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It's the summer-is-here reading thread!

Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


May 22, 3:19pm

Post #1 of 19 (1403 views)
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It's the summer-is-here reading thread! Can't Post

Or, as a local weatherguy said the other day, "Yes, we had spring, for about a week and a half..."

I think of my ancestors living in Texas before the invention of air-conditioning and cringe. Whew!

I'm listening to The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin. Instead of following the writing axiom, "Start the story as close to its end as possible" she's started her story with long scenes taking place years before what, on Disc 3 of 10, may still not be the main narrative: a young Arthur Conan Doyle's encounter with the legend of the Mary Celeste. I can only assume from the cover copy on the back of the box that the narrative eventually picks up a thread or two from the, um, preliminary material and segues into a story of nineteenth-century Spiritualism.

Obviously I'm still listening to it, so I'm finding the evocative prose enjoyable even if I'm still searching for a plot.

On paper I'm reading Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson. This is a series of essays on the life stories and the work of different archaeologists. I'm enjoying not only the personalities but the glimpses into a variety of archaeological settings, some of which I'm more familiar with than others. There's the archaeologist, for example, who's created an entire industry out of re-creating ancient beer and other alcoholic beverages.

I'm also reading on paper another Anne Hillerman Navajo mystery. So far so good. I do like Bernie Manuelito as the main character.

So what have you been reading?

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Annael
Half-elven


May 22, 4:00pm

Post #2 of 19 (1354 views)
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We're having real summer here. [In reply to] Can't Post

Forecast is for 80 F tomorrow. A bit early. The rhodies are AMAZING after our long, wet, cool spring, and my vegie garden is booming - eating lettuce and broccoli already! Would be eating kale if my dad hadn't "accidentally" (he hates kale) stepped on or dug up all the plants. But some have survived, mwaa-ha-ha!

Still on my Ann Cleeves kick; just read "White Nights," another of her Shetland murder series, and it provoked me to pick up Mary Stewart's "The Stormy Petrel" again. Haven't gotten very far with Northrup Frye I'm afraid; he makes me think so much I read a page and have to put the book down.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


squire
Half-elven


May 22, 6:14pm

Post #3 of 19 (1344 views)
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Raymond Edwards' 2014 biography of Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

I had missed this when it came out, and I only heard of it a few months ago on another Tolkien fan site. It was recommended as both good and not really like Carpenter's 1977 classic, so I got hold of it pronto.



It is very good. Like Carpenter, Edwards is from the world of Oxford U. and seems to have grown up with Tolkien in his blood. Unlike Carpenter, he was not given access to the prof's private papers, but also unlike Carpenter he wrote this version of Tolkien's life 40 years later, when the massive outpouring of posthumous writings and memoirs had come to light.

As a graduate of Oxford's English department and an occasional medieval researcher, he is very much interested in the ins and outs of Tolkien's professional life as a scholar, and really makes that the linch-pin on which the story of his fictional legendarium turns. I learned a lot about Oxford professorial politics and in-fighting, the clubby world of mutual influence and back-scratching (and -biting and -stabbing), and why a number of people mentioned in most scholarship about Tolkien's life were so important in their own right and in his academic development. Edwards uses the copious scholarship on C. S. Lewis quite heavily. There is little about the family, aside from the basics.

I think he assumes his readers have read the major works (TH, LotR, Sil) and so his commentary on their writing and reception is fairly detailed. He certainly doesn't waste space on plot summaries, thank goodness.

Finally, he has a private interest, it would seem, in the story of Tolkien's religion, and he even occasionally apologizes for going off topic into the world of English Catholicism in the 19th and 20th century.

I would recommend this to anyone with more than a passing interest in Tolkien's life. It is not for a beginner, whatever a beginning might be these days. But it beats reading Scull & Hammond's 'Chronology' - which, of course, provides him and any future biographer with a host of lively or in-filling details, pre-researched.

If you're curious, Edwards is not much a fan of the films, he informs us pretty shortly in the midst of the "Posthumous Publications" final chapter!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 22, 7:18pm

Post #4 of 19 (1332 views)
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Edwards published a shorter version two years earlier. [In reply to] Can't Post

I gather the 2014 text incorporates everything important from the previous version. Here's what I wrote for "The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies 2012" (Tolkien Studies 12 [2015]):


