SassyLassy Steadfastly Stumbling Along

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SassyLassy Steadfastly Stumbling Along

1SassyLassy
Editado: Ene 6, 10:38am




2021 New Year, New World and Pantone Scares Me

Last year the colour experts offered us Classic Blue and I bemoaned how boring it was.

Perhaps they knew something after all, knew that we would need the steady hand of people like Bonnie Henry, Robert Strang and Anthony Fauci to guide us through, with their quiet voices of reason an oasis in an otherwise completely off kilter world.

This year Pantone has repeated its 2016 trick of offering two colours. Then it was Rose Quartz and Serenity, otherwise known as Baby Pink and Baby Blue. At least they inhabited the same world.

This year we have Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, otherwise known as yellow. According to Pantone's executive director, The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.

Well I'm all for resilience and hope, but do we really need, as ArtNews put it "a rubber ducky in a jail cell"? There is enough grey in the world right now to depress us all to the other side, where depending on your beliefs, some of us will find brilliant warm colour (remember 2019's Living Coral?), and some of us will find the sun of Illuminating.



Does this look inspiring or more like a sick day at home, which we none of us want right now?

2SassyLassy
Editado: Ene 7, 3:17pm

Here is another take on it from The Independent, who mercifully introduced another colour, albeit approximating that Classic Blue:



more interesting from Condé Nast Traveller with the addition again of a third colour



and yet another world I don't see myself in



from Home Painters Toronto

Feel free to point to a cheerful combination of the two (Janis Joplin would cheer us up)

Actually, I just found some myself. These are patterns from Patternbank I would like and can see in other people's houses, but again, not feeling it. 2021 may be difficult.



_____________

Edited as someone else may not have wanted to live in that world either and removed the image, so I found it elsewhere

3SassyLassy
Editado: Ene 6, 11:26am

Okay, time to get down to business. Last year's reading, as per my yearly refrain, was down even further in terms of number of books read, but there were some very rewarding reads. There was a period when I was away helping out, and the quality went down, but by and large I am happy. The South Africa and Russians Write the Revolution quarters in Reading Globally were among the highlights. I also finished the Zolathon, which made me happy indeed.

Since I didn't get to them all in my 2020 thread here is a chronological list (T = in translation) of what I read:

Cloud by Eric McCormack
Winter by Ali Smith
Hotel Silence by Audur Olafsdóttir T
The Breakdown by B A Paris
Theft by Luke Brown
Silent Death by Volker Kutscher T
Goldstein by Volker Kutscher T
Briefing for a Descent into Hell by Doris Lessing
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
Praying Mantis by André Brink
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon reread
Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado T
Rumors of Rain by André Brink
La Débacle by Emile Zola T
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
The Door by Magda Szabo T
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
The Imposter by Damon Galgut
Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther
Berlin Alexanderplatz bt Alfred Doblin T
The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins
The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff T
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichy T
Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy T
Seven Hanged by Leonid Andreyev T
Doctor Pascal by Emile Zola T
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin T
The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric T
The Night before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol reread T
Petersburg by Andrei Bely T
China Dream by Ma Jian T

Nonfiction

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively
The Outermost House by Henry Beston
Cultivating Delight by Diane Ackerman
Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie
A Nervous Splendour: Vienna 1888 - 1889 by Frederic Morton
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me by Teffi T
I am the Central Park Jogger by Trisha Meili (it's amazing what is found at inns)
Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport

4SassyLassy
Editado: Ene 6, 11:31am

This is where I guess I propose some ideas for 2021.

I would like to be more focussed, as the above mentioned Reading Globally quarters, and finishing the Rougon Macquart series reminded me of how rewarding that can be.

I would like to start reading books in French again, even if it lessens the number of books read.

I would like to go back to reading more books from and about Scotland and China.

I would like to get better at getting my thoughts down here.

That's enough for now.

5AlisonY
Ene 6, 12:47pm

I always love your Pantone thread headers as I love interiors stuff.

This year's really surprises me - it seems, well, a bit repetitive. There was a lot of grey and yellow bits and pieces in the shops a few years ago, especially in the home aisles of supermarkets, and this is what I now think of when I see this year's colours. I'm enjoying the muted, sophisticated colours in Instagram accounts I've been following for the past couple of years. This feels 10 years old and a little tasteless.

