Horn, Stacy. Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2013.
As much as I liked Horn’s writing style it took me a long time to get through this book. Each time I put it down it took longer and longer to pick it back up. I wasn’t retaining what I read and I wasn’t interested in what happened next. There wasn’t an opportunity to wonder what was going on because there was no flow to the content. Horn’s writing felt like well crafted essays with the common theme of choral singing. While I learned a great deal about singing with others from both the modern and historic perspectives I wasn’t as connected with the subject as I wanted to be. I have a feeling this will be a hit with people who know more about singing in the chorus because the writing is fantastic.
The above makes it sound like I didn’t get anything out of Horn’s book. I did get something unusual out of it – an overwhelming desire to see New York City as she describes it. I was drawn to her magical descriptions of certain streets. I felt like I had never really seen the city like she had. It made me want to open my eyes a little wider and walk a little slower the next time I am there.
Reason read: As part of the Early Review Program for LibraryThing
When I look back on January 2013 I have a sense of relief. All things considered this month was better than the last. In the grand scheme of things January treated me kind. No major meltdowns. No minor catastrophes to speak of. I started training for Just ‘Cause in the quiet way. Four to five miles a day and I didn’t stress about the numbers. If I didn’t make five or even four I didn’t have a hissy fit or beat myself or moi up. I cut me & myself some slack; gave us a break. I know that as the months wear on this won’t always be the case, but for now it was nice to go easy on me, myself & moi. The running was a different matter. Just as relaxed a schedule but not so easy going on. The run is a little over six weeks away and I’ve done next to nil in order to train. New Guinea has been awesome in that I’m working on speed intervals on level five. Let me repeat that. Level five. Nothing to write home about. I used to operate at level nine. Enough said. On with the books! I am pretty proud of the list.
- Lives of the Painters, Architects and Sculptors by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of National Art Month way back in October. This finally completes the series!
- Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak ~ in honor of Female Domination Day in Greece.
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray ~ in honor of January being the first month I read something from the first chapter of a Lust book. I admit I didn’t finish this one.
- Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham ~ in honor of Maugham’s birth month. I also didn’t finish this one.
- Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron ~ Happy new year. Read something to make me happy.
- Idle Days in Patagonia by W. H. Hudson ~ in honor of January being the best time to visit Patagonia.
- The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ~ in honor of Lewis birth and death month.
- Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson ~ in honor of the month all Creatures Great and Small aired.
- Tatiana by Dorothy Jones ~ in honor of January being the month Alaska became a state.
On audio I listened to:
- Final Solution by Michael Chabon ~ in honor of January being Adopt a Rescued Bird month.
- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith ~ in honor of Female Mystery Month
- City of Thieves by David Benioff ~ last minute add-on. This was addicting!
For the Early Review program with LibraryThing:
- Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws (started in Dec)
- Her by Christa Parravani
- Leave Your Sleep the poetry book for children by Natalie Merchant
Merchant, Natalie. Leave Your Sleep: a Collection of Classic Children’s Poetry. New York: Frances Foster Books, 2012.
I will admit I am biased when it comes to anything Natalie Merchant puts her stamp on. Over the years Ms. Merchant has proven time and time again that she is a humanitarian and an educator. She just happens to have a beautiful voice to go with that caring heart. And having all said that, that is why I bought three copies of Leave Your Sleep. I thought it was appropriate to send one to my public library. I took the chance because there is no way of knowing if they bought it for themselves (no online catalog) but I doubt they did. I also bought a copy for my sister’s family. I don’t know if they will listen to it more than once so I have asked them to pass it along to their public library when they are finished. Do you see a pattern?
Then, of course, I bought my own copy. I will not be donating mine to any local library, though!
Leave Your Sleep is comprised of nineteen poems set to music and, in the book version, accompanied by the wonderful illustrations of Barbara McClintock. Having the illustrations in front of me banishes my own imaginings but at the same time expands my visions, if that makes sense. For example, take The Sleepy Giant by Charles Edward Carryl. When I first heard Natalie’s musical interpretation in 2008 my mind saw an ancient old man for a giant who was decidedly, thanks to an accordion and somber drums, very very creepy. In the book version of Leave Your Sleep the 372 year old giant is a portly Victorian woman looking a bit like Winston Churchill. Not as creepy as my own imagination scared me. On the other hand the village in Vain and Careless by Robert Graves far exceeded the pictures in my head. The poem came alive in ways it hadn’t before seeing it on the printed page.
