22 July 2012

Bits and Bobs (the 1918 edition)

Public Speaking with Fran Lebowitz
Until last night I didn't know who Fran Lebowitz was. I think I may have thought she was the photographer Annie Leibovitz. Turns out that isn't the case. She is a writer. Martin Scorsese has made a wonderful, hilarious documentary about Lebowitz that consists mainly of her talking to Scorsese and clips of Q&A portions of her public lectures, including one conducted by Toni Morrison. You may not always agree with her point of view (although I do more often than not) but she is a total straight shooter and really, really funny. She is a wonderful literary, cultural throwback to another time. This is definitely worth watching.

Recently I reposted my "A Century of Books" list asking for your help to fill in a couple of holes I had on the list. I couldn't find anything for 1911, 1918, 1921 and I was looking for something to bump DH Lawrence out of 1920. Many of you took the challenge and helped me find good stuff for each of those years except 1918. To be accurate, many of you suggested books for 1918 as well, but I had already read those fantastic books: My Antonia (Willa Cather), and The Return of the Soldier (Rebecca West), so I was still left with a 1918 hole.

That is until today when I saw a comment that Toward Infinity left on that post. TI pointed me towards Goodreads which allows one to do a search that returns the 200 most popular books (as rated by the Goodreads users who added the books to the GR database) for 1918. It really came up with some interesting titles.
  • A few I have already read: The Magnificent Ambersons (Booth Tarkington) and Eminent Victorians (Lytton Stratchey).
  • Many I wouldn't want to read.
  • Some non-fiction that sounded kind of fascinating like one called American Negro Slavery--I can only imagine what the perspective might have been on that with only about 60 years separating the end of the Civil War and the publishing of the book.
  • I also could add a Bobbsey Twin book, or one of the Forsyte Saga, but I am the kind of person who needs to start at the beginning.
But I also came across  a few that really caught my eye. How could I, or any My Porch reader, pass up a book called Patricia Brent-Spinster (Herbert George Jenkins). And there was another one called Confessions of a Young Man (George Augustus Moore) that apparently has a gay theme--from 1918 no less. [Update: The Goodreads info on the Moore book seems to be wrong, it wasn't published in 1918 and I'm not sure the theme is what the reviewer claims it is.] These are two that I am defnitely going to add to the list. Now if I can only find them.

Dodo Press
I couldn't help but notice that several of the books on the 1918 list were published by the Dodo Press. If I had a better memory, I would have recalled that Elaine wrote about the imprint about a year and half ago. Looks like a great resource for finding all kinds of out of print stuff. I am going to have to spend some time exploring.

I hadn't been on Goodreads for almost two years. I love it and I hate it. I love it because it is a great way to keep track of things. I hate it because it makes me go into OCD meltdown and consumes too much time when I could be doing something more interesting, like reading.

19 July 2012

Could this help with my Faulkner phobia?


I have not had success trying to read Faulkner's work. I read about 2/3rds of Absalom, Absalom in grad school. And then when Oprah read three of his, I bought the Oprah editions thinking if her viewers could do it, so could I. Except I didn't.

But now, the Folio Society has a version of The Sound and the Fury that uses colored ink to differentiate between the different time periods in the novel. I think I would find this quite helpful. But I don't think I am ready to pay $345 for one book from an author whose work has not proven successful for me.  I wonder if I could buy a cheap copy and get out the highlighters...

Apparently, this is the way Faulkner wanted to publish it but the technology of the time didn't allow.

15 July 2012

Reading Animals

The following post is a repeat of one from a year ago--part of the International Anita Brookner Day festivities. You may not like Brookner, but you would have to be a heartless person not to love animals reading Brookner.

When I was thinking up prizes for IABD I thought a photo contest might be in order. But I thought such a contest needed a little, um, focus. And so the pictures of your pet reading Brookner category was born. And the irony is not lost on me. I can't really think if there were ever any pets in an Anita Brookner novel--I rather doubt it--but doesn't it seem like her characters could all use the unrequited love of a pet?

