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What are you reading?

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dirac, you're right about Shaara Sr.'s portrayal of Lee - it was pretty bad :)...and he couldn't have been that old then could he? And, by the way, thanks for the absolution in re "The Corrections" ;).

'Watahmill', thanks for the tip.:)

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I've read Kay Redfield Jamison's "An Unquiet Mind" but not her "Touched With Fire". That discussion reminded me of another wonderful book I recently read, called "A Shining Affliction" by Annie G. Rogers. It's the author's true story of her psychiatric internship while at Harvard. She was working with a severely disturbed 5 year old. That experience triggered her own descent into psychosis. The book tells of both her work with this child and of her own mental illness and healing. It also issues a fairly scathing criticism of the field of psychiatry.

What I love most about it, however, is the writing itself. Rogers's prose is different; she uses words and phrases in new and interesting ways that had me savoring each tidbit.

Another quartet of lovely books that deserves mention are Madeleine L'Engle's autobiographical "The Crosswicks Journal". Their stories span much of her lifetime. I took them to bed with me nightly, trying vainly to make them last.

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vagansmom, I had forgotten all about L'Engle's "Crosswicks Journal" - loved them and know exactly what you mean.

I'll tell you one thing this thread is doing for me - reminding me that I'd better up my reading quota for the day!! I've fallen way behind.

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I was surprised to read your negative comments on The Corrections, BW and dirac. I found it thoughtful, poignant, and frequently hilarious. It's true that the first chapter is extremely tedious, but it's not at all representative of the rest of the novel. If you skip it, dirac, you'll find that the rest of the book is lively, rich in character and incident, and often hysterically funny. By the end I felt I knew the Lamberts inside out, and hated to part with them.

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Ari, my "absolution" comment was more of a jest than anything. In the past I used to feel that I hadto finish a book whether I felt like it or not... Sometimes you just need different kinds of books at different times. "The Corrections" may yet emerge from the pile at my bedside.:)

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Originally posted by Watermill

Reading Cynthia Ozick's "Messiah of Stockholm".  The prose is so luscious, I find I'm slowing down to make it last longer.  Haven't done that since McCourt's Angela's Ashes.

Just wondering if anyone other than I was unimpressed by Angela's Ashes?

It was given to me as a gift by a person who raved about it. Many people whose taste I respect thought it was wonderful. I wasn't able to finish it.

A good deal of my difficulty with the book came from my grandmother, who often railed against the "shanty" Irish--McCourt's people. She felt her family was just a step away from them. She picked it up this fear from her mother, my great-grandfather. He slaughtered sheep in the stockyards, a job he was (apparently) lucky to get.

There were lots of stories about men like McCourt's father--men who were "with drink taken" or who "became drunk" (as if you could catch inebriation like you could catch a cold) and who kept their families living in squalor while they hoisted one (of many) at the corner tap while telling lies about Ireland.

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As Boston (lace-curtain) Irish I found Angela's Ashes so immediate in its cadence and humor, that I was taken by it from the first page. I totally understand and share the repugnance you felt towards the horrid drunken father, Ed, but I felt it was handled with such a wise and gently humorous child's point of view that I found myself cying alternately from sadness & laughter. This, by the way is a particuliarly Irish affliction. Throw in my obsession with the Boston Red Sox, and you will quickly guess that I may not be all that reliable a literary critic. But I'm still proud of my ripe combustible combination of melancholy, mischief & Martyrdom!

(Not to mention a horrible habitual alliteration addiction)


Descendant of Dublin Tavern Keepers

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I read very little, so little books appeal to me. The "Odes of Solomon" is a very small book of psalms assembled and probably written in the 1st century. I think the whole thing can be found on the internet.

The 34th ode starts like this "no way is hard for the simple heart..."

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I read this book while in Limerick visiting someone who went to school with Malachy McCourt, Frank's brother. This Irish friend found it supremely puzzling that anyone would want to read about such doings - in fact, many of the Irish people I met that summer felt the same way. Much ado about nothing, in their eyes.

But I loved the book. Part of it was probably due to my being in Limerick - I even searched out his early neighborhood but in vain. (There's now a walking tour in Limerick devoted to "Angela's Ashes"). But I also loved the language of the book; I've always delighted in the Irish accent and McCourt's prose captured it so well.

I also loved how McCourt, in a classically Irish manner, found great humor in such misery - the Irish have a knack for that. Throughout that summer, I met individuals who told me stories that had me simultaneously laughing and weeping, much as I did while reading that book.

I didn't like "'Tis" though. I thought he was still using the voice of a child while describing his adult life. That voice worked well in his first book but not in the sequel. I read it because I was interested in McCourt himself, wanted to know what he did in his later life, but his style prose, for that book, seemed all wrong.

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Far be it from me to condone drinkers, but those tippling dads did have their own problems. Perhaps we should be more charitable. :) Not having read the book, I can't say for certain. I confess I went out of my way not to. I thought, "Ah, more picturesque Irish squalor. A must to avoid!" I'm sure I was wrong, of course.

