Tuesday Trivia: Literature as Constellations

For those of you who subscribe to Lit Hub snip20161225_16weekly you may have seen this. There are several articles, most this week about writers or literature linked with Trump. I skip over these. I get enough news on him. One minute’s news about him is too much for me so as I read down the page I came across a more upliftin heading that read:

“Nick Rougeux has diagrammed the iconic opening lines of famous books to create Literary Constellations. | WIRED”

My first thought was, “What is this?”  When I opened the article to read it my second snip20170129_2thought was, “This guy has too much time on his hands.”  But it was fun so I thought I would share it. You can visit the page here.

Other trivia happening?  Well Australia just celebrated Australia Day this week. Many people refer to it as Invasion Day as it was the day that white man arrived in Australia and destroyed the lives of the Aboriginal People. Each year a large group of people lobby the government to change the date so it is a more pleasant day for all Australians not just white Australia.  I don’t see that changing the date would be any great sacrifice but you know how politicians can be. Everything is such a drama to them.

The past week has been pleasant enough here. We are enjoying summer weather . A good time to be outside with my dogs playing frisbee and fetching stones. img_0955Odie loves his frisbee and Molly, 6 kg terrier that she is has had a goal to bury or play with each stone in our yard during the past 12 years. We put stones down in the back to counteract the mud. That worked but now we have a stone obsessed little madam. She makes me laugh. Mr P is the softie in the house when it comes to the dogs. When Molly is called inside by me she runs in, dropping the stone outdoors. She knows they are not allowed in the house. When Mr. P calls her in she runs in, stone in mouth and drops it on the couch and looks at me as if to say, “What are you going to do about it?”

snip20170129_3I am currently reading To The River by Olivia Laing. A story of one  English woman’s walk along the River Ouse (the river that Virginia Woolf died in) in the UK. She discusses the countryside, the pubs she stays in and people she meets. There is also a bit about Virginia Woolf’s life and books. I know one of the bloggers reviewed it but I read so many blogs I forget who it was. So if you read this, thank you, as I am enjoying the gentleness of this book. More later.

So until the next time, enjoy the trivia in your own life. I hope it makes you laugh.

 

Margery Sharp day a day late…

snip20170126_2Wonderful Jane of Eden Rock in Cornwall has hosted a Margery Sharp day. Several bloggers read a book by her and then posted a review for 25 January. I have just slid in by the seat of my pants to make it the 26th here but I am sure it is the 25th somewhere in the world. Hawaii?

I had never heard of this author but now I am glad I have found her. The book I read was The Eye of Love published in 1957.

Miss Diver lives in an English house with her orphaned niece Martha. She is a somewhat eccentric woman who is in love with Mr. Gibson. Mr. Gibson has doted on her for the past 10 years although he still lives with his mother. Twice a week he visits and the two of them cuddle and coo each other. She is his Spanish rose (sometimes referring to her as Old Madrid, which made me laugh.) She is his big King Hal who is her protector. Their world verges between fantasy and reality.  When Miss Diver’s brother died she begrudgingly took on her pre adolescent niece Martha whose only interest is being left alone to draw the shapes she sees in every object. She is a very peculiar little girl, who does not attend school and lives completely in her own world with the art in her mind.

The book opens with Mr. Gibson having to say farewell to Miss Diver and Martha because his furrier businsnip20170126_1ess is in trouble and he must marry Miranda Joyce who is the daughter of the top furrier in the city Mr. Joyce, in order to keep a job.

Miss Joyce is quite privileged, spoiled and very shallow. He does not want to marry her but feels he must. Miss Diver is devastated and at loose ends without her big King Hal.  Martha is not fussed either way.
One day Martha meets  a man who is in need of accommodation. Mr Phillips returns home with Martha and becomes a border in Miss Diver’s home. Over a bit of time he weasles himself into Miss Diver’s life. His aim is to marry her as he thinks she owns the home, with all of the valued items in the sitting room Mr. Gibson has given her over the years. If he becomes her husband he can get rid of Martha, have a home and reign supreme over this resience and Miss Diver’s life. He really is a sleazy, creepy little man.

