Glens Falls (NY) Online Book Discussion Group discussion

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ABOUT BOOKS AND READING > James Atlas - NY Times (1997): " 'Literature' Bores Me".




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message 47: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim, I think you know Long Island better than I do. We've visited friends and relatives there, but not often. We used to take our boat down to Watch Hill Marina in Great South Bay and enjoy the beach there. Eddie would cruise anywhere in his boat.

While in college, I had a summer job in NYC one year. I took the NY Central from Mt. Vernon into NYC. I was a receptionist at Celanese Acetate on Madison Ave. & 34th St. I wore spike heels, hoop earings, and bought Barricini chocolates. I felt so cosmopolitan. :)

St. Patrick's Church... I've only been there once in my life, but love looking at the nearby ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, under the statue of Prometheus.
Here's a photo of it: ====>
http://wirednewyork.com/manhattan/roc...

Yep, folks who commute to NYC on the train have plenty of time to read. Others play cards on the train. Some sleep on their way home and recharge their batteries for the evening. (g) I have a friend who used to do that.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments I'm too young to have ridden the trolleys either in NYC or Baltimore. That is a neat photo. I used to take a bus into Penn Station, walk over to Grand Central & take the LI Railroad out on to the Island to spend a month or so during the summer. Most of my relatives lived on the north shore; Huntington, Centerport & Smithtown. We used to live out by Lake Ronkonkahma.

I have a cousin that works in Brooklyn at a hospital & another who lives in Manhattan with his wife. The latter got married at St. Patricks. That was the longest wedding I've ever been to in my life.

I think of topics as suggestions, kind of like stop signs & speed limits. But to make a pass back at it...

Long trips up on the train were one of the best reading places. I had to go once with my step father. He bought me 3 books, 2 of which were perfect, although I enjoyed all 3. One was #3 in a series that I now have over 100 books in. It was the The Destroyer series by Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir. Sapir wrote a political column & the books always had a lot of political satire in them, while he was alive. Very quick reads & they tickled my sense of humor.


message 45: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Driving down the West Side Parkway in NYC to Brooklyn was part of my youth. So was taking the trolley and the trains from Yonkers to Brooklyn. Little did I know when I got married, that I'd be riding down to NYC in a boat. Look at this classic photo from the 1970s:
http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL25/9...

Boy, have WE gone off-topic! LOL


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Yes, I missed my dad a lot. The guy Mom eventually married was a bust. Part of what made me a real handful as a teenager. I thought the same thing about that book. Not my normal, but it might just be worth it.

The trip down the Hudson sounds neat. I was up & down different parts of it as a kid. Never appreciated it enough.


message 43: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments You must have missed doing all those things with your dad. My mom and dad separated when I was 13. The most I did with my dad was go to the movies. (g) I don't remember discussing the movies with him. I don't think we realized that discussing things would give us practice for carrying on good conversations with others in the future. We'd go out afterwards and have a hamburger at White Castle. Oh, and we visited relatives. No exciting trips to speak of (except driving by the big Cunard ships on the Hudson River, along the West Side Pkwy in NYC, on the way to relatives in Brooklyn), but I felt loved and protected and that is what's important.

Oh, I forgot. In my mid-teens, Dad opened a drug store with a soda fountain. My sister and I had fun gorging ourselves with candy, ice cream sodas, and sundaes. Years later I'd go to Dad's drug store for medicine which the doctors prescribed for our kids. Saved a lot of money. (g)

Good line about the decoder card. We can build on that idea... there's no decoder card in God's box of cereal, but there are plenty of puzzles. (g)

"The Last Exit to Normal" sounds like an amusing book. I'm not usually drawn to stories about kids and their families, but this one sounds a bit different. Ben sounds like a a handful. Looks as if he had a lot to adjust to.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments On the same subject, I just came across this line in a book review:
"The decoder card to the universe wasn't included in the box of cereal God gave humanity."

You might like the book reviewed, "The Last Exit to Normal"
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21...


