Today has started off as one of those chilly, cloudy days. Our Japanese maple tree has turned a very bright red and is beautiful. The leaves have started to fall and drift to the ground much to Ollie’s delight and soon enough will be bare. Then I will be able to see the small memorial bells hanging from its branches designating the lives of our past pets. I often hear their gentle tinkling when outside with Ollie and it makes me think of happy times with our previous generations of animals we loved.
Today I am featuring three quite different books from my shelf beginning with the letter C. Off we go…
*1. The Chosen (1966) by Chaim Potok (17.2.1929 – 23.7.2002). I read this book and its two sequels The Promise and My Name is Asher Lev back in the 1970s and have never forgotten them. Growing up a Hasidic Jewish boy to man in New York City I loved this trilogy.
Chaim Potok was an American author and rabbi. His first book The Chosen, was listed on The New York Times’ best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies. Potok received a rigorous religious and secular education at Yeshiva University, a school very similar to the fictional Hirsch Seminary and College in The Chosen. … As an author, he is best known for exploring the interplay between religious Judaism and the broader secular world, a fundamental tension in his own life. (Wikipedia)
The book itself is about two Jewish boys who become friends. Danny comes from the strict Hasidic sect that keeps him bound in centuries of orthodoxy. Reuben is brought up by a father patiently aware of the 20th century. As six million Jews go to their deaths in Europe and the state of Israel first draws breath, their friendship is battered by conflicting loyalties and beliefs. This is a book I will always keep on my shelf as I enjoyed it so much.
**2. Cane by Jean Toomer (Lived 6.12.1894 to 30.3.1967 – A Penguin Classic Originally published 1923, reprinted 2019). Jean Toomer’s Cane is a masterpiece in American modernist literature because of its distinctive structure and style, and one of the most significant works identified with the Harlem Renaissance. It is a story told through a series of vignettes. It uses poetry, prose and play like dialogue to create a window into the varied lives of African Americans living in the rural South and urban North during a time when Jim Crow laws pervaded and racism reigned. Flouting the stereotypes associated with African Americans during the period, Toomer’s novel portrayed its characters in an accurate and entirely human way breaking the mould and laying the groundwork for how they are represented in literature. (Penguin)
***3. Now going from New York and Washington DC to Sydney I came across this book somewhere or other. Its title appealed to me as I have had a couple of interesting experiences in taxis when I was working on the National Speech & Hearing Association Council in Melbourne. This book is a compilation of various experiences written by the late Sydney Morning Herald columnist James McClelland. James McClelland was born in Melbourne in 1915 and studied at both Melbourne and Sydney Universities. He survived a brief political career as a minister in the Whitlam government to become the first chief judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW in 1980 and 1984. He described himself as a ‘child of the Great Depression and a fugitive from religion and Marxism…a former lawyer without illusions about lawyers; a former judge without illusions about the judiciary and a present journalist without illusions about the media.” He was writing for the Sydney Morning Herald as a columnist at the time of this writing before his death in January 1999.
He described this book as “A collection of my weekly columns in the Herald that contains only a couple of pieces that deal with conversations with cabbies. Nevertheless the title is justified by the contributions that these purveyors of truth, falsehood and scuttlebutt have made over the years to my nodding acquaintance with what is going on in the world.
The title of the book may be regarded as a metaphor for keeping one’s feet on the ground.”
I found this to be an interesting read as I read it in my earlier days of life in Australia. I have not revisited it and have no idea if it still holds up to this interest.
There we have it. Now to fill in the rest of the day with something interesting during these days of self isolation. I can hear Mr. Penguin saying “Ollie, NO!” so it may be time to get him out for a walk. Ollie, Not Mr. Penguin.