Saturday, September 8, 2012

Random Books

Enclosed are a bunch of books I've either read or listened to recently.  Reading is like a relative of running for me in regard to "therapy" and "happiness".  Reading allows me to get away, to be alone and to just be me in my choices of what to read and when to read.  It gives me genuine happiness and a book is a like a "good friend" for me.  So here is what I've been "friends" with recently.

I had been wanting to read this book for awhile.  I am interested in reading about Paris and/or France, because I hope one day to visit there.  Anyways, I decided to try this book out as my new running buddy over the past few weeks.  It was a great running buddy.  It entertained me through many runs including an 18 miler, 12 miler, 15 miler, and other shorter ones.

The below taken from the author's own website for The Paris Wife.  I don't think it gives anything away and supports why I so enjoyed the book- its Historical Fiction- YES!

PAULA McLAIN ON FACT vs. FICTION IN THE PARIS WIFE

Ernest and HadleyIn Ernest Hemingway's introduction to his memoir, A Moveable Feast, he writes, "If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact." I'm hoping my novel will work to illuminate not just the facts of Ernest and Hadley's years in Paris, but the essence of that time and of their profound connection by weaving both the fully imagined and undeniably real.
When I began to research my book, beginning with biographies of Hemingway and Hadley, and with their delicious correspondence, I knew the actual story of the Hemingway's marriage was near perfect; it was a ready-made novel, ripe for the picking. I didn't have to invent a plot for them, nor did I want to. My work would be to use the framework of historical documentation to push into these characters' hearts and minds, discovering their motivations, their deepest wishes.

There is more within the website for The Paris Wife. I recommend the site after you are done with the book.
The next book I want to highlight should follow the above because reading the above encouraged me to seek this book out and read it.  I had been wanting to read some of Hemingway's books for awhile (I read Farewell to Arms in high school, but had not read any of his others).  So due to the above taking place when he wrote The Sun Also Rises that was only sensible to follow The Paris Wife.
Here is Wiki's take on the book: 
The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to theFestival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early and enduring modernist novel, it received mixed reviews upon publication. Hemingway biographer Jeffrey Meyers writes that it is "recognized as Hemingway's greatest work",[2] and Hemingway scholar Linda Wagner-Martin calls it his most important novel.[3] The novel was published in the United States in October 1926 by the publishing house Scribner's. A year later, the London publishing house Jonathan Cape published the novel with the title of Fiesta. Since then it has been continuously in print.
My take is that a good book is easy enough to read, but yet hard at the same time.  Ernest Hemingway's writing is to the point and you can't skip over words/sentences because you'll miss the meat of the story, because all of it is the meat.  There is no fluff.  It is well written, concise  and to the point.  I really enjoyed reading this book after I listened to The Paris Wife because so much of that book takes place where he sets Sun.  I also love that the book is dedicated to Hadley and their son- who are in The Paris Wife.  I think I'll likely next read Moveable Feast to follow-up The Paris Wife, Sun Also Rises, because this book takes place during his time in Paris with Hadley.  
The next book is completely different Native Guard.  It is a poetry book by Natasha Trethewey.  It won her the Pulitzer prize for poetry.  
The following is the inside jacket cover of the book I borrowed.  
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Natasha Trethewey's elegiac Native Guard is a deeply personal volume that brings together two legacies of the Deep South.
The title of the collection refers to the Louisiana Native Guards, a black regiment whose role in the Civil War has been largely overlooked by history.  As a child in Gulport, Mississippi, Trethewey could gaze across the water to the fort on Ship Island where Confederate captives once were guarded by black soldiers serving the Union cause.  The racial legacy of the South touched Trethewey's life on a much more immediate level too.  Many of the poems in Native Guard pay loving tribute to her mother, whose marriage to a white man was illegal in her native Mississippi in 1960s.  years after her mother's tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.
I'm not a poetry reader, but have been trying to pick up poetry when at the library and force myself into reading the poems slowly so I can feel like I'm getting the point.  That is generally what I've struggled with in poetry.  Sometime it is just to abstract for me.  Natasha's poems were not abstract and I felt like I was reading short stories when reading her lines of poetry.  The book I borrowed also came with a CD with Natasha reading some of the poems.  I haven't listened yet, but am looking forward to listening as I drive to work next week- think it will be a good way to start the day.
Last month I read The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor.  However, I didn't read all of the stories within this work.  I read a few of them and would encourage anyone who hasn't read her work to try it out.  I wanted to read some of her work because I kept on "running into her".  Not literally, but in different books or articles I had read.  I had never read any of her works so thought it was a sign that I should find out who this Flannery was.   The below is a brief description from Amazon about this fascinating lady.

About the Author

Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O’Connor wrote two novels,Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1964). Her Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest’s 60-year history. Her essays were published inMystery and Manners (1969) and her letters in The Habit of Being (1979). In 1988 the Library of America published her Collected Works; she was the first postwar writer to be so honored. O’Connor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women, studied writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and wrote much of Wise Blood at the Yaddo artists’ colony in upstate New York. She lived most of her adult life on her family’s ancestral farm, Andalusia, outside Milledgeville, Georgia.
Here is the Table of Contents and I've tried to highlight the one's I read. 
The Geranium The Barber Wildcat The Crop The Turkey The Train The Peeler The Heart of the Park A Stroke of Good Fortune Enoch and the Gorilla A Good Man Is Hard to Find A Late Encounter with the Enemy The Life You Save May Be Your Own The River A Circle in the Fire The Displaced Person A Temple of the Holy Ghost The Artificial Nigger Good Country People You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead Greenleaf A View of the Woods The Enduring Chill The Comforts of Home Everything That Rises Must Converge The Partridge Festival The Lame Shall Enter First Why Do the Heathen Rage?Revelation Parker's Back Judgement Day
I know it isn't many but her stories were not "feel good" stories and after awhile I needed a break from the topic of race, anger, hate, murder, etc.  I believe she was a very talented author and I hope to return to this book someday and finish what I started.  I think I'll look for it in the bookstore sometime soon.  

Last but not least: Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray.  This book is one of two for September's book club.  The other is Singing Hands also by Delia Ray.  The first book was picked back in the Spring of 2012, but due to the author being unable to attend our meeting we moved it back to another month when she was available.  For those who read the first a second by the author was chosen.  I hadn't read either so I wanted to make sure to get both of them done by the time book club rolled around at the end of September.  The first Here Lies Linc is about a boy Lincoln Crenshaw whose mother is an eccentric College Professor at the University of Iowa.  She has studied cemeteries and knows quite a bit on the study of graves, etc.  The book was totally enjoyable.  It is very well written because it really could be read by any age range.  That is when you know a young adult fiction is a good book.  The characters were animated, colorful and the story line was well constructed and I enjoyed the mystery.  I very much look forward to meeting this author at our upcoming book club because- big surprise- I have tons of questions for her- How did she write the story from a young male teen perspective? did she study graveyards/cemeteries for quite some time before writing the book?  How long did it take her to write the book?  What is her writing style or routine?  Again can't wait for this month's book club.  I'm not quite into Singing Hands yet so don't have a lot to add on that front.  Two totally different story/plot lines.  

Well that is all for now.  I'm onto another audiobook whom I'm hoping will be my next favorite running buddy- 20 miler coming up next weekend and I'll need a good "friend" for that one.  Happy reading!



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