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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure we're on the same track here, Georgia.

And I certainly wasn't attacking you. If anything, my comments were aimed at the author of the original statement. Sadly, as too often happens in todays world (thanks, in a great degree, to the nature of broadcast news), we live in a time of sound bites where self-evident commentary passes for profundity and knowledge comes from self-appointed experts who may have no credentials at all.

My point is that I am getting to an age where I see more and more touchstones of my youth going away. The same thing happened to my parents, and it will happen to my children and grandchildren.

This is the key to the whole point. We're not talking about a generational thing, as the original speaker meant it, but, rather a process, a continuum that is always personal.

Besides which, does anybody really know what a boomer is? I mean we're talking about a population of people born across a 20 year period. It's not reasonable to expect that they'd have much in common in terms of cultural and intellectual touchstones.
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Deste



Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 307
Location: Far, far away

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam Gopnik contributed a wonderful essay honoring J.D. Sallinger to a recent issue of The New Yorker: [url]http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2010/02/08/100208ta_talk_gopnik[/url.]

Ralph Ellison's reputation was made on a single novel, The Invisible Man, a hauntingly powerful, angry book that put forth a voice that really hadn't been heard before in a story so much of its time that its historical significance matters as much as its literary merit. And if Willa Cather had only sent *My Atonia* to a publisher, it would have been enough for me.

While Carson McCullers' two books about young girls (*Member of the Wedding* & *The Heart is a Lonely Hunter*) or even Ray Bradbury's *Dandelion Wine* resonated with me more than *Catcher in the Rye* when I was a young teenager, I remember rereading *Catcher* right after college and being was blown away. Just needed to get past the age of the protagonist, but not so far away that the novel lost its immediacy.

I, too, loved the stories best, but there is something to be said for writing one work of fiction that matters. Humbling, really. Just one really good, true thing.
* * *
Anyone read anything really good lately?

I've forced myself dutifully through a few books such as Coetzee's *Elizabeth Costello* which I found brilliant and interesting up to a point, but far less engaging than I wanted it to be. Intellectual, self-consciously literary writing that is about itself (meta-fiction) doesn't usually engage me. Especially impatient with all the animal-rights stuff.

On the other hand, the third of David Pirie's mysteries that take the young Arthur Conan Doyle as his hero got me through a major bout of cabin fever. I've just started *Charlotte Gray*, my first work by Faulks. *The Dream of Scipio* is on the shelf (Ian Pears) and just in at the library, waiting, is *Alice I Have Been* in which Melanie Benjamen explores the life of Alice Liddell (Lewis Carroll's Alice).
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, Deste..I'm always glad to see familiar names here after time has passed.
Thank you for that link--of course reading the column made the longing to read Salinger again even worse! Here is some info on one-book writers,
http://dgmyers.blogspot.com/2009/03/one-book-authors.html Of interest, I thought. I knew about Gone with the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird, but not the others. (Margaret Mitchell died in her forties, and Harper Lee is still alive, but 80+.)

I do have a little book that you recommended --non-fiction--
"Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy" -- but it is unopened on the shelf! (Actually, it is full of the art/illustrations of the time--wow. I will read the words too someday!)
I hope everyone here has at least sampled Dick Francis--what fun! (A mystery writer who just died, not a one-book author!
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with Dick Francis is that his stories were turned into what is arguably the most boring TV series ever filmed.

Alas!
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KYHeirloomer, why do you say that there is a "problem with Dick Francis"?
I know you are writing a book yourself, about food in detective stories. Have you read the Dick Francis novels?

I'd hate for anyone to miss out -- if you aren't familiar, Dick Francis has several awards for mystery writing, English and American (an Edgar Alllan Poe award 3 times!) but never mind that, his books are intelligent and entertaining reading. The TV show doubled the American book sales, according to the New York Times. The books almost all use horseracing as a backdrop (not my world, but sure kept me reading!)
The center of horseracing here in the US is probably Kentucky, his English books sometimes wandered there.
I enjoyed these books every bit as much as the 8 bookillion Agatha Christie novels I've read, but my favorite detective story remains "Trent's Last Case" by Edmund Bentley. (Agatha Christie called it one of the 3 best detective stories ever written. I've never been able to figure the other 2 she had in mind. Maybe 2 of her own?)
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ginger, you need to reread my post. You'll find that yes, I said there is a problem with the Dick Francis books. But I also defined what that problem is.

I'm glad to hear that the TV show increased book sales. Maybe some of the folks who went that route discovered how good the books are.

Of course there's nothing new about that problem.

Spencer For Hire managed to keep to the spirit of the books. But that might be because Parker was involved in the screenplays. Some of the Agatha Christie films (and at least one of the TV series) pulled it off as well. And we can include the short-lived Nero Wolf series.

But by and large, a genre that should translate perfectly to the small screen somehow doesn't.

Are you old enough to remember The Thin Man series? Yawn! Or the series based on Ellery Queen's stuff? Or Roger Moore as the Saint? Or, more recently, the made-for-TV Jesse Stone films. Or......well, I rest my case.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to One Hit Wonders...Wuthering Heights...The Bell Jar...Confederacy of Dunces...Mary Shelley's Frankenstein...even Proust's In Search of Memory, while multi-volumes, is considered one book...

Is dying young a prerequisite? Except for Salinger and Harper Lee, most of these writers didn't have much of a chance to produce more work. Suicide, consumption, war (Anne Frank comes to mind, even though a diary is not a novel...one still wonders what that talent might have accomplished...)...life did not stretch out before them.

