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Anthology: Ten Years of TQ – Books, Jim Houghton & Melanie Wudl

There have been many a writer from TQ who have been involved in the exploration of reading and the testaments thereof, but I wanted to focus on two of the more prolific pen persons, Jim Houghton and Melanie Wudl. While Jim has set his mind to historical essays ranging from Rock&Roll memoirs to investigations surrounding financial conspiracies, Melanie's focus has been more personal, individualizing investigations. But there are more to all the Books included in these Ten Years of TQ. So please take your time to explore all the authors featured such as Errol Morris, Stephen Batchelor and Claire Messud. On the Road with Reason The Swerve, by Stephen Goldblatt (Norton, 2011), Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity, … [Read more...]

Close to Home and On the Open Road

Frottage and Even As We Speak, by Mona Houghton, 2012 – Related Posts: Frottage_May, Frottage_June/July, Frottage_August Frottage, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the practice of touching or rubbing against the clothed body of another person as a means of sexual gratification. It is also the artistic technique or process of transferring an image from one source to another by rubbing. Transference, according to the same source, is the transfer from patient to analyst of repressed or forgotten emotions previously (in childhood) directed at some other person or thing. Loosely, transference is the emotional aspect of a patient’s relationship to an analyst. Frottage is all of this and more. Claire, in Mona … [Read more...]

Custodians of Sound

An Equal Music, Vikram Seth, Phoenix House (1999)  Avid reader friends of mine recommended An Equal Music for its beautiful poetic language. In fact, the first page is a lovely poem, followed by a John Donne quote on page two wherefrom the book appears to derive its title. With the further promise of travel and lively dialogue, I settled in quickly into the heretofore unknown world of musicianship. An Equal Music is both a story of a youthful love gone awry, rekindled ten years hence, and a fully considered affair with music. The main characters are the members of the Maggiore Quartet comprised of Michael Holme (our narrator), Piers, Helen and Billy.  The sensual love interest is Julia who forms the quintet for a single engagement. We … [Read more...]

Elevating the Ordinary

Gryphon: New and Selected Stories, Charles Baxter, Pantheon Books (2011) I have had the pleasure of hearing Charles Baxter read his work many times. He is very often introduced as a rock star of the short story. Another assertion is that he is regionalized. The stories are grounded in the Midwest and generally peopled with likable characters that lead small lives in which ordinary and yet poignant things happen. I often feel that I too am a Baxter character. Gryphon is a collection of twenty-three stories, new and selected. I have read these stories without hurry or care to reach the end; only to be astounded by the steady unveiling of character, spot on dialogue and the unembellished articulation of what it means to be human. The … [Read more...]

Carnival Darwinism

Swamplandia!, Karen Russell author, Knopf (2011) It’s hard to get your bearings in Swamplandia! The story is a fantasy that is partially narrated by the book's protagonist, a thirteen year old girl, Ava Bigtree. This is not material that would normally interest me, but when it came highly recommended by a trusted source, off I went with the Bigtree family and their odd assortment of calamities. Forebear of the Bigtree clan, Grandpa Sawtooth Bigtree, née Ernest Schedrach, was born the son of a white coal miner in Ohio, who, after losing his pulp mill job bought ‘farmland’ off the coast of southwest Florida, sight unseen. It turned out to be mostly covered by water with a small habitable island (part of the Ten Thousand Islands) and he … [Read more...]

Reading Truman Capote

Tap-Dancing Across Genres –  When a part of my bookshelf came off its hinges, I emptied the shelf, removed it from the wall and put a picture in its place. Looking at the odd assortment of books on the floor, I endeavored to expand the project. Soon great stacks had to be negotiated in order to move from one end of the room to another. It was during the weeding out process (antiquated nonfiction like the Encyclopedia Britannica, Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, texts on economics, perennial gardens and human health were to be boxed and donated ) that I came across In Cold Blood.  I had always meant to read In Cold Blood, but I was afraid of the material. Scary stuff, I thought. My edition was hardbound and dusty, the paper book sleeve … [Read more...]