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magniloquent \mag-NIL-uh-kwunt\ adjective

: speaking in or characterized by a high-flown often bombastic style or manner

quodlibet \KWAHD-luh-bet\ noun

1 : a philosophical or theological point proposed for disputation; also : a disputation on such a point
*2 : a whimsical combination of familiar melodies or texts

7.23.1904 Ice cream introduced as World's Fair in St. Louis, Mo.
7.22 Tom Robbins
Kilkenny cats (kil-KEN-ee kats) noun

People who fight relentlessly till their end.

[From a pair of proverbial cats in Kilkenny, Ireland, who fought till only their tails were left.]

7.20 Cormac McCarthy
putsch \PUCH ("U" is as in "butcher")\ noun

: a secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow a government.

mendacious \men-DAY-shus\ adjective

: given to or characterized by deception or falsehood or divergence from absolute truth

7.15 Iris Murdoch
philodox (FIL-uh-doks) noun

Someone who loves his or her own opinion; a dogmatic person.

[From Greek philodoxos, from philo- (love) + doxa (glory, opinion). Ultimately from Indo-European root dek- (to take or accept) that's also the root of words such as paradox, orthodox, doctor, disciple, discipline, doctrine, dogma, decorate, dignity, and disdain.]

verecund (VER-i-kund) adjective

Bashful; modest.

[From Latin verecundus, from vereri (to respect). Ultimately from Indo-European root wer- (to watch out for) that's also the source of such words as revere, aware, award, wary, warden, lord, steward, wardrobe, panorama, and guard.]

"Librarians are going to have to 'get over' (as the vernacular is these days) our verecund ways about talking out loud."
Mark Y. Herring; Smoked Herring, Shotten Herring; Dacus Library,
Winthrop University (South Carolina); Oct 1999.

7.12 Pablo Neruda & Henry David Thoreau
7.10 Alice Munro
7.8 Anna Quindlen
7.7 Margaret Walker & Jill McCorkle
7.6 Beatrix Potter
jlj: work

what I read in:
1996 :
1998 : 1999
2000 : 2001
2002 : 2003
2004 : 2005

2006 :


jan : feb : mar
: may : jun
jul : aug : sep
: nov : dec

jan : feb : mar
apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
oct : nov : dec

jan : feb : mar
apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
oct : nov : dec

jan : feb : mar
apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
oct : nov : dec

may : jun : jul
aug : sep : oct
nov : dec



Thursday, July 29, 2004
short bits and folk bags

Neglectful of books in progress as usual, I watched Amish in the City last night. My only comment is that surely they could have found "city" kids more sensitive to issues of difference. But then what fun would it be?

Actually, the last few days, and weeks in fact, I've been reading about O. Winston Link. Just finished up an encyclopedia article on him for a reference on 20th century photographers that Routledge is publishing. I love Current Biography. The yearbook, in which they compile all the articles that appear in the monthly issues, is in my top five list of favorite references, which I have yet to order, though the New York Public Library Desk Reference and Merriam-Webtser are also on that list.

I have this Folk bags book that is really not for reading. I got it from the library and I plan to photocopy a few patterns from it for 2 or 3 bags that I might someday be interested in knitting.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
hoary male syndrome

What ultimately turned me off of reading Outside magazine is that the stories were so unapologetically male-oriented. The tunnel vision of the editors, writers, etc., galled me after a while, and I let my subscription lapse. That was about ten years ago. So it's astonishing that I'm reading a collection of essays by Hampton Sides, an Outside editor at large. What first appealed to me was that Sides is from Memphis. I've seen the book in stores and in various book club mailings, and I suppose I thought it was some kind of RV tour of America, hence its name Americana, but in reality it is something quite different. I don't normally read reviews of books before I read them, as I like to come to my own conclusions, so I hadn't the slightest hint about what themes Sides would cover. In the table of contents, his categorization of essays seemed benign enough. And maybe I've waded through all the goop at the front, because the first five essays were biographical profiles of men: Tony Hawk, G. Gordon Liddy, Russell Means, Mel White, and Joe Redington. This is wrong though, I only dipped my pinkie toe into the goop that is testosterone writ large, because the next two essays, one about controlled flooding of the Colorado River and the second about the Bohemian Club (summer camp for hugh powered men) have clued me into the fact that Sides is comfortable in one sphere, only. Chucking the book at this point is a no-brainer, but his writing is so excellent that I can't help but read more; definitely a love/hate reading experience for me. Yeah, it's a big book about men and their pursuits. Sheesh. I can appreciate that. I like men, really I love them. But I don't want to read about their exploits as though those are the only things of consequence happening in the world, because that's simply not the capital T truth.

