GO BROWSERS!

February 7th, 2016

The browsers of the world have apparently — and however inadvertently — united and forced Amazon into the bricks and mortar bookstore business! Clearly, Amazon’s online search and presentation algorithms never captured what it is browsers are doing when they look up, down and all-around physical shelves and find an unexpected treasure in a most unlikely place.

GO BROWSERS!

Now Amazon has to put together an appealing array of worthy books, placed and presented to intrigue the person who puts things together differently.This is very tricky business.  Think, for instance, about Steven Johnson, who browsed, developed ideas, then wrote the unusually sourced book,The Ghost Map, or ElmoreLeonard’s researcher,  Gregg Sutter, who found, among other useful sources, picture books of Havana that helped with Cuba Libre.

Cathleen Schine’s novel, The Love Letter, is the only novel which addressed knowingly, if briefly, the arrangement of books in a bookstore.  As I recall, MILITARY HISTORY was shelved next to POETRY.

It is hard enough to work back to what an author might have browsed through, but it is even harder to capture a browser’s as-yet-unread pile of chosen books.  (I wish I had photographs of the summer book piles chosen by the Roseledge Book Regulars from North Carolina.)  Many thanks, then, to Mary Karr, who, in a NYTBR interview, let us “see” hers.

“Oh, it’s a wobbly and eccentric pile. A masterful new comic novel by Annie Liontas, “Let Me Explain You,” and a gorgeous epistolary work by Mary-Louise Parker, “Dear Mr. You.” Larissa MacFarquhar’s fascinating “Strangers Drowning,” about saintly types. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Beautiful Struggle”  and St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle. Brooks Haxton’s chronicle of his poker-genius son, “Fading Hearts on the River” — he’s one of my favorite poets, along with Terrance Hayes (“H,ow to Be Drawn”) and Dean Young (“Bender”). Dana Spiotta’s genius “Innocents and Others,” Claudia Rankine’s necessary “Citizen” Ed Frenkel’s “Love and Math,” David Berlinski’s “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions”; also Lena Dunham’s hilarious and moving “Not That Kind of Girl.” “The Abbey,” by James Martin, S.J. Plus Phil Jackson’s inspiring “Sacred Hoops” got reread for the manuscript on memoir I just turned in. (Hope our Knicks read it!) I’m finding “Go Set a Watchman” way more dangerous than “Mockingbird” for rendering racism from inside an allegedly educated white household — seems truer to the Jim Crow South than the later book’s rose-colored tale of liberal white nobility.”

Holy cow! What a great array of knowns and unknowns! Wouldn’t it be fun to see what nine other books she looked at for each one she chose? (References: The 10 to one figure comes from some old U of Chicago Library research and I have a dimmer memory of someone trying, similarly, to quantify “looked at” vs. “saved” Internet sites, but the study or the studier got bogged down.) All together, this sounds like a tiny starter collection for a very interesting bookstore. Roseledge Books comes to mind.

Hurry up summer.

RECOMMEND: YES OR NO?

January 15th, 2016

C. J. Box had me at the first bike ride through North Dakota’s icy, rutted, snow-covered fields at dawn. And at the cold, the really, really cold. And with the kid on his bike in the cold, witnessing a car roll over. My ND childhood kicked in as I loved my way through C. J. Box’s new mystery, Badlands, though it is set in western ND and I am an easterner. He writes sparely and fairly about the oil boom and about the big-sky country with wind which are so like his and Joe Pickett’s Wyoming. The unexpected tug came as I relived good times long past and the spot-on decisions of the ten-year-old. It lingers still. Is that reason enough for me to recommend Badlands? Kathy with the broken ankle, torn ligaments, dislocated shin bone and hugely unexpected immobility — “I stepped on, instead of over, the pipe” — is test-reading Badlands to see what she thinks. She was raised partly in South Dakota, so hers may be a less-than-pure reaction.

