a girl and her boy

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Book Notes

I’ve been working on quite a few books lately, as I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts. Here are a few thoughts on what I’m reading.

The Waste Lands. Stephen King.

I think I read this book in three or four sittings. I began reading the Dark Tower last summer and find the progression of the plot and the development of the characters fascinating and inspiring. The Gunslinger, the first volume of this long novel, while I understood the role it played in setting up the novel, for King was inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a single book in 3 volumes, it was a challenge at times to finish. The Drawing of the Three was better in that there was more plot action and characters to develop Roland, the protagonist. The work of these previous two volumes came clear in The Waste Lands. The Waste Lands has catapulted the action to a higher level and though I was appreciative of the The Dark Tower before, I am now truly hooked.

Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Wolfe. Page 75 of 544.

I grew up with a hardcover library cast off volume named The Face of a Nation:  Poetical passages from the writings of Thomas Wolfe (1939). I read it under the sheets of my bed with a flashlight, enchanted by the language. I even wrote a few poems inspired by his themes and rich diction. I’ve always wanted to read one of his novels since reading those passages.

And now, I’m reading Look Homeward, Angel, a reading experience I’ve looked forward to for years, and I’m stuck on page 75. His language is rich, but at over 500 pages, it’ll take me a while to sift through each paragraph to uncover all the layers in each sentence.

It seems as though Wolfe is adept at describing things and moods better than people’s inner landscapes. At close to one-fifth through the novel, and halfway through part 1, I don’t really know the character’s very well. Maybe this will change as I journey further into the work.

However, that said, I *do* like this book. A lot. I am pretty sure Heinlein got the title of his book, Stranger in a Strange Land, from Wolfe. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the creators of Family Guy read Look Homeward, Angel, and were inspired by Eugene Gant, the protagonist, as a baby for the character of Stewie:

He wondered savagely how they would feel if they knew what he really thought:  at other times he had to laugh at them and at their whole preposterous comedy of errors as they pranced around for his amusement, waggled their heads at him, tickled him roughly, making him squeal violently against his will. The situation was at once profoundly annoying and comic:  as he sat in the middle of the floor and watched them enter, seeing the face of each transformed by a foolish leer, and hearing their voices become absurd and sentimental whenever they addressed hi, speaking to him words which he did not yet understand, but which he saw they were mangling in the preposterous hope of rendering intelligible that which has been previously mutilated, he had to laugh at the fools, in spite of his vexation.

I’ll finish it, but I need to take a break from it.

**

So that’s where I’m at. I’m also nibbling on Savage Beauty and Pride and Prejudice. I’ll write on those ones probably next week.

Happy reading!

 

P. S. Don’t forget Michelle’s give away! Today is the last day to enter.

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Something to Think About

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, from chapter 1:

As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs, a technique for withholding whatever it was I thought or believed behind an increasingly impenetrable polish. They way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room, equipped with an Avid, a digital editing system on which I could touch a key and collapse the sequence of time, show you simultaneously all the frames of memory that come to me now, let you pick the takes, the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines. This is a case in which I need more than words to find the meaning. This is a case in which I need whatever it is I think or believe to be penetrable, if only for myself.

These words ring so true.

I am a busy little bee.

I certainly have been a busy little bee these last few months. I haven’t been posting very often, which is kind of how I expected things to go, so much of my news is new. I’m going to run down the list of what I’ve been up to and then I’ll go from there:

  • I moved out of my apartment into a house in the next town over (I posted pictures of the house) and gathered my stuff that’s been stored at three different locations over the last year or two.
  • As I moved out of my apartment two weeks before we could move into the house, we spent some time visiting family all over Maine.
  • Camp Week with some of Allan’s old friends from high school. That was a bit of an adventure.
  • Settled into the house. While doing this, both the Passat and the van we were using to move had to have their batteries replaced – leaving us stranded both times they went.
  • Finally got some planning done for the Wedding (details later in this post!) and have spent the last few weeks being a road warrior getting stuff ready.
  • And now that I’m settled in the house, I’ve been spending the last week or two at school for 4-5 hours a day doing planning and preparation for the new year.

Phew. I’m tired just typing what I’ve been up to this summer. I’m glad I didn’t add teaching summer school to the mix.

And it’s really no wonder I’ve done very little pleasure reading and very little knitting over the last two months. I’ve been too exhausted to devote mental or physical energy to it.

But now that I’m settled again, I’m back to both. For pleasure reading, I picked up Jeanette Winterson’s book Lighthousekeeping (2004). I have enjoyed Winterson’s work since I read The World and Other Places for literary analysis course in college back in 2001 and this book is no less thrilling, enchanting, moving, and haunting than the others. This novel tells the story of a young orphan, Silver, and her dog, DogJim. After her mother dies, she goes to stay with the lighthousekeeper on the coast of Scotland. There she is raised to appreciate, create, and tell stories. At one point, the lighthousekeeper, Pew, says to Silver: “I can teach you — yes, anybody — what the instruments are for, and the light will flash once every four seconds as it always does, but I must teach you to keep the light. Do you know what that means?” I didn’t. “The stories. That’s what you must learn. The ones I know and the ones I don’t know.” “How can I learn the ones you don’t know?” “Tell them yourself.” This entire novel is truly about the power of storytelling in people’s lives. I haven’t been enchanted by a book like this in a long time.

In knitting news, I picked up the cowl-neck braided-cable vest again a few days ago and made incredible progress. I’m finishing up the back and shoulders and then all that’s left is the cowl and the arm holes. It fits very well. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos since it’s been dark and rainy the last several weeks, including today.

I’ve also picked up the gift socks again. I had to rip it out, though, as I lost track of where I was and the last three rows had glaring errors. It’s a good thing I’m a process not a product knitter! 🙂

Now, the big project I’ve been working on is planning the Wedding! It’s been forever since I even mentioned it on the blog. I’m getting married Friday evening (Aug. 8th) at my home and the reception is in a neighboring town at a bed and breakfast. A local baker is making our cake, complete with sheep cake toppers and basket-weave designs in the frosting. And, on top of this, the baker is also making sheep chocolates for all of the place settings! The reception will be for brunch, like I’ve been wanting all these months. And as far as the dress goes, I went for the green one I posted so long ago.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve barely been running but I plan to get back into the habit now that I’m settled and my schedule is starting to get back to normal.

That’s it for now!