March 4th, 2014

Wary is the word of the day.  Front and center but below the bend of pages A1 and B1 in the paper NYT were two warnings to the naive reader, if such still exists.

First wary warning is John Lefevre’s Straight to Hell:  True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking a book-to-be based on his purported employment at Goldman Sachs and the tweets he sent from the elevator there then.  Neither happened, but he writes well says the publisher, who still intends to publish the book.


What is this? Snow from/afar? Rocks up close? Vari/gated yarn waiting?

Second wary warning is a National Enquirer article (“the first pebble of an [Internet] landslide of malignant fiction”)about Philip Seymour Hoffman based on an interview with his friend, David Katz, who had neither been interviewed nor ever talked to anyone at the paper.  Within hours, Mr. Katz filed a libel suit, and shortly thereafter received an apology, a retraction, and a full-page ad of explanation in the NYT — none of which stopped the continuing “web” of lies.


But getting rid of something wrong on the Internet is not easy.  Granted that by definition the Wikipedia demonstrates that truth is a work-in-progress, it also demonstrates that errors are difficult to correct and the incorrections may remain  and take on a life of their own as part of that work-in-progress.

Getting  an entry (a page?) into Wikipedia isn’t always easy either.  In the almost-news of the NYT Syle Section last week. Judith Neuman wrote a very funny column about trying to become an entry in Wikipedia. This is a great how-to for those whose Facebook time and spread are too little and who wonder if the ninth runner-up to something can be in Wikipedia, why not I?


Is this Wikipe/dia-worthy? Is it re/al? Does it matter?


So what’s a curious person to do?  Well, for starters, always wonder what’s not being said and why. For instance, read two books about the same person and compare.  If Theodore  Roosevelt is your current person of interest, Roseledge Books will be ready with Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire hat Saved America, Theodore Roosevelt’s The Rough Riders, Edmund Morris’ The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, etc.  This is a variation on the journalist’s always finding two sources or the researcher’s citing dissenters, too.  Dream on, I suppose.

My brother-in-law reads both WSJ and NYT which makes him fun to argue with, even if he’s often wrong.  Charlie is the best (usually online)  follow-up or follow-through reader I know, which is good because I am not.  This may be a definition of teamwork or maybe family.


After a lifetime of wariness — thank you, dad — I mostly read anything always remembering that  no source, “webbed” or not, is ever 1) neutral or 2) original (but it may be primary), 3) dead or 4) enough. And Wikipedia is worth rules of its own.  Beyond that, play to your audience.  (For those not sufficiently wary, Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society is useful.)

Brutally cold winter gave in to above zero temps today, but Mpls is still 30+ degrees colder than usual.  You know you are crazed — or have  character — when this makes you smile.


February 22nd, 2014

Krista Tippett interviewed Anne Hamilton (2/13/14), who calls herself a maker, rather than an artist (interesting), and thinks the big question is “How can we be together?” Oh yes!


These rocks work well to/gether though maybe / not as a natural fit.

As not getting along is the subject matter of most books (maybe most art, too), people who read clearly know more ways to avoid the pitfalls, advance getting along which is the essence of better being together, and thereby make the world a little bit better.  So it is that readers matter and RB serves a social purpose, even as I have great fun choosing the books and schmoozing with you all.

Aside:  Anne Hamilton’s makings were part of a Minneapolis Institute of Arts exhibition titled “Sacred.”  Does this sort-of-link to things holy suggest she could be the patron saint of Roseledge Books?


Olivia Judson went through her father’s files. He had, like most of us, kept lots of things in lots of drawers apparently for a lifetime.  They fueled memories, true,  but mostly they reflect the particulars of another’s life which will remain elusive.  Is remaining unknown what you want either from storing or from clearing out the drawers or closets of a lifetime?


Clutter or the stuff / of life? As grouped by color, /form, size, or function?

(I can hear the shouts of “No! No!”)

