Australia in 1928 was a wild and dangerous place with islands of comfort (and hard work) called stations. This is the first in a series of mysteries aAustralia in 1928 was a wild and dangerous place with islands of comfort (and hard work) called stations. This is the first in a series of mysteries about that world, The Lure of the Bush, also called The Barrakee Mystery, Barakee being a fictional station near the Darling River in NW New South Wales.
Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, "Bony," is part Aborigine or in the language of the day, a half-caste. He is the finest tracker in the commonwealth and when a black man is killed at Barrakee he is brought in to solve the case.
There are a dozen things that make this book unusual (to me anyhow) and enlightening, starting with insight into Aboriginal life, widely varying opinions and prejudices about the Aboriginal people, the workings of a sheep ranch with tens of thousands of sheep to look after, the drought and flood conditions in that part of the country, and the difficulties of getting around such large areas in what must have been the equivalent of a Model T Ford.
Director of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1977 to 2008, Philippe de Montebello, who was born a French count in Paris, is about as knDirector of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1977 to 2008, Philippe de Montebello, who was born a French count in Paris, is about as knowledgeable about the fine arts as anyone out there, and just as opinionated. I don't think I exaggerate much when I say he would have anyone who wishes to be admitted to his museum pursue a serious art history course and pass a difficult and lengthy quiz before being allowed to visit. He is emphatically not a democrat. He does not believe art museums are there for the masses. People should have to work at viewing art.
"I use the word "work" in my approach to art deliberately," he says. "This may seem odd to those who are accustomed to the populist message of museums that, eager to beef up their numbers by promoting their collections as a form of entertainment, go out of their way to suggest that the art within and the experience of everyday life are one. They don't want to intimidate the visitor with anything too grand, and above all, studiously avoid implying that there may be somewhere sensitivities higher than our own."
Since I agree with many of his out-of-fashion but strongly held opinions, I have always looked for books in the Met catalog with his name as co-author. He pulled his punches while he was the head of the museum. Now he is free to declare his hierarchical stance on art. Knowing now how much I did not know back in the 1960s when I first started going to the Met, I would agree that I should not have been allowed in to block the view of people who really knew what they were looking at. On the other hand, I learned much of what I now know about art from visiting the Louvre every Sunday (back when it was free to students) for weeks on end.
Some paintings, some painters, some genres of art are simply better than others, says de Montebello. Some cultures have produced more and better art than others. And it is the job of directors of museums and teachers of art history to point this out to people, to teach them to understand and believe Matthew Arnold: "Culture is the best that has been thought and said."
de Montebello declares without hesitation that the best painting in the world is in the Prado: Velazquez' "The Surrender at Breda." And when it comes to painting he comes close to saying the Prado is the finest museum in the world. All those Titians, Goyas, and Velazquez.
Rendez-vous with Art is co-written with Martin Gayford, an equally but very differently opinionated British Art Critic whose books are very well thought of in art circles. In this book the two men wander over a couple of years and a couple of continents visiting museums and churches and talking about what they see -- at the Louvre; the Prado; the museums, palaces, and churches of Florence; and at various other venues, including the Met....more
Why are sports writers so much more lively than the rest of the journalists? Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, Red Smith, Grantland Rice. Please add WilliamWhy are sports writers so much more lively than the rest of the journalists? Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, Red Smith, Grantland Rice. Please add William Nack to the list.
He was a reporter on Long Island's Newsday when he impressed his editor by knowing the winner of every Kentucky Derby since it began in 1875. Would he like a chance to cover horse racing, his editor asked him? Did he! In his memo requesting transfer to "the turf" he wrote: "After covering politicians for the last four years, I'd love the chance to cover the whole horse."
And so it went. He left Newsday for Sports Illustrated where he covered all sports for decades. My Turf is a collection of some of his pieces, essays about Rocky Marciano, A J Foyte, Bobby Fischer, Yankee Stadium, and Dubai's horse race winners, including my favorite, a description of the day Secretariat was put down, a story that had me in tears. A wonderful writer and a wonderful book, whether you care about Willie Shoemaker, Keith Hernandez, and Cassius Clay or not. (You will when you finish William Nack's book.)...more
Neil MacGregor is the director of the British Museum and in this book he has chosen 100 of the exhibits at the museum and threaded through them the hiNeil MacGregor is the director of the British Museum and in this book he has chosen 100 of the exhibits at the museum and threaded through them the history of the world. He starts with a 2 million year old stone tool from the Oldvai Gorge and an Egyptian mummy and finishes up with a Visa card issues in Saudi Arabia by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and a solar-powered lantern made in 2010.
We visit lots of our favorites like the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon marbles and he also tells us the significance of lesser known exhibits like two carved reindeer and a central African hollow drum taken to Somalia by Muslim slave traders where Kitchener found it and brought it home to England.
Carol Cassella, the author of Healer, is a doctor who lives on an island in Puget Sound, practices in Seattle, and went to Duke as an undergraduate anCarol Cassella, the author of Healer, is a doctor who lives on an island in Puget Sound, practices in Seattle, and went to Duke as an undergraduate and majored in English. Her novels are a delight. Healer is about a woman whose husband made a lot of money in pharmaceuticals and who has now lost it. They sell their big house on Lake Washington and she and her daughter move to a small town on the eastern slope of the Cascades not far from Wenatchee where she finds a low-paying job in a free clinic for migrant orchard workers.
