Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

An amazing density of verbal firepower

July 4, 2011

There has been a book gathering much dust on my shelf since July, 2009: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I have now begun to read, but I’m not used to being presented with such an amazing density of verbal firepower. Nor am I used to paragraphs running for five pages.

My reading is at a glacial pace, certainly presenting a challenge facing these 980 closely-spaced pages. But, we’ll see.

Not a happy activity

January 14, 2010

Having space in our house held hostage by a couple sets of old encyclopedias was resolved this morning. After repeated attempts to find a home for them, I drove to a recycling company which handles hardcover books. Slipping them into a slot on the top of a green dumpster was not a happy activity. I grew up too soon following the Great Depression to enjoy tossing anything that holds many hours of labor and years of quality care.

The  Encyclopedia Britannica was an absolutely stunning set. Believe me, if we were in a larger space with book shelves to burn, they would still be here … dark blue imitation leather with brilliant gold lettering and all in excellent condition. But the 1947 vintage had them totally useless as a source of information. We never looked at them, and one could hardly expect anyone else to use them. An interior designer could have stuck them in someone’s mansion, I suppose.

The set of Collier’s was of little interest other than as a constant reminder of how slick a young sales lady can be with a young married couple anxious to have good educational material in the home for any future children. That set, along with yearbooks covering 1964 to 1992, also went to the recycler. That the yearbooks couldn’t have been of use somewhere is still a mystery since what happens in a given year doesn’t become (too) obsolete. But I guess all that stuff can be Googled more easily and more quickly.

Yesterday, I delivered an entire set of the Harvard Classics to a used bookstore as a donation.  It was known as a “five-foot shelf of fiction” back in the day. Proceeds of any sale will go to aid adults with disabilities. I believe my grandmother purchased the set in the 20s, and there was no evidence any of them had ever been read.

So, nearly 200 books have left the house. Our college textbooks are slowly moving into the crosshairs. Texts for two bachelor degrees and three masters programs do pile up. But somehow they have been treasured. Never mind that some of the books are nearly 50 years old, traveled from house to house, and sit in boxes having multiple van line stickers on them.

What brings all this about? Memories of dumping tons of stuff into a huge dumpster parked behind my parents’ home. Things they held dear were of no value to any of us as we plowed through a basement filled to the rafters. We can at least direct some of our stuff into recycle programs rather than have it all go to a landfill.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the things remaining behind will be seen as anything but trash when our dwelling place has its final cleaning by those we leave behind.

An occasional chuckle

January 20, 2008

How is it that a flat tire can be spotted in the dark, on a black driveway? There it was this cold (5 degrees) morning. It is going to have to wait for two reasons: it really is too cold for discretionary outdoor work, and I have an aversion toward calling AAA when a car is sitting in my own driveway.

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Last night I found myself chuckling out loud as I was reading. There are few books in my memory where the writing has caused any sort of noise at all. But for laughter, any book by Anne Lamott, the antics of the otters in Ring of Bright Water, the game of gallina in Red Sky At Morning, that’s about it.

The book I’m reading was a Christmas present from my daughter, Truck: A love story. Michael Perry is my kind of writer, light and breezy style with a definite knack for word pictures. My chuckles brought a retort from elsewhere in the bedroom,

“I’m planning on reading that book.”

“Let me read this bit to you.”

“No! I want to read the book for myself.”

I think she has forgotten the numerous times where every single good and interesting part of a book has been read to me. All that’s left for me, when I pick it up, is to discover the threads which join all those pearls together.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the book on my own … with an occasional chuckle.