I have the same recommendation problem with Leann Shapton’s Swimming Studies. She was a really good, much-trained swimmer, thinking about the Olympics, and I swam every day of every summer from first grade through college with stints as lifeguard, instructor, and enthusiast until 2005 when I could no longer get in and out of the pool by myself. I loved her memoir for the swimmer tales, yes, but I loved as much her art: swimming suits and swimming places with notes, underwater portraits of her teammates, and the colors of Switzerland. Her art I knew and liked from her earlier book, Native Trees of Canada — which Roseledge Books carries — and I pay some attention to the comments of NYT book critic, Dwight Garner, who liked Swimming Studies a lot. But is a book that stays with you for particular reasons right for a general recommendation? This will become a real quandary only if Swimming Studies is issued in paperback and Roseledge Books has to decide whether or not to buy it.

All of this fretting masks the real worry about my getting to Maine next summer and stocking Roseledge Books in time to convince some one — or ones — of you that a strange, if good, book might be the unexpectedly right choice .

I will be in Tenants Harbor next summer — I hope, I hope — but I will need Charlie with me and that will be tricky. I’m not walking and may not walk again. My knees buckle for reasons no one knows. I’m in a power wheelchair and Charlie adapted a standing frame on wheels to get me from one chair to another, but I can’t do it by myself. I trust December’s pulmonary embolism will be the last of my body’s surprises. My blood pressure stays good and Charlie stands ready.

And so does Roseledge. The electricity works, the roof is patched, the new tree is staked, and Scott, who is a dear, visits his mom in Wiley’s Corner and drives by to keep the yard clear of errant candy wrappers. All that is missing is friends on the porch, arguing about books with a glass of wine at hand and the harbor eagle flying overhead. Here’s hoping….

A THANKSGIVING LITANY

November 26th, 2015

Thanks for Thanksgiving, I say.

Thanks for Ellen Goodman, who once wrote — as I recall — that Thanksgiving was the best holiday: good food, no gifts, and family together — for about four hours. Surely there is research to support the family’s being able to hold it together for four hours. If not, widespread tradition surely attests to its truth. Thanks for family in all its forms and forums.

But what to do if the political gasbag or food Nazi gets going at the gathering?

Thanks for Roseledge Books, the mother of all problem-solvers, with tips.

Tip #1. When the gasbagger/Nazi pauses for air, jump in with a tangential topic, e.g. whatever book — especially with a RB tie — you are currently reading, and start a second conversation with links, however circuitous, to the diatriber. All the reasonable people will love you and you will have exercised your creative-reader powers.  Divide and conquer….something.

Thanks for RB Readers who have creative-reader powers.

Tip #2. If the family monologuer even thinks about asking a question, jump in and question his or her sources. RB guarantees this will be good for a million diversions.

Maybe start with “That’s interesting,” which my mother taught me to say in the face of nonsense, mystery meat, or a baby who looked like Winston Churchill or a radish, followed by “Why do you think so?” Wait out the bluster, then exercise your creative-reader powers and figure out how to find fault with whatever sources come up.

With his best R and D person look, my b-i-l asked if I found my theory about the Irish being here before the Vikings in a book or if I made it up. Some of each, I said, though I hesitated to say the first inkling might have come from a Sister Fidelma murder mystery which, I might add, is set in 7th Century Ireland when Brendan the Sailor probably sailed and written by Peter Tremayne, who, under his real name, is a respected historian of these times and matters Celtic. RB should definitely have Sister Fidelma mysteries.

Thanks for my brother-in-law.

Thanks for Roseledge Book Regulars who already know how to creatively use and fault book sources as you have, for years, linked any book you read and liked to RB, Tenants Harbor, or your Maine, especially if you wanted RB to carry it.  Thanks for Scott who is special master of fewest steps linkage.