Leaving the public library this morning with five more books in hand than I planned, I chastised myself for breaking the resolution I made a mere two days ago: Avoid the library and concentrate on reading the books that I own. I am so weak when it comes to books. But, the best thing is that Mary McGarry Morris has a new book that I had no clue about, so I checked it out and will read it sometime soon. She's one of my favorite writers. And, she lives in Mass., not Brooklyn.

There was an interesting article in the VV about author web sites and the tricks representing yourself online. Of course, the author, whose books sound like something I might like to read, directs readers to her web site, since she is making an example of it. Also in VV, a review of the new Elizabeth Hand book, Mortal Love, which I got an advance copy of back in May or June to review for FirstLook, a new reader review program at HarperCollins. They never sent the automated reminder, like they promised, to let me know when to bless them with my review of the book, and now I think they've written me off as a reviewer. No more review copies for me.

Is shoddy teaching undermining the confidence and abilities of children? Seems to be the case in the UK, where many children have tutors outside of the classroom.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004
drinking mercury with J. Thrane

I forgot to mention how mercurial the cover of In the breeze of passing things was. At first glance, I took it for a breeze. But once I looked closer at it, it turned out to be hostas.

The collection of short stories that I read, Brutal language of love, was most excellent. Some of the stories are stuck in my craw, which is rare. I can't say much about them though. I can't figure out an overarching theme, unless is it sex; there's some in each story, or at least the hint thereof. Her characters were distinctive, yet her style pulled everything together, so it wasn't the same voice telling different stories, like with some short story collections. Why do all the writers live in Brooklyn? It seems that an inordinate number of writers whose books I end up reading live in Brooklyn. I flip to the back to look at the writer's photograph, because I like to know whose work I'm reading, and there it is, Brooklyn!

Along that vein, Kate Christensen, who wrote In the drink, also resides in Brooklyn. Somehow I read an interview with Christensen at Beatrice, and decided to read her work. In fact, I"m already a few dozen pages into her second novel, Jeremy Thrane. Sometimes I'm very slow. Actually I read her most recent and third book, The epicure's lament, and this is why I've decided to make my way through her oeuvre. I have no retention. In the drink is about a 29 year old personal assistant whose job working for a socialite, who is also an espionage fiction writer, has its ups and downs. Claudia ghostwrites these books, drinks far too much, and has one friend, William, with whom she is in love. At amazon, the review pigeonholes this book as a "Bridget Jones Sweepstakes" entry, which I find unfair. The tone is not flippant, and at times, the book delves into a deeper emotional level than does the BJ Fluffy-Stuff. However, it did remind me of Debra Weinstein's Apprentice to the flower poet Z. They are similar in that neither characters have pleasant experiences to report from working with these larger-than-life employers. But, if it was all peachy, then I'm sure nobody would want to read their books.

And then Jeremy Thrane is a gay man writing a novel based upon his absent father's life. He has spent the last ten years revising and writing new scenes, while living in his boyfriend's Manhattan digs. Boyfriend Ted, is a closeted film star who married Giselle which catapulted him from a stagnant phase of his career. They've adopted a child, for obvious reasons--no time in Giselle's busy acting career to schedule a pregnancy, etc. Ted, Giselle, and the child are coming "home" for the weekend. That's as far as I've gotten.

I bought three books this weekend while at Bele Chere: Untangling my chopsticks: A culinary sojourn to Kyoto, The sex lives of cannibals: adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, and Omiyage: handmade gifts from fabric in the Japanese tradition. I crave travel writing unlike anything else. I cannot wait to read these, though there are six or eight other new travel writing titles at home that I haven't gotten to yet either.