Quote
Raymond Edwards’s booklet, J.R.R. Tolkien: His Life, Work and Faith (London: Catholic Truth Society, 2012) is a fine short biography with a modest Catholic bent. Although a secondary work without original research, Edwards’s text shows him to be well versed in Tolkien’s writings and the major Tolkien biographies, and he tells the story of Tolkien’s life in a fresh way, brimming with insight and flavorful writing. The narrative incorporates discussion of works published posthumously (like The Lays of Beleriand and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún) in their appropriate chronological positions, and attends to works often unmentioned in Tolkien biographies, like “The Wanderings of Húrin.” Notable are Edwards’s comments on the TCBS and “their collective sense of themselves” (14); the first Earendel poem, well paraphrased to show how it led to later Silmarillion conceptions; the “werelit horrors of the Dead Marshes” (31) and other motifs that derive from World War I (Edwards is very careful not to overstate influence); and a contrast between the “classic” Kenneth Sisam and the “romantic” Tolkien (37). A general summary of Tolkien’s “profound and often heartbreaking meditation” on good and evil is first-rate (32). Acknowledging, with a nod to Tom Shippey, the decline of philology, in which Tolkien not having published a “big and important book” on the subject played some part, Edwards argues that through The Lord of the Rings, philology “has won a stupendous victory” in popular imagination, although readers may not realize it directly (66). When describing efforts to get Tolkien’s works published posthumously, Edwards thoughtfully notes that Christopher Tolkien might have edited The Silmarillion differently given more time and experience, and he remembers to include the linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon. The book closes with “Tolkien the Catholic,” a commentary in which Edwards’s light touch continues, as he advises against overstating superficial Catholic motifs in The Lord of the Rings, noting that “any well-told tale will convey some elements of God’s truth” (86). Here he brings in the discussion of “On Fairy-stories” and “Leaf by Niggle” that he had been saving since merely mentioning those texts earlier, to illuminate Tolkien’s intentions. A very few typographical errors seem to derive from the text being so condensed, the chapter on The Hobbit and Beowulf jumps a bit awkwardly, and too much is made of Tolkien’s jealousy of Charles Williams.


Based on your review, the longer version definitely sounds like something I should pick up!

Treason doth neuer prosper? What's the Reason?
for if it prosper none dare call it treason.


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Attalus
Lorien


May 22, 11:35pm

Post #5 of 19 (1314 views)
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Is she... [In reply to] Can't Post

Tony Hilerman's daughter, or some other kin? I seem to remember Bernie Manuelito from the Leaphorn/Chee books.

Me, I just got Lindsey Davis' Alexandria, so I will start on that. I also just got Robert Sherwood's Roosevelt and Hopkins, whence comes the famous phrase about "Roosevelt's forested mind." Looking forward to it.

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Mûmak. But we got him!


No One in Particular
Rivendell


May 23, 2:11am

Post #6 of 19 (1300 views)
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Currently... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Lost Road by J.R.R and Chris.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


May 23, 3:48pm

Post #7 of 19 (1245 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Anne Hillerman is Tony's daughter, and has picked up his Navajo mystery series. Rock with Wings, the one I'm reading, is her second, and I believe number 4 recently hit the bookstores.

Bernie Manuelito is now the main viewpoint character, which works well, especially considering how Bernie has to balance her traditional role as daughter/caregiver with her role as a police officer. We do get her husband Jim Chee's viewpoint, but poor Joe Leaphorn was injured in the first book, Spider Woman's Daughter, and we haven't really heard from him yet.

I think Anne is doing a good job of picking up on the tone of her father's work.

Quick edit: Jim Chee and Bernie were married in Tony's last or perhaps next-to-last book.

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


(This post was edited by Lily Fairbairn on May 23, 3:50pm)


Attalus
Lorien


May 23, 3:57pm

Post #8 of 19 (1242 views)
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Spider Woman's Daughter? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds intriguing. I'll put it on the list. Thanks Smile

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Mûmak. But we got him!


Morthoron
Gondor


May 25, 4:35am

Post #9 of 19 (1045 views)
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Just ordered... [In reply to] Can't Post

Graveyard Clay (Cré na Cille) by Máirtín Ó Cadhain. I have heard about it for years as the greatest novel in the Irish language, and as my Gaelic is deplorable, I am glad it's finally out in English translation.

Basically, it has no plot, much like something from Beckett, and centers on the dialogue of 16 spirits newly interred in a small Irish graveyard in Connemara. This chorus of the dead gossip-monger, argue, ruminate and engage in catty and often lewd banter in the grave, much as they did while alive (the whole point, I suppose, is it's a reflection of life in small town Ireland during the WWII era). As far as black humor goes, well it's black.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on May 25, 4:37am)


Annael
Half-elven


May 25, 5:04pm

Post #10 of 19 (1009 views)
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this just in [In reply to] Can't Post

I discovered "The Invisible Library" series by Genevieve Cogman a couple of days ago. Her protagonist is a Librarian with a capital L who works for the Library which spans multiple parallel universes, a job that requires her to travel to other universes to collect things like Jane Austen's sequel to "Pride and Prejudice" that was only published in one alternate reality. Each alternate Earth has its own politics and history (in the one I'm reading now, Tsarist Russia is stronger than ever), and she also has to work around the constant power struggle between the Fae, who represent the forces of chaos, and the dragons, who are "higher order" beings who are logical and methodical. Yet in Cogman's explanation, "chaos" also involves narrative and archetypes, which, she says, work against the natural order of the universe which is toward entropy. Still trying to wrap my head around all that. Anyway, very well written and a lot of fun. If you like Jasper Fforde's stuff at all I'm guessing you'll like Cogman's even more.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on May 25, 5:05pm)


Meneldor
Valinor


May 26, 2:27am

Post #11 of 19 (979 views)
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The Curse of Capistrano [In reply to] Can't Post

by Johnston McCulley. The first Zorro story, from 1915. It's a very action-packed little book, with a great deal of galloping horses and clashing blades. Nothing deep or challenging, but lots of fun. And most of the story beats, as well as some of the dialog, should be very familiar to fans of the old movies.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. -Psalm 107


Elberbeth
Tol Eressea


May 26, 7:19pm

Post #12 of 19 (917 views)
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That sounds really interesting -- I'll be looking for that.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Attalus
Lorien


May 26, 11:28pm

Post #13 of 19 (890 views)
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Like [In reply to] Can't Post

"Oh, Don Diego!" from the chubby sergeant with the stubble on the TV show? Sly

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Mûmak. But we got him!