The continuing magic is how the book is arranged. Thoughtful consideration was given to every aspect from layout to packaging. Ms. Merchant’s introduction personalizes the project and gives the poems a resonating warmth. I am guessing she thoroughly collaborated on the illustrations because the girl in Equestrienne by Rachel Field looks a lot like Natalie in her video for the song Kind and Generous.
My favorite poem in the entire collection (cd and book) remains ee cummings’s Maggie and Milly and Molly and May. It’s my childhood played out before me.
The first four days of September were a Rocky Mountain high followed by the harsh reality of back to school. I felt like a kid. What else? My kisa decided he wants to run a 5k for a charity event so September was our first month of training (the event is on October 14th). We caught the music bug, seeing Phish a few times and Sean Rowe once, which rocked, by the way. It’s fall so the nights are getting cooler. We closed the pool and took out the air conditioner; put a heavier blanket on the bed and put away the swimsuits. I had an eye toward azzkicking boots and comfy sweaters and celebrating eight years of marriage.
Here are the books:
- Ariel by Andre Maurois ~ in honor of National Book Month. This was an easy book to read in four days.
- Eleanor Roosevelt Vol. One by Blanche W. Cook ~ in honor of Roosevelt’s birth month. I fully admit I started this in August.
- American Ground: the Unbuilding of the World Trade Center by William Langewiesche ~ in honor and memory of September 11, 2001. This was an audio book I inexplicably listened to on an airplane.
- Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl ~ in honor of a hero. I read this in one weekend.
- Tear Down the Mountain by Roger Alan Skipper ~ in honor of an Appalachian Fiddle Fest held in September. I read this in Colorado over a three day period.
- The Joke by Milan Kundera ~ in honor of September being the best time to visit Czechoslovakia. Okay.
- Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault ~ in honor of back to school month. This took me a little while to read but I enjoyed it.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Nelle Harper Lee ~ in honor of September being Southern Month. Who has read this book and been able to hold back the tears?
There was only one book I fully admitted defeat on and that was The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. Just couldn’t do it. By default I am skipping Last of the Mohicans as well. Sad, sad, sad.
For the Early Review Program of LibraryThing I read All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother’s Dementia. With Refreshments. Another LibraryThing book came in at the end of the month but I’ll save that one for October.
For the fun of it I read To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD ~ in honor of my aunt who lost her son.
Is it okay for me to say I am glad May is over? May was the search for a new boss (we found one), a 60 mile walk for breast cancer awareness ($180,000 raised) a funeral/memorial/burial – whatever, and just a little time for books. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Carry on, Mr Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham ~ kind of reminded me of other historical biographies for kids. Read in one week.
- Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan ~ in honor of Asian American heritage month.
- Of Men and Mountains by William O. Douglas ~ in honor of deadly Mount Everest. I read this in one weekend (up to Maine and back)
- Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl ~ (probably my favorite book of the bunch. I now want to see the documentary).
- Death of Ivan Ilich by Leo Tolstoy ~ in honor of May being a good time to go to Russia (I’ll take their word for it).
Here are two I didn’t finish:
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ~ this was a reread so I don’t feel bad I didn’t get through it again this time, and
- China To Me by Emily Hahn ~ I got the point after 120 pages. Since Pearl mentioned this in three different Lust books I feel as though I have to give it another chance…maybe another time.
For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program:
- Letters to Kurt by Eric Erlandson ~ read in one weekend, and
- The United States Coast Guard and National Defense: a History from World War I to the Present by Thomas P. Ostrom ~ I didn’t get through this one either which is really sad since I wanted to enjoy it.
So, there it is in a nutshell. Not a ton of good reading. More unfinished stuff than I’m used to. Oh well.
Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson. A Child’s Garden of Verses. Boulder: Shambhala, 1979.
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is one of those books that remained as a constant in my house growing up. Somehow, side by side with unlikely titles such as Fear of Flying by Erica Jong and The World According to Garp by John Irving there A Child’s Garden of Verses sat. It had a permanent place on the shelf and never moved. As a child (I was ten when my 1979 edition was published) it was the illustrations by Charles Robinson that really captured my imagination. Simple illustrations like the title one for “Pirate Story” or more complicated ones like the one for “Garden Days.” I don’t know how I resisted the urge to fill the black and white line drawings with color.
When Natalie Merchant chose “The Land of Nod” as a poem to set to music for her newest album, Leave Your Sleep, it was if the simple verse took flight. Suddenly the poem spread glorious wings and soared with great majesty. It became lush and alive. It made me wish she had taken the entire collection of poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses and set them to music.