Friday, July 23, 2004
endings & beginnings

The ending of in the breeze of passing things was ambiguous, which was good, but ultimately the tone of the tale gave it a sad conclusion. The one thing that I didn't like was when the narration flip-flopped back and forth in time. That usually bothers me in any book, but in this one especially, it was jarring. However, it wasn't too difficult to transition back into the story, so it was not a bad experience at all. I do go on too much about things sometimes.

There's an American Library in Paris. I'd love to work there. Terrible though, it seems that dogs are not allowed inside the building.

Forgot to mention, Paste and Tin House came the other day, I haven't read them, though I have cracked their spines to see if anything would tempt me.

Now I'm reading Storyteller's daughter. And I haven't figured out whether I like it or not. It seems a bit uneven. And, it flip-flops back and forth in time. The author peppers the here and now with her memories of her childhood and the myths she learned about the Afghani people. It's not my typical subject to read about, but I thought I should expand my horizons, and try something out of the ordinary.

Thursday, July 22, 2004
roaming heroines

In the breeze of passing things is such a lovely book. It's about a girl, Iva, and her mother and sister. They've moved away from their father/husband because he has mental issues. It's not clear whether he's depressed or schizophrenic; but so far I gathered that his twin drowned himself and the father now wishes he had the guts to do it himself. He takes off frequently, leaving his wife and children behind. Or when the mother takes the daughters to visit their aunt, he shows up the next day, having hitchhiked, because he couldn't stand the empty house without them. The story is told from Iva's point of view, and she's her father's favorite. She doesn't understand why her mother left him, but all she wants is for them to be a family again. The mother and girls move every five or six months, not always telling the father/husband where they are. They leave Hopewell, Tn. after Iva hides notes from the school nurse about her younger sister Mally, who has a serious wetting problem. The mother deals with each situation by packing up their things and moving. The writing is great; I want to read each word, which is not the case in some books. The author has the reader by the neck, or at least by the shirttails and won't let go. I hated putting down the book last night, but I was sleepy.

Next on my list is Storyteller's daughter, which is a memoir set in Afghanistan, written by a London-based journalist, Saira Shah. And then I have a few other things that I must read: Brutal language of love, a collection of short stories; The girl in the fall-away dress: stories; and then a few other heavier books like All sides of the subject: women and biography and An author's guide to scholarly publishing. The methodology of biography fascinates me, and I've been reading everything that I can get my hands on about it over the last few weeks. In fact, I found a copy of the Challenge of feminist biography online for under $2. Turns out, the bookseller lives in my town, that's rare, and we emailed, met at a gas station, and made the exchange.

As a fan of Altoids, I was disappointed last night that those of the ginger variety have not been restocked along the checkout counter at the red circle store. There's licorice, too, which I probably wouldn't like, but not having the opportunity to turn up my nose at them... Plus, there's a sweeps to win curiously strong bling, and that is not an opportunity to miss.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
sapped by a book

Reading slump is in effect. Finished Night of the radishes, and now wish that I hadn't. It's not to my taste, but might be a perfectly enjoyable book to someone else, so I really hate being critical or saying that it sucked, because that's not true. It was published, right? The author found an agent who like it, right? Not my kind of book. The writing was fine. I think it was the plot that was lacking. The narrator seems too flippant, and writing in the present tense continued to drive me crazy. I've two other books on my nightstand, can't recall what they are, but will likely begin one this evening. And then, there are at least a dozen or more library books that I must dig into.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
trapped in a book

Instead of reading the other books I started, I began Night of the radishes. Around fifty-some pages I wavered over whether to go on. But the plot tempted me. Now, two-thirds of the way through the book, I'm ready to close it's covers for good. The plot in a nutshell is that on her deathbed, Annie's mother makes her promise to find her son, Annie's brother, who left home when he was seventeen, some twenty years ago. Eventually tracking him down to Mexico, they reunite. That's where I stopped. Who know's what else will happen. She's flirting and kissing an American anthropologist who is staying at the same guest house as she; don't mind her husband and two sons, they're back in Minnesota. What irritates me most about the book is that the narrative is written in present tense, and I find that so distracting. While reading the book, I've come to realize that it lacks depth. Each character's emotions are very rote and surface, and the novel seems to be written at this whirlwind pace; which is good because the reader is pulled right through it. The main character, doesn't seem very self-aware, or maybe doesn't understand the consequences of her actions. I can't tell whether this is the author's goal or not. It's a bit disappointing. And all of the pieces of the puzzle fall too swiftly into place. She, the character, seems to have no boundaries and goes about her life frantically. But, she has a notebook that her mother wrote in after she was diagnosed with emphysema, so every third or fourth chapter we learn more about the family's secrets through Annie's mother's eyes. Those passages are particularly strong, and reflect the character's speaking voice, phonetic spelling, and lack of punctuation; very colloquial.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
write what you know