6AlisonY
Ene 6, 12:48pm

(And now you mention it, sick day at home is exactly the vibe I'm getting from those mugs in the Pantone colours. It looks like something a hot lemon drink would come packaged in.)

7rocketjk
Ene 6, 12:59pm

Happy New Year! Looking forward to following along with you again this year. Cheers!

8ELiz_M
Ene 6, 4:48pm

>2 SassyLassy: Is this a cheerful lemon-grey combo? I can try to make the sweater more yellow (but first will need to upgrade my photoshop skills):


9lisapeet
Ene 7, 9:03am

Is this cheating?

10AlisonY
Ene 7, 10:57am

>9 lisapeet: Ugh - now I'm really going off this colour combo.

11dchaikin
Editado: Ene 7, 1:45pm

>9 lisapeet: cool search method

These colors _are_ kind of like sickness colors - covid colors a year late?

Just dropping in. Interesting on your ideas for 2021 reading. Curious where it takes you.

12AnnieMod
Ene 7, 1:59pm

I love yellow (my current coffee mug is yellow - because it is fun and because one needs something colorful on their table). I like grey. But these shades are... weird... Pantone is weird.

13RidgewayGirl
Ene 7, 3:17pm

My son chose gray to paint his room recently and it looks fantastic - I was very skeptical, but he chose a warm shade that looks great alongside the white baseboards, chair rail and window frame.

That yellow is a lot.

14thorold
Ene 7, 3:44pm

Yellow/grey is quite a popular combination for public transport: Berlin and Lisbon (as in >2 SassyLassy:) are the famous examples, but there are plenty more. Netherlands Railways must account for a significant proportion of the European market for yellow paint, for instance: in the 70s and 80s most of the trams and buses here were yellow as well, but that fad seems to have passed.

15LadyoftheLodge
Ene 8, 2:35pm

>13 RidgewayGirl: My friend and her husband recently sold their home and moved into a condo. They painted the walls gray, with the white trim, and it looks surprisingly nice. I was also skeptical, but the color makes an attractive backdrop for their furniture and books and etc.

16LolaWalser
Ene 8, 5:00pm

Hi, Sassy! Found you amidst a lemon grove and, uh... pigeons? No, no, let's say grey pearls. :)

I'm thinking there must be shades, valeurs, where this combo works, but one better be ca-re-ful.

17arubabookwoman
Ene 9, 5:19pm

Hi Sassy. I for one thoroughly approve your goal of getting your thoughts down here more. I enjoy following your reading, and it looks like you read some good ones last year! I'm reading my first Andre Brink (looks like you read 2 last year) right now, A Dry White Season. You also remind me I need to get back to the Rougon Macquart. I got more than half way through many years back. I intended to get back to it last year, but read only one, The Masterpiece. Next up is Earth, which I read many, many (at least 30) years ago, but will be rereading.

18SassyLassy
Ene 10, 11:29am

>5 AlisonY: >6 AlisonY: "...ten years old and a little tasteless" It looks like something a hot lemon drink would come packaged in."

>11 dchaikin: These colors _are_ kind of like sickness colors - covid colors a year late?

>12 AnnieMod: these shades are... weird...

>8 ELiz_M: Looking pretty fierce to me!

>9 lisapeet: That's really interesting.

>14 thorold: I seem to remember a phase with yellow fire trucks which supposedly could be seen better in grey fog and snow, but that seems to have passed, as have the yellow buses.

>16 LolaWalser: Love the idea of a lemon grove, and thanks for grey pearls instead of pigeons. Pigeons to me are revolting and I flee.

>13 RidgewayGirl: >15 LadyoftheLodge: The right shade of grey with lots of white can look quite nice as you say, but it is a very urban vibe to me, and would never work in my very rural environment. Also wondering how grey walls would affect the mood when the fog rolls in.

Thanks all for the comments on colour, it was a lot of fun.

>7 rocketjk: Hello, following you too.

>17 arubabookwoman: Dry White Season is on my TBR, so will look forward to your review. I just discovered it is also a 1989 film, with Marlon Brando, Donald Sutherland and Susan Sarandon.

Earth is a brutal book, there is no way around it, but again, will be interested in your thoughts. I hope you do get back to reading the series.

