Category Archives: books

Words!

I lamented a few months back the loss of one of my favorite daily websites, “The Writer’s Almanac”. Well the good news is that it’s back! Not on MPR, mind you, but back nonetheless. The same comforting music and narrative voice and the same format: notable birthdays or events in history and then a poem. And now I get an email every day instead of having to remember on my own.

About the only difference I can tell is that many more of the daily poems are public domain than not, which says to me that he has a much smaller budget for this than MPR did. This is not a problem for me.

Today the poem was by John Milton, to commemorate his birthday. One of the fun facts was a list of some of the more than 600 words that Milton coined: dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, feverish, fragrance, adventurer, anarchy. I can’t imagine a world where there words don’t exist and it makes me wonder how often I need a word that doesn’t exist yet.

For example, I need a word for the feeling that comes on me when YA isn’t home at the agreed upon time, worry and irritation at the same time. Worritation?

What new word do YOU need?

 

 

 

Dairy Ephiphany

Thanks to Charles Dickens for setting the scene….

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

And in the midst of the chaos it sat, surrounded by its golden foil wrapper. Artisanal butter – a golden yellow color, soft and salty.  It made believers of us all.

Do you have a secret indulgence?

RIP Stan Lee

I’m not a huge comic book or graphic novel fan. Not sure why since I AM a super hero fan; probably  because super heroes have special powers, not unlike wizards and witches.  The last several years have been a real boon for super hero lovers and Stan Lee was behind a lot of that:  Spider Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, X-Men.  It was fun to see Stan Lee in small cameos in all the Marvel movies, a little like seeing Alfred Hitchcock showing up in the films that he directed.

Stan Lee passed away on Monday at the age of 95 from pneumonia. I’m sure his characters and movies will live on but it won’t be quite the same.  I’ll miss you, Stan.

What super hero would YOU like to be.

Lost in Translation

I believe it was PG Wodehouse who remarked that Don Quixote was thought to be the world’s greatest novel, although all the literary critics he knew only took that on faith, since none of them could read Spanish, and the English translations were so poor as to make them unreadable. I mentioned this to Husband this week as he showed me the two translations of Don Quixote he bought on his recent trip to Denver.

“Who needs two translations of Don Quixote?” I asked. “Well, why do you have two translations of the Odyssey?” he countered.  He had me there. (One is a verse translation and one is a prose translation, but still).

I have always wondered what we lose  when great works are translated. Is Balzac more dramatic and fast-paced in the original French? What is War and Peace like in the original Russian? Is Don Quixote really the world’s greatest novel?  It will probably take Husband more than a year to get through his new books, if he ever does, so I will have to wait for his thoughts on it.

What do you think is the world’s greatest novel? What books do you wish you could read in their original languages? Have you ever read Don Quixote from cover to cover?

 

Hunter’s Moon

There was a beautiful full moon last night-The Hunter’s Moon. It is the second full moon of autumn, and was named by the Algonquin tribes as the moon for the time to go hunting and prepare for winter. The sky was quite clear and the moon was huge as I drove home from work at 7:00.  It had an orange tint.  The night before last it was almost full, and there were wavy wisps of clouds in front of the moon, making it look like the perfect backdrop for a a witch on a broom.

Tell about all the books, plays, stories, poems, and music you know of that are concerned with the moon. What are your own moon stories? Why is the moon so inspiring?

 

Regionality

While on our recent road trip to visit relatives in central Georgia, I was able to take a side trip to Greenville, SC, for a reunion with nine friends from college. We do this every couple of years now, and one of our rituals is a Saturday night book swap. The book I offered this time was Gardenias, by one of my favorite “regional” authors, Faith Sullivan of Minnesota. I’ve loved her books since one of her earlier publications, The Cape Ann; in fact, I included a used copy of that book for background, since it has some of the same characters.

Wiki has this to say about American literary regionalism, or local color: “In this style of writing, which includes both poetry and prose, the setting is particularly important and writers often emphasize specific features such as dialect, customs, history, and landscape, of a particular region.”

I was delighted to find that the book I drew, One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash, was also by a regional author – Carolinian Appalachia – and now that I’ve finished the book, I’ve learned some background history of the area I just visited. I also got to hear some local dialects; got to know some characters whom I would probably not have found in, say, Minnesota; and read descriptions of places I’ve seen only from a distance. And although the ending to this tale was sad, I would probably read another book by Ron Rash.

I have found (and loved) over the years several authors I whom I consider to be regional writers, but will wait to see if other Baboons name them before I do. To that end:

Do you have a favorite regional author? Is there a region of the USA that you would like to learn about through reading?

I Scream, You Scream

Over the weekend, PJ got me going when she said “I can think of worse ways to go than death by ice cream.” It reminded me of the time we had talked about death by rhubarb and Clyde actually found a book entitled exactly that. (It was awful!)

So I went looking for death by ice cream titles. Didn’t find exactly that, but found plenty that were close enough.  Here are a few:

Ice Cream Murder (A Sprinkles Cozy Mystery) by Jennifer Martin
Death with a Cherry on Top by Molly Dox
Chunky Raspberry Fudge Murder by Penelope Manzone
Death by Chocolate Sundae by Constance Barker
Triple Dipped Murder by Gretchen Allen
Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake by Sarah Graves

I requested a couple from the library – you never know, maybe I’ll find a new author I need to follow.

But while I was searching around, I found this:

National Ice Cream Death Museum, Derbyshire
Perhaps the most unusual display anywhere in Britain, this small but lively museum is devoted to major accidents, deaths and disasters caused by ice cream, from the great M65 pile-up of 1981 (caused by a discarded vanilla tub, on which a lorry skidded) to the case of the Sussex child who swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967 and still walks around happily with it inside. Anyone who has any new ice cream disaster to report should ring their Cones Hot Line (sic).
(Independent.co.uk 1998)

I couldn’t find any indication that the museum is still open. I can’t even confirm that there was a great M65 pile-up of 1981 or that a Sussex child swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967. But it’s fun to think about.

What’s the most interesting museum you’ve ever been to?