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Thursday, October 31, 2002
sacred prostitution and war railroads

I finally read the chapter on sacred prostitution in Sacred prostitution & marriage by capture there are chapters on primitive marriage & serpent worship, but I didn't read those, just scanned them. The author writes so haphazardly. There's no natural progression or any kind of rational organization of information which I find very strange since he was a librarian.

Last night I read the introduction and first two chapters of War history of American railroads by Walker D. Hines. I can generally make out the content, but some of his language is so very circuitous. In his intorduction he veen thanks his wife for helping make it readable, so I can't quite imagine what it was like before her intervention. I also think that reading it has caused a minor (I hope) asthma attack. I'm just not sure that I can make myself read anymore of it, but I so need to.

I did read a few articles from the new issue of Utne, not Utne Reader, they've changed it to just Utne now. What's done is done but I don't have to agree with that change of serial title. I think they're trying to be sexier by removing "reader" from the masthead & cover. That's one of the stupidest moves I've seen in some time. Why is everone so anti-reader? anti-reading? I belive we are entering an age of the Anti-Reader. Woe are we. Maybe it's the Cher/Madonna effect wherein people/objects ascende godhead and are known by their first name only. Except in this case, Utne is known by the last name only.

Monday, October 28, 2002
working for a livin' & going country

Blessings was an alright book. It's about this glorified lawnboy who lives in the garage apartment of this estate called Blessings. Someone leaves a baby on his doorstep and he takes care of it, eventually with the help of his boss, the elderly distant owner of the estate. I'm not sure where it takes place. It seemed kind of vague. Maybe I just didn't recognize the names of NY, CT, or VT towns. The book didn't end the way I expected, well, the way that I hoped. The ending was one that I predicted though.

I've been wanting to read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and dimed: on (not) getting by in america ever since it came out, even before that, really. I don't know what has stopped me. I've checked the book out several times and often thought of just buying it. In fact, I thought that I owned it, and looked on my shelves but could not find it. I'd like to have an inventory system for my books. I think that might make my life a bit simpler. That way, I wouldn't keep buying books that I already own. Needless to say, the book was great. Her findings really came as no surprise to me. There's even a play based on the book. I enjoy all of her books, I especially liked Fear of falling: the inner life of the middle class.

I stayed up about an hour past my normal bedtime, actually two if you consider the time change Sunday morning at 2:00 am, to finish She's gone country: dispatches from a lost soul in the heart of dixie. It's a memoir by Kyle Spencer, East Village native, a newspaper reporter who leaves NYC for Raleigh, NC. I wasn't sure what to expect. I picked it up basically because of it's cover. I was expeting a horrible depiction of "the country," which Raleigh is not, but to some girl from NYC, guess it is. She don't know country, that's all I can say. Also, I expected her book to be filled with disparaging remarks about southern people, and it was not. Although I don't identify myself as a southerner so much as a southern appalachian, I'm still sensitive to pejorative characterizations of southerners. There's a big difference between the two, southerns and appalachians. And, c'mon what about the deep south? Now that's really southern. Raleigh? southern? pshaw, is all I can say. So, it was actually quite interetsing and really well-written. It flowed nicely. Her story was pretty good, for a Yankee girl. Anybody who quotes Southern culture on the skids can't be too bad. I went to one of their shows years ago at the Down Home and the best part was when the audience throwed fried chicken at the band, but the music was fine, too.

Friday, October 25, 2002
free at last

I was so relived when I finished the final book in the cain triology last night. Whew. I started Luo Bassermann's The oldest profession: a history of prostitution. That's near enough to the actual title. The first chapter was about Greek prostitutes, a subject that I know a bit about. I'm reading the second chapter which is about Roman prostitutes. I suspect the third chapter has something to do with the Christian response to prostitution. The book is translated from German and was published in the mid-1960s. I'm not sure how to characterize Lujo's tone, although it is hardly scholarly. There could be footnotes in the back, I just haven't checked yet.

I have Anna Quindlen's new book. I've been on my library's wait list for some time now.

The new issue of Book came in the mail yesterday. Although I skimmed through its pages, I haven't actually read anything yet. I did go through and rip out all those nasty subscription cards. I find them highly annoying. Perhaps I should hire someone to go through my mail and dispose of such unsavory items. I so need a personal assistant (if you didn't catch the irony there, well here's the clue).

Marie loaned me two books: Losing Gemma and Tommy's Tale. She highly recommended the first and cautioned me that the second is a "lifestyle" book and that my delicate sensibilities might be offended by the amount of sexual activity within the book. Irony at play again, my sensibilites are certainly NOT delicate. Nonetheless, I appreciate her warning. I shall have reach an appropriate frame of mind before digging into Alan's book.

Returning to Paris (France that is, for all you Texans) has always been one of my ardent wishes. I have such a yearning for Paris. I always break into the Cole Porter song... and then I think my other favorite Porter song, and that explodes into a medley of Cole Porter in my head that plagues me for days. The Eiffel Tower (English), Bibliotheque nationale du France (English)and Shakespeare & Co. top my list.

Thursday, October 24, 2002
still plugging along at monfredo

Finished Brothers of cain last night, and read the first five chapters of Children of cain. Thankfully it is "book III of the Cain triology" as the subtitle on the latest novel reads. Since all three books have taken place in the same year, 1862, I'm thinking that Monfredo can drag this Civil War thing out indefinately. I doubt I'll voluntarily read any more of these books. They are really well written, I just don't care for the subject at all, even though one of the reviewer blurbs on the front cover of Brothers of cain said something about the book being a feminist perspective of the Civil War. Not even. I don't think it's anywhere near being feminist. Having women characters does not make a book feminist. It's likely that the reviewer didn't know quite what else to say about the book, and just reached for any label without considering the implications. It's possible that the reviewer was a very conservative person and he/she thought that the book was feminist. But to a real feminist, this book is so soft-core that it is easily dismissed.

