Literary Loft

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Literary Loft

Ene 24, 2019, 1:39pm

The continuing stoooooory....

Ene 24, 2019, 4:36pm

Thanks, SP.

Ene 30, 2019, 8:09pm

Super tired and kind of unsettled (for no good reason) so it was fabulous to come home to book packages.

Both Largesse of Sea Maiden and Slow Days, Fast Company are perfect selections. Thanks particularly for the Babitz. I feel like I'm part of the Babitz/BB crew now.


Ene 31, 2019, 3:41pm

My work is done!

With that, we close the very squirrely Guardian book Swap, Epiphany 2018. Happy reading to all.

Ene 31, 2019, 3:53pm

And thank you for your leadership, Ms Lauren! May we all have epiphanic reading experiences!

Who wants to join me in reading the Eve Babitz book that we all now own?

Ene 31, 2019, 4:24pm

I do! I read 70 pages last night in a minor state of ecstasy (seriously -- she's smart and insightful, and gossipy, and witty and knows how to work a sentence). Pus, since the book is strongly rooted in LA it served as an antidote to the -35 (literally - I'm not even counting windchill) weather outside. I read for awhile, then contemplate her fabulousness while stroking the pink cover, read, and repeat.

Lauren, you are wonderful. Thanks again for organizing this. LuAnn and Lauren, thanks for doing double duty on books. I love them all.

Feb 1, 2019, 9:56am

I'm in. And it was my pleasure, truly.

LuAnn, The Milkman arrived this week. Many thanks.

Feb 2, 2019, 4:23pm

Thanks all! Im reading the Babitz now and it is great. My past seems so drab in comparison, like I wasted my youth!!

Editado: Feb 2, 2019, 4:27pm

Mine would not be threesomes with beautiful people and drug fueled car trips up the coast. More like Thelma Lou and Helen Crump buy a nickle bag from a guy with a missing front tooth in Grammercy Park, who takes it out of his sock...

Feb 3, 2019, 4:38pm

I was wondering why it was taking so long for my indie to get me the new Richard Power book. Called up, and found out that apparently there is a paper shortage! Yikes

Feb 3, 2019, 4:46pm

>10 cindydavid4: I think that's why my order of the new Edward Gorey bio is still backordered.

Feb 5, 2019, 9:37am

FYI, Amazon has kindle edition of Babitz’s Black Swans (stories) for $3.99. Don’t know for how long...

Feb 9, 2019, 9:53am

Life has been kicking my ass the last six months or so, so I know I've been less chatty here than usual, but I have to put this somewhere, and Bookballoon seems like an apropos place.

My dad has finally transitioned into retirement. It's something he's mentioned so often in the past without actually doing that I stopped paying attention to him on the subject. But now it has happened.

One of the first things he said to me about it was "now I have more time to read." Apparently, he has listened wistfully for years to the extended conversations mom and I would have about the books we were reading, the authors we had discovered, the literary subjects that had grabbed our attention. "I've always wanted to read all those books about the presidents you two were talking about," he told me last fall -- meaning Chernow on Washington and Hamilton, McCullough on Adams, Ellis on Jefferson. For most of his professional life dad's reading has been technical-- information technology articles--or leisure -- fast fun hard sci-fi space opera stuff. But I discovered he's been keeping a quiet list of "books Nicki and Jamie (my mom) talk about that I want to read" and now he's started on that list.

So the last few phone conversations my dad and I have had (I have to talk to my folks at least once a week) have been, to my shock, as much about what we are reading as what we are doing. Lately about Spillover, and other books about evolutionary theory and molecular biology. We talked for over an hour about books -- with dad doing most of the talking.

I mean, I always knew there was that guy in him -- the guy who just likes to learn new things. But I hadn't really grasped how...I dunno, constrained it had been to the demands of professional obligations. Suddenly he has all these other things he wants to talk about. When I finally hung up the phone I just sat there, overwhelmed.

Just when I thought I couldn't love my parents more.

Feb 9, 2019, 12:44pm

That is so great, Nicki.

Feb 9, 2019, 3:54pm

Wow, and wonderful. New horizons for your dad.

I, too, love "fast fun hard sci-fi space opera stuff."

Feb 9, 2019, 4:46pm

That's extraordinarily sweet, Nicki.

Feb 9, 2019, 10:04pm

I enjoyed that, Nicki. It's similar to what I'm experiencing with my dad since my mom passed. He used to be so resistant to foreign movies, but now he's really into them.

Feb 9, 2019, 11:52pm

Dad died on Valentines Day 1999 at 89, not unexpected but horridly traumatic because the impact always will devastate. I grew up in a reading household ... but it was not any sort of intellectual home. Mother devoured bodice rippers and gothic mysteries. Dad was all about westerns as befits a lad born on a ranch in northeastern Washington state in 1910.

I started reading with those books. Tired of the bodice and gothics around age 12; tired never of Westerns which I read still but, these days, good ones are hard to come by.

Feb 10, 2019, 10:54am

One of the really interesting things about talking to my dad about books is that he seems to be embarking on a process of changing how he reads. Reading is no precisely longer goal-oriented, like when you have to digest information to pass it on to others or complete a task. Nor is it exactly "escapist" -- meaning, I think, reading without having to do much thinking or absorbing at all.

Instead, dad seems to be relearning how to read deeply, where the point is to surrender himself to the book, instead of forcing it to surrender to him. Being a methodical kind of person, he rates how "well" he reads by how many pages he gets through, and told me he felt "slow" because he was taking so much longer to read a book. That set us off into a long conversation on the different ways we read or have trained ourselves to read, and I ended up talking to him about what it felt like to go from a retail bookstore job, where I had to read a great many books quickly, with a view to summarizing them and recommending them (or not) for many different kinds of customers, to a work-at-home situation where I was much more free to read as my inclinations dictated, without having to justify or convince others why such books were worth reading. I told him my reading, in terms of the number of books I finished, dropped to a third of what I would read as a bookseller, but I didn't feel like I was reading less, just reading more intensively. It was really quite an amazing conversation to have with my dad, to be honest. We've never really talked like that before.

Editado: Feb 10, 2019, 11:49am

My dad passed away my last year in college. He was always reading, and always encouraged me to read whatever I wanted. I regulary peruse his shelves reading all sorts of other books that were probably over my head, but it didn't matter. We'd go to bookstores all around town. We had some great conversations, and when I cried in the middle of Grapes of Wrath, he said we could read it together and talk. I remember in HS when he told me he read Love Story! It surprised me coz that wasn't something he normally would have read, but he said he did because I loved it so, and it moved him greatly. He introduced me to How Green Was My Valley which I reread so many times And I remember being in Jr Hi 'secretly' reading Valley of the Dolls and later he asked me to let him borrow it, he wanted to try it! Over the years I discovered books that I know he would have loved, and I can never talk with him about it

So tho I am a bit envious and a little sad, I do love all of these dad posts, cause its letting me remember him. Thanks

Feb 10, 2019, 11:42am

I love that your reading relationship—and clearly your overall relationship—with your dad is changing and growing as he gets older. I really miss both my parents, because both were very literary but I never really had the chance to seriously talk about reading and books to them before they declined. I had more of a chance with my mom, but her gradual dementia coincided with my growing seriousness as a reader and I feel like I missed out (she's not dead yet, but thoroughly unable to hold a conversation, much less read).

I did get to go through the process of growing as a reader with my son, though that's not so unusual—I imagine most reading parents do. But it was a total joy to see him become the strong and serious reader he is now.

Feb 11, 2019, 7:36pm

>21 lisapeet: I did get to go through the process of growing as a reader with my son, though that's not so unusual—I imagine most reading parents do.

Heh. A couple of weeks ago my brother posted a piece on his blog, "Snufkin's Rucksack" (I love the name) called "My Sister's Bookshelf"

about all the books he used to filch from my room. Mom and Dad saw it and told me "we were over the moon we'd raised kids who loved to read so much they stole books from each other."

Editado: Feb 11, 2019, 10:25pm

Hi,everyone Haven't been here in a bit but have interacted with several of you on FB. Didn't know where to go but want to pursue Virago reading we discussed on Facebook a few days ago Anybody?

Feb 12, 2019, 11:05am

As you know, my younger son is incarcerated and one of the things we can send him are books. He's never been much of a reader - to but it mildly - but there is a LOT of down time in the pen and he's been going through thrillers by the week, which is fine by me. I'm sending a steady stream through amazon.

I was never sure he could even follow the plot of a book so it's very gratifying to have a James Patterson novel described in some detail. I'm wondering if new neural pathways can be formed, esp when there is no cell phone to get in the way and distract.

I was taking to my dad yesterday who told me he is hoping to 'change Miles' reading trajectory' to fiction about the transition to young adulthood. First up, was a copy of Catcher in the Rye. He was also looking for a copy of Studs Lonigan .

I decided not to tell Dad that he really had no control over what Miles' is reading or thinking (can you tell I''m in Al Anon) but I did have a quiet laugh to myself when I got off the phone. Studs Lonigan? Has anyone read that novel since 1963?

It's very sweet, really, and to be honest, maybe a little James Farrell will do the trick!

Feb 12, 2019, 12:24pm

That IS very sweet of your dad. Happy to hear that Miles is reading--it can only make his life better. If there are particular books that he's looking for, please let us know!

Feb 12, 2019, 12:38pm

Love these stories and envy that opportunity. I never had that with either of my parents (mom is still here but the relationship is strained and she mostly reads Christian literature and books “ without all those dirty words.”

But I did have this with my late mother-in-law and here nearly ten years since her passing it is still one of the things I miss the most. I loved both giving and receiving books with her.

Feb 12, 2019, 1:14pm

Lauren, we should take this off-LT but we get a shit-ton of YA novels at LJ, and I'm happy to send stuff along if you give me a few guidelines.

Feb 13, 2019, 10:34am

Lauren, that is sweet of your father, if not necessarily the most effective approach (I rebelled against my mother's guidance until she literally couldn't guide me anymore). There's nothing wrong with trying! Your son will have more than enough time to read lots of things, and hopefully you all can gently guide him in a direction that will help him in so many ways. Never give up! :)

Editado: Feb 19, 2019, 8:49pm

How booksellers live (in a perfect world that looks exactly like New Orleans):

Check out that bed. I want it.

Feb 24, 2019, 1:55pm

It looks like something Miss Havisham slept in.

I enjoyed checking out that blog, Nicki. I've been to Books and Books a couple times. The last time was when I went to the Miami Book Fair to dispense a bunch of premier editions of The Readerville Journal. Mostly, I use Books and Books (by phone) for really hard to find items. That is the most friendly and helpful bookstore staff I've ever encountered.

Feb 25, 2019, 1:17pm

I actually read Studs Lonigan in 1982 and loved it. It was for an american lit course. I thought it was great
fun. And very recently I came across another Farrell in a little free library that I had never heard of before. I have no idea if his work is still in print but he was of a time like Erskine Caldwell and John Dos Passos and
they're great fun to revisit.

Editado: Mar 1, 2019, 5:17pm

Jim and I are disporting ourselves seaside at La Casa Que Canta in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific.

I've had some halcyon reading experiences here:

Lolling on a tile bench within the infinity pool high over Zihuatanejo Bay whilst reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's "The Corner that Held Them." A Brithish "gentleman" remarked "Why do you yanks go for third-rate English writers." Yes, I did aim a water splash at him.

More deliciously, this is where I read Gore Vidal's memoir "Palimpsest" and chortled my ass off.

Mar 2, 2019, 11:57am

That sounds delicious, Kat, though I have seen your most recent FB post and it looks like there's been trouble in paradise.

I was walking down the street with a coffee in one hand and the NYer article on A. J. Finn (Dan Mallory) in the other and I walked into a pole. Nothing was hurt except my pride.

Editado: Mar 2, 2019, 3:07pm

Off to check Facebook.

edit: Oh, shit

Mar 4, 2019, 3:45pm

Ditto what Nancy said. Damn Kat. Totally rotten. (although I severe location envy now -- looks like a great suite/location).

Mar 4, 2019, 9:18pm

Im not on Kats page; fill me in, pls

Mar 5, 2019, 1:00pm

A fall. A broken foot. A cast. In Mexico. Totally sucks.

Mar 6, 2019, 9:34pm

egads!!!!! Heal quickly, pls

Mar 7, 2019, 11:46am

Oh, jeez, Kat. Hope you mend soon.

Mar 8, 2019, 1:39pm

Oh dear, Kat. That sounds stressful on top of just plain painful—I hope you heal up quickly. Please let me know if there are any books you have your eye on, and I'll keep my eye out for them in turn... I think that's all I can offer from here, other than my best wishes and sympathies.

Mar 8, 2019, 4:38pm

I'm planning a pre- St Patricks Day show featuring Irish lit put to music - not just a line here or there but whole poems or passages. There's loads of Yeats, Joyce and some Cullom but if you know of anything, esp if its not one ofthose three - please let me know .

Any genre works.


Mar 22, 2019, 6:39pm

It's Friday 6:30PM and still light outside. I wish we were all neighbors so we could frolic and go to a bookstore and a bar together tonight.

Mar 22, 2019, 6:45pm

I'm in as long as I can frolic sitting down.

Mar 22, 2019, 7:34pm

I could do with some frolicking.

Mar 23, 2019, 1:26pm

Sitting, standing, dancing, lying down--it's all a frolic!

I'm feeling wistful lately. Spotify made me a playlist called "Your Time Capsule," and with a few exceptions it's a walk down memory lane. I've been getting teary-eyed about old lovers, dancing around in my underwear with a hairbrush-mike, and remembering things I forgot years ago. So that's a bit of frolicking.

Mar 30, 2019, 2:35pm

Oh jaysus, old lady brain fart—what's the common term for the practice of scanning titles in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore to then buy on Amazon? I was thinking "warehousing" but now I'm thinking not.

Writing an essay on a sunny Saturday afternoon...

Mar 30, 2019, 3:07pm


Mar 30, 2019, 3:58pm

That's it, thank you!

Abr 1, 2019, 11:57am

Fyi. Amazon Has copies of Kate Walbert’s His Favorites on Kindle today for $2.99. An excellent read.

Abr 1, 2019, 12:13pm

I second the recommendation!

Abr 2, 2019, 9:20am

As if I don't already have 9 million books you guys have made me buy. Guess it's 9 million and one now.

Abr 2, 2019, 5:31pm

Attagirl, Julie.