And you have browsed, even wallowed, among the best search books RB finds currently available, some of which are The Road to Ubar by Nicholas Clapp, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, The Great Hedge of India by Roy Moxham, and King of the Confessors by Thomas Hoving, though maybe The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal and Believing Is Seeing by Errol Morris should also be on the list. What is a search book, after all, but a book that uses sources and strategy to get from beginning to end and, in so doing, reminds us that outcomes depend on sources? Any suggestions?

RB believes search books are the best self-help books ever. Thanks for search books.

Thanks for winter coming. Last summer fades and next summer becomes possible, I hope.

Biggest thanks for Charlie who is never without options, though I do present a challenge. Well, many challenges, We WILL be in Maine next summer, come hell or highwater or more really weird surprises.

No thanks for my willful and capricious computer. I am still typing with the dead end of a pen. Millie suggested I try her stylus which she is bringing over. Thanks for Millie.

AHA! IRISH IN EARLY ICELAND. AND NEWFOUNDLAND, TOO?

November 18th, 2015

I have always known the Irish beat the Vikings to North America, but convincing the doubters has been tricky.

My most reputable evidence is that Tim Severin had a replica of a Medieval leather boat built and sailed it across the stormy Atlantic to Iceland. He wrote about the adventure in The Brendan Voyage — which Roseledge Books carries — naming Brendan, a 6th Century monk, as sailor. Still today, St. Brendan the Sailor lives on in lore.  My b-i-l, an R and D kind of guy, pointed out that this only demonstrated that he could do it, not that he did do it.  Pshaw, I say, undeterred.

Then today, reading the NYT Travel section online, I joined Dean Nelson on a Literary Tour of Iceland and learned that Icelanders trace their storytelling prowess back to “the 1,000 year-old Icelandic sagas  that touch on the nation’s Norwegian and Irish roots and the mythic tales of elves and trolls.”  Did you catch that casual reference to the early Irish, which casualness just makes it an even more exciting bit of reputable evidence?

Okay, he listed the Norwegians first, a bit distressing, but a likely reversible lapse.  But then he named only elves and trolls, which seemed a more substantive problem, as neither is Irish.  Doldrums, alert.  It took a bit of rummaging, but I found out on the Internet that “a leprechaun is a sort of Irish troll, in the same way that a troll is a sort of Scandawegian leprechaun.”  Whew!

Maybe I can talk my b-i-l, a veteran Road Scholar, into a trip to Iceland to check this out.  He’s already been to Newfoundland and checked out the remains of a Viking settlement.  He noted, with some glee, that no one mentioned the Irish.  Clearly, another good reason to go to Iceland.

And I’ll get going on the Sagas, which Roseledge Books also will carry, as available translated and in paperback.

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You may want pictures, probably no more than I.  Help me out, Santa?

BACK IN THE SADDLE

September 23rd, 2015

Finally, my malevolent body is better and this most dreadful summer of my discontent is over.  So it’s into fall, repeating forever mea culpa, and moving  onto whatever is next.  I hope you’ll be with me because talking to myself gets tedious fast.

First things first: getting ready for next summer.  Thanks to Scott, who always manages to make the topsy-turvy tolerable, I had in hand and could, therefore, start with The 2014 St. George Town Report. And I am doing that. But the familiar and unfamiliar names of committee members, property owners, taxpayers, delinquents, and the newly dead just reminded me of how out of it I was — never a good sign.  So I caught up with minutes of various St. George Town committee meetings — the Planning Committee and Selectmen minutes are outstanding — and finally subscribed to the Rockland Courier Gazette to keep abreast of the deed transfers, court appearances, and obituaries, apparently the signal community characteristics of note,

Thanks to MofNC for absolutely perfect pictures.  Action shots, surely titled  readers rummaging through the shelves of Roseledge Books  and the ocean view a reader would see if the reader were reading on the porch and looked up, pretty much said it all.  I am almost ready to look at them with the care and longing they deserve.  Until then, I have one more Tenants Harbor-ish story and picture to share.

