Saturday, November 29, 2008

I found an interview with the author who caused a furor a few weeks back when a blogger gave him a bad review and was greatly amused by one of his responses. Asked to recommend or at least list a few of the writers he reads, he admitted his ego was too big to bother with anyone other than himself. Or, rather, he said he didn't have time to read, which translates to the same thing.

I'd much rather read a writer who shows enthusiasm and appreciation for others. Like, say, David Sedaris, who's been promoting George Saunders on his recent reading tour. He read half of "Ask the Optimist!" when he was in Charlotte last month and sold copies of The Braindead Megaphone along with his own books. I found that very cool.

Or like the writers mentioning their favorite books in the annual Guardian best of the year list this weekend. My tbr list is much longer now that I've finished the article --I added books recommended by authors I've long admired and I'll be looking for the previously unread writers who happened to recommend books I'd read earlier and enjoyed; I should enjoy them if we have a shared taste, right? Fortunately I've already purchased or placed a library reserve on several of these books; the others have yet to be published in the U.S. I'm going to try to resist placing international orders for awhile.

And now I'm off to do some honest-to-God reading. I've been too distracted with the traveling and the cooking the last few days to manage more than a handful of pages.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Welcome Morning

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.

--Anne Sexton

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Octopus in a box

I never have dreams this good.

But I did recall a tidbit of a dream with some literary content that I had a few weeks back. Last month, I came upon a hardback copy--second printing, U.S. edition--of Margaret Drabble's The Realms of Gold while in a bookstore in Burlington, VT--a book I'd searched for in the shops for thirty years (I first read Drabble in 1978) to replace the already used paperback in which I'd worked math problems on the final two pages. Because life works that way, I then proceeded to receive an autographed U.K. first edition for my birthday.

And that's when I noticed that the first sentence in the U.S. edition--The octopus lived in a square plastic box with holes for his arms--actually differed from the first sentence in the U.K. version--The octopus lived in a square perspex box with holes for his arms.

And what does this have to do with my dream? I dreamed a third version of that sentence-The octopus lived in a square moleskine box with holes for his arms.

I need a dream upgrade. Elastic band and lined pages totally optional.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warmhearted on different scales. Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

--FDR, quoted in James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn's The Three Roosevelts

Not one of the FDR books getting all the attention these days, but a good one, nonetheless.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Booking Through Thursday Twofer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

One reason I'm reluctant to accept review copies directly from authors is that I don't want to encounter anyone who feels that I'm in his debt because I've received his book for free. (I work in a library. Chances are I could read his book for free anyway.)

Reviewers are obligated to tell the truth as they see it; anything else would be unethical. I've yet to be harassed by an unhappy author; I generally don't continue reading books that I'm not enjoying, so usually no negative reviews show up here to set someone off. However, if I were to post something that led to hard feelings and harassment, I'd either delete the offending comments and/or emails and refuse further engagement with that individual or showcase the comments if the author was making a particular ass out of himself and I thought everyone else would get a kick out of his behavior.

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

I've gone a little nuts in the book buying department over the last several years--getting the mortgage paid off has afforded me that luxury--but I've been trying to cut back and hope to limit new book purchases next year to those acquired through the use of gift certificates issued from the credit card company and Amazon's associates program. Not only do I have too large of a stockpile of unread books around the house to continue at my present rate, but my husband works for one of the banks that's been in the news the last few months and could well be unemployed at some point next year. Plus, we need a new roof. And a new refrigerator.

But I much prefer owning to borrowing. I like to revisit favorite passages even if I don't do a complete reread; I like to read at my own pace instead of having to consider the person behind me on a book's waiting list; I like to know they're there for me whenever I decide on a moment's whim that the time is ripe for me to read them. I'm all about immediate gratification when it comes to books.

Booking Through Thursday

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

February 5 or February 7, 1993 - November 18, 2008
Requiescat in Pace

A bang, not a whimper

  Two months into L.'s retirement, and I'm finished with the stockpiling of books. No more book purchases! Or at least, no purcha...