Challenge DEAL ME IN 2017
- Thank you Jay….for hosting at Bibliophilopolis
- I finished this challenge
- ….but keep reading short stories and essays!
- List is essays, short stories 2017:
#DealMeIn2017 challenge 60/52
- Short Story – J. Updike You’ll never know, Dear, how much I love you – READ – REVIEW
- Short Story – J. Updike The Alligators – READ – REVIEW
- Short Story – W. Trevor The Piano Teacher’s Pupil – READ – REVIEW
- Short Stories – H. Ellison – Shatterday & Other Stories READ 11/11 – REVIEW
- Short Story – H. Lawson The Union Buries Its Dead – READ – REVIEW
- Essay – Who Killed Tolstoy? – Elif Bautman – READ – REVIEW
- Essays – E.B.White – REVIEW
Comparison 2 essays about Neil Gaiman’s writings:
- Essay – What Neil Gaiman Teaches Us About Survival – M. Miller – REVIEW
- Essay – Remembering the Dead – R Long – READ – REVIEW
- Short Story – J. Updike Pigeon Feathers – REVIEW
- The trauma of an adolescent crisis of faith is brilliantly described in this story.
- I laughed out loud…
- during the allusions to Updike’s mother Linda,
- to Updike’s his blustry but ineffectual father and
- dazed….Granmom with
- My favorite quote:
- “….her usual expression of bewilderment.
- Her irises were pale discs of crazed crystal.”
- Short Story – W. Trevor – Meeting At Middle Age – REVIEW
- My favorite quote: (pg 10)
- Mrs. da Tanka: “You are an occasional table. Or a coat-rack in a boarding house. Who shall mourn at your grave?
- Mr Mileson: ” You are a creature with your face and fingernails. Mutton dressed as lamb….!”
- Short Story – W. Trevor – Access to Children – REVIEW
- My favorite quote: (pg 29)
- Divorced man realizes what he has thrown away for a chance meeting with a woman in a train.
- “They drank (man and barmaid)…to the day that was to come…
- when the error he had mande would me wiped away.”
- Short Story – W. Trevor – The General’s Day – REVIEW
- Retired General Suffolk walks ‘through a land of morn’
- ….on an Irish Saturday morning.
- Tea with pie and later a few dubble gins with split tonic.
- The General swayed catching the bar to balance himself.
- My favorite quote: (pg 46)
- “Are you ill? …the General smiled…I’ve not been myself for many years.
- Today is just another day. “
- Essay – Darwinism – Marilynne Summers Robinson – READ
- Essay – A Cat’s Meow – Joseph Brodsky – READ
- Essay – Of Our Spiritual Strivings – W.E.B. Du Bois – READ
- Essay – Remapping history, Reclaming memory Wilson plays (J. H. Scott) – READ
- Essay – How Technology Disrupted the Truth – K. Viner – READ – essay – READ
- Essay – Michael Sweerts: Another Dimension S. Schama (critic) – READ
- Essay – Bleak House: Dead Mother’s Property (H. Schor) – READ
- Author: E.B. White (1899-1985)
- Title: Essays of E.B. White
- Published: 1977
- Table of contents: 7 chapters, 364 pages – 31 essays
- Trivia: Elwyn Brooks White American writer, a contributor to The New Yorker.
- List Reading Challenges 2017
The Eye of Edna – (September 1954)
White is poking fun at the radio broadcasting pre-storm. The radio messages come out of the SW and as soon as the storm leaves the area and tears into NE (Maine…) there are no more warnings or news!
The cook, Mrs. Freely who takes her hurricanes where she finds them….”Heard from Edna?”
I visit the barn, my peaceable kingdom. Pond seemed bereft without the geese…they are in the barn.The rain eased (Edna’s Eye) and we let the dachshund out. Unlike the geese she had no use for rough weather. She had obey the radio faithfully all day: stay put under the stove.
I took a stroll, the hurricane yet to come. My stroll turned out to be a strange one. I found the bridge under water! I entered the woods and took the path to the spring. I came back into the house, kicked off my boots and sank once again into radio-land. The trees bent low as to pray for salvation.
For a half an hour or so Edna held us in her full embrace.
- Getting ready for a hurricane….was a great read while the news is
- filled with CAT 5 hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria 2017!
Coon Tree – (June 1956)
Neighbor: – Raccoon is having her kittens in a tree penthouse 35 feet from the ground…..at the same height of White’s bedroom window. White describes the coon’s nighttime comings and goings. In the tree the coon looks dainty and charming….the circles uner her eyes make her look slightly dissapated and deserving of sympathy. Once she hits the ground she is a predator and close to evil in nature, which contains no evil, can be.
