Sunday, August 10, 2008

Whatever is here, is found elsewhere. But what is not here, is nowhere else.*

I am NOT dead. I am not even crazy. The week went remarkably well, helped along by many friends, planning of activities to wear the boys out, and copious amounts of alcohol (for me). My babysitter returned (although this prompted new issues which are a story for another post).

We had a pizza party, went to the pool, took in a jazz concert in the park (complete with a planned kids’ scavenger hunt), had the grandparents over for dinner and cards, enjoyed a trip with a group of friends to Idlewild Amusement Park, watched movies, and generally just treated the week like a little vacation.

Did I have time to read or run or write blog posts? I did NOT. So now that I’ve given the activity roundup, here’s the book roundup:

Library books sitting in a pile waiting to be read:
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks. I am almost done this and enjoyed it immensely, although I agree with Suse’s thoughts about the protagonist. I will definitely reread it, to more fully appreciate the back story now that I have absorbed all the plot twists.

Whatever Makes You Happy - William Sutcliffe. Gina read it. And liked it well enough.

An Incomplete Revenge - Jacqueline Winspear. I really like the Maisie Dobbs series, and I do want to buy this (but in paperback so it matches my other ones –I’m a weirdo, I know. No need to tell me) but I don’t want to wait that long to actually read it.

Good-bye and Amen - Beth Gutcheon. I am a huge Gutcheon fan, although this is a sequel to one of her weaker novels, Leeway Cottage.

The Palace of Illusions - Chitra Lekha Banerjee Divakaruni. There’s a good chance I won’t get to this one. I like Divakaruni’s books in theory, but seldom are they as enjoyable as I think they will be. This is a retelling of the Mahabarata, and I am just not that compelled. And yet I checked it out and brought it home. It’s a sickness, I tell you.

The Writing Class - Jincy Willett. I think Willett is a funny and talented writer, and yet I always seem to forget that. I am looking forward to this one.

City of Thieves - David Benioff. A recommendation from my Shalom-Auslander-loving librarian.

Leave the Building Quickly - Cynthia Kaplan. I think I like Kaplan. I know I’ve read her other stuff. I’ll let you know...

The Plague of Doves - Louise Erdrich. Recommended by one of my latest crushes, Lauren Groff, of Monsters of Templeton fame...I’ve never read any Erdrich and her books look interesting. In fact, I just picked up The Master Butcher’s Singing Club for fifty cents at the library sale...

Don't You Forget About Me - Jancee Dunn. Dunn’s But Enough About Me: How a Small-Town Girl Went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet felt like a nostalgic trip back to my 1980s Jersey roots (like the ones I teased into that wall o’ bangs look). I am halfway through and this is very much the same feel. Funny and sweet and light. Even if MY mother never sprung for TWO Swatches...

The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson. This book is suddenly EVERYWHERE, and while it looks decidedly odd, I thought I’d give it a shot.

In Big Trouble - Laura Lippman. The next Tess Monaghan.

Nice Big American Baby - Judy Budnitz. I thought I'd check out the rest of her stuff after the weird but compelling story "Miracle." But I couldn't get engrossed. Oh well, maybe another time. This might be one to buy so I can pick it up and put it down when I like...her writing is indeed wonderful, if mightily odd.

Books I picked up at Goodwill, all for a total of less than ten dollars:

A Taxonomy of Barnacles - Galt Niederhoffer. I liked the title? I feel like I have read this before, but I can‘t quite recall.

A Voyage for Madmen - Peter Nichols. You are all aware, I believe, of my bizarre penchant for accounts of exploits I myself would never attempt – climbing Mount Everest, canoeing the Amazon, living in the Antarctic to study penguins for six months. Yet another...singlehandedly circumnavigating the globe in a yacht. Yeah. I’ll never do it – I don’t even want to do it. But I’ll sure get a kick out of reading about it.

Heartburn - Nora Ephron. In hardback. A nice addition to my foodie books and novels.

An America Childhood - Annie Dillard. Everyone tells me that since I live in Pittsburgh, this is a must-read.

Family Happiness - Laurie Colwin. A nice trade paperback edition. The one I have is a little grungy mass market paperback; and we’ve already established that I like my books to match...

The Virgin Blue - Tracy Chevalier. I liked Girl with a Pearl Earring well enough, I guess, and Suse likes this book. And I love Suse. So I am going to read it.

Goblin Market and other poems - Christina Rossetti. I first became aware of Christina Rossetti due to Ellen Raskin’s The Tattooed Potato, which I loved even more than The Westing Game if that’s possible. And then for some reason relatively recently, I listened to a reading of “The Goblin Market” and oh boy, is it creepy. This is one of those adorable little Dover Thrift editions.

In the Land of White Death: An epic story of survival in the Siberian Arctic - Valerian Albanov. See above.

Plus a bunch of kids’ books for Primo – Junior Illustrated Classics of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, some random Encyclopedia Browns and and Animorph novelizations – anything to keep him semi-occupied in the two weeks before school begins again. Oh, and The Jolly Christmas Postman in pristine condition, to add to the Christmas basket of seasonal tales.

I’ve been reading:

People of the Book

Don’t You Forget About Me

The Condition. I finally finished this. I liked it but I feel as if the title and the plot description is misleading. The book is only peripherally about a character’s medical issues and how they affect all members of her family; and that’s ok, because it is a detailed, insightful, and nicely written exploration of the dynamic of a fairly typical American family. But the title should have been different. Nitpicky. I know.

Otherwise, I have been keeping the boys from killing each other, dealing with the brickpointers (my entire house, inside and out, despite my best efforts, is covered with a fine layer of gritty red dust) and the plumber, and contemplating my next quilting project (inspired by Duvyken).

The summer is almost over, H’s product release date is almost here, and I have emerged mostly unscathed.

Yay, me.

*The Book of the Beginning, The Mahabharata


Bearette said...

I loved the new Jancee Dunn! I was not nuts about the Annie Dillard book but I think everyone else was.

Caro said...

Good job keeping the kids busy. I love it when they're so worn out they actually go to bed without complaint.

Velma said...

Seriously, yay you!

Suse said...

Well done for making it through the week alone in charge of four little males.

Can I just say that The Virgin Blue is a devastating and very good story, but I think it's the weakest of Chevalier's writing. Let me know what you think - I found her dialogue poor and some bits cringeworthy. However as I said, a terrific story. Her later books are much much better. 'Burning Bright' is set in olde London and features William Blake as the protagonists' next door neighbour and my favourite reading colleague has just read this and adored it, and her other one 'Falling Angels' is ostensibly about two little girls and their friendship, but is really about death and mourning in Victorian times (olde London again). You like death, try that one.

Ack, long commentitis!

Kathy said...

People often think of Goblin Market as a fairy tale for kids, but it's way too creepy for that.

Anonymous said...

Is the Jincy Willett is short stories or a novel?

Sarah Louise said...

American Childhood is great. I need to re-read it. I remember when I left da Burgh the first time, as an almost college Junior, that EVERYONE said to me, oh I loved that Annie Dillard book.

Plus, it has someone doing something I'd never do: take a trip down the Mississippi in a boat.