical fiction. 2 myth-based. 2 for my Big Fat Reading Project. 1 biographical. 5 picture books.

Countries where I went: United States, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Scotland, France.

Authors new to me: Alix E Harrow, E M Forster, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Dorothy Dunnett

Favorites: The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Golem, The Nickel Boys
Least favorite: Black and White

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How was your reading in October? Have you read any of these? What were your favorites?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

HAPPY ALL HALLOWS EVE AND ALL SAINTS DAY



All Hallow's Eve, the origin of Halloween

The history of Halloween goes all the way back to a pagan festival called Samhain. The word "Halloween" comes from"All Hallows' Eve" and means "hallowed evening." Hundreds of years ago, people dressed up as saints and went door to door, which is the origin of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating.
 
 
 
All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, or Hallowmas, is a Christian celebration in honor of all the saints from Christian history. In Western Christianity, it is observed on November 1st by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations.
 
 
For some reason life became overly intense for me this past week. Travel plans burned by fires, wind, power outages. (Don't worry I am safe at home.) One of the most challenging novels I have read in a while took me 9 days to get through. Do you ever have times when you feel changes going on in you, mentally, physically, emotionally, but you are not sure where these changes are taking you or if you will just emerge strengthened and with a better idea of what the heck you are doing in life? Yes, like that.

So I have six novels to write about and post. I have a cool post I want to do to connect up more bloggers to more bloggers. And I am working on a post about the 10 Caldecott Medal winning picture books I have read recently. None of these will be ready today nor perhaps tomorrow. But I will get to them soon.

Enjoy these holy days, whatever you believe, because we are all connected by the history, myths, and memories of what it means to be homo sapiens. The world is in our hands but we are also in its hands. Thinking about where we go from here.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

BLOOD LURE


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Blood Lure, Nevada Barr, G P Putnam's Sons, 2001, 320 pp
 
The day I got home from our trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park, I opened Nevada Barr's ninth book in her National Park mystery series. In a way, it helped me preserve the wonder of being in wild spaces away from the madness of civilization.
 
Blood Lure take place in Glacier National Park in Montana, my favorite park of them all. Of course the madness of civilization does manage to invade the parks along with the humans who visit them. Another madness defies Anna Pigeon, the park ranger whose detective skills feature in these books. Grizzly bears!

Anna was sent to Glacier for training in the study of bears. She trains with Joan Rand, an experienced bear researcher and a much more trusting soul than Anna.

While they are in the back country performing research activities, a grizzly attacks their campsite. The teenage boy working as an assistant to Joan goes missing and a camper who turns out to be the boy's stepmother is found dead of a broken neck with the flesh of her face cut away.

Anna is called upon by the Chief Ranger to help with the investigation. As usual, she is the most competent and must solve what appears to be a family psychological puzzle as well as find the guilty bear.

I think this is my favorite so far, but I may have said that about her last book. Anna is almost supernatural in her daring and life threatening investigation. Or does the strange young man she encounters have special powers? Or is it the bear?

Great bloodcurdling read!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

MRS EVERYTHING


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Mrs Everything, Jennifer Weiner, Atria Books, 2019, 416 pp
 
My second only Jennifer Weiner novel was a good experience. I read In Her Shoes, her second novel, in 2007 because it was coming out as a movie. Ms Weiner has been emphatic about chick lit being a valid genre and that's fine. It is just not my favorite genre and since that is what she writes I never read more.
 
The buzz about Mrs Everything led me to believe she had gone further or deeper or something this time. I read it, I had a good time, it's historical to a degree (1950s Detroit) but it is still chick lit.

Two sisters, a Jewish family in Detroit, father dies, mother is strict. One sister doesn't fit the mold. The reader can tell before she can that she is gay. The other sister is "perfect," beautiful, good, mom likes her better. She goes wild at University of Michigan in the 60s (so did I!) 

Neither sister gets the life she wanted and the irony of how far women have supposedly come but not really is brought home with not too heavy a hand.

As I said, I had a good time, I get what she intended to do. Now back to my usual heavy stuff!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN


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Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr, Grove Press, 1964, 304 pp
 
I hardly know what to say about this book. I read the first chapter and it was so raw and brutal. Not being in a state of mind strong enough at that time to deal with it, I set it aside. A few days later I noticed it was Banned Books Week.
 
An attempt to ban Last Exit to Brooklyn was made in Great Britain in 1966 when a Conservative Member of Parliament brought it to trial under the Obscene Publications Act. Copies were seized, the verdict was guilty. Then an appeal in 1968 reversed the decision. I did not have another banned book handy so I picked it up again.

Hubert Selby Jr lived in Brooklyn, working as a copywriter and general laborer. He wrote these connected stories about the people he lived and worked among in a straight forward style paying little attention to the rules of grammar. He highlighted the dope addicts, small time hoodlums, prostitutes and factory workers. There is a moving chapter about a labor strike. The New York Times Book Review called it "a vision of hell."

It is! Here's the thing though. These hellish aspects of life in American cities still exist. Selby's characters want the same things any of us want but the way the world is set up, only some of us have a path to getting them.

