mojosmom: (Gautreau)
The Chicago Tribune's book blog, Printer's Row, has a section called "The Signature Club", in which readers "review" a book by responding to a set group of questions. They posted on LibraryThing's Chicagoans group asking for reviewers. I volunteered, and within a day or so received a copy of Shira Nayman's new book, The Listener. Here's what I said about it (complete with picture!).

(Just so you don't think I throw out sentences at random, the question for one answer - "Anyone with an interest in interest and the human mind, and who doesn’t look only for entertainment in their reading, but likes to be challenged." was dropped. That's a response to "Who should read this book?")

A second book, Paolo Giordano's The Solitude of Prime Numbers, was in my mailbox a couple of days ago!
mojosmom: (Default)
Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe & Alexander Selkirk, by Stu and Stevey Bruce

Despite the presence on my bookshelf, for many years, of my mother's copy of Defoe's book (kept for that reason and for the N.C. Wyeth illustrations), I cannot say that it was ever a favorite of mine. Certainly the heavy doses of sermonizing did not attract me as a youngster.

Reading it again, in this version annotated with notes comparing Defoe's fictional character's life with that of his real-life inspiration, Alexander Selkirk, I found more to enjoy. Though the sermonizing still detracts from the book for me, I am mature enough now to accept it in its context, and let myself be drawn into the story. The story of a man marooned on a desert island for "eight and twenty years, two months, and nineteen days", filled with all the details of how he sheltered himself, fed himself, entertained himself, how he filled his days, is told by Defoe in a surprisingly interesting fashion. I say "surprisingly" because, after all, the days must run together in much of a muchness, with little variety, in the constant struggle for survival. Yet Defoe manages to draw us in, and not a little of that is due to describing, not merely Crusoe's actions, but his thoughts.

Now the Bruces come along and give us, side by side with Defoe's text, glimpses into Selkirk's life, so that we may, as was often said in high school English class, "compare and contrast" the two. By doing so, they give us a glimpse into how a writer can take an event and transform it, keeping the nub of it but expanding on it, and using it to present a philosophy as well as a rousing good story. Indeed, if I have any criticism of this presentation, it is that I would have liked to have had a short biographical sketch of Selkirk at the beginning of the book. This would, I think, make it easier for those not familiar with his story to follow the notes.

I must add that the Bruces' descriptions of their visit to the actual island on which Selkirk was marooned, and of their researches in England and Scotland, were a definite bonus!

The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, by Robert Leleux

The latest entry in the "growing up gay in a dysfunctional, eccentric southern household" sweepstakes won't get first prize, but it definitely places!

Previously supported by the in-laws, Robert and his mother find their emotional and financial lives in turmoil when his father abandons them for another woman. Like another southern belle who tried to conquer the world dressed in her mother's portières, Jessica calculates that all she needs to do is attract a rich husband, and so she is off to the plastic surgeon and the wigmaker. Robert, in the meantime, is dealing with the fact that he's gay. Now you would think that a boy who watches Bette Davis movies, keeps Vanity Fair magazines under his bed and considers Neiman-Marcus to be heaven on earth, would have realized this sooner, but it's not until he auditions for a community theatre program and falls immediately in love with the choreographer that he gets it. Mother, of course, knew it all his life.

I have to say that my first impression of Robert's mother was not a very positive one. She comes across as shallow, overly concerned with money and appearances, and just not very nice. But, eventually, one realizes that she is playing the hand she was dealt, the only way she knows how.

The second half of the book is primarily concerned with Robert and Michael's relationship, how it develops, and, more important, how Robert's relationship with Michael's family leads him, eventually, to the beginnings of a reconciliation with his father.

And how do you not love a book that is dedicated, in part, to some of my favorite Texas women - Molly Ivins, Sissy Farenthold and Ann Richards.
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
1. Pleasures of the Table. This is a book issued in conjunction with an exhibition at Fairfax House. Pretty fascinating to see how the upper crust dined, or, at least, their extraordinary waaaay over-the-top table decor.

2. The Haunted Hotel, by Wilkie Collins. Sheer melodrama. Fatal beauty, mysterious disappearances, conspiracies and hauntings, set primarily in Venice. I have to say, though, that I felt some sympathy with the "villainess", and not much with the butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth heroine. I guess I just don't buy these simpering, always perfect, long-suffering maidens. And considering (SPOILER ALERT!!!) that the man in the case turns out to be rather a jerk, well, murder isn't nice, but he wasn't, either.

