fabrisse: (Default)
is having her first novel published on August 1. There's going to be a reading at One More Page in Arlington, VA on September 14. For my Boston/Cambridge/Somerville friends, she'll be at Harvard Coop on August 9 at 7 pm.

fabrisse: (Default)
I'll put any spoilers under a cut, and I will probably wait until I have completed the book to write about it in detail.

In the meantime, Chapter 8. Even if the rest of the book turns out to be terrible, this chapter is perfect and, by some terrible coincidence, it has come to us at the perfect time. Go Set a Watchman is set in that never world between Brown vs Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act. The bus boycott has either happened or is in the process of happening based on a throwaway line in an earlier chapter, and just as the boycott happened in Alabama, so is the book set there.

This is the South in all it's warmth and friendliness and beauty. This is the South in all its viciousness and gossip and racism. The entire plot of To Kill a Mockingbird is in three paragraphs of chapter 8.

Had this book been released a month or more earlier, the shooting at the Charleston AME Mother Church would not have happened yet. The arguments over the Confederate flag would not have happened, and this book, this chapter, would not be ripping through me.

I am a daughter of the south as much as I am a daughter of the military. I value the history and sense of honor belonging to the highest ideals and best people in both cultures. But I am also, viscerally, a pacifist. My father, who I believe holds the highest ideals of both southern and military cultures, taught me that it was a hard row to hoe but an honorable one. (My mother has stated that she's ashamed of me for being pacifist and made it clear she finds it weak.) In the same way, I am viscerally honest about the horrors of the south.

The southern culture which is romanticized by its descendants was based on oppression and blood. While some of that oppression was of the women in its culture, the fact is most white women were at minimum complicit in the oppression and in some cases were the ones baying for blood. Jean Louise Finch, known as a child as Scout, has moved north and sees this clearly. She returns home to find that those who are still steeped in the south cannot see it at all. It's made clear this is nothing to do with age; it is literally black and white within the culture.

Gone with the Wind (the book, which I read the same summer I first read To Kill a Mockingbird) made it absolutely clear, in my opinion, that the southern planters brought their way of life down around their own ears by refusing to look at political and economic reality. Margaret Mitchell several times refers to the Civil War as a gotterdammerung instigated by the south itself. I have heard, just in the past few days, a South Carolina politician talking about the War of Northern Aggression and talking about the North invading the South, completely ignoring that it was the South -- his state, no less -- which fired the first shots and were the aggressors in that impossible war.

I know this is not my most coherent post. There is so much that struck me. But please bear in mind that there are eleven people in my immediate office. I am the only one who is WASP (two are Hispanic and I am not sure how they identify racially). Within my agency of 350+ people, I can name/number all the white people and only take off one shoe. I see the results of this moment in time that Lee describes every single day. Hearing white southerners talking about the "heritage" of the Confederate battle flag tells me that moment in time which Lee is illustrating has somehow been preserved in a bitter amber.

It must be dissected and disposed of.
fabrisse: (Default)
I've mentioned this before, but I strongly recommend everyone read Hieroglyphs. The book is a science fiction short story anthology which came from a challenge to Neal Stephenson. He'd asked about new technology and Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, said, "You're the ones who've been slacking off." The writers were asked to focus on near-future tech and to concentrate on the benefits rather than the problems. The latter part of the challenge wasn't entirely successful; some people just don't want to give up their dystopias.

The reason this came up, is there's an article at BBC America about why a space elevator probably wouldn't work. The first story in the anthology, Stephenson's Atmospaera Incognita deals with the practicalities, and issues, of building one.

I know some of my friends are engineers. Can we build one? And, please go buy and read the book. Even the stories I didn't like made me think, and who can ask for more than that from their sci-fi?
fabrisse: (Default)
For all my once and future SCAdian friends: A First Folio was discovered in a French library. Next to find a first edition Voltaire in Germany, I guess.
fabrisse: (Default)
Apparently this is being done on Facebook, but I don't do things like this there.

