Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Naked Authors

That website is not as exciting as the name implies.

Smallest Teapot

Chinese master potter Wu Ruishen made the smallest teapot in the world in 2007. From what I know, it is fully functional. I think I shall get one and leave it out for the Borrowers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Other Kingdoms

The Other Kingdoms
by Mary Oliver

Consider the other kingdoms. The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals. Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be. Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Footsteps by Leon Garfield

A luvverly book, Footsteps, a luvverly book indeed. Here's the rub: A twelve-year-old boy, haunted by his father's guilt-ridden ghost, runs away to eighteenth-century London to set right the misdeeds done in his father's past. He meets a dwarf and some Artful Dodger- and Fagin-esque characters, goes in and out of taverns, lives on rooftops, almost gets murdered several times, and discovers there is a hidden ten thousand pounds just waiting for him to find it. Garfield creates a number of winning characters, the sort you can't help loving despite their questionable motives. Footsteps is full of wit and humor, and there are some truly beautiful descriptions. As for the plot: It does exactly what it should.

I'll leave you with a quote that perhaps does not sum up the book, but which I find quite amusing.

He was one of those kindly old gentlemen who think that they know all about boys and that a boy's heart desires nothing more than cake and that, in all probability, the affair of Cain and Abel would have turned out better if only Cain had been given more cake.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finding a Bible in an Abandoned Cabin

Robert Wrigley
"Finding a Bible in an Abandoned Cabin"

Under dust plush as a moth's wing,
the book's leather cover still darkly shown,
and everywhere else but this spot was sodden
beneath the roof's unraveling shingles.
There was that back-of-the-neck lick of chill
and then, from my index finger, the book

opened like a blasted bird. In its box
of familiar and miraculous inks,
a construction of filaments and dust,
thoroughfares of worms, and a silage
of silverfish husks: in the autumn light,
eight hundred pages of perfect wordless lace.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On Esme's Bookshelf

Books I completed in April:

The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Somethingorother by Terry Tempest Williams
Daisy Miller: A Study by Henry James
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Homo Faber: A Report by Max Frisch
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh, translated by Mobi Ho

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Neddiad

The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization
Daniel Pinkwater

The book came from the library with a little lavender sticker on the spine, a sticker that had a picture of a dragon and said Fantasy. But this isn't the kind of fantasy with dragons and wizards. The magic slowly reveals itself, in such a way that the reality of the world is as marvelous as the magical elements. At first the book seems to be a quietly entertaining story of a child living in America in the forties with an eccentric family. Then it appears to be the children's lit version of magical realism, and finally near the end you figure out why it's categorized as fantasy.

The book will have you keep an encyclopedia (ahem, Wikipedia) at hand. Is Aaron Finn a real actor from the forties? Are there really stories of sacred turtles in most of the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the worlds? Are there really tar pits--the La Brea Tar Pits--from which we've pulled the skeletons of mastodons and saber-toothed tigers? Is there a restaurant shaped like a derby hat in LA? The Neddiad seamlessly blends allusions to real things with those that the author has invented.

In conclusion, I love this book.