3. One Half of Robertson Davies, by Robertson Davies. This is a collection of lectures and speeches given by Davies to a variety of audiences. They run the gamut from ghost stories, to musings on Jung and the theatre, to thoughts on architecture and academe. Davies had a wide-ranging mind and a delightful sense of humor, both of which are on display in this volume.

4. Suitable for Hanging, by Margaret Maron. A collection of short stories, some featuring Maron's series heroine, Judge Deborah Knott.

5. Travels with Alice, by Calvin Trillin. Essays about travel, food and family.

6. The Courtesan's Arts: Cross Cultural Perspectives, edited by Martha Feldman and Bonnie Gordon. Essays that "explore the conditions that have allowed courtesan cultures to evolve and thrive, or caused them to perish." Because the two editors are both musicologists, music is the focus of the book, from early Renaissance Italy to China, India and ancient Greece. An interesting collection that will likely challenge some of your ideas about courtesanship.

7. The Death of Faith, by Donna Leon. Leon (and Brunetti) take on Opus Dei, and the subject of child sexual abuse by priests.

8. A LIterary Companion to Venice, by Ian Littlewood. This will go with me to Venice. No ordinary walking tours, these, but walks accompanied by descriptions from writers such as Henry James, Proust, Goethe and others about the sights and sounds and history of Venice.

9. Cancer Vixen, by Marisa Acocello Marchetto. A graphic novel about how the author fought breast cancer, armed with lipstick and five-inch heels.
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
Okay, people, I'm closing in on it! Expect at least one more installment.

The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson

Oleander, Jaracanda, by Penelope Lively

A memoir of the British author's childhood in Egypt during the 1930s and 1940s.

Rear Window and Four Short Novels, by Cornell Woolrich

If all you know of this short story is the film with Jimmy Stewart, you're in for a treat! Not that that's a bad film, mind you, but the tightness of the short story form gives an urgency and swiftness to the written word that contrasts with the almost agonizing slowness of the unfolding of events. The other stories in this volume are Post-Morten, Three O'Clock, Change of Murder, and Momentum, and are all excellent.

Darkness Visible: Inside the World of Philip Pullman, by Nicholas Tucker

An analysis of the Pullman's writings, not just the His Dark Materials trilogy, but the Sally Lockhart series and his other books as well. Tucker discusses influences, authorial (especially Milton) and otherwise, on Pullman and there is a brief biography. Not a deeply academic analysis, but still interesting and worthwhile for any admirer of Pullman.

City of the Beasts, by Isabel Allende

Music of the Swamp, by Lewis Nordan

I will be forever grateful to fellow LibraryThinger davidabrams, whose review of this book inspired me to buy it at a used book sale. And, oh! was I glad I did. I can't do better than to share his review.

The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany

Changing Pitches, by Steven Kluger

A Swim Against the Tide: the Fight to Adopt Children Into a Loving Home, by David R. I. McKinstry

Unfortunately, She Was Also Wired for Sound, by G.B. Trudeau

Another amusing collection of Doonesbury comic strips.

In Search of a Master

Grief, by Andrew Holleran

Cut because this review is long )

The Hounds & the Fury, by Rita Mae Brown

Much improved from her last, though you’ll easily guess the villain.

Your Age is Your Life, by Drugan Niles

A one-of-a-kind, handmade book by the son of a fellow Bookcrosser, about his first eight years. He did the text and the drawings, which are delightful!
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
Don't expect lengthy reviews. I'm just trying to get everything in here before the end of the year.

Rhapsody in Blood, by John Morgan Wilson
A Benjamin Justice mystery, involving murders during the filming of a movie about an old murder.

A Hole in Juan, by Gillian Roberts
An Amanda Pepper mystery

The Art of Detection, by Laurie R. King
A Kate Martinelli mystery. A rabid Sherlock Holmes fan and collector is murdered, and the reason may be a previously unpublished story. There are references that hark back to King's Mary Russell series, but you don't need to have read those to enjoy this.