1. Peter Pan J. M. Barrie -- I read it when I was six. I re-read it when I was seven. It was the book where I realized I didn't need to move my lips to read. It was definitely a game changer.

Click here for the other nine books. )


May. 13th, 2014 05:52 pm
fabrisse: (Default)
I am currently enjoying the latest in a bubblegum for the brain mystery series I read. I am HIGHLY amused by the fact that one pair of characters (minor so far) in this mystery are clear Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Sherlock expies. Benedict Cumberbatch is very distinctive looking and she takes up two very detailed paragraphs describing this character, right down to the deep voice.

The Author makes it very clear that she has much sympathy for his companion, "John Wilson," a wounded doctor, and none at all for "Rupert Sheffield."
fabrisse: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] undauntra asked what my point was in creating the last book list and pointed out that it was heavily weighted toward English language/western European culture (English language was intentional; western European was not.) and weighted against non-fiction.

Which got me thinking, what non-fiction works should we be covering? And I think there should be a separate list for works of world literature not written originally in English.

Originally, it was just a whim based on the Mark Twain list. I wanted to show a bit about how the language we speak grew and introduce a few ideas, including references to popular culture which have stuck in the language (e.g., Sherlock Holmes). So, we'll now have at least two open slots on the original list. I was thinking of adding one of the Geste's of Robin Hood to emphasize the language evolution. I tend to like them better than Chaucer. Suggestions are welcome for the other slot.

This means that "Any Slave narrative" off my original list, starts the non-fiction list. [livejournal.com profile] undauntra suggested Godel, Escher, Bach by the other Hofstadter (Douglas rather than Richard who wrote Anti-Intellectualism in American Life), too. I love Arthur Koestler's The Act of Creation, but I think The Sleepwalkers might be better for a list aimed at teenagers. I am also tempted to include his pamphlet against the death penalty. It is credited with winning the referendum opposing the death penalty in Britain. I welcome any and all suggestions on the topics of science, mathematics, history, or philosophy in the comments.

The other new list will start with Verne's Around the World in 80 Days which was the clear winner in the poll, much to my surprise. I'm also incorporating another [livejournal.com profile] undauntra suggestion: a good translation of Journey to the West. This should be culturally broad and possibly historically broad as well. If you have specific suggestions for translations, please include that.

[Poll #1960697]
fabrisse: (Default)
Slate online magazine has a fascinating segment called "The Vault" where it pulls documents or artifacts from the past. Sometimes, they have a direct bearing on today's politics or ideas. Sometimes, they're just interesting pieces of a vanished world.

Today's article has a list of book recommendations for young people by Samuel Clemens. He was asked to divide them between boys and girls, but the only one he changed was Robinson Crusoe. Apparently, it was okay for boys, but girls ended up reading the poetry of Tennyson. He was cagey about favorite authors.
Read more... )
fabrisse: (Default)
When I was a kid (early 1970s), Toys R Us sold a series of books that were somewhat over-sized, say 8 x 14, that annotated odd words or old-fashioned items. The books were unabridged classics, but the annotations were really useful for vocabulary improvement. The problem is that I can't remember the name of the publisher. Does anyone have a clue what I'm talking about? I'd love to find some of these, even if I have to use Alibris, but I need the publisher to do so. I'm pretty certain it's not "Illustrated Classics" because the "look inside" feature at Amazon didn't have the spacing and annotations I remember.
fabrisse: (Default)
I tried to read Le Carre in high school, because I knew they were among the few books my father read for fun. He never understood the appeal of James Bond, and always said that Le Carre got it right. Spies were "boring little men in trench coats with bad breath."

In 1983, he'd just retired from the military to work for BU overseas programs. I was in drama school in London and visited them in Mehlem, a small suburb of Bonn (then the capital of West Germany). We drove past the Israeli Embassy, and I noticed the razor wire threaded through the rose bushes. I'd also run out of books to read, so Dad loaned me A Small Town in Germany. It was my first Le Carre. I then read The Little Drummer Girl, and attempted one of the Smiley books. Smiley was beyond me at that point.

