In the High Peaks

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time to Read, But Which Book?

Three days lie ahead for me to catch up! Most of all, I need sleep and plenty of exercise and a really good book. This week I was "rewarded" with a third class to add to my teaching roster. Another teacher has left to take on work elsewhere, leaving an opportunity for me. But the workload is getting serious. Fortunately, the new class is full of eager, hardworking, talkative students! What could be better than that? I think I'm going to enjoy!

I need to hunt and peck amongst my library finds and bookshelves to find the "right" book for the moment. I'm planning to read another Bernhard Schlink short story in Flights of Love, but I need to plunge into a really good book read as well.

A huge snowstorm tomorrow. I'm thankful to be able to stay home!

I'll post tomorrow about my new read.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flights of Love by Bernhard Schlink

What a relief to have a real Saturday, full of extra sleep, a leisurely breakfast, snowshoeing, and even time to read! Ken's cousin Tom from Portland, Maine, is visiting, and we've had loads of fun introducing him to Adirondack life. I took Tom on a long snowshoe this morning, which he clearly loved, and this afternoon the "boys" went out on an Adirondacks tour by truck, leaving me with quiet time to read and play with the computer.

I've read another story in Bernhard Schlink's collection Flights of Love. I'm enjoying each story and am intellectually stimulated but ultimately perplexed. I've studied and followed German history over a period of many decades, but still, these stories, I believe, were originally written to be absorbed by German readers only. They require an inside knowledge, a code of history and collective memory that I would love to crack but can't completely. I realize that no matter how many times I read them and study the critical literature, I will never fully comprehend them. But I love the challenge of trying to fit my worldview and my imaginative understanding into these stories. Very cool indeed.

I'm providing only one link to Flights of Love. If you google it, you will find reviews written by many critics who still hold contemporary Germans responsible for the atrocities of 70 years ago. Such critics are not capable of understanding contemporary German literature.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Johnny Depp Speaks Keith Richards' Life

First off, it's imperative that I rectify my impressions of the audio version of Keith Richard's Life. (Click on the link for a 44-minute interview with Richards about his life and the book.) Somehow or other, in the very middle of Disc #4, Johnny Depp totally changed his voice. The deadpan voice disappeared and suddenly, whamo! Depp's voice is full of life and expression and is so very interesting. I can hear clearly now! I'm wrapped up, swept up, captivated, you name it--I feel--really feel--that it's Keith Richard's voice I'm hearing. I'm on Disc #11 now, and it's been a good week of listening. Learning a lot about guitar riffs, five-string guitar playing, Jagger's prodigious output of song-writing, the drugs--sure, the drugs. But the drugs don't overwhelm the amazing story. And, now, I can do an excellent Johnny Depp imitation of Keith Richards. But who do I know who would care to hear it? Nobody, I'm sorry to say. Sigh. Depp's voice is so deep and resonant, nothing like Richard's, really, but fabulous listening all the same!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Reading Platter

Last weekend I took the time to read a 40-page short story from Flights of Love, Bernhard Schlink's volume of short stories published in 2000. Most of the stories were written before he wrote The Reader, published in the U.S. in 1998, and were published here in an attempt to fill the appetite of readers awed by the best-selling novel.

Oh, how I long to have more hours to read! This week was a five-day commute, and I'm eating up what might have been reading time driving to and from the college. Yes, I listen to audiobooks. Right now, I'm on the fourth CD of the 20-disc set of Life by Keith Richards. Johnny Depp is the reader, and I have nothing against him, but he is reading the 700-page tome in a total monotone and is swallowing the end of every sentence. I am constantly straining to hear the last words of the sentence, over and over again. I think Depp thinks he's reading the autobiography the way Richards would have delivered it. All very well, but it is numbing audio. I had no idea it would be more rewarding to read the book. But here I am in possession of the audio. Blast!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finally, an Adult Book I'd Love to Live In

More than ten years ago, my book group in Boston decided to read Spending: A Utopian Divertimento, a novel published in 1998 by Mary Gordon, who, in recent years, has been referred to more and more often as a "Catholic writer." Oh, heaven help us.

