Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oct. 19: Catching Up Saturday

A lovely day. Camilla was off for her last volleyball commitment, a huge tournament in FALMOUTH, at 5:50 am!!!!, and Nate off for what is possibly his last high school xc race in Hermon at 8:50. I have some pucky things to do, a set of Harry Potter Quidditch robes in deep red flannel to complete for the son of a friend, a tad of correcting, some house cleaning and a run to accomplish and then A and I are heading up to watch N run. Tomorrow we're having some AFS folk over to carve pumpkins, and then: a full week of school. Whoosh!

Much of my work lately has been powered by the Pandora "Americana Radio" station that Elana suggested. It is wonderful!

Catching up on some books that I haven't entered into Goodreads yet. Stay tuned!

  The Spectator BirdThe Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first few pages of this story simply blew me away: Stegner's ability to choose exactly the right word to create a vivid picture, tone, and character is staggering, even when I was listening and not looking/reviewing/revisiting actual text. However, as the book went on, I found the character of Joe Allston and his perspective on life and people to be depressing and exhausting, so I took a break from the audio to listen to music (and follow the government shut down scenario. . . ). When I returned, the incredible scenario of the Countess's family tale caught me and carried me through to the end of the novel.

Overall, I found the book strange and uneven: the story of the Danish nobility is weird and scurrilous; the "front story" of the Allstons' retirement is depressing and unfinished, as the novel ends with the dinner party with the fatally ill friend still ahead; the whole conceit of Joe and his wife reliving this 20 year old experience through his journals is both unrealistic and odd. Overlying the whole experience was my deep awareness of Stegner's skill as a writer, and my matching wonderment about why he chose to craft this particular bundle of ideas and characters. When I learned it was written in the 70's, somehow it all made sense, as this odd combo of grief, loss, longing, skill, and insight seems to fit with the characteristics of that time period (writes one who was 7 - 17 during it!).

Anyway: interesting but uneven.

View all my reviews

Okay. I guess I have only finished one, and an audiobook at that! I am partly through the audiobook of Marian Keyes's Rachel's Holiday, which was my antidote to the darkness of Winter's Bone, Burial Rites, and Spectator Bird, but I am finding it to be surprisingly dark, even as it's funny. I'll listen to it while I sew today, I think. Last night, after reading "at" Joanne Harris's Gentlemen and Players but not finishing it, I started The Art of Fielding, and I think I dreamt about it: certainly it was suddenly 10:30, which is the sign of a good book! I may try to finish the Harris novel and then commit to Fielding. I do like to leave a tidy pile of finished books behind me! I also feel a hunger for what the Common Reader catalog used to call a "thumping great read," possibly a 19th c novel. Am I ready for Bleak House? Since I have plans to complete two of these for Christmas presents, I might need to stay with the audiobook format so I can knit and read at once! I am really enjoying knitting on the first one: the yarn is unusual but interesting, and the pattern is involving but not difficult.

Anyway: off to cue up Rachel's Holiday and sew the hood to the robe. . .

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