I had another minor Le Carre binge about seven years later when The Russia House came out as a movie. I loved it. I recognized several RSC actors in minor roles, and I really loved the film. I saw it first as a test preview and even answered follow-up questions put to me a few days afterward. I saw it again for free with an advance pass, and then paid to see it a third time. I also read the book and was thrilled that Ned Palfrey (played in the movie by James Fox), who was my favorite character, had a book entirely from his point of view, The Secret Pilgrim.

Smiley's in The Secret Pilgrim and, once again I tried to read the Karla trilogy, the main books featuring Smiley as a central character. I didn't succeed.

The film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy finally, finally got me to read the books. Gary Oldman makes him more sympathetic than the books do, but Smiley is the consummate intelligence agent, and, truly, the perfect mix of compassion and the particular brand of ruthlessness that the British have honed to a point. (See the series MI-5 to understand more of what I mean.) Americans are also ruthless, but it's much more indiscriminate. (*waves at the NSA*)

I just saw the movie of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Smiley is in it. It's a small role, probably a little larger in the book, but it's key to the outcome. And I am once again reminded that Gary Oldman made the character FAR more sympathetic than he actually is.

The Berlin of 1962 had more in common with the Berlin I lived in, briefly, in the late 1980s than it does with immediate post-war Berlin or modern Berlin. The fact of the wall, the fact that Berlin was not a German city, but a city under occupation (the traffic laws were actually different in the three sectors that made up the Western side which was one reason my parents rarely drove in the city). My first time coming up the escalator from the U-Bahn at Kufurstendamm, I noticed a list. I couldn't figure out why I knew the name Theriesenstadt, but by the time I got to Dachau I realized that this, the busiest entrance at the busiest stop on the Western side of the city, was a punishment: A constant daily reminder of the camps and a war that had ended more than forty years earlier.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is bleak. It's well acted, but it's not fun. If you've seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, there's a little bit of fun to be had figuring out that Cyril Cusack is playing the same character as John Hurt, etc. But that's really the only fun. I still want to recommend it. The movie came out in 1965. The book came out in 1963, the same year that Philby defected, the same year that Le Carre left MI-6. It's fiction. Of course, it is.
fabrisse: (Default)
Matchbooks. Not books of matches, but a program to buy duplicates of any physical book owned at a discount. I have many books in storage that I would love to have in hand without actually having to buy more bookcases. This could be very useful. I wish more of them were ninety-nine cents (or free), and I probably will avoid most of the $2.99, but, I like this.

For heaven's sake, I can get Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle" for under $6 in a format that doesn't violate the "lift nothing over ten pounds" rule that's still in force.
fabrisse: (Default)
Last month, Amazon asked a daily question on Facebook. I didn't answer all or even most of them, but the one about "What book influenced you growing up?"/paraphrase has been making me think.

When I was growing up, I used to buy books from the Scholastic catalogue every year. My parents would look over my order and give me the money for them separate from my allowance. They might limit the amount of money or the number of books, but they never once tried to limit what I read. My teachers tried to make the class stay to our own grade level, but they never really succeeded with me. I bought what interested me whether it was several grades above my reading level -- like buying Shakespeare's Scottish Play in fifth grade -- or several grades below it.

The first book from the Scholastic orders that I remember was Peter Pan. I'm sure there were at least a couple of others from that order, but Peter Pan was notable for the evening just before my seventh birthday when I bounded downstairs and said, "Look!" I read a page to myself, and my parents stared and said, "All right, what are we looking at?" and I said, "I don't have to say the words out loud." It was a huge revelation, and I kept that book by my bedside through at least five more years and three moves.

(When I was ten, my father came home one day and said, "Fabi, when did you stop moving your lips when you read?" and I reminded him of my moment three years earlier. Then I wondered why he'd asked. He said, "Because General Westmoreland still does.")

I read the whole Anne of Green Gables series between the ages of seven and eleven; it took so long because some of the books were difficult to find. My favorite of those was Anne of the Island because I loved reading about college.