Selby does create a bit of relief or balance to all this gritty reality by drawing characters so sensitively that you see their innate humanity and childhood innocence turned to rage and desperate actions by the hopelessness of their environment and the powerlessness of their position. Most of these people started out looking for love, purpose and respect.

I can't recommend the book to just anyone. The stuff that happens to children and women, the prevalence of extreme violence is offensive. It beats the reader up emotionally. The failures of civilization are on intimate and visceral display. Still it is probably important to be reminded from time to time about the way things really are.

There was a movie in 1990. I have not seen that but I bet it put Rebel Without a Cause to shame.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

THE DEFECTOR


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The Defector, Daniel Silva, G P Putnam's Sons, 2009, 466 pp
 
Another great thriller from Mr Silva. The Defector is a bona fide sequel to its predecessor in the series, Moscow Rules. The entire series is best read in sequence I feel, but especially this time.
 
In order to avoid spoilers I cannot say much about the plot except that the things Israeli assassin Gabriel Allon thought he had fixed in Moscow Rules did not stay fixed so he has to go back to Russia, Putin's Russia. His new wife Chiara has been kidnapped by the villain from the earlier book and Gabriel is determined to rescue her or die trying. I can say he does not die. He can't because the series is still going, but their lives are forever changed.

Seeing as how Russia continues to this day to make trouble for the US, Europe and in the Middle East, Daniel Silva's series continues to give an excellent picture of the past two decades of political turmoil in the Western world.

Last decade, between 2002 and 2005, I read Upton Sinclair's Lanny Budd series. Those ten books were eye-opening for me as to the causes and results of WWI and WWII, including the Cold War and the influences of communism throughout the world. His viewpoint was definitely from a liberal perspective; fine with me because I call myself a Liberal.

I feel like Daniel Silva is carrying on that education for me. Though I don't see much hope or progress for the liberal idea that the arc of history bends toward justice, it eases me somehow to at least have some idea of the causes of injustice.

OK, Mr Silva, nine books read and ten more to go. I hope to finish the series by the time the next book comes out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A MOVEABLE FEAST


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A Moveable Feast, The Restored Edition, Ernest Hemingway, Scribner, 1964/2009, 225 pp
 
I have a mixed relationship with Ernest Hemingway. I have only read four of his novels. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) was my favorite and I liked The Sun Also Rises (1926) pretty well. Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) was a bit misogynistic and repetitive for me. The Old Man and the Sea (1952) won a Pulitzer Prize, is revered by critics, literature professors and other serious readers. I was underwhelmed by a story that told an eternal tale about life being tough with the only fun being hunting/overcoming the elements.
 
I have also read Paula Hawkins's The Paris Wife, in which she paints him as a cold-hearted, self-involved womanizer. So why should I take this guy seriously?

A Moveable Feast is another book loved by Hemingway fans but when it came up on my 1964 list I was going to blow it off. I am glad I didn't.

It is a memoir, published posthumously after the author's suicide in 1961. His working title had been "The Paris Sketches," written between 1957 and 1959. He was looking back on his early years as a writer in Paris during the 1920s.

When Hemingway died his publishers at Scribner were still awaiting an introduction and the final chapter. So A Moveable Feast as it was originally published in 1964 was compiled by editors. I read the later "Restored Edition" with omitted material reinserted by Patrick Hemingway, a son from one of the author's four wives, and Sean Hemingway, a grandson.

Who knows what Ernest himself really wanted in the book? He opted out by ending his own life.

I am glad I read it though because I got at least a version of Hemingway's own and how he felt about those years. He had regrets about his treatment of all his wives, admitting that he was deficient as a husband. He includes what to me are revealing accounts of his friendships and acquaintances in the Paris years: Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach (founder of Shakespeare and Company Bookstore), Ford Maddox Ford, Ezra Pound, F Scott Fitzgerald and others. 

He goes into detail about his writing process in those years and the many, many books he read. It was easier to live in poverty then, he thought. Well, I feel that way about the late 1960s. It is always easier to live in poverty when one is young, in love, and not yet a parent. 
 
But I saw that he and his first wife Hadley were quite in love, even though he did use her as a bed partner, a secretary and almost a servant. They had fun skiing in the Alps back when there were no chair lifts. Hemingway believed that climbing up those mountains made one's legs so strong that you could not possibly break them skiing down!

I am still not sure I trust the man but reading A Moveable Feast reminded me that behind or inside every artist is just a human being with weaknesses, foibles, self-doubts, and mistakes made. Most people merely live the best they can (or don't.) Artists rise above all that and produce lasting creations that attempt to make sense of it for the rest of us.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

OCTOBER READING GROUP UPDATE






Quite a nice and varied lineup in my groups this month. 

Carol's Group:
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Tina's Group:
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One Book At A Time:
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Bookie Babes:
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I have finished reading The Ten Thousand Doors and loved it. Currently struggling through A Passage to India. I have already read and discussed Where the Crawdads Sing for another group but it's always good to discuss a book I thought was great.
Have you read and/or discussed any of these?