I finished Walking
home: a woman's pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail
last night. It was quite good, compared to some of the other recent
accounts by women of life on the AT that I've read. The other one
I've read relies too much on filling the text with history of the
mountains, flora, fauna--basically uses that
Bryson man's formula--instead of truly sharing her experience
there (that is the one called journey
north: one woman's story of hiking the appalachian trail).
Winters filled her book with reflection and trail sociology, which
I'm most interested in. And, there were a few black & white photos
for illustrative purposes, but the book was pretty solid, except for
the beginning, wherein she describes her childhood adventures, though
it did sort of relate to several issues she dealt with while hiking.
What I liked most about this book is that although she was a solo
hiker for the most part, she developed several friendships along the
way and we witness the origins, development, and endings of those
February 25, 2002
Finished True & authentic history of Jenny Dorset yesterday afternoon. It was just okay. Not as fabulous as I'd hoped it would be. A truly interesting story, though it was quite long...494 pages. My favorite part was taken from Jenny's diary which read:
"I saw Andrew with his trousers down in a Private Act and was curious about his system but could not ask. I presume it is like horses" (74).
Yes, parts were quite funny, but I think the humor was lost on me, perhaps I should pick up another of Philip Lee Williams's books to see if I like him for real.
"She wore glasses with tortoise-shell frames that she needed for reading, and she suddenly looked official, like a university librarian."
Wow, I just learned that Robbins was born in Blowing Rock, NC and lived in Burnsville--both less than 30 minutes away from here-- as a child, then later on to Virginia, Seattle, etc. I always wondered about his origins.
Several times throughout Goose Music librarians were mentioned. Here's a sample from page 74:
Ms. Jane Reardon, MLS, head librarian of the Baraboo Public Library. She was the first woman to have sexual relationship with your brother and the second to bear him a child. She has much power and knowledge.
Another one from page 134 is:
"You can't go wrong at the library. The shoes always fit there."
And then of course there is a longer description of Jane Reardon, MLS on page 139:
...could perhaps be described as two parts Circe and one part Lucille Ball. Attractive, yet comedic. Eager to please, and yet pompous. With her baby-soft skin, black button eyes, silken black hair, tremendous breasts, and double-wide hips that swayed from side to side like a Grand Canyon burro, Ms. Jane Reardon, MLS, head librarian, was a seductress in the "librarian-next-door" sense....she sat on the edge of her seat as if on the verge of getting up to attend to some other business.
It is so nice to read such positive images of librarians. Kudos to Horan for investing his library heroine with such verve.
I found this great list of books by southern writers that I may try to work my way through. The ones that I've already read....hmmm, I guess I'll bold the whole entry. I don't like short stories, and I once tried the Welcome to the world.... book by Flagg and it was not to my liking. I don't like James Lee Burke, either. I read one of his more recent books and found it quite average, nothing notable about it at all....blah.
by Alice Adams. 1995.
by Dorothy Allison. 1998.
a Ruined Cemetery, by John Gregory Brown. 1994.
The Wrecked Blessed
Body of Shelton LaFleur, by John Gregory Brown. 1996.
by James Lee Burke. 1998.
Cold Sassy Tree,
by Olive Ann Burns. 1984.
Crazy in Alabama,
by Mark Childress. 1993.
by Pat Conroy. 1995.
by Marion Coe. 1998.
My Last Days as
Roy Rogers, by Pat Cunningham Devoto. 1999.
Welcome to the
World, Baby Girl, by Fannie Flagg. 1998.
Fried Green Tomatoes
at the Whistle Stop Café, by Fannie Flagg. 1987.
Murder Gets a Life,
by Anne George. 1998.
Charms for the
Easy Life, by Kaye Gibbons. 1993.
by Sarah Gilbert. 1993.
Flights of Angels,
by Ellen Gilchrist. 1998.
Gail Godwin. 1999.
White Boys and
by Paula K. Gover. 1995.
The Oldest Living
Confederate Widow Tells All, by Alan Gurganus. 1989.
by Barbara Hambly. 1998.
by Carolyn Hart. 1992.
Misery Loves Maggody,
by Joan Hess. 1998.
by John Holman. 1998.
by Terry Kay. 1997.
To Dance with the
White Dog, by Terry Kay. 1990.
Final Vinyl Days
and Other Stories,
by Jill McCorkle. 1998.
by Sharyn McCrumb. 1996.
by Toni Morrison. 1997.
by Constance Pierce. 1997.
My People’s Waltz,
by Dale Ray Phillips. 1999.
by Jewell Parker Rhodes. 1993.
by Lee Smith. 1995.