This is a book about health care but it doesn't preach. It points out that people who are in this country illegally are reluctant to visit hospitals when they need treatment and so rely on clinics like the one where Claire works. But the book is also about the problems of a single mother with a teenager. The protagonist, Claire Boehning, spends most of her time alone because her husband travels much of the time trying to get his career as a bio-engineer back on track.
It's also about life in a small town and the many and complex connections between the people who live there. It's about money and how people with a great deal of it, like the computer millionaires in Seattle and Claire's family before their recent financial troubles, begin to forget about it and to lose touch with what life is like for everybody else. And how people with very little of it become focused on it all the time.
Moby Dick read in one day! Some Indian graphic artists and an adaptor (Lance Stahlberg, Lalit Kumar Singh) have done a rather good job of condensing aMoby Dick read in one day! Some Indian graphic artists and an adaptor (Lance Stahlberg, Lalit Kumar Singh) have done a rather good job of condensing and illustrating Melville's 1851 novel. The story lends itself to this format, with the scowling Ahab and stove boats. I am not a fan of the graphic novel, but this one passes my test. I liked it. Caveat: not a substitute for reading the real thing, which will take you six weeks to a year. So this little "comic book" has its uses. ...more
A delightful Christmas story about a writer and a bookseller who are made for one another. But they need a little help from his daughter and her grandA delightful Christmas story about a writer and a bookseller who are made for one another. But they need a little help from his daughter and her grandmother before they quite realize it. Lovely story....more
A short, heavily illustrated book about the basics of fashion, fashion history, and couturiers that I got from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New YA short, heavily illustrated book about the basics of fashion, fashion history, and couturiers that I got from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York when I was placing my Christmas card order. It's one of a series of How to Read . . . books and for a beginner it's splendid. I will pass it along to a grand-niece who is interested in dress design.
This is one of a series of How to Read . . . books with titles that include HtR Paintings, ... Greek Vases, ... Architecture, ... Islamic Carpets. As with most MOA publications, it's exactly what it purports to be and gives good value. ...more
The first in a series of books for early readers (grades 1-3) called The Magic Treehouse. Eight-year-old Jack and his little sister Anne happen upon aThe first in a series of books for early readers (grades 1-3) called The Magic Treehouse. Eight-year-old Jack and his little sister Anne happen upon a treehouse in the woods near their neighborhood and discover it filled with books. When they open a book and wish they were at the time and place in the book, swoosh . . . they move back in time. In this first book they go back 100 million years to the Cretaceous period where they encounter dinosaurs, some more friendly than others.
I liked it; Elaine liked it even more. We will soon be on to the second in the long series. ...more
Have you noticed there are many more books about middle-aged and elderly women out there these days? I think it's because some established authors areHave you noticed there are many more books about middle-aged and elderly women out there these days? I think it's because some established authors are reaching a certain age and perhaps, I hope, younger women are beginning to understand that they can enjoy books about women who are not young, lovely, and searching for Mr Right.
This is a book about an older woman, a wealthy widow, who in one of those silly but all too common mishaps pushes open the wrong door in the strip shopping center where she does her grocery shopping and finds herself in a ballroom dance studio. She makes a spur of the moment decision to sign up for dance lessons. Why not?
In no time she has become fond of the other dancers (or not) and staff and begins to recognize that she is a very good dancer. So she spends more time dancing and becomes increasingly involved in the lives and problems of the others at the studio. She has always been involved in charities and fund raising and she visits people in the local hospice and it seems natural to bring along an instructor and show off her new skills to the people there.
The Unexpected Waltz is easy reading but the plot is not predictable and the main character learns and grows and becomes more independent and adventurous over the course of the novel. I got a good deal of pleasure and relaxation from this book and have requested another of Kim Wright's works from the library....more
Our president bought the first two of Barbara Park's Junie B Jones easy reader books just before Christmas so I borrowed them from the library to seeOur president bought the first two of Barbara Park's Junie B Jones easy reader books just before Christmas so I borrowed them from the library to see what he's reading these days.
And I was distressed at the behavior of Junie B Jones. She is an selfish, obstreporous, undisciplined child. I would not want my child reading these books and getting ideas about ways to defy parents and teachers and get patted on the back for it.
The only child in children's literature I can think of who is less well behaved is Beverly Cleary's Ramona, who torments her well-behaved and on the whole forgiving sister, Beezus. Shudder....more
Complex narrative styles are always attractive to me, but it is possible to be too chopped up and irregular for me. And this book managed to annoy meComplex narrative styles are always attractive to me, but it is possible to be too chopped up and irregular for me. And this book managed to annoy me in that regard. The story of a marriage and how it changes is usually an interesting story line but in this book I lost interest in the characters early on and nothing - not even an amusing battle with bedbugs (or perhaps especially a seemingly never-ending battle with bedbugs) captured me.
The book was highly regarded by many and showed up on end-of-the-year "best of 2014" lists so take my comments as they are given - this book at this time didn't charm me. It might charm you....more