So, here are the entries. If I am missing yours, please let me know. I feel like there is at least one more swirling around out there that I am forgetting.

My favorite blogging Boarder Collie, Deacon dresses up to read Brookner.
Roses Over a Cottage Door

This species of bear is generally fun lovinng but is also known for its quiet intensity.
Rupert is clearly mesmermized by Verity's copy of The Bay of Angels.

Unlike the typical Brookner character, Charles has an appetite.
The Reading Life

Ritchey and Hops obviously read at different speeds. But it looks like
they are both close readers. No doubt they assist Julia with her reviews.

Sandy comes to a particularly good bit in The Bay of Angels.
Michelle Foong

Roger takes a break from Lewis Percy
Chip contemplates eating the page once he has read it.
Luvvie's Musings

And, of course, Lucy. (And her indifference to Providence.)

Nothing Lacking Here

…it is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market…Hares have no time to read. They are too busy winning the game.
There is no denying that Anita Brookner found her fach and stuck to it. On my first read through all of her 24 novels, I often noted that I had a hard time telling one novel from another. But for some reason over the 14 years that it took me to read all of her novels, it always stuck in my head that the Booker Prize-winning Hotel du Lac was one of my least favorite Brookners. Having now re-read it, I am at a loss to understand why I felt that way. Granted, plenty of you haven’t liked it, but I think that may have had more to do with a general dislike for Brookner rather than anything specific to Hotel du Lac. Although I class myself as a rabid Brookner fan, something intensifying as I re-read her catalogue, I can understand why she is not everyone’s cup of tea.

But for those of us who do like her…

Brookner sets Hotel du Lac is in an unnamed Swiss town along Lac Leman/Lake Geneva in the waning days of the fall shoulder season as the town and the hotel look to close up for the winter. Edith Hope is a romance novelist who has done something scandalous that forces her to escape London until the furor dies down. Being a woman of means, one has to wonder why Edith installs herself in a rather lackluster, grey location with “unemphatic” scenery and poor weather, instead of travelling to some other more pleasant, dynamic location. Perhaps it is because a more interesting destination wouldn’t have provided the proper penance and reflection her acquaintances in England felt she needed. And frankly it also wouldn’t have suited a Brookner character very well. They tend to thrive, if it can be called that, on quiet and gray. True, Edith isn’t a typical Brookner character in some respects. Indeed she takes several decisions, including the one that caused the scandal and the one that ends the book, that belie the usual inertia of a Brookner heroine. Still, in Hotel du Lac we have plenty of compulsive walking: “…she carried on [walking] until she thought it time to be allowed to stop.”

In many ways Hotel du Lac is a treatise on the roles of women in society—at least as Brookner saw them in the early 1980s. It may not cleave to the tenets of traditional feminism, but it most definitely can be read as a gentle, quietly satirical screed against those social conventions that keep women playing to type and being defined solely by their relationships with men. We’ve all met Mrs. Pusey:
On those rare occasions when Mrs. Pusey was sitting alone, Edith had observed her in all sorts of attention-catching ploys, creating a small locus of busyness that inevitably invited someone to come to her aid.
Then there is Mrs. Pusey’s daughter Jennifer, outfitted like a queen (pink harem pants and an off the shoulder blouse—oh the 1980s) who serves as a kind of lady-in-waiting to her mother, while they both wait for the day when a suitable gentleman—someone interested in being the third in their mother/daughter sandwich—comes along to marry Jennifer. And then there is Monica, an eating-disordered woman about to be abandoned by a husband desirious of an heir that she is unable to produce. And Edith’s friend Penelope back in London who insists that a man is needed to legitimize Edith's existence. Even Edith’s romance novel readers, the tortoises, all waiting for the world to turn upside down and reward the slow and the meek.