Interesting article about minorities writing about their experiences as a minority and white writers writing about everything else. The author wonders if sending the message to young ethnic writers to only write about themselves is folly.

And besides encouraging boys to read, JK Rowling has sparked a renaissance in the fantasy genre. But, the article is really about prodigy writers, those publishing in the genre before they reach their majority.

Yum, new book about the Secret lives of lobsters. Am still waiting for transcendent dining experience, though.

When radical feminists go too far, you have Big Sister, which blames men for everything, but I don't.

And so while reading is on the decline for most Americans, book groups are hip for thirtysomething British neoliterati.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
cowboy boat sail the open plains

After reading the first forty or fifty pages of Love and country, I'm not so sure that I'll continue on with it. Taking place in Idaho and featuring horses and rodeos and cowboys (yee ha! my personal favorite mythic character) it should be a sure interest of mine. There are a few compelling characters, but nothing seems to be happening. The build up is too slow. The main character, is a boy. Maybe his name is Kenny, I've forgotten. Maybe if I can't remember the character's name, that means something bad? But, lots of time when I read, I get so invested in characters, their names are incidental. I think in terms of the universal character. He is me and I am he and she is me and...He and his mother have moved to Idaho seemingly to escape his father and her ex-husband who is a Navy or Air Force pilot. This novel, too flips perspectives, and we learn various bits of the story from the mother, the boy, and other folks living in this small town. The blurb mentions a hunting accident, and the father and son are on their way to a hunting trip, so I'm trying to decide whether to stick it out or not. The writing is just fine, an occasional lyric sentence, even. But there's no driving force in the story, thus far.

While trying to decide whether to carry on in that book, I decided to mark my place and put it aside for a memoir by Naomi James. She was the first woman to sail around the world via Cape Horn. Plus, she set the world record, or rather, broke the world record for solo round-the-world sailing by two days. This was in 1978. And, I can't call up the title of the book because there's something amiss with my public library's opac this week. I've read about her childhood growing up in New Zealand (where I've always wanted to visit, but Now with all that Hobbit mess about, I must hide my desires to go there, otherwise I may be thought to be a fan of Hobbit) on a farm, and young adulthood when she spent five years away from home traveling through Austria, Germany, England, etc. She's just met and married her husband, another sailor, and has received sponsorship to sail round the world. That's where I am in it. Yep, I've lost my mind. The book sits in front of me. It's called: Alone around the world: The first woman to sail single-handedly around the world. I'm starting early on my research for my retirement, because I plan to sail around the world someday, but not by myself. First, learn to sail. Second, gain experience on the open water. Third, purchase boat. Fourth, provisions. But, that's at least another thirty years from now.

The authors for the Southern Festival of Books are finally listed on the site. Appears to be lots of especially good writers coming to Nashville, so maybe this will be the year that I make it there myself.

Someone has compared used book sales via Amazon to Napster's negative affect upon the music industry. It's all quite ridiculous. Publishers blamed used books sales for their slump, but I guess they've turned a blind eye to the fact that reading for pleasure has declined in the past year, or decade. What are they gonna do about that?

Oh, Hurrah! Huge book received in the mail today, from LJ. It is the largest book I've received through the mail. Just enormous, and it has that yummy new book smell. The smell that only books printed on glossy pages have. Inhale: Super-yumm. And, it is: Inverted utopias: Avant-garde art in Latin America. I wondered when I'd get another book from LJ. I thought they had forgotten me since that lovely Egon Schiele book I had last month. I shouldn't expect more than one book per month.

