The 2019 Nonfiction Challenge Part XI: Creators and Creativity in November
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And of course, the results of the creativity. Books, Art, Music, etc.
To help you plan the end to your non-fiction reading year...
December: I’ve Always Been Curious About…
A wide open category, pretty much. Your favorite category isn't here? Well, find a way to squeeze a book about it into December. Bummed that there isn't a category about the great outdoors? Well, read a book, and say you've always been curious about hiking the Pacific Coast trail, for instance. Or sailing. As long as you can complete the sentence with the topic of the book, you're good to go.
And looking ahead to 2020! My tentative lineup:
Prizewinners & Nominees
Heroes and Villains
Food, Glorious Food!
Migration, Nationalism and Identity: New category dealing with emigration, immigration, nationalism, refugees, national identities, etc.
Books by Journalists
Science & Technology: From medicine to Galileo. History or current breakthroughs/research.
The Long 18th Century (1688-1815) (anywhere in the world...): The term is a British one, stretching out the 18th century to cover the period from the Glorious Revolution (which brought William & Mary to the throne but also sealed a new balance of power between the crown and Parliament) and the battle of Waterloo. The period saw the birth of capitalism as a concept, of colonialism, the end of China's status as an independent empire (ahead of the 19th century wars), the collapse of the Moghul empire, the birth of "reason", revolutions and the birth of the concept of the rights of man.
Books About Books (and Words, and Language, and Libraries)
The Byzantines, the Ottomans and their empire(s): The Ottomans took over from the Byzantines in 1453, and the former's empire collapsed circa 1915/1918, after WW1. Read anything set in this era, and about the region covered. So, you can read about Byron at Missalonghi, or the attempts to push the Turks back from Vienna. But not about Crete or Athens during the classical era (pre-Byzantine.)
Group Biography: you can read about a family, about a mother/daughter relationship, about a literary group, etc.), about siblings or a family.
As you like it… A catch-all category for the end of the year.
* -- a new category this year!
The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink by Pamela Katz
Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Verdi's Shakespeare: Men of the Theater
Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music
Lastingness: The Art of Old Age by Nicholas Delbanco
Irving Stone's biographical novels about Michelangelo and van Gogh.
The Europeans by Orlando Figes (a look at the circle that formed around Turgenev, opera singer Pauline Viardot and the latter's husband, a noted art critic.)
The Making of Poetry by Adam Nicolson (the author's latest, focusing on a crucial year in the lives of key romantic poets.)
Rogues’ Gallery: The Rise (and Occasional Fall) of Art Dealers, the Hidden Players in the History of Art by Philip Hook
Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World by Miles Unger
Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters' Eyes by Paul Staiti
Chopin's Piano: In Search of the Instrument that Transformed Music by Paul Kildea
Well, I may finish some of this...
It looks interesting, combining full colour reprints of some of Vermeer's more famous as well as lesser known paintings, with text of their background and his own.
I have a couple of others but realistically, I doubt I'll get to them since I have a few library books yet to complete and return as well as a book club book to finish.
I am also going to read Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing by Merve Emre or Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King. I haven't decided which one it will be.
I also have a the complete set of James Clavell books that I intend to read someday.
Another enjoyable memoir from Patti Smith, read in one sitting this evening. I like her voice. She is a pilgrimager. She loves people. Writing about 2015 as two of her friends, including Sam Shepard, are dying, she goes solo travelling and tells us of her thoughts and dreams and the people she meets, as she approaches her 70th birthday.
perceptions of Canada as culturally backward: "to awaken artistic consciousness in Canadians"
and to create audiences of collectors and the public for their own highly charged landscapes.
Unfortunately, they pretty much ignored a Missing Link - the fact that the United States, the UK, and European countries had a long time
for both critics and general viewers to make the transition from the tamer traditions of landscape painting to the wilder challenges of modern art.
Thus, with the notable exception of a few forward thinking Canadian Galleries, The Seven remained disappointed in both acceptance and
sales from their exhibitions.
It would have been welcome if the book had been shortened by a third (way too many repetitive canoe trips) and, for contrast and comparison,
had included examples of the tamer works that The Seven found repulsive enough for their strong reactions.
As well, the inclusion of the many, many sketches mentioned would have enhanced the beautiful and evocative paintings shown.
