March 20, 2002
It seems as though
there's just no time for much of anything these days, much less reading
or writing about what I've been reading. I did finish Half
a life on Friday the 15th, though. It was not my cup of tea. But I did like
the ending, which was rather abrupt, because I was ready to close
its covers for good. I really wonder who "decides" that
books are award winning, etc. I'm sure the choice is more political
than aesthetic. I'm not just talking about this book, but many "award-winning" books
are not all that; they're certainly not books that I would pick,
nor are they to my taste. So who are those with "taste" who
tells the rest of us what is good? Well, it's so arbitrary and subjective,
perhaps book awards should be done away with.
So sorry, I shall climb down from my stump at this point. Oh, one last thing that was quite interesting about the book is that my favorite library school professor's father was mentioned in the book on several pages. While I knew that James V. Carmichael, Jr. was from Georgia, I had no idea that his father ran in the gubernatorial race in 1946. JVC, Sr. was a lawyer and owned a furniture plant as well. The William Russell Pullen Library at Georgia State University contains infromation about Carmichael in their Special Collections & Archives (Georgia Politics, 1946-48) as does the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory.
These are the contents
at Emory: CARMICHAEL, JAMES VINSON, 1910-1972 (#576) Papers,
1913-1982; 89 boxes, 71 OP, 4 BV, 24 OBV, 1 OH Carmichael, a Marietta
resident, served as the president of Scripto, Inc. (1947-1964), as general
manager of the Georgia Division of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (1951-1952),
and as a member of the Georgia legislature (1936-1940). He also ran for
the governorship in 1946 and was active in Atlanta civic and social
The collection includes correspondence, speeches, legal documents, financial
documents, clippings, photographs, and memorabilia regarding Carmichael's
business and political careers, his service on various committees and advisory
as well as some personal and family material. The collection also includes
material on the Atlanta Art School and the Atlanta Arts Alliance. So there's
your Georgia history lesson for the day.
March 12, 2002
I meant to include this information in my last post, but the fact that I had the book in my valise completely slipped my mind. Besides the local color bent of the characters, Pearson didn't dimish any librarian stereotypes in his portrayal of Mrs. Hartman. However, before I deal with that, there's something else interesting that precedes the library parts...the Christian bookstore. While I only frequent Christian bookstores but once or twice a year, I cannot say that Pearson's impressions are valid or invalid.
He writes on page 136: The mystery and wonder of that place is that there are hardly even customers about, and yet those zealots manage somehow to keep that bookstore open. They don't stock, after all, the sorts of goods that people are likely to clamour for. Most Christians in these parts get their embossed Bibles at church confirmations, and there simply can't be much call for devotional poems lacquered onto cedar plaques whic hlieaves trinkets and sigh-of-the-fish insignias for the trunk flange of cars, stationery emobssed with uplifting flotsam of talk from the lips of our Lord and calendars featuring soft-focus photographs of assorted earthly splendors accompanied each by syrupy prayerful scraps of verse. Accompanied by Kit, an African-American kung fu forestry agent, Ray--our hero--visits this only bookstore in town to purchase a world atlas. It fails him as it is only a Biblical atlas, thus the need to visit the public library arises.
About shushing he says: Kit was railing still as they parked in the library lot and entered the building proper where she got shushed straightaway by that Hartman woman who pretty much runs the place even though there was nobody but the three of them there.
He writes more about the library on page 137: Our local library rivals that Chrstian bookstore for wholesale desolation, can't raise a crowd even though they're essentially giving the merchandise away. A fellow can even take out a movie with his library card, but Mrs. Hartman choses the videotapes herself and is partial to saccharine melodramas and nature programs about cats. She won't subscribe to any newspapers that a sensible person would read, and she only take magazines like Redbook, Woman's Day and Southern Living, so there are better periodicals about in the waiting room at the muffler shop.
There are a few more paragraphs detailing the events within the library, but it's not until p. 185 that we hear the last of Mrs. Hartman: Ray was reading one evening that book on explorers he'd not returned to the library notwithstanding the chief's directive and uncharitable talk from Mrs. Hartman who tended to take book-borrowing habits as the measure of a man.
Although I'm glad that Pearson included the library in his book, I shudder to think that this is his impression of librarians, and that he's perpetuating a myth! The mythic librarian. Sigh.....I could sigh all day long but that wouldn't change a thing. Librarians need a revolution, we could prove our mettle.
I didn't get a chance to read anymore of Naipaul's book, but hope to finish it up by this weekend for sure.
I have been reading
regularly. I just haven't had the time to write about it. When I
have had time, the server doesn't seem to want me to
leave an entry, so my attempts have been foiled for a week. Early
last week I finished the Courtney
Love bio. It was good, and I learned
about her than I already knew, but really, not so much more. I
wished it was meatier. I understand that she's just 30-something,
there's not a whole lot that can be written about her life at this
point, but I really wanted one of those thick densely packed biographies
that you find about Edna St. Vincent Milay or Churchill. Courtney
really isn't in the same league at those folks, but.... I like her
same. Most surprising is that she is quite a reader, and I really
wish that Brite delved more into Love's literary influences and reading
patterns and all that.
I also started MK
Wren's Gift upon the shore, a sci-fi mystery hybrid, but have only
about a chapter in it.
I checked out Tobacco
Road several months ago intending to read it. It's
really quite thin so it should have been a breeze to read through.
I read five or six chapters and could not stand to read any more
of the book. It was quite dreadful. I understand that it was
written in 1932, I think, but Caldwell's rambling
style and characters were too much for me. The characters, especially
the main one, Jeter Lester constantly repeated himself. The same
stuff over and over about turnips and other crap. It is the story
of the Lesters, a family of destitute white sharecroppers debased
by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness.
I really could not endure it. I cannot belive that it was named
as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the century,
as chosen by the editorial board of the Modern
Library. Without the woodcut illustrations, I couldn't quite
realize that the hair-lipped Lester girl was committing a sexual
act with her brother-in-law in the dusty area in front of the