Many times I reduce Brookner’s characters to caricatures of people who find it impossible to do anything about their lives. I don’t think Edith is that same kind of character. But I do think that the decision she makes at the end of the book--the right decision no doubt--may put her on a trajectory to be one of those people. I think that few of us are truly victims of circumstance. Instead we are victims of our own decisions. As I approached 40 I made some decisions that I thought would keep me from a certain kind of professional future. Now, five years later, I realize that despite having a bit of an enjoyable whirl and liking what I do at the moment, I am back on the professional trajectory that I thought I left for good at 38. The difference is my place on the trajectory is much less secure than it was back then. I could blame it on the bad economy and the short sidedness of the Tea Party, but in the end I made the decisions that led me to this place. I think Edith is rightly changing her trajectory, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up where she started.

11 July 2012

Do you remember Nancy?

Ernie Bushmiller's classic comic characters Nancy and Sluggo enjoying an ice cream.
Poet Joe Brainard (1942-1994) created more than 100 works of art using Nancy.  This is my favorite:

The other 99 can be seen in this book:

Book "Reviewing"

Sarah Palin's almost son-in-law Levi has nothing
to do with this post, but this picture came up when
I did a Google image search on "reading lots of books"
This year my work life has taken a turn for the intellectual, exercising my research and writing muscles for eight hours a day, five days a week. As a result I haven't had much mental energy to write reviews for this blog. I feel like I am in danger of of losing my status as a book blogger. Admittedly my reviews were never traditional reviews and, although some were pretty good with actual insight, they were pretty inconsistent in their approach, content, and quality.  I thought I might stop writing them altogether. Not to mention the fact that out of everything that I post about my reviews get the least amount of traffic and comments.


I originally started writing reviews here so that I could remember better what I had read. The other night I was updating my "Books Read" spreadsheet and there were a few titles on the list from this year which were like big blank spots in my brain. Clearly if I don't write something down, I run the risk of not remembering much about what I read. One could argue that if a book doesn't remain in my brain, it might not be worth remembering. But I have found that not to be the case.

So I have decided to make an effort to write at least a paragraph about each book I read. It might not make for scintillating reading for you, but it will at least provide a record for me to jog my poor memory.

Ward Just, an American C.P. Snow

The Translator is another interesting, well written novel by Ward Just. A former Washington Post reporter, Just has the knack for writing interesting stories intelligently intertwined with political intrigue. In this case the political slant is a young German who leaves Germany soon after the end of World War II to become a translator in Paris. He eventually meets and marries an American and the two make their lives as expats. For him it is the scepter of communist East Germany where his mother has chosen to make her home, and for her it is the pall of a brother killed in Vietnam and the tarnished power of the U.S. in the wake of the failre in Southeast Asia. Add in a developmentally disabled son, and the fall of communism and you start to get a pretty complex, but readable story.

This wasn't my favorite Just, I think he could have used a little editing, but overall enjoyable.

I think this 1992 review from The New York Review of Books makes an interesting and apt comparison to C.P. Snow.

Ward Just is in many ways the contemporary American equivalent of the late C.P. Snow. Like Snow’s, his novels are situated with great precision in the “real” world, realistically rendered, and they are concerned with power, with decision making, and with the far-reaching consequences of the decisions made. While they often include family conflicts—most poignantly those of fathers and sons (as in Snow’s The Conscience of the Rich and Just’s The American Ambassador, 1987)—the domestic struggle is nearly always placed within a larger, more public sphere. The ethical quotient in their novels is always high, for the choices made typically involve questions of loyalty to one’s colleagues or (as in Just’s Jack Gance, 1989) to one’s sense of personal integrity. Expert or “inside” knowledge plays a large part in the fiction of both men—Snow drawing heavily upon his experience as a scientist and civil servant, Ward Just upon his years as a Vietnam War correspondent and prominent Washington journalist.

