Archive for May, 2010

CATCHING UP

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Two trees fell over in the backyard of Roseledge during a strong spring storm. Roseledge itself is fine, but the outhouse may be a thing of the past. Thank heavens I now have indoor plumbing. The downed trees can wait until summer and unsuspecting guests ask what they can do. Mostly I am doing all that needs doing before Memorial Day weekend and Maine arrive.

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I read to learn, a colleague succinctly put it, and so do I, especially to learn how the world works. I hope this rescues me from relationship novels. The botched car bomb of Times Square last week, for instance, brought to mind Alex Berenson’s The Faithful Spy. Steig Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo came to Frank Rich’s mind (NYT 3/21/10) as he thought about financial industry doings and reporters. BBC mentioned a lost ship, maybe filled with arms, and Mossad in the same breath, and I thought of Daniel Silva’s Moscow Rules. The other day, an acquaintance told me she moved here from near Kiev in Russia shortly after Chernobyl. Last summer I read Martin Cruz Smith’s Wolves Eat Dogs, so I was not completely at a loss. If I could figure out how to know if a book would be somehow helpful in an unknown future, I’d make a list and have them all at Roseledge Books.

So it is lists once again, an ongoing RB topic and the focus of Atul Gawande’s new book, The Checklist Manifesto, in which he argues that lists are one way to manage complexity. (Reviewed favorably in NYTBR, 1/24/10 with a thoughtful and important response the following week from Dr. Gawande in “Letters” NYTBR 1/31/10.) Unfortunately, the paperback is not due until next January, but is RB a trendsetter or what!

The happy news of Russ and Clare’s latest adventures coming soon was a fluke, according to Julia Spencer-Fleming in an email sent to “Readers”, one of whom is a Very Regular Roseledge Book Regular. If anticipation is two-thirds of pleasure, we have about a year’s worth of pleasure ahead of us.

Did you all follow the almost annual flooding of the Red River in North Dakota and wished you knew someone who grew up in Wahpeton at the head of the Red? Well, you do and I did. Three reasons why living on the Maine coast thus comes naturally: the magic and necessity of water, wind, and seeing forever.

Fig. #83.  Pockmarked or blended?

Fig. #83. Pockmarked or blended?

The friend who sent me pictures of the downed trees in the backyard unsubtly mentioned Charlie might want to paint red Roseledge this Spring. My trendsetting pockmarked shingles, especially on the garage exterior and caused by an unprimered original paint job, may not be weathering to gray fast enough to sort of blend in. Charlie’s response, “We’ll see.” And two weeks from Thursday, we will.

THINKING, THINKING

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

I am so ready to be in Maine. The PGA Tour has been to Pebble Beach (the best wild water site) and Hilton Head (pretty good big water with piers), and today I found myself reading as much as I could find about Norway and Russia dividing the Barents Sea and Cape Codders quibbling over Cape Wind. Clearly I need to be in and of Tenants Harbor.

Until then, I will enjoy thinking about coming good books and good times with Roseledge Books Regulars.

Fig. #80.  Sometimes wild big water with pier.

Fig. #80. Sometimes wild big water with pier.

(1) T. J. Stiles says that he tries to write books that “tell good stories and ask big questions.” Is there a better description of a perfect book for Roseledge Books?  Or of conversation with an Irish person, maybe?

T.J. Stiles’ The First Tycoon: The Epic Story of Cornelius Vanderbilt just won a Pulitzer Prize which suggests he succeeded. Oh boy, Roseledge Books alert! The paperback is out and looks fat, just in time for the big summer order. AND the book could have special ties to TH.

In the early ‘70‘s I walked in front of the pre-income tax “cottages” of Bar Harbor. Someone said that one of them, a 22 bedroom lovely, belonged to, I think, Joseph Pulitzer. If this was the Pulitzer who started the Pulitzer Prize which TJ Stiles just won, then clearly the book has a tie to Maine. If any Pulitzer cottage dweller was also a sailor, he or she might have sailed into excellent Tenants Harbor. Of course Cornelius Vanderbilt (Commodore Vanderbilt?) may have sailed into excellent TH, too, even if his home base was Newport. So maybe the book is a TH Special! This would make a perfect book even better.So many puzzles, so much fun.

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(2) In Voodoo Histories, David Aaronovitch writes that the Internet has enabled the “release of a mass of undifferentiated information, some of it authoritative, some speculative, some absurd,…”

Is authoritative — speculative — absurd a better range of options than the  ratio of documentation to speculation I use when deciding if a book is fiction or non-fiction or something in-between?  I’m mostly a reasonable speculator.  Deciding what information is worthwhile and why is no small task these days.  Robb Graham’s new book Parisians (hardily researched with “14,000 miles in the [bicycle] saddle and four years in the library“), could be a wonderful example of in-between.  Both books will be on the shelves of RB when they are out in paperback.

(1) Interview with T. J. Stiles. [Minneapolis] Star Tribune, April, 2010.

(2) Michiko Katani reviews David Aaronovitch’s Voodoo Histories: The Role of Consprac Theory in Shaping Modern History, NYT, 2/15/10;    Dwight Garner reviews Robb Graham’s Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris, NYT, 4/28/10.

Fig. #81.  Big water life in Tenants Harbor.  My favorite. No PGA Tour here.

Fig. #81. Big water life in Tenants Harbor. My favorite. No PGA Tour here.

I know my messages have been few and far between. Please blame it on six months of giant legs, pee pills and potassium, and (latest theory) a recurring infection, through all of which I have thought of you often and been mostly wiped out. But things are looking up. Antibiotics are within and Charlie assures me the airline tickets and rented car will have us walking into Roseledge before dark on Thursday before Memorial Day.  This means that after Friday morning breakfast at Farmer’s, Roseledge Books will be open. I will be waiting for you and ready to consider the harbor for as long as it takes. I can hardly wait.