Having just reread The Club of Queer Trades, I can't help seeing the resemblance to Manalive. It is as if Chesterton took those short stories and distHaving just reread The Club of Queer Trades, I can't help seeing the resemblance to Manalive. It is as if Chesterton took those short stories and distilled their essence into this novel. (Or maybe it went the other way round ... I didn't stop to look up which came first.)
I like the short stories better but really enjoy the novel for the whimsical, upside down aspect....more
This is probably my third time reading this trilogy. I used to keep it in my desk at work for lunchtime reading when there was no one else in the breaThis is probably my third time reading this trilogy. I used to keep it in my desk at work for lunchtime reading when there was no one else in the break room.
These three books are chronicles of small village, larger village, and small town life in rural England in the late 1800s. Told with fictionalized names this is nonetheless acknowledged to be a good record of what life was really like back then, from the farming/working class point of view. As such, Thompson didn't populate it with a main story line but centered it on one family (her own, one presumes) and then told all she had observed growing up. We see working habits, tavern stories and songs, pig killing day, and much more. In a sense, I suppose one could call it "Little House" stories for grown ups - set in Britain.
The rhythm of life gently washes over the reader and, if one isn't too worried about driving storylines as I mentioned, then there is a great reward in these books. They are perfect for unforced reading whenever one has a chance.
I was unaware that there was a television series based on these until reading some of the other GoodReads reviews. No wonder many of them were slightly disappointed. There would have to be a great deal of "reading into" to get storylines for the Lark Rise village setting. I've also seen a variety of rather judgmental reviews commenting on sexism, politics, and so forth. Those entirely miss the point of history, for one thing, and of these books, for another.
All the hard-boiled reading I've been doing, including the Robert B. Parker trips down memory lane, made me remember a series that my parents loved. IAll the hard-boiled reading I've been doing, including the Robert B. Parker trips down memory lane, made me remember a series that my parents loved. It was long running string of police procedurals set in Los Angeles featuring Lieutenant Luis Mendoza.
It has to have been unusual for a Hispanic homicide lieutenant to be the main character of these books but it never struck me at the time. I also never realized that Dell Shannon as a nom de plum or that she largely invented the police procedural genre.
This is the first in her long running series....more
I'm rereading this diary which Day wrote over 1948. It is as inspiring as I remembered, as interesting in the details (at this point) of living the liI'm rereading this diary which Day wrote over 1948. It is as inspiring as I remembered, as interesting in the details (at this point) of living the life of the poor in the country with her grown children, and just as difficult in some of the political/social thoughts Day espouses. It is the rare person, I would guess, who can pick up Day's writing and completely agree with her. Certainly I can't. Nonetheless, if one is ready to agree to disagree, there is a lot of great value here....more
I'm reading this for an upcoming discussion at SFFaudio. I'm supplementing it by listening to Heather Ordover's commentary when this book was coveredI'm reading this for an upcoming discussion at SFFaudio. I'm supplementing it by listening to Heather Ordover's commentary when this book was covered in the CraftLit premium feed....more
I'm a big fan of the Doan and Carstairs stories by Norbert Davis. Every so often I'll read one for Forgotten Classics because, luckily for us, they'reI'm a big fan of the Doan and Carstairs stories by Norbert Davis. Every so often I'll read one for Forgotten Classics because, luckily for us, they're out of copyright.
Doan and Carstairs' adventures are tip top in hardboiled fiction with a comic twist and Davis was admired by the likes of Raymond Chandler. I'm greatly enjoying this one.
FINAL A fairly slight mystery but replete with Doan and Carstairs, for which I will forgive a great many slight plots....more
These are hilarious in the offbeat way that Norbert Davis's "Doan and Carstairs" novels are. Instead of a short, round detective who looks nice but isThese are hilarious in the offbeat way that Norbert Davis's "Doan and Carstairs" novels are. Instead of a short, round detective who looks nice but is not, we have Max Latin who is long, lean, and has cold, green eyes. Instead of a gigantic Great Dane partner, there is a lunatic, brilliant chef who owns a dingy diner because customers drive him insane so he's always trying to drive them away with bad service and surroundings. Max Latin's office is a booth at the back of this diner and the give-and-take between all these elements (don't forget the waiters! or the clients!) is hilarious.
