Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

books read, late June

W. H. Auden, Complete Works: Prose Vol. 1, 1926-1938. Some good stuff, some silly stuff, some good silly stuff, and some stuff that wasn't either. But very little of the last category. That's Auden for you. He went to Spain and China in the '30s, and also to Iceland, which was of more personal interest to me but less historical interest. Regarding Iceland and also Framley Parsonage, I think it's a very good thing that I had already run into the idea that authors I like don't always like the same things I do. (Madeleine L'Engle introduced me to this. The summer I turned 19, I took a volume of Chekhov plays with me on the retreat to the shore with my summer research group. I had been reading Madeleine L'Engle for over half my life at that point, going on about how wonderful Chekhov plays were, and this volume had the ones I'd been looking forward to most, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard. I, it turns out, am not a Chekhov fan. Not in the least in fact. And so when Auden and Isherwood had Framley Parsonage in China and didn't like it much because they were bored by the bits that made me want to hide under the desk, I was simultaneously amused and greatly sympathetic, because I know what a horrible thing it is to be traveling equipped only with a book you find you really don't much care for.) You know how people sometimes refer to Walt Whitman as Uncle Walt? He's not my uncle Walt. But W.H. Auden can be my Uncle Wystan. Of course Uncle Wystan is stupid sometimes, but this happens with real uncles, too, I've noticed. Anyway I had been wondering whether I would want the rest of his Complete Works, and now I know I do. Also I am furious with Bill Holm for being dead so I can't write and ask him if he didn't go to China just because he secretly wanted to be W.H. Auden and had already been to Iceland. Anyway that's my theory. Dammit.

Matthew Baigell, The Western Art of Frederic Remington. Grandpa's. I didn't think Remington was my thing, and in fact he isn't, but this is a pretty good book of his stuff, lots of good prints and no attempts to gloss over the less admirable aspects of Mr. Remington's character. And he was clearly extremely influential--you can look at the prints and see how they influenced cowboy movies, and then you get more or less the rest of movies influenced from there.

Ed Cray, Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie. Interesting stuff, very much recommended if you have an interest in that generation of folkies. (And I think they're interesting.) Startling juxtaposition with our bio of Leadbelly, though, because Leadbelly's biographer (quite rightly) did not think of him as particularly stable and steady, and yet compared to Woody, well. I have sort of a different take than Mr. Cray on legacy, but that was a minor point, very small section of the book. The main difficulty of this book was that it took me most of a week to dislodge the songs from my head.

Georgette Heyer, The Reluctant Widow. Very silly.

Tony Hillerman, Hunting Badger. Not really as silly as Georgette Heyer.

Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Grandpa's. I read this very shortly after the Woody Guthrie bio, and wow, contrast. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. It was interesting, but it seemed to presume a level of awe/intimidation that the reader would feel towards the Founding Fathers and I just...don't. Also I am skeptical of people who quote David Brooks very much. At least if there isn't pointing and derisive laughter. Not that there was a lot of David Brooks in this; but it turns out I feel that David Brooks is for some reason not essential to a biography of Ben Franklin. Any David Brooks at all, really. But it was comprehensive and paid attention to other interesting people but not to the exclusion of Franklin, and the structure made it pretty easy to keep various bits of time straight in important ways.

Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms: Volume II. I finally have grown back enough brain to keep track of the cast of several, including people who show up to die on the next page. I'm halfway through the four-volume set and looking forward to the rest.

Helen Morgan, Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Stamp. Grandpa's. This was much less obnoxious than the other stamp book of Grandpa's I've read so far, largely because Helen Morgan has no illusion that we are panting to know more about Helen Morgan when we buy a book about stamps. If you're looking for a present for a philatelist in your life, I'd definitely recommend this one. It goes along at a good clip, and just about the time you think you've heard as much as you can hear about the Blue Mauritius stamp, it turns out you have and you're done.

James Patterson, 3rd Degree. Grandpa's. The title had something to do with the book this time, hurrah. This...continues to be not a very good series. At all. But the unintentional hilarity was there, at least.

Notice that there wasn't any speculative fiction in this bunch? Yah. So did I. We'll be remedying that lack immediately. I read in a bunch of genres, but not all of them are mine. Too long without fantasy or SF--much less without both--and I start to get antsy.
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