19SassyLassy
Ene 10, 11:49am

Well much as I love a good colour discussion any time, it's time to get down to books. Each year I start with a mystery, or some book related to that genre; I'm not good at defining the sub genres. The purpose is to get a quick read in at the beginning of the year and make me think I have accomplished something. This year is no different, so here goes.



Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
first published 2014
finished reading January 2, 2021

Elizabeth is indeed missing, as is someone else, which will become more clear as the story progresses. It wasn't too difficult to divine what had happened to Elizabeth; the real twist here was in the telling.

The narrator is Maud. Elizabeth is her best friend. The problem is that Maud is slowly dementing. She forgets and knows that she forgets. No one will take her seriously because of this. As she obsesses about her friend, she will have flashes of insight into what may have happened and then lose them right away. Maud writes herself notes to keep track of these thoughts, and then can't remember what the note's meaning.

As the novel progresses, the other missing person's case from decades ago takes up more of Maud's time and she starts confusing the two. This gives a picture of the English town then and now. More importantly, it allows the reader to see Maud's development and who she was, and then see her decline over time.

Healey writes in a very straightforward manner, neither making Maud's situation a maudlin one, nor using her as an object of pity or derision. Instead the reader struggles along with Maud as she narrates her search for Elizabeth. Although the reader will quickly figure out the solution to both cases, following along with Maud is a thought provoking process, leading to all kinds of questions about how people in her situation are regarded and treated.

_____________________

Healey won the 2014 Costa First Novel Award for this book. This book was selected by someone in my book club as one of her best reads for 2020, which is how I discovered it.

20kidzdoc
Ene 10, 12:33pm

Nice review of Elizabeth Is Missing, Sassy. Rhian (SandDune) recommended that book to me several years ago, but I haven't read it yet.

21Nickelini
Ene 10, 1:57pm

I love your Pantone reporting. Not crazy about those colours together. Grey has been very popular in home decor (esp. painted walls) for years, so making it the colour of the year feels less than inspired. And I'm a big fan of yellow, but that shade has limited uses. Certainly most people look horrible wearing that colour. I still see the weird baby pink and baby blue everywhere and think it's time to go away. That particular muddy shade of light pink makes me look like walking death. I'm not sure *who* it looks good on.

Elizabeth is Missing is in my TBR pile so I was happy to read your comments

22SandDune
Ene 11, 2:46am

>19 SassyLassy: >20 kidzdoc: Yes I very much enjoyed Elizabeth is Missing when I read it, although I have to admit I didn’t pick up on what had happened as quickly. (I don’t read very many mysteries and I’m not very good at it). There’s also been a very good TV adaptation recently with Glenda Jackson.

23janemarieprice
Ene 11, 4:55pm

I enjoy the color of the year things as well. Pantone tends to be more responding to print graphics but I hated this years picks. It's every chevron throw pillow from 8 years ago!

24rhian_of_oz
Ene 12, 9:30am

>19 SassyLassy: I've picked this up a couple of times based on Betty's (bragan) review but it made me sad so I put it back. Maybe it's time for another try.

25bragan
Ene 13, 6:52am

>24 rhian_of_oz: It is very sad, and definitely not one to read when you're feeling ill-equipped to deal with that, but still very much worth reading in my opinion.

And I am happy to hear that others have read and liked it! As I recall, it wasn't at all what I was expecting, and it impressed me a lot.

26sallypursell
Ene 13, 3:40pm

I can't imagine planning Elizabeth Is Missing! I am really impressed with this author. That's already on my wishlist, but mine is already so large I am sure I will not read them all before my death. It sounds like a great way to go, though, trying to read everything!

27avaland
Ene 16, 3:11pm

>1 SassyLassy: Agree with your comments re the gray! I'm okay with the yellow :-)

>4 SassyLassy: I like your 'I would like's. I guess those are soft goals, no pressure.

28rachbxl
Ene 17, 2:55am

I’m not a particularly visual person, but something about those 2 colours together really disturbs me. It’s the grey mainly; I quite like the yellow.

Nice review of Elizabeth is Missing, which has reminded me to put a library hold on it.

29SassyLassy
Ene 19, 12:25pm

>21 Nickelini: You were one of the people I was thinking of while I was reading it whom I thought would enjoy it.