So how about grouping your adventures in categories that help others make the sense of your life that YOU choose?  (If this sounds like controlling from the grave, I learned it from a master, my mother, who left four pages of single-spaced, typed instructions of how to handle her funeral, e.g. “cookies and coffee are sufficient after the funeral.  You do not have to take everyone out to lunch.” Oh but I  did, mom.)

RB has a suggestion for organizing  the ever-expanding stuff of your life:  How about  choosing a most apt  book  that gives meaning to the WAY TOO MANY particulars of each category?  Think of the fun in thinking about memorable books.  And you can always rearrange things as the days of your life go on.   Jane Mount and Thessaly La Forge have conveniently compiled a book of examples in My Ideal Bookshelf.  What a wonderful life-puzzle to leave for others to decipher. I wonder what books Ms. Judson’s father would have chosen or what books she might chose for him after her time with his files.  I’ll bet they wouldn’t be the same list.  Maybe some overlap.


I love catalogers.  They are the pickiest people in the world.  They understand that a typo can change the world, and NOTHING stands in the way of their explaining in detail how and why that is so. (Memories of meetings with sheet music catalogers past.)  But if you are lucky enough to have any catalogers as friends, they also keep us at least respectable, if not honest.  So it is I know the author of The Yarn Whisperer is Clara Parkes, not Clara Peakes.  Thank you, thank you, M from NC.


The coffee may on/ly be in the mind's eye, but / that's enough for now.

I want to be the Intel anthropologist who looks carefully at users and non-users of their actual and potential products and  asks what do they do and why, then works with others to make Intel products matter more to more people.  Only I want to do this with libraries.  We have never needed more the good information that libraries make available, yet we fritter away days, money, media space fretting about the takeover of the latest technology.  Who cares?  Worry instead about– and look into — the sorry state of affairs that is ours because too many ninnies act on bad information and don’t know the difference.


With a satisfied ah-h-h, the list of mull-able topics grows and the items expand: Anne Hamilton, Olivia Judson’s father, catalogers, categories, anthropologists in organizations, good sources, learning and libraries, getting along, and world-bettering books and readers.  So many things to mull; so much cold and snow to avoid while mulling.  Surely Memorial Day and Maine will come.


February 14th, 2014

*Once-asked-questions have been flooding (okay, seeping) into my email. As you all know, I hope, I answer them in the blog. So…

Question: I’m going to Paris.  What’s a good mystery?

RB Suggestion: Cara Black’s series features a different Parisian neighborhood in each book.  One neighborhood sometimes linked to textiles is featured in Murder in LeSentier, but any Aimee LeDuc investigation is a treat.



Hard to find pretend/Paris in the summer life/ of a Maine cottage.


Question: Are there any books set in Tenants Harbor?

RB’s inadequate response is that Bert Whittier’s Alpha and Omega, labelled espionage fiction, is set in Tenants Harbor, but is not currently in print.  Ann Blair Kloman’s mysteries, the first of which is Swannsong, are based in Harts Neck (or Elmore Harbor) across the harbor from Tenants Harbor.

Oldies I almost remember with at least a bit of TH, but probably no longer in print: 1) a mystery, probably from the ’80′s,  featured a sailor who sailed into Tenants Harbor and was moored there for a time, but that’s all I remember.  No author or title.  I need help here.  2) J. S. Borthwick’s Down East Murders mentions TH twice, but mostly as people drove through it on their way to Port Clyde.  May have in it a geographical impossibility.  3) George Foy’s Asia Rip may have a trip down the St. George Penninsula, but I mostly recall Thomaston.  Who have I missed?

RB wishes Paul Doiron or Gerry Boyle, both of whom use movable settings in their series, would place one of their excellent adventures in or near TH.



Who could fail to find/ spooky stories in the fog/ of Tenants Harbor?


Question: My book club likes good books with a mystery, but not murder-mysteries.  Any suggestions?

RB Suggestion: How about starting the discussion with the following titles, then come summer, we can have fun sorting through possibilities on the RB shelves:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. “…Two women try to uncover their family’s secret past.”

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
“Inspired by a true story this… work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggedah a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain.”

