In the High Peaks

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Mini-Post of What's to Come

Late September is peak foliage and we're having unbelievably beautiful Indian Summer weather at the same time. That means no work gets done anywhere and everyone gets out to enjoy the show.

So this is just a post to say that I'm planning on blogging about the incomparable medieval historical/thriller A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger. The novel is set in 1385, in Chaucer's day. I want to emphasize that Holsinger is not only an incredible storyteller but also an academic who has spent his career specializing in medieval studies. Actually, he is an expert on the history of vellum--the animal skins (parchment) that was used as paper in the 14th Century. I loved this novel so--Holsinger knows the medieval streets of London, Southwark, and Westminster inside out. I personally loved A Burnable Book more than Wolf Hall, though I would never claim that Holsinger's is the better book. Mantel's work is impeccable, of course, and, as I've stated previously, I do suffer from Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII fatigue! So, readers, do take this into account.

I am looking forward to giving more information about the Russian Literature Month in January. But gosh, that might have to wait for foul weather, which is sure to arrive sometime next week.

And I need to say that I'm participating in Caroline's and Lizzy's German Literary Month in November. Won't you join us? I have found my participation to be extremely rewarding.

More to come...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Announcing a Russian Literature Month in January 2015

To start the New Year off with a whazoo, I'd like to announce that I'm hosting a Russian Literature Month in January 2015.

This year, the event is open to books originally written and published in Russian no matter what region the authors hail from. In other words, if a writer's ethnic group is Uzbekistani but he or she writes novels in Russian, these works may be included in the Russian Literature Month Readalong.

Contemporary Russian literature and classic works are both included. Even medieval Russian sagas may be included.

I hope to read a number of novels for January, but for now, do you think you might be interested?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Russian Haul and Where to Put Them

What a dizzying week in books! The college library has purged quite a number of Russian novels from its stacks, most likely because Russian language and literature is no longer taught at the college and shelf space is at a premium as well.

Now my haul is such that I'm contemplating a bookcase devoted to Russian literature and history, a bookcase I don't own at the moment. I'm also trying to remedy the neglect of my time-worn Russian novels and poetry as well, which are stacked in a rather dusty area. So I guess I hope to breathe new life into this Russian haul, though I'll admit, none are pristine copies.

I've taken possession of the published Notebooks for two of Dostoyevsky's novels, including The Possessed, a Dostoyevsky novel I've never read, though I inhaled Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Kamarazov as an 18-year-old, and I still own those books. I found a beautiful volume of Yevtushenko's poetry, and a well-worn copy of Solzhenitsyn's First Circle. I like that the purged college library is so worn--so many people read it, that I'd like to join them. I've got Stendahl's And Quiet Flows the Don (French, not Russian, I know, but still illuminating about a period in Russian history.) A volume of Pushkin's prose,  a history of Soviet fiction, a history of 19th-century Russian literature, and Dostoyevsky's Notebooks for A Raw Youth. All of this to add to my recent translation of Dr. Zhivago and Pasternak's poetry, and Oblomov and on and on! 

Do you by any chance share a passion for Russian literature? Do you read contemporary Russian writers? Please comment if you are willing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX: My Reads New and Classic

This year 2014 marks the ninth year that Carl V. Anderson's of Stainless Steel Droppings has hosted his annual blogger "gathering." Even though it's September 14, the grand event runs from  September 1st to October 31st, so if you'd like to join in, there's still plenty of time to participate. This is my first year and I have three books ready to go. 

What I'm reading for R.I.P. IX:
1. First of all, I borrowed The Secret Place by Tana French from the library. It took me all week to reach page 44 due to the usual time constraints. I then realized how desperate I am to finish it, but it's due at the library in a mere 10 days with no renewal possible. And with 458 or so pages with small print, I made the only sensible decision. Instead of reading under pressure, I ordered the recently-released (in the U.S.) hardcover. It's the kind of mystery/thriller I like, one that I can really sink my teeth into, with the kind of deep characterization and plotting that demand intense concentration. Naturally, I want to read it at my own pace. And, yes, now I can annotate, annotate! I read Broken Harbor earlier this year and liked it very much, yet if my gut feelings gleaned from the first 44 pages are worth anything, I think The Secret Place may be extra special.

2. I'm participating in the Estrella Society's readalong of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. The 1959 classic is due to be discussed on Wednesday, October 1st. I just ordered the new Penguin paperback bearing a lusciously creepy cover. I've never read this novel and am extremely eager to dig in. I'd better read it first, and best of all, it's only 258 pages.

3. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle readalong for October is coming up at the blog Simpler Pastimes. I'm so glad Volume 3 of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels arrived yesterday. I'm all set for some fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Hound of the Baskervilles--Annotated

Tonight the temperature will fall to 37 degrees, though we'll warm to the low 70s by early afternoon tomorrow. Our summer was cooler than normal and I appreciated that! Still it was quite warm with daily temps in the low 80s and high 70s, often with plenty of humidity. I must admit I'm so thankful that we were spared days in the 90s, which left me free of day-long confinement to air conditioning. A lucky and welcome summer. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Our big news is that we took up tennis and after a number of lessons are having lots of fun.

But back to real life. I'm now on a schedule--teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays, with time to read five days a week! I've committed a bit of book purchasing recently. Because I'm reading The Hounds of the Baskervilles for an October readalong, I finally purchased the third volume in a three-volume set: The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2005. The third volume contains the four novels and some short stories that were never compiled into a volume. Unfortunately, the entire set is now out of print. The only volume available new these days is Volume 3, in a slip-cased edition. My other two volumes are not in slipcases, so I do have a mismatched set, but I'm so thankful that I was able to get it at all despite the increase in price. But they are well worth it! I love the annotations--extremely well-done by Leslie Klinger.