Having read many of her books over a period of decades, I flinch at how reductionist some literary critics and so-called intellectuals can be--yes, even Bill Moyers. If you know Gordon's fiction, she is a novelist of the highest calibre and is a broad-minded intellectual who is always questioning, always probing. Yes, she is Catholic, and has, on occasion, written a book or two that reflects her religious background and orientation. I'm not implying that there's anything wrong with being a Catholic writer; what's narrow-minded is reducing a great American writer to a pigeon-hole.

Spending is fun, especially if you're an artist or a writer who's dreamed of having a patron who makes it possible for you to create--free of the hum-drum, creative-robbing necessity to work forty hours a week to eat. The setting is split between New York City and summertime Cape Cod--Wellfleet or Truro, I seem to recall.

Monica came of age during the women's movement of the early 1970s and is charged with all those sensibilities while also longing and enjoying gratifying relationships with men. She's an artist, she's an intellectual, but she's a woman who loves life, beauty, people, nature, and the opportunity to create.

When I read Spending, I hung on every word, wishing I could live Monica's life. If one word comes to mind to describe this book, it would be LUSH. This is not a religious book, although Monica does interact with sexual representations in Christian art over the centuries.

I was delighted beyond measure when I found a pristine, first-edition copy of Spending at a local library sale. One buck. Precious!

If you would like to check out the first handful of pages of Spending, Google this search string. "Mary Gordon Spending." For me, the Google book spread comes up as the third listing.

All I can say is, Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Which Books Would I Love to Live In?

Thanks to The Blue Bookcase for hosting The Literary Blog Hop Feb. 2-5. There's still time to participate!

I've been cogitating on this question all morning, and so far my mind refuses to stray from all the books I dreamed of inhabitating when I was a child and teenager. Not a single adult book has entered my brain yet, though I'll think more about it while snowshoeing today. So check back later tonight and tomorrow to see if my memory is cooperating.

When I was twelve, I desperately wanted to live in the family Madeleine L'Engle created in Meet the Austins and Moon by Night. I'd still live to be an Austin cousin and visit for a week. L'Engle wrote a third book about the family, Ring of Endless Light, but not until I was in my twenties. And, I never thought I'd be saying this, but I'm so grateful to Wikipedia for this sterling reproduction of the original dustjacket.

When I was eleven, I wanted to live within the stone walls of Misselthwaite Manor and roam the Yorkshire moors of the classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I longed to explore the manor as Mary did on rainy days, and at night, when she searched the endless corridors for the source of the screaming and crying. Working to bring the Secret Garden back to life and keeping that secret also stirred me. And, once again, I'd still love to live this book! According to Wikipedia, the cover art I've posted belongs to the 1911 edition.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Yes, I'm participating in the Literary Blog Hop, hosted by The Blue Bookcase! I'll be posting tomorrow concerning the assigned meme. Best wishes to all!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Storm Reading

We didn't get the masses of snow that were predicted, but what we did get was ICE. Imagine rain, drizzle, and frozen rain falling when the temperature is a mere 18 degrees fahrenheit. Everything the wet stuff hits freezes instantly at 18 degrees.

I'm lucky that the college canceled all classes today. Phew! I shoveled the 8 inches that fell last night, tried to stamp down a decent snowshoe trail, and managed to squeeze in some fun reading and then some work.

Of course, The Girl Who Played with Fire is still captivating me. But what else?

I've just started reading The Weekend, the new novel by the German author Bernhard Schlink. I'm deep in the first chapter: a left-wing revolutionary is sent home on a reprieve from a long prison sentence. His long-time lover plans a weekend for him at her dilapidated country estate with many of his old friends and comrades. It's an incredibly tense reunion. Full of history and unresolved emotions. Looking good so far! Drop in on The New York Times book review.