Abr 2, 2019, 5:38pm

Hey, I wrote a thing about Jim Mustich, who put out those A Common Reader catalogs and was a great friend of Readerville (he said super nice things about RV, which didn't make it into the essay because I decided I didn't want any memoirish elements because oh god I'm sick of memoir-essays). But a few of our nearest and dearest here contributed some first-person epigrammatic stuff:

Discovery Channels: James Mustich, A Common Reader, and 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die

Abr 2, 2019, 9:35pm

Marvelous story!

Abr 3, 2019, 9:58am

That is a really great piece, lisapeet. And I've always been acutely aware of what you say here:

But when a book recommendation is one of 25 or 50 friend- or algorithm-generated suggestions, that sense of recall—who pressed a book into your hands, what shelf you picked it from, on which library sale table did you take a chance on a 50¢ paperback because you liked the cover—goes missing from our mental maps.

It was my first and still most over-riding complaint about ebooks, and why I've never been able to really embrace them. Their lack of "shareability" seemed to take the reader and forcibly deny remove them from the community of books. It felt like being given the chance to eat all the gourmet meals you could ever want, but only if you agreed to eat them sitting by yourself in a windowless room.

Editado: Abr 3, 2019, 3:24pm

I have solved the shareability challenge presented by ebooks with the Refundacy Factor.

My reading is sufficiently non-discriminatory and diverse that it is nigh on impossible to acquire same in physical format so most acquisitions are via ebook. If a book particularly appeals, I will acquire a hardcover for my collection and/or tradepaper(s) for sharing. Problem solved.

Abr 3, 2019, 6:38pm

I spend a lot of my day looking at new books--bestseller lists, bookseller recommendations, dozens of cover images, etc.--and for a long while I found it paralyzing in terms of finding things I wanted to read myself, especially fiction. Jesus, there are a lot of books. Everything I started made me feel as though I was not reading something else and what if I'd made the wrong choice and what would I do about the 300 books that came out while I tried to read this one? I felt like I had heard of everything and read nothing.

What finally broke the logjam was starting with something I already had on the shelf and then following where it led, and then just resolving not to give a shit when I tell people about a new book I think they might like and they ask whether I've read it. And also realizing that it's not humanly possible to keep up with new books coming out. And now when I do read something new, it's not out of a fear of missing out.

Abr 3, 2019, 8:49pm

Thanks for the nicenesses!

I do chafe a bit at the idea that I can't lend my ebooks—in particular e-galleys, because it would be really nice to share forthcoming stuff with people who are excited about it too. But I feel like in certain friend circles, like this one, the suggestion is the currency. Because let's face it, almost everyone here is able to buy a book that they want when they want it, or has a library card. The recommendation aspect, though, is so valuable, because we all own our own reading niches and are able to talk them up, and maybe even have a sense of who might appreciate a particular book. That's golden to me, and that's why I was so stoked to talk to Jim. I was already a big reader, but those Common Reader catalogs really primed me for Readerville, which totally turned me into what I wanted to be when I grew up. If I were going to grow up, which is another question altogether. It was fun tell him that, too. Everyone likes to think they made someone's life better.

Abr 18, 2019, 12:26am

So this message came in my 'nextdoor' app. We have several LFLs in are neighborhood that I frequent. Apparetly several were cleaned out:

Somebody emptied my LFL last night. Totally gone except the guest book.

I'm particularly irked because I had just put some nice reading material in - another copy of Amazing Maurice, Nation, The Truth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Julie of the Wolves, Bud not Buddy, The Velveteen Rabbit, a couple of Dr. Seuss, and The Scorpio Races by a YA author I really like. There were some interesting-looking recent donations in there too.

They even took the mini mason jar I put novelty erasers in! And ALL the dog biscuits!

I have a ton of novels in stock that people have donated, and more Discworld standing by too (because hello have you met me?), but children's books are harder to come by. I went by Goodwill today and got some to replace the stock for a reasonable amount. Not all of it, but enough that I can offer something again.

I don't mind people taking books, it's just that I don't think this person intends to read them.

I feel sad for this person, but I suspect they don't quite understand the spirit that started these little libraries. My understanding that its take a book bring a book, but don't put out books that are valuable or meaningful to you (another reply said she had put a first edition in hers) - assume they will be taken, and don't make any assumptions about the people who use them., Your thoughts?

Abr 18, 2019, 10:33am

That seems ridiculous to me and totally not in the spirit of FLL.

I think my FLL is occasionally picked over by a guy who runs a used bookstore down the street and it bugs me, but there's nothing I can do about it.

I also understand her thoughts about children's books - I always try to have a few and when I'm out, I tend to hit the library sales or such and replace a few titles.

But you totally cannot get attached to who is taking your books or how many. It's really a question of letting go and then seeing how the library fills up again, often with books that are not of your own choosing. But again, that's part of the point.

Abr 18, 2019, 10:41am

As a long-time LFL "librarian" I can say that I do struggle with a sense of ownership, and with feelings of resentment when people "coopt" my LFL for their own ends. This includes the Jehovah's Witnesses that insist on putting in religious pamphlets, the used book dealer who trolls from local area FLFs for stock to sell, and several neighbors who took the LFL as permission to unload boxes of grimy books from their attics that I didn't even want to touch, much less put near books I wanted people to take.

But those annoyances are more than offset by the people who do seem to enjoy the library in the spirit it was intended -- they take books and leave books, the check it regularly to see what is new. Their kids stop at it on their bike rides to see if there is anything they want to read. And people even seem to "meet up" at it regularly. So I let it all be. Luckily, restocking is never a problem for me.

Abr 18, 2019, 10:50am

>59 cindydavid4: It seems like the person understands the spirit of LFLs. They object to the taking and not giving...and the obvious stealing for profit b/c clearly Dastardly Dan is gonna sell those books.

Abr 20, 2019, 9:42am

In the best way to start a day department, this morning one of my LFL patrons came up to the house and knocked on my door (which sent Lucy into a paroxysm of barking!) just to tell me how she stops by the library every day on her morning walk, and how she is reading more than she ever has because of it.

She asked me to let her know whenever I get "Amish books." "I like inspiration fiction, she said, you know, not trash." I took down her phone number and told her I'd call her if any novels with Amish settings came my way.

Abr 20, 2019, 12:23pm


Abr 20, 2019, 12:44pm

What a great story.

Abr 22, 2019, 11:46am

So the lady that Cindy saw may not be "understanding the spirit of the LFL," but I think she has good reason to be annoyed. Some greedy jagoff took all the books (and the erasers and dog biscuits), probably to sell to a used book store or garage sale or something. So that person is an ass, and there's no two ways about it. Sure, maybe she shouldn't put valuable books in there, but if she chooses to buy good used books and put them in there, that's her prerogative. She wants to expose people to good books.

Abr 24, 2019, 7:17am

>63 southernbooklady: Lots of Amish fiction passing through LJ—I'll keep my eye out for any discards. One that was super popular recently was When the English Fall, a dystopian/Amish novel ("English" is how the Amish refer to non-Amish people). Makes sense, right? Civilization tanks and the power goes down, who do you turn to but the folks already living off the grid? I almost picked it up just for the premise.

Abr 24, 2019, 8:48am

Interesting. I had no idea there was an Amish genre.

Abr 24, 2019, 4:52pm

Abr 24, 2019, 6:17pm

The odd thing about fiction set in Amish culture is the huge number of romance books in the genre. There must be quite a market for semi-chaste romance.

Abr 24, 2019, 7:31pm

>70 Kat.Warren: There is. At least in the American South. It's strange because "Christian Bookstores" are on the decline -- the entire Lifeway Christian chain recently shut down. But "Christian fiction" as a genre seems to be gaining popularity. I think the genre is viewed by readers as safe in the sense that the books are reliably lacking in explicit or premarital sex or gratuitous, explicit violence. But as a rule, I don't think the genre is really focused on the religion so much as it is focused on the values readers associate with it.

It does give me some pause, though. My LFL patron was pretty upfront that she likes Amish books because she likes reading about the culture. The stories may be fiction, but I think she regards the settings as "real" in the same way some folks read historical fiction as a kind of window into history.

Abr 24, 2019, 8:00pm

Are the Amish thought of as particularly chaste? I mean, they can't use vibrators, obviously, but is there any kind of sexual proscription in the culture?

Editado: Abr 24, 2019, 11:02pm

Ah, chaste not the correct term, sorry. Perhaps better said they don't screw around although procreate well within marriage and are chaste before marriage.

Abr 25, 2019, 5:23pm

Today I begin to hobble. We yet have a caregiver since I cannot keep up with Jim in my current state. She is a very devout Methodist born in Tonga but living here in California for 30 years.

Given my mobility problem, lupus flare and Jim's escalated deterioration, I have occasionally given myself over to blasphemy from time to time. I reckon Marie has heard it before.

Abr 26, 2019, 10:45am

I would totally read that Amish dystopian novel.

Abr 26, 2019, 11:39am

It IS an interesting premise.

Editado: Mayo 5, 2019, 1:52am

Actually it is rather more of a realistic premise than many such distopian novels.

Meanwhile, my latest piece for the Old Farts Newsletter:

Cruising Alaskan Literature

Next up in our peripatetic travels is an Alaskan cruise in July. Accompanied by friends, Jim and I will explore calving glaciers, fjords cutting through glacial valleys, bald eagles and orcas, Alaskan Indian culture, and lots of salmon and crab on our dinner plates. Many readers are aware of James Michner's doorstopper novel (some 1,530 pages) encapsulating the entirety of Alaskan history but there are shorter tomes serving up superb reading, herewith:

"Coming Into the Country" by James McPhee
Preeminent among non-fiction books about Alaska is John McPhee's outstanding volume recounting cold wilderness, life in the bush and life in the Alaskan urban setting. Brilliant book in the do-not-miss category.

"The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey
This Pulitzer finalist is a captivating, eerie novel about a mysterious child who walks out of the snowy forest into the life of a childless couple in the Alaskan wilderness. A beguiling read.

"The Call of the Wild" by Jack London
It can't be Alaska (or, technically, Canada's Yukon) without a dog book and, happily, there are many good ones. Difficult to select a favorite so I'll settle for this one I first read when I was 11 and living in sweltering Panama. The story of Buck the sled dog who masters both the wildness of nature and the often cruel wildness of man (in this case, "man" is not used as the collective term for humanity). Ask me for more Alaskan dog titles.

"Restless in the Grave" by Dana Stabenow " and "The Woman Who Married a Bear" by John Straley
Could not decide between these two, both exceptional exemplars of the mystery genre. Flying a piper cub in Alaska is dangerous in more ways than one in this recent addition to Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. Mighty tasty read. In Straley's Award-winning debut novel a down-on-his-luck private eye takes on a case because he needs the money and plunges into conspiracy, politics and Tlingit mythology. Rip-roaring read.

Jun 4, 2019, 10:33pm

So if you were going to interview the librarian who just won Jeopardy, what would you ask her?

Jun 5, 2019, 1:48am

What is she reading.

Jun 5, 2019, 7:14am

Always my go-to question, which usually ends up getting cut for space, but I ask it anyway because I always want to know. However, in this case I think it might be a bit more germane to the interview. Thanks!

Jun 5, 2019, 11:08am

Lisa, are you really interviewing her?

Jun 5, 2019, 11:42am

I am! Later today or tomorrow, hopefully.

Jun 6, 2019, 4:50pm

Jun 6, 2019, 10:39pm

That's so cool. She's very interesting. We are big Jeopardy fans and have been following James obsessively. She did a great job besting him, and I was very sorry that she was defeated today. She really knows books and I'd like to know what in general she likes to read. I also love how she subtly yet powerfully reacts to Alex's stupid remarks. The other day she did something in the game and Alex said something like "You've really learned from James." She made a quick and intense facial expression that read something like "F.U. James who?" I loved it. Is there some way you can ask her about that?

Jun 6, 2019, 10:59pm

>84 Nancy_Sirvent: Thanks!. She was very cool, and awfully nice to talk to LJ after having done the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, etc. I had to turn that one around fast... didn't even get to the "what are you reading" question, sadly. But I do know the answer to your question just from my background reading, Nancy—she taped the show in March, before Holzhauer's winning streak was aired, so she (and the rest of us) had no idea who he was. Alex did, and he knew that when the episode was shown all the viewers would too, but Emma walked in there thinking he was just another contestant.

Jun 8, 2019, 11:44am

Oh. Very interesting. I didn't realize that. Thanks.

Jun 20, 2019, 1:59am

I contribute a book column to the Old Fats Home newsletter which is issued six times a year. My next column will be titled "The Williams" and will recommend titles from Trevor (UK) and Maxwell (US).

Which are your faves?

Jun 20, 2019, 4:53pm

Putting on weight, are they?

Felicia's Journey and Two Lives.

Jun 20, 2019, 6:33pm

Definitely Felicia's Journey.

Jun 20, 2019, 6:38pm

I would just cheat and say that big Collected Stories book.

Jun 24, 2019, 6:57am

So long See you Tomorrow for Maxwell. Two Lives and The Last Stories for Trevor. But good Lord, you could recommend anything by either of those guys and be good.

Oh and Maxwell is a wonderful letter writer. There are a number of collection stores: I’ve read most of the one s with Eudora Welty and Sylvia Townsend Warner.

Jun 24, 2019, 8:07am

Yes, The Element of Lavishness (Warner) and What There Is to Say We Have Said (Welty) are fantastic correspondence collections. Also another vote for So Long, See You Tomorrow, with They Came Like Swallows a close second.

For Trevor, yeah, you can't go wrong with the giant story collections (Collected Stories and Selected Stories, I think). For shorter collections, I like Cheating at Canasta and A Bit on the Side. I read about half of his Last Stories last fall for the LJ short story awards, and thought they were wonderful—as expected—but bleak even for him. I need to go back and finish that one, because it was good enough to stick with—I just ran out of time.

Jun 24, 2019, 9:07pm

Clearly “The Williams” column will have some heft and length.

Jul 2, 2019, 11:14pm

You know, that title “Cheating at Canasta” ought to go down well in the Old Farts Home.

Jul 3, 2019, 2:53pm

>13 southernbooklady:

Yours is the loveliest post I've ever read on the love of books and reading, how it enriches our public lives and private selves, and how the sharing of ideas and common love of reading strengthens relationships. It brought a happy smile to my face.

Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Jul 10, 2019, 2:05am

Jim and I are off next week on a cruise to Alaska. Fly to Vancouver; board cruise up the Inland Passage then points north; disembark in Seward 12 days later.

Three friends from NYC will be with us us so plenty of care for Jim and some freedom for me. Although my excursions via zodiac and offshore will be limited by recovering broken leg/ankle.