The Iron Girl, Ellen Hart
A Jane Lawless mystery. Those who have read this series are familiar with the references to Jane's late partner, Christine. While finally clearing out some of Christine's effects, Jane discovers a gun. At the time of her death, Christine, a realtor, was selling the home of a prominent local family, three of whose members were murdered the night before Christine died. This book shifts back and forth between past and present as Jane tries to find out what happened.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, by Jonathan Harr

This was a disappointment. The hunt for a lost Caravaggio, the digging about in archives, the scientific test to see "is it really?", should be fascinating. But it's not. And I cannot stand non-fiction writers who think they have to make their books read like fiction. Where is the critical analysis? Where is the index? Where are the footnotes? Non-fiction needs references. You cannot expect me to believe what you are writing unless you tell me where you got the information. A bibliography and acknowledgements don't cut it.

I'm seeing this more and more in non-fiction and it drives me right up the wall.

And who the heck had the idea of publishing a book about a Caravaggio painting with NO, I repeat NO, illustrations?

S is for Silence, Sue Grafton
A Kinsey Milhone mystery, involving a 30-year old disappearance.

Possible Side Effects, by Augusten Burroughs

Good, not great.

The Aspern Papers, by Henry James
Gorgeous, evocative story set in Venice, based on a real incident involving Lord Byron. Jeffrey Aspern's old lover lives in Venice, sitting on a treasure trove of letters and other papers written by the romantic poet. The narrator, a literary editor, has had his request to see them turned down, so he introduces himself under a pseudonym to Julianna and her niece, and becomes a lodger at their home. When she catches him hunting for the letters, Julianna collapses. But after her death, the niece offers the letters to the narrator -- if he will marry her.

Courtroom 302: a Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse, by Steve Bogira

Bogira is a journalist who frequently writes about the court system for the Chicago Reader. He spent a year in one courtroom, and this book is the result. It's pretty good. He's got a keen eye for the absurd, though I think that sometimes he does not fully comprehend the competing interests that the players must contend with. The judge, Daniel Locallo, does not come off well at all, but, hey, why should he be any different from all the other "ex"-prosecutors at 26th Street?

Espresso Tales, by Alexander McCall Smith
The sequel to 44 Scotland Street, which I l“. . . joy unshared was a halved emotion, just as sadness and loss, when borne alone, were often doubled.”

The Right Attitude Toward Rain, by Alexander McCall Smith
The latest in his Sunday Philosophy Club series

Scherzo, by Jim Williams

A fairly silly conspiratorial mystery set in Venice, involving Freemasons, a castrato, a Frenchman who may or may not be Voltaire, and Casanova.

More later.
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
#s 62-66
A bunch more by Donna Leon:
Uniform Justice
Death at La Fenice
Doctored Evidence
Friends in High Places
Death in A Strange Country

A Hero of Our Own: The Story of Varian Fry, by Sheila Isenberg

Varian Fry was an agent of the Emergency Rescue Committee, working in the south of France to help Jews and others escape from the Nazis. Fry's prior visits to Germany had made him aware not only of rising Anti-Semitism there, but its violent consequences. So when he was given the opportunity to work with the ERC, he did so. Nevertheless, he found that achieving his goals often meant acting contrary to the means approved by the ERC. It quickly became apparent that reliance on legal methods to get refugees to safety would not be sufficient and that illegal means must be used. One of the true horrors of this history is the fact that the U.S. State Department did not merely fail to assist, but actively prevented the emigration of refugees despite the government's knowledge of the Nazi's "final solution. Fry stood up to them, behavior which, while it saved many lives, ultimately led to his removal from France.

Fry was iconoclastic, anti-authoritarian, contrarian, traits that served him in good stead in his work with the ERC, but made the rest of his life difficult. (In fact, it seems that he may have suffered from bipolar disorder.)

An excellent biography of a fascinating man.

Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson's book will make you furious. He systematically lays out how racism and classism led to the horrors of Katrina, in the failure of the government to protect New Orleans against a major hurricane, to its inability (and unwillingness) to act to provide immediate relief, to the appalling treatment of the refugees. A must read.

Dream Angus: the Celtic God of Dreams, by Alexander McCall Smith

One of the Canongate Myth Series. In Celtic mythology, Angus is a young handsome god, a giver of dreams, son of a god and a water nymph. He retells the story, alternating between myth and vignettes of modern-day people visited by dreams and Dream Angus. A lovely, spare thing.