>22 SandDune: I don't have PBS so unfortunately missed the adaptation, which would have been interesting after so recently having finished the book.

>24 rhian_of_oz: >25 bragan: Just read bragan's review - I had no idea this book had been reviewed so much. Like her, I think there is a lot more to the book than the bald facts of Elizabeth's aging process, and the sympathetic treatment lessens what would indeed otherwise be too sad.

>23 janemarieprice: >27 avaland: >28 rachbxl: Agreeing about the yellow versus grey. Perhaps if Pantone had gone with just yellow, it might have had one of those butterfly wings effects on the cosmos and we would all be happier today. Or real world not. Anyway, the yellow cheeriness is definitely needed.

>28 rachbxl: I think you nailed it with "disturbs". It is very unsettling.

>27 avaland: A friend told me that this year she is going with "intentions" rather than resolutions or goals, so as not to be defeated right out of the gate. I think that was wise, so I'm trying to follow her advice.

30SassyLassy
Ene 19, 1:03pm

This next book was for my January book club meeting. I had thought it was nonfiction about the actual trait of curiosity, so was somewhat surprised when I got my hands on the book.



Curiosity by Joan Thomas
first published 2010
finished reading January 7, 2021

All children are curious. Not all children are encouraged to remain so. If you were a child living in poverty in the early nineteenth century, curiosity would probably land you in trouble; you were expected to just keep your head down and work.

Mary Anning (1799 - 1847) could have been such a child. Her father was a skilled man, a cabinet maker. Luckily for Mary, he also had an interest in the oddities to be found on the shores by Lyme Regis. He and Mary collected these strange objects, and Mary sold them to vacationers. She learned the tides, the different shapes, and the best place to find each. What they didn't know was where they came from. Mary asked "How could such a creature turn to stone?" to which her father responded "Drop by drop, the flesh washes out and stone washes in."

When her father died, young Mary and her older brother were left to provide for the family. Collecting and selling became a full time occupation for her. Luckily for Mary, this was a time of great debate as to the origins and nature of these objects. It was some forty years before Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Geology was a new science, and collectors were eager for samples. Many engaged in it laid the groundwork for Darwin. Among those to whom Mary sold her "curiosities" were Henry de la Beche, William Buckland, and William Conybeare. As more and more scientists came to accept the ammonites and vertebrae encased in stone as fossilized creatures, debate raged as to how to fit these findings into the rigid timelines imposed by the Book of Genesis. When Mary asked for a science book, she was given a Bible.

Like Tracy Chevalier before her*, Joan Thomas has constructed a love story for Mary, in this case with Henry de la Beche. He was a gentleman without an occupation, living on the proceeds of his sugar plantation in Jamaica. De la Beche often accompanied Mary on her expeditions, believing that her finds were fossils of once living creatures. However, how to explain the fossilized remains that resembled no known animals, creatures like Mary's great finds of an Ichthyosaurus and a Plesiosaurus?

Thomas does a good job of creating a novel around these real life characters. Along the way, she also shows just how closed off the world of science was to people like Mary; banned not only by class and lack of formal education, but most particularly by gender. Mary did not receive credit for her finds during her short lifetime, although they had generated papers presented to the Royal Society.

Other than one documented oblique reference to an unnamed unrequited love, there is no real evidence that Mary was ever romantically involved with any of the collectors. Lieutenant - Colonel Birch did sell his collection at auction in London and gave the proceeds to Mary to provide her family with the basics of life, but despite some expected gossip, it seems it was an altruistic move. Thomas says she chose de la Beche as the love interest as he was more of a contemporary of Mary's than Birch was. However, despite the novel's subtitle, A Love Story, the real love story here seemed to be between Mary and science.

________

*Remarkable Creatures

31SassyLassy
Editado: Ene 20, 10:32am

Among Mary's ideas gleaned from studying the effects of currents, tides and storms on the rock faces near Lyme Regis, was the idea of strata and eras. Henry de la Beche was know for his illustrations of these:



from Wikipedia



from Paleophilatelie.eu (who knew there was such an organization?)

32LolaWalser
Ene 19, 5:54pm

>30 SassyLassy:, >31 SassyLassy:

Remarkable person. She inspired/was "in" Fowles' book, The French lieutenant's woman...