Editado: Jul 10, 2019, 12:44pm


Just back from Montreal where I seriously ate my weight in bagels and ice-cream every day and spent an UNGODLY amount of money at Drawn and Quarterly.

I seriously dislike the use of the word curated to mean anything but what somenone does in a museum but the stock is so interesting and wide-reaching and the staff is so nice and friendly and unpretentious, I think you can say it's a very well-curated bookstore.

And if you think I didn't need Women in Trees, you'd be wrong. I did.

Jul 10, 2019, 4:26pm

safe journey, kat, and much time for healing!

Jul 21, 2019, 11:03am

My sister-in-law and nephew were in a terrible car wreck. My nephew has a broken femur but he's 20 and will bounce back. My sister-in-law had a stroke as a result of the crash and the jury is out both on the long term effect and the kind of recovery she will make. Her cognitive functions are fine but there may be permanent paralysis on one side.

I was in Chicago with them all week helping my brother.

Please send a kind thought to whatever spirit you believe in. Jen is 55 and you could not ask for a better in-law. Or more fun person to talk to about books, travel, politics, the world!

She had brain surgery on Monday night due to some swelling and right now, half of her cranium is in a frig somewhere at the Northwestern Hospital. That's kind of amazing, isn't it?

Jul 21, 2019, 11:22am

Oh Lauren, I'm so sorry to hear this. Lots of prayers and good thoughts for your SIL and family.

(and it is amazing that her cranium is in a fridge somewhere and will be put back -- seriously impressive)

Jul 21, 2019, 11:35am

Brain surgery is incredible... having seen more of it up close and personal than I would have liked to lately. I'm sending good thoughts her way (have been all week), and to her family, and to you.

Jul 21, 2019, 1:05pm

How terrible and scary, Lauren. All good and hopeful thoughts to you and yours. And if there's anything else more trivial that could help, let us know.

Editado: Jul 21, 2019, 2:25pm

!!!lauren how horrible and tragic; sending you hugs and hope and good thoughts. What they are able to do know in the medical field is astonding; I hope they can do something for her

Jul 21, 2019, 3:29pm

A trillion years ago I brought her with me to a Readerville F2F in Chicago. She's a good egg.

Thanks to all.

Jul 21, 2019, 9:06pm

Oh, Lauren. I'm so sorry. Life can be so shockingly painful. I pray for a good recovery for all of you in all ways.

Jul 22, 2019, 8:46am

I haven't been around much this year, but I popped back in this weekend to do some catching up, and I'm glad I saw your post, Lauren. I keep a prayer list on my fridge, and Jen's name is now on it. I'l be praying for a good outcome for her and strength for all of you.

Jul 23, 2019, 6:37pm

>99 laurenbufferd:

Though we don't know each other, I'm anxious to know how your s-i-l's post-surgery recovery is going. I'm sure you and her hubby and son, in spite of his injury, are all pulling for her. The amazing thing that we see in so many horrific trauma cases is how often the victims recover close to 100%, how hard they work on their own healing and rehab, and how strong families find they are when they face up to cataclysmic events. What were once medical miracles now have given way to swift intervention and continuing care. Your s-i-l sounds like a vibrant woman, and I bet a determined one, too!

Wishing the best to "all y'all"!

Jul 24, 2019, 10:23am

Thanks to everyone for your sweet words. I admit, I'm feeling a bit numb about it all.

But there is good news. My nephew is up and about on his crutches, even climbing steps. My brother has wisely put the X-Box on the second floor so Theo has to work for it!

Jen's breathing tube came out and she should be moving to a rehab center this week. There are real questions about mobility but like limelite stated above, what were once miracles now are part of more and more people's recovery. Jen is what my mother would have called a tough cookie. I have no questions about her strength and commitment.

Editado: Jul 24, 2019, 8:41pm

>108 laurenbufferd:

Well, I call that pretty darn good news! Praise your brother for providing home health care to his son. ;^)

Jul 30, 2019, 11:31am

Wishing the best for your SIL's recovery, Lauren.

Jul 30, 2019, 3:17pm

Does anyone lend their Kindle books person-to-person?

Editado: Ago 11, 2019, 5:10pm

Yesterday I began reading Nadine Gordimer’s The Lying Days. The first sentence referred to “a Saturday in late August” which I took to be a positive augury as I began reading on a Saturday in August.

This sort of coincidence gives me a happy flutter.

As for the Gordimer, I’m on a completest mission with her.

Ago 12, 2019, 5:37pm

Do any of you have recommendations for a page magnifier? I tend to read in bed or in a chair, holding the book in front of me with two hands. Everything I am seeing have stands or have to be held. Im having trouble reading older books that have smaller print. Any suggestions?

Ago 13, 2019, 11:19am

Kat, I love Gordimer. That's a great idea!

Ago 13, 2019, 3:36pm

>113 cindydavid4:

I can't think of a way to magnify your text in any convenient way using a tool. Have you considered e-book versions of your older books that can be downloaded to your reading device that allows you to enlarge text for easier reading? If your older books are free of copyright restrictions, you may find them available online for free.

Editado: Ago 17, 2019, 9:31am

laurenbufferd, are you willing to share an update about Jen?

Editado: Ago 17, 2019, 10:10am

I have a hands free magnifier I was use for doing needlework. It hangs around the neck. Mine is also lighted. I got it at Bed, Bath snd Beyond but Ive seen them on Amazon as well. Works great sitting not so great in bed.

Ago 17, 2019, 11:21am

>115 Limelite: I might try and see if they are available; good idea

>117 LuRits: thats what I am looking for but have seen nothing for bed reading Think I might have to get one of those, and use it while sitting up in a chair. See what happens. what brand do you use?

Ago 20, 2019, 11:00am

for those of you who don't check the movie thread, the new Toni Morrison documentary is a must see. It's just beautifully made, with a thoughtful addition of visual art to illuminate the narrative and great talking heads. Mr Fufferd squealed when Sonia Sanchez came on screen.

Ago 21, 2019, 3:18pm

cd, thank for asking. Jen had transitioned from the hospital to rehab - one of the very best in the country, where I expect she will be for another 4 weeks. She can speak clearly and is working daily on a treadmill but is fully assisted on her left side. The ‘left neglect’ as they call it hinders her ability to fully see as well but she can use a tablet and is really enjoying pod casts and music. A long way to go but oh my god, she's a fighter.

For those of you who know about my son, he received early release today. He was accepted into sober housing which will be his home for however long he needs it and the angels on this earth that are his former employers have told him they want him back. So housing and job. Not too shabby. I am picking him tonight - I hope - and taking him to dinner. I am going to wear my biggest hoops, an underwire bra and a sleeveless top with writing on it - just three of the things I couldn't ever wear to prison visitation. You can read all about it in my forthcoming book 'There's a Bong in my Doghouse.'

Ago 21, 2019, 10:08pm

>120 laurenbufferd: Thanks for both updates, Lauren. All good news, and I'll be thinking of you in your big hoops and underwire with yer boy.

Ago 22, 2019, 4:41pm

Such good news, LB. I hope your son is ready and that things go well at the sober house. You've all been through a lot. And I adore the title of your memoir.

Ago 24, 2019, 5:45pm

Hi everyone. I haven't been looking at this site lately, since I stopped working (temporarily). I don't use my laptop all that much, and I don't even look at the news and Facebook and whatnot nearly as much as I did when I was sitting at a computer all day. But just wanted to say hi while I was here. Just caught up on all the threads and have some more books to check out, of course. I've been reading more without that pesky job getting in the way, but I'm also really binge watching a lot of tv series. So...hiiiiiii!!!!

Ago 25, 2019, 11:52am

Hi Julie! Good to see you! Sooooooo what are you reading?

Ago 25, 2019, 1:51pm

>123 JulieCarter:

Glad you came up from under work and broke the surface in the library! I recently fell off the I'm-not-reading wagon and into the reading well, landing inside John le Carré's, The Looking-Glass War. Great!

Ago 25, 2019, 2:29pm

Yay Julie!!

Ago 25, 2019, 3:02pm

Hola Julie, amiga.

Sep 2, 2019, 3:20pm

sending good thoughts to PatD and others in Dorian's sights....Stay safe, be well.

Sep 2, 2019, 6:26pm

I recently googled myself and some of the first hits were posts I made here. Although I don't necessarily have anything to hide, it made me uncomfortable. Wish I'd known that before using my real name.

Editado: Sep 2, 2019, 7:25pm

>129 Nancy_Sirvent:

If you hadn't told us, we wouldn't know. Why not delete post?

Sep 3, 2019, 10:10am

I don't have a problem with anyone "knowing." My point was just that what we say here is more public than I thought.

Sep 3, 2019, 12:33pm

>131 Nancy_Sirvent:

I guess the lesson is to assume the worst and always use an alias. Playing on the Internet is like running outdoors naked. It's the most "public" place in the Universe, so do as much as you can to cover up. There is no presumption of privacy anywhere on the Internet, as we've learned with Facebook.

Sep 3, 2019, 1:24pm

I didn't mean this as a big deal. There is no crisis. I know all about the internet and what it's like.

Sep 7, 2019, 5:15pm

I'm back from Chicago and pleased to say that my sister-in-law is making slow but amazing progress. She is fully communicative, speaking and thinking clearly, with no memory issues. Her physical recovery will be slow and there is really no telling what time will bring but right now, she is working on a wide range of physical and occupational therapies. She is due to go home for a few weeks before returning to the hospital for another surgery and she will need 24 hour care but again, the range of things that she is able to do on her own is quite astounding. And her attitude is remarkable!

I know some of you guys are keeping her on prayers lists and in your thoughts and I so appreciate it!

Sep 7, 2019, 6:27pm

>134 laurenbufferd:

Wishing her a full and uneventful recovery. It'll be hard work but she sounds more than able. Wonderful news for you both!

Sep 8, 2019, 4:37pm

Im so glad to hear that! Hopefully this will continue. How is her son doing?

Sep 9, 2019, 8:26pm

Like Julie, I haven't been here in ages. Lauren, delighted your son is out, housed and has a job and that your SIL is doing well, considering.

I'm on sabbatical/study break (being part of a faculty union has a many bonuses and this is one of them!), and getting my ADHD coaching certificate during that break. It only requires about 5-6 hours of my attention a week, but requires a lot of mental energy, and I'm finding that the rest of my life spreads out to fill the remaining time rapidly, so I'm not doing as much other stuff as I anticipated.

Sep 9, 2019, 10:13pm

All good things, Lauren. May the good continue to accrue.

I have nothing to say for myself other than that I am dead tired at 10 p.m. as usual, and the grain bin in my head that holds all my words has been scraped clean. Fortunately it fills back up overnight, but right around now I'm only good for nodding and pointing. And reading, fortunately, because there is SO much to read.

Sep 12, 2019, 12:25pm

Guess who I met? Laurene! No photos but a lovely time was had by two. The coffee was fancy and the day was hot and we REALLY enjoyed each other's company.

Sep 12, 2019, 9:36pm

Sounds divine (and very cool).

Sep 12, 2019, 11:34pm

Thank you for the considerate thoughts, Cindy. Amazing luck kept Dorian from hitting us directly. Fingers crossed for the rest of the season.

Like Mir, and others, I haven't been around consistently for quite a while. I feel bad about that because this community has always meant a lot to me. I'm trying to get proficient with Twitter which I use almost exclusively for things related to politics. Now that I'm retired and have the time, I'm trying to be a better informed and engaged citizen. I hate where this country is headed. I "unfollowed" most of this community so as not to inundate y'all with tweets about that stuff.

Off to check out the rest of my sub'd topics.

Sep 17, 2019, 2:49pm

I had lunch with DG yesterday which is hardly newsworthy since we live in the same town, but SO MUCH FUN. He watched me eat a fancy donut too.

Sep 17, 2019, 3:13pm

>142 laurenbufferd: I spent a weekend in a hotel with SP, which was also so much fun, although not for the reasons that might immediately come to mind. The food was not good, when it could be had at all, but the company was stellar and there are photos:

Sep 18, 2019, 2:39pm

I ate my donuts at home, in secret.

Editado: Sep 19, 2019, 2:29pm

>143 southernbooklady: You forgot about the hotel tap water that tasted like mothballs. I think my dinner of M&Ms and goldfish crackers was very memorable and really you should just feel deeply grateful that I didn't make you watch American Ninja Warriors or a Connie Francis movie.

Sep 20, 2019, 1:46pm

>145 SPRankin: I've never been at a hotel where it was so hard to get something to eat that one consistently went hungry. I was prepped for American Ninja Warriors, but was happier with the late-night impromptu haiku session. Who knew there are actual poems out there about lanyards?

Sep 21, 2019, 8:07pm

>146 southernbooklady: I've been in hotels like that... it's why I pack a handful of power bars on every trip now. Those and bananas have made up a few emergency dinners. But hey, sounds like you all had a fine time anyway.

I get to see Miriam next month! And her mom!

Speaking of work travel, I was in Colorado Springs for the latest LJ event. Usually for these two-day library architecture symposia we all jump on a flight out the Friday evening after it wraps, but there were no Friday evening flights, and we had to stay another night. The whole time we were there every cab driver and local library staff had said that we had to go to Garden of the Gods if we possibly could make it. Our art director/photographer had rented a car, so the minute we were done, four of us piled in and we drove up to Garden of the Gods, maybe 15 minutes away. It's a park with incredible natural rock formations and mountains—just gorgeous, and exactly what we needed after two days of being "on." We hiked around, oohed and aahed and soaked up the general majesty of nature (and got a good look at a big old mule deer buck with an amazing rack). Drove further up to Balanced Rock, another crazy rock formation, which we climbed around on in our work clothes (I shucked my shoes), imagining the crazy glaciers that must have done this. Even nicer was that this wasn't a bunch of work people I've hung out with, so it was kind of a bonding thing too. We ended up at a cool little Mexican restaurant, where we drank big margaritas and told our life stories and had an altogether unexpectedly great time.

Balanced Rock:

And this dude who was unimpressed with us:

Sep 21, 2019, 9:08pm

Oh, nice. Pics. I love pics. Spur of the moment adventures are always the best.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:33pm

>147 lisapeet: We were staying with friends in Boulder, and they also raved about Garden of the Gods. Amazing place; but I gotta say I was cracking up when we were driving passed the Garden of the Gods Liquor Store. Doesn't really sound funny now, but oh man i thought that was just hilarious....

Sep 22, 2019, 1:48pm

That's hilarious, Cindy.

We had a nice little dinner with the ever-lovely DG Strong and his friend Allison on Friday night. They stopped in Salem on their way to Maine, and I was thrilled that they did. SO nice to see DG, but I think that he and I monopolized the entire conversation. We're both relentless talkers, but Holley and Allison were patient and understanding about it.