Thanks to AofNC for her good note in July asking for beach reads to break her concentration on the American Revolution, engendered partly by a course she took.  Well!  Maybe my favorite kind of book is one that credibly extends a subject of interest AND provides a good read, too.  So I sort of paid attention to her words and came up with the following beach-or-backyard-with-sweater reads, each of which is almost topically pertinent — sorry, AofNC, but RB’s holdings on the American Revolution came to me from afar — and each book has a tie — however specious — to Maine.

Diana Gabaldon’s An Echo in the Bone, long, sometimes steamy, well into the Outlander series, a time-travel adventure which will surely meet the Maine coast sometime, now in its second season on Starz, which I do not subscribe to, so only watch and enjoy during freebie weeks — if I know about them in time.

William Martin’s City of Dreams, set mostly in the south end of Manhattan but tied to Maine by the TH summer visitor who has much to do with Battery Park, which was there at the time though not yet called Battery Park, and with a Maine sensibility carried over from some of the author’s other books, e.g. Second Constitution.

Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel with cover  by N. C. Wyeth whose spirit remains a St. George stalwart, and might inspire a trek on the Arnold Trail to Quebec wich, in part, follows the Kennebec River and is on the National Register of Historic Places, as is, you may recall, the Coghlan Castle.

Get ready for Henry and Lucy Flucker Knox next summer.  A HUGE never-to-be-resolved question: does Flucker rhyme with flooker, highly unlikely, or does Flucker rhyme with clucker, as clearly it does, and what about the silent “L”?

It feels so good to feel good again.

ROSELEDGE BOOKS, WHAT A DEAL!

August 9th, 2015

I may be away this summer, but Roseledge Books is there, open sometimes and offering it’s best deal ever.

First things first — the deal. Maybe for this summer only, RB OVERSTOCK books are priced at the VERY LOW PRICE of $2.50 each. Yes, the extra copies of mostly trade paperback books I thought were especially apt for RB or might go out of print are there for your picking and choosing. Some of them are a few years old, but goodness never dies, even if apt-ness does. The big question is, what makes — or made — them apt? Best guesses always welcome by blog or in-person next summer.

The only requirement for taking advantage of this VERY GOOD DEAL is that you have to be in Tenants Harbor and at Roseledge Books when it is open — which happens when goodheart Scott is on the porch or inside the open door, usually on Tuesday and, maybe, Friday afternoons before dusk because the lights don’t work. The unavailable power means no webcam, either. But to return to the good news…

So when there on the porch sits Scott, RB’s world of treasures is available to you. Scott is an RB Regular from Roseledge Books’ day one in the summer of ’85. He REALLY knows the local lore and books of Maine and is currently trying to figure out if he is related to everyone — or maybe it’s every family — in St. George. This is not to be confused with the guy who has figured out that we are all related to each other, is writing a book about his search and invited everyone to a family reunion in NYC. When the book is in paperback, RB will have it. But I digress.

Of special fun for RB is Scott’s special gift for figuring out the fewest “degrees of separation” between any book and Tenants Harbor. No reason is too questionable. For example, Carol O’Connell, in Killing Critics, refers to “that artist in Maine” which I am sure is code for Andrew Wyeth who lived nearby or better, now that Andrew has died, Jamie Wyeth who lives even nearer-by. So I keep — or maybe kept — a copy of the book on RB shelves. It may even be in OVERSTOCK for 2.50. Neither Scott nor I can remember which book was made relevant by Caroline Kennedy’s visit to Tenants Harbor elementary school in support of her uncle, Ted Kennedy.

I hate missing you all, but Scott keeps me posted and the house painted. I am working hard on walking again. Very clever Charlie adapted a standing/transfer device and very clever physical therapist Jarod has developed a torture program, complete with a safe word in case the ilial-tibial band torture is too much. So far I have never called it.

I can do this, I can do this, I will (teeth clenched) do this….