Rumpole and the Reign of Terror, by John Mortimer

Uh, oh!!! She Who Must Be Obeyed is locked in the box room, writing her memoirs! Mortimer here finally gives Hilda the opportunity to let us in on her point of view, as he shifts between her take on things and Rumpole's. And what's this? The Timsons want a new brief? Yes, it seems Rumpole is going to represent a Pakistani doctor accused of terrorism. His wife is a Timson, and the rest of the family do not approve! As they have provided a substantial part of his employment, Rumpole finds that briefs are thin on the ground. This does, however, give him plenty of time to find a way around the government's evisceration of Magna Carta and get his client a fair trial.

More later.
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
A Gladiator Dies Only Once: The Further Investigations of Gordianus the Finder, by Steven Saylor

Another collection of short stories featuring Saylor's Roman investigator, Gordianus. While a few of these stories touch on Roman politics, which figure prominently in Saylor's full-length Gordianus mysteries, some are quietly domestic, including my favorite, "If a Cyclops Could Vanish in the Wink of an Eye", in which some of Bethesda's trinkets go missing. As usual, one learns a great deal about ordinary daily life in ancient Rome from Saylor.

The Lambs of London, by Peter Ackroyd

Ackroyd has written an interesting short novel about Charles and Mary Lamb, and their relationship with the young literary forger, William Ireland. They champion his "discoveries", and Mary falls in love with him. One problem: there is no evidence that the Lambs and Ireland ever met. I find this sort of thing annoying, even when well-written (which this book is). It's one thing to try to fit historical characters into settings or relationships which were possible or even probable. But when it's contrary to known fact, well, I have a problem with that.

The White Robin, by Miss Read

One of Miss Read's usual heartwarming village tales, though, as one finds also with her books, a bit of tragedy as well. One spring morning, one of the school children announces that she has seen a "white bird". Despite her teacher's skepticism, it turns out that there is indeed a white robin in town. The local birding expert warns the townsfolk not to expect any more in the next nesting cycle, but naturally they don't listen to him. In the meantime, a boy whose mother is ill comes to stay, and the headmistress' friends are still trying to marry her off. A nice, quick read when you want a bit of uplift.

The Beauty Queen, by Patricia Nell Warren

Ripped from the headlines, a born-again former beauty queen turned politico decides to use an anti-gay platform to promote her run for governor. She expects her very wealthy father to support her campaign financially, but he's dubious. He's also in the closet, sneaking of for nooners with his long-time lover.

The characterizations here are really loaded. Dad is a real estate developer, but not a nasty Trump-type. Oh, no. Rather than tear down beautiful buildings, he renovates and repurposes them. Daughter is not only virulently homophobic, she is also a pill-popping, mentally unstable mother who physically abuses her kids.

No contest.

The Duel, by Giacomo Casanova, translated by Tim Parks

Two, two, two books in one! Casanova wrote two accounts of his duel with the Polish Count Branicki. One was a thinly-disguised autobiographical novella, written in Italian, the other was included in his Memoirs and written in French. The first is more fleshed out, with whole sections of dialogue and much greater description and ruminations. It's interesting to compare the two. All the formality and etiquette of honor and duelling is strange to us, but was quite acceptable in Casanova's time. It is quite curious how Branicki and Casanova duel, while at the same time they deny that their fight is a duel since certain technical requirements are not complied with (no seconds, for instance). Yet they still engage in ritual compliments and deferrals to one another, though there's a bit of treachery on Branicki's part. Casanova was a fascinating character, with much more to him that the Don Juan/Don Giovanni part that he's famous for.

Shadows Over Baker Street, edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan.

"Sherlock Holmes enters the nightmare world of H.P. Lovecraft", says the cover, and quite a few writers are gathered in this volume, trying their hand at blending the cold logic and rationality of Holmes with the miasmic, eldritch atmosphere of Lovecraft. But I'm afraid that despite the best efforts of such excellent writers as Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z. Brite and others, the conceit does not come off. Baker Street, despite its Victorian fog, is just too far from Dunwich's horrors. (Some of the stories are downright silly, as in "The Adventure of Exham Priory" in which Moriarty and the Old Ones lose because, at the last moment, Moriarty "remembered what it meant to be an Englishman". Oh, please.)

