Month: September 2016

In Noah’s Ark by Rumer Godden

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I just finished In Noah”s Ark by Rumer Godden and thought this Book Review captured the book’s charm rather well:

“No two people will read this with even similar reactions. To some it will be sheer enchantment of poetic flight of fancy. To some it will be symbolic, a philosophic and satiric approach to the world’s conflicts. To some it will be a fairy tale, extension of the folktale of all people, imagination off the beaten track…. To others it will be an irritation, pot-pourri of childhood jingles, phrases clipped from a book of quotations, woven together with tongue in cheek. To others it will be a parable, difficult of interpretation, signifying what you will. …. Who but Rumer Godden could have conceived Pegasus-uninvited- the disturbing element among the survivors of earth’s inhabitants, alone and single, owning no man as master. A story-teller who now beguiles the other creatures with his tales — and now disturbs their fancied peace with new and revolutionary ides. Ham has clipped his wings, Pegasus is himself, restless, unsure. And then death comes; the scorpion has slain a duckling; the whisper spreads that Pegasus is to blame; the court sits in judgment- death the verdict. A flame goes up and Pegasus disappears, no ash remains. Only a great restlessness over all…until at last the ark comes to rest on Ararat, and the faithful dove brings back the leaf of green. A new Rumer Godden is here. But then- to those for whom she always holds magic, there is always a new Rumer Godden. Don’t sell as “”a story in verse”” — but as Rumer Godden. Format promised as “”worthy of its distinguished content.””

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A Review: Marie Kondo’s Master Class

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I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Marie Kondo’s  second book, “Spark Joy an illustrated class to the art of decluttering and organizing.” After consuming her first book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying and setting forth on my tidying festival almost two years ago, I was ready to be disappointed by this book, what advice could she possibly have left to give?  But I loved it.

The principles remain unchanged and there’s a lot of overlapping material. She even recommends skipping over parts if you feel the need. But what makes this book work so well are her stories about her clients, family, and marriage. They bring her method to life and are sure to bring a smile to your face.

Though her focus has always been on surrounding yourself with things that spark joy she also talks about appreciating things that you don’t love but others in your household do, as well as creating a joyful place with the things you wish to keep. For example she gives you permission to go ahead and keep those useless things that spark joy but recommends finding other uses for them if only decorative. There is also a wonderful section dedicated to the kitchen which I found helpful.

The book  has some very cute illustrations that are useful. My children took to them immediately and the folding diagrams inspired them to fold their clothes. Magical?  Joyful? you bet!

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Do you need this book in order to complete her tidying method? No, the first book will do just fine. But if you enjoyed her first book not just for her practical advice but for her humor, her light and yet fierce spirit, you’ll love this one.

Upon Inheriting Books

I recently inherited some old family books. My Aunt who knows I run a little book store, gave them to me to sell: An old book of Plato, selections of Cicero and speeches by Burke. Nothing I was interested in reading myself anytime soon and so I began my assessment of the books. A completely economical glance- at first.

But when I touched them I felt touched by something. Nostalgia? Timelessness?  I  handled the old bindings, opened the copy of Plato and found my Great Aunt’s name inscribed in the front. Old catholic school cursive, similar to my grandmother’s and my mother’s. Workmanlike, neat, but not showy. My Great Aunt came back to me, her amazing jewelry, large rings set with semi-precious stones, gold bangles, plated brooches and an elegant voice to match one that cracked every now and then, deepened with age. Besides the jewelry I remembered the subscription to national geographic she bought my family one year and how I had consumed them. Oh, She was exotic! Beautiful- the picture of sophistication.

Aside from the inscription the interior was clean no marginalia I thought, too bad. How strange to hold one of her books. what other books did she read, enjoy? I had no idea.

I then opened Burke and found my grandfather’s name inscribed inside. As exotic and free as my Great Aunt was my grandfather was familiar and solid. Nostalgia swept over me and regret. Regret for not paying more attention when I was younger!  I tried hard to remember my grandfather’s house. More importantly, I tried to remember his bookshelves. I couldn’t.

