Archive for May, 2009

999 Challenge

Posted May 31, 2009 By Jandy

After last month I had some catching up to do on this challenge of 9 books in 9 catagories in 2009. Almost every book I picked up this month met one of the criteria for this challenge. Some met two, but I only added them once. Admittedly, if I am close in December, one or two of them may be used twice. I thought I’d allow myself 3 books to be used in two categories, but haven’t done so yet.

As planned, I caught up this month and am back on target. I read 11 books for this challenge. Of course, the challenge should mean more than just the reading. We’re supposed to take something away from them. I read some books this past month that reached below the surface story.

As I’ve already mentioned in this blog, together The Bondwoman’s Narrative and the Narrative of Frederick Douglass make a powerful combination. Before I read these I had not heard a whip described as “cowskin” which appears to have been the common slave description of that whip. I poked around on the web and finally this picture and history of this type of whip. This quote is from that site: “…Its form gives it some degree of elasticity towards the handle; and when used with severity . . .it tears the flesh, and brings blood at every stroke.” After reading these books, looking at that picture and thinking about it made me shudder, glad I don’t have a real visual of the sight.

I was also caught up in Banana Yoshimoto‘s novella, Kitchen. The story was about death and love and connections and loneliness. It has a light touch and tone with good insights towards our relationships with others who are important to us.

May was a good month for the 999 Challenge. I caught up and had some interesting reading as well as pleasure reading.

Huh? Headlines

Posted May 27, 2009 By Jandy

Call To Tackle The Causes Of Ageing Rather Than Treating The Effects

I’m pretty sure the only antidote to getting older is to die – not necessarily the outcome you want…

Word Picture

Posted May 25, 2009 By Jandy

From Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto:

It was raining that hazy spring night. A genlte, warm rain enveloped the neighborhood…by Chuo Park. As I crossed through, I was inundated with the green smell of the night.

“green smell of the night” – that brought lush, spring evening pictures to my head.

Realistic Time Travel Preparation

Posted May 25, 2009 By Jandy

Time travel is a big theme in science fiction stories (has anyone else seen the new Star Trek movie yet?). Last night I stayed up and finished Jack Finney‘s Time and Again, one of the classics in the time travel genre.

In this novel, the government is trying to take Einstein’s theory of time dimension and put it to practical use, sending people back in time. The narrator, Simon “Si” Morley, is one of the people to try the experiment. First they have to prepare him to go to 1882. One of the bits that caught my interest is the way Si is shown actual relics from 1882 borrowed from the Smithsonian. Then the person instructing him explains that the item (clothing, furniture, tool, etc.) didn’t look like that in 1882. He brings out a copy of the item – except in new condition. The artifacts we have now have faded and grown brittle or thin over the years. It takes a replica of the original to show Si what 1882 was actually like. It was a world full of color, not the sepia and gray tones we now see in our museums or parents’ attics.

I liked the way the preparation for the travel was handled. All too often a character is accidentally thrown back in time or goes back impulsively without enough preparation. Instead, Finney had turned it into a real sounding experiment.

This is an an example of good writing. The author thinks his premise through and remembers the details that brings the most fantastical story to life.

Duh! Headlines

Posted May 22, 2009 By Jandy

Clinics pay more for isotopes after supplier hikes prices

Need I add any comment?

Duh! Headlines

Posted May 18, 2009 By Jandy

Childhood Brain Injury Can Delay Development

You think?

Reading Oddities

Posted May 17, 2009 By Jandy

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick DouglassActually, this is more of a collecting oddity. A few weeks ago I was going through a pile of used books that came my way to see what I wanted to keep. One of the books was a school text – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The 999 Challenge was in my thoughts, so I snagged it because of when it was written more than what it was – although that also interested me.