Who Let the Dogs In?: Incredible Political Animals I have Known, by Molly Ivins

A collection of Ivins' columns dating back to the Reagan years. If you think you can predict Ivins' opinions, if you think she's a doctrinaire Democratic liberal, read this book and think again. I had forgotten how tough she was on Clinton, for instance. It's interesting, too, to see how her view of Dubya changes. She gives him well-deserved credit for his political skills, and for more intelligence than most people give him, but she doesn't let you forget for a minute what he did to Texas. Many "awful warnings" here. But my favorite part of this book is the section devoted to tributes to such folks as Barbara Jordan, John Henry Faulk, and some you never heard of. Ivins has a way with a phrase!

The Garden of Eden and other Criminal Delights, by Faye Kellerman

A collection of short stories, some featuring Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker, others not, as well as a couple of autobiographical sketches. As with many novelists, particularly crime novelists, Kellerman has a hard time with short stories. Perhaps it's because the length does not allow for plot development, but this seem pretty contrived. And look, just because you're a writer doesn't mean you should do a collaboration with your 11- and 15-year-old kids and foist it on the general public.

An Iliad, by Alessandro Baricco

Yes, "an", not "the". Working from an Italian translation of Homer, Baricco has pared this epic work to its bones, eliminating the gods, and, more significantly, shifting the point of view. No longer told by the omniscient narrator, this Iliad is told from the viewpoints of various participants in the conflict. It's an new and interesting take on an old tale, though I think it works best if one has read Homer first. As always, Baricco's language is clean and spare and beautiful. I can well understand his being drawn to Homer. One of the things that strikes one about his novel, Silk, is the repetition not just of words and sentences, but whole paragraphs. Very Homeric.
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
A Venetian Reckoning, by Donna Leon

Acqua Alta, by Donna Leon

Blood from a Stone, by Donna Leon

Venice Observed, by Mary McCarthy

The City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt

On January 29, 1996, Venice's historic opera house, La Fenice, burned to the ground. Shortly thereafter, writer John Berendt arrived in the city for a lengthy stay, and decided to write about the city and its loss. It's an interesting and well-written book, one that delves into Venice's history and peculiarities, the things that make it unique. It is also a very gossipy book (always fun!), especially the bits about Jane and Philip Rylands of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. They do not come off well. I have a book of short stories by Jane on my TBR pile. They are said to be romans à clef; it will be interesting to see if any of the people who slammed her are slammed back!

I must say that some of the cattiness in the book made me a bit uncomfortable. I was bothered, too, by Berendt's quoting from an interview with one person who says, quite explicitly, "this is off the record". That being the case, why does Berendt print it? And for a book about the city, it is heavy on big money and big names, with little about the ordinary Veneziano.

Okay, that's enough for now. More later.
mojosmom: (CHB)
First day of the Letterpress Intensive, and I think I'm going to like this. But after three tries at setting a mere two lines of type without error, I have a great deal more sympathy for typos, at least in hand-set press. (People who use computers, etc., have no excuse.) We are going to do a class project, each of us choosing a quotation that has meaning for us (I'm going to use my favorite quotation over there on the side). I am talking to the instructor about printing a story of my great-aunt's. She told us some tall tales when we were kids, and a few years ago we found that she had written them out. Ever since, I've been thinking of doing a book with them for my sisters, but I wasn't sure how I'd do the text. It will probably be too much to set all of them, so I'm thinking, if Stacey (my instructor, not my sister of the same name) thinks it will work, to set one of them as a broadside. And maybe a Xerox transfer image of my great-aunt on the page. I have some luscious Italian paper that my younger sister bought me a few years ago and that I have been saving for something special. This may be it. We'll see.

Last night, the Chicago Hand Bookbinders meeting was at the Special Collections of the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library. I love these meetings at Special Collections departments. The librarians love showing off their good stuff to an appreciative audience, and often (as was the case yesterday) we can actually touch and hold these wonderful books. The selection ranged from medieval manuscripts through 19th-century fine bindings up to contemporary artists' books. I got to hold a Kelmscott edition of the Poems of William Shakespeare and there were a couple of marvelous pop-up books - Carol Barton's Instructions for Assembly and Sjoerd Hofstra's Elements of Geometry by Euclid were the best. I marveled as always at how illuminated manuscripts from the 15th-century still retain their vivid and luminous colors, the gold still raised and shiny, the blue as brilliant as the day the lapis was ground. But my absolute favorite offering was a copy of the Brut Chronicle, dating to 1445, and still tightly sewn to its boards. The flyleaves were filled with "doodles", such as stick figure drawings and musical notations, and it appeared that the same bit of text was copied in different hands. Very intriguing!