Deste, you ask if anyone is reading anything these days. I recently read Richard Russo's "Bridge of Sighs" and thought it worth the time. He also wrote "Nobody's Fool" and "Empire Falls" and has an appreciation of ordinary people, everyday life. I'm not a huge fan of contemporary fiction--my heart still lies in the 19th century, I'm afraid--but am always open to well written, character-driven modern works. All suggestions appreciated.

Right now, I'm deep into Bliss Broyard's "One Drop". She's the daughter of the late literary critic Anatole Broyard, who kept from his children the truth of his black-Creole background. In searching out her family history, she must also understand her own feelings about race and family and society. Very well written (no one-hit wonder), moving, and thought-provoking.

A couple of others:

Annette Gordon-Reed's "The Hemingses of Monticello", a look at the family of Sally Hemings (did I recommend this one before? If so...apologies)

and

"Yours Ever: People and Their Letters", by Thomas Mallon, a charming, intelligent, entertaining look at written communication. Read it and you'll long to sit down with a letter (not email, Facebook, or -- god forbid -- a tweet) from a good friend or, better yet, to write one yourself.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know this is near literary heresy but I would sooner sew my eyes shut than be forced to read one more page than I already have of Proust. How this turgid 'novel" peopled with insipid and/or horrible characters managed even to be published is beyond me. I actually read the first 200 pages or so and literally tossed the book across the room and vowed I'd never return to it! i recognise that the French original may well be a model of beautiful French, but everything lovely about it is lost in translation. (my humble apologies to all who love the work, it is just my own opinion)
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can understand swearing off Proust, David, but there's a bigger question here...did you also swear off madeleines?? That would be a shame!
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Mmel'ours



Joined: 10 Nov 2009
Posts: 41
Location: Chicago suburbs

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, David, do you want the long or short list of classics that I've read after much hype only to despair over humanity and collective taste or lack there of? Rolling Eyes

Seriously, I'm bouncing back and forth between a Jane Austen collection and Real Food by Nina Planck. The latter is an advocate of eating as our ancestors did and offers some compelling hard science for why today's version of healthy food may not be what it seems.

And of course, my new copy of I Know How To Cook. Very Happy
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David,

Good for you, tho' obviously I agree with Georgia about swearing off madeleines! There is only such a thing as literary heresy among people who are snobbish about books.

For ages, I could not find a translation of War and Peace that I found readable. Then Penguin brought out a 'new' translation and I read it with a great deal of pleasure - apart from the end where Tolstoy muses about God and Destiny and the like. It felt like unnecessary rambling when the story was finished.

I've also not been able to find a copy of Proust that I found readable. But there it is - some books you like, some you don't. Life is too short to force yourself to read a book that you feel you 'ought' to read. Put it down and read something you'll like, I say.

Mmel'ours,

Quote:
an advocate of eating as our ancestors did


I was going to try that, but I couldn't find a mammoth to throw my little spear at. Wink Well that and the sabre-toothed pussycat from next door kept eyeing me up for his lunch. It's tough eating as our ancestors did... and they don't let you in the supermarket with a spear either. Sigh!
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew this was a society of like thinkers! Phew, was a bit afraid I'd get crucified!

I'll never swear off a good cookie!

Griff! Rambling on is what Russian writers do!
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rambling on is what Russian writers do!

Have to disagree, David. If you had said, "Rambling on intermidably...." there'd be no argument.

That and using 18 names for every character.

Of course, when it comes to struggling through books you think you should read, let me introduce you to big Mr. Finnegan, of the stubborn hand.... I can probably still quote you the first graph from memory, being as I've read the damn book five times and have no more understanding after the fifth than I did after the first.

And, when it comes to bad literature masquarading as great writing, there's always the required reading list you're English teacher gave you in high school.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David what brought on the Proust oustburst? Is someone trying to make you read some?
Yeah, me too, I always think it's me when I can't enthuse over a classic. Some of them must be worth reading!
I just finished "The Gay Place", a very American political story, it started better than it finished, but is a good picture of a time/place. (Haha at least it matches all the movies I've seen about the same era!)
I'm juuust barely beginning "The Soul of a Chef" by Michael Ruhlman, have already learned 20 things about better kitchen organization..my mis en place usually just means I've been to the grocery in the last 3-4 days so might have most of what I need. Smile
Just randomly, looking over at my shelves, I can recommend "The Outermost House" by Henry Beston. "...a year spent on a Cape Cod beach...written in longhand at the kitchen table." Just beautiful, makes you pretty sure you'd be happy living there alone for a year too.
And "Being Dead" by Jim Crace. Two people (a couple) are murdered outdoors, and we get to know them interspersed with learning what happens to their bodies physically, scientifically as they lie in the dunes.
It's an odd, cool book.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GP, the Ruhlman books are terrific. I think you'll enjoy them.

In defense of unreadable novels, particularly those from the old canon...I think it's useful to remember that some of the literature we were assigned in high school and college served a multiple purpose, not the least of which was to help understand the progession of literature. Personally, I absolutely hated James Femnimore Cooper and gritted my teeth the 5 times I was assigned "The Last of the Mohicans" in some class or another, ranging from high school through graduate school. But, if you know that Cooper is considered the first "American" novelist, writing about American themes and the push into the wilderness, you might bring a different perspective to the assignment. Or not. Actually, I much prefer the movie version with Daniel Day-Lewis, which bears little or no resemblance to the original. But, hey...it's DD-L in buckskin. No complaint from me or most of the women I know -- and more than a few men as well.

Seriously, it's hard to keep perspective on some of the old stuff, but we all learned more than we want to admit from it. And KYH, as a former English teacher, college not high school, I can promise you each assignment had a higher calling Laughing

And I never assigned any Fennimore Cooper Wink
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