Spotted: Grace

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Well it appears that this woman was so deep into Grace, by T. Greenwood, that she forgot to put her second glove on.  Or take the first one off.  The premise is an interesting one.  The store clerk who develops the photographs for a thirteen-year-old is the only one who sees that his family is about to implode via the haunting film he brings in for processing.  Apparently the grandfather is a hoarder.  As someone who has a family member who is borderline hoarder, I think it would be interesting to see how the author deals with this subject.  Or I could just watch that horribly addicting show.

Also, in a Between The Lines SF first, we’re going to actually tweet this to the author herself!  Hopefully we won’t get a cease and desist letter from her lawyers!  From her blog, she actually seems like she would be a pretty cool person.  In person.


Spotted: Everything Is Illuminated

The only thing I had ever heard about “Everything Is Illuminated” was that it was a “hipster” book.  I never really knew what that meant, but I also never really doubted it, since most of the time I saw it being carted around by someone who could probably fall into that category.  And the obscure title kind of fits the part.  But then again, I really liked “Infinite Jest,” so what the f@ck do I know.

But then I see this pretty young lady reading it (wearing some sweet sweet riding boots that the wife would love), and she doesn’t really fall into that category.  And now that I know the plot line involves a young American trying to piece together what happened to his family during the Nazi liquidation of Jews in the Ukraine, I think I might have to revisit how I see this book.  Or maybe, you know, read it.

Spotted: As I Lay Dying

I’ve actually read this one, believe it or not.  Oddly/Appropriately enough, I read it while my father was slowly succumbing to pancreatic cancer.  I don’t think I picked up the book because of that, but maybe the whole ordeal had put me in the mood to really get into Faulkner.

I didn’t read it while I was in his presence.  I only read it when I was in my own room, or maybe upstairs in the living room.  Or when it was my Mom’s turn to drive us to far flung cities to visit specialists while he slept.  I was worried that he would somehow find out that I was reading a book with such an immediate present-tense expression of death as a title.  And this was for the man who had a 20-year subscription to Playboy and left them very accessible, much to his son’s happiness from ages 8-forever.  And here I was worried that he might find out I was reading Faulkner.  Maybe he’d give an approving nod, that frown that isn’t really a frown because it connotes understanding rather than sadness.  But he never liked half of the books I read.  The only book I got him into was “Still Life With Woodpecker.”  He became a huge Tom Robbins fan.  I ended up borrowing “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates” from my father.

Part of me thought that maybe I should read it in front of him.  I thought maybe it would say “I am so confident you will be ok that I am completely comfortable reading this, what some might say, horribly inappropriately timed choice of novel right here in front of you.”  Maybe my choice of literature would say what I didn’t think I could say with a straight face.

However as I read the book [SMALLISH SPOILER ALERT], I learned that the son is actually building the mom’s coffin while his mom is still alive, and pretty much right in front of her.  The horror of this scene, for all those involved, solidified my clandestine reading of this book.  But I never stopped reading it.  In fact, I think I continued to read it out of spite for the universe.  I mean, putting the book down would be kind of surrendering to a rather baseless sentimental association that this book, published in 1930, had anything to do with my situation, with my father’s situation, given the senselessness that my closest friend was not going to be around much longer.   Screw it.  I was going to read this book about someone dying while I watched someone die.  Take THAT Universe.  Take THAT senseless void.  I can be just as big of an asshole as you.

I tried to pick up “The Sound and the Fury” years later but was never able to get through it.  I still own “As I Lay Dying.”  I doubt I’ll ever read it again, but I also probably won’t get rid of it either.  It played a rather odd role during a particular time in my life.  When I look at the title, I don’t really feel any particular grief.  Or happiness.  I don’t even remember most of the story.  But I guess it’s a part of me now.

P.S.  I was tempted to refrain from imposing Faulkner’s face on this photo because, for once, this actually is a rather good pic of the person.

P.P.S. Sorry that got dark.  It felt pretty good though.  I did see another “Game of Thrones.”  Maybe I should start a “Game of Thrones” tally.

Spotted: The Bluest Eye

We saw this young lady reading Toni Morrison’s first novel, the Bluest Eye.

Apparently, because the book looks at racism and child molestation, otherwise known as things that really happen, there have been campaigns to ban it from schools.   Morrison is a frequent contributor to the list of most frequently banned and challenged books, so I’m sure she’s used to the attention.