Charles and Camilla, I mean The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins

I feel like Virago has really been coming through for me lately. It makes me want to stick to a steady diet of green spines. When I read the synopsis for The Tortoise and the Hare I was pretty sure of which characters I was going to root for. The plot centers on Evelyn, a 52-year barrister who takes an interest in his 50-year old tweedy neighbor Blanche at the expense of his beautiful younger wife Imogen. As uncharitable as it may sound, I was all set to be happy for Evelyn and Blanche for finding an age-appropriate relationship, thinking that Imogen must no doubt be some vapid, flighty, money grubbing, shrew. Instead I found myself furious at Evelyn and Blanche and all I could think of was the Charles - Diana - Camilla tragedy.

Was Imogen/Diana the perfect mate for Evelyn/Charles? No, but it was no fault of her own and it was unfair for Evelyn to expect Imogen to be someone she wasn't. Was she profligate with his money? No. Did she vamp around with other men? No. Did she provide the requisite son? Yes. Being older and more experienced, should Evelyn have known himself and his desires better before choosing a mate? Yes. Should Blanche/Camilla have stayed the hell away from a married man? Yes.

And the worst part is that Evelyn and Blanche never get their comeuppance. I found that part the most frustrating thing about the book. Evelyn was so awful to Imogen I thought for sure at some point there would be some coal in stocking. There is a ray of hope for Imogen in the end, but it didn't keep me from wanting some pain for Evelyn and horsey Blanche. Even with this frustration, I really enjoyed this book and found it emotionally compelling.

08 July 2012

Pictures I like (and Courtney Cox)

These magazine clippings keep getting moved around my office. I finally decided to tidy up some paper work and decided to finally scan these and then recycle the originals. And since I know my readers, I thought I would share them with you.

[UPDATE 7/9/12: Last night I Googled "Harland Miller" to see if this was a real Penguin title. It isn't. Turns out that Harland Miller is an author and painter. He has done lots and lots of paintings and prints of fantastic Penguinish covers. I really want one. Just do a Google image search on his name. The pictures that come up are many and great.]

Love, love, this painting. Do you think she reads?
(I know a Tasmanian and a Western Australian who will love this.)

I love how utilitarian these shelves are. I don't love the dead bear on the floor.

I love how this looks like someone really uses this office. Love the open dictionary, the real phone with
a handset that doesn't exacerbate my tennis elbow (I hate mobile phones for that reason).

How to make clutter pretty. I love the thought of poring over documents and photos that require a
magnifying glass, I love the cubbies, I love the rack of stationary, the pen holder, and the binoculars - for birds of course.

I want a messy bulletin board like that, but I am not sure if John will permit it...
And a map, who doesn't love a map?

Although my mind is well ordered, I don't necessarily like too tidy a bulletin board. But I like how this one suggests
a creative person. Plus it gives me a good idea of where to put my Emmy.

05 July 2012

I updated my list, but it still has a few holes

Simon made the button too. (At least I am assuming he did.)
When Simon and I had tea in last month in Oxford, I may have blamed him for exacerbating my OCD with his A Century of Books challenge. I was all set to abandon it, but I wouldn't let myself. I feel like I have to finish this list or I won't ever be able to read anything again. Sounds a little strong I know, but that is the way the mind is twirling right now.

It is clear that I won't finish all 100 years in 2012 like Simon plans to. I have only read a pitiful 29 books so far this year so it doesn't look too promising. I think I am going to remove the deadline entirely and replace it with the constraint that I can only read 20th century novels until the 100 years are all filled up. And on top of that I can only read from years that aren't already crossed off the list. This might be entirely foolish, but I seriously haven't been able to allow myself to read a pre- or post-20th century book since I opted into the challenge back in February anyway, so I might as well go along with it right?

I am not going to limit myself with the books I have listed here, but I did have fun fleshing out the list tonight. Many of the books on the list I already own so it gives me the added benefit of narrowing down my TBR pile. If some of the books look a little ominous it is because I filled in the gap with books from 1000 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and a lot of those aren't exactly pleasure reads.

I have tried to keep re-reads down to a minimum but there are a few on the list (Atwood, Brookner, Shields)

You will notice a few years are blank, perhaps you can help me fill them in. And if anyone can find an alternatively to Women in Love for 1920 I would be grateful. I am not sure I can go back to that one even though I am a 100 or so pages in. [Update: I have filled in the holes on the list with readers' suggestions, except for 1918, must have been a bad year for literature.]