Sep 23, 2019, 9:59am

I was going to post this in Milestones, but, IMO, it's a little early to proclaim this so. I'd like to see hardcore forensic evidence first. Still, it'd be an amazing find if legit. The process of discovery makes for a very readable article, but the comment section is just as, if not better, a read. I spent the good part of late last night unable to stop reading the sometimes snooty, sometimes snarky, and sometimes flat-out funny in a very dry, English humor kind of way comments.

When Milton met Shakespeare: poet's notes on Bard appear to have been found

Hailed as one of the most significant archival discoveries of modern times, text seems to show the Paradise Lost poet making careful annotations on his edition of Shakespeare’s plays

Sep 24, 2019, 12:06am

I read that too, and am cautiously hopeful that it turns out to be true. Been around that trip too many times....Would be reall cool!

Oct 15, 2019, 3:25pm

October is apparently a month for blindness awareness, autism awareness, national domestic awareness, academic integrity (if you are at the U of Manitoba) and, . . .

But most importantly it is BB month! Earlier this month I had dinner with Lisa, and next week I get to visit with Lauren and DG. I'm very excited.

Oct 16, 2019, 11:16am

Girl, I am freaking out!!!!

Oct 19, 2019, 12:29pm

October is also National Book Month in the US. I'm never fully prepared for it.

Oct 21, 2019, 1:39am

National Book Month = Yeehaw!

Oct 21, 2019, 2:14pm

Heh. Every month is Book Month here.

Oct 21, 2019, 9:34pm

I was going to say—how can you tell?

Editado: Oct 29, 2019, 12:45am

My next book column for the old farts home newsletter is on Stewart O’Nan. Specifically his “Prayers for the Dying” (on my life list) and his Emily Maxwell Trilogy: “Wish You Were Here,” “Emily, Alone,” and “Henry, Himself.” “Emily, Alone” also is on my life list.

Please weigh in on his booms with your faves, opinions, raves, rants, anything you want to say. Thankee.

Expecting to hear from you, DG, on “Last Night at the Lobster.”

Oct 29, 2019, 1:13pm

A Prayer for the Dying remains one of my most unforgettable reads. It was enhanced by a terrific community discussion. I can't remember which community (TT, The Atlantic, R'ville), but I remember discussing it at length with my bestest online buddy ever, Charlie (RIP, my friend), who always had the most insightful remarks. That book's atmosphere pretty much literally defines the term "fever dream." As is noted in almost all the lengthy, critical reviews of this book, it's written in the usually awkward second person, but, in this instance, to great effect. Not only did I feel like I'd gotten inside of the Preacher/Sheriff/Civil War vet's mind looking in, but at some point, I actually started looking out at the surrounding characters/events with his mindset, rather than my own. It's an elegant writerly magic trick that does not come off as a magic trick.

Several reviews reference Albert Camus' "The Plague" as O'Nan's inspiration for this, but I've never seen any confirmation of that. Many also note a distinct Cormac McCarthy influence. I'd not read any of McCarthy's books before I read O'Nan's, so I didn't take that bias into it with me. I have since read everything by McCarthy, and I'd have to say the only possible nexus I see with any McCarthy books would be with his mangnum opus, Suttree.

Thanks for the memory, Kat.

Editado: Oct 29, 2019, 3:34pm

I am a fan of Last Night at the Lobster which I think is all about the dignity of work. One year, I gave a copy to everyone on my staff.

I didn't love West of Sunset but I thought it captured something of what Fitzgerald's final years were like.

Oct 30, 2019, 8:13am

Yes, I am a big Last Night at the Lobster fan. He's like Jane Smiley, though -- completely different books every time. It's hard to get a bead on what a "Stewart O'Nan book" is.

Oct 31, 2019, 12:07am

>160 Pat_D: I think that discussion was in Readerville days; thats when I was first turned on to his books. Might be a good time for a reread.

Oct 31, 2019, 10:21pm

I wish I'd saved those discussions. Not all of them, but especially the ones with Charlie.

Nov 1, 2019, 9:17am

I remember reading him when you found The Sparrow discussion. Yeah, it would be cool to read more of those.

Nov 1, 2019, 2:15pm

Last night at the Lobster was huge on Readerville-I remember it very well and I've always loved the title. I plan to listen to it on audio in the next little while. I remember
people just raving about it.

Editado: Nov 1, 2019, 2:24pm

I have Last Night at the Lobster too, probably because of RV, but haven't read it. Nor any O'Nan, in fact. I look forward to reading your roundup, Kat.

And yeah, I miss Charlie too. He was a good guy.

Editado: Nov 1, 2019, 4:35pm

Whoa, these be fightin’ words, hombre:

André Aciman Would Like to Demote Virginia Woolf From the Canon, NYT book Review, 3 Nov 2019

Nov 1, 2019, 10:09pm

Yeah, I was rather shocked to read that this morning. Have no idea who this person is, but I would think that some discussion of what is canon and who makes that decision would be appropriate

Nov 1, 2019, 10:47pm

Someone had better come up with a good cartoon of Aciman shooting Virginia out of a can(n)on.

Editado: Nov 1, 2019, 10:53pm

I think we may have read one of Aciman’s books at Rville ....

Famous as the author of “Call Me By Your Name.”

Nov 3, 2019, 3:18am

FYI it appears that LibraryThing is going to be changing its design. I do not know how it will effect us, but thought I'd direct you all to the discussion

Nov 3, 2019, 7:03am

Thanks, Cindy.

Nov 3, 2019, 9:01pm

I absolutely love Aciman’s Out of Egypt. The Woolf thing reminds me a bit of the kerfuffle that broke out when Smiley dismissed Lolita. I admire a strong literary opinion, even if it might be wrongheaded.

Editado: Nov 10, 2019, 1:15pm

I guess she won't get invited to the 2020 Met Gala:

--> Taking over for Susan Sontag as “ghost narrator” is none other than Virginia Woolf. Bolton was inspired by the 1992 Sally Potter film Orlando, which was based on Woolf’s novel of the same name about a gender-bending poet who lives for 300 years. “There’s a wonderful scene,” Bolton told Vogue of the film, “in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th-century woman’s robe à la française, and as she runs through it, her clothes change to mid-19th-century dress, and she reemerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea for the exhibit came from.”

Nov 10, 2019, 6:56pm

I’ve been thinking about books I didn’t expect to enjoy but did. One such for me is Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men. What about y’all?

Nov 10, 2019, 8:52pm

The one that first comes to mind is Hunter's Run. I was never into science fiction until I read this book.

Nov 11, 2019, 12:55am

Oh, that was a home run for me as well.

Nov 11, 2019, 12:43pm

Mine is Unbroken.

Nov 14, 2019, 12:32am

Here’s my Stewart O’Nan piece for the old fart newsletter, draft close to final.

Bird watchers have a life list comprising the specific bird species they have seen. Some entries are mundane, say an American robin; some are exceptional, say a toucan. It will surprise exactly no one to know I have a life list of books. It does not include all the books I’ve read, rather only the best books I’ve read. And two of those were written by one man: Stewart O’Nan.

O’Nan was born in Pittsburgh in 1961 and raised there until he went east to college at Cornell from which he graduated with a B.S. in aerospace engineering. Then he went to work for Grumman on Long Island. But his compulsion to write won out and we are fortunate therefore. He has published a number of novels and short story collections. I regret to confess I don’t often read short stories (too short!) but I have esteemed literary friends who swear by O’Nan’s story collection titled “Last Night at the Lobster.”

O’Nan’s writing is brilliant on many levels. My favorite of these is his gift for writing stories about ordinary people who would be forgettable beneath anyone else’s pen. Under his pen, these lives, much as our own, achieve a sterling quality that highlights the essence and courage it takes to simply be who we are., and (this is key) makes interesting, even fascinating, their stories.

Herewith the best O’Nan fiction according to Kathryn (and her friends):

— “Emily, Alone” in which an older women comes to terms with living alone and how to negotiate familial relationships and interactions with longstanding friends. Could have been boring but, instead, is astringent, funny, insightful and s brilliant read.

— “A Prayer for the Dying” about which I am hesitant to say much. Is it enough to say this book is in my top ten lifetime reads? The setting is a small Wisconsin town, the time is shortly after the Civil War. The situation is profoundly serious.

— “Last Night at the Lobster: Stories”

Nov 14, 2019, 1:57am

Truth to tell, however, I think I should be able to say: read this book because I love it, forsaking all the explanatory hoohah.

Nov 14, 2019, 4:31am

Aerospace engineer? I did not know that.

I really like this: "Under his pen, these lives, much as our own, achieve a sterling quality that highlights the essence and courage it takes to simply be who we are., and (this is key) makes interesting, even fascinating, their stories."

I see a few typos, but I'm sure you'll fix that, Kat. You should make it a monthly column in the newsletter.

Nov 14, 2019, 7:41am

Also, Last Night at the Lobster isn't stories. I'd say it's a novella, but novel works too.

Nov 14, 2019, 1:38pm


Nov 14, 2019, 9:08pm

Nov 15, 2019, 5:27pm

That's great. The people who owned it before HATED people coming to look at it.

Nov 17, 2019, 7:38pm

I won a giveaway on Goodreads! I've been filling out those entries for years and finally hit it. I won the new Patti Smith book, so I'm extra happy.

Nov 18, 2019, 11:36am

Congrats, Nancy. I never win any of those things, either. But maybe that's because the book gods know I need another one like I need a hole in the head.

Nov 18, 2019, 4:02pm

New Patti Smith book is an excellent score! Congratulations!

Nov 18, 2019, 5:02pm

I’ve heard good things about that one!

Nov 19, 2019, 7:02am

For anyone who's curious as to how all that judging turned out, LJ's Best Books 2019 is up now, and the short stories are here.

Nov 23, 2019, 10:56pm


Dic 6, 2019, 1:29pm

Is anyone interested in a Guardian best of swap or shall we give it a rest this year?

Dic 6, 2019, 4:31pm

wondered about that. Im in if others are, but we could give it a rest this year as well

Dic 7, 2019, 8:57am

I'm in for it

Dic 7, 2019, 11:24am

ok, I've got three. :)

Dic 7, 2019, 1:56pm

OK. I'll do it. It's a nice tradition!

Dic 7, 2019, 2:28pm

I'm in (let me know if you want help!)

Dic 7, 2019, 3:12pm

I'm in. It's a good list this year, too.

Dic 7, 2019, 5:16pm

I'm on it ladies and gentleman.

Quick update on my sister-in-law who I know some of you have been rooting for. She had her craniotomy last week and it went super smoothly. I spent a few days in Chicago and was astounded at how well she was doing and how herself she was. She still has limited mobility on one side of her body but is currently able to move her left leg a bit. She can also read - for which she is astoundingly thankful. She's sharp as a tack and her cognitive function is such that I think my brother wishes he could maybe dial it back one notch.

I do believe in the power of good vibes so thank to all who are keeping her in their thoughts. She's got a ways to go but she's also come a long long way since July.

Also, unbelievable food choices at the Northwestern U hospital and a killer bookstore.

Dic 7, 2019, 6:53pm

Thanks, Lauren—I've been thinking about her (and you) and wondering how she was progressing. It's kind of amazing what neuroscience knows... they don't say "it ain't brain surgery" for nothing.

Dic 7, 2019, 8:05pm

So glad things are going so well! Hopefully that will continue! How is her son doing?

Dic 7, 2019, 10:58pm

Good to hear that the operation with well. I saw the cookie spread. Rather impressive for a hospital cafeteria.

Dic 8, 2019, 3:11pm

Wonderful news, Lauren.

Dic 10, 2019, 1:52pm

some of you have already sent me your guardian lists so I guess the swap is a go.

Please check out the following lists.

Send me your address, email, a list of what you've already read and anything you absolutely do not want, including, if need be, a genre. Like for me it would be no true crime or cookbooks specializing in pork or shellfish. Please restrict yourselves to books from the Guardian lists.

Send me all your info by December 14, I'll send out instructions by Monday evening, December 15th.

There were a few snafus last year with people not sending their info to my home email. If you do not hear back from me, assume that I've have not received anything from you. I will not be checking the Library Thing mail box.

My home address is

Let's swap, y'all.

Dic 14, 2019, 9:49am

Info sent.

I forgot how this works.

Dic 14, 2019, 10:15am

Pat, it's like a round robin. I send out a list with everyone's contact info and you simply send a book to the next person on the list.

So far, I've heard from dg, Cindy, Pat, Miriam, and Nancy. Anybody else?

Y'all will hear from me on Monday.

Dic 14, 2019, 3:42pm

Oh, I see. Thanks, Lauren. I wasn't pressuring you. I'd just forgotten how our giftees were designated.

Dic 14, 2019, 3:47pm

No pressure felt, Pat. :)

Editado: Dic 15, 2019, 10:38am

Thank you for the update, Lauren. I dropped by LT to check for just that. As someone whose partner, now spouse, had an occipital stroke a year ago, such things are on my radar now more than ever. I'm so very happy to hear about her progress and will continue to pray.

Dic 15, 2019, 11:54pm

cd, I am so sorry I didn't know about your spouse. It's a lot. You were so kind to me when Holley had her stroke and it made a difference. Thank you.

Dic 16, 2019, 7:37am

It's good to see you 'round these parts, again, cd. Wishing your other half and you a brighter road ahead.

Dic 18, 2019, 7:29am

List received, Lauren. Thanks again for doing that. I have a question, as I haven't participated in a long time. Some of those books are not scheduled to be released in the U.S. until 2020, but I searched on ABE Books and found advanced reader's copies. Gifting an ARC seems a bit gauche, but it's that, or send a note with a "To-Be-Delivered-When-Available," or substitute with a not-so-perfect choice. What's the consensus?

Dic 18, 2019, 9:00am

I like a late one because then it seems like a surprise!

Dic 18, 2019, 11:56am

I’m not participating, but could I put in a request not to give ARCs? It’s not so much gauche as just wrong, and boy I have a big big problem with ABE selling them at all.

Dic 18, 2019, 1:43pm

Some of those yet-to-be-published-US tomes can be acquired through Amazon/UK.

Dic 18, 2019, 3:12pm

And also Amazon Canada.

Editado: Dic 18, 2019, 3:15pm

Thanks, Kat and Nancy. I prefer not to buy them, especially for gifts.

However, for myself, I have no moral ambiguity. I've contributed to the support of literature, authors, publishing and book stores enough for a couple of lifetimes. Life's too short to wait months and months for a hotly anticipated read, and if it's worthy I usually buy the final product, anyway. I understand your passion, though, Lisa.

