Showing posts with label reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reading. Show all posts

July 06, 2016

Botanical Blues/ Watercolour Finish

July 6, 2016

 Almost every day I have a pen or pencil in hand. That means I have quite a few pictures to choose from for painting. Next up on the painting board a fairy. 

 "The Pretty Pair."

Progress on the Rustling Leaf Beret.  Tosh sock. Colourway well water. A row here and there adds up. I am so pleased to be able to knit again. 


I've been searching for this book on Canadian Wild Flowers by Catherine Parr Traill for some time.  It's second hand, but is in good shape. There's another one I'd like to own, but haven't found it yet. For those of you who may not know, Catherine and her sister came to Canada from England in the 19th century.  Catherine wrote the Backwoods of Canada and she sister Susan Moodie wrote Roughing It in The Bush. ( They each wrote two books about pioneer life.)  If my memory serves me correctly, it was Susan who spent a winter alone in the bush with her children while her husband was off working. Can you imagine?

Thank goodness Catherine had the foresight to collect and record Ontario's wild flowers. Her niece Agnes Fitzgibbon illustrated her wild flower books. Catherine knew expansion would deplete much of the wood lands and she was, of course, way ahead for her time. I'd love to see Catherine's herbarium housed at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Have a great week...

August 25, 2015

Book Talk

Reading more than one book at a time is a reality for me, so when I heard about Caryl Phillips' book, The Lost Child, I had to read it. Why so eager?  Because Philips incorporates within his novel the imagined origins of Heathcliff, Emily Bronte's death, and how Heathcliff came to be at the Heights. (Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights, that is, by Emily Bronte.) Generally, I don't give away the story but this time I've made an exception.

How did Philips incorporate the above elements into the context of a different novel? There are, of course, related ideas, (lost children for example) but I am left wondering if I knew nothing of Wuthering Heights would I find the information relevant or understand it?  At this point, I am not completely sure. On the other hand, it works precisely because he placed these elements in the beginning, middle, and end of his novel. And he masterly rendered Emily as the strong person she was, and as a contrast, her strength places a subliminal spotlight on his character Monica. What a dichotomy--a complete division it seems until we realize that they are both aloof characters (one real, one imagined) and both outsiders.

Like Wuthering Heights, darkness creeps about and envelopes much of Philips' novel but thankfully, we are left in the dark about the details.  In this, Philips strikes a balance of sorts. However, how did Emily do it? Her novel is dark with details but not completely bleak. Older versus contemporary? Maybe. My guess...Nelly Dean as the gossipy narrator and Mr. Lockwood, the nosy tenant of the Grange, who with levity steps on stage at the beginning of Wuthering Heights. He's a flighty hoot, ambiguous and odd; he says this and means that, but never really nails down what he means. These two ingenious, unreliable characters, and their interactions and opinions, help create a distance that skillfully allows the reader to wade in the darkness without becoming overwhelmed. 

Emily Bronte
* * *

It's still very warm here, but autumn's beauty is on the way. I picked up these leaves on my walk the other day. They remind me of a line from one of Emily Bronte's poems:

Every leaf speaks to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

Enjoy the week...

January 23, 2015

Spotlight on Byatt

Besides fiction, Byatt  writes poetry and literary criticism.  Rhythm and wit coupled with conflicts that often astound, Byatt, a weaver of  unique novels, peppers her books with facts: historical, scientific, and specifically in the case of The Children's Book performance theatre: i.e puppetry.

While her erudition might lead one to assume that her subject matter only reaches the loft, she often brings to light the shadows that run amok in peoples' lives, including the well-educated, and the gentry who, like the poor, also suffer from poverty, (theirs--moral, spiritual) wrongheadedness and the human condition.

Of course, there are love stories such as Possession in which one character compacted and self- restricted eventually opens to the power of love. And in Babel Tower, a place where language was, in the biblical context, confused by the induction of different tongues, the story is framed by fairy tale   refrains of "it might begin" meaning, possibly, there is no right way into a story, or that the path is as intricate as our lives. But, more than that, it's a brilliant way to introduce character. Babel Tower begins with the story of the thrush; a bird admired in spite of its appetite and its limited tune. Attributes that, at one time or another, we may have noticed and dismissed in others to our peril. It's an intriguing, mysterious and thought provoking "it might begin." And it makes me think of the dark, foreboding woods, but I may have read too many fairy tales. Further, there's also a sense of foreshadowing, things hidden, upheaval and change.  

