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Archive for August, 2008

Summer reading

I finished Fall of Frost by Brian Hall, and I was not dismayed by his bold attempt to fictionalize the great poet’s life.  Actually, all the facts seemed to be in place as far as people, events and locations; the boldness consisted in his putting us in the mind of Robert Frost, telling the story from Frost’s point-of-view.  So, yes; he took some liberties, but to my mind it was all beautifully, respectfully and, more to the point (for a reader), believably done.  The poet’s life is presented in scraps of time, moving back and forth across the 80 years, touching on the same event from different perspectives of time, weaving in the loves, losses, griefs and aspirations of a lifetime.  It really works.  

Next, I attempted Middlesex  by Jeffrey Eugenides.  I missed reading this a few years ago when all the book groups read it, so I thought I’d give it a go.  So far, I’m not that impressed.  I’m a little sick of the glib tone and the foreshadowing; however, some of the writing is truly brilliant, such as the passage telling of the destruction of Smyrna and another describing a worker’s day in Henry Ford’s new factory in Detroit.  These historical moments are richly revisited and have kept me reading what in other places can be a tiresome story. 

While trapped in a cabin in the woods during a torrential downpour, I picked up Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana.  I had read part of this aloud to my son some years ago, but we got bogged down and never finished.  I started from the beginning and am enjoying it immensely! I love his contemporary account of the coast of California in 1834 – literally nothing there but a few forts and settlements.  His account of shipboard life, the relationships, work and weather are all interesting, sometimes horrifying and often amusing.  When he is on top of a mast trying to furl a sail in ice, rain and hail as they go around Cape Horn, it makes my heavy downpour and unseasonable coolness seem a trifle!

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