January 14, 2011

March 2010

There's something about living near a frozen lake in March.  For months we stare at a still moon surface and we get a little stir crazy.  Then the ice melts and starts moving.  We see signs of life.  A ship here, a diving bird there.  No wonder we brought poems that invoked beaches and sun and of course a little Dorothy Parker.  Ah, that was nice we all said.  But we need a little challenge!  So next time your mission if you choose to accept it is to bring a poem you don't understand.  Practice your pensive pose and see you next time!

Maggie and Milly - ee cummings
Beach Attitudes - Robert Dana
Morning - Rob Smith
Somebody's Gone - Charles Henri Ford  (from Tom:published in his 1941 book, "The Overturned Lake," and reprinted in "Flag of Ecstasy: Selected Poems" (1972). I've been trying for years to keep him from sinking into total obscurity.)
Oscar Wilde, Pig's Eye View of Literature, Superfluous Advice - Dorothy Parker
Poetry - Marianne Moore
TS Eliot
Walt Whitman
Rod McKuen
Botany of Desire - Michael Pollan
Ezra Pound
Secret Life of Eva Hathaway - Janice Weber
Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
Man on Wire movie about Phillipe Petit
Ruby's Spoon - Anna Laurence Pietroni
Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50
Book Lust - Nancy Pearl
Private Patient - PD James
Edgar Sawtelle will no ever learn?
Truman - David McCullough
Holy Bible
Rocket Boys - Homer Hickam Jr.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt
Kitchen Chinese - Ann Mah
Riding the Iron Rooster - Paul Theroux
Dead Hand:  A Crime in Calcutta is the new Theroux book we were trying to think of
The Help - Kathyrn Stockett
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Imitation of Life movie
The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver
The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Animal Vegetable Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
Corresponding with authors such as Joyce Carol Oates and Stuart Woods
Bill Bryson

From Mary Lou who has returned to Maryland with her Robert Frost poem:

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day,
Nothing gold can stay.

I’ve now finished reading all that I have of the Alexander McCall Smith Ladies No.1 Detective series, stopping with No. 9, The Miracle at Speedy Motors.  I continue to enjoy how Mma Ramotswe’s mind works.

Tony Hillerman’s memoir Seldom Disappointed (2001) was a delightful surprise.  He presents the hardships of his rural Oklahoma boyhood, the absurdity of his WW II experiences both military and medical, the political climate of his work in journalism and academia, his success in publishing nonfiction, and finally his emergence as the novelist who introduced us to Navajo Country.  His first novel, however, draws on his journalist experiences, drawing its title The Fly on the Wall (1971) from Walter Lippman’s instructions to journalists as to their proper role.  This is an action tale with some of the qualities of an early Ludlum novel but even in this early venture into fiction, Hillerman’s description of natural setting is superb. Hillerman tells us that the novel he counts as his best is another departure from Navajo country, Finding Moon (1995).  For this one, the setting is principally the Philippines and Cambodia at the time of the fall of Saigon. 

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire (1968) is a series of essays based on the author’s experiences as a seasonal park ranger over several summers in the 1950s in Arches National Monument near Moab, Utah.  Abbey enjoys his solitary life in and around a trailer in a remote part of the park.  He vividly describes the terrain and its plants and animals, his daily routine, and the improvements he makes to add comfort to his campsite.  His accounts of encounters with tourists are humorous and he chronicles his efforts to delay and obstruct the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to build roads and encourage tourism in this wilderness.
Clive Cussler, Iceberg (1975). This thriller set in the North Atlantic features vintage airplanes and military intrigue.  The plot is intricate, as we expect from Cussler.

M.F.K. Fisher, Sister Age (1984). This is a collection of autobiographical vignettes and anecdotes some of which previously appeared in The New Yorkerbetween 1964 and 1983.  Many concern the author’s observations of elderly individuals during her travels to and around Europe, often with her children.  The title is based on a decrepit portrait of Ursula van Ott that Mary Francis rescued from a junk shop in Zurich and carried with her everywhere for years.  She had an abiding interest in older individuals and how they dealt with the aging process.  Despite its dominant theme, this is not a somber book.  It is sometimes humorous and consistently entertaining.  

The book club might move back to Tuesdays - I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime here's a page with some fun ideas and links on how to enjoy National Poetry Month also known as April.  Anyone up for a game of Exquisite Corpse?


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