Like Natalie’sLeave Your Sleep, A Child’s Garden of Verses is the epitome of poetry for and about children. The imagination of a child grows wild and free among the pages. Hopes and fears are expressed as only children can. The sense of wonder and innocence resonates as reminders to all adults about how the world once was.
Point of amusement: just as I was drawn to the illustrations of Charles Robinson so were the publishers of A Child’s Garden of Verses. The back cover, usually reserved for praise for the author or an abstract about the text, sings the praises of illustrator Charles Robinson and ignore Robert Louis Stevenson completely.
Fact opinion: Stevenson and wife Fanny had one of the most romantic courtships I have ever read.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the introduction (pix). Nancy Pearl is confessing herself to be a “readaholic” and remembering the stories read to her as a young child.
Where the fukc do I start (besides the fact that I’m posting this very late)? July 2011 was hell with a twisted sense of humor. Chronological speaking the first week of July was first a new car, then a wedding, then a quick trip to Monhegan and Kennebunkport (not impressed). A first week of fireworks and fun. The second week of July was an eight hour drive to Chautauqua, New York to see (from dead center second row, thank you very much) Miss Natalie Merchant at her best. A stunning performance I won’t soon forget. The third week was another trip to Maine, burying my grandfather, having my house robbed, and struggling to make sense of administrative setbacks. Week four was Kisa having to replace a tire on the truck, replace a cracked skimmer on the pool, our hot water heater flooding the basement in the middle of the night and lots and lots of home security upgrades. The ongoing issue is Jones freaking out. I don’t know what happened during the robbery but I do know he’s not the same. Insane to get out, he claws and cries and scrambles frantically at every door and window. He acts like a tortured prisoner. In the midst of all this chaos I have tried my best to keep reading. It was only semi-successful. Many fitful starts, few finishes:
- Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts ~ in honor of it being a book within reach while I was on Monhegan. I think this should be a movie.
- House of Mirth by Edith Wharton ~ in honor of New York becoming a state in July. Greedy book. I didn’t completely finish it. I got the point three quarters of the way through it and got the point.
- Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe ~ in honor of Burton Bennett’s birthday. This was made into a movie & no, I didn’t finish the book or see the movie. Another greedy book.
- Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin ~ in honor of it being a book in the library. I was ten pages shy of finishing this one.
- It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong ~ in honor of the Tour de France. I will never look at this book the same way again for it was what I was reading on the ride home from the burial…and yes, I finished it …when we pulled into the driveway.
- Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field ~ in honor of going to Rachel’s “home” state, Maine.
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen ~ I barely finished this (supposed to be read in August in honor of Franzen’s birth month). I’m waiting for the movie version.
And for LibraryThing and the Early Review Program:
- Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katrina, the Bush White House and Beyond by Michael D. Brown and Ted Schwarz ~ I didn’t finish this. After awhile it got really repetitive with all the blame and finger pointing.
- Pretty by Jillian Lauren ~ I loved this book. I loved how raw and messed up it was.
We ended July the exact same way we started it – with a road trip and awesome music. A blog about Rebecca Correia’s fantastic farm show will be posted on the other side.
Winch, Terence. “The Bells are Ringing for Me and Chagall.” The Great Indoors. Brownsville: Story Line Press, 1995. pp 41.
Sexy. That’s the first thing I think when I read “The Bells are Ringing for Me and Chagall.” I want to know who is Chagall? and I want to know more about those bells that are ringing. Do they signify great sex and is Chagall the reason? The entire poem comes off (in the end) as a sage on the stage admonishment about relationships. There is a hint of warning and more than a little advice and it all boils down to this: if your sex life is over-the-top the relationship is doomed to fail. But, if the sex you are having is pleasant, and, in a word, satisfying, you are in a stronger commitment. Interesting.
I think the title of the poem is a play on words. Judy Garland once sang a song with the lyrics, “the bells are ringing for me and my gal” and it was all about getting married (or so I thought whenever I heard it). Marriage defines a level of commitment so it makes some sense to compare the two.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry Pleasers” (p 188).
October was a simply fantastic month for reading. Being on vacation and a few days to myself certainly helped. I’m not sure what November will be like, but here are the books I hope to get through:
- The Harmless People by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas~ in honor of November being the best time to visit Africa
- Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling~ in honor of Native American month
- The New Well-Tempered Sentence: a Punctuation Handbook by Karen Elizabeth Gordon~ in honor of National Writing Month
- The Healing by Gayle Jones~ in honor of Gayle Jones’s birth month
- On the Road by (Hey) Jack Kerouac~ in honor of November being the best time to travel
In other news November is the very last Natalie show until who knows when. I’m looking forward to this one because it promises to be different from any of the others I went to this year. I really don’t know what else to expect from the month and maybe that is a good thing.
