Friday, June 25, 2010

Impromptu vacation

Hello again! Sorry for the unexplained absence. I kept meaning to get to the computer, but I just couldn't seem to. This is what I was doing over the last few weeks instead of blogging:

I took my unplanned blogging break because I planted a huge vegetable garden in my back yard, and then our family took an impromptu trip to Vancouver, where my husband sometimes has to work. He's been going there every once in a while for the last several years and I hadn't ever been, so we packed up the kids and had a wonderful week exploring the city.

And now there's just the craziness of three kids not in school. I feel like a chauffeur. I have yearly amnesia about just how difficult the "unstructured" time of summer is. It's harder to get the kids to their various fun things during the summer than it is to get them to and from school every day.

While in Vancouver, I managed to read Laurie Colwin's book of essays, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen. I love her fiction, and her food writing is just as good. Her voice is wonderfully confiding, and self-deprecating, and funny. Some of the recipes are dated (which doesn't actually take away from their charm) and some are timeless, but there are quite a few dog-eared pages where I marked recipes I'd like to try.

While I was away, Jose Saramago died, at age 87. I have only read his novel Blindness, but I really liked it (and wrote about it here). It was a singular reading experience. I will definitely read more of his work in the future. Here's an appreciation of Jose Saramago and his NY Times obituary.

Here's a picture of downtown Vancouver from our hotel room balcony, taken with my iPhone:
I had never been to Vancouver before, and I really, really liked it. Breathtakingly beautiful, clean, and lots of good food. I'll go back!

Where is everyone going this summer, and what are you taking to read?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Booking Through Thursday--Signature

Here's today's Booking Through Thursday question:

Do signed copies excite you? Tempt you? Delight you? Or does it not matter to you?

Signed copies don't really excite me or tempt me, but I guess they occasionally delight me. I don't spend any time chasing signatures, but every once in awhile I'll attend a book-signing, and the combination of hearing the author read, meeting the author, and having the author sign my book makes the signature in my copy of a book special.

My husband also mentioned something I hadn't ever thought of--he appreciates the historical significance of some signed copies of books. I guess it would be pretty great to see a signed copy of a favorite book by a long-dead author, or see a book signed by someone famous TO someone famous. The only way I'll ever see anything like that is in a museum, but I would go out of my way to see certain signatures! There was a Jane Austen exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York that I really wish I had seen...

How about you? Do you value signed books higher than unsigned? Who would you really go out of your way to have sign a book?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Salon--this week's reading

The Sunday

I've spent the week immersed in Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters. I love Tanizaki's style, and the wonderful detail about pre-war Osaka life, and how the traditional Japanese culture deteriorates as the country modernizes and prepares for war. I am fascinated by how Tanizaki crafts a plot out of countless small moments in this family's life. It is one of those books that sort of sneaks up on you, and all its layers come together to create a delicate and complete picture.

I also had time to zip through another book, a memoir called If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter's Notebook, by Katherine Rosman, the sister of someone I know. It is the examination of a mother's life by her reporter daughter, after the mother has died of cancer. The daughter sets out to interview people who knew her mother, and in the process create a clearer picture of the mother, unclouded by their complicated relationship. It's an interesting idea for a memoir, and though the descriptions of the mother's illness and death were painful to read, it was thought-provoking on the subject of mother-daughter relationships, and how we as daughters see and don't see our mothers.

I've also started Laurie Colwin's book of essays, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen. I've loved Colwin's writing for twenty years--I've read all of her fiction, but this is the first time I'm reading her essays on food and cooking, which she wrote for Gourmet and other magazines. I love Colwin's easy, accessible, charming and very funny style. I'm looking forward to getting deeper into this one!

What have you been reading this week?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Booking Through Thursday--The Long and Short of it

Today's Booking Through Thursday question is:

Which do you prefer? Short stories? Or full-length novels?

Ah, a question where I don't have to be waffle-y. While I enjoy reading short stories every once in awhile, I prefer full length novels. I enjoy losing myself in the world that a novel creates, and I like the fact that it takes me awhile to get through a novel.

Everything else in life these days seems to occur in short, staccato bursts--texting, emails, even the way movies and TV are edited has changed to accommodate those with short attention spans. I like the pace of a novel--maybe because it's a pace I dictate!

How about you?