She washes her face as a cat does. If the kittens are young and quiet…she finishes her bath and descends the tree. Like a mother with no babysitter and a firm date at the theater…she takes her leave regretfully, hesitantly.
Because she is a lover of sweet corn her economic status is precarious. She will take my corn in season and for every ear she eats she will ruin 5. I keep planting corn, some for her and what’s left for me and mine surroundin the patch with all sorts of coon baffles.
I like the taste of corn….but like the nearness coon better.
Kitchen: I elected to let my old kitchen in this house live. It is a rich intoxicating blend of the past, present and future. The room teems with life. It is a cookery, bakery, horticulture, canning, planning. It is an arsenal, greenhouse, doghouse, a surgical dressing station, bath house, lounge, library and bar.
On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen the place you can find it.
A Report in January: (1958)
New England: What have you been doing lately?
Just living in New England in winter is a full time job! You don’t have to do anything. The idle pursuit of making a living is pushed to one side…in favor of living itself.
I’m trying to keep a fox from my door! Yesterday he carried one of my hens who was testing her snow shoes. One of the most time consuming past times is having an enemy, the fox is mine.
Winter: The days are short as any dream. I like to come in from chores and find the early dark in the rooms when the only gleam is a single lamp over an amaryllis bulb on which my wife is practicing some sort of deception.
I like groping my way into the barn cellar at 6 am where my two white face heffers are feeding at the rack. Their great white heads visible, their dark bodies invisible. Just 2 heads suspended in air as neatly as John the Baptist’s.
- Part one: ‘The Farm’ was the best part of the book.
- These 11 stories are filled with…
- nostalgia, humor about barnyard animals
- ….and the ups and downs of a hobby farmer in Downeast Maine.
- E. B. White said the years on his farm in Maine were the happiest.
- Part 2: I literally fell asleep listening to ‘The Planet’
- Part 3: ‘The City ( NYC) at least kept me awake, barely.
- I didn’t feel that these were White’s best essays.
- Children’s books: He later wrote 3 classic children’s books ….about animals:
- Stuart Little (boy mouse), Charlotte the spider and piglet Wilbur
- …and Louis the swan.
- Stuart Little is one of my favorite of all children’s books.
- Part 5: The section on ‘Memories’ was delightful.
- ‘Memories’ are filled with enchanting and funny essays:
- — White’s trip to Alaska 1923 on the steamer Buford
- — nostalgic stories about his beloved sail boat in Maine
- — his longing for better train travel in Maine.
- The passengers disappeared, the tower on Bangor Union Station
- …was demolished in 1961 and
- ….E.B. White could feel the wrecking ball in the pit of his stomach.
- Great writing…. !
- Author: P. Roelofs
- Titel: Jan Maelwael (1370 – 1415)
- Published: October 2017
- Trivia: P. Roelofs is conservator 17th C Dutch Art at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
- I visited this exposition on the opening day 06 October 2017
- Catalogue of fifty breathtaking medieval treasures –
- paintings, illuminated manuscripts, precious metalwork and sculpture –
- united in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (06 Oct 2017 – 07 Jan 2018)
- to tell the story of Dutch artist Johan Maelwael.
- The absolute center piece of the exhibition is “La Grande Pietà Ronde”
- from the collection of the Musée du Louvre.
- This Lamentation of Christ, painted for Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1363-1404),
- combines the subject of the Suffering Christ with that of the Holy Trinity.
- The round panel, preserved in a pristine condition,
- is one of the rare works attributed to Johan Maelwael to have survived.
- Purchased by the Louvre in 1864
- ….it has never left Paris since 1962.
“La Grande Pietà Ronde”
- Author: Paul Bowles (1910 – 1999)
- Title: The Sheltering Sky
- Published: 1949
- Theme: existential despair, determinism (fate)
- Trivia: Nr 97 on Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels
- Trivia: List of challenges 2017
- The story centers on Porter Moseby and his wife Kit
- …a married couple originally from New York.
- They travel to the North African desert with their friend Tunner.
- Port and Kit attempt to resolve their marital difficulties.
- Ironically in instead of saving a marriage….they create a love triangle.
Title: The Sheltering Sky
- This refers to a sky as a solid thing…protecting Kit and Port
- …from what’s behind.
- “But what’s behind?
- Nothing, I suppose. Just darkness (death) (ch 13)
- In chapter 23 there is another reference to death/dying.
- “A black star appears…in the night sky’s clarity.
- …piercing the fine fabric of the sheltering sky, take repose.” (ch 23)
Strong point: images of life
- Life is a cigarette …the first few puffs it tastes wonderful
- …and you don’t think if its ever being used up (ch 19)
- Life is a cliff…..you just never turn around and look back when you’re climbing.