Dic 18, 2019, 4:51pm

Just learned that my giftee won't receive hers until after Christmas and there may be more than one separate delivery. Just FYI.

Dic 18, 2019, 10:16pm

It will be the same for me. I think they'll arrive relatively soon after though!

And, post-holiday deliveries are the best, particularly when they arrive in frigidly cold January.

Dic 19, 2019, 7:18pm

Nancy you should receive one before Christmas, the other two sometime in January!

Dic 20, 2019, 1:37pm

I love this!!

Dic 20, 2019, 3:16pm

Unfortunately, the same will be for my giftee: partial before, the rest (I am told) by Dec. 30th. I hate that I couldn't get it all in time to put under the tree.

Dic 20, 2019, 6:25pm

I love it too!

Dic 20, 2019, 8:31pm

Oh, I'm totally okay with receiving after Christmas. I'm just disappointed they all couldn't arrive in time for my giftee, because now I won't have visions dancing in my head of them being opened Christmas morning. I know, I know. How very adult of me.

Editado: Dic 21, 2019, 12:57pm

Cindy, your package should arrive during Hanukkah! I did go off list for one but it was so perfect, I couldn't not. I'm not insulted if you want to re-gift or exchange and just know, if it arrives first, it's ok to say WTF and know something more on point is following.

Dic 21, 2019, 3:57pm

I think I'm the first recipient! Thank you, Cindy for Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino. I read an excerpt from it in the New Yorker this year and have been interested in reading it. Wonderful choice! THANK YOU, Cindy.

Dic 21, 2019, 10:12pm

>226 laurenbufferd: oh I can't wait to see what the off list one is! I love when that happens, finding the most perfect book for just that person. I no doubt I'll love it!

Dic 21, 2019, 10:13pm

>227 Nancy_Sirvent: Oh so glad that worked out. but I must confess that I had to ask Santa for some hints :) Actually thats a book Im interested in as well! Happy Reading!

Dic 22, 2019, 4:15pm

Thank you, Nancy and Pat. It was frightening and we were unsure of what the future held, but even after the loss of 1/4 of her vision, she was able to drive and work again. We're so grateful.

Dic 22, 2019, 4:41pm

Ooooo Ghost Wall arrived from Pat, my mystery gifter! It's funny, it was on MY list for MY recipient but I went a different way at the last second! It looks so good -- thanks, Pat! I can't decide how to shelve it, though -- alphabetically or next to the Painted Veil you gave me years ago!

Dic 22, 2019, 4:49pm

That's all you received? I was emailed that 2 were delivered today. Hmm... let me check on that.

There's also a special little one on its way (off-list, sorry Lauren, I'm no good with rules), I've got fingers crossed for pre-Christmas delivery.

Dic 22, 2019, 4:56pm

dg, the email said:

"Package was left inside the residence’s mailbox "

Editado: Dic 22, 2019, 8:58pm

oooo yes it was in the mailbox even on a Sunday. In some sort of Olympian feat of inefficiency, I got three packages delivered to three different sides of the house today!

In the mailbox from Pat: I've Seen the Future and I'm Not Going: The Art Scene and Downtown in NY in the 1980s and THAT is how you figure out a DG book, my friends!

It's funny -- because I've been reading all those Zola books for so long, all books just seem like the biggest surprise on earth. They're all news to me!

Dic 23, 2019, 4:39pm

>231 DG_Strong: Deeg I received Ghost Wall as well, from Lauren! as well as The Confessions of Frannie Langton which I had considered before, should be very interesting and then Deaf Republic which despite the fact that I usually request no poetry, I think I will make an exception here, this really is right up my alley in so many ways. Look forward to reading that! Thanks, Lauren!!!

Dic 24, 2019, 11:49am

I received Girl, Woman, Other yesterday! Thank you, Cindy. It was high on my list.

Dic 24, 2019, 4:10pm

dg>" and THAT is how you figure out a DG book, my friends!"

And THAT response, in itself, is like a Christmas gift to me. I hope you enjoy it, deeg. But save that spot next to the Painted Veil ;)

Cindy, I'm interested in hearing back from y'all on Ghost Wall. I'm contemplating it for myself.

Dic 24, 2019, 5:48pm

I liked Ghost Wall—interesting little gothic tale about the intersection of class distinctions and cultural nostalgia.

On Monday I got to have a short but sweet lunch with the lovely Lauren B, who passed along some excellent-looking books and engaged me in good conversation for an hour. She also got to see my embarrassment-of-book-riches workplace, where I happily wallow five days a week.

Dic 25, 2019, 12:47am

Thanks, Lisa.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, and whatever tradition my fellow 'loonies celebrate at this time of year, to y'all. We don't do Christmas Dinner in my family. We gather together late morning, open presents, and gorge on an elaborate Christmas Brunch. Then we lay around all day watching football (or an agreed-upon movie), listening to Christmas tunes, and reminiscing. I find these Christmases become more and more dear to me the older we all get. For myself, I try to make it as special as possible, knowing each one could be the last with our Dad.

Have fun, and may the good book elves keep you permanently on their "Nice" list.

Dic 25, 2019, 9:03am

Hello, and happy/merry to whoever celebrates whatever! I hope there are equal measures of fun and relaxation for everyone today, as they wish.

It's pretty Christmas-free in our house this year. No tree, no gifts, no special meal—I'm just happy to have shuffled to the end of the year and have the next week and a half off to catch up on sleep and see friends. We were going to do charitable giving for the holidays, as we usually do, but our cat Francis has to spend a couple of days at the emergency vet's for pancreatitis. We have pet insurance on him, but that won't come through for another month and a half at least, so... looks like Francis is our charitable giving this year. It's OK—he's worth it.

It's sunny, headed up to the 40s, and decidedly a non-white Christmas—which, as primary household shoveler, is A-OK with me. I'm not very festive, I guess. But I got to see the kid before he headed upstate with his girlfriend to do their thing, and he's a joy. And I have lots of excellent holiday reading on my docket, and today we're going to go see a movie.

Editado: Dic 25, 2019, 10:34pm

Very much hooked on The Confessions of Frannie Langton

We decided to eat Christmas dinner at at the Chinese Restaurant, a tradition among Jews.. Really nice place with good food. Had a lovely time with my sibs and their friends

Dic 26, 2019, 2:25pm

Pat, Amazon says the package has shipped and will arrive Jan 8.

Dic 26, 2019, 3:23pm

No worries, Mir. We have such similar tastes, I know it'll be perfect.

Editado: Ene 14, 2020, 11:51am

Hey ho, y'all, it sounds like the Guardian swap went off without a hitch. Cindy, I could not resist Deaf Republic so I am glad you were the happy recipient.

The amount of books at the LJ offices made me break out in a cold sweat. Talk about a crack house. I exited with a tiny pocket book of Rumi poems and considered myself very lucky.

Seeing Lisa P was the bomb. I highly recommend it.

Dic 27, 2019, 12:26pm

Does anyone keep in touch with Sarah R from old Readerville days? Yesterday I wore a scarf she knitted for me and wondered if she's ever around here. From time to time I think about folks I've never met but felt like I knew, going all the way back to Table Talk, then Readerville but don't recall seeing here: Prentice, Homer, Edward, Gretchen, Debi, Karen, Tana B, P Cashwell, Katherine, etc. Though I'm not here often, it's kind of comforting to know that some of the folks from back there are still here at LT. It's also sad when I think of those who are gone, like Sue Russell.

Dic 27, 2019, 12:46pm

I think Tana might have died as well.

I live for the day Karen Wall comes back!!!

Dic 27, 2019, 3:42pm

I know, Cindy, it's kind of weird on its surface, the deep attachments you can feel with people you've never met in RL. I track my internet life in phases according to which community I was mainly interacting: ListServs/UseNet, IRC, TT, The Atlantic, R'ville, somewhere-I-can't-recall for a short time, and here.

I think back to the early days I was online and it amazes me how rudimentary it all was compared to today. There was no such thing as a browser. One learned about places to go via ListServs/email, and you had to be invited to most groups as there were no Websites. No images, only text and ASCII "art." I remember this one, early IRC group where we started a Quiz Game that ran every weekend. Word traveled fast, and before long we had as many as a hundred members from all over the world. It would get really raucous some nights. I never laughed so hard in my life. Some of the "reg's" were whip-smart funny as hell.

I began my online book interest via an American Lit University ListServ. I "met" some really brainy people there (professors, writers, etc.) who turned me onto other email lists, and so on. I know I've told the story before about getting recruited for an Emily Dickinson academic project that turned into a highly regarded textbook. I also sat on the submissions board for one of the very first-ever fiction e-zines. I know it sounds nerdy, but those were pretty exciting times. Everything was so new and fascinating.

Then along came forums and communities. I remember all those people you listed, Cindy, and I think of them warmly from time to time (I'd add Charlie and Teep). Prentice and Charlie were two of the most insightful readers and writers I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I miss them a lot. I'm very grateful for this small, enduring community. Even when I'm not interacting for periods of time, I still stop by regularly to lurk and try to keep up. It's a comforting feeling knowing y'all are still here.

Dic 27, 2019, 4:02pm

Tana died, as well as Sue Russell (whom I still miss very much), Charlie Wendell (ditto), Peggy Healey, Jim Wallace, David Scheinman. The wheel turns.

I see former RV folks on Facebook, and am still in touch with a lot of them. I was corresponding with Sarah R for a while and we sort of drifted off... I wonder how she’s doing too (and I still wear the scarf she made me).

Dic 27, 2019, 8:19pm

I still exchange Christmas cards with Sarah Rocklin -- she's alive and well!

Dic 28, 2019, 11:41am

I have a scarf of Sarah's as well.

does anyone remember Sara N - she posted as Magpie. I met her a few times - she was a sweet young woman who (I thought) was in a borderline abusive relationship. I often wonder about her.

Dic 28, 2019, 3:13pm

>250 laurenbufferd: I very vaguely remember her, but no details.

Dic 28, 2019, 5:59pm

One more from Pat -- a lovely little vintage hardcover of Rock Crystal.

Lauren, I'm waiting on one thing of yours, but it's been delayed so the rest will magically appear at your house one day next week if you see me on your Ring camera.

Dic 28, 2019, 6:07pm

Hee i also have one of Sarahs scarves (that she made with thinner yarn to fit out desert winters!) Also have a great original Speedy!

Dic 29, 2019, 5:39pm

I'm officially spacey. The books I ordered for Pat arrived at my house! Damn. Pat, I'm sending them out tomorrow. Once I've mailed them I'll give you an eta. Duh.

Dic 30, 2019, 5:43am

Heh. You should read them first, Mir! I won't mind your eyetracks on them.

No rush. I have plenty to read.

Dic 30, 2019, 8:39am

Lost track of Gary Hyduke and Martin Zook. Got to meet both of them; they were among the first people who welcomed me to the old TT group and well I got hooked. What a fun place, what amazing people, intellegent well read and hilarous to boot.

I think now and then of Lyra, and her partner in crime name escapes me, from rville. Anyone hear about them? Hope they, and the rest of the YA crowd, are doing well.

Dic 30, 2019, 7:55pm

Nancy, the books arrived today and you picked brilliantly!!! I am so delighted.

Nancy sent me The Yellow House, The Topeka School, and Ghost Wall. I'm very intrigued by Ghost Wall, and I've had the other two on my "I really, really want" shelf for awhile.

Dic 31, 2019, 3:27pm

I'm so glad they arrived that quickly and even more glad that you like them! It's such a fun thing to do, and using the Guardian lists gives it an interesting twist.

Cindy, did you send me the Ullman book? If so, I got it today--thank you!!!!

Dic 31, 2019, 11:04pm

Yup that would be me! Thanks for letting me know, Happy reading!

Editado: Ene 1, 2020, 2:32am

Dear Mir, I cannot tell you how many times I have sent books to myself that I meant to send to others. Therefore, I adore you.

Ene 7, 2020, 10:29pm

Is anyone tallying up the years best lists?

Ene 8, 2020, 12:15pm

Julie usually does that, but I haven't seen her post in a while. I hope all is okay with her.

Ene 8, 2020, 6:39pm

She's on a heavy metal cruise!

Ene 9, 2020, 7:54am

Of course, she is!

Ene 9, 2020, 8:47am

Really? That's awesome. Good for Julie.

Ene 9, 2020, 10:30am

Is that really a thing?

Ene 9, 2020, 3:46pm

It is. There are a lot of those type things — one of my closest friends is married to an Americana founding father and every year she goes on an Americana/Rockabilly cruise that he gets booked for. It sounds fun and...intense.

Editado: Ene 14, 2020, 11:59am

Pat, please let us know when your books arrive. Then we can official close the door on the chapter that is the great book swap of 2019. Thanks for playing!!

I had lunch with DG last week and he gave me the excruciatingly beautiful Greenfeast and an awesome book of poetry Rebecca Tamas Witch and one of the Bloodroot veggie cookbooks because he pays attention!

so lovely.

Ene 14, 2020, 2:02pm

There's no note, but they're all off The Guardian's list, so I'm assuming these are all from Santa Miriam.

The Heavens ~ Sandra Newman ("Shakespeare," "defies categorization," "dialogue wizardry")

Nobber ~ Oisín Fagan ("A brutal, hilarious, vivid fever dream of a book.")

The Confessions of Frannie Langton ~ Sara Collins ("lush, gritty, wry, gothic and compulsive")

I've had my eye on "Nobber" since I mentioned it to Kat, and the other two look right up my alley, also. Perfect choices and so generous! Thanks so much, Mir. A wonderful start to My 2020 Reading Year. I'll be jumping into "Nobber" as soon as I finish the new Penman (which was interrupted by a big, family get together for the College Football Championship watch. Yay! LSU!).

Ene 14, 2020, 4:34pm

The note was in the other package (the one that ended up at my house) ... Knowing how spectacular I am at procrastinating, I thought it best if Amazon re-send rather than me and I forgot to add a note. Glad they look up your alley. Nobber looked very much like a Pat book. The Heavens was iffier, but I thought worth the risk.

Feb 4, 2020, 7:29am

Did someone here send me Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping and Gilead? What a thoughtful and nice surprise—the one ebook I just borrowed from the library and was about to spring for a hard copy so I could go back to its beauty anytime I wanted, and the other high up on my wish list after reading the first... If one of you sent them, thank you! That was a lovely gift.

Feb 4, 2020, 10:00am

That was me, thought I sent a gift note with it, guess not. Saw you were having a rough time and knew you'd been wanting those, so.... Enjoy, and hope you are having a better week!

