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 Post subject: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2002 8:57 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Hello, CD-friends. I know its not dance, but it is summer time, which means <I>summer reading</I>. As a treat to myself for being a dutiful student all year, this summer, I treated myself to 2 classes outside my major—one a Women’s Study class on Media and Women.<P>The professor who is extremely cool assigned us “One for the Money,” Janet Evanovich’s first novel featuring detective Stephanie Plum. She. warned us that the Stephanie Plumb novels are fast reads and addictive. She read her first straight through and was back to the library for the others the next day. She warned us that she used to get e-mails from students who stayed up until 2 am because they couldn’t put Stephanie Plum away.<P>Naturally, I am a jaded lit student who totally didn’t believe her: Oh yeah, ‘couldn’t put the book down’ … we’ve heard <I>that</I> before … <P>But, you know, I started “One for the Money” at 10 in the evening after a final and yes, I couldn’t put it down until after 1 am.<P>Here’s the basic idea which I’m sure doesn’t do Evanovich justice:<P>Stephanie Plum is an out-of-work discount lingerie buyer who has just had her car re-po’ed and is being nagged at by her mother to get married (again). Desperate, she becomes a skip tracer, a bounty hunter for bail jumpers, for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie. During the course of tracking down a high profile suspect with whom she has a history, Stephanie introduces us to colorful characters, like Grandma Mazur who wears biker shorts and shoots the genitals off a chicken at the dinner table, street walkers Lula and Jackie with whom Stephanie strikes up an unlikely friendship, and sexual criminal, Benito Ramirez. While entertaining us with Stephanie’s wry sense of humor and misadventures, Evanovich takes on such issues as gender discrimination and sexual violence.<P>Its a fast read, humorous, witty, and insightful. I recommend it, and I hardly ever recommend books (nobody ever takes the recs of an English major seriously anyway … they figure all you read is PBS grade stuff).<P>Also, you can check out Janet Evanovich’s website. You can see who her fans think should play Stephanie if a movie was ever made—currently Sanrda Bullock is in the lead.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.evanovich.com/" TARGET=_blank>http://www.evanovich.com/</A> <P>The professor told us that one of the professional wrestling stars has a website where he recommends books and solicits reviews. One book of the month was one of the Stephanie Plum novels and all his fans went over to Evanovich’s website. What occurred was a cultural interaction peculiar to the internet where his fans became fans of Evanovich’s so much so that Evanovich asked this wrestling star (sorry, can’t remember who is it is) to help kick off one of her promotional campaigns.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2002 11:03 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
I started reading "Eight Ball" online. Stephanie's a plucky, working-class smart-mouth -- sounds like a Sandra Bullock role to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 4:16 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
My summer reading, is a re-read. I read Mary Margaret Kaye's "The Far Pavillions" about 6 years ago. It is over 900 pages long, and I thought then (and I haven't changed my mind) it was much too short.<P>The book takes place in the 1870's in India during the British Raj and is a love story between a British officer and an Indian Rajmukari (princess). But it is much, much more than that.<P>The author is British, but born and raised in Kashmir and India - she is the very last of a generation having lived in the British Raj (she is now in her 90's). Her husband was a major general in the British military, stationed in India. His ancestry goes back to William Hamilton - he of the Afghan/Kabul 'fight to the last man' (he was the leading officer) and retreat down the Khyber Pass. So this author knows of what she speaks. Her knowledge, love, sypmpathy and understanding of the people and culture infuses every page.<P>She brings the culture, the time, the people and therefore the story to life. You can smell it, touch it, taste it. And, she writes excellently. I not only look for a good story, but really do want a well written book. I like balanced sentences, good character development, fulfilled promises, more than superficial story/plot, and I want the book to 'take me away," into another time and life.<P>So right now I am in India, in the princedom of Bhithor.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 4:46 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
I used the few spare minutes I had in Vermont to catch up on all the Evanovich novels I hadn't yet read; now I'm waiting for "Eight" to come out in paper.<P>I also read half of "Body of Secrets", which tells you more than you want to know (believe me) about the National Security Agency.

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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 10:30 am 
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Location: San Francisco
My current summer reading is "Gene Kelly - A Life of Dance and Dreams" (1999) by Alvin Yudkoff. It's interesting reading just for the information about Kelly, but I don't like the style, which alternates biographical information with segments representing Gene Kelly's supposed thoughts during the CBS presentation of his Life Achievement Award.<P>As soon as I finish this book, I'll start on the short novel I bought while I was on vacation. I don't remember the title right now, but I bought the book because the author, whose first published book this is, was doing a book-signing tour, so I decided to support the artist.<p>[This message has been edited by djb (edited August 05, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 11:17 am 
Theres a new FICTION book out called'The Four Temperments'.<BR>About a violin player for the NYCB orchestra AND his son falling for a NYCB corps dancer.<BR>SHOULD BE VEDDY INTERESTING!