I read the first page or two in Sacred prostitution & marriage by capture by Charles Staniland Wake. It was privately published in 1929, 19 years after he died. Wake was a librarian for the Department of Ethnology at the Field Museum, and that's all I can find about him just now. He published this article: 1904 The Mayas of Central America. American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, 26:361-363 and at least two books. I found twelve references when I searched Catnyp (his authority heading is Wake, C. Staniland (Charles Staniland), 1835-1910 ), which I'm searching increasingly more often since LOC's catalog is Never available when I need it. I know there's a Who's Who in Librarianship or something similair to it, but I don't have access to it. Maybe I can find a copy and learn more about this mystery man. Unfortunately, librarians don't readily appear in the general who's who, especially since 80% of the profession is female. Ah, well. Librarians are wont to fall between the cracks of time and history.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
monfredo mania

While vacationing I read several books. All of them by Miriam Grace Monfredo. I finished Blackwater Spirits and Through a gold eagle. Not a great accomplishment given the time that I had, but I was on vacation. I also completed North star conspiracy beforehand. I'm actually re-reading all these books. Sigh. They were good the first time, but Stalking horse was so-so. I'm re-reading the entire series, so I read Must the maiden die, too.

I started Sisters of cain a day or two ago and complete it last night, and then I have Brothers of cain to begin reading today.And then there's the recently published Children of cain that I had to purchase harcover. I haven't read the "cain" books. They are all about the Civil War, and that is not my favorite topic. Not even close. Originally the series was about a nineteenth century mystery-solving librarian who gradually becomes involved in reform movements like abolition and woman's suffrage. Now, the series focuses on her nieces, one who is an intelligence agent working for the U.S. Treasury and the other who is a Union nurse. Sadly enough, Glynis, the librarian, makes her cameo appearance in chapter thirteen of Sisters of cain. Very disappointing.

The series was first subtitled "a Glynis Tryon mystery" and then morphed into "a Glynis Tryon historical mystery" with Through a gold eagle. Then, the series became "a Seneca Falls Historical Mystery" with Must the maiden die and the Stalking horse. And now, all the Cain mysteries are sort of by themselves. Obviously not Glynis or seneca falls. Sigh. Oh wait, perhaps I am wrong. There is a subtitle "A Seneca Falls Civil War Mystery." But none of it takes place in Seneca Falls.

As for Monfredo, I really enjoy her writing. Her plots are great. I just don't like this turn that her series has taken. So much war and strategy and military crap. I enjoyed the earlier books because they were so much about women and their lives, and with this Civil War emphasis, women are hardly central to the story. And while the main characters are women, the things that they deal with are mostly masculine in nature. Also, there's just too much subterfuge. In each book she has these conspirators meeting every other chapter. They all have code names like the Horseman or Vandyke or Bluebelle, and while it takes a bit of work to unravel the mystery, I just don't want to have to work that hard; lazy reader that I am.

Wednesday, October 9, 2002
fluff n stuff

I picked up Office kama sutra: being a guide to delectation & delight in the workplace at ALA several months ago. It's one of those great chronicle books that I love so much. They put out such awesome books. They smell good, too. This is just a fun tongue-in-cheek book. Quite short, with illustrations. Since my library has a shipping & receiving area and a person who "mans" that area, it's not like I can have all these fabulous encounters with bike messengers ("there is no reason to restrain thoughts of passion when they are near"), couriers, and delivery persons. sigh. I'm reading about mastery of the telephone and email arts. The illustrations are really cool, too. And you can send some of them as e-postcards. Although I'll likely be reading up a storm, if that's possible...look out for any new tropical weather patterns, next week (sorry, very poor sentence structure) I probably won't be posting them here. Vacation is just two or three days away depending on how quickly we can get out of Dodge. No internet access...well, maybe if I find a local public library on the island, but I won't have ftp capabilities and alas, my reading room will once again suffer a hiatus this month. I am still reading the Robert E. Howard book though. It seems like it may be quite readable after all. There is narrative!

Saturday, October 5, 2002
easing into reading again

Finished A lady of the high hills. A decent book. Very neutrally written though. With some biogrpahies it's easy to tell if the author has developed a thing for her subject, but not with this book. It could have been a better book if he had made powerful concusions or used a feminist perspective. But, hey, he's a guy. What can you expect? So that makes me wonder if men should write biographies of women and vice versa?

I started One who walked alone: Robert E. Howard: The final years last night. I've seen the movie, rather parts of the movie, never the actual beginning, and wanted to read the book. Vincent D'Onofrio's (I can't believe he's really that old! born in 1959?...well, I guess that's not so bad, but he's six years younger than my mom) performance is so powerful that I really wanted to read about the man behind his portrayal. Maybe I should try another biography of him though...I'm not so sure that I'll like this book. It is all dialogue, so far. I must have narrative. Actually, the less dialogue, the better. It's just all that indention and those abundant quotation marks that freak me out. Anyway, Howard created Conan the Barbarian.

Thursday, October 3, 2002
still, a reading hiatus

I am unhappy about not reading for fun. I cannot be pleasant about this sad time in my personal reading history. I have almost finished A lady of the high hills: Natalie Delage Sumter, and I must say that it is well written, contains good information, and seems quite sensitive toward women's life in 18th America since it's written by a guy. A retired laywer, no less. And if the Sun of Myrtle Beach, SC has a review, well...I'm not sure if that's swell or just icky. It's just that my feelings toward Myrtle Beach as a destination of any kind are very negative.