I have already completed the one's that are crossed out. Those marked "ML100" are on the Modern Library's list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century, which I have been working my way through since 1997.

[List last updated 10/10/12]

1900 - Claudine at School by Collette
1901 - Claudine in Paris by Collette
1902 - The Immoralist by Andre Gide
1903 - The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
1904 - The Golden Bowl by Henry James (ML100)
1905 - The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin
1906 - Young Torless by Robert Musil
1907 - The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (ML100)
1908 - Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson
1909 - Martin Eden by Jack London
1910 - Impressions of Africa by Raymond Rousse
1911 - Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (M:L 100)
1912 - The Charwoman's Daughter by James Stephens
1913 - T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett
1914 - Dubliners by James Joyce or maybe Penrod by Booth Tarkington
1915 - The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
1916 - Under Fire by Henri Barbusse
1917 - Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
1918 - Patricia Brent - Spinster by Herbert George Jenkins
1919 - Consequences by E.M. Delafield
1920 - Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson
1921 - Dangerous Ages by Rose Macauley
1922 - The Judge by Rebecca West or Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf
1923 - The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy
1924 - Some Do Not by Ford Madox Ford (ML100)
1925 - Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
1926 - Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
1927 - Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards
1928 - Quartet by Jean Rhys
1929 - The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
1930 - Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestly or The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield
1931 - The Square Circle by Denis Mackail
1932 - Young Lonigan by James T. Farrell (ML100)
1933 - Frost in May by Antonia White or Ordinary Familes by E. Arnot Robertson
1934 - The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell (ML100)
1935 - A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1936 - Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner or Eyeless in Gaza by Huxley
1937 - Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson
1938 - Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan
1939 - Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
1940 - Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather
1941 - The Living and the Dead by Patrick White or Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
1942 - Clark Clifford's Body by Kenneth Fearing
1943 - Gideon Planish by Sinclair Lewis
1944 - Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp
1945 - The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
1946 - Every Good Deed by Dorothy Whipple
1947 - Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (ML100) or Not Now, but Now by MFK Fisher
1948 - The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
1949 - Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
1950 - Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
1951 - A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
1952 - The Far Country by Nevil Shute
1953 - Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
1954 - Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
1955 - The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
1956 - The Flight From the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch
1957 - Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
1958 - A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym
1959 - The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
1960 - The Bachelors by Muriel Spark
1961 - Stephen Morris by Nevil Shute or Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (ML100)
1962 - Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (ML100) or A Clockwork Orange by A. Burgess (ML 100)
1963 - The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy or An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym
1964 - Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
1965 - August is a Wicked Month by Edna O'Brien or Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
1966 - The House on the Cliff by DE Stevenson
1967 - My Friend Says It's Bullet-Proof by Penelope Mortimer
1968 - Sarah's Cottage by D.E. Stevenson
1969 - The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble
1970 - Troubles by JG Farrell
1971 - A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis or My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber
1972 - Augustus by John Williams
1973 - After Claude by Iris Owens
1974 - The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
1975 - Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Crucial Conversations by May Sarton
1976 - The Takeover by Muriel Spark
1977 - Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald
1978 - The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym
1979 - The Safety Net by Heinrich Boll
1980 - The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
1981 - Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (ML100)
1982 - Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
1983 - Look at Me by Anita Brookner
1984 - Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
1985 - Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
1986 - Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
1987 - Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
1988 - The Temple by Stephen Spender
1989 - London Fields by Martin Amis or A Natural Curiosity by Margaret Drabble
1990 - Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman
1991 - The Translator by Ward Just
1992 - Arcadia by Jim Crace
1993 - While England Sleeps by David Leavitt
1994 - The Longings of Women by Marge Piercy
1995 - Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
1996 - Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
1997 - Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty
1998 - The Book of Lies by Felice Picano
1999 - Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

03 July 2012


Belgian photographer Filip Dujardin has created a series of "photographs" of sometimes seemingly plausible, but totally fictional, buildings.  I would love to own one of these, but since the Metropolitan Museum of Art bought two of his pieces, it is unlikely I could ever afford to do so.