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Glad you liked it, Joy. I always have. Live one day at a time well & you have no regrets.

Yeah, it is a shame about my dad. Alcoholism on top of diabetes doesn't work well. At least I got to seem him the weekend before he died. I often wouldn't get to for several months at a time. "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" was playing & we got to see that together.

He traveled a lot for his job as a salesman. He'd generally fly me out to where ever he was, so I spent a lot of time with pretty stewardesses taking care of me on planes. I got to go to the World's Fair in San Antonio & see 2001: A Space Odyssey premier & visit the Alamo. We toured the caves in TN & KY, saw a fair amount of Chicago & spent time on the CA & NC beaches. It was nice while it lasted. I wish he had lasted longer, but such is life.


message 40: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 16, 2009 08:29AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim quoted: "Look to this day..."

That is absolutely beautiful, Jim! I've only heard the first line before, never knew the rest... and I collect quotes! You can be sure I just now added it to my collection. Thanks you so much for that bit of inspiration today. I needed it.

Sorry to hear that you lost your dad when he was so young. How sad that is.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Well, I got my butt kicked plenty over the years, but that was one of the best. Sure didn't seem so at the time, but it all worked out. The arm doesn't hold me back too much, although last time I put a few squares of shingles on, I was in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks.

That's such a shame about your BIL. 40 years old & a heart attack! My dad died at 35. It's a shame to see people go so young. You really don't know what's around the corner.

There's a Sanskrit proverb I've read & like. It's in the front of a daily quote book.
----------
Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power –

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.
--------------




message 38: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim wrote: "I'm not a religious person, at all, but I do believe in this case that some higher power slapped me upside the head & said, "You will do this!" or something. Working for a small company meant I'd ..."

They say that sometimes we go further with a kick in the butt than with a shake of the hand. (g)


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments I'm not a religious person, at all, but I do believe in this case that some higher power slapped me upside the head & said, "You will do this!" or something. Working for a small company meant I'd never earn much more than I was & never get any insurance or retirement benefits.

The company couldn't afford it, so unless I went into business for myself, those things wouldn't happen & they needed to. I did work for myself for a while in the 80's, but it's a real pain. Work all day & sell jobs or do paperwork at night. Ride herd on people that didn't want to work. No time for a family. Becoming a computer geek meant I got all that, though.


message 36: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim wrote: "I picked computers up as a hobby in the 80's. A guy sold me his old Atari & then I got an IBM around 1990. Started building computers for people & fixing them. Joined a computer club.

People ..."


Ah, you went back to school! Interesting the way your bad arm propelled you into a better place.

I'm reminded of Eddie. He too went back to school to get his teaching certificate. He had to work part-time in a grocery store to help support our family.

That reminds me of my sister's husband who taught school but also earned money doing custodial work in the same school. They had 9 kids. He eventually became a school principal, but died of a heart attack in his early 40s, leaving my sister with the 9 kids to raise by herself. They all grew up and did well for themselves. You just never know what's around the corner.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Thanks, Joy!


message 34: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 16, 2009 05:55AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim, your story was pretty compelling. I couldn't stop reading it until I got to the end. Great ending too. I liked the moral of the story. I also liked the voice of the boy telling the story. I felt I knew him. Very effective.

P.S. Great title!


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments I picked computers up as a hobby in the 80's. A guy sold me his old Atari & then I got an IBM around 1990. Started building computers for people & fixing them. Joined a computer club.

People had told me I should do it, but I was working 2 jobs & trying to support 3 young kids. Not easy to squeeze out the time & energy to do & no one wanted a self-taught remodeler as a computer tech, anyway.

Then my arm went bad & I couldn't hammer for any length of time, so I tried harder to get a job in the computer field. Still couldn't, so I went back to college full time & got a certificate in Microcomputer Programming. I worked part time in the local grocery store, for half the money & half the hours. We ate a lot of refrigerator soup for a couple of years, but with the certificate in hand, I managed to get a computer job right away.