But the book I fought hardest for was Daddy Long Legs. I bought my first copy from Scholastic in either fourth or fifth grade. I loved it, and re-read it often. My mother has never understood the idea of re-reading. Every year, when we were at summer camp (we started going when I was eleven), my mother would come in and cull our books and toys. Every year, she threw out or gave away Daddy Long Legs, and every year I bought a new copy with my allowance.

Like Anne of the Island, it's set at University. There's a romance in it, but that wasn't what was important to me. It was the first book that really emphasized the social aspect of life for me, even more than the Anne books. It was the first book that, without using the word, explained "privilege" to me. It's written in epistolary form, but the conversation is one way only. We read the bits of Judy that she wants to share with her unknown benefactor, but we also are given a window into status issues for women, class issues within and without the college, and education issues.

This was the first book that gave me a reading list. It may have been over a decade before I tackled Thackeray's Vanity Fair, but I read it because it was mentioned in Daddy Long Legs (ditto Wuthering Heights). There's an entire letter about references to literature and how these bind the girls who understand them culturally. Judy, our protagonist, realizes that she needs to read the books to take her place as an equal within the college.

Unlike Anne's college experiences, Judy's were wrapped up in grades, tests, classes, chapel, and roommates. Anne had housemates and romances, but other than winning a scholarship, we don't read much about her intellectual development. Judy's is front and center in her book.

I found Daddy Long Legs for free at Kindle today. It's time to re-read it.
fabrisse: (Default)
I have a type 1 Kindle. I got it for my 47th birthday and called it my magic book.

While I don't find it as easy to read on the computer as I do on the Kindle, when Kindle for PC came out, I downloaded it and I've found it useful as the Kindle I have does not have the memory space of later models. I downloaded a couple of samples to my PC on Sunday. There were two options: Send to Kindle, Send to PC.

Today, I checked out a book on city planning I had been recommended. It was available on Kindle, and, as I often do, I opted to "Read Sample Now" -- which, by the way, is one of my favorite things about Kindles. I appreciate it more for the books it weeds out than the ones I ultimately buy. There was a third choice: Send to Cloud Reader.

I LOVE IT. I uploaded my music, etc. to Amazon's Cloud Player before they made the official announcement of its existence. Since I have to stuff envelopes (hey, don't judge me, I'm employed), being able to bop along to my music -- I do have headphones -- or being able to play a little Haydn when my cubicle mates are being distracting has been wonderful. And now there's a whole fluffy cloud of my books.

It's great to live in the future!
fabrisse: (Default)
Both [livejournal.com profile] malnpudl and [livejournal.com profile] innerslytherin were doing this. I just had to jump in.

(I hadn't realized it was based on book sales, but I still stand by my list at the end of the books I wish were on this list.)
Read more... )

Here are some books that I'd love to see on the list rather than all the duplicate authors.

Either In War Times or The Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
Spirits in the Wire by Charles de Lint
A Wrinkle in Time (or better yet, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) by Madeleine L'Engle
Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] innerslytherin for reminding me of Cherryh.)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Doctor Jeckyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Any of the Dorsai! novels by Gordon R. Dickson, though I lean heavily toward The Tactics of Mistake
The Harry Potter books should be on here too, in my opinion.

If we throw in short stories, I'd like to see M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe added.

Cool Book!

Nov. 11th, 2010 10:46 am
fabrisse: (Default)
While I'm waiting for Yuletide -- *looks pointedly at clock and calendar* -- I am reading. The book I picked up a couple of weeks ago at the used book store in Eastern Market is called Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer.

I haven't even gotten to the chapter on Proust yet. The first chapter deals with Walt Whitman's intuitive descriptions of the body, rather than the brain, as the seat of emotion. Chapter two covers George Eliot and free will from both her opposition to the pure determinism, which she referred to as "necessitarianism," of her time and in light of more recent scientific data on neurogenesis. And then we get to Escoffier.

Now I disagree with Lehrer's conclusion that Escoffier invented French cookery. He walked it away from Careme and the upper class, that I totally agree with, but he did it by codifying and elevating bonne femme cookery and serving it at the Ritz. Restaurants and the landscape of fine dining would not have been the same without him, do not get me wrong, but Escoffier stood at least partially on the shoulders of French grandmothers everywhere.