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. A suspicious drowning  (technically not a murder) off an island in Puget Sound leads to an investigation with shadows of current animosities and memories of Japanese -American ill-treatment during WWII.  Significant, gripping, award winner.

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber.  A maybe Shakespearean manuscript and intellectual property among other issues.

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears. A murder in 17th C. Oxford propels the plot but not the larger purpose of this thoughtful  consideration of truth.  Sometimes compared to Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. May be the shortest of the suggestions and surprisingly timely is all I’ll say.



So close in mind, but/ so very far away/ until the end of May.


No question ever is fully asked or answered, and isn’t that the fun!  If you  keep asking or noting my incompletions, I’ll keep trying.

Record cold here, but others got the snow and ice.  We may hit average temps (low30′s) next week, northwest winds willing.  Time to enjoy pro golf settings and think of Maine.


January 10th, 2014

Well, Br-r-r.  It is very cold.

The flu has come and gone which means the ten days of no interest in coffee or reading and all-over miserableness are a thing of the past.  And now it’s cold.  But when the body finally said ENOUGH, you all were there for me with books to re-energize the good humours: William Cronon’s Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, Mainer Clara Peakes’ The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting, and Jenifer LeClair’s Maine Windjammer series.  So far I have ordered Peakes and LeClair’s first in her series, Rigged for Murder, and I am loving Cronon’s discussion of sources and their caveats (okay, it’s only Chapter 1) which for me  justifies the rest of the book and provokes the librarian’s snotty task of figuring out what records he overlooked.  (Thanks to RB Lifesavers: Dazzle, Andrew, Karen, and M from NC.  I miss you all.)


Windjammers, knitting, and changing landscape all come together in Maine.

Then a wonderful surprise from Ellen Zachos’ Backyard Foraging: the dreaded Japanese snotweed (okay, Japanese knotweed) is edible!  Eat enough of the young stems and maybe, finally, the undigupable roots will be defeated.   I offer the effulgent growth of my Maine backyard for the pilot effort to turn little snotweeds into the new broccoli or the newer kale.

Roseledge Book’ favorite New Year’s Resolution: Read a bit before you tweet and regret. With NYT’s Frank Bruni, think coolheadedness, maybe even open-mindedness, definitely deliberation.  Slacken the pace. Force] a pause.  This is not only Minnesota Nice talking; it’s your updated mother thinking, “Count to 10 before you say something you’ll regret.”

Remember the earlier post (Your Personal Bookseller 2, 11/29/13) and good idea (she said modestly) of giving a copy of Leanne Shapton’s faux auction catalog of a faux couple’s treasures and using it as a model album of memories to help people who are reluctantly downsizing? (See Leanne Shapton’s  Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry.)   Well, how about making the memory album even better by including a bit about the part each treasure played in building a lifetime together?  The Smithsonian offers just such an example in Richard Kurin’s The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects. Think of the fun you could have hearing (and taping or otherwise recording?) the stories. Oral history alert.! This could be a business apart from or attached to a more general clearing out and finding other places for the too many things we all collect.


I would have an adirondack chair among my momentos of Maine.

I love Sara Willis, the mind and ear behind “In Tune,” Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN)’s evening music hour.  Maybe having no summer television explains why this radio program is so enjoyable (like Terry Gross’s interviews), but how Sarah Willis puts a good program together so often and so well remains a mystery.  Then NPR aired a great segment on the making of Dan Kim ‘s annual musical compilation, called Pop Danthology, and I learned new things and appreciated Sarah Willis even more.

Why include this here?  Let me count the ways.  I love the Maine experience.  I love the why’s and how’s of compilations, anthologies, and all kinds of lists.  (RB is still waiting for Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists to be issued in paperback.)  And, as I realized after a friend told me to read a book about seagulls to get over the dreadful Johnathan Livingston Seagull craze and it worked, learning more about something always makes it better.   So here’s to Roseledge Books ongoing effort to understand.  (I am a master of the contrived segue.)

More when coffee, the morning paper, and a good mull converge.


