Monday, August 03, 2020

Still Here

Somehow I am reading four books at once. One at lunch (Star Machine), one in later afternoon (Pale Rider) one when I walk or clean (The Lives of Edie Pritchard) and one at bedtime, the Ferrante book. I watched three movie this week and like them all. The Nighy one was on Hoopla from my library and so too the Larry Watson audiobook. What a great deal Hoopla and Kanopy are.

Pale Rider is really scary. But at least the 1918 flu took breaks. This one doesn't seem to and I think the third scenario, where is it never lets up until we get a vaccine, is the most likely now.

Watching Dark and Halt and Catch Fire on TV. As well as the HBO shows.

Finally some rain and boy do we need it.

What about you?

Sunday, August 02, 2020


Forty years ago. Three of them gone now.  This is probably at a place we stayed in Ocean City, N.J.  We never stayed at fancy places so this looks about right. We would go back to Philly for a week or so (to visit my grandmother) and then the "shore" as Philly people call it for most of August. Phil usually taught a summer class that ended about then.

Sometimes we would meet up with my brother and his wife and son in Rehoboth, DE. And sometimes we would visit Jeff in Springfield, VA. Unlike most Michiganders we rarely vacationed up north. Having grown up on the east coast, only a beach by the ocean would do. And we needed a boardwalk to entertain  us at night. The kids would ride on small scale ferris wheels and such, we ate fudge, we bought small treats from souvenir shops.  And when it got late, we went back to our rental and played yahtzee or risk and tried to get Tiger Baseball on our radio. WJR had a pretty powerful signal. Twice we went to Cape Cod or Cape Ann instead of NJ. I had gone to college (briefly) there and loved Rockport, MA. The week we spent in Cape Cod, it rained every day. Ugh.

Did you take a summer vacation as a child or as a parent with children? Where did you go?

Friday, July 31, 2020

FFB-BROOKLY, Colm Toibin

Brooklyn, Colm Toibin

This is a very fine novel that I was resistant to reading for a long time. It sat on my shelf despite the urging of several friends who loved it. But after seeing the movie, I wanted to read the book. And I am glad that I did. 
There are no jobs to be had in Eilis Lacey's hometown in Ireland. Reluctantly she sets sail for New York where a priest has secured her a job and place to live. She is nearly overwhelmed by homesickness--and I don't think I ever read such a great description of it--but eventually settles into her new life and finds a beau. A sudden death calls her home again and she must decide where her future lies.
What makes this novel work so well is how much inside the head of his character Toibin gets. And I am truly amazed at how well he does a female voice. And how well he seems to understand how a girl feels about a multitude of issues.
Eilis is utterly believable as a very nice girl with very nice friends and a very nice family. The descriptions of Brooklyn life in the fifties are terrific. 
If I found one flaw in the book, it would be there was so little conflict or strife for Eilis. I am sure an immigrant coming here with no friends of family to succor them would find life a lot harder. And the ending is perhaps too swift.
But this is a small flaw in a wonderful novel. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Six Favorite Books Midway Through 2020

This was Kevin Tipple's idea which he got from Lesa Holstine, I think. But here are my seven favorite books of the year so far. I really should list one of the novels of Nicci French I've read but they have all kind of run together, which happens when you repeat characters and situations from novel to novel. But they were enjoyable.

In no particular order

Between Them, Remembering My Parents, Richard Ford (a memoir)
The Movie Musical, Jeanine Basinger
Lean on Pete, Willie Vlautin
Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith
City of Nets, Otto Friedrich
Dance of the Happy Shades, Alice Munro
Chestnut Man, Soren Svestrup

What about you?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Still Here

Lots of good weather, a little dry though. It feels like summer is ending. I have lost the little interest I had in my garden. It is all about weeds by now. And the Rose of Sharon is all about bees. Hard to get near it.
Finished the second season of MY BRILLIANT FRIEND on HBO, which was gorgeous and decided I wanted to read the next book in the series so I downloaded it. Finished Swanson's THE KIND WORTH KILLING. Very clever but like EIGHT PERFECT MURDERS gets by too much on twists for me. I guess if you like books for the puzzle, you would like it more than I did. Still I finished both these books so that says something about them.
Finished both the Dutch series on Acorn. THE SCHOUWENDAM 12 ended badly for me but I guess seven good episodes is enough. Landing the ending is tough.
Reading THE STAR MACHINE about how Hollywood groomed their stars of the golden age.
A lot of my friends can't read at all, but I find I am reading more than ever. How about you?
Several porch visits. Went up to Josh's on Saturday where we played Boggle, which I was lousy at. Their swim club had to close because they had an employee with Covid. Kevin is playing a lot of tennis and still taking the guitar lessons.
They are watching THE SIMPSONS from the first to the last. I have never watched it so I am going to try and watch it with them.
Friend bringing Chinese food over for dinner and we are going to watch THE FISHER KING or SNOW WHITE. Haven't decided which yet.
What's up in your neck of the woods?

Friday, July 24, 2020

FFB-The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, Barbara Vine

(from the archives) Ruth Rendell but writing as Barbara Vine in this case.

Gerald Candless is a famous British writer who dies suddenly much to the sorrow of his daughters and puzzlement of his wife. Their marriage has always been odd to say the least. She has functioned more as a typist and sometimes muse than a wife. However the girls adore him and the oldest decides to write a biography about him.

This proves to be a difficult task as there are many blind alleys in his life. Is he even Gerald Candless?

And the reader is left with mysteries of her own at the book's end. Why did a man so mistreated by society mistreat his wife. Why did he undermine his daughter's relationship with their mother. Yes, we feel sorry for Gerald, but we also loathe many things about him.

This is a complex, complicated book, which I could not put down. Rendell does a wonderful job of showing what life was like in various time periods. Not one character is a cliche. Truly a terrific book. And she integrates his writing wonderfully into both his life and that of his wife's.