That is where I will leave you. The questions remain: **What happens to Martha and her increasing talent? **Will Mr. Gibson marry the insipid Miranda? **snip20170126_4What happens to the friendship that has developed between Miranda’s father and Mr. Gibson. **Will Mr. Phillips succeed in his plan? **Does Miss Diver find happiness, find the money she needs to keep her home when her income runs out? **Who lives happilon’s wedding day approaches.  There is humour in it. The writing is descriptive enough without being over bearing and the characters came to life for me. I still think of them.

I really enjoyed this book. A quirky tale, concisely told with enough subplots to keep me interested and believe it or not quite a bit of suspense as Miranda and Mr Gibson are pretty obscure characters.

There is a sequel to this book about Martha in Paris as she becomes an adult enmeshed in the world of art.  This book is certainly on my list to read. I liked Martha. She is a funny child and not all roses and buttercups. She has a mind of her own and is eccentric and quite uncaring of the rest of the world in her own mind.

If you wsnip20170126_5ould like to know more about Margery Sharp you can find a biography of her on Wikipedia here.

I will certainly be looking out for her other books.

Tuesday Trivia on a Saturday

snip20170121_3Okay, I like to shake things up once in awhile. Before Christmas I came across this book in my local independent indie book shop, Fuller’s.  I saw it on the shelf and made a beeline straight to it. A young woman was holding a copy in her hand and said to me, “Somebody had better get this for me for Christmas!” There were three copies in the shop.

1001 Ideas That Changed The Way We Think.  I do enjoy these 1001 compendiums and have the ones that relate to both books and children’s books. They are great fun to dip into and read a few pages here and there.  I find them both motivating and fascinating.

This one is no different.  I asked for this book for Christmas but of course the people I asked did not rush down to the shop and get one of the three copies. I got a wonderful book voucher for Christmas but alas, the book itself had disappeared. Enter book depository and about three weeks after Christmas my book arrived. (Mr. P should have bought it before because now I still have the book voucher and the book. He could have saved a bit by getting this and foregoing the voucher.)

How does one read such a book? You can’t read it page after page because the information will go in one brain cell and be filed away by another to that forgotten data base in the back of our head. It may or may not ever be seen again.

I decided to go to random.org.  I put in 1 to about 950, the number of pages and came up with: number 866.  I could feel a little wave of anticipation as I thumbed through the pages of this heavy tome looking for the magic number. There are actually two selections on this page.

 

1. Rap Music: United States– I learned that the word “rap” as a verb or noun meaning to talk,  actually dates from the sixteenth century, but its application to a form of music began among African Americans in the 1960’s.  It goes on to explain the various styles of rap music, its structure and uses. There is also a large black and white  photo of ‘Grandmaster Flash’  who is considered to be the grandfather of rap music in the USA. He was a Dee Jay in the 1980’s.  So close the file folder on that bit of trivia and put it into my data base storage unit of brain cells.

2. The second item of trivia relates to Social Networking Service. It states the earliest way people connected to others  (beyond snail mail and telephones) were email and chat programs. They appeared in the 1970’s.  I remember when we immigrated into Australia in 1988 how hard it was to keep in touch with family overseas. I was excited because I bought a new word processor that made writing letters so easy.  When email appeared I thought all of my Christmases had come at once. Instant communication at once. Then Facebook with instant photos of what was happening with family and friends. I do love social media for that reason alone.   The paragraph says that USENET was our first instant messaging system and it developed  as a system between Duke University and the University of North Carolina and went from there.

Okay that was fun. Tomorrow morning when I have my coffee I will have random.org choose another page number for me. Just think, in about 950 more days I will have an encyclopaedic mind of trivia for casually entertaining at dinner party conversations. (Not that I attend many dinner parties, I take comfort in knowing I will be ready.)

Other topics to name just a few from randomly exploring pages are:

*Symbols      *Reformed Epistimology    *Astrology          *Robin Hood          *Islamic State

*Sewer Systems          *Mathematical Function          *Many Worlds Theory (Universes)

*Skepticism        *Expressionism in Music      *Six Thinking Hats     *Beatrice Potter

snip20161225_16If I come across some interesting information about books or authors  I will put them up on Tuesday Trivia.

Next time you are attending a dinner party make sure you are not sitting too close. Unless you are a trivia person like I am.

