My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

More Book Chat

2005-06-28
As promised, book reviews. Below are two of the books Iíve read this year that I can recommend.

Banvardís Folly by Paul Collins.

This is described on the cover as ďThirteen tales of people who didnít change the world.Ē But, this isnít exactly the case. Iíd say that each of the people written about made some impact, no matter how small. There is a chapter on John Banvard, an artist in the 1850ís who became famous for painting the longest painting in the world Ė a moving panorama of the entire length of the Mississippi River. Mounted on two scrolling rods, Banvard painted the three thousand miles of the Mississippi. The painting rolled across, like a backdrop, on a stage and Banvard gave a lecture of the river. He made millions. Astonishing. Also, William Henry Ireland who, in the 1770ís faked a series of Shakespeare documents to win his fatherís love. His father was a Shakespeare fan and a collector of original documents signed by the Bard. The book also introduces a number of well-meaning kooks like John Symmes who believed the earth was hollow and habitable inside, and Jean Francois Sudre who invented a universal language with musical notes: Solresol. It is an entire language based on the seven one-syllable words: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si. Of most interest was Psalmanazar, an unknown man in the 1840ís who passed himself off as Formosan and fooled people for a number of years due to peopleís general lack of knowledge of Asia. No one knows his true identity. Banvardís Folly is a great summer read since each chapter covers a different person so you can pick it up, read a chapter, and put it down without losing the thread. Since there isnít one.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

I did not read much Steinbeck, in depth, in college. Only a few scattered short stories and The Grapes of Wrath. What I like best about Steinbeck is how readable he is, even now. His style is so modern and straightforward and his characters are believable and interesting in a mini-series saga kind of way. Iíd never read East of Eden until this year, though I think Iíve seen the movie in the misty past. I donít even know which character James Dean played. I might have to seek it out now. If I have seen it, it was so long ago Iíd forgotten everything about the story so I didnít waste a lot of brain power comparing one to the other. Try it. Youíll like it. Evil mother who begins life as the Bad Seed and ends up the wealthiest Madam in the town, her twins Ė one good, one bad, ineffective father, California. How bad could it be?


Thatís all I got today. Most of my spare time has been spent plotting ways to keep Dustyís preschool from closing Ė and fretting about having to possibly find an alternative place for her in the fall.

Red had her one-year well baby check up today and got a million vaccinations as well as a series of measurements done. She hated every aspect of it. Naturally. Sheís developing quite a hatred of nurses, I must say. Dusty was such a stoic patient (still is) that this wailing and thrashing is hard to get used to. Could any two children, with identical parents, be any different? Sigh.

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2:59 p.m. ::
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