- It makes you sick.
- This book felt like homework…a real chore.
- But that should not diminish its merit.
- I was just not up to the task
- …probing into the psychedelic inner world of Bowles.
- It’s also fairly well known that he took drugs
- (hashish known as kif, and majoun, a cannabis jelly)
- …and the effect on his writing is palpable.
- It glimmers with existential energy.
- This book should be on the top 100 novels list
- …but you should be #InTheMood….to read it!
- Author: E. Pao
- Title: Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change
- Published: 2017
- Trivia: List of challenges 2017
- Ellen Pao speaks frankly about issues in her work environment that
- compelled her to expose hard truths.
- She discloses what kept her going and what got in her way.
- Book: first-person account exposing the
- …toxic culture that pervades the tech industry.
- 2012: Pao started a law suit against her employer
- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination.
- 2015: The trial, lasting 24 days, resulted in a
- favorable verdict for Kleiner Perkins.
- 2016: Lao launched Project Include, an advocacy group aimed at
- …improving diversity in the technology industry.
- 2017: Pao’s first book is published.
- Ellen Pao: “My lawsuit failed. Others won’t”
- It was an interesting exposé.
- Ellen Pao “broke a lot of glass” in the tech industry. (218)
- The message I took from the book was in short
- It’s time for tech companies to accept that they are the problem
- …not the women or minorities in tech suing or speaking up.
- Pao’s argument has merit, gender discrimination must be addressed.
- In this case reading the book was better than listening to the audio version.
- Pao’s voice and tone is too ‘casual and were filled with cliches
- that irritated this listener.
- Her last chapter contained her solutions but felt they
- like a QVC (Quality Value Convenience) selling her product
- …the advocacy group: Project Include.
- I was not impressed but because it deals
- with an important issue….I gave it 3 stars.
- Author: M. Meade
- Title: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This
- Published: 1987
- Trivia: List of challenges 2017
- Iconic American writer, Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)
- ….who has fallen between the cracks.
- Pour yourself a glass of red wine, or as
- Dorothy called it ‘The Red Badge of Courage’
- and spend hours with this feisty lady!
- Dorothy Parker is one of the writers that have slipped between the cracks.
- I know of her….but know nothing about her.
- Parker described her self as a mongrel.
- “My father was a Rothschild, her mother was a goy;
- ..and I went to a Catholic school around the corner.” (pg 387)
- She wrote for some of the best magazines in America:
- Vanity Fair:
- Dorothy Parker: at Vanity Fair magazine that she had followed the
- Elevated Eyebrow School of Journalism….
- you could write about anything you wished no matter how outrageous
- so long as you said it in evening clothes.
- “Parker was treacle-sweet of tongue but vinegar witted.” (pg 35)
- The New Yorker:
- She bonded with her fellow writers during
- the daily lunches at The Round table at the Algonquin Hotel.
- During her five years as Esquire’s book reviewer she wrote
- …46 columns, read more than 200 books.
- Parker loved dogs an felt less lonely with her beloved
- Dachshund Robinson trotting at her ankles.
- She insisted he be in her favorite portrait and is on the cover of this book.
- When I think of Dorothy Parker i remember only the lines
- “Men seldom make passes at girls who where glasses.”
- This book showed me that Parker wrote so much more.
- Big Blonde is regarded as the ‘perfect’ short story and
- “is perhaps the most intensely autobiographical of all her fiction.” (pg 195)
- Other short stories of interest are:
- A Telephone Call, Just a Little One, Sentiment, The Waltz, and The Garter.
- Parker’s personal life was tumultuous.
- Parker was divorced after 11 years of marriage.
- There would be no end to the number of men passing through
- her life in her Algonquin Hotel suite.
- They all had voices as “intimate as the rustle of sheets.” (pg 187)
- Parker had her own ‘niche’ carved out in American literary humour.
- She wrote poetry that was fashionably chic and ‘smart’.
- She was was her own best critic:
- “ There is poetry and there is not.”
- Her writing she believed fell into the latter group.
- Don’t you believe it…..her verse is stunning.
- It is always easier to revile….than extol.
- Parker died on June 7 1967.
- She told friends “don’t feel badly when I die,
- …because I’ve been dead for a long time.” (pg 406)
- Dorothy Parker was once asked to create an epitaph for her tombstone.
- She crafted several different candidates for inscription over the years:
- Excuse My Dust
- Here Lies the Body of Dorothy Parker. Thank God!