THERE IN SPIRIT, EXPECTING ESP

August 6th, 2015

August is here and I am not there and what is a willing, but unable, body to do?

Rant maybe, but that’s no fun alone. So I have taken to watching the Scandinavian mysteries with subtitles on MHZ, mostly for the coastal settings and photography So far, the west coast of Sweden is my favorite setting for series titled, I think, Unit One or Eagle. When I am less lonesome, I will try to pick up some new words, IF the actors don’t mutter and I don’t hear dreadful air conditioning — which I don’t have or need in ME and which makes too much noise when added to the city street noise– which I also don’t have in ME. But then I don’t have, need or want television in Maine either.

The good news from away, which is here, is that I have no cancer and, I trust, am finally or nearly infection free. I see the Infectious Disease Doctor tomorrow. She is my last best hope for figuring out what is going on in my whole body. I’ve had three surprise masses in liver, lung, and uterus, five biopsies, including one of the mystery rash, five antibiotics to manage different infections, and a big blood clot they are still fretting about. (Hillary has had three.) The bad news is that I still cannot walk. The better news is that, goodness knows and with a great physical therapist, I’m trying.

So the human body is a wondrous thing, especially for the flexibility its complexity allows. I believe that and have lived most of my adult life accordingly. But it is hard to find physicians who are equally broad minded. The ID doctor seems the best bet because my body, apparently has never met an infection it didn’t welcome and nurture.  I am presently tryingt to come up with an array of the weird. Erysepalis? Had it. For the bookish, erysepalis figured in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Tuberculosis? Have it already calcified in my lung, but never had it that I know.. B-flag, MRSA,or enterococcus? Just had and treated them. Lyme disease or your best guess? Worth a test.

But enough of the long, last four months. I know I am better when thoughts of morning coffee come before oatmeal, which they have, and the latest must-read book replaces whatever else I am reading, which will happen later today with C. J. Box’s Badlands. Even though the North Dakota of his Badlands is western country with it’s oil, ranches, and lunar landscapes, we of the eastern fertile Head-of-the-Red (River) country can get a little excited because Wyoming native Box writes so well of the spare beauty, rich life, and  big spaces that we share. Besides, as I recall, Wyoming tried to say it’s state tree was the telephone pole, after North Dakota had already claimed it.  Okay, I might have to add Paul Doiron’s The Precipice, even though it takes place on or near Maine’s part of the Appalachian Trail, across the state from, ahem, midcoastal country.

Let’s face it.  No book or scenic look-alike can fill the hole in my heart.   I miss so many things, like a better-working computer that would have made posting less cumbersome and the pictures to include with this post more possible, summer in and of MAINE, Tenants Harbor days, Roseledge Books bookishness and you all. Most of all, you all.

BOOKISH EXCITEMENT

March 14th, 2015

CHARLIE IS A SUPER-VILLAIN!!!

Yes, son Charlie, joy of my life, is a Marvel Comics super-villain named CHAZZ with the super power of hacking. Who knew? Who would even have guessed?

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Yet there he was, fifth among the Googled entries for Charles Amundson.  My son, Charles Amundson, was in the Marvel Comics database.  This is very exciting! Unfortunately he was featured in only one issue (Marvel Superheroes, Winter 1992), but he wasn’t killed off and he renounced his villainous ways and joined the good guys as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hack attack preventer, under the watchful eye of Nick Fury himself.  This leaves open his resurrection as a super-hero or super-something-else in an issue still to come, a possibility that I, as his mother, do not rule out in this day of all things cyber-related, e.g. cyber-crime TV shows, cyber-security news stories, and cyber-using and -abusing.  Not to be outdone by the Bat Cave, I have offered CHAZZ the perpetual use of Roseledge as his Super Lair.  A mother’s work is never done.

UNEXPECTED FIREWORKS — OF THE GOOD KIND!

