Thursday, September 30, 2004

In book news, I saw Kristin Gore speak about Sammy's Hill on Book TV this past Sunday. Aside from her intermittent giggliness, she had alot of intelligent things to say about her process, what she was aiming for with the book, and so on. The New York Times printed a review that was so over the top surly and mean that I immediately disregarded it. Whenever I read a New York Times review that is out of control like that, I know I've got to seek out other sources if I want an objective, intelligent view. What is the point of publishing a review that reeks of "Let's rip apart Kristin Gore because she's Al Gore's daughter and she had the audacity to publish a novel." Hearing Kristin talk about the book and about the struggles of her young protagonist swimming amidst the sharks in D.C., I definitely want to read it and I've ordered it from the library.
Instead of providing a link to the NYT review, which has a URL that's a city block long, just google Sammy's Hill and New York Times and you've got it.

I have spent alot of time fussing with the new Blogger, and I have nothing nice to say at this point. I'm so mad they've hidden the source code. The new templates contain absolutely no information to ease template additions and adjustments. I don't see how to do a damn thing. The help articles do not even discuss the issue, so I've sent the support staff a letter to which they will no doubt pen a cryptic response. Bah! I vent all this, realizing that "Musings from Redwing Marsh" is based on an old Blogger template, so much of my rant is reserved for my "Madame Defarge:Knitting in Desperate Times" blog. I have said too much already and so I will move on.

At long last, I've added Blogger's "Comments" feature to this blog. This entry is being written to see if it works. Doesn't so far!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Home again, and while the sun was out, it felt good. An entire day of pouring rain has submerged my spirits considerably. Evidently, two more days of rain in the offing, so anything to keep the mood afloat at this point would be good.

The last week of vacation was terrific--lots of walks and fireplace fires in the evening. We listened to Ian McEwan's Atonement over about 6 nights or so. I adored it when I read it; I think I appreciated it even more from having listened to it. Ken and I had some heated discussions about the story. Men sometimes see things so differently--it's really interesting. I thought it telling that Robbie never acknowledges his role or his part in the tragic scenario that unfolds. He blames Briony totally and hates her completely, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Granted, Briony's childish misconception and her lie unfold the disaster that befalls Robbie, but it was Robbie's error in accidentally swapping the very personal, X-rated letter for the letter he intended to give Cecilia that makes events begin to snowball. Not only that, he makes the mistake of entrusting the letter to Briony to give to Cecilia: He gives it to Briony, of all people, the young girl he knows is impressionable and who is given to overly dramatize all situations. Not only that, but Robbie, with Cecilia, allows himself to get swept away in a flush of passion. They make love in the library, behind a curtain, when people are nearby in other rooms and are detected, naturally, by Briony. And Robbie does all this when he's the housekeeper's son and as the protege of Cecilia's father, who has put him through Oxford. No, of course he didn't deserve any part of what happened to him, but he wasn't a completely uninvolved, innocent bystander who made no choices in the matter either, which is how he sees himself. He commits a crime of class, which is no crime really, but in his world and in his time it certainly was.
The real villains are Paul, the Ammo candy bar manufacturer, Cecilia's mother and father, and the police. The Tallises and the police just assume he is guilty without investigating.
In any case, I'm writing all this in the hopes that by now other readers have read the book and will want to comment. Since I don't have my comments working, please email me and I'll post your thoughts.
A great book for discussion!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Just today I discovered that I've misspelled a word in the name of my knitting blog! I named it "Madame DuFarge: Knitting in Desperate Times." Evidently the character from A Tale of Two Cities is Madame DeFarge. Damn. I will have to fix it when I get home; it's too complicated to do it from the library because the server is so slow.
I've been really relaxing; I mean, really, to the point of downright laziness. I haven't worked a drop since Saturday, and it's time for me to spend time on the manuscript I have with me. Early mornings are good times.

Ken and I have been enjoying the evenings immensely. While I mess with the dinner dishes, he builds a fire in the fireplace. When I'm done and the fire is roaring, I pick up my knitting and we listen to a book on tape. We finished Into Thin Air after spending four evenings on the edge of our seats as that ill-fated Himalayan expedition crept its way up and then down Everest. Whew...what a somber, sobering tale, but breath-taking.

Last night we started listening to Atonement by Ian McEwan. I read it while sick in bed with influenza Type B in March 2003--it made the time pass very quickly. Now I'm enjoying it again--what a writer! It's interesting this time to see all the foreshadowing I missed when I read it the first time.

I picked up Broken Ground by Kai Maristed, who lives in Cambridge, I think. Due to this knitting infatuation, I've read just the first several chapters. It's about an American woman who returns to Berlin after many years to search for her daughter. Actually, there are several other subplots, but that's the basic story.

Friday, September 10, 2004

I'd like to say I'm just loving life in the Adirondacks, but we had an incredible siege of rain that makes me feel like a drowned rat. I shouldn't complain, but it sure was nice to see the sun come out at about eleven this morning. The trip was gloomy weatherwise and almost a disaster, due to the new GPS system that Ken is in love with. But we finally got here.
Right now I'm writing this at the Johnsburg Public Library in North Creek, New York. North Creek is a great little town, with small shops selling just about everything one would be likely to need.
And in the reading world, we couldn't listen to Into Thin Air on the trip up because we packed it and couldn't find it. So we'll listen some evening or on our way up. I'm reading a delightful book, Love in the Asylum by Lisa Carey, new this spring or summer. Alba, in her mid-twenties, suffers from bipolar disorder and suicidal impulses and must spend lots of time in a psychiatric hospital. Oscar is about the same age and abuses as many substances as there are out there. She writes about them with such sympathy and wry amusement, that's it's a real treat.
The world around me here is getting restless, so I'm going to have to sign off. I hope to post again on Monday.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Just four days until our departure for the Adirondacks. Oh, how I loathe the packing up and preparation! We bring most of our food with us, so it's a complicated procedure. We are going to the wilderness, after all. Of course, there is a grocery store in North Creek, a nine-mile drive from our camp, but it's a far cry from the stores we're used to at home.

If you have any interest at all in knitting, please visit my new knitting blog, "Madame DuFarge: Knitting in Desperate Times." I created it because I need a place to write about my current knitting compulsion and a literary blog is certainly not the place to do that! Knitting has been a godsend to dealing with all the angst I feel about the presidential campaign and the tragedy and suffering of civilians in Iraq.

I will say also that the knitting has really helped me control my anxiety about Ken's and my new major life transition following his leaving the Globe and the development of his new PC consulting business and as I expand my writing and editing business. Two entrepreneurs in one household can be nerve-wracking for all parties concerns. For all you Boston-area readers, Ken has been helping Globe writers and editors with their PC problems for more than twenty years. His clients include Larry Tye, author of Rising from the Rails: The Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class, and Dick Lehr, author of the bestselling Black Mass:The True Story of the Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob and his latest <em>Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders.

On the literary front: I dipped into David Sedaris's latest Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim while doing the cardio routine at the gym and must report that I'm not finding it compelling reading. I read "Blood Work," his memoir of his days cleaning houses for a living in New York City. It was amusing, but gross, in a way, and not really all that unusual or unique to warrant all the hype the book has received. I then read the next piece and the next about his sister, but I found it very dull. I will definitely read the first few pieces in the book before rendering my final verdict, just to be fair.

I have amassed all the books for our trip. On the way up, we're going to listen to Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I can't believe that neither of us has read this yet. I loved Krakauer's Into the Wild which I read last spring about a young man who takes going back to nature to the extreme. A fascinating, journalistic tale of suspense, really.

I still have alot more to post. Maybe I'll be able to drop a line later today.