I made more money & got benefits, too. In 3 years, I'd tripled what I used to make as a remodeler. It was the best, but hardest career move I've ever made. On days like today, I sure do appreciate the warm office, too! Much better than walking a ridge beam with frost on it.


message 32: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim wrote: "It's not great literature, but there's a short story of mine published in this months issue of Sonar4, an ezine.
http://www.sonar4ezine.com/feb09.html
"


Oooo, "White Crow". I'll read it right now.
Jim, you are full of surprises.


message 31: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 16, 2009 05:08AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Hey Jim! You could write a book! (lol)
I suppose a lot of people have told you that.
I guess you're glad to be settled after all those adventures.

How did you get your technical training for the IT work you do?

My background is pretty dull compared to yours. Went to school, taught school, raised a family, worked in an office and then retired. Have never been further west than Indiana.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments It's not great literature, but there's a short story of mine published in this months issue of Sonar4, an ezine.
http://www.sonar4ezine.com/feb09.html



Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments For about 5 years, I didn't live or work on a farm - or not mostly. When I was 18, I joined the Army in the 82d Airborne. Not so much fun, except for jumping, the helicopter rides & rappelling. Then I took a couple of years to wander after that. Wandering was fun. I worked my way out to the West Coast & slowly back East. I'd get odd jobs & stay a few months in a place & then move on.

Let's see, I built & put up playhouses for a while in Dallas & Huston, Texas for a guy. I saved up enough money to wander back & forth across the Mexican border for a month or so before landing in Tuscon, AZ. I got a job at a big mine as a framing carpenter that was south of there, about halfway to Nogales, Mexico. Then there was a flood up in Phoenix & I went up there for a while to work cleaning & fixing up.

I headed west again & had a long strange trip with a girl down Baja & back up the coast. Wound up in WA state where I put together a push mower out of parts from a junkyard & put a sign up in the local senior citizens center that I mowed yards & did yard work. I got to watch Mt. St. Helens blow & dealt with ash fallout. I also worked part time at a livestock auction & did artwork on door panels that I sold at a local tourist trap. Lots of hunting & fishing, too, with an old friend from the Army.

Then I headed east & wound up in Salt Lake City for a while. That didn't work out so well, so I went back to Dallas where I was a bartender in a disco bar where we all wore costumes. I was GI Jim & I dated the Swiss Miss. On the side, I put up play houses & installed/cleaned hot tubs part time. I shared a townhouse with 2 other girls, one of whom was crazy - literally.

Then I came back to MD & got a job taking care of a barn with a dozen yearlings - TB racehorses. It was a really cold winter & while helping to hot walk the horses in training, I met this short, fat gal, who really wasn't short or fat - just so bundled up that until we went out on a date, we didn't know what we looked like. My Mom told us about each other. That was Dec 81. May 8, 1982, we got married. 27 years later, we still are.

I don't like traveling any more. I lived in a bunch of places as a kid & traveled a lot then & after. Once I got married, I settled in & you practically have to light a fire under me to get me to leave the farm any more. Weird, I guess, but I've seen pretty much the whole country & really like where I'm at. No problem moving to KY 2 years ago, but now that I'm settled, I'm SETTLED.


message 28: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Did you always live on a farm, Jim? Was there any time when you didn't live on a farm? Your experiences are so very different from mine. I was a city girl. I grew up in Yonkers, NY and went to college in NYC. The only animals I had around me were dogs and an occasional cat.

My father and mother rode horses, but that was before I was born.

As for getting into trouble, the teachers always said I was a "joy". I was the studious type. (g)


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Joy H. (of Glens Falls) wrote: "I suppose the threat of having to muck out the stables would keep a boy behaving better. (g).."

I don't know why anyone would think that, but they made the same mistake. I've been mucking stalls since I was so small I had to use an old, cut down pitch fork. Making me work 1/2 day was easier than if I'd been at home for the weekend. Then I'd have to work two pretty full days doing the same stuff.