In his early days it was very hard to get a contract to produce Christian rock and the established Christian recording companies didn't know what to do with Christian rock. For that reason Norman started his own recording company. He also started his own booking agency and became not only the first star of the Christian rock scene, but also one of its founding executives. This sounds like a success story. It wasn't. Norman had a difficult personality and two difficult marriages that devolved into scandal. There were sex scandals, drug scandals, and business scandals that followed him throughout his career. He spent large chunks of his life in Britain and found a following in Europe, particularly in Britain and the Scandinavian countries and he felt like it was a case of a prophet in his own country syndrome. He died in the early 2000's from congestive heart failure in his early 60's. Bono and Paul McCartney sent flowers to his funeral.
The book covered and area of the music industry that tends to not be taken seriously even though sales are now through the roof and CCM is a big, and still growing, part of the music industry. That meant that the subject was of interest. However, there were times, when the writing just wasn't that scintillating. The author is a reporter who covers the CCM part of music, and he admitted in the first pages of the book that he was a Larry Norman fan. Even so, there were parts of the book that were mundane when the life of Larry Norman was very exciting and cutting edge. In short, this book could have been more, but it was still a good 250 page introduction with endnotes and references.
In the meantime I stopped at the library and browsed their nonfiction comics section and picked up Monet: Itinerant of Light by Salva Rubio. I flipped through it and it's lovely so I'm hoping the it's as good as it is pretty.
A wonderful flavour of the life of artist Celia Paul. She has a quiet yet firm voice. She includes quotes from the Diaries of her youth, but does not judge that young woman. A young woman who stands in the shadow of a great man, Lucien Freud. A young woman who grows out of that shadow. They separate a few years after the birth of their son Freddie.
As well as sinking into Celia's voice and art, what surprised me was the relatively gentle portrait of Freud. Incapable of monogamy, (the last guess at potential children was in the thirties), but despite his lack of faithfulness, she portrays some vulnerability, and loyalty, and kindness. And they remained friends until his death.
Sisters in Mourning (for their mother)
The Bronte Parsonage
View from her fourth floor studio
I find this portrait of her mother, who she painted often, very touching.
She only paints people she knows and loves.
I love her muted palate.
Suzanne was correct this is a good book. Well written, informative, and entertaining. Here is part of my review of that book. You can read the entire review on the October thread. I highly recommend this book.
Roose was inspired to attend Liberty University by his mentor and former employer, A. J. Jacobs, (he of the Year of Living Biblically, and other shock reality books fame.) Roose thought that living and going to school among fundamentalist Christians would be as much foreign territory as would living in Europe for a semester. He convinced the Brown University administration to go along with this experiment and so enrolled in Liberty and had it count as his Semester Abroad at Brown. Roose, was not a fundamentalist Christian. He was raised in the Quaker faith, and his family was somewhat diligent in attending Quaker Meeting, so the concept of having a faith and religious forms was not unknown to him. However, the idea of a more charismatic fundamentalist style of faith was very much outside of his norm.
The book kept my interest throughout and in the end Roose, and I, as a reader, came to the conclusion that college students are the same all over the country. The strict rules of Liberty do add limits and tend to curtail the "Animal House" type of activities that happen at secular universities. Roose maintained an objective and balanced tone throughout the book, even when that caused him to confront his personal ethics and morals. This was a very interesting look at this aspect of fundamentalist christianity as it manifests in modern American life.
I've just launched into The Europeans by Orlando Figes, and it's starting out as a brilliant book. I've read a few of his Russia-focused books before, and this one starts out with Pauline Viardot, the famous mid-19th century soprano, fetching up in St. Petersburg in the early 1840s to be greeted rapturously. His argument is that the development of the train helped create a kind of common European culture (although it was pushed back against by nationalist elements in a variety of countries) that meant by the outbreak of WW1, an educated/sophisticated member of any nation could find himself/herself at home almost anywhere, given the common framework of knowledge & cultural references. What people read, what music they listened to and (to some extent) what art they saw had become a universal "European" heritage, and less specific to a particular nation. For instance, Racine was defiantly French in a way that Turgenev (another focus of this book), while writing about Russia, wasn't "Russian" in the same way. (I'll be interested to see how he addresses Tolstoy in the context of this argument.
I thought that surely, in all those books, there must have been one that fit this month's theme. There was. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee was not just about the crime that Harper Lee wanted to cover but also focused on Lee and her struggles to write a second book after the phenomenal success of her first. It was very interesting although I found the true crime part a lot more enthralling than the part about Harper Lee.
Hope to see you over there!