A Confederacy of
by John Kennedy Toole. 1980.
of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,
by Rebecca Wells. 1996.
Little Altars Everywhere,
by Rebecca Wells. 1992.
by Michael Lee West. 1996.
She Flew the Coop,
by Michael Lee West. 1994.
Quite a Year for
Plums, by Bailey White. 1998.
The True and Authentic
History of Jenny Dorset, by Philip Lee Williams. 1997.
by Tim Willocks. 1995.
Slow Dancing on
Dinosaur Bones, by Lana Witt. 1996.
A Man in Full,
by Tom Wolfe. 1998.
last night, but just read a few chapters before I fell asleep, so
I ended up finishing it about 15 minutes ago. Quite good. In fact,
Sharyn MccCrumb's books
seem to get better. I really liked Ballad
of Frankie Silver, and If
I ever return, Pretty Peggy-O sticks out as one of her earlier
books that I liked. Guess she's finally learned how to write. Some
of her early books were dreadful. Probably not nice to say, but it
is nice to talk about how she has progressed into a fine writer. I
like how her books contain both the present and the past. There's
usually some kind of history lesson there, which I already know since
she writes about the are in which I live. Maybe there are a few stories
I've heard though that she doesn't know. And, I learned in Ballad
of Frankie Silver that she and I are probably quite distantly
related, but who isn't in these hills?
Thursday night I also finished reading Cherokee Women, yippee, and hip hip hooray. Come on, gimme three cheers. Oh, it wasn't so terrible. But, glad to be done with it. Then I also read Steve Martin's Shopgirl, which had waited ever-so patiently on my bedside table for a week or two. It was interesting reading, but I'm not so sure that I approved of his characterizations of women. They were quite tired, boring, and old. Perhaps that's what he's surrounded by and doesn't know any real women on whom to base his characters. They were just so shallow and were either madonnas or whores. His character development lacked complexity. But, the story was cute enough. Or novella, I should say. Had I realized that's what it was I probably would have not read it. I don't do novellas or short stories. I'm not sure where my problem lies with them, but I really avoid them, and poetry too. However, he also seems to have certain notions about librarians (p. 13):
"Mirabelle wears her driving glasses as she grips the wheel with both hands. She drives in the same posture as she walks, overtly erect. The glasses give her a librarian quality--before libraries were on CD-ROM--and the '89 Toyota truck she drives indicates a librarian's salary, too."
So where'd he pick up those ideas? It's not likely that he personally knows any librarians, anyway. Do librarians hang out with Hollywood comedians?
Last night I read far into Wilma Dyekman's French Broad, but did not complete it. But, the chapters I read were essentially worthless to me. They were all about the Civil War in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, which is fine to read about, but I never could keep her cast of characters straight, so I was lost as to who was Union and who was Confederate. And she kept talking about Knoxville (oh, i should have kept it with the typo for it really is Knox-Vile!) entirely too much, though she did mention the bridge burners, something that I'm familiar with. The Civil War is such an unknown subject to me. It's overdone, and boring and well, just doesn't interest me much at all.
is resting on my bedside table, awaiting its turn. It may have to
wait quite some time because I'm trying to rapidly finish up reasearch
on Margaret Bourke-White,
Steinem, so I have several of their biographies and memoirs to
muddle through first.... well, er actually, skim through.
Finished another quickly this evening after dinner. Victoria Calling Cards: Business & Calling Card Design. It's something I looked at in a store but really didn't want to purchase, so I had my library borrow it from another. This one traveled far, it's from Birmingham public library. I usually like Victoria's publications, they speak to the romantic hiding deep within my crusty librarian shell. It was short, and had many illustrations, that is the only reason I was so quick about it. I did however go through my stack of library books and cull them. Once whittled down to 8 or so books, they're much more manageable. I'll return the other 15 or more tomorrow. I don't mind paying fines since that's really the only way that I can truly support my library because they get to keep that money and do something wonderful with it.
And, I'm almost finfished
Cherokee Women. I have another chapter or two to go, and
hope to complete it tonight. It's really a wonderful book, just filled
with all sorts of useful and historic information. The problem is that
I have such an interest in American Indians that I've done much leisure
reading on the topic already, so this book, though especially wonderful,
is intellectually redundant. But, I am committed to finishing it for
several reasons..... First, it's required for the course I'm taking
this semester. Second, it is well-written, and third because I've already
read at least 100 and something pages into the book and I'm not about
to just cast it aside after such an investment of my time. That's just
not my way with books you see. My rule is that if the book cannot engage
me within the first 30-45 pages (I certainly make allowances), then
I chuck it. So many books, too little time. My motto, perhaps it should
be my epitaph, now there's a thought. That would be a tough decision
since I really love Cicero's "life without learning is death"
but I cannot seem to find the Latin for it at the moment. Enough, time
for reading. Let the pleasure begin!