We had a couple of new members last night, and I think they enjoyed their introduction to CHB!

Yet another book journaled (and on its way to GreedyReader just as soon as I get to the P.O.)!

Heloise & Abelard: a Twelfth-Century Love Story
mojosmom: (Black cat)
No, I'm not a super-fast reader. There was an exhibition at the Art Institute called Honoring Heroes in History: Illustrations from the Coretta Scott King Award Books, 2001 - 2005, and reading copies of the books were available to be perused. So peruse I did.

#s 32 - 39
God Bless the Child, by Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog, Jr., illustrated by Jerry PInkney The Great Migration from the rural South to the urban North
Ellington Was Not a Street, by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson A group of friends before they were famous
Visiting Langston, by Willie Pearlman, illustrated by Bryan Collier A little girl who wants to be a poet is wearing her favorite pink blouse, because her daddy is taking her to Langston's house!
Uptown, written and ilustrated by Bryan Collier The sights and sounds of Harlem
Almost to Freedom, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Colin Bootman Oh, man, give me a hankie. I was sniffling up a storm. Taking a note from the finding of dolls in hidden rooms on the Underground Railway, Nelson writes the story of one family's escape from slavery from the point of view of their little girl's doll.
Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles -- Think of That!, written and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon This one had me tapping my toes right there in the gallery!
Goin' Someplace Special, by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney 'Tricia Ann is on her way to "Someplace Special", but Jim Crow has her discouraged. But she gets there -- it's the library! Based on the true story of the quiet desegration of the Nashville (Tennessee) Public Library.
Thunder Rose, by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Kadir Nelson Thunder Rose is talking from the day she is born, with superpowers and a super heart!
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Well! I had a very nice compliment today! I was at the Art Institute, admiring the art, when the guard in one of the galleries came up and told me that I would fit very well into this picture! We started to chat, and she was very knowledgeable - should have been giving tours of the art rather than guarding it!

Altogether a very nice morning at the AIOC. They have some wonderful Utamaro prints on exhibit in the Buckingham Gallery, and an exhibit of ceramics, Casas Grandes and the Ceramic Art of the Ancient Southwest, which had some really stunning pieces. Went to the American galleries and released I Am Madame X; it was gone when I looked again later, so I'm hoping for a journal entry!

I also read eight books while I was there. No, I'm not a super-fast reader. There was an exhibition called Honoring Heroes in History: Illustrations from the Coretta Scott King Award Books, 2001 - 2005, and reading copies of the books were available to be perused. So peruse I did.

#s 32 - 39
God Bless the Child, by Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog, Jr., illustrated by Jerry PInkney The Great Migration from the rural South to the urban North
Ellington Was Not a Street, by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson A group of friends before they were famous
Visiting Langston, by Willie Pearlman, illustrated by Bryan Collier A little girl who wants to be a poet is wearing her favorite pink blouse, because her daddy is taking her to Langston's house!
Uptown, written and ilustrated by Bryan Collier The sights and sounds of Harlem
Almost to Freedom, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Colin Bootman Oh, man, give me a hankie. I was sniffling up a storm. Taking a note from the finding of dolls in hidden rooms on the Underground Railway, Nelson writes the story of one family's escape from slavery from the point of view of their little girl's doll.
Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles -- Think of That!, written and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon This one had me tapping my toes right there in the gallery!
Goin' Someplace Special, by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney 'Tricia Ann is on her way to "Someplace Special", but Jim Crow has her discouraged. But she gets there -- it's the library! Based on the true story of the quiet desegration of the Nashville (Tennessee) Public Library.
Thunder Rose, by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Kadir Nelson Thunder Rose is talking from the day she is born, with superpowers and a super heart!