33AlisonY
Ene 20, 10:16am

>30 SassyLassy: Sounds interesting - I'm going to note that one (or is the Chevalier novel better?).

I can't see your images in >31 SassyLassy: for some reason.

34SassyLassy
Ene 20, 10:36am

>32 LolaWalser: Yes, a book I will have to read again.

>33 AlisonY: I haven't read the Chevalier novel, but one of the people in the book club did a comparison of the two, and several others had read it. It seemed that the preference came down to the respective treatments of Anning herself. I think I will read Chevalier, as I always like to see different ideas about the same topic, fictional or otherwise.

As to the images, I made the mistake of deleting the web history and they went with it. Oops!

35avaland
Ene 20, 5:00pm

>31 SassyLassy: How interesting. And tempting.

36lisapeet
Ene 22, 11:28am

>31 SassyLassy: That Mary Anning anniversary poster was on the wall in the office of the Darwin Manuscripts Project at the American Museum of Natural History, where I worked on and off for a few years, and it makes me happy to come across it here... those were nice times. I have the Chevalier book, but now I'm interested in the Thomas as well.

37kidzdoc
Ene 23, 8:07am

Great review of Curiosity, Sassy! Mary Anning sounds like a fascinating person, and I love the illustrations in >31 SassyLassy:. I'll be on the lookout for this book.

38bragan
Ene 24, 5:35pm

>30 SassyLassy: I haven't read this one, so I don't know how they compare, but I really liked Remarkable Creatures and definitely do recommend it if you find Mary Anning interesting.

39LadyoftheLodge
Ene 25, 11:25am

>38 bragan: I loved Remarkable Creatures and listened to it on audio as well as reading it in print. They were courageous ladies!

40sallypursell
Ene 25, 12:07pm

I've been a fan of Mary Anning since childhood, but I don't remember how I heard about her. I love dinosaurs, so probably there. I hadn't read any more recent books about her, so thanks.

41dchaikin
Ene 26, 7:14pm

Mary Anning - what a life. I’d love a good biography, one that captures the era and it’s science-y mishmash. (Of course i probably should read the Darwin biographies i own...). Not sure I want these fictionalized love stories though.

42SassyLassy
Ene 27, 2:00pm

I had no idea there were so many Mary Anning people out there!

>36 lisapeet: What a great place to work.

>41 dchaikin: I definitely understand not wanting the fictionalized love stories, and there doesn't appear to be enough written about Mary to refute them, which is on the other hand why she makes such a great fictional subject. However, searching for biographies today, i did find a 2015 title which despite its title may be of interest: Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters. The two reviews on LT are definitely opposed, so who knows? I do see it on the NHBS site though (Natural History Book Service).

43dchaikin
Ene 27, 2:07pm

>42 SassyLassy: thanks. Ridgewaygirl girl asked me about geologists as protagonists. And I thought of Mary Anning and thought - too bad she didn’t write her own letter to us. I imagine her saying, “all you romantics are so damn silly. I just liked to get my hands dirty...”

44lisapeet
Ene 28, 9:36pm

>42 SassyLassy: It was magical. It was an internship, but I kept up with it after grad school was over because I loved the work, the people, and the place so much. When they got a little grant money I'd get paid, but otherwise it was a real labor of love, and I left once I got a real paying job. But I'll always miss those days—it was happy work.

45SassyLassy
Feb 1, 11:04am

>43 dchaikin: And I thought of Mary Anning and thought - too bad she didn’t write her own letter to us. I imagine her saying, “all you romantics are so damn silly. I just liked to get my hands dirty...”

I suspect that sums her up right there.

>44 lisapeet: Those are the kind of jobs you always remember, no matter what turns up in the future.

46SassyLassy
Feb 1, 11:27am




The Blue Book by A L Kennedy
first published 2011
finished reading January 13, 2021

A L Kennedy is a wonderfully challenging author, both in terms of style and plot. She's one of my favourite authors, and so I was surprised to find I'd missed this 2011 book entirely. However, there it was this summer, in pristine condition in the second hand books section of a local book store. I put off reading it, knowing I had read most of her other books, and so leaving it for a future treat. Then I made one of my 2021 reading intentions to read more books from Scotland, so now was the time.

