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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 9:45 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Gun in the cookie jar rather than a bottle of whiskey in the bottom desk drawer … yes, Salzberg, I see your point about Stephanie Plum…<P>On the other hand, even the most <I>noir-ish</I> male detective writers didn’t hesitate to turn genre conventions on their heads. Generally, hard boiled detective story writers rejected their predecessors, the cozy, aristocratic English mystery novel’s penchant for ingenious homicide <I>modus operandi</I> (like the murder that occurs in the locked room). Most of Hammet’s and Chandler’s murders are blasé urban alley pistol shot affairs. Yet, I remember that Jim Thompson used some fairly unusual M.O.’s<P>I doubt the prof was holding the Stephanie Plum stories as the paradigmatic <I>examplar</I> of the “hard boiled female detective” genre but one that shares certain thematic features with them.<P>Personally, my suspicion is that the prof made us all read “One for the Money” because she wanted a “legitimate” reason to substitute a field trip to a reading/signing at VRoman’s in Pasadena for one class meeting… I got an autographed hardcover copy of “Hard Eight” for my trouble (trouble defined as slogging almost 2 hours through down town LA traffic with 3 co-eds in a tiny, rented white Chevy Metro … on the plus side, I learned some colorful new <I>Los Angeleno</I> phrases …).<P>How silly of me! “Jewel in the Crown” and “The Far Pavilions.” One a movie and the other a television mini-series. I was planning on stopping by Acres of Books in Long Beach this weekend. I’ll be sure to look for both. Also, Edison Marshall…<P>BTW, Basheva, speaking of the Pilgrims and the Bradstreets, I remember that we read several poems by Anne Bradstreet for my summer, upper division women & literature class. My recollection is that she is related to the William Bradstreet you mention.<P>Why is it that summer reading tends towards the exotica of faraway places and times? I was going to suggest documentaries by Peter Hopkirk, such as “Foreign Devils on the Silk Road” which chronicles 19th century English, German, and Belgian explorer’s attempts to “open up” that most forbidden and exotic land, Tibet. Think Rudyard Kipling, Indiana Jones, and your local university’s Department of Archeology—only its all supposed to be true…<P><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited August 07, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2002 4:22 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Jeff, Jeff, Jeff,.......William Bradford, not Bradstreet. Though I guess the name could have changed with time.<P>Has anyone read "Love in the Time of Cholera"<BR>by Gabriel García Márquez? It's a strange book and yet, grabs the reader.<P>I have also very much enjoyed the Egyptian Nobel Laureate for fiction, Naguib Mahfouz.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2002 9:58 am 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Bradford not Bradstreet ... what a chucklehead I am! [the Anne Bradstreet BTW is actually pretty good stuff]

Garcia-Marquez short stories come up a lot in lower division world lit surveys, especially as examples of "magical realism." Also, I remember a Mahfouz as well. Lower division undergrads like these because there's so much juicy, literary stuff to sink your teeth into.

With so much yummy sounding literature from around the world, maybe I'll re-look at my fall schedule and see if I can sign up for that post-colonialist lit seminar after all.

Perhaps I'll just ask a random question related to the original topic of this thread...

In those inventories of celebrity dancers' dance bags that Pointe Magazine often shows, squeezed in among the power bars, extra pointe shoes, CDs, etc, are often books. Are there some kinds of books that dancers like to stow in their stuff when they're working or just going to class?

I know that in the intersession when I'm travelling I like the Jeeves novels of P.G. Wodehouse. Its my mental "valium."

And, if I get stuck with going to a work-related conference or meeting, I go with a "power profile book," usually a classic novel by a famous, dead, heterosexual, white male author, like Hemingway or Fitzgerald... the kind of reading that says, I'm a conservative, politically "safe," member of the bourgeoisie.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2002 10:23 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Way back when I used to be a dancer, I rarely carried a book with me, because I tended to knit when I had spare time at the studio. I did all my reading at home, because in those days I had time to sit and read for several hours at a stretch. I didn't mind knitting a few minutes here and there, but reading a book that way was unsatisfying.

But when I did (and do) read, I mostly read nonfiction, my favorite subjects being history and travel writing. My other favorite reading matter is Jane Austen's novels, which I re-read every few years. Why did she have to die young?


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2002 5:31 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I did not read in between ballet classes - I wrote. I always had (and still do) a notebook with me. ( I was not writing ballet things)

My reading is done at home. I love old fiction - and fiction that takes me to another time and place. I have difficulty finding good (well written) new fiction.

My true love is non-fiction - history, history, history. The favorite time is United States history from its pre-Columbian time up to and including the War of 1812. I am especially taken with the idea of Constitution writing - the concept that people might undertake to govern themselves.

Another time and place I enjoy is Spanish history. What a crossroads of cultures that country represents - from early Philistine/Hebrew colonization clear into the explorations and colonization of the New World. Hasdai Ibn Shaprut is a particular hero of mine. I would adore going to the Bodlian Library and read his letter to the Kazars. I have read it online.....but that's that quite the same.

Letter of Hasdai Ibn Shaprut

{scroll down a bit)

<small>[ 08-08-2002, 19:41: Message edited by: Basheva ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2002 9:13 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
What I love about Jane Austen's novels is to listen to them as audio-books during my daily commute. It makes going to the office so much less painful. I especially like the Jill Masters' readings on Books-On-Tape. That voice... luscious!

The prof of my feminist literary theory class put me on to Austen. I'm talking Gilbert and Gubar's discussion in "Madwoman in the Attic."

Basheva, how interesting! I looked over the letter of
Hasdai Ibn Shaprut at the website in your post, Basheva. The language of the past sometimes seems to say so much more than more contemporary examples. I suspect that writing that was meant to have some sort of public dimension was expected to have an element of the performative in addtion to the mere factual.

