Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last Apples

Saturday a friend and I went to Hood River for apples and pears - several boxes for her, a few for me.  My friend was stocking up for some serious canning and processing.  For me, it was an excuse to take pictures as much as anything. 

It is the end of a season - the harvest, the gathering in.  End also (at least for a time) of this pretty nearly daily gathering of photos.  Those lunch hours wheeling around town, trawling for things to see are done (for a time).  Done, too (for now), the particular calm momentary focus of looking through the camera. 

My photos are not real serious photos and it is a pleasure that I don't feel any the less content with them for knowing that.  Which is not the way it is with writing and knowing the writing is limping, is off, is stilted.

I've been reading Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage  (*****).  Off and on.  Which style of reading is perhaps the best tribute to his style of writing.  He writes (in the part I'm wandering in and out of right now) about D.H. Lawrence taking up painting and how much more satisfying to him the painting is than writing.  Which tells you how much more a writer than a painter he is.  I like (have liked) Lawrence's novels - though I like even better Sheila Gibbons' send-up of Lawrence in Cold Comfort Farm.  But I don't count Lawrence's "poems" as poetry - they have no music and are just shouting of manifestos to my ear - so it is interesting to read such an interior and familiar-feeling voice as Dyer's talking about a poetic power imperceptible to me.  

Also reading, also by Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It (***) which has in it almost everything I don't like in a book (drug parties, sex with strangers, New Age idlers . . .) except I like it.  Limpid writing -- that clear pool -- and a completely (apparent) childlike unpretentiousness creates such an easily assumable point of view that while I'm reading it I think the way he puts things is the way really I would put things, or even actually do put things, in my deepest thoughts.  Except that really my thoughts and way of putting them are not anywhere so clear, pretty much more like turgid I realize once I'm back out of the book.

I am nearly done, though, with novel & fluff reading for awhile.  Actually, all reading will be at a minimum for the next month.  But I can report that I have read a good chunk of my list for this month, plus a fair share of fluffier strays (which makes them sound like puppies needing a home) and am ready to report as promised.

**Terry Pratchett** - (shrug) - pleasant enough but not something to shape your life (or reading month) around

*Mourner's Dance* - interesting look at grieving customs - but more an overview than an evocation

*Body Speaks* - a workbook of acting exercises which I may someday go back to (the book, not acting), but no time for it right now.

Silent Traveller in Oxford - lost my interest a few pages in

Talking Hands, a survey of communities where sign language has naturally arisen, has a great cover photo but is written in journalese and thus disappointing.  Much more fascinating was ***Visible Thought: A New Psychology of Body Language***, a book about body language by the British TV series "Big Brother" psychologist:  a well written, transparent sharing of his gestural/ vocal communication experiments, as well as engaging anecdotes of what body language tells us taken from the TV series.  And best by far was ****Language in Hand:Why Sign Came Before Speech**** by the founder of sign language linguistics - this guy writes with passion and lucid erudition and makes an interesting though controversial case. 

*****Mummies of Urumchi***** was everything I was expecting from Elizabeth Wayland Barber, a textile archaeologist and linguist.  If you read only one non-fiction book this year (Melissa!)  you should read this one - eminently readable tracing of a population moving across Central Europe from remarkably well-preserved textiles in the Gobi desert and linguistic clues (though probably you, Melissa, would enjoy  ***Visible Thought*** with its psychology even more . . .)  Barber is clear, enjoyable, fascinated with her topic, a genius at fine detail and the broader picture both, and eager to share what she's seen.

Contrasting unfavorably to the *****Urumchi***** book,  Needle in the Right Hand of God is clumsy and the author apparently bored with his subject before he even begins.  He uses the Bayeux Tapestry (which tells the story of William the Conqueror's victory) as a jumping-off point to discuss medieval and Byzantine art, politics, etc.  but seems to be mostly in a hurry to talk about ANYTHING else but the tapestry.  His analysis always feels like its missing the mark and his points are underwhelming.  This could have been so much better done - and still woven in all the other wide-ranging information - but he has no feel for the fabric itself.

I loved George Sand's two rural novelettes! Particularly ***The Haunted Pool***.  And enjoyed her other novel, **Countess of Rudolstadt**, until the end when characters began to  speak in lengthy monologues (we're talking pages not mere paragraphs) about their Dan Brownesque Da-Vinci-Code "New Religion."

***Greenwillow*** by B.J. Chute was as good as I had remembered from my girlhood - a slyly sweet book about a village perhaps in New England, perhaps in Southern England. 

And the best of the fluff?  ***Little Lady Agency and the Prince*** - which I blush to own.  This was a book I picked up at the airport a year or so ago.  Fluffy, fluffy, and way too much fun.  The double-entendres fly over the head of the innocently smouldery main character who dons a blonde wig, vintage corsets, pencil skirts to counsel and coach clueless London bachelors in the fine art of gallantry and grooming . . . and you can already imagine all the delightful entanglements that leads to  . . .

So,  this weekend I'll sample Girls of Riyadh, maybe Time's Magpie, maybe They're a Weird Mob - but apple season is over - pretty near.

And if that makes you sad, forget it's the last of the apples and just look: 

1 comment:

Mrs. Organic said...

I love that photo of the sink with the multi-colored cabinets.

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