December 16th, 2013

BR-R-R-R!  Very cold here.  As always, coffee and an unexpectedly good newspaper article about sources warm the hands and heart ,  in this case a NYT article about the fact-uality of social media.  Forget truthiness; this is about the iffiness of facts.  What is a fact?  Do facts need support?   Are supported facts any part of the news?  And who cites their support sources? Who checks?  Who cares?   I liked best reading about savvy readers — of which RB Regulars surely comprise a significant subset — saving the day.  Do you have to be a librarian to care about this stuff?


Is this part of a rock wall? Does it matter if you love the picture?

But more important than sources at the moment (Can it be?) is a friend’s request for the  next read of the assisted living folk which needs to be an uplifting suggestion with no sex, no violence, and no World War II.  Fortunately, the perfect book sprang to mind: Kate Braestrup’s Here If You Need Me. Unlikely as it sounds, this is a funny, affecting memoir of Ms. Braestrup’s road from grieving widow with young children to chaplain with Maine’s search-and-rescue workers.

Following a conversation with a friend who has a visiting adult child who  has nothing to do and is driving her nuts, RB suggests a “project book” that upon its reading will evoke an activity, for instance Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, a book about walking and seeing anew the pathways long travelled.  Okay this might be a stretch, but your fidgety one might enjoy looking again at neighborhood walkways and reading the landscape.

For instance, I see in mine farmstead trees, later platted land  with most houses built in the 1920′s, roads cut, then diverters added in the 1960′s, varied elm-replacement trees from the 1970′s, backyard alleys — now concrete and public — with more and sometimes weird traffic, fewer families, more students, etc.  The why’s are less obvious but always good conversation starters at the seasons many social events.

I’m about a hundred pages into the Macfarlane book,  just leaving the shores of the outer Hebrides from which we will sail the ancient ocean paths which I hope will extend somehow what I learned from  Lawrence Millman’s Last Places.  This journey across  the  northern “stepping stones” demonstrates how early travelers linked old world and new and, thereby, gives some — okay, very little — credence to my argument that the Irish got “here” before the Vikings.


Island stepping stones brought fisher-persons from away ever closer.

And some quickie RB suggestions for the book club leader looking for a murder-less mystery: Toby’s Room by Pat Barker “… Elinor tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to her brother….” The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova “[When painter Robert Oliver refuses to talk or cooperate, psychiatrist Andrew] Marvel goes beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this silent genius….” The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton “…[T]wo women try to uncover their family’s secret past.”          People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks “Inspired by a true story this… work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggedah a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain.”

There is still time to have the fun of choosing a just-right book for each friend on your list and then have the follow-up fun of finding out how right your just-right choice was. Books do feed a friendship, no doubt about it.


November 29th, 2013

Time flies, giving looms, and books abound; can more suggestions be far behind?  (These continue suggestions begun two posts back, 11-8- 13)


For someone new in the extended family who is nifty but not yet familiar,  Roseledge Books suggests Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies because this is, hands down, my favorite book of the year for enough reasons — including a National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography — to maybe please a likeable stranger in your midst, e.g. a new in-law.

This suggestion continues a tradition begun by a reader-neighbor who, years ago, asked for my favorite book of the year as a possible gift to give likeable but unknown newcomers in her large and growing extended family.  My first favorite was Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North, about the currents of a town, in this case Newport, RI.  I still like it — or what I remember of it.   This was a more successful suggestion than a later one: Larry Woiwode’s Beyond the Bedroom Wall which, though grimmer, is also about people and place, in this case Wahpeton, ND (my home) and environs — at least that’s how I read it.  I redeemed myself a few years ago with Bernd Heinrich’s The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through A Century of Biology yet again about people and places and so much more.  I sense a theme here.



Books and friends and Roseledge, too; these are a few of my favorite things.