Feb 4, 2020, 10:49am

Oh Cindy, how nice of you! Thank you—that was really thoughtful.

I have to say, all the myriad ways people have shown up for me have been so very appreciated—cards and letters, emails, texts, calls, posts, little gifts—even something as simple as Twitter or FB likes has meant something. Every single one of them has been so appreciated during this manifestly shitty time. I’m slow on my thank-yous, but please know how much this has all meant to me.

Feb 24, 2020, 5:33pm

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven't been around for a while. I haven't been reading, so I haven't been visiting here. And yes, I was on a heavy metal cruise! It's the fourth time I've gone, and it's so much fun. I've made a ton of friends from all over the world. If you're curious about it, it's called 70,000 Tons of Metal. You can find pictures and videos out there to give you an idea. We're a crazy bunch!

Also, I didn't think I'd compile the best of list this year. Every year, fewer and fewer people were voting, and the "winner" usually had 2 or 3 people mention it. I figured I'd just let it go this time. I've been a combination of busy, lazy, and depressed, so those are my excuses!

Feb 26, 2020, 9:41pm

I think we're all in kind of posting funk, Julie (unless people meet elsewhere). Nice to see you checking in.

Mar 2, 2020, 7:09am

I'm not! I post here all the time, but it's a bit of a vacuum. Oh well, things are what they are.

But also meeting elsewhere! I was in Nashville for a conference and took an extra day to stay with Lauren, which was wonderfully reviving and full of conversation and walks and meals and animal petting. We had dinner Saturday night with DG—excellent food and catching up, a little gossip, a good time.

Extra necessary because we lost our good old cat Mr. B the day before I had to leave. He was 16 or 17 and had just reached the end of his path, but man I loved that cat.

And now after being in Nashville and Miami before that over the past week, back to the office to catch up on all the work I got behind on by working elsewhere. I'm telling myself that spring is coming and I'll stick with that thought for the week.

Mar 2, 2020, 11:27am

Well shoot. I was heading back from Illinois after closing my mother's house and thought about rerouting through Nashville. But I'd been gone so long and felt so blue after days going through her stuff that I just hurried on home. Had I known you'd be there too I might have detoured. Not that I wouldn't love to see Lauren and DG too but I may be heading back in April and will perhaps try to see them then.

I want to get up to NYC before the fall so hope you can find some time to get together then - I'll let you know dates when I get plans firmed up.

Editado: Mar 2, 2020, 9:20pm

Hey LU!!!!

There is also talk of a Boston meet-up in May but I'll be here in April if you are coming back through.

Having Lisa here was way fun. LP, I mailed your books today.

Mar 2, 2020, 10:02pm

Wow, imagine if LuAnn had shown up! You just have to come to New York, then.

Lauren, you are a mensch. Thank you for the book sending... I will repay you by not sending you any for a while.

Mar 4, 2020, 2:18am

Just popping in to check on Lauren and DG after that horrible tornado.

Mar 4, 2020, 11:07am

Yes, me too.

Editado: Mar 4, 2020, 2:19pm

Lauren and DG are OK. I’ll let them fill in any details.

Editado: Mar 4, 2020, 3:59pm

We are both alright. DG lives closer to the neighborhoods that were esp hard hit. The damage is devastating though. Lots of small businesses, as well as homes, churches, schools.

If you are so moved, the Community Foundation of Tennessee will get your donation into the hands that need it.

Editado: Mar 5, 2020, 6:18am

Thanks, Lisa and Lauren. *Big sigh of relief.*

Editado: Mar 11, 2020, 6:39pm

Whoops, sorry to not check in here. Yes, everything is fine on the homefront. It was a terrible ten minutes, though -- I never ever do the things they say to but something told me to this time, so we cowered in the back hallway where I spent the entire time trying to figure out how to use the flashlight on my phone. But we never even lost power -- yet a mile away, disaster.

Work (owned by Karen Templer) was the big question for a couple of days since it is literally in the very center of one of the most hard-hit neighborhoods and we couldn't get into the neighborhood for a couple of days. But fairly miraculously, we were back up and running in 72 hours (power was out for longer, but a lot of work prep could be done before going in). I second Lauren's link to the Community Foundation; they're a good choice and they distribute funds in all different ways, not just a single type of aid.

Mar 13, 2020, 5:53pm

Checking in. Manitoba has just had it's first 3 cases of Covid-19, the Prime Minister's wife is sick with Covid and uni classes across the country are shut down (UM made the decision about an hour ago). I have friends in Philadelphia and one of them is understandably stressed about how she'll keep working and pay bills because most of her work is contract and in-person (she's a speech therapist).

Editado: Mar 14, 2020, 6:01pm

Hey Mir, thanks for checking in. I'm sorry to hear about your friends—this is all really hard on contract workers, service workers, retail folks.

Not so bad over here, though. I'm almost two weeks out from a bunch of air travel—three major airports, LaGuardia twice—and a huge conference, with no ill effects. Both Jeff and I have jobs that are easy to do remotely, and we've been working from home since the middle of last week. We're kind of food over-buyers on a regular basis, and I'm one of those people who needs to have two dozen rolls of toilet paper and four cases of cat food on hand at any given time, so we have plenty of supplies. I'm sure we're going to get pretty cabin-feverish before this is over, but I've been making a point of getting out of the house and walking or doing yard work every day... the real challenge is going to be not letting work extend its sneaky tentacles into every corner of my life since I don't have that home/office divide. Plus I'm reporting on libraries and COVID-19 mostly, so the news cycle is all in my face all the time. BUT I'm not a really anxiety prone person, and feeling like there's not a whole lot more I can do than what I'm doing (staying home, going outside at least once a day to do yard work or walk around or whatever). And I have a LOT of good stuff to read, so no worries there. It's definitely a weird time in the universe, though.

My kid's school on the island of Grenada is sending all students home, so he's out of there tomorrow. I won't see him, though—he's renting a car from the airport and driving up to Binghamton, where his girlfriend lives, and I don't blame him. Also because the school is transitioning everyone to online and he isn't getting any kind of break in his work, so that's probably the least possible disruption. I'm glad he's getting out, though... a potential outbreak on a small island that's not well equipped to handle such things doesn't sound very good.

How's everyone else faring?

Mar 14, 2020, 9:47pm

>287 lisapeet: How's everyone else faring?

Since I work from home, only go out to the grocery store when I run out of clementines, and my favorite out of doors recreational activity is turning over my compost pile, life is not too altered for me. I worry a bit about my mom and dad, but they are sensible people who don't take stupid risks.

The most alarming thing for me is that most of my neighbors in my very red, pro-Trump community are convinced that COVID-19 is, and I quote, "Bullshit dreamed up by Democrats because there's an election coming up."

Besides, says the guy behind me who likes to belt out country music songs from his riding mower, I wash my hands.

Well I'm glad to hear that, I said.

Editado: Mar 14, 2020, 11:21pm

Well I just got a job at the museum I've been volunteering at, Gallery Educator at a children's museum. Suppose to start the 23, and so far they are remaining open. Well see. The job is only 19 hours a week and Im not doing it for the money, so if they close I won't have a problem. But all the districts in the valley are closing. Teachers are supposed to go online, but our district has a large numbr of kids who do not have computers, let alone internet. Plus the teachers of younger kids are supposed to put together a packet of lessons to send home. Afraid the district will decide hey what do we need teachers for?

I feel so bad for the families that now have to figure out what to do with their kids while they are at work, or what to do for money if work has closed.

I am bummed that the Az Book Festival was canceled this weekend. Its always so much fun

Mar 15, 2020, 1:16pm

Congrats on the new job, Cindy! Sounds like fun

I've been thinking of you all in these weirdest of weird days. We're doing well. I have been anxious on and off, especially about Holley who was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago and has a pretty compromised respiratory system. Plus, she keeps forgetting about the virus. We wen to the supermarket 2 days ago and the place was jammed. She said, "Wow. Are all these people stocking up for St. Patrick's Day?" This, after all the time we spent putting together a long list of items that can feed us and last at least a couple of weeks. I thought she was kidding, but she wasn't. I sometimes forget that she had a stroke and she has strange symptoms that pop up from time to time. Counting blessings, though.

Has anyone heard from Kat? Isn't she travelling right now? I hope she's doing ok; I'll try to find her online. Plus, given her obsession with pandemic books, she is a valuable asset.

I have read that something that is good for all of us right now is to get outdoors. We need the light and the fresh air to both lift our spirits and boost our immune systems.

Now reading Excavation by Wendy Ortiz. Chilling.

Mar 15, 2020, 11:34pm

Okay. Sounds like all the BB'ers are doing well. Congrats on the job, Cindy.

We're basically following our hurricane protocol, as far as supplies, etc. Because of the way Trump has slow-walked and short-changed everything, we'll be dealing with this in some form or another into late summer. That's my best-case scenario. Trying to keep my expectations low. I've been getting texts from my former ICU team members telling me they're already getting slammed and at constant overflow. Video clips from some Italian hospitals are breaking my heart.

Nancy, please let us know if you hear from Kat.

Take care, peeps, and stay home.

Mar 15, 2020, 11:47pm

I've heard from Kat. She went to Mexico and got back OK, and is now dealing with this business as are we all. But she's doing all right, and I'll let her pick up the thread from here if she likes.

Mar 16, 2020, 12:41am

Thanks, Lisa.

Mar 16, 2020, 10:54am

Thanks to all who have checked in. I was kind of bumbling along until I went to the grocery yesterday. I expected no tp, but no potatoes! for some reason, that freaked me out. My husband's school is closed for two weeks at least as my younger son's community college. Older guy is in NY and he is out from work but at least he has a safety net (us) for a little while.

Parks is still open but I expect that we will close this week.

I am so glad to hear from all of you - let's stay close, please. Love to Nancy and Kat, especially.

Mar 17, 2020, 1:48pm

Hola y’all. I’m here but the Bay Area is sheltering in place so not much going on. Jim’s residence has forbidden visitors which is disheartening. I fesr that, when I finally get to see him, he won’t know who I am.

Good vibes and well wishes to all.

Mar 17, 2020, 8:19pm

:( {Kat}

Mar 19, 2020, 5:17pm

Kat, does his residence not have skyping capabilities? If not, most cell phones can skype now. Don't worry about imposing on the caretakers. That's part of their job, and most of them want to do all they can to maintain familiarity.

Take care all and STAY HOME.

Mar 21, 2020, 3:13pm

How's everyone doing? It appears this quarantine business is going to go for a lot longer than we first thought. Thinking of you all and wish you all the best health.

Mar 21, 2020, 9:21pm

I've been thinking of you and Holly. How are you guys?

Mar 21, 2020, 10:21pm

We're good. Thanks for asking, LB. There is, as usual, a lot to tell. Briefly put, we've decided to move back to the Cape. Our house was about to go on the market when all this current fandango hit. We need to live in a place in which we feel we belong, regardless of health stuff et al.

So, like the rest of the world, we're hunkering down. Doesn't it feel like we all going to emerge from this (or not) to a new culture? How bad can that be?

Mar 22, 2020, 11:55pm

Oh man. This font. This threading of topics. I feel a decade or so younger.

Mar 23, 2020, 5:37am

OMG, am I really seeing this? Not sure, I've been up all night.

That you R'ville, TT TPC?

Mar 23, 2020, 9:19am

Yeah it’s me. Was lured over by something LisaP posted. I think I was already a member but I created a new identity.

But my reading life has been crappy the last couple of years .... nothing like during the heady days of R’ville and Bookballoon.

Mar 23, 2020, 1:28pm

Hey teep, glad you moseyed on over. It's nice to see a few members of the old gang.

Nancy, that's cool you've decided to move back to the Cape. That's where I always think of you two when I imagine you.

We're fine here—very privileged to be so lightly affected. New York just implemented PAUSE measures. ("Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone"... can't you just picture the room full of policy makers up in Albany batting around different acronyms until they came up with that one and everyone just went YESSSS! It just makes me think of menopause, though, to be honest.) All non-essential businesses need to shut down, no gatherings, etc. etc. Pretty much what we've been doing for the past week and a half anyway, so it doesn't feel particularly challenging. We've visited the grocery and drugstore, but that's about it—we're both well set up for working from home so it's not a big deal, and we get out every day (except maybe not this rainy sleety one) for a walk around the local reservoir or just to putter in the yard.

I'm not experiencing this downtime everyone's talking about, though—I'm a journalist and there's a LOT of news, if you've noticed. Last week, along with that, we were closing our first-ever print issue with everyone working remotely. So there were a bunch of 12-hour days involved—I'm hoping this week will be a little less frantic. Still, I like being involved in my corner of the news cycle, and it keeps me from clicking around aimlessly.

I'm not stressing a lot—stress isn't my go-to emotion—but I am PISSED OFF at the administration for allowing this to happen, and worried about the coming recession. There is going to be some French Revolution-style shit coming, I believe. So many people will be damaged by this, and it will largely divide across class lines... It will be a big mess.

So in the meantime, I will work and read and prep my garden so that I can grow food when I have no money to buy it.

Editado: Mar 23, 2020, 2:02pm

Teep, glad you made your way over here (I've seen you for years at FB tho so I feel likes its no big deal :) Now we just need to find Cashwell and get him here!

So my biggest problem is that my beautiful yard are filled with blooms which means pollen is everywhere. So I want to be outside and enjoy but I need a box of kleenex by my side! (yes I know I should stay inside but soon its going to be summer and I will be forced to!) So Ive gone through several boxes so DH went to all the stores around us at around 5 this morning. Nada. So he ended up buying two packs of tp (which are back on the shelves) and placed a roll each place where the box is empty. Great so I can still stay outside and read!

Mar 23, 2020, 2:08pm

Actually I think it's better to be outside whenever you can—just away from other people. If you have a yard and a box of Kleenex to tide you over, I'd recommend it. But then I'm a Jewish mother at heart: go out and play in the fresh air!

Mar 23, 2020, 2:25pm

oh yeah its not stopping me. just a nuisance I must live with.

Editado: Mar 27, 2020, 12:41pm

double post

Mar 27, 2020, 11:07am

Teep! Nice to see you back.

Dh was laid off, but I think he's mostly happy about that. I'm working from home. Manitoba has low numbers so far, but I think that will change quickly. Things are brewing in more ways than one.

Lisa, I'm glad you're safe. NY is certainly dealing with a world of hurt right now.

Mar 28, 2020, 3:16pm

Miriam, I've been thinking about you loads. Hope all is ok in your world.

