Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Bone People

The Bone People by Keri Hulme was approximately 450 pages lone. It was won the 1985 Booker Prize. I liked it very much but would also agree with some reviewers who felt that the novel would have benefited from a bit more editing. The story is centered around three broken people and the New Zealand Maori culture. It's a unique novel in the way it is written, with the line breaks and Maori vocabulary throughout the story. It is not an easy book to read in terms of subject matter and would also benefit from a careful reading when one has the time to see what each Maori phrase means (in the back of the book).

From Amazon:
"This is quite a first novel. The ending is revealed at its mysterious beginning; exotic line breaks and poetic punctuation put off at first but gradually become the best way to tell the tale; the Maori vocabulary is interwoven with contemporary British, Australian, and American idioms; and the New Zealand sea- and landscape vibrate under fresh perception. Hulme shifts narrative points of view to build a gripping account of violence, love, death, magic, and redemption. A silverhaired, mute, abused orphan, a laborer heavy with sustained loss, and a brilliant introspective recluse discover, after enormous struggle through injury and illness, what it means to lose and then regain a family. No wonder The Bone People won the Pegasus Prize. Highly recommended."

I would highly recommend it also because it managed to capture my attention during a chaotic stressful time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A psalm of praise

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise. Of David.
1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.

2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.

4 One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.

5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.

7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

9 The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD;
your saints will extol you.

11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,

12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The LORD is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made.

14 The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.

16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.

18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.

20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

year book storage

This picture is dedicated to those of you who are wondering what eventually happens to that highly treasured high school yearbook in the future:

Yearbooks, high school stuff, our wedding album (not photos), and baby books have all resided in this box for years. In fact the potty chair box wasn't even opened up between moves the last time. It was opened up before this move so I could show just me what kids wore to high school in the '70's for a teen theme night activity.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Country Year

A Country Year: Living the Question by Sue Hubbell is a delightful little book of essays that were originally compiled together and published in 1986. My hardcover copy is 221 pages. I adored this quiet, simple book. (I also started reading it before the trip so you might be able to trust my judgement here a tad bit more than the last two reviews.)

From Amazon:
"An invasion of spring peepers, a young indigo bunting at song practice, a parade of caterpillars - these are integral parts of Hubbell's environment. She lives alone on a 100-acre farm in the Ozarks, where she tends 200 beehives and produces honey on a commercial scale. In a series of exquisite vignettes she takes us into her world, and a life attuned to nature. Hubbell's busiest season is late summer, when she harvests the honey. Then she needs help for the backbreaking labor ("a strong young man who is not afraid of being stung"). She tells how she desensitizes her helper to bee stings; there is a vivid description of a day in the beeyard at harvest time. We meet her dogs and cats, her neighbors; travel with her when she sells the honey; share the pleasures of observing wildlife. Some of these delightful pieces have appeared in the "Hers" column of the New York Times and in Country Journal."

"Over the past twelve years I have learned that a tree needs space to grow, that coyotes sing down by the creek in January, that I can drive a nail into oak only when it is green, that bees know more about making honey than I do, that love can become sadness, and that there are more questions than answers."

"I believe it was Sir James Jeans, the physicist, who was supposed to have observed that we live in a world that is not only queerer than we think but queerer than we can think."

"My bees cover one thousand square miles of land that I do not own in their foraging flights, flying from flower to flower for which I pay no rent, stealing nectar but pollinating plants in return. It is an unruly, benign kind of agriculture, and making a living by it has such a wild, anarchistic, raffish appeal that it unsuits me for any other, except possibly robbing banks."

And finally this quote is dedicated to the California women who were lecturing me about living in the Midwest and their farms/acreage's here:
"The simple lifers always have a theory or two that they are not at all shy about expounding - theories which differ in details but always come down to knowing better how to live in the country than the peasants do... Ozarkers have a saying about back-to-the -landers: The briars get in their clothes, the hillbillies get their money and they leave with an empty suitcase in their hands."

Loved this book.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman was originally published in 2001. My paperback copy was 588 pages. I found this to be a so-so book even though it came highly recommended and I expected to enjoy it.

You may need to ignore any negative reviews from me for awhile. I am more than willing to concede that under the current circumstances I may not rate any book I'm reading highly. First, it was started on our (very stressful) trip and was also an airplane book for half the trip. Second, there is just too much going on with selling, packing, and moving to give any book much concentrated reading time. Third my mind is Swiss cheese right now. For example, when I sat down to read one night this week, instead of reading I ended up mindlessly watching 2 hours of a dog show.

The bottom line is expect a streak of iffy reviews from me for awhile and take them all with a grain of salt. I have a feeling if I read American Gods again, after we are moved and unpacked, I would enjoy it more.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Reckoning

Jeff Long's The Reckoning was ok. It was a good airplane and traveling book. Since it was an airplane/traveling book, my reading of it also felt a bit disjointed; it was full of stops and starts and interruptions. I will say that I liked The Descent and Year Zero by Long much more. (My husband's traveling book was The Descent and he was really enjoying it.)