A.S. Byatt's novels promotes critical thought, educate and are, in the end, among the best books that have been written.  She has won many prizes, including the Booker for Possession and is, rightfully, a contender for the Nobel.

Jacket via Goodreads

January 05, 2015

Book Picks of 2014

A New Year. Thank heavens! Although last year was not without good times and deep wells of gratitude, I am happy to begin the new year.

 I didn't keep a full record of the books I read in 2014, but I do have the Kindle list.

While well written, I found a couple of books I read extremely violent. (I'll confess to the unknown, until recently, phenomenon of skipping a few pages.)  However, those works of fiction did deal with historical fact. Another thing I noticed: mistakes in books. The short shrift. What a shame. Imagine having a book published only to find it riddled with errors!

Last year I used my Kindle a lot. Why? Well, it's not because I prefer that medium. It's because around here books have reached critical mass. (Did I say that?)

What's so great about a tangible book? Well, they never run out of steam.  Also, I enjoy the ease of flipping back when prompted by curiosity.  Thoughts like what was that great line? Or, I'd like to read that part again.

Kindle, other gizmos, or the real deal...which do you prefer?

I've picked 4 books for 2014. Two beautifully written re-reads that I own (to have and to hold) and two books that I borrowed from the library.  Generally, I make a few comments, without, I hope, giving away the crux of the story, but in the interest of brevity I've decided it's show time. 

Have a great week!
 Contemplating adding this book my critical mass.

August 12, 2014

Lunas at Large

I've always been fascinated by Luna Moths. Luckily, I've seen one, but only one in my life.  Recently, I've been drawing Luna and other huge moths, so imagine my surprise when I came across this beautiful Luna Rose Rose Mallow with blossoms reminiscent of a full moon. Gorgeous doesn't begin to cover it! 

On the needles and other things...

Enjoy the week...

April 19, 2014

A Tribute to Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As a tribute to Mr. Marquez and the joy and the love of reading that his books have given me, I am re-posting a post that I wrote last May called Spotlight on Marquez.

I remember reading, at the end of The General and His Labyrinth, a paragraph that I interpreted as the likes of such a man would never pass this way again, but, although, at this time, that's fitting, Marquez's words, in that last paragraph, are much more profound: they drift past boundaries and echo.

And so it is with regret and with gratitude that I re-post this post, because for or a short time the world was given the blessing of  Mr. Marquez whose words tumbled golden from the depths of a deep soul.

                                                         My well-thumbed loved copy.
At the time, the price of One Hundred Years of Solitude:  $2.95.

Glorious book jackets.
Several years ago, I bought One Hundred Years of Solitude in a wonderful shop somewhere in the wilds of Jasper National Park, Alberta. At the time, I'm not sure, given the annoyingly small print, my lack of a dictionary, and my grasping inexperience as a reader, what I gleaned from it, but I was vaguely aware that I had found a treasure. And luckily, although somewhat daunted by the novel and with eye strain, I pressed on. As I read, I did, however, find that One Hundred Years of Solitude more than lived up to its back cover promise of surprise. In fact, the book proved as amazing as the elk that sauntered around, on too tall legs, outside my rented cabin--close yet distant, understandable in form yet wildly mysterious.

Márquez's seamless ability to incorporate magic realism into his novels does surprise, delight and astound.  In One Hundred Years of Solitude, there is a focus on ice.  Nothing unusual--sans magic, but try to explain ice to someone who has never seen it. For example how would you explain ice to an individual from Amazonian Lost Tribe?  (And, yes, speaking of amazing things there are still a few tribes out there!) Could you describe ice so that they could understand? And, more importantly, if you put a piece of  ice in the person's hand, how would they react? What would they think?  In that context and in the context the novel, ice moves from the ordinary to the miraculous.

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