For sailors who sail solo and who  have only about 20 minutes between duties and therefore need something complete to read in a short time  (as I recall from Minnesotan Gerry Spiess who sailed across the Atlantic in little more than a bathtub and who read Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and wrote about it in his book, Alone Against the Atlantic), Roseledge Books suggests a look at Dwight Garner’s annual (?) list of  “bathroom books.” wherein I thought I found poet Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack and Honey, which has short, unexpected notes from her annual, obligatory lecture to undergraduates, but I guess not.  I liked it, though.   Another book worth dipping in and out of is Sara Nelson’s memoir, So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading. I loved reading about why she chose each book and if her reasons held up after reading.   Great good humor and wide-ranging taste, too.


For unwilling down-sizers, a growing group of people we all know and maybe are part of, Roseledge Books suggests Leanne Shapton’s Invented Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. This invented auction catalog of photographs recalls — and indirectly reconstructs — the life or lives of the people who collected the memorabilia pictured.   Think of the fun those (of us) choosing will have as they decide what, from among their many things, matter most.  The “auction catalog” — or album they then create will be theirs to enjoy and use to enlarge forever the smaller surroundings they more equably move into.  Personally, mine would be a catalog of the art all over  my studio apartment and Roseledge walls.  Who needs wallpaper?



Sailors and foodies, friends and the strange, Roseledge Books has something for each.


For the person who is interested in food or who should be  — surely that is Everyone  –  RB suggests Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, always good, but now in paperback and even better with Maira Kalman’s cheerful, germane illustrations. His 64 suggestions — pithy, sensible, often funny, and adaptable — accommodate his earlier, broader principles:  “Eat food; not too much; mostly plants.”  This is so good, I have already given it in hardcover.


For the person you may or may not want to see more of if he or she likes coastal Maine as much as you do, Roseledge Books suggests the following (plus conversation afterwards):

Jim Sterba’s Frankie’s Place (rustic cabin, romance, summer rituals, Midwesterner’s perspective);

Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine (if he or she thinks nothing happens herein, you are in trouble);

Rachel Carson’s Under the Sea Wind (birds, the sea, naturalist on an island).


It’s always your turn to remember the perfect book you chose for an intriguing friend and pass it on with why it was perfect.  Friend, I say, because it’s hard to believe we know acquaintances well enough to choose the anomaly that works.

More suggestions from RB when November becomes normally cloudy and I have more than an hour a day to work by a window with tolerable glare.  Here’s hoping that a salty Thanksgiving left you intolerably thirst only for good books.


November 27th, 2013

Time for coffee thoughts, and if it is also cold where you are, RB suggests coffee in a mug that fits within your chilly hands.  No snow here.

I love Linda Greenhouse and not just because she introduced me to Persons Day in Canada ( two posts back, 10/26/13), though that would be reason enough.  Today’s reason is that she is exactly right when she asks of several types of judge about a case: “How do judges…learn what they need to know?  And, of course, how do they — or any of us — choose what to make of the knowledge they have?”

This is let’s-talk-about-sources country, and immediately my librarian/spidey senses are on full alert because we of libraries know that sources make the argument and we of Irish love the argument.


Observation is a good source for those who know how to read the seeing. (Pretend "seeing" and "scene" are both one syllable.)

Legal sources are tidy.  They are agreed upon, necessary, limited in number and ways they can be used, and, until the Internet bloomed, readily available.   Non-legal sources are not as tidy, but they matter just as much in an argument.  Think of the differences of opinion that will flourish at the Thanksgiving dinner table and of the different sources upon which they are based and weep for the intransigence  and wrongness of others, even as you think twice about the sources in play and get ready for the Stage 2 argument that opens with “Why do you think so?”  or, more crudely, “Name your sources.”.  The most recent good book I’ve read that might help with this source attack is Farad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post Fact Society which — ARRGH — is not in paperback.

Sometimes the stakes of an argument about sources are bigger than never again being invited to dinner.  A wonderful recent case in point is deciding whether a painting is or is not by Jackson Pollack.  The decision hinges on which type of expertise and consequent evidence more validly tells the tale: connoisseurship (art) or forensics (science)?  The outcome could be worth millions to his dead girlfriend’s heirs or enormous satisfaction to his dead wife. (A re-read of B. A. Shapiro’s mystery, The Art Forger might be a helpful update on painting techniques.  Fun, too.)


