Thursday, December 30, 2010

Michael Silverblatt interviews Jaimy Gordon

If you missed Jaimy Gordon's appearance at KPL, you might enjoy listening to this interview of her by legendary reader Michael Silverblatt of KCRW's Bookworm podcast as they discuss Lord of Misrule and her reaction to winning the National Book Award.
You'll also find a list of novels Gordon recommends and an excerpt of her book to read.

14 New Year's Resolutions from Shakespeare

Before we leave Avon for the Mississippi, Shakespeare has a few words of advice for us as we begin the new year. This list was compiled by a very well-rounded Tax Lawyer.

  1. Spend more time with the people you loveAbsence from those we love is self from self – a deadly banishment.” – Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III, Scene i
  2. Make fewer excuses for failing to meet goals“And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.” – King John, Act IV, Scene ii
  3. Do what you fear“Boldness be my friend. Arm me, audacity, from head to foot.” -  Cymbeline, Act I, Scene vi
  4. Accept what you cannot changeExceeds man’s might: that dwells with the gods above.” – Troilus and Cressida, Act III, Scene ii
  5. Love your enemiesHeat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it doth singe yourself.” – Henry VIII, Act I, Scene i
  6. Be helpful to others - How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” – Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene i
  7. Be patient -How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” – Othello, Act II, Scene iii
  8. Be postive -It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii
  9. Use time more wiselyI wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” – Richard II, Act V, Scene v
  10. Be tolerant of othersIf you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” – Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene i
  11. Question your premisesModest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.” – Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene, ii
  12. Learn from your mistakesSweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” – As You Like It, Act II, Scene i
  13. Carpe DiemThere is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” – Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene iii
  14. Enjoy the journeyThings won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing.” - Troilus and Cressida, Act I, Scene ii

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Suggestions for 2011-2012 Season?

If you have any suggestions for next year's slate of classics titles to read, you may post them here as a comment, or email them to Caitlin, David, or me, or mail them to us in care of the library. We've invited all our participants to submit a short list of two or three titles they'd especially like to read, including, if they wish, a longer book for the "Long Summer Read."

Friday, December 10, 2010

On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again

O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
    Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
    Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:
Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute,
    Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay
    Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
    Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
When through the old oak forest I am gone,
    Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

--John Keats

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Care to Watch?

We can't read the book for you--but we can show it to you! If you feel so inclined, grab a spare hour or two and enjoy Ian McKellen in the the PBS performance of King Lear.

Watch the full episode. See more Great Performances.

Latin Epigram Translated

Thanks and kudos to Patrick Jouppi, who with his friend Cheryl Cavalear provided an elegant translation of the epigram which concludes the "V-A-S-E" poem below.

"The days will be extremely cold
When Boston is improper."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Was it a Vase?

Courtesy of the Kalamazoo Public Library's Local History Department, a poetic reflection on regional cultchyah. Extra credit to anyone who can translate its concluding epigram.

The V-A-S-E

From the madding crowd they stand apart,
The maidens four and the Work of Art;

And none might tell from sight alone
In which had Culture ripest grown--

The Gotham Million fair to see,
The Philadelphia Pedigree,

The Boston Mind of Azure hue,
Or the soulful Soul from Kalamazoo--

For all loved art in a seemly way,
With an earnest soul and a capital A.

Long they worshipped; but no one broke
The sacred stillness, until up spoke

The Western one from the nameless place,
Who, blushing, said: "What a lovely vase!"

Over three faces a sad smile flew,
And they edged away from Kalamazoo.

But Gotham's haughty soul was stirred
To crush the stranger with one small word.

Deftly hiding reproof in praise,
She cries: "'Tis, indeed, a lovely vaze!"

But brief her unlovely triumph when
The lofty one from the house of Penn,

With the consciousness of two grandpapas,
Exclaims: "It is quite a lovely vahs!"

And glances around with an anxious thrill,
Awaiting the word of Beacon Hill.

But the Boston maid smiles courteouslee
And gently murmurs: "Oh pardon me!

I did not catch your remark, because
I was so entranced with that lovely vaws!"

     Dies irit praegelida
     Sinistra quum Bostonia

James Jeffrey Roche

Friday, October 29, 2010

Preparing for Greene: An Eliot Poem

T. S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men is said to have provided Graham Greene with many of the ingredients for The Power and The Glory. You might like to have a look at it as you read our November selection.

The Hollow Men is easily available on the web, but here is a link to a version you might enjoy perusing as a ready way to widen your appreciation of the poem. It's an interactive version, with the poem and annotations appearing side by side. You can click on any of the underlined words and phrases to read a brief discussion of them. The site was created by a student at Oberlin and submitted in lieu of a paper.

Interestingly, The Hollow Men contains allusions to, among other works, Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which, conveniently, we have already read.

And for those who like to be read to, another version for you!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More on The Man from A.L.I.C.E.

One of the treasures to be discovered in The Annotated Alice is a recommendation of this 1950 mystery inspired by our manxome foe. For your delectation I have chosen the cheesiest of its several editions to accompany this selection:

"There ought to be a law against the printing of volumes of The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll. He should be remembered for the great things he wrote, and the bad ones interred with his bones. Although I'll admit that even the bad things have occasional touches of brilliance. There are moments in Sylvie and Bruno that are almost worth reading through the thousands of dull words to reach. And there are occasional good lines or stanzas in even the worst poems. Take the first three lines of The Palace of Humbug:

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls.
And each damp thing that creeps and crawls
Went wobble-wobble on the walls.

"Of course he should have stopped there instead of adding fifteen or twenty bad triads. But 'wobble-wobble on the walls' is marvelous."
He nodded. "Let's drink to it."
We drank to it.

So far The Night of the Jabberwock is a thumping good read. Unfortunately neither KPL nor WMU owns a copy, but you can request one, as I did, via MelCat, the state-wide lending system.

Or you could, for $250 or so, purchase a copy of the first edition and have this Tenniel-inspired cover to enjoy along with the story.

Or, if you don't mind throwing The Screaming Mimi, Knock Three-One-Two, and The Fabulous Clip-Joint into the bargain, you can have all four Black Box Thrillers for a mere $3.73.  I don't know what that cover looks like, but it's sure to be swell.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Film Footage: James Joyce in Paris

Anticipating Ulysses, our Long Summer Read next year, here's an 18-second look at Himself, plus a link to the start of Frank Delaney's exposition of the book.

2010-2011 Schedule

Our "bookmark" schedules still aren't back from the printer, so here is the list of titles we'll be reading and discussing this season:

  • October 21:  Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • November 18: The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  • December 16: King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • January 20: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • February 17: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • March 17: Selected Short Stories by John Cheever
  • April 21: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • May 19: Homer's Odyssey
  • September 15: Our Lo-oo-o-o-oo-ong Summer Read, James Joyce's Ulysses

Do You Have Any Dickens?

Remember the "Authors" card game kids used to play? With rules exactly the same as "Go Fish,"  playing the "Authors" game taught many of us the names of famous authors and what they wrote. This month, Kalamazoo Public Library is paying tribute to the authors and their game with its second floor display case. Stop by and have a look!

Hello World!

This is the first test post to our book group's new homepage!

Check here for information about Kalamazoo's own "Classics Revisited."