 

 

American travel book-all population and weather?

snip20170117_2Travel writing is one of my favourite genres of books to read. Especially if the authors have walked across a country, ridden a bicycle, motorcycle, donkey or horse. I love  the different ways people see the world.

I came across Old Man on a Bicycle: A Ride Across America on a Kindle special deal so decided to give it a try. It was a pretty easy read and the style of it made me laugh. The book is in a combined paragraph to journal format. Don was 71 yrs of age when he decided to ride his bicycle from New Hampshire to San Francisco, California.  The journey itself is amazing. Unfortunately he gets tied up not so much in the trip itself but stating what Australian people always tell me about Americans. “They love the weather and they love to know the population of various cities.  While attending a conference once in Brisbane, Qld, we had a keynote speaker from a university in Maine, USA. My Aussie friend sitting beside me said, “You wait, her power point presentation will have initial photos of the state of Maine, where it is on the map, what the population is of her state and city and what the weather is like. They always do this.”  I, of course said, “No they won’t.” Her reply was, “Yes she will.”

The speaker is introduced, the lights go down and the large screen in front of us lights up with a huge picture of Maine. She introduced us to her university (photo 2) and then told us the population and showed two more photos. Maine in summer and Maine in winter. Well of course my friend and I were paralysed with silent laughter.  She whispered, “I rest my case.”  Over the years I have watched for this and I have to admit that is what American speakers do when visiting here. I find it highly entertaining.

So I was not surprised when 71 year old Don stated on almost every page of his journal, the population of all the towns he went through and gave me detailed weather updates.

I did enjoy this book but was glad it wasn’t any longer than it was. He described the roads in detail, the winds and what their measurement was. He would start riding about 5:00 am and finish about noon to 2:00 pm. I admired his stamina. I admired his determination. I also admired him when he was wiped out by an inattentive driver in Utah (She was reaching for her coffee on the floorboard when she veered to the right and wiped him out on a freeway) and returned to the same spot a year later to finish his journey to California.

What I found tedious was the health information. Whenever he mentioned something to do with his training he might say he didn’t smoke, he ate well, all the things you would expect a 71 yr old man to mention while training for a cross country ride.

snip20170117_4However, if smoking was mentioned he would then go into a long page or two lecture about the physiological things that happen to a body when one smokes. That would include statistics (another American favourite).  Then he did the same thing to nutrition, African politics (more on that later) as well as aging complaints and illnesses.

There were several topics he mentioned while continuing with the story that the lecture began. I found it tedious and skipped over those bits.  The one paragraph or two I did agree with him on was the aging factor and how society views and talks about the elderly.  I have always maintained the elderly are their own worst enemy as they continually pass cartoons and jokes around about incontinent, brain dead, droopy breasted, technologically phobic oldies.  They complain with one hand how the elderly are treated but then go on to absolutely denigrate the whole range of elderly in the same conversation.

When I produced the regional Senior’s Association newsletter I put a stop to the aged cartoons and jokes. I received several and I said I would not be continuing this practice. I do feel strongly about it so don’t feel too left out if I never post one here.

I wondered why this book was written like a military manual. Then as the ride progressed he began telling us about himself. First thing is he was an ambassador to Somalia in Africa in the early 1980’s. Then he talked about being a congressman for the state of New Hampshire.  That is when everything fell into place about my thinking. A retired politician. No wonder the writing was so vague.

When I read travel writing I like to hear about the people, the quirky places, the conversations in the various places they visit. The only conversations this guy reported on were those of people in diners telling him how “awesome” he was for undertaking this trip.  Many Americans don’t seem to realise there are people doing these things all over the world and we barely hear a thing about it unless it involves the moon.

So get over yourself and read a couple of Anne Mustoe’s incredible bicycle journeys (the British woman who truly was awesome).

Would I recommend this book?  I think it would be good to read by a person contemplating this journey because of the detailed weather reports, wind speeds and how one must adjust their mileage to better find accommodation in a country that has vast spaces and none available.  Though had he begun in San Francisco and gone eastward to New Hampshire he wouldn’t have spent half the book talking about the head winds. They almost always come from the west.screen-shot-2013-05-22-at-16-40-48

To the armchair traveller there is more exciting travel writing.  I do admire his undertaking and his perseverance.  There were a lot of bits I did truly enjoy reading but over all I would say it was pretty average writing.  And being an American-Australian I did enjoy hearing about the population, weather and statistics.

