Category Archives: Books

WARlight

Michael Ondaatje

“In youth we are not so much embarrassed by the reality of our situation as fearful others might discover and judge it.”

“Otherwise how do we survive that forty miles of bad terrain during adolescence that we crossed without any truthful awareness of ourselves?”

“We are foolish as teenagers. We say wrong things, do not know how to be modest, or less shy. We judge easily. But the only hope given us, although only in retrospect, is that we change. We learn. We evolve. What I am now was formed by whatever happened to me then, not by what I have achieved, but by how I got here. But who did I hurt to get here? Who guided me to something better? Or accepted the few small things I was competent at? Who taught me to laugh as I lied? …But above all, most of all, how much damage did I do?

Sorry — terrible new habit of taking pictures of pages without including the page number.

Ondaatje, Michael. Warlight. New York: Vintage Books, 2019.

Go to the library

See a book that a thoughtful librarian puts near the front of the literature section. It mentions a novel you’d never heard of. So you find that novel and devour it in a Saturday.

“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” p.195

“He had dreamed of a kind of integrity, of a purity that was entire; he had found compromise and the assaulting diversion of triviality.” 274-275

John Williams, Stoner (NY: Viking Press, 1965).

To find

Listening to the NYT Books Podcast this AM:

John Lanchester, The Wall…sounds awesome.

Also, in talking about climate change, he used the following quote:

Death like the sun is to big to contemplate. The interwebs offer this version and source:

Rachel Cusk, Kudos

Can’t say if I like or dislike this book but I can’t stop reading it. I can’t say if agree with her or not but I can’t stop debating it in my head.

12: If you were unfamiliar with the political situation in our country, you might think you were witnessing not the machinations of democracy but the final surrender of personal consciousness into the public domain.

34: A degree of self-deception, she said, was an essential part of the talent for living.

39: …Since the defining motivation of the modern era, he said, whether consciously or not, is the pursuit of freedom from strictures of hardships of any kind.

Halfway through, just three of the quotes I’ve been churning on.

R Nesse

Heard Professor Nesse on Start the Week and will eventually find this book. But I liked that he began the book with this quote:

Nesse, Randolph. Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry.New York: Dutton, 2019.

Early Work

“Getting there, ” I would say, though as anyone who’s ever pretended to be a writer know, “the book” was really a handy metaphor for tinkering with hundreds of Word documents that bore a vague thematic resemblance to each other, but would never cohere into the, what, saga of ice and fire that were imagining.

Martin, Andrew. Early Work (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), p.25.

Meant to find this book today

Found this today ($2).

Here’s the opening line:

I learned a surprising thing in writing this book. It is possible to move away from a vast, unbearable pain by delving into it deeper and deeper — by “diving into the wreck,” to borrow the perfect words from Adrienne Rich. You can look at all the parts of a terrible thing until you see they’re assemblies of smaller parts, all of which you can name, and some of which you can heal or alter, and finally the terror that seemed unbearable becomes manageable. I suppose what I am describing is the process of grief.

Kingsolver, Barbara. Small Wonder (London: Faber and Faber, 2011), xii.

Yesterday at Bindlestiff

As the school year began, I’d not picked up a novel, so I wanted to get Daniel Gambiner’s book The Boatbuilder, which I’d seen in Bindlestiff’s window. Last copy. Good thing…Amazon won’t have copies until October.

Started yesterday, finished today. Review soon.

Also found a copy of this book, which I’m hoping will help me in the current American history unit I’m teaching.

And for $16.00, I found a huge gardening book — The Flowers and Herbs of Early America — a bargain.

Daniel, Marcus. Scandal and Civility: Journalism and the Birth of American Democracy. 1 edition. Oxford?; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Griffith, Lawrence, and Barbara Temple Lombardi. Flowers and Herbs of Early America. 1 edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.

Gumbiner, Daniel. The Boatbuilder. McSweeney’s, 2018.