Fireworks danced through the air above Lake Calhoun last Friday night.  Only in winter with bare trees and snow on the ice can I see Lake Calhoun from my 12th floor perch. Others rushed to the windows to see what was below, and I sat in my chair and watched the pops glow.  Maybe it was a Chinese New Year’s celebration or maybe not, but it was a little exciting and a lot lovely.

The only bookish tie I could think of was E.L. Doctorow ‘s Ragtime, the first book I ever read aloud rhythmically.  The last was Peter Temple’s Truth.  An early hip-hopper?  I think so.

AUTODIDACTS FOREVER!

I love autodidacts, and I like a lot Jim Webb’s memoir, I Heard My Country Calling.  Somewhere in the first 40% of the book, he describes his reading history through his growing up years of many moves,  and someone  calls him an autodidact. I would love to cite key pages for you, but I am reading it on a Kindle and not only can I  not cite or find pages for you, I don’t know what page I’m on.  But I will figure things out and try to think of more autodidacts’ reading histories because these are the interesting people who keep libraries, bookstores, and unusual solutions afloat.

ROSELEDGE ROOF HELD!

Neighbors were nervous, but builder Bill figured the bearer beams would hold.  Scott pointed out that Roseledge is ninety years old and standing, and I worried that my new brick walk up the driveway might be damaged by a plow which would be bad because I have a new electric wheelchair to zoom up and down with next summer.  So I crossed my fingers as best I could, and Roseledge pulled through.

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 YEA, ROSELEDGE and thanks again, Ann, for pictures.

Postscript:  To Charlie’s chagrin, I missed the magic hour, 9:26, but I got this posted on Pi Day, 3/14/15.  Hence, the Piku.  Have I ever mentioned that Charlie is an applied math guy?

 

SNOWY DAYS, CONTINUING

March 5th, 2015

Snow here today; snow there tomorrow. Curses. And time for more bookish suggestions from and for snowy day frolickers.

BE A BOOK VOYEUR: LOOK AT WHAT OTHERS ARE READING

Checking out what others are reading is always fun, but it’s hard to be an enthusiastic book voyeur if you are housebound. Another look at Reiner Gerrittsen’s photographs of subway readers groups might offer a vicarious lift. Alexandra Alter had a subway book voyeur’s swoon-y experience watching Phil Klay, another reader/peeker, spot a rider reading a Colum McCann book and ask to take a picture for the author who is his friend and mentor. Living once-removed like this may only be okay on a snowed-in day, but on that day, hooray.

Roseledge Books tie: Thanks to a RBR’s suggestion, RB now usually has Colum McCann’s The Dancer for those who intend to see or have seen Tenants Harbor neighbor Jamie Wyeth’s portraits of Rudolf Nureyev (some of which are probably at the Wyeth Center in Rockland, but are currently being shown in St. Petersburg, FL, and otherwise viewable on the Internet). Not enough of a tie to RB? Then maybe it’s time to send the kayak paparazzi into the harbor to capture boat readers in the act.  As a marketing ploy, RB could be ready with their next good reads.

APPRECIATE SNOWED-IN ROSELEDGE 

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 Appreciating snowed-in Roseledge is good, but hard to do (Thank you, Ann.).  Curling up with a potential Roseledge Books read is just good. (Hint, hint, you all.) Nearly snowed-in Pat’s current stack of read-and-liked-a-lot books includes Nancy Horan’s Under the Wide and Starry Sky, a bio-novel about Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson. When in paperback, this choice clearly shouts Roseledge Books. Add it to Bella Bathhurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons, a family saga of sorts with [okay, Scottish] rocky coasts and lighthouses, and RLS classics, Treasure Island and Kidnapped, to be read and re-loved, to be watched as seaside vacation movies, and/or to be played out near boats and water. Thus begins a week- long “package” of relevant, related reads for which I wish Roseledge Books had more requests.