Okay, finished Basket Case, hurrah! A mere four minutes ago or so. And, I must admit that my Love bio did come in the mail today, just as I hoped and expected, and I did actually read a few pages while I nibbled my meager dinner. So, she has been born, but that's about it. It's a shame I'll have to put it aside for a bit, drat!. One thing though, the book is somewhat damaged in the center where the glossy photos are. I may have to use my book repair skills and glue that pup up. And, gee, it's just another 30 minutes or so before I crash and I gotta figure out what to read in bed. Will let you know in the morning, or perhaps another day.
Yesterday was spent giving away used paperback books to the masses of students who came by our booth at the "Winter Cruise," an annual event sponsored at my institution in subverting the winter blahs which have usually set in at this point in the year. Most students--really, shouldn't I call them patients as they ARE here for curing... I mean isn't that ALL we do at University? Pour tonics down their greedy throats, dope them up with with popular theories, get them hooked, yes, they are Academic Junkies by the time they...well, are released. I wanted to say check out, but that sounds so final. But it's possible that once encumbered by the nebulous reality of the world they will have no time for the tonics, potions, and syringes that we've tried to administer. Poor dears.
I, however, am so
pleased with Stella Gibbon's biography, Into the woodshed.
The author, some distant relative, a nephew or cousin perhaps, has pulled
together this remarkable glimpse inside her life. He had access to countless
letters and family documents and journals. Oh, it's totally fabulous,
and I absolutely LOVE his writing style. It's sort of informal and chatty,
but very British. The good kind of British writing that I'm really responsive
to. I'm not happy at all about the state of Stella's memory via the
web. There are none, really, just blips
The references that Google returns
are simply pathetic. And, it's mostly just referencing the movie,
and not her. Well it is horrible, simply Disgraceful. There
are lots of lovely Louise Brooks sites--even though she was not a poet
or writer, but a silent film star--including a Collection.
And there's even a Louise Brooks
Society! Can you imagine? I feel, I must take this on as one of
my projects, eventually. I'll mark it down on the list. But, I am reading
in the second chapter now, and am so excited about this biography and
cannot wait to finish it because I have many other books to read, but
really, if I could just leisurely read along, while eating an apple,
say, well I would. Oh, and there's a lovely part about governesses that
I've marked, for I'm quite interested in that particular women's culture,
one of my research interests of late, possibly inspired by the movie
starring Minnie Driver, which
is also fascinating because it deals with early photography (yet Another
passion!)...one of my favorite movies to date. But, you see it's an
interlibrary loan book and there's a set date that I Must return it
to one of my favorite ILL librarians, who by the way are some of the
most Wonderful and Helpful in the entire library profession. I would
someday aspire to become one myself. An ode to Interlibrary Loan Librarians,
I feel suddenly poetic and Inspired....perhaps I shall compose a sonnet.
Finished Heavier than heaven Saturday. The author, uh, Cross, paints a neutral but sympathetic portrait of Cobain. Reading about his demons and torment reminded me of an unbalanced soul whom I once knew, and I was quite afraid to be alone with him. He was the only person who made me truly uneasy and afraid for my life while in his presense. I'm not sure that he was evil, but he was schizophrenic, and really quite off his rocker. So, to sum up, some interesting parallels between Cobain and this acquaintance of mine. I wouldn't have liked Cobain, nor wished to hang around his brand of insanity, though I can certainly appreciate the products--from a safe distance. But this book convinces me that a strong correlation between artistry and madness is afoot. However, I was much more interested in Courtney Love anyway, and there just wasn't enough of her in the book for me.
Didn't get to the
Hiaasen book, yet. Was madly
reading for class. But, I swear that I will begin it Wednesday or Thursday
for sure. And, that's all folks.
The Cobain book has picked up a bit that Miz Love has entered the picture. I had to stop at page 182 last night because I was quite suddenly drifting off into never-never land. And, from what I've gathered, he was a very disturbed human being. It's quite frightful some of the things he does, creates, and imagines. Still, I look forward to the Hiaasen book, which I will likely devour this weekend.
Then I have that Stella Gibbons biography to read, and well, I really should finish up the two books I'll be tested on Tuesday (Cherokee Women & French Broad). A busy weekend ahead, and there's talk of snow in the air, so perhaps I'll be all snug and cozy by the hearth while I read read read and then read some more.