Showing posts from May, 2013

Fun Friday: First, You Admit Your Problem. Then, You Buy a Book.


Summer Reading List: But Wait! There's More!

Summer reading can be the best reading of the year. Long days, vacation, plenty of sunshine, shade, chlorine, salt water, and ice cubes melting in iced tea. Add books and stir.

Here's a look at what I think I have in store for summer reading. Today. At this very minute. Well, technically, yesterday — I already found two more books today that might have to be jammed into this collection...

Here's a list of what you see:
And the Mountains EchoedArcadiaBarn StrippingChi RunningCrooked Letter, Crooked LetterDiscovery of WitchesFaefeverThe Family FangThe Gun SellerHow They Met and Other StoriesThe Labrynth  of Dreaming BooksThe Language of FlowersLet the Great World SpinLife After LifeThe Light Between the OceansA Lion Among MenMap of the SkyThe Mysterious Benedictine SocietyThe ReceptionistShadow of NightSmutSpookSouthern GodsThe Twelve Rooms of the NileUnnatural ActsA Vision of LightWolf Hall This doesn't include the novels I simply must read that will be published this summe…

Poetry Wednesday: Chicken Poetry Reading


Review: Hello, Goodbye, Hello

The world of the famous and infamous is rather small, Craig Brown proves in his delightful book Hello, Goodbye, Hello.  It's like Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only across genres.

The book is a chain of 101 meetings: Truman Capote meets Peggy Lee, Peggy Lee meets Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon meets Elvis Presley... The book blends from one encounter to the next seamlessly with well-recorded conversations and comments from reliable resources: published accounts, diaries, third-party accounts, all verifiable, all more honest than one would expect.

But is it interesting? Mostly. The author is British, so he takes delight in a couple of politicians whose notoriety is lost on me. I could have skipped over them, but I didn't want to miss a single snarky, surprising encounter. And there are plenty.

The encounters I enjoyed most were between the writers and movie actors. I'll never again see Sir Alec Guiness in the same light — his recollection of James Dean was sweet, startling …

Fun Friday: Shakespeare's Tragedies — Everybody Dies


Poetry Wednesday: Poetry (Original Version)

Last week, we read a very compact poem Marianne Moore pared down from a longer poem of hers by the same name. As promised, here is the longer version. Which do you prefer?

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that
feels a
flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician--
nor is it valid
to discriminate against '…

Review: The Round House

Secrets are central to The Round House, the latest  novel by Louise Erdrich. Haunting, revealing, educational and profound, Erdrich creates a world on the "rez" where the consequences for actions last generations.

It's not a book I normally would have chosen to read; Native American Indian fiction can be both an amazing experience and a depressing morality tale. However, this story transcended any categorization I or any other readers may want to pin on it.

Secrets play an important role in this book. Secrets are not all clandestine, residing unspoken in the open in a close-knit community. Other are as obscured as the people who keep them. All are revealed to a reliable, likable teenage boy who must decide what to do with the information he receives.

Joe, also known by a rather comical and bizarrely loving nickname, is an incredible narrator. At once 13 years old and a wizened adult, he tells a story that's in present time as much as flashback and flash-forward.


Fun Friday: Modern Classics on a Modern Classic

Courtesy Cinema Bums

Poetry Wednesday: Poetry


I, too, dislike it.
***Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
***it, after all, a place for the genuine.

by Marianne Moore

This is one published version of this poem — the version she preferred. How did it begin its published life? Read the other published version here next week!

Summer Is on the Horizon: Are You Ready to Read?

Okay, readers, it's coming up on one of the best times of the year: summer reading. Yes, that lazy, hazy, crazy time when you sit in the sun and sweat to words — well, whatever words on the page become to you when you read.

Let's do this together.

Declare your intention to read! Choose at least a few of your books before summer begins and let the rest of us know what's on your menu. I'll do the same. E-mail me your list and we'll share.

Then comes the fun part: read.
Read for fun.
Read for relaxation.
Read for edification.
Read just because you can.

At the end of the summer, we'll compare notes: how many did you get to on your list? How many new titles made their way into your hands?

The reader who consumed the most books wins a new-to-them book from a selection of titles.

Now, let's be fair: War and Peace counts for two books, agreed? If you think a book deserves extra weight, say so. Thin tomes — well, let's decide that on the weight of yo…

Fun Friday: The Best Weapons


Books by Post

Some days, the mail is almost as wonderful as Christmas.

Yesterday was that kind of day.

When I returned to my desk at work after a meeting, I found two packages. The first contained a keyboard/cover for my new computer device. The other was a book: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman.

When I got home, a second package awaited me with two books: The Twelve Terrors of Christmasby John Updike (with drawings by Edward Gorey) and The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by EnidShomer.

This will give me plenty to read for a while. Steadman's book is my book club's next book (and I now can read it in time!). The rest will add to my "summer reading pile." Yes, summer reading: it's right around the corner, you know.

Have you treated yourself lately to a new book? If so, what did you get? Do tell!

Poetry Wednesday: Smoke

Smoke It was everywhere in my childhood: in restaurants,
on buses or planes. The teacher's lounge looked like
London under fog. My grandmother never stopped

smoking, and walking in her house was like diving
in a dark pond. Adults were dimly lit: they carried
matches in their pockets as if they might need fire

to see. Cigarette machines inhaled quarters and
exhaled rectangles. Women had their own brands,
long and thin; one was named Eve and it was meant

to be smoked in a garden thick with summer flowers.
I'm speaking of moods: an old country store where
my grandfather met friends and everyone spoke

behind a veil of smoke. (My Uncle Bill preferred
fragrant cigars; I can still smell his postal jacket ...)
He had time to tell stories because he took breaks

and there was something to do with his hands.
My mother's bridge club gathered around tables
with ashtrays and secrets which are best revealed

beside fire. Even the fireplaces are gone: inefficient
and messy. We are h…

Review: Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

Do you have a sense of humor?

Do you want to read about monsters?

Do you want an earworm that includes some of the most annoying songs currently on the planet?

Run — don't walk — to your library or bookstore and pick up the ever-delightful Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich.

Now, this isn't a book for ordinary folks. No, you need to have nerves of steel. You will meet the most fearsome monsters on its pages: Phantom of the Opera, werewolves, vampires, mummies, the Hunchback of Notre Dame... diabolical creatures, one and all.


In the hands of Adam Rex, we see them as they truly are. Rex asks important questions: what does the Phantom hear in his head? What does the Hunchback take to work for lunch? What makes Frankenstein go into the village?

That prompts a perfectly reasonable question of our own, readers: why would a presumably sane man create such a haunting book? Find out in this high-quality, special-effects laden video:

Are you still here? Are you not quivering behind your chai…

Fun Friday: Penguin Classics


Splash into Poetry Wednesday

National Poetry Month may have ended yesterday, but we don't have to. Enjoy this lovely tidbit as part of your weekly poetry treat.

Turtle Says

On land
I'm a mud soldier
in a homemade helmet,
slowpoking my way along.
I'm told
I creep
like a sleepwlker,
and it's true.
               No matter.
In water,
on the other hand,
I'm a star,
a swooper, a glider,
a leaper, a flyer,
a ballet dancer
in my green tutu.
That's true, too.

Enjoy other poems by Constance Levy from her delightful book, Splash! Poems of Our Watery World (with illustrations by David Soman).