The cases, five in all, are long enough to consist of five or six chapters and gives a wonderful depth which allows satisfying mysteries to play out. I'd gladly read one of these on my podcast but it looks as if the copyright is all wrapped up so I can only recommend you seek out the book.
This is another favorite Georgette Heyer and after I enjoyed listening to Sprig Muslin so much I thought I'd keep the streak going. The narrator is diThis is another favorite Georgette Heyer and after I enjoyed listening to Sprig Muslin so much I thought I'd keep the streak going. The narrator is different but was so highly praised that I am quite intrigued to hear his take on the book....more
Another good 'un from the Spenser files. I recalled more details of this trip down my book-reading memory lane, however I'd forgotten the painstakingAnother good 'un from the Spenser files. I recalled more details of this trip down my book-reading memory lane, however I'd forgotten the painstaking trail of investigation needed to get to the root of the problem. We hadn't seen this from Spenser before and it added a nice element of detection to the story....more
More vintage Parker as we see inside a very dysfunctional family whose teenage son is missing. Now that enough time has elapsed since it was publishedMore vintage Parker as we see inside a very dysfunctional family whose teenage son is missing. Now that enough time has elapsed since it was published in 1974, Spenser's detailed observations also serve as a time capsule of clothing, food, attitudes, and problems. Not that the problems have changed that much, which is also worthy of reflection.
This is the book where Susan Silverman, the love of Spenser's life, is introduced. I'd forgotten that she showed up this early in the series.
I was never crazy about Susan the way that Spenser is but rereading this after such a long time I can see that she is interesting, funny, perceptive, and a good addition to this book. She acts as a nice foil, coming from a psychologically based background, and definitely makes Spenser a more well rounded, interesting person (though most of that becomes more apparent in upcoming books so I'm jumping the gun a bit).
I also appreciated the fact that Parker leaves the possibility of redemption for some of the most dysfunctional characters, as well as the tentative beginning of positive change.
As with The Godwulf Manuscript, once again I remembered the big solution and had forgotten most of the intervening action and intertwined mysteries. Experiencing it again "for the first time" it came off much better than when I first read it (or perhaps that is my more mature appreciation coming through)....more
"A pig is a pig," she said. "Whether he's public or private, he works for the same people."
"Next time you're in trouble," I said, "call a hippie."
"A pig is a pig," she said. "Whether he's public or private, he works for the same people."
"Next time you're in trouble," I said, "call a hippie."
Oh yeah, that's the stuff.
I encountered the Spenser novels in the early 1980s and became enamored. I'd never read anything like them.
Of course, I'd never read Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. I knew of them from movies but hard-boiled didn't appeal as reading material or even, at the time, as viewing material. It took a smart mouth like Robert B. Parker's detective, Spenser, to delight me and pull me into that world.
Now, decades after I first read this book, I realize the legacy Parker was carrying on. Rereading this book while listening to The Long Goodbye, I really appreciate just how well Parker pulled it off....more
They laid it out right up front. "Two days to do the layout for a 400 page book. Over 4th of July weekend," they said.
I drained the coffee cup. ThereThey laid it out right up front. "Two days to do the layout for a 400 page book. Over 4th of July weekend," they said.
I drained the coffee cup. There were grounds in the bottom. The staff was getting sloppy. Maybe there was too much overtime all around. Or maybe they were just sloppy.
I crushed my cigarette in the ashtray.
"I can handle it."
"And revisions," they said, eyes glinting in the car light reflected from the big front window. "That'll be another couple of tough days."
"I said I can handle it!
So when basically tied to the computer for two to four days, what do you do? Load up an audiobook that packs maximum enjoyment and lets your brain glide over the action without having to pay too much attention. Luckily I'd picked this up from Audible recently on sale.
