Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A New Wrinkle Comes Along Just in Time

 In an attempt to shake the mood I've been in for the last three or four days, I decided to take a look at how my reading is likely to go for the remainder of this cursed year. All I've really felt much like doing for a few days is to bury myself inside a book, only coming out of hiding long enough to take care of those things that can't be avoided. And the more I'm forced to go out in public (especially to the grocery store), the less I believe that people are not just inherently too stupid for their own good. OK...rant over. I promise.

So, here's what the rest of December looks like for me:

I'm something like six decades beyond the target audience of this children's classic, but my curiosity has finally gotten the best of me. It's one of those books I've been hearing about for what seems like forever, and I still see it referenced several times a year despite how little I read of YA or Middle-Grade books. I jumped into it last night as soon as I found out it was immediately available from my library. So far at least, it's everything good I've heard about it - and it has already been instrumental in changing my mood for the better.

Although I've been reading John Steinbeck for most of my life, I've never taken an in-depth look at his life despite owning a door-stop-sized Steinbeck bio that's been around the house for at least thirty years. The highly praised Mad at the World caught my eye a few weeks ago, though, and I decided to give that one a look. I'm now about 80% of the way through it, and I've learned so much about Steinbeck's personal life that I'll never see him the same. If you are a biography reader, I recommend this one.

I'm about half-way through Strongheart and plan to finish it before the end of the month. The tone of this third book in the series is much more somber and ominous than that of the first two books despite all the terrible things that happened to the white women and the tribes they have married into in those first two. Part of that, of course, is because we all know how the story ends for those tribes and what happens to them next. The writing is still strong, and Jim Fergus continues to tell a great yarn despite what the ultimate ending of the trilogy has to be.

I'm reading Dark Passage from this Library of America collection of five David Goodis novels from the 1940s and 1950s. Goodis isn't as well known today as some of his contemporary crime novelists, but he was definitely one of the better writers of dark crime fiction from that era. Dark Passage is one of his better known novels, probably because of its movie version, and I'm suitably impressed already even though I'm less than one-third of the way through it. I'm looking forward to reading the other four novels in 2021 and 2022.

I'm in the process of pulling together my January books right now, and hoping to get off to a nice fresh start to the coming year. Surely (please, please, please) 2021 has to be better than the one we've all just endured. At the very least, readers will still have books - lots of them - to lose themselves within when the going gets tough.

11 comments:

  1. A 'cursed year' is a perfect description. And as to people being too stupid for their own good... we did a grocery shop too. I got out of the car and started counting the discarded face masks I saw on the ground, I stopped at 20. What the hell is the matter with people?

    I too have never read A Wrinkle in Time. I think it was much more of an American children's classic as I was not aware of it as a child at all and didn't start to see mention of it until I was an adult and in touch with more Americans online.

    I haven't read a lot of Steinbeck which is a bit shameful. In fact, I think the only one I own is Travels with Charley. What would you recommend?

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    1. My big complaint is that people are acting dumber and dumber at exactly the wrong time, Cath. Stores are very crowded this week, and now I'm seeing more and more people purposely not raising their masks even as high as their mouths, let alone their noses, because they are "obeying" the law by "wearing" a mask as required. Idiots...

      A Wrinkle in Time was a Newberry Award winner back in the day and that's a pretty big deal here for children's books. Im finding it to be a little bit above the heads of most of its target audience, but there's enough of an innocence and cleverness about it that I'm really enjoying. It probably helps that I'm doing the audiobook version and that the reader is excellent.

      Travels with Charley is very good...but it turns out to have been much more fictional than nonfictional. And that's a shame because of how it was misrepresented when published. My favorites are probably still The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, but I like Cannery Row a lot, too. I'm planning to re-read The Winter of Our Discontent in 2021. Contemporary critics (1960) were really hard on that one, so I'm curious to give it another read.

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  2. The Steinbeck biography caught my attention. My best friend has been pushing the Fergus trilogy for years, and I still haven't really wanted to read it. Not sure why. I'm alternating between some really good books and books that are silly and fun. My reading has always been eclectic, and I rarely think ahead to the next month or year. Books have certainly been a way to escape the worst episodes of this year.

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    1. Just finished the Steinbeck bio...learned a lot about the man, some of it I was probably better off not knowing because it changes my image of Steinbeck a good bit, and in a negative way.

      The Fergus trilogy is one I've wondered how female readers would think about. It is definitely a feminism kind of story, but I'm not sure that Fergus writes all that believable a woman character...let me know what you think if you read the first one.

      My reading is kind of the opposite of the way you do it. I think that's probably to help me not set books aside forever and forget about them for so long that they gradually become part of the background...and I really enjoy sorting through stacks of books to remind myself of what I actually have in store for sometime in the future.

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  3. I need to read the Fergus series. I've heard great things about it and have been meaning to read it, I've just never gotten around to it.

    A WRINKLE IN TIME is an odd book. I thought so even when I read it as a child. It's not my favorite, but it is one that sticks with you. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

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    1. As I said to Jen, up above, I'd really love to hear what a female reader thinks of the books. Fergus is walking kind of a fine line in his portrayal of the "white women" and I wonder if women find them all that believable.

      A Wrinkle in Time really is kind of odd, isn't it? That's not to say I'm not enjoying it, because I am. And it kickstarted me just when I needed it, so there's that.

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  4. I didn't realize that One Thousand White Women was part a trilogy. I did like the first one so will look for these others. Wrinkle in Time was an absolute favorite of mine as a child, but I have been afraid to re-read it, in case it's one of those that doesn't hold up well to adult scrutiny, compared to my nostalgic rememberings. Will be interested to hear what you think of it.

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    1. The One Thousand White Women series reaches its natural conclusion in this third book, Jeane, but I'm not sure that it's holding up to the first two. It's just not sucking me into that world as deeply as the first two books did. Still only half way through it, though, so we'll see.

      I know what you mean about re-reading old favorites from decades earlier. I have about a 50-50 record on whether that pays off or not, so I don't do it all that often.

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  5. I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was in 5th grade...or I should say, my 5th grade teacher read it to us everyday after lunch...and I have loved it every since. And I'm intrigued by both the Steinbeck memoir and Strongheart. More books to add to my list. :D

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    1. Do let me know what you think about the ones you end up reading...especially the Fergus books, for the reasons I've mentioned up above.

      I have to think that more teachers did the reading than not for ten-year-olds because some of the words used had to be way over the heads of kids that age. I'm actually listening to the audiobook version rather than reading it, and really enjoying the voices used for the children in the story.

      Did you read the rest of the series at some point...aren't there four or five, all told?

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    2. I did read A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. They both have Meg and Charles Wallace in them, but I didn't think they were as good as A Wrinkle in Time. I never read the other two books in her series, because they didn't have Meg or Charles in them.

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