See the Wyeths painting, Vikings on the prowl, the Irish settled in.

A time ago, a similar, much-reported difference among experts happened when many were trying to decide if Yale’s Vinland map was authentic.  One conclusion, if not the answer, was that Yale decided to insure the map for millions.  The source debate is reported in The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation, a lavish and expensive book which highlights some of the arguments.  It’s worth a look — if only in a library.  Very good news is that I have just discovered Kirsten Seaver’s Maps, Myths and Men: The Story of the Vinland Map (“a superlative piece of cross disciplinary detective work”) which, fortunately, is in paperback.  I am going to have it for Roseledge Books and personal pleasure and hope it is as much fun as  was Thomas Hoving’s King of the Confessors, his account of authenticating the 13thC. Bury St. Edmund cross.  (I glossed over his dreams.)  However obscurely,Ms. Seaver’s book might also help my perpetual quest for evidence that the Irish were “here” before the Vikings.

But I am getting carried away.  It happens.


LIBRARIES ARE IN THE NEWS;  let me count the ways  *****

San Francisco’s Glen Park Library hosted the (alleged) Dread Pirate Robert and his Silk Road, marketplace  of the hugely profitable online illegal drug trade and other Dark Web activities.  It’s always good to know that libraries are keeping up with the times.  Remember the spies who lurked in the stacks of Columbia University and the  fibbies wanted librarians to report anyone who looked or acted strangely?  Well that’s you and me, folks, and a whole lot of other library users.  The good news is that the librarians refused, maybe because they, too, are strange, well at least the interesting ones are.

Cambridge (Mass) PL, her home library, turned down Katherine Powers’ offer of a copy of her father, J. F. Powers’ newly published letters which she edited. (Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical story of Family Life, The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1947-1963)  The CPL turned it down because the book was not on the NYT Bestseller List.  I don’t know which is more appalling: not wanting to know more about National Book Award winner Powers (or not knowing he won the National Book Award?) or not adding to a community archive of writings by those who live there.  Either way AARRGGGHHH!


Time for more book-gift suggestions.  I’ll hurry, but you all need to pitch in, too.  Two comments are good (Santa knows about you, D and M), but more — with suggestions for hard-to-pleasers — are better.


November 8th, 2013

The annual surge of gift-giving is upon us, and what better gift to give than a book which says, “I still know who you are”?

For that friend interested in Manhattan’s water supply,  the best RB choices were E. L. Doctorow’s novel, Waterworks, which is already known to many and only tangentially about NYC’s water, or  Christopher Fowler’s mystery, The Water Room which is about London’s water supply which may be a minus but which features aging, really aging, detectives Bryant and May which is a plus.

But then comes David Soll’s Empire of Water about guess what?  The subtitle tells it all:  An Environmental and Political History of The New York City  Water Supply.  RB won’t have this, as it is not — and may never be — available in paperback.  Cross your fingers that although the author is an academic (rarely in paperback), the book will be sufficiently generally interesting as well as “impressive” and “first rate environmental history.” to appeal to a big enough audience.


Water with boats, buildings and no end is water of many uses.

As a “best guess” NYC water alternative, RB suggests Russell Shorto’s Island at the Center of the World because this history of Dutch settlement in very early New York City (then called New Amsterdam) surely includes, for water-sensitive readers, pertinent deliberations and actions  from these people who had lived long under water’s threat. But RB is only guessing.  “Test” the book before giving it away and let me know.  Other significant points: it was well-reviewed and mentions the old Dutch family name — which I’ve forgotten — of a Roseledge Books Regular.    A link is a link for all that.


For the friend, mother, or strange person at work  whose book club reads only Nobel prize winners, how about new Nobelist Alice Munro’s Dear Life, her latest collection of always special short stories which include several that may be almost autobiographical?


For the mediator in Frankfurt, Germany, who believes that a good starting point is to read with mediatees a novel or, gasp! a mystery, that addresses the issues to be mediated, RB recommends Jakob Arjouni’s Brother Kemal, the last in the series with a private eye who is a self-aware German Turk and, though indifferent to politics, is usually in the thick of “hot-button issues” like racism, eco-terrorism, immigration, militant Islam.  Perfect. How better to start a discussion of differences among people who don’t know each other than to argue about a book everyone has read?  RB will have this one and others of the series as they are translated into English.