I was going to have some borscht at the Russian Tea Time, but they were closed for the holiday so I came home and fixed myself scrambled eggs instead, with some crackers and brie, and an apple for dessert. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line I lost a bit of a filling! So tomorrow I will be making an appointment at the dentist. Or I could just post in Chit-Chat: "OMG! I lost a filling! Should I use superglue? What does everyone think?" (What is it with people asking for medical advice in Chit-Chat, anyway?)

Now I'm doing laundry. See, my life isn't all that exciting.
mojosmom: (Black cat)
One for Holy Week )

And one for Pesach [okay, technically, for Hanukah and Purim] )

Other stuff

I came home and found a parcel from [ profile] shadiehawke - a box of cards wth images from Hiroshige woodblock prints. Ooooh, so nice! AND my Jazz Fest tickets arrived. I'm so looking forward to that - I discovered that Germaine Bazzle will be performing the weekend we're there. I love her work.

I mailed in my tax returns! I'm getting a small refund from the feds, but I owe the state (not too much, though). Glad to have that out of the way.
mojosmom: (japanese icon)
Two Books

And a movie:

Brokeback Mountain

Well! For once, a film that: a) lives up to the hype, and b) is not only as good as the short story on which it is based, but enhances it. So, go see it. That is all.
mojosmom: (Theatre)
Whittling down the "to be journaled" pile

If you look at those reviews, you'll see that one of them is The Fools of Chelm, by Isaac Bashevis Singer. I've had this around, and zipped through it the other day, because last night I attended a performance of a new musical, Feathers in the Wind, at the Chicago Jewish Theater, a musical that is based on stories about Chelm. I went because a woman in my Italian class is in it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (even though I thought the ending was a little weak). The theatre is one of Chicago's small (seats 30) storefront theatres, which I think often have the best productions. It's wonderful what you can do on a small budget when you have a bunch of enthusiastic and talented people.

That reminds me that I forgot to say what I thought of Mamet's Romance. And what I thought was that it was hysterical! You have to not mind Mamet's foul mouth, though. Most of it takes place in a courtroom, where a chiropracter is on trial for fraud. He also has a way to resolve the Middle East peace talks taking place in the city at the same time. The judge is on allergy medication that makes him sleepy, and then switches to meds that make him nuts. The reviewers thought it was too "easy" and over-the-top. I loved it. But then, I'm in court everyday with this stuff and they're not.

I forgot to "spring ahead" last night! I woke up, turned over, lolled around until about eight o'clock. Got up, and *smack*! realized it was really nine o'clock. Fortunately, I didn't actually have to be anywhere. But I hate starting the day later than planned - it throws me off. But I did take some clothes and various household sundries to donate to the Brown Elephant, and actually came out with less than I brought: one sleeveless cashmere sweater, one pair of trousers that need shortening, and five books.

I started to watch Masterpiece Theatre's production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but turned it off. They omitted the marvelous opening scene where Holmes displays his talents with Dr. Mortimer's walking stick, unnecessarily changed the legend upon which the curse was based (I guess domestic violence is more fashionable these days than rape), and had Holmes behave in an uncharacteristically violent manner towards a cabman. Very annoying.


Mar. 26th, 2006 09:56 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
Close Quarters, by Marissa Piesman

Tomb of the Golden Bird, by Elizabeth Peters

Trojan Gold, by Elizabeth Peters

Music and Silence, by Rose Tremain
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
I can't believe I haven't journaled a book since January 3. I also can't believe I've read so few books in the last several weeks. I'd better get cracking!

Here they are! )

Okay, that's enough for now. I've got a couple more in the TBJ (to-be-journaled) pile, but they can wait.
mojosmom: (Default)
Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman's Memoir, by Leon M. Despres (with Kenan Heise, and foreword by Mike Royko)

For twenty years, Leon Despres was a lone voice in the Chicago City Council, a voice for reform, a voice for integration, for architectural preservation, city planning, urban renewal - except, of course, when his microphone was cut off. Now 97, and still going strong, he has graced us with this memoir of those years. Here we learn how he was first cajoled in to running for office, how the Machine tried to oust him after his first term, how his proposed legislation would be first defeated and then co-opted by the party. A lesson in old-time patronage politics is here, and the first signs of how the Machine is breaking down.

Not the best written book (a more severe editor would have been helpful), but nevertheless an invaluable contribution to the history of Chicago politics.

June 2017



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