Mar 28, 2020, 4:29pm

Ah Mir, I'm sorry. It's really brutal out there on every front.

But yeah, we're doing OK here in Little House on the Deegan.

Abr 3, 2020, 8:08am

Thinking of you all today and hoping you are well and holding up. Sending love.

Abr 5, 2020, 11:26pm

Nancy, did you make it back to the Cape yet or is that still in the planning states? Just read this in the NYer and thought of you: As the Coronavirus Ravages the City, Where Should a Good New Yorker Be?.

Still fine here... everything in our household is very, very, very much the same as it was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, etc. And though I know that's not true for a lot of folks in NYC and everywhere, having so little contact with the outside world keeps it all at a weird distance.

Abr 6, 2020, 11:56am

We're not on the Cape yet. Our house sale has been postponed. I'm very much in touch with people on the Outer Cape, and there's been a lot of controversy about second homeowners coming in to ride out the pandemic. But the closest hospital is 50 minutes away and it's small. There are no beds elsewhere. Most of the folks who are there in the winter are less-than wealthy and most of the second homeowners coming in are people of means. The people living there are also afraid the one grocery store will be depleted. It also appears as though many of the second homeowners are walking the streets in small groups and behaving as though they are on vacation. I know three people there who have died and 2 who are sick (all townies), but there are more. I'm worried because the town has stopped releasing the numbers and I'm not sure why. There's lots of PTSD triggering among people who were there in the 80s when a huge percentage of people were dying. Absolutely surreal.

But, yes, we will still be going back. It is our home.

Abr 6, 2020, 4:37pm

Oh Nancy, I'm sorry. It really does remind me of the AIDS crisis in the 80s in a lot of ways, except that we're so connected and plugged in now on more than a local level—that was so hyper local, wherever you were. Everyone will remember this one... it'll go down in the books. AIDS got pushed to the margins of history, because it affected people considered marginal. I can totally see how it would trigger an entire community. 35 years later and I'm still angry, so.

Abr 6, 2020, 6:17pm

I just received my copy of the 20th anniversary of Housekeeping surprised that it was a Picado pocket book. Its small but fortunately the text isnt, I remember first reading it, liking it ok but not really apprecciating the language. Now, wow - yes reading slowly to draw it all in. May need to reread her others as well.

Abr 6, 2020, 8:10pm

Lisa, I still get angry when I talk to people (who are old enough to have been there) now who have very little memory of the aids pandemic and are not even aware of cultural touchstones like "Angels in America."

As of today, 10,831 people have died from covid19 in the US. In the 80s, 12,500 people in the US were dead from AIDS before the government even acknowledged it existed. I realize it might not be a completely fair comparison, but I can't stop thinking about it.

Abr 7, 2020, 2:57pm

It's a fair comparison Nancy. Acknowledgement, hugs and anger are all acceptable.

Cindy, glad you're enjoying Housekeeping the second time around. It's a really lovely book.

Abr 26, 2020, 10:48am

Do folks know about It's a mail order book retail company that's a really good alternative to Amazon, including the fact that it feeds profits to indie booksellers. From the Washington Post:

The little book sellers that could: How indie stores managed to take a slice of Amazon business
In its first month, Bookshop brought in about $50,000 in revenue, and distributed a modest $10,000 to member bookstores. That number changed radically in March, when hundreds of bookstores shuttered their physical doors and signed up with Bookshop. Total sales are at about $4.5 million, with more than $870,000 of that going to stores, said Andy Hunter, Bookshop’s founder.

Not going to go on an anti-Amazon rant here, but if you buy print books and can't access your local bookseller (which is pretty much all of us right now), I STRONGLY urge you to use this service. Or send a book to a friend in need, or to brighten somebody's day. It's a critical cause, and something you can step up for while buying books.

Abr 26, 2020, 12:16pm

>319 lisapeet: also has a competitive affiliate program, for any website that promotes books and wants to make a little money off referral sales. It's founder is Andy Hunter, one of the founders of Catapult Books, a great little literary press.

Abr 29, 2020, 12:07pm

I just ordered a jigsaw puzzle from them with monies going to a really delightful indy in Nashville (and no, not Parnassus).

Mayo 1, 2020, 12:23pm

I've checked out a few times, but haven't bought anything yet. I have a question: how is this better/different than using Indie Bound?

Mayo 1, 2020, 5:02pm

>322 JulieCarter: Indiebound doesn't sell books per se, it funnels sales to a store website to process sales. to buy a book, you have to give your zip code, choose a store, then buy through the store. Bookshop fulfills orders, it is an online bookstore. In fact, Indiebound itself just added Bookshop buy links as an alternative to having people search for a bookstore to fulfill orders. It's a much better user experience.

Mayo 8, 2020, 12:20am

Sorry for disappearing again. Had a heart attack and it's been a long road back. My reading has been limited to short spurts of Twitter, but I received a book I'd pre-ordered a long time ago and completely forgot about: A Thousand Moons: A Novel , so hoping that does the trick.

Cindy, I see you started the new Penman. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Mayo 8, 2020, 8:07am

Oh Pat, I'm so sorry to hear that—and very glad you're back. These must be really challenging times to be dealing with medical care, and I hope you're getting everything you need. Interested to hear what you think of the Sebastian Barry—it's up there on my pile, along with all sorts of other good reading, but right now I'm just reading for work (also good stuff, so I'm not complaining, but of course when I'm doing that everything else suddenly looks that much shinier). Be well, and please report back!

Editado: Mayo 8, 2020, 12:23pm

Oh Pat! So glad you are back on the mend, that is indeed scary. be well and pls stay in touch!

Actually Penman is on the backburner for a bit because I just finished Mantel and need some shorter works! But I get to it - we had our first 100 degree day so its now summer and wont be distracted by going out into the yard....:)

Mayo 8, 2020, 1:37pm

Pat! So glad to hear from you, and glad to hear you are recovering (if slowly). I also hope you're getting everything you need.

Mayo 8, 2020, 9:42pm

I'm practically a cliché. Worked 30+ yrs in nursing, retire, and have a major M.I. one night sitting in the recliner and watching T.V. Go figure.

Thanks, y'all. I have plenty of support, Mir, thanks for asking.

Has anyone checked to see if our fellow BB'ers are doing okay during this global nightmare? If any of our reg's are in a tough spot and/or in need, I'd be happy to help any way I can.

Mayo 8, 2020, 11:37pm

Has anyone heard from lynnrb?

Mayo 9, 2020, 3:11pm

Gosh, Pat! I'm so glad you're okay, but what a nutty story!

Mayo 9, 2020, 4:59pm

Pat, I'm so sorry. Hope you're feeling better and better.

Mayo 10, 2020, 11:50am

Wow, Pat! I'm so glad you're doing better. How scary!

Haven't heard from Lynn in a while. Every now and then she'll pop up here or on Facebook, but not recently.

Mayo 11, 2020, 9:21pm

The last time lynn popped in, I emailed her but didn't hear back. Which was unusual. She usually replies to me. I didn't follow up because of umm intervening circumstances, but I'll try again. I really miss her voice and recommendations. She and I have very similar tastes.

Again, thanks for the good wishes, y'all.

Mayo 11, 2020, 9:26pm

yes, I wanted her to know about the new Maggie O'Farrell book, and to also know hows shes doing. Hope all is well

Editado: Mayo 12, 2020, 10:32am

I'll ping her and see how she's doing—we're in touch, though maybe not in the past couple of months.

So I wonder if, given this new normal world of remote access as a more pervasive part of life, we want a thread about online author events, readings, performances, etc.? They're not quite the same as streaming videos, though I guess technically they are. I'm kind of fascinated with the whole remote author reading thing. It's not anything I would have considered in the days before, yet I almost never went to live readings because live too far out in the boonies (of NYC) and don't have the energy for doing stuff that I used to. Funny how all that shifts around... now I'm incredibly grateful that I'm out in the boonies, with my big-enough house and yard and car, and I can actually attend all the readings I want, more or less. Strange days indeed.

I've RSVP'd to this tonight: On Lighthouses: Jazmina Barrera in conversation with Eula Biss, because a) I'm a fan of the publisher, Two Lines Press, which is a little outfit that does translations; b) Lighthouses! I think they're cool in general, and this period of isolation is a good time to be thinking about them, and I actually even have the book, though I doubt I'll read it in the next 24 hours... but this could get me all excited about the book and bump it up my virtual pile; and c) Eula Biss, the interviewer, is one of the authors on the panel I'm doing at the end of this month, so it will be fun to see her in action. I'm reading her book right now, in fact—hoping to get through this and the last one of the four in the next couple of weeks, which is why I'm not dropping it to read On Lighthouses. So there's every reason in the world to take an hour out of my evening and do it.

And then Thursday night I RSVP'd for Lydia Millet in conversation about A Children's Bible with Jenny Offill, sponsored by a local independent bookstore, because also... how bad can that be, right? I also have that one on the pile and am looking forward to it, since I'm a fan of hers. And I don't have to get on a subway for an hour to get home.

I'll report back. Or: join me!

Mayo 12, 2020, 10:47am

I'd love a thread like that. Looking for good recommendations on exactly this kind of thing.

Mayo 13, 2020, 11:20am

I just heard Millet being interviewed on the NYT book review podcast and was intrigued. Lisa, would you mind providing some details on the reading? My google-fu seems to be lacking. And I'm with Lu, I like the idea of a thread for online author events.

Mayo 14, 2020, 6:43pm

Pat, glad to hear from you and YIKES!

Editado: Mayo 14, 2020, 7:07pm

wrong thread

Mayo 14, 2020, 9:51pm

>337 mkunruh: Oh shit Mir I'm sorry, I just saw this. It was this evening but I think they're going to be putting it up for people to see—it was by Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. I'm going to be keeping an eye out because I missed part of it (because we're still stubbornly sticking to sit-down dinners), so when they post it I'll let you know. What I did see of it was fun.

So anyway I started a threat for these things, Virtual Events. Let's see if it gets any traction.

Mayo 16, 2020, 5:53pm

Oh, nice idea, Lisa.

Jul 12, 2020, 10:54pm

Does anyone remember the name of the writer who used to be on Readerville ? His first novel was a comic work about the Iraq war. He used to keep a great reading blog and I’d like to see if it’s still going. I’m pretty sure his first name was David.

Jul 13, 2020, 7:24am

>342 alans: David Abrams. I think he may be taking a hiatus from his blog, which is The Quivering Pen. Very good guy.

Jul 13, 2020, 10:28pm

Ok,great blog but I had forgotten about it. He used to cover the most interesting things.

Ago 16, 2020, 9:57am

It’s back to school time and even though I’m not going back to school I bought myself a neat pen case and stickers. I am so ready for anything now.

Ago 16, 2020, 8:32pm

Ooops, my bad. I posted in the defunk'd Literary Loft.

So tidy, Lisa.

I used to have drawers and drawers of pretty stationery and note cards, but when I had to tear my library down it all went MIA. Two of my favs were notecards from Key West with actual glossy photos of famous sites like Hemmingway's House, etc., and a set of cards with different Highwaymen paintings.

Ago 16, 2020, 8:38pm

Ooops, my bad. I posted in the defunk'd Literary Loft.

So tidy, Lisa.

I used to have drawers and drawers of pretty stationery and note cards, but when I had to tear my library down it all went MIA. Two of my favs were notecards from Key West with actual glossy photos of famous sites like Hemmingway's House, etc., and a set of cards with different Highwaymen paintings.

Ago 27, 2020, 11:58am

Someone caught and recorded the eerie noises of a powerful hurricane I've tried to describe. When Frances hit us in 2004, we endured these sounds for 36 hours (plus the smashing, crashing, banging of flying debris). It actually does sound like a whistle but a mournful one. It's really, really scary and impossible to put in words.

Then there are the graduated roars:

I wish I could've recorded when our roof was taken off and two rooms caved in at the same time. It didn't sound like you'd imagine. It sounded like a bomb exploded.

It looks like the Gulf didn't get the super big storm surge they were predicting, although we never know how bad things are until the rescue crews finish searching the hardest-hit areas.

Is Julie near all this?

Ago 27, 2020, 3:50pm

I don't think I can listen to those... I still have a bit of PTSD from Sandy, and we didn't even have the roof ripped off like you did. I've always been a little afraid of big weather.

And ooh I love those Highwaymen paintings! I love notecards in general, and have been going though mine to finish up some of the boxes with just a couple of pieces—so I can buy more, of course.

Ago 27, 2020, 9:39pm

True story, Lisa: When my family first moved down from CT in the late '70's, Port St. Lucie had a population of 15,000 (today it's over 300,000). You could drive from Stuart to Ft. Pierce on US#1 and not pass anything but palm trees and palmetto bushes. The beach or the bowling alley. Those were your choices. Then the first strip mall went up in Jensen Beach. It had a sporting goods store, an Office Depot, and a Barnes & Noble. Every weekend, one of the Highwaymen would set up a card table just off the inside entrance with a stack of roughly made books of reprints and original paintings balanced up against the card table. I'd always stop and say, "Hey," and admire the paintings, but I never bought one.

"Today, paintings by the Highwaymen are included in the Smithsonian Collection; they can clear $10,000 at auction or in private sales; and originals by the group’s most prominent figures, Al Black, Alfred Hair, and Harold Newton—who is estimated to have made over 30,000 paintings alone—are coveted by a diverse fan base that includes the Obamas and Steven Spielberg."

Ago 29, 2020, 8:06am

>350 Pat_D: Oy, life is full of those missed opportunities, isn't it? I lived in downtown NYC in the early 1980s and should have bought up so much art being sold on the cheap, but I was a broke-ass college student who never gave a minute's thought to the future. The fact that it never occurred to me to slice one of those chalk-on-paper Keith Haring drawings out of the advertising frames in the subway, which were everywhere... but that's the thing, they were part of the wonderful landscape and I didn't think of them as something to be taken away, and that's part of what made that whole time magical.

Fine Art America has some Highwaymen greeting cards—I have no idea how good the reproductions are, but there ya go.

Ago 29, 2020, 1:39pm

Pat, I'm up near Dallas-Fort Worth, so we didn't even get rain. We're several hundred miles from the coast. (Karen Wall and David Weiner too!)

Recently, I was at the coast during Hurricane Hanna in July. We were on the outer edge of it, and the wind was really scary. And that was just a Category 1.

