Food Fight!

When Sarah Winchester died there was enough new lumber stacked outside the San Jose mansion to build an entire second mansion and then some. I sit here looking over my built-in bookshelves, contemplating how high the yet-to-be-read books would stack after I get moved out to the old folks home (or even worse).

images.jpgRealistically, I could be sixteen years old and the number of books I might want to read still would be daunting .. well, yes and no .. when you’re sixteen the idea that you won’t live forever is never considered. Can I get Dad’s car on Friday night? Will my cow-lick ever lay flat? Is that a zit on my nose? When your brain is full of important questions like those, who has time for mortality?

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Mumblety-peg

The_Persistence_of_Memory.jpgThe subject has come up in several venues and I found it a useful exercise to consider all the things one might engage in to pass the time while living in isolation from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

First, I have a literary bucket list gathering many of those big fat, possibly difficult books I know I should read but never seem to have the time or the inclination. Do you have a bucket list too? Maybe now is a good time to start one. There’s a good chance that, despite all his best efforts, Der Drump (Dishonest John) will not kill us all off and we might truly make a dent in that scary ol’ bucket list.

So what to do while avoiding social contact?

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Books From the Back Room

images.jpgIt isn’t difficult to find a recommended list of authors you should read or have read. Everyone acknowledges the literary importance of authors such as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Faulkner, Proust, Goethe, Flaubert, Dante, Cervantes, Eliot, Dickens. But so many of these authors have been normalized in press and education that they, even when most successful, tend to inhabit the most hackneyed regions of our collective memory.

As an aging member of the university study of literature which adhered to the precepts of the (then) new criticism with potent demiurges the likes of F. R. Leavis, William Empson, Harold Bloom, and Frank Kermode, I worshipped the works of those giants of literature. But looking back I see that my education tended to direct me down the avenue of the acceptable canon and I missed a lot of stimulating reading through the years.

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Books Endure. News … Not So Much

images.jpgLooking back at January: a new year of reading and oft overlooked reading suggestions. I actually read a few of the works on this list while they were still in the news. I notice that a couple of the titles were of that genre often considered non-fiction (wink wink) and it’s good that I have read them before they turned dated and uninteresting.

Although I enjoyed these very contemporary views on the current corruption in both government and in the oil fields, I must admit that for the most part they at best provided me with a clear depiction of things I already knew, albeit in one compact volume with a lot of extra detail.

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