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 9:19 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Compared to such delectable titles as “Gene Kelly—A Life of Dance and Dreams” and “Four Temperments,” I almost hate to tell you what I’m reading now. Its “In Flanders Field” by Leon Wolff and its a documentary about the disastrous World War I battle called the Third Battle of Ypres or simply Passchendaele. It’s a retelling of mismanagment and short sightedness of the generals and politicians and has long, gripping passages about the mud, blood, and slaughter of British and Germans on a scale that is hardly imaginable. Its for the class I’m taking now BTW.<P>Wasn’t there a PBS mini-series of “The Far Pavilions”? I think it got good notices. Another prof suggested E.M. Forrester’s “Passage to India” which I think shares a similar setting. She has a post-colonialist literature graduate seminar in the fall but my schedule prevented me from taking it, though I may “read” the book on audio-tape.<P>Djb, don’t you think that you’ll support the your author’s book tour better if you can tell us what and whom?<P>Now you know I can’t resist sharing a smattering of what I learned about “One for the Money.” The prof selected it as a representative of the “hard boiled female detective” genre—also includes Kinsey Milhone, V.I. Warshawski, Kat Colorado, and others.<P>The female hard boiled novel do several things differently than the traditional, masculine counterpart. First, the female version isn’t afraid to focus on ways that they are different from their male predecessors—Stephanie Plum spends a lot of time worrying about accessorizing, for instance, and she doesn’t know how to use a gun at first.<P>Relationships tend to get more noticed—Hammet’s Op has a code of principles but he doesn’t really have any friends whereas Stephanie has this funny history with Joe Morelli and takes flowers to Jackie when she ends up in the hospital. And, there is a focus on physical strength—not so much just having it but getting it through working out and going to the firing range—it draws attention to ways in which women can leverage themselves up to the assertiveness level of men.<P>The prof finished by going over reasons why genre fiction, though considered “low culture,” is appealing to female authors. The familiarity of genre—detective novels—makes it accessible to an audience who would otherwise not be open to “feminist” literature. How many people have stayed up late reading Janet Evanovich? Compared to Virginia Woolf?<P>The conventions of genre fiction provide a safe place to explore possibly uncomfortable issues and maybe work through them. “One for the Money” took on workforce discrimination, stalking and sexual violence but only seemed to take a few minutes to read whereas assigned excerpts from Susan Faludi’s “Backlash” and Liz Kelly’s “Surviving Sexual Violence” on similar issues seemed to take roughly 3.25 centuries a piece.<P>I have a copy as yet unread of “White Swan, Black Swan” by Adrienne Sharp. Has anybody read it?<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2002 9:37 pm 
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Yes, Jeff, you're really into some light summer reading now!<P>As soon as I find my new book, I'll let you know what it's called and who wrote it. I'm afraid I bought it with almost no examination, so I can't even remember what it's about, except that it's about some children...or a child...or some sort of living being, I think.<P>I read "Passage to India" after seeing the movie, and was rather surprised by the difference in the relationship between the English woman and the Indian man as presented in the book and on the screen. I thought the movie showed that there was some attraction on his part -- or at least sympathy and liking -- but in the book, this does not seem to be the case.<P>I thought "Backlash" was a pretty quick read, but I disagreed with Faludi on a few points.<P>[In case you read this post before, I've changed "TV series" to "movie" -- I must have gotten it confused with "The Jewel in the Crown".]<p>[This message has been edited by djb (edited August 06, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 12:53 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Now you know I can’t resist sharing a smattering of what I learned about “One for the Money.” The prof selected it as a representative of the “hard boiled female detective” genre—also includes Kinsey Milhone, V.I. Warshawski, Kat Colorado, and others.<P>The female hard boiled novel do several things differently than the traditional, masculine counterpart. First, the female version isn’t afraid to focus on ways that they are different from their male predecessors—Stephanie Plum spends a lot of time worrying about accessorizing, for instance, and she doesn’t know how to use a gun at first.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR>I'd hardly call Stephanie "hard boiled" -- she keeps her gun in the cookie jar and regularly eats dinner with her parents; none of the others your prof mentioned shares her preoccupation with accessorizing (of course, they don't live in Trenton, either). The term certainly applies to Mihone, Warshawski, and Colorado, as well as to Sharon McCone and Carlotta Carlyle, but I wouldn't apply it to Stephanie Plum.<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited August 06, 2002).]