Ray Porter is a bit too straight-forward and forceful as Philip Marlowe. I always felt there was more of a laid-back sophistication underlying the dialogue. And I'm used to Porter laying it on thick when he reads Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger novels. But you can't beat him for doing the secondary characters. And, who knows? Maybe Marlowe was more of a straight-forward simple guy than I'm giving him credit for.
I'm surprised at how modern the action, attitudes, and dialogue seem. This must have been like dynamite back in the days when it was brand-spanking new.
I'm also fascinated at Philip Marlowe's heart of gold. Again, I thought this was a more modern development. This book has numerous examples of Marlowe's innate sense of justice, mercy, and forgiveness ... all ultimately fair. ...more
I really enjoy Clarissa Dickson Wright's take on history seen through the focus of food. There's just the right amount of Wright's personality includeI really enjoy Clarissa Dickson Wright's take on history seen through the focus of food. There's just the right amount of Wright's personality included because she will occasionally break in and comment about ancient recipes she's tried or her thoughts on a particular practice. It is sprinkled with original texts from the past and it is interesting seeing what people liked enough to take the trouble to pass on to others. Definitely recommended to anyone with an interest in food and English history.
The quotes I added to GoodReads from the book give a bit of the flavour!...more
I'm reading this for an upcoming A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast episode. I could have sworn I read this after seeing the movie several decades aI'm reading this for an upcoming A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast episode. I could have sworn I read this after seeing the movie several decades ago but it is not ringing a bell in these early chapters. However, I'm enjoying it immensely so far.
Update This is a book I dread to pick up because I know that Captain Queeg is going to do something so outrageous that I'm going to hate reading about it and the consequences to the innocent. And yet, when I do pick it up I can't put the darned book down. I get sucked in, reading page after page, before coming to myself with a start to find the dishwater gone cold and the suds sunk to scum.
So, yeah, it's good.
FINAL Great book though I was skimming the battle descriptions pretty fast since I had the podcast deadline looming ... and, honestly, I disliked Queeg enough that I almost couldn't bear to read of his idiocies and punishments.
But I slowed down for the rest of it.
One sentence moral: we never know what we are made of until we are put to the test.
That's what life is all about it seems to me. This IS the test. Thinking and talking are all very well but it is in living that we become ourselves ... ...more
I began listening to this with a bit of trepidation. Was Terry Pratchett going to trash my beloved Dickens? I'm midway through Barnaby Rudge which speI began listening to this with a bit of trepidation. Was Terry Pratchett going to trash my beloved Dickens? I'm midway through Barnaby Rudge which speaks to how much I love Dickens' novels — I read the ones nobody's heard of.
I began to relax as I listened to the wonderful opening sentences mimic Dickens' own typical introductions in all their Victorian glory.
Then Charlie appeared, a canny, knowing one who seems an admirable fellow altogether, capable of flummoxing the Dodger from the get-go. I immediately loaded all the rest of the book onto my iPod.
Am now really looking forward to the rest of the book...
FINAL I am stunned at how little I liked this book once I got into it. Moral, moral, moral ... pointed out with a very heavy hand. This is unlike Terry Pratchett and, indeed, unlike Charles Dickens, both of whom are wonderful at presenting the story and leaving, at the most, very spare concluding remarks drawing one's attention to the moral. Ok, perhaps Dickens is not quite as spare as Pratchett in that department. But one could get through a story without having the moral shoved in your face three times per chapter. Ugh. I was able to listen to only 4 hours before I had to stop ......more
This fulfills my love for heroes, weird fiction, and time travel — the time travel being mine when I would relate so vividly to something from the booThis fulfills my love for heroes, weird fiction, and time travel — the time travel being mine when I would relate so vividly to something from the book, for example when I felt as if I was standing next to the heroes looking up on the Whale Road. This made me want to listen to Michael Drout's course on Anglo Saxon literature and culture. ...more
This version was an Audible Daily Deal so I'm listening to it unseasonably early. I read pretty fast, even when I'm trying to read slowly. Audio is thThis version was an Audible Daily Deal so I'm listening to it unseasonably early. I read pretty fast, even when I'm trying to read slowly. Audio is the cure to making me catch all the little details my eye slides over.