Anyway, most of the trouble I got in wasn't from thinking about getting into trouble, but from sheer exuberance & complete lack of thought. I rarely thought far enough ahead to stay out of trouble. I usually wasn't trying to get into it, just found it anyway.




message 26: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim, here's another review of the Sawtelle book which I agree with:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Seems there are quite a few people who feel the way I do.


message 25: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim, oh yes, I remember that card catalog well! What a pain in the neck! LOL How easy we've become spoiled!

I enjoyed reading about your detention chores... weeding the cemetery, etc ... LOL. I suppose the threat of having to muck out the stables would keep a boy behaving better. (g)

I found a couple of reviews of the Sawtelle book which I agree with. If you want to read them they are at the following links:

"Red's" review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

"Dad's" review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
(This one has some spoilers, but it's a good review, IMO.)

As I said elsewhere, my review is at:
Joy's review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Say, did you realize that the book reviews under each book's icon are arranged with the longest ones first? I posted a question about this at the Feedback Group. You can see the topic at:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/9...


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Remember researching by going through the card catalog, usually housed in a wood cabinet with dozens of long drawers filled with index cards? Or having to get the librarian to take you into the microfiche room? Trying to move that little negetive around so you could read through newspapers from decades ago?

I went to a fancy eastern prep school & seemed to be in fairly consistent trouble. That meant demerits, which meant 4 hour weekend detention. Besides raking leaves or weeding in the cemetery & doing extra chores around the horse barn, my typical weekend duties often consisted of going through the index card files & putting them in order.

On the Sawtelle book, I read through a lot of the reviews here. I'm going to leave it on my swap sites to get, but I'm not sure if I really want to read it. Sounds too depressing. I never liked Hamlet, either. MacBeth was good. Not Hamlet.


message 23: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Yes, Jim, I'm thankful for the availability of all the information at our fingertips online. I remember years ago wishing to be able to have access to info re books, movies, music, and everything else. We were limited by our distance from the info. Now the info is instantly available. The trick is not to be overwhelmed by it.

In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined the Internet. It's still like a miracle to me.

I used to go to the library and they'd fetch an opera recording on vinyl. I'd go into a little booth. Then I'd take the written libretto (English and Italian) and try to follow it along with the music. That didn't last long. (lol)

I remember when the reference room librarian in Yonkers would cut articles out of the paper and put them in folders for research purposes. LOL The Dark Ages. :)


message 22: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim, that's your call about the Sawtelle book. I know you would enjoy the parts about the dogs. I loved that part.

Below is a link to the flap of the book jacket with a description, to give you an idea of what you'd be getting into:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/00613...

The Amazon.com review says that the Sawtelle book is "a modern take on Hamlet". Does that tell you anything? It didn't mean anything to me until the end. You can have Hamlet!


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Joy, do you still think I should read the Sawtelle book? From your comments, it isn't climbing any higher on my list.

One thing we should all be very thankful for is our ability to find books now. What I went through with Farmer's books isn't likely to happen any more. Now I can do a quick search & find out all the news, get email updates & order any book I want from anywhere in the world, almost. That's just too cool.

Used to be if the library & book stores didn't have it in stock, it was a big deal to get them to order it or find out anything more. It could take weeks or months. How did we survive?!!!


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Jackie, I seem to recall a similar experience with the River World series. I don't know that I ever read them in order, though. Kind of piece meal.

I'm feeling that way about the 'World of Tiers' series right now which is very disappointing after all I've been through. The first book was great. The next couple of books were pretty good. The 4th book was good, but more of the same. Somehow, I'd built them up in my mind or maybe I just wasn't as picky of a reader when I last read them 25 years or so ago.

What really bugs me is that I recall looking for a last book to the series for over a decade since the 5th book ends on such a cliff hanger. I'd given up completely & suddenly found he had finished the series! My excitement & expectations exceeded the writing, I think.