July was the great escape. I was able to go home twice. Each trip was for a very different purpose and as a result each was a very different experience, but I was homehome just the same. Got the tan I didn’t need. July was also a double shot of Natalie music. Again, two very different experience, but amazing nonetheless. Blogs about both shows coming soon. An absolutely fantastic Rebecca Correia show rounded out the month, musically. She performed with Jypsi at the Bennett Farm. A really great night.
All in all, July was so many different things and unfortunately, reading wasn’t a big part of it. I stole time where I could (often in cars driven by other people):
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald ~ something small and short to read on the cliffs of Monhegan
- Firewall by Henning Mankell ~ a murder/police procedural mystery set in Sweden; something to read in the tent!
- The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt ~ a great book for kids about living by the ocean. Another great book to read on the cliffs of Monhegan.
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume ~ a blast from the past! Read this on the couch…
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference ~ read in honor of job fair month & added because I gave up on the Richard Rhodes book (see below)
- Love of a Good Woman: Stories by Alice Munro ~ read in honor of Munro’s birth month
- In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country by Kim Barnes ~ in honor of July being the month Idaho became a state
If you notice I focused on stuff for young adults – kind of like easy listening for the brain.
Attempted, but did not finish:
- The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes ~ see, I told you so! I added it back on the list for another time…
For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program:
- My Formerly Hot Life by Stephanie Dolgoff ~ a really fun book.
- What is a Mother (in-law) To Do by Jane Angelich ~ unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this very much.
I guess nine books is a decent “read quota” for the month. At least five of them were extremely easy to read, though…
June is a weird month for me. I might have a Monhegan plan. I’m not sure. The one thing I know about June is that there will be music. Plenty of music and books. As two constants in my life, I doubt anyone is honestly surprised by that remark. Music and books. For music it is the lovely Rebecca Correia at the Iron Horse in Northampton. June 11, 2010 at 7pm. That same weekend it is the eternally talented Sean Rowe at the DreamAway Lodge in Beckett. June 13, 2010 at 8pm…I think. There is Phish somewhere in there as well…I know, don’t say it.
For books it is:
- Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brien ~ in honor of National Ocean month
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen ~ in honor of Adventure fiction month
- Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron ~ in honor of Virginia becoming a state in June
- Happenstance by Carol Shields ~ in honor of June being the most popular month to get married in…
- Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World by Carol Brightman ~ in honor of Mary McCarthy’s birth month.
For LibraryThing’s Early Review program:
- The House on Oyster Creek by Heidi Jon Schmidt
For the fun of it:
- Master of Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels
April is all about getting the garage ready for gardening. April is the confidence to pack winter clothes and get the snow tires off the car. April is leaving the heat off and taking off the sweater; driving with the windows down. The birds are getting louder and the mornings are coming earlier. I’m hoping to spend some time outside reading. Here are the books I hope to conquer:
- Affliction by Russell Banks~ In honor of two different times: March (Banks’s birth month) and April (National Sibling Week is in April).
- Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King ~ In honor of National Dog Month
- Downcanyon: a Naturalist Explores the Colorado River Through the Grand Canyon by Ann Haymond Zwinger ~ in honor of Earth Day and nature writing
- Belshazzar’s Daughter by Barbara Nadel ~ April (believe or not) is the best time to visit Turkey (weather-wise, political ramifications aside).
- South Wind Through the Kitchen by Elizabeth David ~ April is National Food Month
If there is time:
- Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory by John Feinstein ~ April is Youth Sports Safety Month
And of course, April is National Poetry Month so as usual I am trying to read as much poetry during this time frame as I can. I can’t go without saying Natalie Merchant is releasing “Leave Your Sleep” this month – a collection of poetry centered around children and childhood. Natalie once said it was poetry written for, about, and by children. I guess that sums it up nicely. One poem she included on her album was one I already read for the Book Lust Challenge: “Spring and Fall: To a Young Child” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program I have an interesting (and well-timed) nonfiction: Fundamental Weight Training by David Sandler. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m hoping it will be user-friendly and very informative.
January 2010 will prove to be an interesting month. Maybe not as interesting as last month, but certainly something. There is a little bit of music: Rebecca Correia at the Iron Horse (this FRIDAY night!!!). I’d like to do something musical; something out of state…And speaking of going out of state, there is a pie/bed & breakfast thing in Rockland, Maine I’d like to check out with my mom at the end of the month.