I find the chapter absolutely fascinating with its exploration of taste, Ideka's work distilling the concept of umami, the discovery of the receptors for umami, and how much of the human genome describes scent reception. One thing that really stuck out for me is how much food and flavor are learned and refined responses. As Lehrer puts it, "You are never too old to learn to be a gourmet."

This got me thinking about the other end of the spectrum: Baby Food.

American baby food is terrible. No, I haven't gone on that popular diet, but I lived in Belgium. They had a much wider variety of baby foods available, and the ingredient lists included herbs and even the occasional spice. You can serve a child who is not yet on solids a dinner of lamb with flageolet beans -- a traditional Sunday dinner in French speaking Europe. I defy anyone to try this with American baby food. What really frosts my cookies about this is the French/Belgian baby foods are the same brand names as US baby food: Gerber and Nestle predominate.

We're worried about the children's obesity epidemic, but how much of it comes from kids not getting flavorful foods unless it's loaded with fat and salt?

Training adult palates is also important. Cooking for [livejournal.com profile] eanja was a huge part of my starting to lose weight and appreciate both my skills as a cook and the food itself again as I was beginning to see the light at the end of my depression.

But how much easier is it to start training them young?

Book Meme

Jun. 9th, 2009 08:00 pm
fabrisse: (Default)
List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you: list the first 15 you can recall in 15 minutes. Don't take too long to think about it.

1 Terry Pratchett -- Small Gods
2 L.M. Montgomery -- Anne of Green Gables
3 Diane Ackerman -- A Natural History of the Senses
4 The Bible -- the Jerusalem copy, scholars' edition
5 Margaret Mitchell -- Gone with the Wind
6 Harper Lee -- To Kill a Mockingbird
7 Madeleine L'Engle -- A Swiftly Tilting Planet
8 Kathleen Goonan -- The Bones of Time
9 Janet Kagan -- Mirabile
10 H.V. Morton -- A Traveller in Rome
11 H.V. Morton -- I Saw Two Englands
12 Peter S. Beagle -- The Folk of the Air
13 J.K. Rowling -- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
14 Somerset Maugham -- The Razor's Edge
15 Mark Helprin -- Winter's Tale

15a Neal Stephenson -- Snow Crash
15b John Buchan -- Courts of the Morning
15c Charles de Lint -- Dreams Underfoot
15d Cynthia Heimel -- Sex Tips for Girls
15e Emma Bull -- War for the Oaks

There are a great many more Pratchett books that could be on the list. There are a lot more books in general that could be on the list. I vetoed The Exorcist because my memories of it aren't fond at all, but it definitely influenced me.

I'm surprised, a little, that there's not more non-fiction. I'm also surprised at how many authors are women. Still, it's a very pale list, now that I think of it.

HV Morton is on twice because those books represent two different aspects of his writing. I Saw Two Englands is more like his journalism, although it has travel bits to it. There are many choices for John Buchan. I know The Thirty-Nine Steps or Nelson's History of the War are more seminal works, but the trip through "the poison country" in Courts of the Morning is adventure fiction at its finest.

eta: How could I leave The Once and Future King or Ender's Game off the list? Each of them opened up my life for me.
fabrisse: (Happiness)
The one Sci-Fi doohickey I always wanted was the "magic book."

Sometimes it was a school computer with all the textbooks in it, like an Asimov short story. Sometimes is was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or the flexible text of The Diamond Age. Whatever its iteration, it was small and held every book I wanted.

My folks got me a Kindle for my birthday.

I can't sleep because I'm smiling too big.

And for sheer silliness, I gakked this from [livejournal.com profile] gileswench

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Striding amidst the wasteland, attacking with a vorpal blade, cometh Fabrisse! And she gives a gutteral grunt:

"As sure as predators devour prey, I destroy all in my path like a four-year-old on a sugar rampage!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys


fabrisse: (Default)

September 2017

17 18 19 20212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 03:23 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios