Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Libraries Stand Strong in the Face of Adversity

Libraries are pillars in communities, and not just for the reasons you think. First Ferguson, now the Baltimore riots. They're caring for communities, providing shelter and services, and leading by example. No matter your politics or beliefs, it's clear that libraries are heroes for our communities when the worst happens.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this in 2013. I don't remember why, but I think it was because Out of Print was doing a book club on it. There was some reason, because until I started listening to audiobooks, I wasn't prone to picking these types of reads.

What I remember about the book is little, except there's some decline of a character or two, some medical time in Switzerland, some relapsing, a doctor, some weird groupings of people, an American starlet, her mom? It's not much, but when my family started booking a Viking River Cruise that starts in Switzerland, I remembered having notes on "a book" that I probably hadn't blogged yet. That book was Tender is the Night. 

It's Fitzgerald. He captures feelings, moments, thoughts with his words that are so clear to you, and yet things that you don't realize (like the ticking of the clock, or the space you take in people's lives). He reveals people, unearths characters that quite possibly exist in your own life, even if this fictional world is so far from your own.

Below are the passages I flagged when reading the book.

Some of the quotes I noted fall under the "sexual innuendo that's not quite sexual innuendo" category, given the fact the guy's name is Dick.
Most of us have a favorite, a heroic period, in our lives and that was Dick Driver’s. For one thing he had no idea that he was charming, that the affection he gave and inspired was anything unusual among healthy people. In his last year at New Haven some one referred to him as “lucky Dick”—the name lingered in his head.
“Lucky Dick, you big stiff,” he would whisper to himself, walking around the last sticks of flame in his room. 116
“I never did go in for making love to dry loins,” said Dick. 310

Other things I noted were related to gender. Men seemed to be more typical, but women seemed a bit more liberal--perhaps more self aware in relation to their gender.   

If her person was property she could exercise whatever advantage was inherent in its ownership. 23
You were brought up to work—not especially to marry. Now you’ve found your first nut to crack and it’s a good nut—go ahead and put whatever happens down to experience. Wound yourself or him—whatever happens it can’t spoil you because economically you’re a boy, not a girl. 40
Rosemary had never done much thinking, save about the illimitability of her mother’s perfections, so this final severance of the umbilical cord disturbed her sleep. 40
She was laughing hilariously, unashamed, unafraid, unconcerned. 192

Of course, there's the obligatory collection of his generally fantastic writing: 

...the heterogeneous indistinguishable mass of college boys interested only in love at first sight...

I want to give a party where there’s a brawl and seductions and people going home with their feelings hurt and women passed out in the cabinet de toilette. 27

Nearby, some Americans were saying good-by in voices that mimicked the cadence of water running into a large old bathtub. 83

The best I can wish you, my child is a little misfortune.117 

There were other letters among whose helpless caesuras lurked darker rhythms. 123

It is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure and the memory so possessed him that for the moment there was nothing to do but to pretend. 168

He stayed in the big room a long time listening to the buzz of the electric clock, listening to time. 171

Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. 207

Dick and Rosemary had luncheon at the Castelli dei Caesari, a splendid restaurant in a high-terraced villa overlooking the ruined form of an undetermined period of decadence. Rosemary took a cocktail and a little wine, and Dick took enough so that his feeling of dissatisfaction left him. 213

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

I read Little Dorrit in 2010 or 2011. My notes at the time suggest I was not terribly blown away by the book. I'm not surprised. But, I loved it enough to dedicate a lot of time to finding the Marshalsea Prison wall on my 2012 visit to London. It's significance to the book, and Dickens' experience with debtor's prison, made it a must-see on the trip.

The one remaining wall of Marshalsea in London
Lil' D also spent a night in the church, which still stands nearby as well. 

Church next to Marshalsea
As always, Dickens wrote beautifully, and that's what I liked best about the book. Below are a couple excerpts I flagged that highlight his description, sentiment, humor, and juxtaposition.

and thus ever, by day and night, under the sun and under the stars, climbing the dusty hills and toiling along the weary plains, journeying by sea, coming and going so strangely, to meet and to act and react on one another, move all we restless travellers through the pilgrimage of life. 22

Why, she belonged, like himself, to a generation with whom spelling was a matter of private judgment. 197
... there, she would bless her child’s face, and bless her child’s heart, and hug her child, in a medley of tears and congratulations, chopping-boards, rolling-pins, and pie-crust, with the tenderness of an attached old servant, which is a very pretty tenderness indeed. 339
Some of the rest lingered a little, marrying golden liqueur glasses to Buhl tables with sticky rings. 475
People must continue to be married and given in marriage, or Chief Butlers would not be wanted. As nations are made to be taxed, so families are made to be butlered. 513
They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and in shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the forward and the wain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar. 688