The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah CraftsThen I started reading The Bondwoman’s Narrative, a book chosen last July for my local book club to read this month. I could only vaguely remember what they said it was about. When I read Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s introduction, I quickly realized that Frederick Douglass’ autobiography was more important than I had known. I’m an older white American woman who’d grown up hearing about the Civil War and the atrocities of slavery and the problems of racism that still exist in this country. But I’ve never deeply studied African-American literature nor was assigned this book in any of my schooling.

Kindred by Octavia E. ButlerNow that I’ve Finished The Bondwoman’s Narrative, guess what I’ve chosen to read next? I thought it would be good to keep the narratives together to weld the problems in my mind. (And if you’ve read those and want to read some good fiction related to the Southern slavery theme, read Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.)

The More Things Change…

Posted May 16, 2009 By Jandy

The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah CraftsFrom The Bondwoman’s Narrative (written in the 1850’s):

“As one of the waiters I saw the company at supper. There were jeweled ladies and gallant gentlemen. There were youthful faces and faces of two score that strove to cheat time, and refuse to be old.”

“I had been to a shop in Pennsylvania Avenue, much frequented by the slaves of fashionable Ladies, who sought to add artifical to natural charms. Paints and cosmetics in every variety, perfums from China and India, hair of every color in curls or braids, teeth, washes, powders magnetic or otherwise, filters, love-tokens, and similar articles of great perfection and infinite variety were to be exchanged for gold.”

We often hear about how we worship youth and try to fight off aging. It seems that was true 150 years ago as well.

Reply to Comment on Previous Post

Posted May 14, 2009 By Jandy

Sunil left a general comment on the previous post that needed answering. I started to add a comment after hers, but the message was getting pretty long, so I decided to blog it separately.

No, I don’t have any way to sort on my ratings. This site is 11 years old and still has some of the original formatting in places. I know I should learn something like Drupal and migrate, but found the learning curve is more than I want to deal with right now. I wasn’t even able to figure out how to get started after I installed it…

Some of my highly recommended mystery writers:

Margaret MaronThe Bootlegger’s Daughter and follow up books (current day North Carolina, cozy but not cutsie)

Anne Perry – different detective series all historical England, different time periods in the 1800’s to early 1900’s – try Face of a Stranger.

J.D. RobbNaked in Death and the follow ups (future New York City, gritty)

Jacqueline WinspearMaisie Dobbs and follow up books (historical, 1930’s)

For humorous mysteries, check out Lisa Lutz‘s The Spellman Files and two sequels. She’s a new author and these are hilarious. A West Coast Stephanie Plum without the foul mouth or the murders. I hope she maintains after she’s finished the Spellman series – which is planned for four. I’ve given her books to my daughters, my brother, my mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. This is the only author I know that I’ve been able to give to all of those people.

There are many more, so I made myself stop. Yes, I admit my favorite authors tend to be women, but I read a lot of men’s books as well.

The Research Librarian Speaks Out Again

Posted May 12, 2009 By Jandy

The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah CraftsMy previous post was a small jab at Wikipedia – not a reliable source but it can be a good place to start.

Now I’ve started The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hanna Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The first 75 pages or so are Gates’ Introduction briefly describing the research he did to verify the manuscript. He believed the source of it that it really was a manuscript written by a female slave in the 1850’s. But he didn’t want to publish it without better authority. In order to do this he needed to search the ancestry databases available.

Here’s a quote from his Introduction. He was searching the records of slaves from the mid-1800’s.

Electronic indexes – on CD-ROM and on-line…can be enormous time-savers but can never replace examination of an actual document. Human error in the replication of such an enormous database as the U.S. federal censuses in inevitable.

There’s a lot available online. But not everything is – “can never replace examination of an actual document” – a reminder when we think we’ve exhausted our resources.

Wikipedia Funny

Posted May 8, 2009 By Jandy

As a librarian, I know the problems with Wikipedia as well as the plusses. Today’s Dilbert online is funny.

Music Video – Not For MTV

Posted May 7, 2009 By Jandy

This is great, but you probably won’t see it on MTV or VH1…

Sorry it’s wide – I wasn’t able to shrink it.