But his desk came back to me, filled with papers, rubber-bands, paper clips, bills, a letter opener, an old hole puncher. His black, metal wastebasket that faithfully sat on the floor, materialized in my mind. When I visited, he would hand me some old recycled paper from that bin and tell me, go write! and I’d write. If I got a sheet of paper, I’d use his old typewriter which sat on his dining room table. If it was just an envelope I’d use his red, eraser less pencils.

What books did he enjoy? I don’t know. I remember his old chair and footstool in the corner of the living room, there he would sit, with his reading glasses on, and read the paper and his magazines. He was quite the correspondent. Writing letters to the editor often and he would send me clippings of articles he thought I would enjoy. (Mostly about horses since I was rather horse crazed.) I looked down at his signature again, So much personality and soul remained in those markings!

These unassuming texts had brought such depth to my childhood memories and startled by how much came back to me, I set them down.  Although I probably will end up passing them on, receiving them was a gift. Like finding a lost postcard in the mail from a long ago traveled journey.  

-Mrs. Karl Cooper, Jr.

4 (more) Things To expect From an Anita Brookner Novel

10 Things to Expect from a Brookner Novel  and 4 (more) :

1.Alice-like protagonist.

2.Yearning for offspring.

3. The rewards of solitude.

4. The unpredictable.

1. Alice-like protagonist. Anita Brookner does not write fairy tales. She could even be said to write anti-fairytales. However her novels are anti-fairytales the way Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is an anti-fairytale. Like Carroll’s Alice, Brookner’s female protagonists/heroines have heads full of rules and meet situations in which they don’t seem to apply, characters who betray no awareness of the codes that they hold sacred. They are well-brought up little girls trapped in Mad Tea Parties, conscientious people blandly trampled by sociopaths. Like Alice, they scold themselves. Like Alice, they doubt themselves. The dynamic that results when people with principles too vaguely grounded run up against an unprincipled world is one of the main sources of interest in Brookner’s fiction. The obscure frustrations, the repetitive situations endured by her heroines have the dream quality of a mundane Wonderland.

2. Yearning for offspring. Anita Brookner does not write fairytales. However, the archetypal yearning for a child that begins so many fairytales is at the marrow of her fiction. The women she writes about have husband, lovers, friends, mothers, in various combinations. And, yet, those without children (almost all of them) are in a state of constant longing (more or less conscious) for a child. There is a profound recognition of the good that motherhood is for a woman, a good so fundamental to her that no other earthly good can substitute or compensate for its lack.

3. The rewards of solitude. Though Brookner makes no claims, explicit or implicit, that the rewards of solitude are equal to the rewards of motherhood, she does acknowledge them. Each of the Brookner books that I have read contains at least one lyric passage in which the experience of the details of ordinary life, without losing a jot or tittle of its ordinariness, in fact because of that very ordinariness, becomes a source of wonder. A person, a woman, in solitude, has a sudden access of freedom and becomes her true self. Becomes a child. These moments are delicately, all but imperceptibly, entered into and easily passed out of. But they verge on the mystical.

4. The unpredictable. Anita Brookner’s novels are never boring. They’re often characterized as books in which nothing, or very little, happens. But, within the limited “claustrophobic” scope of her fictional situations, nothing that happens can be clearly anticipated. What her characters think, say, do and fail to do continually surprises, while it almost never — and never gratuitiously — shocks. You observe human life as if watching the chaos at work in sunlit dust motes. You are fascinated by chaos held in a deeper, greater, obscurely intuited order.

-Mrs. Aldertree

 

 

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Margins

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“Birds know themselves not to be at the center of anything, but at the margins of everything. The end of the map. We only live where someone’s horizon sweeps someone else’s. We are only noticed on the edge of things; but on the edge of things, we notice much.” Gregory Maguire out of oz

Photography by Kateri Maw 

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