Totally unrelated, these bird diapers freak me out. They call them "FlightSuits."

Monday, July 12, 2004
reading renewed

Empire Falls was fabulous. I didn't want it to end. And, really, it ended at a good point, but also a turning point, which meant that there could be a whole nother two hundred pages or so.

Then I read Girls in Trouble, which I wasn't sure I would like right away. It begins with 16 year old Sara in labor. She gives birth, and then enters into an open adoption with a couple, George and Eva. It was surprisingly good. It wasn't one of those smarmy sticky sweet sentimental things, but had great characters who were emotionally well-developed. It's a great family type saga/drama and follows the characters another sixteen years. It flips back and forth from Sara's perspective to Eva's, and then also a few other character's. But it's seamless, just like Russo's that I wrote about last week. Really, I couldn't put the book down. It was straightforward and not too lyrical; usually just what I like.

There were one or two books that I tried to read, but didn't get into, and I've forgotten what they are at this point.

Also got two Mary Heaton Vorse books that I ordered from A Capella Books in Atlanta. One was the bio that I just read and the other was a collection of her writings. That Vorse bio was one of the best bios I've ever read.

But, I'm reading something called Mourning Ruby. I liked the cover. But actually, as usual, I really like the UK cover much better. It's another story about a character's search for family. Rebecca was abandoned in a shoe box behind an Italian restaurant and now that she's a mother herself, she's inquiring about her origins. It's written by a British woman, so I'm not one hundred percent sure that me and the book will click.

Barbara Kingsovler's article on why she is a farmer from the most recent Utne lead me to check out Essential agrarian reader: the future of culture, community, and the land from which her article was excerpted. It was a pleasant surprise to find it at my public library. Hurrah for them!

Thursday, July 8, 2004
small town life

The Vorse Bio was superb. I've ordered a used copy of it and hope that it will arrive next week. Finally started Empire Falls, Richard Russo's, delightful book about a small town in central Maine. His multiple perspectives are seamless, and his characters are complex and fascinating, or wonderfully repellant. The story is about Miles Roby whose wife lost fifty pounds and dumped him for her gym owner. Miles manages the Empire Grill, which should be his when Mrs. Whiting, who owns two-thirds of the town, dies. But I'm hoping he'll escape to Martha's Vineyard and buy that bookstore that he mentioned at the opening of the book. Anything can happen.

Monday, July 6, 2004
Vorse by Vorse

Lots of things taking up my time, yet I have gotten about halfway through the Vorse biography and she is such an inspiring, remarkable woman. It's times like these when I wonder how on earth she has been forgotten. I had never heard of her before. Well, maybe once or twice I came across her name in my readings about Socialism and Mother Bloor, but she's buried so deep. She won several prizes for her short stories, an O'Henry prize in the 20s and then another that same decade. I've not read her fiction, but will soon do so, though it may not appeal to me. Vorse called her short stories, which she placed in women's magazines, "lollypops" because they were so saccharine and they were not what she truly wanted to write, labor stories. But, as a twice-widowed woman, she had to support herself and her children. Dee Garrison's biography of her is so excellent. I can't say I've read a finer one, ever. The writing is lively and concise and she provides background and context for historical events that I know little about, like the Russian Revolution, etc. The quote that I like so well is when Vorse writes about the Great War (World War 1): "Man takes passionate joy in risking his own life while he takes the lives of others. When women's understanding of this becomes conscious, it is called feminism."

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Am still without Dreamweaver and have realized how little I look forward to notepad editing. Am also, amazingly not reading. While I love Julavits' words, the story doesn't appeal to me. I'm not excited about getting back on that airplane with her character, no matter how lovely she might be. Will take a break from that anyway as I must read an extra-thick and bulky tome about Mary Heaton Vorse. And then I have loads of library books to read and I've been thumbing through several cookbooks and liquor mixing books that came in the mail two weeks ago. Quick and easy thai, From curries to kebabs , Craft of the cocktail, and the Ultimate party drink book.

I bought the new music issue of the Believer today, and left it out in my car. I don't always enjoy every issue and this one was snuggled in its plastic wrapper, so no peeking inside before I bought it.


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