Ago 30, 2020, 6:33am

>342 alans: Found him! Here is his response to my message on FB Hi, Cindy. Great to hear from you, and to be reminded of the good old days at Readerville. I don't stop by Bookballon as frequently, but I'll try to pop my head in there sometime soon. Life is good here for us, despite the pandemic and the state of the nation these days. I've been doing a lot of reading lately (more than 70 books thus far this year) and have been enjoying my new grandson, born in March of this year. I'd love to hear from folks if they'd like to drop me a line at . Thanks so much for being in touch, Cindy!Take care and stay in touch! David

Editado: Ago 31, 2020, 8:04pm

Thanks,will check to see if he’s still book blogging.

Ago 31, 2020, 8:57pm

David's blogging here, though not at the insane pace he used to keep, making the rest of us lame-ass bloggers look bad... It's a great blog, though, and I really admire his tenacity with it, unlike some of us who just gave up.

Editado: Sep 1, 2020, 10:25pm

Speaking of David, I have word of another David, Weiner, that he gave me permission to post here since many of you will remember him from readerville but are not on FB.

This One Is All About Me

Summary: I have cancer. It’s not curable. I still feel good. I’m still working. Posting about this illness could be helpful. I’m a lucky man.

The beginning: In May of 2017, I was diagnosed with ocular (or uveal) melanoma (cancer in my right eye). I had a procedure that effectively killed the eye tumor. But I also had testing that indicated I was in a high-risk group for metastasis (or spread), most likely to the liver.
Yep, the liver: In the fall of 2018, a CT scan indicated possible spread to the liver. That was confirmed by a biopsy in Jan. 2019. I went through immunotherapy, which was unsuccessful and which had a side effect that resulted in some visual impairment (misalignment of my eyes). I then had a series of liver-directed treatments known as chemoembolization from July to December 2019. These did a wonderful job of shrinking the largest and most threatening liver tumor.

Clinical trials: In Dec. 2019, the docs said that I needed to start looking at systemic (vs. targeted) treatments to address the increased tumor activity outside my liver. In February, I started on a clinical trial at MD Anderson. I was removed from that trial, and then a second, due to disease progression. Now I have started a third - a Phase 1 trial. If you know anything about these things, you know that a Phase 1 trial is a real Hail Mary (even if you’re Jewish). Because of my frequent trips to Houston, I have, unlike so many others, put a lot of miles on my car over the last several months.

Measuring success: Metastatic ocular melanoma is not curable. All the treatments and trials I have had or been in have been palliative, rather than curative, meaning that they are designed to prolong survival. The median survival rate from the onset of metastasis is 18-20 months. I am at about the 22-month point. Thirteen months ago, an oncologist at MDA told me that I had six months. Period. A month or so ago, this same doc told me: “You’re not dying.” That kind of made my day.
Life: I continue to feel good, and I continue to work. ....

I have written both a light-hearted obituary, which I think is considerably more honest than a conventional one, and a comedy set for my funeral (with a title that will not be revealed until the time comes (my time, that is)). Still, I’d like to outlive this pandemic so I can have a traditional funeral that anyone who wants to can choose not to attend.

Why am I posting about this?: I have not previously shared this information other than with family and a few close friends because: 1) I did not want to be treated differently; and 2) I am still working, so I did not want to discourage new business.

As to 1), I still do not want to be treated differently (not seeking sympathy (uh-huh)). That might not be entirely possible, but it should be for the most part. For example, if you are mostly indifferent toward me, well, you don’t need to change a thing. But I now believe that there is value, at least for me, in showing that serious illness can be taken in stride and with relatively good humor. I’m not “battling” cancer, I’m futzing with it.

As to 2), do you have a will and other essential estate planning documents? If not, did I mention that I know a guy who is still working who can help you with these things?

The most important thing: Thank goodness for this family — for their constant love, support, and inspiration. I’m a lucky man.

BTW, what cancer has the best sense of humor?
Jocular melanoma, of course.

His posts on FB continue to be filled with humor, and living life to its fullest. Feel free to contact him if you wish, david AT rosenthalweiner DOT com

Sep 1, 2020, 7:12pm

>356 cindydavid4: You probably shouldn't post his email like that. Makes an easy target for spammers to collect.

Sep 1, 2020, 8:22pm

didn't think of that; its how he put in on his post. How would you recommend?

Sep 1, 2020, 9:27pm

You could probably write it out. name AT domain DOT com

Sep 1, 2020, 10:25pm


david AT rosenthalweiner DOT com

Sep 2, 2020, 7:15pm

Forgive me, but I'm not recalling David Weiner. Did he go by something else on TT or R'ville?

Editado: Sep 2, 2020, 7:22pm

He was on Rville, for a couple of years; I don't think he went by anything else, I'll check tho

Sep 3, 2020, 5:16am

Thanks, Cindy.

Lisa, those cards are definitely in the vein of The Highwaymen, but I don't recognize any of those names.

Sep 4, 2020, 9:28am

Shit. Sorry to hear that. Wasn't that the cancer that Sue Russell had as well?

Sep 4, 2020, 9:52am

>364 LuRits: Yeah it was. And boy do I miss her.

Sep 4, 2020, 1:51pm

I do, too. I still can't believe she's gone. Sometimes I hear about new boooks and I automatically think, "Sue would like that."

Sep 8, 2020, 11:48am

Me too. I have a book she gave me and I can't bring myself to read it because then I have to think about how she's really gone.

Sep 10, 2020, 2:28pm

It's crazy that two of the three people I have ever met from RV/BB in the last 20 years both had ocular melanoma. What are the odds?

Sep 26, 2020, 12:40am

I loved Readerville. The Internet was so young,we were all so much younger. There was no goodreads, Karen Templar was a visionary,incredibly ahead of her time although I believe she got the idea from Salon. I don’t even know if Salon still many friendships (and horrible fights !) on that platform. Such a huge community but unlike today’s sites,everyone was part of the same pot.

Sep 26, 2020, 9:42pm

I made some very special book friendships @ Salon's Table Talk. R'ville splintered off and was invite-only to start, which kinda' caused some hard feelings for a bit. I remember feeling like I was put in a position of taking sides (the web was so emotional back then), but it all worked itself out.

My favorite book discussion forum was the early one over at the Atlantic Monthly. That was when we were still doing group reads of selected books and people really got into it. One month, a Jonathan Carroll book was selected. I wrote an unfavorable post about it, and Charlie replied that he thought it probably wasn't the best choice for anyone's first Jonathan Carroll. He suggested others, but I was having a heckuva' time tracking them down (early days on the 'net). Next thing I know, I get an email from Jonathan Carroll, himself, offering to send me the title I couldn't find. Not long after that, I got a big box from Austria with every title ever published by him! He became a regular member for a while. The Atlantic also had a really robust movie discussion thread populated by some big-name reviewers and directors.

It was all so new and exciting back then.

Sep 26, 2020, 9:45pm

It was. RV was a wonderful place.

David Weiner, who was one of the people who made it wonderful, died this morning. I'll miss his voice, his humor, his earnest love of so many things—especially his new grandson.

Sep 26, 2020, 9:51pm

2020 has been one rotten, lousy, heartbreaking year.

Sep 26, 2020, 9:56pm

It sure as hell has. How are you doing, Pat?

Sep 26, 2020, 10:02pm

I'm still wearing the defibrillator 24/7 and in a holding pattern for the cardiac angiogram due to the ridiculous COVID #'s down here (and the inexplicable openings by DeSpineless). Some good days, some not so good. I've got a half-done snail mail for you, Lisa, which I keep putting off finishing because some things are just too grim.

Sep 26, 2020, 10:07pm

Wow, I'm so sorry about the medical delays. What a mess down there. And no worries on the snail mail—I'm (literally) not going anywhere.

Sep 27, 2020, 9:50am

Yes, Salon is still around -- though a shadow of its former self -- though they closed the Table Talk forum boards many many years ago.

Karen Templer recently closed Fringe Supply Co, for whom I worked for six years. It was crazily successful but COVID shut down sewing factories (we made everything locally) and without product coming in, she couldn't continue operations in the same way. I think she'd been thinking about moving on anyway, so the feeling was a bit of a mixed bag. It was weird going through the shutdown process with her though, since we had all gone through it with Readerville also. I think she's going to take it easy for a while -- she lives a few miles away and was over for socially distanced cheeseburgers last week -- before deciding the next big thing for her but I do know this: it will not involve production. :)

Oct 1, 2020, 8:28pm

I remember the day after the Academy Awards many years ago. There was a shot of the Cohen brothers and their wives and the fellow from Chicago who loved the movies-Fitz..? Wrote,I didn’t know Karen Templar was married to one of the Cohen brothers. She never responded.

Oct 3, 2020, 7:12am


Nov 9, 2020, 7:19am

So yeah, the election... big, big exhale. What a freaking week, huh? I was driving down to Brooklyn yesterday to have lunch in a friend's back yard, and had just made one of those funky little turns getting off the Brooklyn Queens Expressway when the cars behind me started honking at me. And of course I'm one of those New York drivers quick to take offense at other New York drivers who honk their horns endlessly, and was reeeeally close to flipping them the bird out my window... but then I continued down the main drag and everyone was honking their horns, and just as it dawned on me what that might mean people started coming out on the sidewalk banging on pots and pans and yelling and whooping, and I super quick checked the front page of the NYT and wow, that was a nice moment. I rolled down my windows and banged on the top of my car and cheered all the way to my friend's house, found a parking spot right across the street just like in the movies, and ran inside and we all jumped up and down and yelled.

And now, I think, will come some ugliness for the next couple of months—I don't doubt that bloated psychopath will do his best to leave a scorched earth's worth of executive orders (possibly literally). But executive orders can be undone. And I'm so, so glad he'll be out of there. This was an evil four years, politically and personally, and I will be fiercely glad to see the last of 2020.

Nov 9, 2020, 7:01pm

>380 lisapeet: Joe Biden's first act will be to guarantee Doris Day parking EVERYWHERE for you, Lisa!

Nov 13, 2020, 4:16pm

>380 lisapeet: I loved reading this and watching all the celebratory video clips.

I think the biggest two worries for the next 2 months are Trump's inaction/bad faith toward anything to do with the virus, and the open fear that he/his family/associates will be peddling state secrets and revealing methods and sources. For money or to pay off debts.

I'm sick & tired of the media and reporters treating him like a fragile soul experiencing the 5 stages of grief. This man is unstable, hateful, spiteful and criminal.

Nov 14, 2020, 3:06pm

So, I'd like to share a nice surprise I had the other day.

You can imagine that a hospital bill for an extended ICU stay on a vent and a slew of expensive meds, labs and tests would amount to quite a lot. I don't carry supplemental insurance, so I was responsible for 20% of that bill. Which I gratefully paid in full the day after I got home.

I received a letter from the hospital informing me that upon review, I was a clinically diagnosed COVID-19 patient, the hospital was reimbursed for my charges, and I'd be receiving a full refund. Sure enough, all of the money appeared in my bank account that same day.

I don't know what is funding the hospitals for COVID patients. I'm assuming it was part of the CARES Act. But in a year of nothing but bad news, bad luck, and bad health, it was a nice surprise.

Nov 17, 2020, 11:41am

Yea! Buy books.

Editado: Nov 20, 2020, 9:25pm

>383 Pat_D: yay Pat!!

Ok so The Morning News just released their The 2021 Tournament of Books Long List and wow there are some very interesting titles and authors in here. Only recognized a few (Hamnet being one of them) but I definitely want to check some of these out.

Nov 22, 2020, 5:12pm

One million people have passed through U.S. airports this weekend. Is there some disconnect I’m not getting?

Nov 22, 2020, 6:43pm

There's a disconnect but it's not on your end, Alan. This country is just nuts.

Nov 24, 2020, 6:46am

soooo is the guadian book list out yet? are we doing our version of book santa this year? (the NYT list of 100 is out, lots of interesting choices there!)

Nov 24, 2020, 4:20pm

My interview with the marvelous Riva Lehrer, about her memoir Golem Girl and a bunch of other stuff, is up at Bloom: Riva Lehrer on Disability, Making Art, and Getting Rid of the Explainy Voice.

This is a book that I'm really sorry to see get short shrift because of COVID—it's a wonderful account of art and activism, with very compelling, non-didactic insight into disability politics, queer advocacy, radical body acceptance. I don't usually stump for other folks' books, but if you know anyone for whom any of those topics might resonate, or just someone who likes a great, off-the-beaten-track memoir, this would make an excellent gift.

Thanks again to Lauren B for the suggestion.

Nov 25, 2020, 1:39am

>388 cindydavid4: If we do, I'm in.

Nov 25, 2020, 7:52am

>383 Pat_D: Oh Pat I meant to say, what a great surprise! It's too bad we're all so amazed when the system actually works for people, but still... that's a nice one. Hope you got yourself something nice, or socked it away in comforting fashion.

>381 DG_Strong: From your lips, dear. Actually I have pretty good parking karma, knock wood.

Feb 19, 12:08am

Not sure if she even has the means to get online and see this, but Julie lives in TX, right? Thinking about her and hoping she's okay.

Feb 21, 2:36pm

I read your post, Pat, and felt really bad that I forgot that Julie is in TX. I sent her a FB message and will let you know when I get a response.

Feb 21, 3:03pm

And she answered immediately!

". . . I was very, very lucky. I didn't lose power or water, but I'm almost the only one who got that lucky that I know of! I'm very near a fire station and hospital, so I think that's why. Thanks for thinking of me!"

Pat, I told her were asking about her and to stop by.

Feb 21, 10:32pm

You're a star, Nancy. Thank you.

Feb 22, 7:46am

Thanks, Nancy. We've been keeping up with all Jeff's family and friends there, and really, what a terrible mess. There are so many parts of this country with huge infrastructure cracks, and that was a big network of them. Glad Julie's doing OK. And if anyone remembers Karen Wall from RV, she's all right too in Dallas—water issues like everyone, but she had a bunch of critters for heat during the coldest parts.

Editado: Feb 28, 4:18pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Mar 12, 1:33pm

Sorry everyone! I have not been checking over here much, but thanks to Nancy for contacting me on FB during our ice storm, and thanks to Pat for thinking of me! My family made out okay, and we were all pretty lucky. No major issues at my house, thank goodness! Just some minor stuff, but we made it through. Almost everyone else I know was far less lucky, and ranged from losing power for six days to water pouring down ceilings to ruined offices to frozen pools. It was a nightmare for most people, so I have survivor's guilt. We lost internet for several days, so I just hunkered down (trying to keep the heat low to do our part) and watched DVDs of Lost, LOL. Should have been reading, I know. I did some, just not for long periods.

Mar 12, 4:14pm

Good to hear, Julie. Welcome back!

Mar 12, 4:32pm

YAY! More Julie!

Mar 13, 1:37pm

Hey, there, Julie. Nice to cya' checking in.