Water moves. Let me count the ways. Think tide, currents, swirling wind, for three.


For that older, much-loved  person who is slowly drawing away from you, Roseledge Books suggests two types of books: paintings which may evoke memories you share or short writings which do not need a reader to remember in order to continue and enjoy.

For a book of paintings (and few words) RB suggests Arnold Skolnick’s and Carl Little’s Paintings of Maine with its pictures that offer generalized memories in vivid color of maybe familiar geography.  For a book of short, discrete pieces by someone generally good-natured and wise, RB suggests E.B. White’s One Man’s Meat (essays about Maine) or Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road (letters about buying books).  For a happy combination of words and pictures, RB suggests  Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness (adventures in learning about democracy in action which are more fun than that sounds).


For the landlocked snowbird who is water-deprived and has learned from summers in Maine to care about how water figures into the workings of the world (yes, it is I), RB notes that Rose George’s Ninety Percent of Everything has arrived just in time.  It is about shipping, and therefore globalization, and opens up the mostly ignored and treacherous world of seafaring, ocean-going, and whatever else one says to discuss waterways as travel routes.  Here in soon-to-be snowy Minnesota, I need a dose of ocean about now, and this book would do it — if  it were in paperback, which it is not.  Aaarghhh.


Water is dangerous. No pirates or drug droppers, but hidden rocks.

But it probably will be eventually.  Until then Roseledge Books will have Rose George’s earlier good one, The Big Necessity, which is about poop (she said delicately), is already in paperback, a little about water and authored by someone named Rose — all pluses.  I’ll “test” it, then send it to my brother-in-law who is landlocked in NY and has been cleaning up the water of the Hudson River for years.  Exchanging thusly “used” books is a longstanding family tradition which I love.

More suggestions coming.


October 26th, 2013

Noteworthy newspaper clippings and citings are piling up. I hope your cup of coffee is as ready as mine.


Tweets now have their own “official” footnote citation format, thanks to the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), two behemoths of citation protocols.  Well, good, except this doesn’t stop them from being altered or disappeared at will which is called  link rot and which Adam Liptak (NYT) notes is a big problem for, among others, the Supreme Court. This shouldn’t be funny, but it is — until the potential damage becomes real.  But good news: used webcite fixes are in the works.


If ever tweeterdom were this place, the tweets here born would be the best.

(I read about the tweet footnote format  in the Minneapolis Star Tribune 10/9/2013 and could retrieve for your further checking neither Katie Humhrey’s article nor the webcite she notes, www.tweet2cite.com.  This may be big time irony, but we will never know for sure because I was unwilling to give any more time to the search.  Yes, I am a three-clicker.)


The Minnesota Marine Art Museum (Star Tribune 9/17/13), located on a Mississippi River channel in the heart of landlocked flyover-country, is open to the public and collects only art works that have something to do with water (“big enough to float a boat”)  which means  MMAM is practically kin to Roseledge Books.  Okay, older RB may be less a purist and more a “living tree”  in this matter of water link, but we both love Jamie and Andrew Wyeth and have their works — or works about their works — in our respective collections.  And if pressed, RB can usually find a water link — however remote.

(Equally remote is the “living tree” reference above  which thereby allows a link to Linda Greenhouse’s wonderful op-ed piece about Canada’s highest court’s use of a “living tree” approach to the law that made women “persons” and  Canada’s Persons Day holiday an ongoing celebration of that law. I am a Person, hear me roar. )



If the roar dims, how about a frolic with susan's golden glory?