Blue books are often guides, factual pieces full of information. This is a novel full of illusions. Set in the artificial world of a transatlantic cruise ship, the very setting is designed to seduce the passengers into believing they are interesting cosmopolitan people, not the bored and empty people so many of them are.

Elizabeth Barber knows this world is not for her, but here she is, trapped for the duration. A former illusionist, Elizabeth is highly skilled at both listening and lying..

Kennedy develops her story episodically, moving back and forth in time, focussing now on one protagonist, now on another. There are times when she digresses and addresses the reader directly, musing at times on the nature of writing, of reading, and even of books themselves.
Your book - it's started now, it's touched and opened, held. You could, if you wanted, heft it, wonder if it weighs more than a pigeon, or a plimsoll, or quite probably rather less than a wholemeal loaf. It offers you these possibilities.

And quite naturally, you face it. Your eyes, your lips are turned towards it - all that paleness, all those marks - and you are so close here that if it were a person you might kiss. That might be unavoidable.

Much like an illusionist herself, Kennedy reveals history and motives, seemingly from nowhere. Then you realize, of course, the rabbit was in the hat all along.

How much do we need to be deceived or to deceive ourselves? After all, it's the truth that so often hurts.

This is not a feel good book, but unlike a feel good book it will make you think, and you will remember it. That is Kennedy's huge talent.

47baswood
Feb 2, 6:04am

Trapped for the duration on a Transatlantic cruise ship - enough said. This sounds a curious subject for A L Kennedy but then I see she went on to write Doctor Who: The Drosten's curse.

48lisapeet
Feb 3, 8:24am

Kennedy does that creeping claustrophobic feeling so well. I read her Paradise at a particularly awful time in my life and let me tell you, it was just the right thing—such an unhappy book, but I couldn't have read anything where anyone cracked a single smile. That said, I'm pretty sure I won't ever read it again, and probably wouldn't pass it along to anyone either.

49SassyLassy
Feb 3, 6:17pm

>47 baswood: It does seem odd for Kennedy, but then she can tackle just about anything, from Cyrano de Bergerac on. In that light, Doctor Who almost makes sense. Maybe she brought some of her comedic and screenwriter backgrounds to it. Maybe she just wanted the royalties. I suspect that book may be one I will skip though, as I would have to start at the beginning of the series. Good to know what else she is doing though!

>48 lisapeet: creeping claustrophobic is a good description of some of her writing. Paradise was an amazing book. Noting your wise decision to probably not pass it on, I did make the mistake of giving a copy of it to someone to whom I have given a lot of books. I never heard a word about that one. Just checking the LT reviews for it, I see that many had the same problem I have with discussing her writing; it's almost impossible to do without quoting her.

I think my absolute favourite so far is So I am Glad, the very first one I read. Oddly, Day, which won the Costa Book of the Year award, is much further down my list, but maybe it won the award because it was a more straight forward tale, and so more saleable for bookstores.

50dchaikin
Feb 5, 3:01pm

>46 SassyLassy: really enjoyed your review of The Blue Book. I don’t think I know much about A L Kennedy, other than what’s posted here.

51lisapeet
Feb 6, 9:13am

What's interesting is I believe she's also a standup comedian. That makes sense, in a way—being in touch with what's funny also puts you in touch with what's most quietly tragic in life. At least in theory...

52SassyLassy
Feb 7, 10:03am

>50 dchaikin: Someone to look forward to!

>51 lisapeet: She did do standup in the early days, but I think as a genre it only appears in her scripts nowadays.
There is always humour in her books however, no matter how dark. She did once say Humour is a perfectly legitimate response to the horror of the world."

53SassyLassy
Feb 7, 10:34am

My book club selection for March, read in January because it was available. This book was a finalist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. Tokarchuk won the Nobel prize for Literature in 2018.



Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (2018)
first published as Prowadż swój pług prezez kosci umarłyoh in 2009
finished reading January 16, 2021

Even though it was only January when I read this, already I suspected Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead would be the quirkiest book I read this year.

It is narrated by Janina Duszejko, but you can't call her Janina. She hates her first name, convinced that words have meaning and that nobody put any thought in to naming her. Accordingly, she ascribes more descriptive fitting names to others: Big Foot, Oddball, Gray Lady, Good News. She also capitalizes nouns with deeper meaning to her: Animal (and all included in the collective), Horoscope, Ailments.