Is there such a thing as the Great American Novel?

TUESDAY TRIVIA:snip20161225_16

That is today’s query. I subscribe to Lit Hub, a free online magazine and there are many articles that pop up I find of interest. I was getting it daily but I just don’t have time to read the featured eight to ten articles a day so now I get it on weekends only. If you have not heard of it you can view it here.

The author, Emily Temple writes,

“On this date in 1868, novelist John William DeForest coined the now inescapable term “the great American novel” in the title of an essay in The Nation. Now, don’t forget that in 1868, just a few years after the end of the Civil War, “America” was still an uncertain concept for many—though actually, in 2017 we might assert the same thing, which should give you a hint as to why the term “great American novel” is so problematic.  

At the time of his writing, DeForest claimed that the Great American Novel, which he defined as “the picture of the ordinary emotions and manners of American existence,” had not yet been achieved, though he thought he could spot it on the horizon—he noted that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was “the nearest approach to the desired phenomenon.” (He also pooh-poohed both Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, …”)

The article then goes on to a list. I know how much people who read books like lists but I thought a couple of choices on the list didn’t belong there but I won’t mention details as I know everyone has their own opinions. You could argue this list forever and never reach agreement.

What I did enjoy in the article is the illustrated map (here). You can link to the map for more detail through the article but here is the picture of it:

snip20170110_1As I am such a visual learner I love it. It would be fun to take the trip around the country and read  all of the books. For you ‘challenge people’ you might like to do this. After all you have a full year ahead of you.

The question is: Next time you read an American novel ask yourself, Is this “a Great American novel?” or is it “THE Great American Novel. ”

I see the article has been featured on the John Steinbeck centre Facebook page with a conversation about his books being on the list. It comes down to:

Is there such a thing as The Great American Novel over all others? Or is it an impossibility.  It was a fun read.

(All highlighted text above goes to a link.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Catch Up

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p1080772
from 11 yr old Maya in Russia

This year seems to already be running along as quickly as 2016 did and I have decided I need to slow it down. In the vein of Forest Gump life seems to not only be like a box of cherries but quite like an amusement park. Some rides go faster than others.

I am reading an assortment of things. I am well into the Margery Sharp book which I am enjoying. I will post my review up for the Margery Sharp day towards the end of January. I need to check the date.

I finished off The Good People by Hannah Kent and that review will go up in February. Not before my book club meets. Funny how secretive we all like to be about what we think about our club book.  I am getting caught up on my book club reads so I can now enjoy the many books I own that I have pulled out of the closet and from under the bed and put onto the shelves. I am really enjoying seeing them all. out the book club books.

p1080762I am now listening to Songs of a War Boy by Deng Thiak Adut every time I get into my car. I am enjoying this non fiction piece of work very much but how this guy ever survived I really don’t know. This is for our March book club so sorry guys, that post won’t be up until later.

I have been having great fun with postcrossing.com with the postcards. I signed up for the first five addresses we are given with the registration number on them. Once the recipient gets it they register the number and then another address is released to me. The cards from other people are starting to come in and I really enjoy seeing what they send.

So far I have heard from a woman in Illinois who has returned from a Florida holiday and sent me a card. I have received a card from a Dutch woman who is currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland working as a tour guide. I got a Penguin Scootering card from a 45 yr old German woman. Today I got a wonderful card from 11 yr old Maya in Russia who loves to travel. She has visited 10 countries so far and she sent me a photo of her city taken at night. This has just been so much fun and the only cost is the postage stamp I put on the cards I send.p1080768

When I requested another address today when I registered Maya’s card I got the address of a Finnish retired speech pathologist. As I am a retired speech pathologist I look forward to sending her a card.

My dog Odie had a bit of gastro this past week and he was on anti -inflammatories and antibiotics. He felt sorry for himself but bounced back to chase his frisbee in a couple of days after the medication kicked in. I have told him to leave the possum business alone in the yard but of course being a half beagle dog that doesn’t really stay still in his brain.

p1080763On a final note I also got a charming card from Mudpuddle in Oregon. Some of you will know him as he comments on several blogs I follow and always comments on mine. Thank you ‘Mud’.