- This Is On Me
- If You Can Read This You’ve Come Too Close
- Wherever She Went, Including Here, It Was Against Her Better Judgment
- Last thoughts:
- It is sad that so many talented writers were plagued by alcoholism.
- Marguiete Duras, Dashiell Hammett, Dylan Thomas, Shirley Jackson
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway,
- Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver Eugene O’ Neill.
- I can now add Dorothy Parker to this list.
- When the doctor warned her she had an
- …enlarged liver when she was only 37 yrs old
- …she referred to this condition as ‘a dainty complaint.’
- She was an alcoholic writer and this book reveals
- the terrible price creativity can exert.
- Eye-opening biography that prepares me to read Parker’s writing.
- Parker thought of herself as a 20th century
- Becky Sharp from Thackery’s novel Vanity Fair.
- Parker’s fiesty, tough character is summed up in her quote;
- “If you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.” (pg 400)
- Author: H.W. Brands
- Title: The General vs The President
- Published: 2016
- Trivia: List of challenges 2017
Why did President Truman say ‘You’re fired” to 5 star General MacArthur in 1951?
- MacArthur lost all most of his support to enter presidential race 1952.
- He was questioned for 3 days in Washington after his dismissal
- as Commander of East Asian forces.
- He spoke roughly 90.000 words almost enough to fill a novel.
- What happened to the adoration he received upon his return to the US?
- Not many knew that Truman once called
- …MacArthur the most dangerous man in America.
- Truman saw some Caesarism
- ….lurking behind the 5 stars on his general’s cap.
- Truman was not a product of ‘elite America’.
- Truman did start courses toward a law degree and in business college
- ..but he never formally graduated or completed a degree.
- Truman was wiser than most politicians took him for.
- He never stopped learning.
- He read four or five newspapers each morning
- …so he would remain as well-informed as possible.
- I was impressed by his patience and ability to look at problems from a
- …broad point of view.
- Not only what MacArthur’s high-jinks meant to Asia
- …but more importantly for Europe struggling to recover from WW II
- …struggling to stand up to Stalin’s totalitarian vision of Eastern Europe.
- Listening to the tensions and political decisions as a response
- to the invasion of North Korea into South Korea sends chills down my spine.
- Truman was pragmatic and not prone to erratic statements
- (no twitter in those days).
- North Korea was trouble in 1950 and is still trouble in 2017
- I knew nothing about the details of the Korean War.
- Brands takes the reader from 25 June 1950
- …the invasion of South Korea by the North.
- …to May 3 1951 – 21 June 1951
- The Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Relations Committees
- …began 7 weeks of hearings.
- They were investigating President Truman’s removal of
- …MacArthur from his command on 11 April 1951.
- Reading this book is addictive…learning more about Korean War.
- Post-Cold War research in Soviet Archives has revealed that the Korean War
- was begun by Kim Il-sung with the express permission of Stalin.
- Three times Truman wanted to fire his chief General in Korea
- …but he did not.
- In early 1951 MacArthur crossed a ‘red line’ according to Washington.
- Truman’s reaction was disbelief and controlled fury.
- I knew nothing about the Korean War.
- This book was the best place to start!
- #MustRead 5 parts, 68 chapters, 416 pages
- #MustListen – audio book is excellent! (15 hrs 22min)
- For all the homage Truman paid to straight talk…
- he also understood the value of silence.
- Truman would be a great role-model for the present administration.
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965)
- Author: R. Franklin
- Title: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
- Published: 2016
- Trivia: Awarded 2017 Edgar Allan Poe prize for Best Critical / Biographical
- Trivia: Challenges 2017
- I’ve never read Shirley Jackson….now I have to.
- She wrote short stories and novels despite this endless torrent of
- criticism from her mother and the marriage from hell.
- Shirley Jackson suffered from mental issues
- …..yet was a voice of many women in the late 1940’s and 1950′ s.
- Jackson life was determined by
- her husband’s profession (literary professor at Bennington College)
- his income and his attitude towards an open marriage.
- Writing deadlines, 4 children born between 1942 – 1951,
- a chaotic household and the need for a drink to take the edge off life.
- All these were noticeable signs of trouble yet to come.
- She struggled with a weight problem,
- dependence on xenical diet pills
- …and a good bottle of bourbon and a filled ice bucket
- …were always close by.
- I have chosen her short story The Lottery and novel
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle as my Jackson reads.
- The short story was her literary breakthrough (1948)
- …her last novel was the masterpiece. (1962)
- “Jackson believed her role as a writer was to draw back the curtain
- …on the darkness within the human psyche.” ( pg 488)
- One of her biggest fans is Stephen King.
- I think that says enough.
- I read the last few chapters…very slowly.
- I did not want this book to end.
- It’s that good.