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

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I found this poem a while ago, but I feel it fits well with my current situation. I'm living in a Lutheran village and trying to decide whether to break up with my boyfriend.

by Tom C. Hunley

You're not sure whether or not to divorce your spouse,
so you go for a walk to think-think-think, because
you're a thinker. A pair of bluebirds fly in unison, sing
in unison. They shoot straight up in unison and then,
as if in a wordless, songless agreement to disagree, one
arcs sharp right, the other veers left at a mirror angle,
and because you're a Romanticist at heart, you decide
you have to break your marriage in half.
But you're part Postmodernist, too, so you think
maybe the birds are being ironic, and you think
staying and leaving are really just two ways
of doing the same thing. And since you're also
part Modernist, you pray, a throwback to your latent
Victorianism. You ask God what you should do, and
before He has a chance to answer, you tell Him
you don't believe in Him anymore, though at moments
like this, you wish to God you still did.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Feeling a Bit Peakish

I wish I had Mervyn Peake quotes memorized and at the ready, a plethora of lines from the Gormenghast novels that I could whip out at every occasion.

If the moon were full, I could shout, "Ahoy! scavengers! The moon's retching." If someone asked me my age I could say, "Thank heavens my youth is all over now. It took too long and got in my way." If Katie were going on about vampires, I could say, "I am in no mood for sepulchritude."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On Esme's Bookshelf

Books I Read in June

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George. The first in the Inspector Lynley series.

The Life of Orgyan Chokyi, written by herself and translated by Kurtis R. Schaeffer.

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.

Middlemarch by George Eliot.

The Knight by Gene Wolfe, the first in the Wizard Knight duo.

Quite a few children's picture books. This summer I'm taking care of 0-3 year olds, which means the children's books I have been reading are often simplistic and I often have to read the same ones day after day. One of my three-year-olds has one of the books memorized: "Hello Babar! Eat the cake. Hello Babar! Water the flowers..." Here at Holden, the children's program as well as the building it's in are called Narnia. We call the 0-3 kids Trumpkins, the 4-6 kids Caspians, and the 7-10 kids Aslans. I am head of the Trumpkins.

Private Libraries for Elite Readers

I have mentioned that at Holden we have a small library. So when I need a sequel to a book, namely The Wizard by Gene Wolfe, where am I to go? Well, the North Central Regional Library System, which includes the Chelan Library, has a wonderful feature. They mail books! I request a book, and the book begins an exciting adventure onto the fair Lady of the Lake boat and across the deep and toxic Lake Chelan, and in a few days I get a note in my mailbox saying I have a package. So I did not waste time in requesting a library card. But the days passed, and I got no email saying they had accepted my request for library membership. Oh no, I think, have they discovered I already have two library cards, one to Bellingham and one to Sno-Isle, as well as access to a school library? Have they discovered I have a $1 fine unpaid at the Western Washington University library? Are they refusing me membership?

I realize I am being ridiculous. Libraries do not have exclusive memberships; it's not a secret club; I don't have to go through some sort of hazing in order to check out a book. They are public libraries, and if they somehow figured out I already belong to other library systems, they are probably glad because they want people to read, wherever they are!

In short, this week I got an envelope in the mail. Within that envelope was an adorable manila envelope just large enough to fit a library card. I am now a proud card-holding member of the North Central Regional Library system. And I have just requested my first book to get mailed to me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Further Genius of Peake

Where is he now? Titus the Abdicator? Come out of the shadows, traitor, and stand upon the wild brink of my brain!

I've started the third of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, Titus Alone. I've only read the first three or four chapters (very short chapters), but I've read them twice and may read them again. I want to wallow in Peake's words, climb in and inhabit them. The more I read him the more I love him.


It occurs to me I never did a follow up post on Middlemarch. In my previous post I was wary of the novel. About 160, 200 pages in, the book caught me. I just wanted to read and read and read it. Towards the end I wasn't quite as interested, and those gems of sentences stopped appearing unto me.

There. Wasn't that the most illuminating description of George Eliot ever?