a girl and her boy

. daily life : wool obsession : bibliomania : living on purpose .

Tag Archives: novels

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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It's a snow day.

Public Garden, Boston. Photo by Sally Chen. From Boston.com’s Facebook album.

We got about 18″ here in Boston so far, and the snow will continue until late tonight. Perfect day to snuggle in under the red fleece blanket I bought freshman year of college and sip on coffee and finish reading The Waste Lands by Stephen King. Gabe’s gone in to the office for a few “freebie” hours.

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Austen Love. <3

When, and what, was your first introduction to Jane Austen? For me, I was staying with some family friends between my second and third year of undergrad. I’d picked up and tossed aside the novels a few times, heard lectures on it, and was told just how awesome the novels were, but I didn’t buy it.

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I can smell autumn. Can you?

The salty air is weighty; heavy enough to keep this wandering spirit in once place and not feel trapped. The old promise of travel and adventure offered by the waves keeps this fiery spirit satiated. I fell in love with the saline-imbued air when I first moved to Salem a year ago and I’m in even deeper now that I can see the waves from my new vantage on the roof deck while knitting one stitch at a time. I’ve had ample time to knit up here lately as I’ve been home from work for a little over a week now. I once thought I’d love to be a home maker and have no responsibilities other than running the dishwasher, making tasty treats and ironing the laundry, but now that I’ve been at it for a week, I am chomping at the bit to get back. But it’ll be some time before I get there.

Remember the few posts I had back around March about health problems? Well, they never went away, and in fact, have gotten worse. I am now at home, “stepped away from the classroom” as I put it in an email to my curriculum coordinator, with a calendar full of appointments and reminders of things I have to do to get ready for them. But this isn’t what I want to write about.

There has not been a day that the breeze did not blow down here in the seaport. It took some time before I realized that this is just how it is. Despite living in Maine with a long history of marine trade, I was inland and isolated from the personal knowledge. The closest I got to ocean life was reading Elizabeth Oglivie and her novels about lobstermen and their strong wives, though she and I have done quite the opposite:  she was born in Boston and went to Maine. I was born in Maine and came to Boston. The breezes not only brings the smell of the ocean, but also of the autumn weather that is creeping up on us as the light ebbs at the outer edges of day; perfect weather for my woolens.

Oh, what shall you become, Mohair?

I pulled out my wool basket that had been sitting ignored since I moved here and spread everything out. I frogged old projects that lost the original charm and piled up stuff that I’d been carrying around that I never really liked to begin with. I grouped it all up according to weight and project type and saw the spectrum of possibility that has been dormant, waiting. Many knitters have done this with varying levels of success before me, but I’m going to give knitting only from my stash this fall and winter a go. The only exception I will make is picking up fiber for specific gifts in preparation for Yule if I don’t see something fitting in the stash.

Noro striped scarf for Gabe

While knitting on Gabe’s Noro striped scarf the last few days, I’ve been watching movies from my Netflix queue. I’d been carrying around “Cries and Whispers”, a 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman about three sisters who are brought together for the first time in ages because of the terminal illness of one of the sisters. I watched it three times back to back. I still don’t think I’ve processed it enough to give it an adequate review. It’s quietly disturbing in it’s portrayal of the relationship of these sisters. This is one of the many reasons I love Bergman. His work is like steeping a cup of tea: it takes time for the flavor to develop and is subtle.

Noro striped scarf

I’ve also been working my way through “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. People have recommended his work to me in the past but I didn’t actually crack one of his books open until I moved here. Now I can’t wait to finish this one so I can move on to the next. I love the people he populates the story with and how honest and real they are. He inspires me to write.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope all is well with you.

Library Trip and Reading List

It’s Tuesday. And as I posted this morning, that means book day! I went to my local library today and picked out a great big stack of ’em. I really can’t wait until this weekend so I can start poking my way through. Here’s what came home:

The Afternoon Tea Book by Michael Smith – This book has a gorgeous two-tone cream and ivy green cover with a classic British painting of a man and woman having tea. This is what hooked me initially. Green is my favorite color and I love tea. Then I started looking through it. It has a whole section on the history and lore of tea. The pages are full of images that look like wood cut prints. It’s a beautiful book and should prove a joy to read.

The Human Story: Our History, From the Stone Age to Today by James C. Davis – I picked this one out because, simply put, I love anthropology, culture studies, and learning. That and I simply don’t know enough about our collective history. As a teacher, I feel it is important to be as educated as possible so I can help build bridges. I hope this book is a bridge-builder.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafasi – I have heard so many good things about this book which is why I picked it off the shelf initially. And then, as I looked at it closer, it grew even more on me. A memoir in books is an interesting way of expressing an existance and experience. Another book I love, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke has a similar idea captured therein. One of the characters, Meggie, was noticing that her older books seem heavier and thicker than they were when they were new. She figured this was because of all the memories trapped between the pages. I, too, can trace my life story through the books I’ve read. I can’t wait to read this one.

The next three are cook books I can’t wait to flip through.

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas – The cover caught my attention with the slate blue bowl holding a hearty and delicious looking soup. I then flipped through a little and it looked like it has some good stuff in it. More to come on this one soon.

No Red Meat by Brenda Shriver and Ann Tinsley – Allan and I eat very little red meat to begin with, but I thought it would be nice to get some ideas and think about variations on current favorites.

Almost Vegetarian: A Primer for Cooks Who are Eating Vegetarian Most of the Time, Chicken & Fish Some of the Time & Altogether Well All of the Time by Diana Shaw – With a title like that, who couldn’t take a peek or take it home? This describes our diet perfectly! Just flipping through the pages, I noticed lots of little boxes with tips and descriptions, so this should prove to be a highly valuable book to inform my cooking and dietary practices.

The photographs were taken about two months ago when there was still snow.