Formerly a bridge construction engineer, Janina is now semi-retired. She teaches English on an occasional basis, helps a former pupil translate Blake into Polish, and in the winter looks after the summer houses of people from Warsaw. She dreams of life just across the border in the Utopia she believes Czechoslovakia to be. Most of all, she is a firm believer in Astrology, believing a person's birth horoscope combined with life actions can predict the manner and time of their Death.

When unusual deaths start happening in the village, Janina bombards all who will listen, and some like the police who will not, with her theory that animals, acting with intent, are to blame. After all, each victim had a history of some form of anti-animal behaviour. Being a reader of Blake, she also knows The Tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Amazingly, Tokarczuk is able to weave all these disparate elements into Janina's narrative and narration. It's obvious she's a little odd, but for the most part she functions. Rural areas are full of such people, many of them wondering as Janina does, why nobody will listen. Where is the dividing line between odd and unbalanced? Are such lines even definable? Are they the same for everyone, or in all circumstances? These questions and many more will come to mind as Janina completes her story.

54thorold
Feb 7, 12:41pm

>53 SassyLassy: I think you’ve put your finger on what makes it so compelling: Tokarczuk reassures us that we all already know someone exactly like Janina, and then she turns it all round without quite upsetting that reassurance...

55raton-liseur
Editado: Feb 7, 3:32pm

>53 SassyLassy: I've read this book last year, not too long after she won the Nobel Prize, but only remotely liked it.
I enjoyed your perspective on it, agreeing to what you say and liking the way you put it, although it does not make me like the book better, unfortunatly.

>54 thorold: Maybe it's upsetting me too much and I am not ready for that.

56lisapeet
Feb 8, 8:14am

>53 SassyLassy: I'm looking forward to this one—the strangeness really appeals.

57kidzdoc
Feb 8, 10:12am

Great review of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Sassy. I hope to get to my copy of it this summer.

58RidgewayGirl
Feb 8, 10:38am

Excellent review of the Tokarczuk. It's such a wonderful mix of what's expected in a mystery novel featuring an amateur sleuth, and also upending all of that and becoming something very much more interesting. I still think about that book, especially when it's cold out. I found similarities between it and Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands, although the Tokarczuk is much more effective.

59SassyLassy
Feb 8, 3:25pm

>54 thorold: You're absolutely right - a delicate balancing act to be sure.

>55 raton-liseur: I'm not sure it could ever be called a likeable book, but I do think it is worth reading. I can understand the upsetting part. I will never look at the marauding deer in my garden the same way again, especially as I keep chasing them, and they may harbour resentments!

>56 lisapeet: I think this is one you would find worthwhile. I'd be interested to hear what you and >57 kidzdoc: think, although I suspect it would be two different takes.

>58 RidgewayGirl: Thanks. That mix is what makes it, as you are kind of led into the plot easily, only to find it is completely different from what you were expecting. That's funny about thinking about the book when it's cold out, but apt all the same.
I haven't read Moshfegh, but she is on that endless list.

60SassyLassy
Feb 8, 3:28pm

Just noting that today is my 10th Thingaversary in LT.

61LolaWalser
Feb 8, 3:46pm

>60 SassyLassy:

Best wishes for the next ten! :)

I have Tokarczuk on the TBR too...

62thorold
Feb 8, 4:04pm

>60 SassyLassy: Congratulations, youngster! :-)

63LadyoftheLodge
Feb 8, 5:16pm

>60 SassyLassy: Congratulations--do not forget your Bookish Haul for your special day.

64baswood
Feb 8, 7:51pm

>60 SassyLassy: Have you got your medal from Tim?

65AnnieMod
Feb 8, 11:29pm

>60 SassyLassy: Congrats :) Time to buy 10 books to celebrate? :)

66dchaikin
Editado: Feb 13, 2:43pm

>53 SassyLassy: i want to read this and this was a great review that I hope to keep in mind when i start it. Good comments too.

Congrats on ten years here. : )

67labfs39
Feb 13, 1:14pm

I hope you are off purchasing some books to celebrate your Thingaversary. To be honest, I had forgotten about them. Mine is next month--13 years!

68sallypursell
Feb 13, 6:39pm

>60 SassyLassy: Congratulations! A lot of books have gone under that bridge.