April 13, 2008
It feels as though nature has skipped Spring and headed directly into Summer this weekend. Temperatures have soared into the 80s and the sky is devoid of clouds for as far as the eye can see. Yesterday I lounged on my front porch reading and wishing I had a daybed out there to take a nap. I’ll be reading periodically today while waiting for the paint to dry on my bistro table and chairs.
My reading week in review:
The Sister, by Poppy Adams – a spooky, psychological thriller that kept me up late at night; another book worth reading (read my review)
The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway – not even half way through 2008, I can say with some level of confidence that you’ll see this book in my top five reads of the year; amazing; heartbreaking; beautifully wrought (read my review).
Dipping into Essays:
Some of you may remember me talking about dusting off EB White’s book of essays last week. I’m true to my word and yesterday read from the Essays of E.B. White. Most people recognize White as an all-time favorite children’s author (one of my most loved books from childhood is Charlotte’s Web); but White also has an impressive body of work writing for The New Yorker magazine. His essay entitled: Good-Bye to Forty-eighth Street had me laughing and nodding my head in agreement. He writes about moving out of his apartment, struggling to rid himself of the many acquisitions cluttering up the place:
A home is like a reservoir equipped with a check valve: the valve permits influx but prevents outflow. Acquisition goes on night and day – smoothly, subtly, imperceptibly. I have no sharp taste for acquiring things, but it is not necessary to desire thing in order to acquire them. Goods and chattels seek a man out; they find him even though his guard is up. Books and oddities arrive in the mail. Gifts arrive on anniversaries and fete days. Veterans send ballpoint pens. Banks send memo books. If you happen to be a writer, readers send whatever may be cluttering up their own lives; I had a man once send me a chip of wood that showed the marks of a beaver’s teeth. Someone dies, and a littler trickle of indestructible keepsakes appears, to swell the flood. This steady influx is not counterbalanced by any comparable outgo. Under ordinary circumstances, the only stuff that leaves a home is paper trash and garbage; everything else stays on and digs in. -From The Essays of E.B. White-
This passage demonstrates White’s skill in engaging his reader, his dry humor, and his ability to enchant. I am looking forward to strolling through this book over the next weeks and will continue to share my reading with you.
Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
I’m barely a fifth of the way through this 550 page book and loving it. Stegner has an absorbing style which transports the reader into the scene. He reminds me quite a bit of John Steinbeck, who is one of my favorite writers- and not just because he sets his novels in the west. His characters feel real to me and I want to know more about their lives.
Speaking of Steinbeck, did any of you catch this article posted by Robert Gottlieb in the New York Review of Books? As a Steinbeck fan, I felt like a mother bear while reading Gottlieb’s thoughts – fur raised, claws out, ready to do combat to defend my favorite author. Gottlieb’s essay questions Steinbeck’s right to the Nobel prize and criticizes his greatest effort (The Grapes of Wrath) as ‘a vertiginous conjunction of sweeping, irresistible narrative and highfalutin theorizing.’ Gottlieb writes about Steinbeck’s ‘compulsion to hector us with heavy-handed opinions and ideas‘ and delves into his personal life in this no-holds barred essay. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you agree? Is there truth there? Or, are you like me, ready to defend Steinbeck?
Well, I’m off to paint my little bistro table and chairs and enjoy the weather. Happy reading to all of you!