From Amazon:
Long (Year Zero, etc.) delivers a suspenseful, tightly written tale of a nightmarish journey into the dark past—and present—of Cambodia's former killing fields. Molly Drake, a would-be photojournalist, accompanies a U.S. Army-led search for the bones of a pilot shot down during the war. She meets Duncan O'Brian, an archeologist at a local dig, and John Kleat, who has come back to the country repeatedly, seeking his brother's remains. When bones unexpectedly turn up, Molly photographs them, breaking her agreement with the army not to take pictures of bodies. The captain in charge dismisses her along with O'Brian and Kleat, and the trio make their way to an ancient, fog-enshrouded Angkor-like city where they have evidence an army patrol went missing years ago. They soon find themselves lost in a labyrinth of ancient stone, in circumstances that quickly grow as dire as those in which the patrol evidently found itself. Long's considerable knowledge of Cambodian folklore and history is put to good use as he superbly depicts the war-scarred country, its people and its beautiful, hazardous landscape—lush, verdant, strewn with land mines, studded by bones. Although the inner lives of the characters are not as detailed as they could have been, the author's use of supernatural elements is subtle and effective, and adds an extra dimension to this solid, coolly told, smoothly paced narrative.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Circus Fire

The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan is an excellent account of the 1944 tragedy.

"As some 9,000 people watched the Wallendas begin their high-wire act on July 6, 1944, a fire started on the sidewall of the big top at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of 6,000 gallons of white gasoline and 18,000 pounds of paraffin; common practice for circuses at the time. In minutes, the entire tent was engulfed in flames. In the rush for the exits, people were trampled and burned--some beyond recognition. In the end, 167 were dead and 487 injured, of whom 140 required hospitalization. The city of Hartford, Connecticut, would never be the same.
Stewart O'Nan brings his storytelling ability to the tragedy of The Circus Fire.
Several survivors said the one thing they will never forget about the circus fire as long as they live is the sound of the animals as they burned alive. But there were no animals.

O'Nan interviewed dozens of witnesses and examined police reports, newspaper accounts, and court documents while researching the fire. The result is an engrossing--though agonizingly painful--account of the great fire and its aftermath. He probes the tragedy's enduring mysteries--How did the fire start? Who are the unidentified victims? Who is Little Miss 1565?--and offers up conclusions of his own. He also provides remarkable vignettes of panic, heroism, and grief: Merle Evans and the band playing "The Stars and Stripes Forever," the circus disaster march, over and over; Bill Curlee, standing atop the wild animal chute throwing trapped children to safety; the Cote sisters, who made it home safely then broke down when asked why they were back so early. O'Nan tells their stories with compassion--albeit with a slight tendency toward the macabre.

Moving, saddening, gruesome--yet car-crash compelling--The Circus Fire is a gripping read. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney --"

The Circus Fire was first published in June 2000 and the hardcover is 370 pages long. O'Nan has the book arranged by dates so you can follow along chronologically as all the events and aftermath unfolded. It really was as compelling as a fiction book but all the more heart wrenching because it really happened.

"As one witness politically admitted: 'It is fair to say that many people were trampled by those who had the brawn to carry it off.' "

I highly recommend this book.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Today we had running through the house:
1 mechanical inspector from about 1:30-4:00
1 pest inspector from 3:00-5:00
1 buyers realtor
5 buyers, parents with 3 little kids and a tape measure
1 realtor, who had people who wanted to see the house even though there was a contract on it
4 people who wanted to see the house even though they knew a contract was pending
And of course 3 of us who were home trying to pack and sort through things.
There could have been a few circus clowns who popped in quickly too.

I'm mentally exhausted from the day

The inspectors here apparently are very, very thorough. We have a few minor issues but nothing big or over maybe $25 tops, unless the mechanical guy didn't tell me everything. He was here long enough to almost be considered a relative.

Monday, June 4, 2007

We started packing and moving out some items we want to get rid of, like this sofa that was upstairs in the library/game room. Can you guess what these two are doing? Faces have been blurred to protect the innocent.

Man and Wife

Tony Parson's Man and Wife is also not recommended reading by me. Same song, different verse, blah, blah, blah...

Saturday, June 2, 2007


And now for something exciting and clandestine, I present a picture of an entry in my sister's diary (circa early ' 70's)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Man and Boy

Man and Boy by Tony Parsons was not exactly my cup of tea. It's not that it was a bad book, but I didn't really find myself liking the main character much at all. OK, I thought he was basically a complete jerk but I also knew that he wasn't written to be a complete jerk, so the book left me out of sorts. I can't figure out why people have recommended it so highly. It wasn't a complete waste of time; there were a few touching passages and humorous parts. I fully understand that some people are going to like this much more than I did. This book would be placed in a male-angst confessional novel category, which I now know is not a category I enjoy. Man and Boy was originally published in 1999 and is a short 353 pages long. I currently need some light reading that is inconsequential, so I went ahead and started Parsons' Man and Wife since I have it.