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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 4:28 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Yes, I read 'White Swan, Black Swan'....it is a collection of stories with dance as a background. It wasn't very memorable, because I don't remember it too well Image<P>The 'Far Pavillions' was made into a movie, and I enjoyed it, but not nearly - even close - as much as I enjoy the book.<P>Another author I enjoy is Edison Marshall. I own just about every book he has written. His use of the language captures me. Sometimes I stop and re-read a sentence over and over, savoring it. He was a world traveler and set his stosries in many different times and climes. He had a way of adjusting the English language to the clime/time about which he was writing.<P>For instance, when he wrote 'The Viking' which is set (where else?) in Scandinavia, he used English words derived from that family of languages. When writing of India in 'Gipsy Sixpence,' he used the many words in English derived from Hindi and Arabic. Not exclusively, of course, but enough to make the language take on the 'music' of the country and culture. Each book therefore was almost like a linguistic symphony. <P>I also very much enjoy Maugham - 'Of Human Bondage' is unforgettable. And then there's Dreiser.....also unforgetable. Patrick O'Brian for sea stories set in the late 1700's early 1800's, is excellent. Not only well written, but wonderful character development.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 10:03 am 
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Basheva, I looked up Edison Marshall and noticed that he wrote a book titled <I>The Lost Colony</I>, but I didn't find a synopsis. Do you know whether it's about the doomed colony Sir Walter Raleigh started in what is now North Carolina?<P>My summer job during my college years in North Carolina was performing in an outdoor drama based on that bit of history. Since the fate of the colonists was a mystery, the plot was largely conjecture. I'm interested in seeing what another author supposes could have happened.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 10:56 am 
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Yes, DJB, he did write that book and I have it. Publisher is Doubleday & Company, 1964. he died, I believe in 1966. <P>Here is the synopsis as written on the inside of the book jacket:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Perhaps the single greatest mystery in the history of America was the vanishing into thin air of the English colony founded by Sir Walter Raleigh at Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now N. Carolina, in the year 1587.<P>Edison Marshall offers an exciting and plausible solution. The first act of the drama occurs in West England 2 years previously. History records the fact that Raleigh, in diminishing favor with Queen Elizabeth, enlisted 110 colonists, men, women and children. These included gentry, commoners, and even convicts from prison, almost none of which had had the least experience as pioneers in the New World. Their names indicate that many of these colonists were interrelated or related to members of Raleigh's first colony, under Lane, who dparted Roanoke in frantic flight in 1586.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>...and then proceeds on to describe the story in a bit more detail.<P>Edison Marshall, in a couple of his books, mentions obliquely an interest in and appreciation of ballet. He had a daughter named Nancy Silence Marshall. I have often wondered if she and the dancer/artistic director Nancy Johnson Carter is the same person (the ages would be right).<P>I have about 25 of his books. They are no longer easy to find, I scoured the bookshops.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 11:50 am 
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Lack of experience and knowledge and even appropriate supplies seems to have been a problem generally for the early settlers. I saw a documentary about the Jamestown settlement that pointed out the many superfluous supplies taken on the voyage, as well as many essential supplies that were not taken. Given that the settlers for the most part had no experience in farming or hunting, it's a miracle that any of them survived.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 12:44 pm 
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As I understand it, from my reading, the Jamestown/Roanoke settlers had a much different goal than the settlers of Plymouth Plantation. The Jamestown settlers were more interested in short term exploitative gains. They were looking for gold and other easy to hand valuables.<P>The settlers of Plymouth Plantation were divided roughly equally into two segments, the Puritan group and the non-Puritan group. The Puritan group was interested in long term residence, farming, etc. The non-Puritan contingent were more interested in short term gains. So at least half the Plymouth colony had long term goals in mind. This difference was of major significance between the two colonies.<P>Which brings me back light summer reading - well, very interesting summer reading anyway. Try "The Bradford History", a diary written by the first governor (he served several terms as governor) of the plantation, William Bradford. It is the only extant first person writing of the settlement. <P>I detailed it in a thread last Thanksgiving. He gives a first person account of that celebration. But the most moving part of his diary is when they are still aboard ship, looking toward the shore. A shore of endless forests, no store for the next 20 yrs., and it was winter, Christmas Day. It was a bleak outlook, and one woman unable to contemplate the future in such a wilderness is thought to have thrown herself overboard and drowned. Half of them did not survive the first year.<P>The book is well worth reading. The original somehow ended up in the library of the Bishop of London and was given back to the United States in 1897 as a gift from the British people.


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 Post subject: Re: Light Summer Reading
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 12:47 pm 
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I forgot to say, that I own a copy of this Diary and it was published by Wright & Potter Printing Co., Boston, 1901.


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