I should know better. Too many series don't keep my interest going. Jack Chalker's "Well of Souls" series was another disappointment. I loved the first book & it petered out after that for me. There was another series of his that did the same (can't recall the name). I loved all four of his "Four Lords of the Diamond" series. That one came to a conclusion I didn't like, but it was done & pretty darn well, too. One out of three isn't a great average. His writing reminds me a lot of Farmer's.


message 19: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 14, 2009 10:26AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments I need a rest from reading after the Sawtelle book. I'm so glad to be done with it. I hate being pressured to read just because the book is due back at the library and can't be renewed. Pressure of any sort lessons the pleasure.

OTOH, sometimes it's the only way I'll read or finish a book. (g)


Jackie (thelastwolf) | 3934 comments Riverworld started out with an exciting premise, but it waned. He drew it out too long without being closer to the answers I had since the beginning. Possibilites but no answers. I like some sort of pay-off. I don't have to have all the answers right away but I would like some, LOL
I read the first 3, still have the rest of the series on my shelf, waiting for when I feel like reading them. Yes, the excitement has waned...


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Jackie, I'm reading another series by Farmer right now, but yes, I did years ago. I do recall Mark Twain in "The Fabulous River Boat". I'm reading his 'World of Tiers' series now. He wrote 5 books in it from 65 - 79 & then quit - on a cliff hanger - until the 90's when he wrote 2 more to finish it up. I just got them. I just started on book 5, "The Lavalite World" today at lunch.




Jackie (thelastwolf) | 3934 comments Jim,
Have you ever read Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series? Mark Twain is a prominent character in the few I've read. And what a character he is!

Joy,
For some books I hear about, I read out of curiosity because of what other's are saying. But mostly I read what appeals to me. For me, reading should be fun. It's a bonus if it's informative too.


message 15: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments I never saw anything wrong with comic books. They establish the idea that reading can be fun.

As Jackie said:
"Believe it or not, comic-books are ideal for young kids, of course they enjoy the drawings, and the stories are short and can hold their attention, short spans as they are, LOL. And it introduces them to the idea that reading can be fun.

I read comics as a kid and it didn't hurt my reading tastes, as far as I know. Since then I've ventured into all genres of reading. Many times I read books simply out of curiosity. I want to see what all the hoop-la is all about.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Jackie, we think too much alike. In another group, we were supposed to pick who are favorite historical person was. Guess who I picked?

Jim said, "Mark Twain is probably my favorite historical figure. He was quite a character & managed to make a decent living while enjoying life. He also managed to impart some common sense to the world in an enjoyable way. He's well remembered. To me, he epitomizes what a man should do with his life - live it well, have some fun & leave the world a little better for his presence."

Here's the link to the group & topic:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/6...


message 13: by Jackie (last edited Jan 14, 2009 07:46AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 3934 comments Quoting Jim: I think English teachers that cram 'classics' down the throats of young, impressionable kids should be publicly flogged. They scare kids off the idea of reading. It becomes work, a chore. Reading should be a pleasure first.

How true! And why is it some of the 'classics' are some of the most boring and dullest books I've ever read?
Mark Twain: "'Classic' - a book which people praise and don't read." AND "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read."

My parents let us read whatever we wanted. Maybe that's why I love reading so much, it's a choice and I have millions of books from which to choose from. We were never hampered in our reading choices. Believe it or not, comic-books are ideal for young kids, of course they enjoy the drawings, and the stories are short and can hold their attention, short spans as they are, LOL. And it introduces them to the idea that reading can be fun.
Eric doesn't like to read, (Shock and Horror for me) and I cringe whenever he is forced to read something dull for English class because it reinforces the idea that reading is boring, a chore. I wish they'd let me choose the books for him, at least I'd come up with something good yet entertaining. The only good thing is, I've read all those dull books they assign, so I engage him in a conversation about the book and try to find something interesting or a good point brought up by the book.


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments I don't know, Joy. I figure most authors are craftsmen. Those that pump out a couple of books a year probably are not artists, although Shakespeare seems to be an exception. Those books that can only be enjoyed by a privileged few could well be artists or just garbage.