Who knew that John Malone and I had so much in common?  We both live in St. George for some of each year and now we both have an Irish castle in the family!  Well, his is actually in Ireland and VERY LARGE;  mine sits on the only knoll in sight in way north North Dakota and is exquisite and clever. But my Irish immigrant (and North Dakota settler) great-grandfather, Maurice Coghlan actually built the Coghlan Castle, which clearly makes it an Irish castle also.  And there was a bankruptcy attached to each castle, which may or may not contribute to their Irishness.  Humewood Castle, newly owned by John Malone, has been preserved and updated.  Coghlan Castle, oldly owned by a nifty farmer who is a great-nephew-in- law of my father’s sister (and my aunt) which, I think, makes him a great-great-great-nephew-in-law of  Maurice Coghlan and surely my cousin of some kind, is newly on the National Register of Historic Places and the star of an exciting   local  preservation effort.  which, were I less awkwardly mobile, I would love to be in the thick of.

Now RB will be ready with Tim Severin’s The Brendan Voyage, just in case neighbor Malone is also interested in the 8th C. derring-do of Saint Brendan sailing to Iceland in a leather boat, as replicated more recently by Tim Severin.  One can  only hope the interest grows to include the speculation and eternal search for documentation that affirms the Irish were on North American soil before that old Viking marauder, Eric the Red.


From the 12th floor window: Fall colors lack luster or maybe the trees are just dry and tired.  No matter, as even the changing ratio of withering greens to bark taupe is fun to watch.  But would it make an interesting sweater?


October 15th, 2013

The new seasons of “NCIS” and “Castle” have started and my “redo” knitting is at hand.  The treetops are dabbed with yellow-turning -gold, except for one truly orange and stunning exception.  The reds, probably either newer or shorter maples, are part of the street-level action. It must be fall and  I am back in Minnesota with television and a glorious, sky-filled 12th floor view.

Sneer if you will at my television choices, but “Castle‘s” combination of a writer’s mind coupled with the police’s  legally-acceptable-evidence gathering is the way I wished the world knew things.  If  more people added outside the box options to inside the box rules,  we might have fewer stalemates, misdiagnoses, and boring people — among other things.The world needs people with options which can come from books and the more the better, this bookseller says.


Weathered granite or skin of a rhino or sailors who smoke? Options.

In a quote from one of the many recent articles about her, Alice Munro (Dear Life; Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You), Canada’s and the world’s latest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, linked curiosity with happiness.  She’s right, of course, but I think the happiness comes when the curious person sees the unusual, asks why, how or if, and comes up with options.  So it all boils down to options.  The more options, the more hope; the more hope the more happiness and probably a keener sense of humor, too.  Now that’s good living.  But I digress.

I’ve read two of the paperback books about Nikki Heat as “authored” by Richard Castle (Frozen Heat; Naked Heat).  I’m sure I saw the most recent Nikki Heat book (Deadly Heat) on the NYTBR‘s Bestseller List for at least ten minutes, but when I checked again, it was gone. The books are okay, but not nearly as much fun as the show.  Television offers the nuance of many pictures worth 1000 words each, especially with a seasoned acting group used to each other by now.  Fun to speculate about who actually writes the books, though.

Back to “NCIS“. I will miss Ziva David.  She and Daniel Silva’s mysteries (e.g. The Confessor, The Prince of Fire and, because his latest always seems best, The English Girl) are my only continuing connections to Israeli-U.S. continuing entanglements.  As strong women characters go, I like Ziva much better than Lizbeth Salander in Stieg Larsson’s  Millenium Trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Girl Who Played with Fire, Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest).


Best porch food ever? With opinions, friends and good white wine, surely yes.

But I digress still or again.  I started this post intending to argue for the worth of a murderless mystery book club and I continue to intend to do that, just not here or now.  Instead my redo knitting project calls, as my friend who knits and who puts and re-puts together my best efforts is coming to lunch and I have my redone sweater, shorter by four inches and with re-patterned sleeves to give to her.  This is tricky because she didn’t like all the hanging strands of the sweater’s several colors much to begin with and they are only a few fewer now.  I blame it all on working without a pattern,  using for the first time, all-cotton yarn which I wrongly thought would not “give,” on slippery needles that kept slipping.  And as usual, I included just enough green color to evoke a comment from a green-hater.  Isn’t friendship grand?