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


May 29, 3:41pm

Post #14 of 19 (653 views)
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It's the last reading thread of May! [In reply to] Can't Post

Let me see here....

I abandoned the audiobook of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste. While I suspect the premise was a good one---Arthur Conan Doyle writing a story about the maritime mystery---it was really hard to tell amidst the meandering, disjointed, and seemingly pointless incidents that never, for me, rose to the level of plot. When I checked out reviews for the book to see several saying, "It ends abruptly and there's no real resolution" I decided life was just too short. (To be fair, other reviews think the book is a masterpiece. So you just never know how something will hit you.)

I'm now listening to History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time by Brad Meltzer. Meltzer's tabloid approach to history doesn't work as well on audio as it does on TV. With no video, it's much more obviously a salad of factoids rather than an actual narrative. Throw in the rather bombastic style of reader Keith Farrell and.... Well, it's only 5 discs and is entertaining enough.

But I will point out that so far these "greatest conspiracies" are all American ones (John Wilkes Booth, the Kennedy assassinations), which also reduces the book to infotainment rather than actual history.

I finished Rock With Wings, the second installment of Anne Hillerman's reboot of her father's Navajo mystery series. Even though the ending was a bit rushed, I thought the plot was well assembled and, as always, the characters were believable. I'll look out for the third.

I also finished Lives in Ruins, by Marilyn Johnson, about archaeologists and their work. It was so interesting and well-written, with meaty scenes at various excavations and conferences, I could hardly put it down.

I’ve started reading another Susanna Kearsley novel, The Winter Sea, over 500 pages (with large type, fortunately) about a writer who moves to a small Scottish village, site of a historical novel she’s writing. The first-person present-day chapters are interspersed with chapters in third-person which are simultaneously chapters of her novel and dream/memories of (what I suspect will turn out to be) an earlier life, since she’s using one of her own ancestors as the heroine.

It’s entertaining but hardly compelling, since there’s quite a bit of been-there done-that about it.

Annael, have you read this one?

What have you been reading?

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 29, 3:53pm

Post #15 of 19 (646 views)
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Lily: Are you familiar with Maxwell Collins? [In reply to] Can't Post

Max Collin's series of disaster mysteries might be of some interest.

1. The Titanic Murders (1998)
2. The Hindenburg Murders (2000)
3. The Pearl Harbor Murders (2001)
4. The Lusitania Murders (2002)
5. The London Blitz Murders (2004)
6. The War of the Worlds Murder (2005)

Each features a real-life writer on the site of the disaster as the protagonist (The London Blitz Murders stars Agatha Christie, for example).

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


May 29, 3:59pm

Post #16 of 19 (644 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I've read the London Blitz book with Agatha Christie and thought it was nicely done if predictable. Seems to me I have another on my e-reader---the Pearl Harbor one, I think.

Thanks for the recommendation!

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


May 29, 6:20pm

Post #17 of 19 (631 views)
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Do you live in Ireland? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll be spending a week in Ireland at the end of June - getting pretty excited about it!

I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies - this is me!

from The Greatest Showman




Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


May 29, 6:29pm

Post #18 of 19 (632 views)
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More books than normal... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've bought SO MANY books now that I need to read a few - like a historical book on the Dark Ages called "The Dark Ages" (fancy that!). Just finished reading a book by Mercedes Lackey, something about psychics and elemental magicians in an alternative Victorian London, supposedly featuring Sherlock Holmes. I can't even remember the name of it, that's how good it was. I've bought "Six of Crows" and started reading it, but got distracted by a Revolutionary War murder mystery book, fourth in a series, called "Killer Debt." It's a short, quick read, and although it does refer to earlier books it also gives me enough information to where I don't feel so terribly lost. After this I probably need to get back to that book on Celtic Myths & Legends before my trip to Ireland at the end of June. (Of course, I also need to finish the first draft of the current book I'm writing before that vacation trip, probably past the halfway point but that's another subject entirely!)

I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies - this is me!

from The Greatest Showman




Morthoron
Gondor


May 29, 10:45pm

Post #19 of 19 (593 views)
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No, I don't live in Ireland but my relatives live in County Cork... [In reply to] Can't Post

And I've visited them. Absolutely beautiful country. I'd go more often but my wife hates flying. I mean almost phobia hates flying.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.


 
 

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