Blown away (again) by Bradbury's lyrical writing. Also by the themes in this book. Ray Bradbury = genius. Period.
Having finished Chesterton's book about St. Francis of Assisi, I looked for a copy of this one, which I've always found the most intriguing concept ofHaving finished Chesterton's book about St. Francis of Assisi, I looked for a copy of this one, which I've always found the most intriguing concept of all his books: a study of comparative religion against the backdrop of history, as compared to Christianity.
I was really surprised to find the first chapter meshing incredibly well with Jurassic Park, which I am just finishing up for the umpteenth time. This was made by Chesterton's point about what scientists of the day said was typical caveman behavior (beating women, dragging them by hair, etc.) versus the actual evidence of paintings done in caves. As one of the main points of Jurassic Park is that scientists make a lot of decisions based on their preconceptions versus actual reality, the caveman argument really hit home. One wonders if Michael Crichton read much G.K. Chesterton.
I can really see how this would have been an influence on C.S. Lewis.
I listened to the John Franklyn-Robbins narration; it was incredible....more
With Sean Barrett's narration and the Wordsworth Classics edition I'm armed and ready for Charles Dickens' first historical novel, the one no one knowWith Sean Barrett's narration and the Wordsworth Classics edition I'm armed and ready for Charles Dickens' first historical novel, the one no one knows about.
Considering that my first Dickens was A Tale of Two Cities, which led to my happy travels through the rest of his books, I'm interested to see how this early historical compares.
I've only read the first four chapters but loved the way it begins with a dark night, a mysterious stranger, a ghost story told by the tavern fire, a kindly locksmith, a murder, and Barnaby Rudge who is (as G.K. Chesterton put it) an idiot. These politically correct days we'd say "mentally challenged." I have to say I was startled by what seems like a bold move, to have such a person as the titular character.
I scored this off of NetGalley. I was unsure how I'd feel about reading a Brene Brown book since I have only watched her TED Talks and listened to TheI scored this off of NetGalley. I was unsure how I'd feel about reading a Brene Brown book since I have only watched her TED Talks and listened to The Power of Vulnerability which is a series of workshop courses she gave.
I shouldn't have wondered. Brown's voice grabbed me from the moment I read the introduction. In fact, early in the book Brown's realization that "you can't skip Act 2" (a reference that will be clear if you read the book) was revelatory for my husband and me in a work situation that we're slogging through at the moment. It didn't change our point on the map, so to speak, so much as to point out where we were and that we weren't really lost in the Slough of Despond ... just working our way through it to Act 3.
I like the way Brown has our innate connection to storytelling as a parallel thread. On one hand, it defines ways we can recognize and recover from dangerous trajectories. On the other, just reading what she's found about us as storytelling beings hits a note that interested and connected with me.
The reason I only gave this three stars is that the last third of the book somehow felt very different, much more self-help oriented than what preceded it. Suddenly there were a lot of acronyms, bullet pointed lists to consider and work through, open ended questions to ask yourself, and a couple of case studies that seemed very unnecessary. My eyes glaze over at that sort of thing which is why I've enjoyed Brown's work so much before this. Now I haven't actually read one of her other books so she may have followed this pattern before. It may work for everyone else in which case the problem is mine alone.
At any rate, I still recommend the book. It allowed me to make a lot of connections in my own life between my behavior, internal logic, and how to avoid or recover personally from falling hard when taking a risk....more
This is a simply superb overview of Francis' life, covering everything from the context of his actions in his times, to modern his influence on modernThis is a simply superb overview of Francis' life, covering everything from the context of his actions in his times, to modern his influence on modern times. I especially appreciated their approach to St. Clare as her own person and not just someone who copied St. Francis. ...more
Having seen the movie I was curious about how closely it hewed to the book. It turns out to have been a surprisingly close telling that captured the fHaving seen the movie I was curious about how closely it hewed to the book. It turns out to have been a surprisingly close telling that captured the feel of the book well.