Right now I am a non-history major trying to fake my way through an upper division history class (25% of the final grade!), but I remind myself that some influential thinkers of the 20th century have found that history is only one of the many narratives that comprise our culture. And, as such it becomes available to us in the ways that literature is ... such as entertainment, education, moral instruction, etc...

Just a thought.

<small>[ 08-08-2002, 23:40: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 4:38 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I surely agree that history can be literature, just as literature can be history.

What is more fun than a well written book on history?

Yes, those old-timers sure could write a letter!

I dunno if I could, or even wanna, but prolly could if I tried real hard.

(translation: "I do not know if I could write such a letter, even if I should want to, but perhaps I could if I really tried.")

:)


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 10:37 am 
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Basheva, the letter you posted a link to immediately reminded me of what I've read about Ibn Fadlan's account of his time spent among the Rus in the 10th(?) century. I first came across this name in Michael Crichton's book "Eaters of the Dead," a work of fiction that claimed to incorporate some of Ibn Fadlan's writing. This is the book, by the way, that the movie "The 13th Warrior" was based on.

When I read the Crichton book (which he has disowned, I read), I didn't know whether Ibn Fadlan actually existed or the author's references to him were just part of the fiction. But now I've read that he did exist, so I'm interested in finding a copy of his journals.

I love reading about people's experiences of foreign cultures, since I haven't been able to do it as much as I'd like. I've spent a total of 10 weeks living with families in Russia, but that didn't feel like a culture shock. The only time I experienced real culture shock was when I taught dance at a gymnastics summer camp in Pennsylvania.

<small>[ 08-09-2002, 14:16: Message edited by: djb ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 11:36 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Jeff, I finally found and started reading the book I bought to help support a new author. It's The Box Children, by Sharon Wyse. While it's light reading because of its readability and length (quite short), the subject matter turns out not to be light at all. It's supposed to be the diary a 12-year-old girl whose mother is quite abusive. I've only read about 15 pages, but I think it's going to be pretty depressing.

I wonder if anything more than the locale (a North Texas wheat farm) is autobiographical -- I hope not, for the author's sake.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 2:13 pm 
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I happened across an excerpt of one of my favorite books, The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis (1878-1937), illustrated by George Herriman, who created the cartoon strip Krazy Kat. I haven't reread this for at least ten years, so maybe this will become my next bit of light summer reading. I highly recommend it.

Here's some background information for those who haven't read the book. Archy was once a free verse poet whose soul was transmigrated into the body of a cockroach. He writes by jumping from the top of a typewriter onto the keys (head first). It's too difficult to use capital letters. Mehitabel is an alley cat who fancies herself a dancer and free spirit. Her frequent litters have a mysterious way of disappearing.

I first read this book when I was way too young to understand most of it, but I understood the following selection, which still brings a tear to my eye, along with the chuckles.

mehitabel dances with borealis

<img src="http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~bjackson/plato/mehitabel.gif" alt="" />

<small>[ 08-12-2002, 18:09: Message edited by: djb ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 4:20 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
By the way, the title "The Box Children" refers to five little plastic dolls that the girl keeps in a little bed made from a box. They represent her mother's five miscarriages. Light summer reading...


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 8:51 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Djb, thanks for the Mehitabel moment. I’m printing the Mehitabel poem out to read tomorrow as a consolation for being required to go to work.

O yes, and of course, thanks for the book info on Sharon Wyse’s “The Box Children.”

I just turned in my review of Leon Wolff’s “In Flanders Field” … we’re talking hundreds of thousands of casualties for a few miles of worthless, blood soaked mud. This is the war that brought us that repellent term “normal wastage” meaning 7000 casualties a day.

But, just in case I thought that reading about the futile “wastage” of all those soldiers could inure me to a few dolls in plastic boxes, I think that there is something about the destruction of the lives of innocents—and I mean the children Wyse portrays—that seems especially evil.

Here is a little I gleaned from the internet about Wyse.

This has a little blurb and a pic of the author: http://www.stthom.edu/publicity/Headlines/06_17_02_Headlines/

She’s apparently a singer as well as an author: http://www.stthom.edu/publicity/PressRelease/press340.htm

And a little more about the book:
http://www.amarillonet.com/stories/061602/boo_tripptex.shtml

[I’m sorry but I can’t figure out how to hide the URL’s under bold font titles]


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2002 3:11 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff:
[I’m sorry but I can’t figure out how to hide the URL’s under bold font titles]
Awhile back, we had a thread about that in "What's new on criticaldance".

Click here.

<small>[ 08-13-2002, 05:12: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2002 4:38 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
New dance books, reviewed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Quote:
Taking a whirl through some fine new books
"Baryshnikov in Black and White" (Bloomsbury, $60), the gorgeous photo collection documenting the Russian superstar's career in America, ranks as the dance book of the summer. But other recently published volumes also deserve a place in the dance enthusiast's library. Merce Cunningham's "Other Animals: Drawings and Journals" (Aperture, $30) reveals the whimsical personality and unique vision of the world's greatest living choreographer
More

<small>[ 08-13-2002, 06:41: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2002 8:43 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Jeff, thanks for the information about Sharon Wyse. So there's a dance connection here, since she was a director of development for Twyla Tharpe.

Now that I've finished the book (it's very short), I'm very glad to know that the only autobiographical element of the book is the locale. The book is definitely a page-turner, but I couldn't help thinking that the protagonist is just too well-adjusted to be a realistic product of her life's experiences. Still, I'd be interested in any books Ms. Wyse writes in the future.


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