In the High Peaks

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A P.D. James Adventure and Your Favorite Dog Story?

I've finally decided that my next read will be P.D. James's Death in Holy Orders. I have never read it and deliberately avoided the BBC production, so I'm ripe, I'd say.

I desperately need ESCAPE (!) from the massive state college budget cuts at my college and the resulting faculty rage there, the fact of WAR and more war abroad, nuclear disaster, and thorny extended family issues.

GOOD NEWS! We have finally had word that we may be up for a two-year-old Golden Retriever from Sophie's breeder, sometime later this spring! Oh, Ken and I would be deliriously happy to welcome a young dog to our house. I'm already planning obedience training activities! I need a very well-trained dog if he or she is going to be my bushwhacking buddy in the wilderness. Bushwhacking dogs need to be spunky, smart, obedient, and not too crazy! Looking forward! Sasha is the name if it's a girl, Josh if a boy, subject to change, of course, though I'm really fixed on Sasha for a girl's name.

Speaking of dogs and how important they are to our lives, what are or were your favorite dog stories and novels?

Mine was The Dog in My Life by Kurt Unkelbach, a book for pre-teens, about a New England girl who decides she's going to make her beloved yellow Labrador Retriever an American champion. When I was twelve to thirteen, I read this book probably a dozen times. Of course, Cary succeeds, and has many adventures along the way.

This book became my bible and inspired me to enter the dog show ring with my own yellow Labrador, who was the son of English champions, when I was only thirteen years old. I showed him until I was 16, when he was 6 years old. We won loads of ribbons and trophies, and I learned a tremendous amount about what it means to have a goal, to strive and fail and to overcome obstacles, and achieve satisfaction from a job well done. My Lab, Rupert Ritz Cracker, however, was more interested in food and unspayed females than the show ring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whither Reading?

How I wish I had more reading time this week!

I'm nearly done with Russian Winter by Diane Kalotay, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Nina Revaskaya, a former Bolshoi prima ballerina, is the main character, yet Kalotay's characterizations of the people who surround her are what captivate. Kalotay writes poetically, but she shows restraint, and her language only enhances the story without holding it back. Set in 1947-1952 Moscow and contemporary Boston, I found the history well interwoven with the various story threads. Yes, I recommend this book. If I had to rate it, I'd give it 3.8 out of five stars.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Book to Sink My Historian's Teeth Into

Readers, you may not be aware of this, but I adore dense, thick historical nonfiction written by extraordinary historians who exquisitely footnote their work AND include long, long bibliographies. Well, of course, these books have to be related to my most intense areas of interest.

So, from Amazon, came such a tome of highly qualified merit. I read whatever I can about the immediate postwar history of Europe. (World War II postwar-meaning, 1945-1948). I am fascinated by this period--the massive suffering, the prodigious dislocation of people, the millions of refugees--all searching for a HOME, all searching for a FAMILY. I am well beyond fascinated by this time period--I am rivetted.

The tome I'm speaking of, which I started reading today, is The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War by the British historian Ben Shephard (Knopf, 2011). Oh, how I love it when a historian is painstaking with details and facts!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Was ist das? A Vacation?

There is nothing of interest in this post. Please tune in tomorrow and the next few days because I hope to write bookishly. And here is the news about where I've been and what's happening in the North Country.

The worst weather of the winter this week. Help! My trips to college have been hair-raising. I have had several miraculous recoveries from the brink and I'm grateful I survived!

I start the college's so-called "spring vacation" (?) as of tonight, but for some reason, I don't feel like celebrating. Not only is the national news chock-full of ugly hatred against America's working class AND the middle class and loyal American Muslims, but the nation's behavior overseas is equally reprehensible.

I need solace. So, to books.

I must take some time for spiritual regeneration, which comes to me through literature and films AND, of course, the outdoors.

I hope you'll stay tuned.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Russian Winter

Just about a week ago, I started reading Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay. Due to my overwhelming schedule this semester, I'm reading much, much less than I want. However, I am enjoying this novel about a postwar Russian ballerina's life and her defection to the West. Yet that is only one story thread amongst many. I'm finding I like the stories of all the characters that cross Nina Revskaya's present-day life in Boston.

Kalotay won all sorts of accolades for her debut collection of short stories. Click on the link to hear a 13-minute Leonard Lopate interview with Kalotay on WNYC.