Hello from beautiful Oregon. It is my last day here as I head off to home tomorrow. I stayed extra days to pick up youngest for his spring break and bring him down to his grandparents. He loves spending time here and I love to watch him interact with two of the most important people in my life. I had a lovely day on Thursday visiting my two favorite used books stores and scored big. I got several Barbara Pym novels as I finished Excellent Women and want to read some of her other work. I think when I get all done with them I should have a Pym give-away. I also picked up At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor (my mom is reading it now) and was very please as I am finding her work difficult to come across. I also picked up some other odds and ends that have been on my list for a very long time. And I picked up a copy of Sherlock Holmes for a friend of Eldest. He likes to read but finds it very slow going so library books don’t work for him. He has just finished The Portrait of Dorian Gray and expressed a desired to read Holmes’ stories.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
My mother, like many good readers, keeps a list of books that she wants and I frequently refer that list to my dad when suggesting presents for him to purchase. This Christmas one of those books was called The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. “Too late” said my dad – turns out he had already ordered a copy for himself. I just picked this book up yesterday to suggest it to youngest if he had any time to read over break (he has a ton of homework to do). And now I have come across a wonderful review of the book by Stefanie of So Many Books that makes me want to tuck the book away in my luggage. The book is is about a scholar who in the year 1417 rediscovers the “last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius—a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.” The work by Lucretius had a tremendous effect on art, science, and philosophy all outlined in what is called a highly readable work of non-fiction.
The Sense of an Ending won the 2011 Booker Prize and is one of the books on the short list that I want to read. Gavin of Page247 and Matthew of A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook both give it worth reading reviews. Matthew calls the novel, “a poignant portrait of the costs and benefits of time passing, of friendship and love, in particular love, how it validates and vindicates life.’ And Gavin writes, “(is) one that I wanted to read in one sitting and, when finished, knew I wanted to read again. It is elegant, sometimes funny and always disturbing, offering insights into youthful mistakes, loss and memory. It is a mystery, deeply emotional and psychological. It feels true.” Tony Webster is a retiring divorced man all set to enjoy his last years when he receives the diary of friend Adrian who committed suicide shortly after graduation. The diary forces Tony to look at events from a different perspective and rattles his carefully ordered life he has set up for himself.
Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman has just won The National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Pearlman (born in 1936) is a prolific and award winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. I have never heard of her but Trevor of The Mookse and the Gripes has “read about five of the stories in Binocular Vision and can only say that I hope this win gets Edith Pearlman read more — it’s excellent.” I consider Trevor is one of the best reviewers of short fiction I have come across and his recommendation is good enough for me to look for this book. The collection includes the best of previous collections as well as new stories.