KEEP READING THE NEW YORK TIMES

And keep finding “connected” stories:

Just yesterday I was reminded that North Dakota, land of my roots and childhood, lives and dances and has a three dollar hamburger. This dredged up memories a) of the Pavilion, locally-frequented dance hall that bordered Wahpeton, Breckenridge and the head of the Red River, and b) of our plans for –no, not an inexpensive hamburger, but for — cinnamon rolls and a resulting survey of best ND places, which changed to an oatmeal survey as we aged and now includes ME, most recently the Brass Compass and the Home Kitchen Restaurants in Rockland.

Scanning further, I spotted a Louise Nevelson exhibit and was reminded that Louise, I hardly knew you. In fact, I knew you not at all until I found Tenants Harbor, near Rockland where you lived with your family and where you live on at the Farnsworth. The accompanying photograph of her work reminded me of Bill Cook’s “found objects,” small sculptures with intent and humor, whch I love and you can see if you visit Mars Hall Gallery on the way to Marshall Point Lighthouse, the Monhegan ferry, or other Port Clyde attractions.

Roseledge Books tie: So, because I have found joy in a second place-of-the-heart with connections sufficient to reach even Minnesota in winter, I try to find books about others who have found similar joy in second places so that first time visitors to Tenants Harbor understand what’s going on when they don’t want to leave and give into the tugging heart by making reservations for a second visit there and then. So far, I’ve thought about Bill Holm’s The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland maybe, but this is more about finding his roots, whereas Jim Sterba’s Frankie’s Place and Nicholas Kilmer’s A Place in Normandy are about unexpected special places.

FIND FAMILY, IF YOU ARE SURE YOU CAN LIVE WITH THE RESULTS

Scott has burrowed in, joined Ancestry.com, and is finding more family. Friend of Roseledge from the time it was only maybe a possbility, Scott has long been, um, very imaginative at linking a given book to Tenants Harbor or environs in the least number of steps. Now he is concentrating on linking family members and has discovered that he is related — one way or another — to virtually all of Maine, working on NH, with stops in MA and PA. He is crazed with finding connections, which is made easier with a father from a big family that goes back to earliest northeastern incomers who were not Irish, Norse or Spanish — yes, it’s another reference to the very early Irish monks, who may have taught the marauding Norse how to sail the longer distances necessary to reach North America.

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 Scott found my dad’s maternal grandparents, Joe Couture and Annie Madden, who were born in Quebec and Pennsylvania respectively, then met and married somewhere and lived in northern Minnesota from whence in the 1880’s they migrated to North Dakota and settled on part of Maurice Coghlan’s homestead, near the still-standing and being-renovated Coghlan Castle. Nature took its course, and lovely Delia Couture met genial William Coghlan, who together did much good and gave me my father, Charles, for which I am eternally grateful. Scott believes we are all connected, so maybe his wandering forbears met my courting forbears somewhere between Pennsylvania and Quebec.

Clearly, early paths probably crossed, but where, when and why? The promise of time-consuming and involved speculation awaits. Hurry up, summer. Roseledge Books tie of possibly pertinent books: Jane Urquhart’s Away comes to mind (emigration. Irishness)and, for different reasons, so does Kem Luther’s Cottonwood Roots (tracking family through time.). More broadly, Scott is reading Christine Kenneally’s Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures and he likes it. This may be my “search” book — where HOW you find out matters more than what you found out –of the summer, but so far it is not out in paperback. Drat. I may have to use Charlie’s old Kindle.

Next roster of cabin fever relievers will include “big reads” others have found helpful for the long haul. Unless it stops snowing.  Suggestions appreciated.

