Sunday Salon – June 12, 2011

June 12, 2011

8:30 AM

Ah, it is one of those perfect mornings in Northern California. The air has that clean, bright smell and the sun is filtering through the pines. The birds are singing and my coffee is hot. I’m ready to talk books.

Yesterday I posted my thoughts about the latest ugly events in the literary world – and I’m trying to move forward from the nastiness because they really depressed me to a certain degree. In one of my book groups, we are talking about Naipaul’s ridiculous comments, and also about the Huffington Post article where Ruth Fowler bashed Tea Obreht. Some people are agreeing that The Tiger’s Wife is not that good, and that MFAs are overrated…but, I still say it is not either of these points that matter. It was the how Fowler made her points that outraged me. The meanness, the profanity (and really, if we are going to discuss literature, couldn’t Fowler have found words to express herself that were not the trite, profane garbage the average person throws around when they are angry?), and the anger were just so over the top. Anyway, on to something more positive…

I finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and oh how good it was (read my review). I do not read a lot of nonfiction, but I will tell you that this is one nonfiction book which reads like the best fiction out there. I couldn’t put it down. I think you’ll see this one on my Best of 2011 lists at the end of the year.

My next read was a quick one. Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan Van Mersbergen is the latest book to be released by Peirene Press. I have really come to expect the finest literature from this small press, and Tomorrow Pamplona did not disappoint me. It is a very male book on many levels – and I know some bloggers who have been put off by that. On the other hand, this is a book which is so well written and executed that I found myself totally engrossed in it (read my review). I liked the shifting narrative and the stark writing style. Have you read this book yet? What did you think?

I am currently reading two books – which is highly unusual for me. Typically I am a one book woman (I don’t know if that is because I just can’t bear to leave the characters until I’m done with their story, or because I become confused by mixing up stories). But, these two books are so different, I am not having any issues at all by reading both at the same time.

Down From Cascom Mountain by Ann Joslin Williams is set in the mountains of New Hampshire. It is a reflective, literary novel about a young woman whose new husband dies in a tragic accident. The story takes place in the aftermath of Michael’s death. I am really enjoying William’s writing so far, and it is not as sad a novel as you might expect. I’ll be posting my review for a TLC Book Tour on Thursday, June 16th – in the meantime, you can read other reviews of this book by visiting the tour page.

The Blossoming of the World by Brian H. Peterson is a photography and essay book. Peterson is more like a poet in how he structures his work. I am loving the photographs, which are black and white, and finding that the prose is giving me much to think about. I’m not too far into the book yet, but hope to have a review up by the end of the week.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have today to read or do much of anything else. I am in the midst of a major spring cleaning fit here. Yesterday I tore through the desk area, throwing things away, cleaning the dust from the corners…and I also purged some of my library (always a stressful time for me!). I did mounds of laundry, and cleaned the guest room in preparation for the installation of cabinets. Today I’m continuing to purge piles of paper and magazines…and I’ll be dusting and vacuuming and scrubbing. Kip and I are planning to power wash the porch, repaint the furniture out there, and of course fill up the flower pots. So I am busy with domestic things this weekend!

How about you? What are you doing? I hope that at some point, you will make time in your weekend for a great book!

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  1. Oh, my, your flurry of domestic activities makes me pause and look around, seeing what needs to be done. Alas, my desk has many things that need to be tidied up and even shredded. And sadly, when I look at them, I turn away, thinking of other things I’d rather do. Like reading and writing.

    Sooner or later, though, I must deal with it all.

    Tomorrow, perhaps? LOL


  2. When I’ve tried to read 2 books, I’ve found the more compelling of the 2 draws me in and I focus on it, ignoring the other one until it’s done.

    • Amy on June 12, 2011 at 12:49

    I am curious about Cascom Mountain and look forward to your review. I’m not familiar with Peirene Press but Tomorrow Pamplona sounds like an intriguing book so I am going to look up the Press!

    I tend to read too many books at one time and have to control my over-eagerness! Sometimes concentrating on just one, maybe two books at a time is much better.

    It’s disheartening when authors, writers and bloggers even are publicly cruel and unkind to one of their own. There’s no reason for that kind of behavior and it’s so sad.

    • gavin on June 12, 2011 at 16:56

    Wow, I’m glad I missed all the ugly events. I completely agree with your take on Ruth Fowler. I’m finding that unfortunate mean streak running through a lot of our so called media lately. I find that very discouraging, particularly knowing that young people are immersed in it, seeing it, reading it and taking in the message that it is acceptable behavior.

    Coincidentally I am reading “The Tiger’s Wife” this weekend!

  3. Glad I stopped by. I didn’t know about those recent developments involving Naipaul. Have a great reading week!

    • Wendy on June 13, 2011 at 07:10

    Laurel: LOL – everything is always more palatable the next day!! Actually, I got a lot done and it feels good 🙂 Go for it!

    Kathy: That has always been my trouble as well. I don’t know how some people can keep several going at once.

    Amy: Cascom Mountain is a very quiet book – but I am enjoying the writing quite a bit. You should definitely check out Peirene – some wonderful books (and they are all really novellas – around 200 pages long).

    Gavin: Looking forward to your thoughts on The Tiger’s Wife – its on my list for July. I agree about the meanness. Everyone talks about high school bullying, but here we find adults doing and getting published for it! Disgusting!

    Karen: *laughs* Maybe you don’t want to know!!!

  4. Wasn’t it awesome to finally get some sunshine here in N. California?

  5. You’ve had a great streak of reading lately! I’m almost finished with Down from Cascom Mountain too and am really enjoying it. I’m looking forward to your review (mine will post next Monday.)

    • Wendy on June 20, 2011 at 08:18

    Kathleen: I am so loving the sunshine!!

    Carrie: I just read your review of William’s book – so glad you enjoyed it!

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