Spotted: The Jumbee(?)

This reader was wearing a Columbia fleece jacket and hat with a logo from some sort of outdoor adventures outfit.  I figured the book would involve a strong male protagonist physically overpowering his obstacle.  Probably outside.  In the woods.  With his bare hands and, like, his resolve.  The only thing I could make out was the word “Jumbee.”  So you can imagine my surprise when I searched online (you’re welcome Google) for “Jumbee” and “book” and found a book called “The Jumbee” with this as its description:

When Esti Legard starts theater school on Cariba, she’s determined to step out of the shadow of her late father, a famous Shakespearean actor. But on an island rife with superstition, Esti can’t escape the darkness. In the black of the theater, an alluring phantom voice-known only as Alan-becomes her brilliant drama tutor, while in the light of day Esti struggles to resist her magnetic attraction to Rafe, the local bad boy. Toppled sets, frightening rumors of jumbee ghosts, and brewing tropical storms culminate in a tantalizingly spooky finale where romance sizzles and truths are unmasked.  Laced with eerie mystery and the lush scenery of the West Indies, this modern Phantom is perfect for readers who like their love stories served with spine-tingling suspense.

Romance?  Theater?  DRAMA TUTOR?  Now that just can’t be right.  Apparently a Jumbee is a “type of mythological spirit or demon” in the folklore of several Caribbean nations, so it’s quite possible he is reading some other, perhaps more difficult-to-find-out-of-print book about some 18th century British colonialist encountering and tangling with the Jumbees summoned by a local Voodoo Witch MD/PhD in Montserrat.  Yeah.  I like the sound of that.

Spotted: So long, see you tomorrow

Well, I won’t, because I’m heading out of town for Memorial Day.  Considering the habitual use of the phrase, I was surprised to see this book turn up in the top results when I googled the title.  The description does sound quite interesting though.

In this magically evocative novel, William Maxwell explores the enigmatic gravity of the past, which compels us to keep explaining it even as it makes liars out of us every time we try. On a winter morning in the 1920s, a shot rings out on a farm in rural Illinois. A man named Lloyd Wilson has been killed. And the tenuous friendship between two lonely teenagers—one privileged yet neglected, the other a troubled farm boy—has been shattered.Fifty years later, one of those boys—now a grown man—tries to reconstruct the events that led up to the murder. In doing so, he is inevitably drawn back to his lost friend Cletus, who has the misfortune of being the son of Wilson’s killer and who in the months before witnessed things that Maxwell’s narrator can only guess at. Out of memory and imagination, the surmises of children and the destructive passions of their parents, Maxwell creates a luminous American classic of youth and loss.

Good read for a long weekend.  Have a great Memorial Day!

Spotted: The Bible Repairman

I’m going to coin a phrase.  Ready?  “Don’t judge a book by its title.”  On more than one occasion I have assumed the content of the book based on its title, only to be surprised by what I learn upon doing a little research.  Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Biblical Mysteries, but I thought that this book was going to be a nonfiction account of one of the archeologists or some other person involved in trying to piece together the provenance of the dead sea scrolls or some of the later discovered gospels.*

Turns out I managed to find yet more fantasy.  As you might be able to glean from the title, “The Bible Repairman and Other Stories,” is a collection of short stories, one of which deals with a guy who is hired to edit bits out of the Bible that his clients find problematic.  That actually sounds quite interesting.  For purely literary reasons of course.

* As an aside that (I’ve discussed in more detail before and) might only be interesting to me, in 1944 the great Jorge Luis Borges wrote a short story entitled “Three Versions of Judas,” in which a case is presented (in the form of a scholarly critique of a fictitious religious academic, no less) that it was in fact Judas, and not Jesus, who must have been the son of God because he actually sacrificed much more.  Judas’ sacrifice of becoming the incarnation of evil and betrayal for the entirety of human history to follow far outdoes an afternoon strung up on a cross.

In the early naughts, a text unearthed in Egypt during the 1970s was translated and discovered to be the text of something called the gospel of Judas.  In this gospel of presumptively gnostic origin dating from the 2nd century AD, a slightly different account of Judas is given than that in the Bible.  According to the text, Jesus actually asked Judas to turn him over to the Romans, because it was only in this way that his spirit could be released from its earthly form.

Point Borges.