The book itself has the same feel as Cheaper By the Dozen, if that family's father had been an alcoholic, putting them always one contest win away from abject poverty. It is also a look back at small town life in the 1950s and 60s.
Evelyn Ryan's story is woven through the humorous tales of raising ten children. She parlayed her writing skill and determination into enough income to overcome one financial crisis after another. Ryan did this in a way unique to the time, by entering numerous jingle-writing contests, and submitting poems and humorous stories to publications. Many of these are scattered through the text and they almost serve as a mini-history of product contests.
Along the way Ryan taught her family a precious lesson about how to live a full, rich life no matter your economic status. Author Terry Ryan, one of the daughters of the family, pulls off telling a positive, upbeat story without denying the reality and severity of the trials that had to be overcome.
At that moment we knew that as long as we used our brains, we were not victims. By striking out to write our own ticket, we would grow up to be like our mother, winners.
I listened to the audio book and enjoyed it. I've seen people complain about the narration as over the top and too enthusiastic but I don't agree. I thought the straight forward feel perfectly reflected the tone of the book....more
Present tense. Why is it always present tense? (Somehow that line works better with snakes, but you get the idea.)
Present tense bothers me enough thatPresent tense. Why is it always present tense? (Somehow that line works better with snakes, but you get the idea.)
Present tense bothers me enough that I keep longing to stop reading. And yet the story is so gripping, the premise so fascinating, what we aren't being told keeps flickering just out of the corner of my eye ... and so I keep reading despite myself.
If I'm already struggling with how the book is written I've got to have at least one likable character to relate too or I just can't carry on ... and so I'm quitting this one....more
This was an excellent overview of the stories that have influenced and shaped our views of Heaven and Hell from ancient times until now. I particularlThis was an excellent overview of the stories that have influenced and shaped our views of Heaven and Hell from ancient times until now. I particularly enjoyed the author's exploration of the chain of influences that have connected all these stories and the way that they've been tweaked to express new ideas in the "journey to the other side" format. For example, I never realized that the rebellious Titans' deepest level of hell (Tartarus) shows up in 2 Peter 2:4 (the only spot in the Bible) by using the word Tartarus to signify Hell:
"God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell [Tartarus]", and delivered them into chains of darkenss, to be reserved unto judgment." What makes the use here of Tartarus quite stunning is that the rebellious Titans of Greek mythology share much in common with the "sons of God" who mate with the "daughters of men" to produce the nephilim (see Gen. 6:1-4) and who are then (according to the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch) put in prison to await judgment. ... just as Hell in the New Testament is linked both to the angelic rebellion of the "sons of God" and to the punishment of sinners, so Tartarus functions as both the prison of the Titans and the place of suffering for such archetypal sinners as Tantalus, Ixion, and Sisyphus: the sinners, that is, whose cries Orpheus hears rising up from the pit below.
Of particular interest to me were the in-depth looks at the Divine Comedy, the hijacking of Milton's Satan by the Romantics (I will never look at William Blake the same way), and how it continues to influence us today via the Byronic hero.
Louis Markos is a Protestant but he has a deep understanding of Catholic theology that would put many a Catholic to shame. His explanation of Purgatory in his preface to Dante's Purgatorio is masterful in explaining both the theology and the way Americans misinterpret it precisely because of their American identity. This is just a bit:
Purgatory is not about "earning our salvation," but, in having already been saved by Christ's sacrifice on the cross, working with the Spirit to present ourselves as clean vessels. Out of pure grace and love, the Prince lifts Cinderella out of the cinders and takes her to his castle. But Cinderella would never think of entering her future home until she had the chance to wash, fix her hair, and put on her finest gown. The American Christian, in his somewhat adolescent way, asks if all of this is "fair." But Purgatory is not about fairness; it is about freedom.
This signals that I can trust Markos to be just as careful in communicating information I am not familiar with. It's nice to be able to trust an author that much.
There is an extensive bibliography, written in a very readable style, with lots of ideas for further exploration of the topic.