SNOWY DAY JOY FOR READERLY FOLKS

February 28th, 2015

Feeling sorry for yourself in the snow and ice and cold? You think you’re cooped-up and alone, with no one to talk to? Think again, readers.  Talk to the newspaper, reader to reader.  Then, bring in old friends.  This could result in an email, online comment, telephone call, or ever-interesting musings.  Okay, sometimes I talk to myself.  Or write to you all.  Busy days, snow or no. Start with Aldus, the people’s (first) printer, a rare find in a daily newspaper. IMG_2509.jpg

 Gutenberg can have his novena forms for the Vatican; give me Aldus instead who understood the importance of “cheap-er” paperbacks, maybe in a language you could read, if not that they be pocket-book size. Listen up, former neighbor, Steve who, in the very early ’70’s, was still not reading paperbacks. “Trash!” he said. I pointed out they had been around since the 1500’s and how much he was missing in books that were never printed in hard-cover. “Only trash,” he said. But, I continued relentlessly, modern paperbacks were now sized for the pockets of suit-wearing men, like him, who could then read anytime, all-the-time and appear to be hugely sophisticated anywhere, anytime, whereas rarely seen but ever awkward clunky hard-cover books signaled occasional reader at best. “Trash is trash,” he said. What do you do with a dodo who happens to be a neighbor whose evening walks coincided with my raking or shoveling times? Mostly I remember him occasionally, as now almost fondly, but without regret.

What I do remember with regret are the old mass market paperbacks that were indeed pocket-sized, even if they were a bit thick. My days of paperback devotion may be waning both because they are losing out to the more frequently pocket-sized kindle and because they are getting so big — maybe to accommodate aging eyes — that holding them and turning pages with one hand — as I must — becomes trickier and trickier. But I bought stronger light bulbs and had my eyes checked (“You have the eyes of a 50-year-old,” the doctor said, and I gloated, lovingly of course, as nearly-50 Charlie, who reads at arm’s length, sat nearby.), so I should have no more blurred bottoms of pages. IMG_2499.jpg

 More happily, the Aldus article brought to mind wonderful and learned Sister Margery who in her retirement was a memorable archivist and in the hospital for a bit, so I sent her the (at that time) recent novel, The Rule of Four, which centered about Aldus’ most famous book, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. I should have known she would have already read the novel and secured a page from the Hypnerotomachia for the St. Kate’s folks. The big question, of course, is which page. I had better luck recommending Madeline Stern and Leona Rostenberg’s Old Books, Rare Friends to Sister Margery because, though a bit younger, she grew up in the Cleveland of Ms. Stern and shared the 16th and 17th Century interests and extensive schooling of Ms. Rostenberg. And yes, Sister Margery is the same person who assigned Kristin Lavransdatter to her undergraduates and questioned whether or not I was really Irish because I did not bear grudges. She then offered to teach me how, should I ever recognize the need.  By the by, Kristin Lavransdatter is also a good read for the cooped up, as Millie discovered when recovering from knee replacement surgery.

More happily, too, in my Aldus-provoked meanderings, was reading a quote from Paul Butler (in today’s NYT column I love and have mentioned before, “Reading the Times with...”

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Q. What section do you save for last? Why?

A. I read The Times online, and I click on the “articles recommended for you” link last because it always contains stuff that I want to read but haven’t come across while surfing. But then I get creeped out because I’m like, “How did they know I would be interested in that story?” Sometimes I click on an article that I would rather eat dirt than read – like today’s “The Roots of the Paperback” – just to throw those nosy geeks off!

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Now THAT is my kind of reader! Making a point and maybe learning something, too. Maybe even having a good time — or a better time than you expected. Okay, that may be stretching it, but I love it. Aldus can take it, and Paul Butler’s future lists of recommended reads should be more..uh,..interesting, if the geeks can handle the unexpected. Such is also the bookseller’s dilemma when recommending a book based on a reader’s past choices.

So far, such a good day.  Three books to be sure Roseledge Books has:  Rare Books ans old Friends by Madeline Stern and Leona Rostenberg; Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset; and The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason and, to honor this winter, Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg.

To be continued, but until then, enjoy with me seeing St. George in all of it’s very unusual winter glory, but if you, like me, are from away, enjoy, too, knowing that the work of the snow will be done when next we are there.