Monday, February 21

February's armful

One of the pleasures of town days each week are the small armfuls of books I gather and bring home from the library. I usually bring home more than I can actually get to....but it is inspiring and comforting to have them nearby. Sometimes the chosen books are concrete evidence of the wispy seedlings of ideas or interests that pass through my mind. If the books are near to hand when the time comes to explore a little further, it is worth all the choosing and carrying home, you know?

This is actually two armfuls from the last two weeks, and I have only looked at three or four thus far. I have been putting off starting the Laurie King, as might be scary and/or depressing. But it is Laurie King, and the heroine is just my age and the story may be very worthwhile, so tonight I began it and will give it a go. 

I think I am rambling and it is time for bed, so I will leave with thanks to Julie for the Flavia recommendation. The first book of the series is checked out of the library, but it sounds wonderful and I will add it to my next armful just as soon as possible.

Wednesday, February 16


I've not been doing very well with my reading choices lately, it would seem.

After Barbara Pym I tried a book that I bought at the library sale corner for one dollar-Hello to the Cannibals by Richard Bausch.  From what I read on the dust jacket, it looked very the lives of a modern young woman and the explorer and writer Mary Henrietta Kingsley converge with some found letters written by MHK in the 1800s. I gave it a good try for 150 pages or so, but had to give it up in the end as I began to feel caught in an inauthentic, sludgy, unhappy world and had no fortitude to continue on in it. This is a common experience for me with modern much unhappiness in them.

I am not sure what it says about me...that I don't like to spend time with books filled with harsh reality...but there it is.

I did, however, mark just two passages before I gave it up:

"Sitting in Ronda Seiver's living room, she experiences a terrible dread of the particulars of existence: the world outside, with its glitter of ice and roar of wind, is too big, too immense, a darkness she can't get her mind around."

Tho' this isn't pleasant, it did strike a chord within me and describes rather well the huge bodies of water that frighten me in my dreams and life with dementia and other "particulars of existence". But not the whole of existence, thank goodness.

And this I like just because I didn't know it before, but it is lovely...

"She begins telling him about her love of books and music and her excitement at getting to see her parents onstage, all her enthusiasms. She explains that her father told her about the Greek root for the word entheos, "the God within"...

On to The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson. I would be so interested to hear someone else's opinion of it. I started in great hope, finding lines like this:

"A woman at one of mother's parties once said to me, 'Do you like reading?' which smote us all to silence, for how could one tell her that books are like having a bath or sleeping or eating bread-absolute necessities which one never thinks of in terms of appreciation."

"It's lovely to have a London house with a schoolroom, and somebody in it of schoolroom age. To go upstairs and find Sheil sweating over the War of the Roses is like stepping into a new world. It takes one's disillusions away like magic."

"...and the tea is tawny and heartening..."

"...and my sympathy is going out to her quite against my will, in streamers, like seaweed..."

"...and even then my heart will hear it and beat when I'm earth in an earthy bed."

"Being Saturday, Katrine was at lunch too, and, suddenly, as I began to eat, deadly depression engulfed me. It sometimes does, and often quite irrationally, and one drifts with it because fighting it is no good. Father used to be the same, and would often say how he started a day meaning to love every minute of it, but in a moment 'along comes this cursed black pudding out of the blue, and destroys me root and branch.'

"We certainly have two servants, but they don't do their bit, and always have Legs that have to be Remembered, and Hearts which have to be Considered..."

"We love walking at night: one feels so light and fresh, and passing faces are shadowed and can't tire one, or sadden, or set one thinking. We go hatless, with walking-sticks, and wear what we like, which is restful, and find ourselves in strange streets and squares, and something they abruptly conduct one to eminent localities, as in a dream, and I once found myself outside Buckingham Palace in my dressing slippers. We call these walks 'gutter-perchings' and they are wonderful, if you are happy."

Delightful, witty, old-fashioned....but, in the end, too up in the air for me. After a while with it, my mind was tired from not being able to tell what was real and what was not. I began to feel more bemused than amused and was rather relieved when I finished it. If you saw the recent film The Black Swan, I can tell you that this is a like a light-hearted lavender version, in the sense that you never know if what you are seeing/reading is psychosis/fancy or the truth.

Until the next book....

Sunday, February 6

No Fond Return of Love

by Barbara Pym

So, trying to catch up, as I do want this place to be a record of my reading this year, as well as a place to capture wonderful words and sentences. 

After The Shell Seekers (a few days later as I can never just jump into a new book unless the last one was a complete disappointment!), I gave another Barbara Pym a try. I found it on the "recommended" shelf at our library and decided that I ought to give her one more chance...perhaps one book is not enough to judge by.

And I certainly enjoyed this one more than the last, for the main character-Dulcie-was atleast sympathetic. I did appreciate the glimpse into the neat, affluent-enough-to-order-whole-cases-of-wine-to-be-delivered-sort-of-society in mid-century London, but again, it all just left me rather cold. No one in the novel appears to have fun or experience anything deeply and the setting and story and characters seem to have had a grey veil thrown over them. And I felt rather dull myself when reading it.

So that is it for Barbara Pym and me...unless someone can convince me otherwise.