I'm not really sure where the line is with my own work. It wasn't until a friend had my stuff reviewed by a museum that I began to think I might be. The museum's show was for 'artists only'. I made some money, so they can call me what they like. Doesn't change what I do.


message 11: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Hmmm, that's something to think about, Jim. When does literature become art? Also, when does writing become literature? I think I'm in over my head here. (lol)


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments A teacher who is enthusiastic & can bring the subject to life is a gem to be treasured. You were lucky to have her, Joy. I had a couple & remember a couple that my kids had. What a difference it can make!

I can also remember more bad teachers, unfortunately. One that my oldest also had. He absolutely ruined physics for both of us.


Joy, you quoted, "Now we're stuck with the notion that literature is beyond the reach of the ordinary reader -- in other words, the property of an elite."

If that isn't book snobbery, I don't know of a better definition.

Literature should communicate something to as many people as possible, I think. If it can't do that, it's a specialized art form & a matter of taste, not what I call 'literature'. Poets fit in the art category, rather than literature.

I understand specialized art forms a little. I make some, although I think of myself as more of craftsman. Still, my work has been judged as art by some. Anyway, my work is not to everyone's taste. No problem, that's what art is for. It will strike a chord in some, not in others.


message 9: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Interesting post, Jim. Yes, I guess we're talking about book snobbery, in a way.
Sounds as if you've got it all figured out. You make a lot of sense.

About Chaucer, I have one good memory. It's about a teacher who taught Literature 101 in college. She was so delighted with Chaucer that she passed on her enthusiasm in the classroom. (not that it lasted.) (g)

Anyway, she must have been in her 30s. She sat on the desk, swinging her feet. She quoted verses from Chaucer in his Old English style, using the accent in a sing-song fashion, as you would with poetry. The smile on her face showed her delight. Sometimes she would giggle at the humor in the lines.

So, although she didn't convert me to a lover of Chaucer, she helped me see what fun it might be for those who could enjoy it.

All the college kids wanted to get into her class. The room was overcrowded and the registrar sent a messenger saying that some of the students would have to be switched out of her class. She looked at the messenger and said, smiling in her joking way... (I'll paraphrase): "Oh, no... don't look at me to name the transfers... I only work here." (g)


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments Book snobbery is something I grew up with. My grandfather, who owned & edited a newspaper, was a book snob. I learned to defend against it early on & my defense has always been that I read for information & pleasure. If a book can't deliver either or both, why bother?

Agreed, we should try new things & push our limits occasionally. I'm really glad I read some Shakespeare, but I'm also glad I had the editions that had a page of explanations for every page of his text. After reading several plays, I could read others without the cheat sheets - at one time. Couldn't do it now.

I never understood why I should want to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, which Grandpa insisted was the only way to read it. Maybe it is, IF you understand Middle English. I didn't & don't & won't. The updated versions are fine. Sure, I missed some of the puns, but I wouldn't have gotten any of them if I tried it in the original. I'm not an English scholar & don't want to be.

I've never read 'War & Peace', 'The Brothers K...' or a ton of other 'must reads' & likely won't. I might read the Cliff notes so I can understand some references though. Too many books & too little time. Thank the gods for Cliff notes!


message 7: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 13, 2009 06:18AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Jim wrote: "Reading should be a pleasure first. Teach a kid to love reading first, worry about content second."

Amen to that, Jim.

You've probably heard me say this before, but the first book I remember enjoying was a book I found lying around the house when I was a teenager (around the late '40s or the early '50s). It was an old beat-up copy of _The Prince and the Pauper_ by Mark Twain. (Either that or _Little Lord Fauntleroy_ by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I can't be sure.)

I wish I still had that old book with the torn cloth cover. It represents a milestone in my life. It must... or why would I remember it as such a pleasure.

I used to enjoy reading fairy tales too. They helped get me started.

When I was very young, I remember wanting to get only picture books from the bookmobile. They had them in a jumbled pile on a wide shelf that opened outward on the outside of the bookmobile, near the ground.