I’ll be back again soon with some bookish news. You know how it is when you are in the middle of three or four books and none of them are quite finished. They are moving though. Hope your week goes well. Tell me what you have been up to this week.

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Muddle’s card of Clatskanie River, Oregon

Happy New Year- Bring on 2017

penguin-1904This past week has flown by with the social events of the holidays. We didn’t do much on the actual day of Christmas and New Year’s Eve but the leading up time and the ‘after time’ continues.  It is summer which also adds social events to the calendar.

It feels good to have a new year upon us. A blank slate, so to speak.

snip20170101_5I finished the book The Good People by Hannah Kent from audible.com.  I will put up a review of it but not before our book group meets on the last Wed night of February. It is our monthly pick.  It is very hard to not talk about  it though.

I have started our March book from audible- Songs of a War Boy by Deng Thiak Adut. This book grabs you by the throat and really takes hold. It is also an audible book.

I am not going to set specific goals or get too excited about challenges on my blog this year. Something else always gets in the way and they go by the wayside and that makes me look like a really unreliable blogger. Which I can be at times.

snip20170101_6I have decided to use my monthly audible.com credit for my book group books. I seem to be in the car a lot and it is so nice how my phone will connect with the bluetooth in my car and start playing the book as soon as I turn it on.

I rescue wildlife for Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. The park itself is about 45 minutes from my home and they always need animals transported either to the sanctuary or from it to vet appointments or wildlife carer’s.  I used to not volunteer as much because the ride got so boring.

I have solved the problem of reading book group books I don’t always want to read along with the boring route to the park every week or every day if you volunteered enough.

Bonorong gets a phone call from a person who has found injured wildlife on the road or in their yard or tangled in fishline in the water. A text message goes out to all volunteers and whoever is free texts back and says, “Ring me.” You know what suburb the animal is in but not a specific address. You then get a call with the details. Once the job is finished you text the words back to them, “All sorted.” I have volunteered for several years now. This past year volunteers rescued more than 8000 (yes, 8000) animals.

I had the care of a blue tongue lizard the other night. A friend of mine who is a veterinarian was heading off with five children in the car and asnip20170101_3ll their bikes on the back on the way for some family riding. She found the lizard on the side of the road and rang me to keep it overnight. It was very cold so I warmed it up, kept it safe overnight. The next day I took it out to Bonorong for some R & R ,treatment and heat. I listened to the Songs of a War boy there and back. 90 minutes of reading this book. I think my book count will go up significantly for 2017 if I keep doing Bonorong work.

My goals for the year, if you want to call them that are:

1  Listen to my book group books on audible.

2  Read the books on my shelves that are now unpacked from boxes and drawers and have been shelved on the old empty Penguin shelves.

3  Keep reading some children’s books from 1001 Books Every Child Should Read. Only because they are interesting stories. They keep me in the loop about what young people read who are not like me, middle class, middle aged retired folk.

4  Shop for new books (to me) in the library catalogue instead of bringing home a bunch more books to put on my over burdened shelves. I enjoy reading all the reviews on blogs and going straight to the library’s web site to see if they are there and put them on my wish list. I will read library books because I feel it is important to support libraries. We do have a wonderful service here and I would hate to see it end.

5  I want to make sure I comment on the blogs I read regularly to further establish those friendships. This might mean cutting  back on blogs that don’t interest me. I like to explore new ones but don’t often find a lot I want to follow for a long time. So many blogs that focus on fantasy, mystery only, romance or historical fiction.

6  Write more on my blog. Keep the variety of the blog growing and do not get stale. My reviews are not nearly as extensive as some but I want to keep the enthusiasm going for the books I do read.

7. Update Books of the Century years and read more books on that list.

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Last week I had to transfer a baby Eastern Rosella to a carer and four days later I had to transfer an adult Eastern Rosella to the same carer. It was found impaled on a cactus needle in someone’s yard. 

8.  Keep better stats so I can actually do an end of year analysis and report.

That sums it up. I just plan to relax with it all and have heaps of fun with like minded, intelligent bloggers.

I guess that is the week that was. Mostly mental with some Christmas and New Year’s cheer thrown in.