This is the one I mots covet. I could stare at it for hours.

Minus the cantilevered portion, this makes me think of a building in Tuscany south of Siena.

Moshe Safdie with a little Ralph Rapson thrown in for good measure.

I think I walked down this street.

My first thought was Hugh Newell Jacobson, but perhaps more likely to be H&dM again.

Perhaps Richard Rogers' Lloyds of London building?

01 July 2012

The Big Sleepy

A few years ago John bought me these wonderful, leather-bound Penguin editions. I had read all but one of them and those six books are among the best and most enjoyable books I have ever read. So I thought it was time to take on the one volume that I hadn't read, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Not being able to bring myself to subject one of these beautiful editions to my less than delicate hands, I went to the public library and found a beat up old paperback edition to read.

I knew even before I started that The Big Sleep wasn't going to be my cup of tea. But, since so many you love the book and think that Chandler is a master at what he does, I at least thought that I could appreciate it for what it is. I was wrong. By page 94 (of 231) I was so bored (and annoyed) by all the sexy dames and the corny, clich├ęd, Cagney-like dialogue I couldn't imagine enduring one more minute of it.

What is worse is that my urge to check this one off my list was so strong that I kept forcing myself to plod through it at the expense of other more interesting books. So to save myself the boredom and free myself to read other things I put the library reading copy into the DNF (did not finish) pile. Meanwhile, I put the beautiful Bill Amberg edition back on my shelf next to the others. But in my mind I put the title in a new DNR (do not resuscitate) pile. I won't be giving this one a second go. I will never be in the mood for it.

Another book joining the DNF/DNR piles
After a run of good books recently, I was a little nonplussed that The Big Sleep wasn't the only book that was slowing my reading pace.  Although I found bits of Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther charming, it is more of a collection of vignettes than it is a novel and it just wasn't enough to keep my attention.

When the Forward is more like a Forewarned
I normally don't normally read forwards or prefaces and for good reason. As much as I tried, I could not get into Margaret Bonham's collection of short stories, The Casino. I fear it was the preface that did me in. It was written by Bonham's daughter Cary Bazalgette and told how Bonham was an unfeeling, neglectful, abandoning, selfish, self-involved mother. Normally this wouldn't have much of an effect on me but when slivers of the truth emerged in the stories I had a hard time having any sympathy for the some of the characters. I may return to this one at some point but no time soon.

Lucky me I finally finished Lucky Jim
Another "this should have been my thing" kind of book but my overall impression was ambivalence at best. I had even read half of this book many months ago and lost interest. When I picked it back up, I decided to start over. I enjoyed it slightly more, but not enough to care. Frankly, I think David Lodge does the comic academic novel better than Kingsley Amis, yet Lucky Jim is on the Modern Libraries list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century. Hmph.

Virago saves the day
I guess I could characterize this all as a reading slump. After all the Struthers and the Bonham should  have been right up my alley. But it didn't feel like a classic slump--the urge to read was too strong. The Janet Frame book I mentioned last week was part of pile of stuff that wasn't doing it for me. But I also have two or three started that just aren't going anywhere for me. After The Ladies of Lyndon, I had a strong urge for another Virago but was resisting picking up another one because I wanted to do a bit of clean-up by finishing all of the books in progress. When I realized the effect this was having on my urge to read I tossed them all aside in favor of The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins which I am loving. Thanks Virago.

When good trees go bad
Last Friday we had quite the storm in our neighborhood. I say our neighbhorhood because it really was a bit of a microburst that didn't seem to have much effect on adjacent neighborhoods or the rest of the city. Three doors down and across the street from us, one giant oak decided to attack two houses. Thakfully the big storm that hit the DC area this weekend didn't do too much in our neck of the woods.

Gratutitous Photos
More of John's garden...

That's Lucy in the background