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You're Shaking My Confidence Wednesday

What I’ve Finished Reading

The Making of a Saint was mostly very dull. There were a couple of good scenes – the captured countess calling the conspirator’s bluff when they threaten to hang her children, an unoriginal but lively description of a Renaissance marketplace – but for the most part it failed either to rise to art or melt into cheese. Somerset Maugham’s running theme of intelligent but weak-willed guys chasing faithless women all over creation only to be heartbroken when they go on being the same person as before, gets an airing here, though not a very energetic one. If it comes back to haunt me for two weeks running like The Razor’s Edge did, I’ll let you know, but it doesn’t seem likely today.

Between Maugham and Gaius Valerius Catullus, I've had "Cecilia" stuck in my head for the past week. The good news is, it's a good song, and thanks to a few miracles of technology, you can hear it, too.

What I’m Reading Now

Uncle Charlie’s Poems – Mirthful and Otherwise by Charles Noel Douglas, 1906, J. S. Oglive Publishing Company. A collection of light verse by Charles Noel Douglas, an actor who turned to writing to support himself through a chronic illness. He seems to have been extremely prolific despite his “obscure nervous trouble,” and successful enough to move out of the public hospital and into a house in Brooklyn – from the presentation of this book, the human interest story of his illness seems to have helped at least a little. There is a photograph of “Uncle Charlie,” with his oddly immaculate Van Dyke beard and neutral gaze, flanked by a couple of adorably modern-looking young nurses. In the back are four pages of advertisements for Uncle Charlie’s other books: stories, songs, plays for adults and children, and a compendium of quotations called The Lover’s Companion.

These poems are of an age, not so much for all time. Multiple poems about “Sandy Claws” who is importuned for a comically long list of toys with the repeated hook DON’T FORGET THE GUN! or who causes temporary consternation by being seen to wear “Pa’s” grubby pants, plenty of comical domestic violence and mercenary courtship, all in meter like the rattle of a noisy automobile.

From the author's introduction: “If the mirth-seeker finds nothing laughable in the so-called humorous verse, perhaps in the section devoted to the more serious subjects he may discover sufficient excuse for indulging his risibilities to his heart’s content.”

And another blast from the past: The Official America Online for Windows Membership Kit and Tour Guide by Tom Lichty – a hefty guide to all things AOL from 1994. I’ve never used AOL – I went from Prodigy BBS to the open Web via Netscape Navigator and Hotmail – so this “tour” is through largely unfamiliar territory.

What I Plan to Read Next

I'm way behind on my continents challenge, so I should grab something from Australia soon! Next on my TBR stack are Chicago by Gaslight, The Clan of the Cave Bear, and The Unamericans by Molly Antopol.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 10th, 2017 02:08 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh, 'Clan of the Cave Bear' Jean M. Auel! I read it as a teenager. I remember finding it dated and am surprised to see it turning up charity shops today. It wasn't to my teenage mind as good as Anne McCaffrey! I think there might have been some sex.
May. 10th, 2017 02:55 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to read it approximately forever, because I love cave paintings and other very old human things, but I've always been intimidated by its enormous length (my mm paperback is just about as wide as it is tall). Well, no more! I read In Search of Lost Time; I can read Clan of the Cave Bear. I hear the heroine invents a lot of things - or is that later?

I've never read Anne McCaffrey, and probably won't ever get around to it, so at least Clan of the Cave Bear won't suffer by comparison.
May. 11th, 2017 02:36 pm (UTC)
I didn't take note of any inventing of things bearing in mind when I was a teenager I didn't know I was meant to be reading novels with strong female characters in or feel bad because I wasn't reading the right things. I'm glad I read I read the Pern books because they do have lots of female protagonists so I can feel a tiny bit less guilty in retrospect!

I think she might have changed clan in the novel or not!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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