- High Five by Janet Evanovich ~ I know I’m cheating because I already read this on New Year’s Day – in one day. It was fun!
- Echo House by Ward Just ~ in honor of Just’s birth month and also the month a new president (of the U.S.) takes office. I am already 75 pages into this one. It’s great!
- In Search of Robinson Crusoe by Timothy Severin ~ in honor of January the best time to visit the islands. What islands, you ask? Any islands, I say.
- First American: Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands ~ in honor of Benjamin Franklin. No, scratch that. I have been told to start with Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, so I will.
- Hole in the Universe by K.C. Cole ~ I have no idea why I am reading this.
If there is time:
- I, Robot by Isaac Asimov ~ in honor of Isaac Asimov.
For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program: Then Came the Evening by Brian Hart (already reviewed). I have word that I am to receive another book but because there are still two others out there that I haven’t received I don’t trust that I’ll get it in January. It might become a February book.
Salzman, Mark. The Soloist. New York: Random House, 1994.
I hated to put this book down. I started off reading it at the same time as two other books (which shall remain nameless), but soon I found myself favoring The Soloist over the other two. Which, when you think about it, isn’t a very smart move because when I finished The Soloist I was left with the lesser liked books.
Lesson learned. There is a reason why dessert is served at the end of the meal – save the best for last. It tastes sweeter that way. That goes for books as well, especially The Soloist. I can’t wait to read Salzman’s other books.
In a nutshell The Soloist is about a man who is struggling with who he was as a child in relation to who he has become as an adult. As a child Renne Sundheimer was a prodigy who mastered the cello and thrilled audiences world-wide. As an adult, having mysteriously lost his talent, Renne has become a cello teacher for a university in Southern California. His life revolves around the music he used to make until two completely different events happen. First, Renne is summoned to jury duty where he hears a case involving a murdered Buddhist monk. Second, Renne finds himself the tutor of another cello prodigy, a nine-year old Korean boy. In both situations Renne started out an unwilling participant. He was convinced he didn’t want to serve on a jury and planned to profess an undue hardship. He was also convinced he didn’t want to give private lessons to an introverted Korean boy. In both cases he fails to extract himself from involvement and ultimately ends up changing his life.
Favorite lines: “Human beings are primates, and primates weren’t designed to tie themselves up into knots and hold still (p 99). I’m not sure how my yoga friends would take to this comment, but I found it funny.
And the last lines of the book are perfect, “I don’t think about the past as much as I used to, and I hardly ever think further than a semester ahead. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though. I’m starting to think that the larger picture is overrated” (p 284). Precisely.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Mark Salzman: Too Good to Miss” (p 194).
Off topic comment: When Pearl introduces Salzman in her second Lust book she mentions not going to readings given by authors she likes. She is always afraid of not liking the person behind the words, or thinking of the author’s voice when reading his or her newest offering. I’m like that with music. Once I see the musician I can’t get their image out of my head and sometimes, often, it skews the music.
For the sake of sanity I have to recap the entire summer. Summer as we think of it in terms of the calendar, not the temperature. June. July. August.
June can only be thought of as a dark and hellish tunnel. In that case, July was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As a result, August was not only getting out of the dark and hellish tunnel but moving as far, far away from it as possible. August was an amazing month!
August was music (loved the Avett Brothers and had a great time at Phish). August was homehome with my best boys. August was also a group of good, good books:
- The Moviegoer by Percy Walker ~ interesting story about a man watching life go by rather than living it.
- Turbulent Souls: a Catholic Son’s Return to his Jewish Family by Stephen J. Dubner ~ this was fascinating.
- The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester ~ another fascinating nonfiction with great illustrations.
- The Mutual Friend by Frederick Busch ~ a novel about Charles Dickens that I couldn’t really get into.
- Those Tremendous Mountains: the Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by David Freeman Hawke ~ another nonfiction, this time about the Lewis and Clark Expedition (like the title says).
- Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Expery ~ all about war-time aviation.
For the Early Review Program:
- Sandman Slim: a Novel by Richard Kadrey ~ absolutely crazy good book.
- Off the Tourist Trail: 1,000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives ~ an amazing travel book! Really beautiful!
- Finished reading Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni ~ part political, part personal, this was great.
- My First 100 Marathons: 2,620 Miles with an Obsessed Runner by Jeff Horowitz ~ funny and informative, too!
- Running and Being by George Sheehan ~ funny and sarcastic and informative all at once!