January 14, 2011

April 2010

We certainly ended National Poetry Month with a bang.  Mick was kind to share some wonderful poems by handing out copies and by reciting several by memory.  We also shared some strange poems that made my eyebrows cross.  But it felt good to be surrounded by the spoken word.
Thanks also to Pam for bringing her friend Sharon.  New faces are always welcome.

On with the show:

Tale of Two Cities - Night Shadows excerpt - Charles Dickens
I Do Not Love You - Pablo Neruda
To a Stranger - Walt Whitman
The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost
Juliet - Hilaire Belloc
Jenny Kisses Me - Leigh Hunt
Harold Bloom
Wasteland - T.S. Eliot
Ash Wednesday - T.S. Eliot
Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
John Keats
How do I Love Thee - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Woodpile - Robert Frost
Ode to a Grecian Urn - Keats
The Murder of Two Men by a Young Kid Wearing Lemon-colored Gloves - Kenneth Patchen
In Just - ee cummings
The Red Wheelbarrow - William Carlos Williams
Little Chapel on the River - Gwendolyn Bounds
Stones into Schools - Greg Mortenson
Albert Schweitzer
Truman - David McCollough
Nice word:  swagly
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah
The Madonnas of Leningrad - Debra Dean
Russian Ark the movie
Truth and Beauty - Ann Patchett
Autobiography of a Face - Lucy Grealy
Bel Canto - Ann Patchett
Patron Saint of Liars - Ann Patchett
Secret Life of Eva Hathaway - Janice Weber
Unchecked and Unbalanced - Arnold Kling
Orson Scott Card:  Empire, Hidden Empire, Ender's Game
Sarum - Edward Rutherfurd
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Anyone for Tennyson? TV show  (wiki search this one - looks fun!)

Mary Lou from Maryland writes:
Recreational reading this month included a Fern Michaels trilogy presenting more of The Sisterhood’s accomplishments in vigilante justice.  For those of you who have not met them, the Sisterhood is a group of seven friends bent on achieving justice where the federal alphabet agencies have failed to do so and are, in fact, perpetrating injustices against the righteous.  The Sisterhood’s brand of justice is poetic indeed (e.g. fiberglass in a philanderer’s underwear) and these tales feature intricate plots, outrageous disguises, and a bizarre, ironic, and rollicking brand of humor.  Action centers on the DC area.  Michaels apparently ended her Sisterhood series of seven novels with Free Fall, when the sisters found it necessary to escape into exile abroad. This trilogy brings them “back by popular demand” made both to their author (literally) and to the now-famous Sisters (fictionally).  Their manager/agent is a miracle-working retired MI-6 operative on a first name basis with Her Majesty.  Hide and Seek (2007), Hokus Pokus (2007), andFast Track (2008) are definitely in the category of entertainment, not literature. 

Barry Unsworth, The Songs of the Kings (2002).  I thoroughly enjoyed Morality Play, so I looked for more by this author.  He does a superb job of researching his historical novels. This one is set in classical Troy at the time of The Iliad (now I have to re-read that) when the Greek fleet is held in the straits of Aulis by an adverse wind.  It gives us the back-story of Agamemnon and the famous and factional Greek chieftains under his command. The characterizations are very colorful and include, among others, the politically scheming Odysseus, the vain Achilles, the braggart Ajax, and an unnamed blind Singer (guess who).  Suspense derives from the search for a way to appease the gods for the unfavorable wind, the issue of Agamemnon’s sacrifice of this daughter Iphigeneia, and her response to her fate. 

Cara Black, Murder in Clichy (2005); Murder in Montmartre (2006).  Here are two more mystery novels featuring French-English Aimee Leduc and her partner in the Leduc computer security firm, Rene Friant.  Once again, Rene is alarmed and frustrated because Aimee can’t seem to confine her investigative activities to computer security rather than life-threatening murder mysteries.  The Paris settings are described in impeccable detail, as usual, with maps to help you find your way around the city.  Clichy features Far Eastern mysticism and ancient jade artifacts.  In Montmartre, Aimee becomes involved with Corsican separatists and the black ops French Security Service.  Both novels raise issues of trust and intrigue between rival French law enforcement agencies, all adversarial to Aimee(and truth and justice) in one way or another.

James McBride, Miracle at St. Anna (2002).  This is a fictional treatment of historic events involving Buffalo Soldiers of the army’s Negro 92nd Division in the mountainous Tuscan area of Italy toward the end or World War II.  The absurdities of war and chain of command are portrayed with an irony equal to Joseph Heller’s in Catch 22 with the added absurdities and inequities of racism.  McBride’s prose is a masterful and vivid, the characters are convincing, and the story brims with suspense.  Now I want to read his autobiographical work, The Color of Water. 

William Trevor, Felicia’s Journey (1994). Reading this novel was an increasingly uncomfortable experience.  Felicia is an innocent and sympathetic character, but the Mr. Hilditch she encounters is downright chilling.  The jacket compares the novel to the work of Hitchcock.  Unless someone reports a different experience with this author, I doubt I’ll look for any more of his work. 

See you next time May 26 when we'll have a SPECIAL GUEST!  Ty Roth, Port Clinton High School teacher, will share his experiences in the world of mainstream publishing and provide a preview of his debut novel for young adults.  From the Sandusky Register:
Thumbs UP to Ty Roth's literary ambitions, as the Port Clinton High School teacher seeks to reach smart teenagers in yet another way: Writing a book based on the lives of classical poets and geared to young adults -- one of the fastest growing market segments in book publishing, but one which in recent years gives short shrift to the intelligence of some of its customers.

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