Friday, November 25, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
When Tacoma Reads Together read The Maltese Falcon, I began to read mysteries. Last New Year's Eve I remember being on a bus to Pierce County Library because my turn had come to read a new mystery. Why would I be interested in cozy mysteries? Maybe Books at Twelve Ten could read a mystery from a series and discuss mysteries.
In January Books At Twelve Ten will continue, moderated in turn by volunteers who are frequent members of the books group. In December we will discuss The Corrections.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
A discussion developed around the title of the novel for November, Jill Paton Walsh's A Desert in Bohemia, named from a passage in Shakespeare's, The Winter's Tale. On page 140 the world immediately outside the prison cell is a "desert of concrete and wire". I commented that the reference from Shakespeare located this portrait of Bohemia as from the perspective of England.
The work was fiction based on events that occurred in Comenia, a part of Checkosovakia, after World War Two. Unlike Bohemia or England, Comenia was a fictional country. I was able to locate Comenius, John Amos, 1592-1670 - a Moravian educational reformer and bishop. It seems Jill Paton Walsh has named her novel's country after her pattern of philosophical and literary references, and for the central theme of a passion for intellectual activities and freedoms.
One group member explained that she had started to keep a record of the characters. All the parts of the book were named for characters. Not all of our discussion could stay in this vein, because many comments came up as we began to discuss the landscape. Much happened in Comenian streets or in camps, but especially in an elaborate castle.
Our discussion time came to an end as we talked about power and the character Count Michael and his historic family. Some of us did agree that Count Michael was a character with power who acted conscionably and responsibly.
John Amos Comenius is called Komensky in Czechoslovakian. One interesting internet experience for me as I read A Desert in Bohemia was to glance at a few blocks in Good Earth Street Views along Komensky Street in Chicago. This reminded me that a United States perspective about this topic might be different from the perspective from England.
We have learned about Book Kits this Autumn. All the books should be in the plastic carrier when the one patron who checks the kit out returns them. At one point a Book Kit borrower had to travel and tried to contact everyone to collect the books - she luckily found me at the library. We drove to my apartment to collect my copy and a set of little luggage wheels. Then we returned to the library, and after she checked in the kit, I checked the kit out again for us.
The five who discussed our November book rose to a half-dozen at the end of our discussion because we met the usual moderator when we left the meeting room. With her we continued the discussion, and she assured our Book Kit borrower of the month that, although we had only eleven instead of twelve of the copies, everything would be all right. Our selection for December will not be from a Book Kit, but from a title with a number of copies in the system, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
At the Henry Gallery SkySpace yesterday I introduced my reading of Folk Songs with comments. 2011 has been the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. I linked the KJV of the Bible to Pogo, the comic strip by Walt Kelly and The Anxiety of Influence by Harold Bloom.
In the wonderfully funny comic strip Pogo, by Walt Kelly, the character Deacon Mushrat speaks, in his dialogue boxes, in Old English. This could only be to me, a child reading and re-reading Pogo, the voice of the King James Version of the Bible. When Walt Kelly drew Deacon Mushrat with a large book in his hand, Kelly must have made the recognition described in The Anxiety of Influence, by Harold Bloom. Because of the great influence Kelly felt from the Bible, he needed to search along some mental bookshelf for a different title for the large book. So, The Anxiety of Influence, by Harold Bloom, suggests how, when Walt Kelly swerved, Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas came to be.
It was very interesting to see one or two of the events at the Translation Festival Wave Books yesterday. The festival continues today and Sunday.
One or two copies of Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas exist in the swamp, another copy was featured as one-half of the library of a large bird who was training a smaller bird in bird skills.
One memorable strip involving Mole ends with this comment, one familiar to Kelly enthusiasts - "There's Nothing Quite So Lovely As A Brightly Burning Book". The book that was burning was indeed Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas.
In the first box, when asked by Howland Owl, "Where's Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas?" -
Mole declares - "Discredited." In the next box - "It didn't agree with our observations, did it, men?"
"No, sir, it's out of date."
"And on fire."
Howland Owl's expression progresses from outrage to shock from the first to the last boxes. This is wonderful work by Walt Kelly, it is nice to remember the reading and re-reading of the Pogo books both recently and long ago.