Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reading in the Year of the Book: 2013 (Part 2)

     February has proved to be another heavy reading month. Strong NYRB contributions make the hours between the pages fly by. March is a vacation month and may be a little bit light on reading. Selections from Thoreau, Fermor, and Bouvier are first on the list!

Nature Stories - Jules Renard 



[Shorts with illustrations about everyday life in the countryside. Some melancholy and some whimsical. Would be great to share with kids and help open up some of that inherent observation and self-discovery that goes along with being a human being.]







The Thirty Years War - C.V. Wedgewood



 [History books with lots of names, dates, and place names are often difficult to get through. The beauty of this one is that the author is able to pick the narrative up in places and create a sudden flow of information that leads you deep into the history. This is a great book and provides clear insight into the causes and effects of the many crazy movements and shifts that wrecked the German areas for so many decades. Not a "people's history" for sure, but a very good review. I love reading history!]



 
Don't Look Now (and other stories) - Daphne DuMaurier




 ["Don't Look Now" and "The Birds" were good and entertaining stories but I found getting through the rest of the stories a bit tedious.]







Poetry of the Late T'ang - A.C. Graham (trans.)



[My interest in Buddhism started with a chance finding of the Cold Mountain poems and ever since the magic of Tang Dynasty poetry has held my imagination. So much drifting and sorrow set in a million different places. This collection is a good introduction to some of the the other, more standard and formal, poets from the late T'ang. Some are great and some are a quick read. "What's so urgent about this business you waste your heart on?" - Li Shang-Yin]





Warlock - Oakley Hall



[The classic western story. So many Deadwood and Bob Dylan parallels it is crazy. This book took a little bit of time to get in to with some of the plot lines and endless conversations seeming just to add pages instead of substance but all the loose ends come together in an epic final showdown! Outlaws, rustlers, gunfighters, marshalls, saloon owners, miners, prostitutes, lonely deputies, and the aging cavalry all play major roles.]





Peking Story - David Kidd


[This short book is a fascinating picture into the complete and swift destruction of the ancient elite cultural traditions of the once majestic imperialist China with communist takeover. David Kidd, an American, had a first hand taste of the Red Army's ideology and the rising cultural war that would play out in the horrific circumstances of the cultural revolution. The stories about the garden and the 600 year old incense burners are really sad.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ballad of the Voyager

Sea voyager, on Heaven's winds,
In his ship, far wandering.
Like a bird, among the clouds,
gone, he'll leave no trace.

- Li Po
(J.P. Seaton trans)