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The subtitle of this book by Francine Prose is "Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired." I started reading it today and naturally enough began on Page 297, with the chapter on Suzanne Farrell. The chapter is nicely written and cogent. It is also based entirely on Farrell's autobiography, Holding on to the Air, and on the film Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse. So then I went back and read the introduction, where there is this paragraph I liked:

"Perhaps uniquely in the lives of the muses, the partnership of Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine suggests that the roles of inspired and inspirer, artist and muse, can be divided and shared between a man and a woman, two artists collaborating to produce work that neither could accomplish alone. But this blurring of boundaries was not expressly acknowledged. Farrell was inevitably described as Balanchine's muse, and no one seems to have proposed that the reverse was also true."

I'm sure I'll enjoy the book. The other eight muses are Hester Thrale (Samuel Johnson); Alice Liddell (Lewis Carroll); Elizabeth Siddal (Dante Gabriel Rossetti); Lou Andreas-Salome (Friedrich Nietzche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Sigmund Freud); Gala Dali (Salvador Dali); Lee Miller (Man Ray); Charis Weston (Edward Weston); Yoko Ono (John Lennon).

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Odd grouping in some ways. Funny she left out the Schumanns. And, with all due respect to Farrell, I imagine no one proposed the reverse because while Balanchine's greatness was already assured by the time he met Farrell, it's by no means clear what might have become of her without him. (I'm not saying she would have lapsed into obscurity, please note.) The same could be said of John and Yoko, for example, although I don't think anyone would regard his work with her as the artistic summit of his career. :)

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I have to agree with Vagansmom -- it's the tone of the language that is so captivating. Maybe the book reads differently for those of us who have been fortunate enough to travel in Ireland.

And, I agree with you about "'Tis". I always wondered why I didn't like it so much, and you've provided a nice analysis, about the voice not working for an adult.

Are you all able to keep up with reading now that the summer is over? I envy anyone who can. I'm back to correcting papers at night ...

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In my usual tunnel-vision fashion, I'd never heard of this book till this thread. And because I rarely read best sellers WHILE they're best sellers, I thought no, maybe I'll read it later if it stands the test of time...

..till a friend whose opinion I value highly thrust it into my lap. She'd just read it, the book had two more days left before returning to the library, and she wanted me to read it.

So I read it this week. It's been three days now since I closed the book and I find that it shadows me. While reading, I spent most of my time hopeful for something good to have come of such violence. By the end, surprisingly, I found the story uplifting.

Does anyone know if it's true that Sebold was herself badly assaulted as an adolescent and the policeman told her she was "lucky to have lived" because the attacker had killed others? And that's why her first book is called "Lucky"?

Just checking.

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Oddly enough, a friend of mine gave me "Lovely Bones" yesterday as a thank you present for taking care of their array of animals while they were away. He'd read it and thought it was incredibly good - he did mention that the author had been raped while she was in college - which is apparently, in part, what "Lucky" is about.

Mme. Hermine - I will make a note of the book you mentioned: "Down all the Days" - I loved the movie My Left Foot. Thanks for the recommendation!

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I am currently reading Toni Bentley's "Sisters of Salome", the lives of four women, briefly told: Maude Allen, Mata Hari, Ida Rubinstein and Colette who danced the role of Salome and were part of the 'Salomania' craze at the turn of the 20th century. Bentley tells their stories well and it is a fascination read. Next on my list is the life of Karen Kain; Movement Never Lies: An Autobiography.

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dirac I agree about the production values of "Movement Never Lies". It is very well illustrated and produced. I saw her dance twice--she was terrific as Odette/Odile and also in "Don Q".

Excellent book, as are many dance biographies.

To Fondu65 and anyone else reading "Sisters of Salome"...please consider posting your thoughts on Toni Bentley's latest. Would love to read them.

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I do think photos are very important to dancers' biographies. The photographs in Kain's book are not only plentiful and well reproduced, but give you a good sense of her as a performer, how she looked with her various partners, etc., insofar as it's possible for pictures to do that.

One of several things that disappointed me about Farrell/Bentley's "Holding on to the Air" was the paucity of photographs, and those few not especially well chosen, IMO. You'd think with a glamour girl like Farrell, someone would have been more sensitive to that.

Gee, Ed, you and your stripper books. :) I am going to look at the Burana book on your recommendation. Will report back.

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"Lucky" is actually the true story of the author's rape that occured her freshman year of college.

It's named "lucky" because the area she was raped was also the spot (on another occassion) where a young girl was murdered, so when she reports the rape the police told her she was "lucky"

it's a good book, I think it's meant more as a book of support for those who have gone through it, it's very powerful and in an odd way, witty.

After Bones, I wondered how someone got such a unique idea. Lucky gives you some insight. Not for the faint of heart or weak in the stomach, but compelling none the less.

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I have just begun the distinguished biographer and ballet fan Robert Caro's third entry in his multivolume biography of Lyndon Johnson, "Master of the Senate." He is currently averaging about one volume a decade, so I hope he can step up the pace a bit. But then, he does not rely on a small army of research assistants....

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