Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sometimes a Little Poetry is Necessary.

It is one of those mornings when stepping outside into the January cold is more refreshing than freezing.  A beautiful morning, with the moon parked low in the western sky and the sun rising in the east painting shadows on the snow-topped mountains.  I heard birds calling, and off in the distance a lone cow mooed.

This morning seems the right time for a poem by the great Irish poet, W.B. Yeats.

Lake Isle of Innisfree 

 I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
                     - W.B. Yeats


Friday, January 11, 2013

New Book About Lady Bird Johnson

This week Dwight Gardner at the New York Times wrote a very enjoyable review of a new book, Lady Bird Johnson, An Oral History by Michael L. Gillette.  Check out the review here.  I want to read this book soon.

Isn't the cover photo charming!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Highly Recommended: "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller.

The Dog Stars is one of those books that is more than just a good read, it is an amazing experience. I highly recommend it to readers who, like me, infrequently read post-apocalyptic fiction; fans of this genre will undoubtedly also enjoy this novel.  It is a moving story about a man dealing with loss, loneliness, and living again.

In The Dog Stars, a flu pandemic, and then a blood disease, has swept through the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world, killing most people and destroying much of the environment. One of the survivors is the story's narrator, Hig.

When the story opens, nine years have passed since the crisis hit.  Hig, a pilot, lives with his dog Jasper at a small abandoned airport in Colorado, just a few miles from the mountains.  Also living at the airport is another survivor, Bangley. Bangley's sole focus is, in this extremely dangerous new world, on defending their turf by whatever means necessary: guns, rockets, grenades, whatever it takes to keep out marauders. Hig understands the necessity for this violence. Most of the other survivors are, he says, "Not Nice." But unlike Bangley, Hig doesn't enjoy the killing.  He does what is deemed necessary to survive.

The Dog Stars is Hig's story of survival, which author Peter Heller writes in a spare, yet powerful style that perfectly draws the reader into Hig's experience. The somewhat jumpy narrative reflects Hig's condition, emotionally and physically.  Although a survivor, Hig did get ill and suffered from high fever for two weeks.  The fever "cooked my brains", he says, and ideas no longer rest comfortably together in his mind.  In addition to a cooked brain, Hig is still shaken from memories of his losses and from the experiences that occurred during the height of the pandemic. And although he is now relatively safe, that safety cannot be taken for granted.

And so here is Hig. Barely surviving. Marginally safe. A man who has lost everything. A poet who must now kill to defend his corner of the world. A fisherman who mourns the destruction of the environment. After all the terrible things that have happened and continue to happen, will he move beyond merely surviving to being happy?  Can he?  That is what we find out.

For an amazing reading experience, check out The Dog Stars.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Costoco's January Book of the Month is "The Rules of Civility"

Costco shoppers:  The store's book buyer has chosen a very good book as its pick of the month, The Rules of Civility.  Here is my review.  This was definitely one of the best books I read in 2012.  Check it!

2013 is the 50th Anniversary of the Publication of "The Bell Jar"

Sylva Plath's classic novel, The Bell Jar, was published 50 years ago this year.  I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin - Madison when I first read this book, and that was quite a while ago!  It may be that this anniversary year is the right time to re-read The Bell Jar.  It will be interesting to see how my reaction to the story has changed with time and experience.

If you are elect to use The Bell Jar as a book club selection, Harper Collins has a discussion guide for for book .    

Tuesday, January 1, 2013