Reading in the Year of the Book (Part 5)

Summer is in full swing and I have managed to get a little bit of reading done between trips up to MDI, PEI, Woodstock, BVT, and planning the big move out west. The next entry will be from Colorado! Yikes.

Moravagine-Blaise Cendrars

"I had raised and nourished a parasite at my own expense." This is true of the narrator of the novel but written in explanation of the  troubled process of writing Moravagine by the author. This book is about death, idiocy, and adventure-characteristics behind the murderous revolutions and wars of the early 20th century. There is even a bit of a POCIII reference in a malarial episode up the Orinoco basin involving a tribe of "amazons" adopting Mora as their sex king. The most disturbing episodes of this book are two: the sauerkraut train ride suicide escape and the first meeting of Moravagine (hint: masturbation and a fishbowl). Whats up with the weird self-referencing when the author appears as a very minor character? Alter egos of alter egos of a pseudonym (maybe the original Fight Club...)

Pinochio - Carlo Collodi

 Poor Pinnochio. What a rascal and miscreant. He treats everyone like crap, kills the friendly Cricket in their first encounter, and thankfully has a blue haired fairy godmother to clean up his messes. Gepetto has to spend the whole book eating hardtack in a shark gut because of this little twerp. Perhaps this 19th century children's tale is not quite as PC as it would have to be today (dead schoolmate, brutal donkey bashings, the ghastly hanging of a puppet by a recently handless cat) but the point gets across: study, work hard, be generous, and listen to good advice.

The Japanese Chronicles - Nicolas Bouvier 

 The author in Japan is noticeably an older man from the person who wrote The Way of the World. Bouvier steps widely into the emerging world of "East meets West" during his time living and traveling around Japan. I especially like the 1/3rd of the book on traveling around Hokkaido with excellent commentary on the disappearance of the Ainu, the loneliest fog-bound north coasts, and the finely developed dance of a drunken all night small village party. This was a quick and simple read and very enjoyable for Spring night relaxing.

Names on the Land - George R. Stewart

An old school romantic history of the names on the map in America. This book is interesting because the author, through an obvious obsession, goes deep into the processes and perspectives that lead to the variety of names on the American continent. It is truly amazing to look deeply at the unique circumstances surrounding the "discovery" of the continent from the earliest Spaniards, through the heavy colonization, revolution, native and classical renaissances, and gold rushes. My favorite sections deal with the Dutch and Swedish naming along the Southern (Delaware) river and mid-Atlantic areas (especially since I read much of these sections deep in the Catskills along the Hudson river). Gotta love names and maps and history!

Weather Predicting Simplified - Michael William Carr

 A great resource for information on understanding longer weather patterns and the nature of frontal systems, pressure systems, the jet stream, and wind factors. An essential part of my new weather fascination.

Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart - Mark Epstein

 In this "Buddhist perspective on wholeness" Epstein does a wonderful job on weaving aspects of psychotherapy with lessons from Buddhism and meditation practice to shed light on what makes us, as human people striving through life as all do, miss the key points to feeling complete. The key being to cultivate the ability to "go to pieces" without "falling apart." To work with our emotions and situations as the tools of the trade on the path to wholeness. I especially like the imagery of the temple or mandala as unfolding outwards from a complete center with even the seemingly disparate objects on the far petals containing traces of that central radiance.

Roumeli - Patrick Leigh Fermor

The last of the Fermors! Done and I am very sad to see it go. These books will make a wonderful addition to my collection right next to the Heyerdahl's. Roumeli is PLF's final mark on the majesty and diversity of Greece as it appeared through his war, love, meditation conquests, and extensive ramblings. This is the good stuff. I love the section of seeking the source for the boliari language of the beggars and swindlers from a specific region. These swindlers created their own language to remain in contact with each other as they rambled, perhaps, all the way up to Siberia and back in single voyages. Amazing! These Fermor books are wonderful.

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