I remember that, at the time, I wouldn't go near those "thick" books inside the bookmobile, stacked neatly on shelves.

Funny, there are still some books I won't go near. (g)


Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4037 comments I was just thinking along these lines. Mickey Spillane & Ernest Hemingway had a feud going on. Hemingway disparaged Spillane's writing, calling him a hack & other nasty names. Spillane always pointed out that he sold more books. Spillane said he was a writer, he wrote to keep smoke coming out of the chimney. He said Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book, Gone With The Wind.

I think English teachers that cram 'classics' down the throats of young, impressionable kids should be publicly flogged. They scare kids off the idea of reading. It becomes work, a chore. Reading should be a pleasure first. Teach a kid to love reading first, worry about content second.

I'll never forgive some of my teachers who tried to ruin reading for me. Three times they tried to force me to read The Red Pony, a horrible book that made me hate John Steinbeck's writing. It was an unreasonable & incorrect hate on my part. Luckily, I already loved reading & eventually came back & read some of his other stuff & found it pretty darn good.

William Faulkner is not someone I've ever had the desire to go back & try again. I like readable sentences. I believe that writing is about communication. Artificially long, convoluted sentences, exotic vocabulary or weird punctuation are not generally conducive to communication. It might be artsy, but it isn't entertaining nor informative to me - the two primary reasons I read.


message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 12, 2009 02:01PM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Becky wrote: "Thanks for the link Joy-I liked reading the other reviews-looks like a true love/hate!!"

Yes, Becky, I guess it's a war between the elites and the non-elites. (g)


Becky (BeckyMurr) Thanks for the link Joy-I liked reading the other reviews-looks like a true love/hate!!


message 3: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Becky, I'm posting links to that book and author, in case anyone is curious: ====>
The Maytrees: A Novel by Annie Dillard

The article by James Atlas says:
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"Now we're stuck with the notion that literature is beyond the reach of the ordinary reader -- in other words, the property of an elite."
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Sometimes I feel that way... and other times I say to myself... good... let the elites have it, if they want it. (g)


Becky (BeckyMurr) Funny-I had a friend recommend a book & I read it with my book group....I love words & I love reading & being challenged but at this point in my life I don't wantt o sit with a dictionary on my lap -sort of takes away from the story.....so I guess I know what he is saying....BTW-most of us hated the book & we all felt the same way, even the ones who liked it-too many words!! The book was The Maytrees....


message 1: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 12, 2009 07:19AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 11790 comments Back in 1997, James Atlas wrote an article for the NY Times Magazine. The article was entitled: " 'Literature' Bores Me". I saved that article. Now I've been able to find it on the Net.
You can see it online at: ====>
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http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E5DA1730F935A25750C0A961958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1
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Below is an excerpt:
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"Difficulty has become a virtue in itself. ''Gravity's Rainbow,'' ''The Sot-Weed Factor'' and David Foster Wallace's recent ''Infinite Jest'' are cult classics that have their fans, but do they have readers? I'd even put Faulkner in this category. Try as I might, I can't get past the first few pages of ''Absalom, Absalom!'' Writer friends have maintained that it's one of the great literary experiences. One confessed to envy me for not having read it yet; never again would he know the joy of first encounter. So how come I get bogged down right from page one by those mellifluous sentences unfurling for hundreds of words at a time? ''There would be the dim coffin-smelling gloom sweet and oversweet with the twice-bloomed wisteria against the outer wall by the savage quiet September sun impacted distilled and hyperdistilled. . . .'' Yeah, yeah."
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Above excerpt is from NY Times Magazine, 3/16/97.
See link above.
####################################################

Interesting, no?


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Maytrees (other topics)
Gone with the Wind (other topics)
The Red Pony (other topics)
Little Lord Fauntleroy (other topics)
The Prince and the Pauper (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

James Atlas (other topics)
Annie Dillard (other topics)
Mickey Spillane (other topics)
Ernest Hemingway (other topics)
William Faulkner (other topics)
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