Spring is suddenly everywhere we look and we are all out there staking our claim. Like the swallows to Capistrano, and the buzzards to Hinckley Ohio, the osprey’s have returned to their summer home over at the police station. The pansies are out next door and across the street and I have seen the eight man shells out on the Norwalk and Saugatuck rivers from my train. What is probably the ultimate sign that we are hurtling into spring, The Traveling Companion is with the rest of his Writing Brethren at Augusta reporting on his 29th (!) Masters. I suspect he must have felt a bit like Dorothy leaving behind the gray of Kansas and stepping into Technicolor Munchkin Land. Erin is rocking the seersucker and she has stated that she refuses to wear her winter coat anymore. As for myself, I have committed to the Bare Leg. Not so much because it’s spring, it is more that I am down to one pair of hose and I just can’t face buying more. So there’s that. And the fact that I hate wearing hose, and that Babs B. started the Bare Leg earlier this week. I figure if Babs says it is fine to do so, then it is so. This week we have a road trip, a spooky mystery, donations of a kind, some flawed humans (are there any other kind?), April in Paris, a marriage, and the love of books. And really? A weekend without The Play List? Not happening.
Let us begin!
Erin is busy, busy, busy. “I am currently reading two books because there are just too many great books in this world. I know you feel my pain. The first is Life is a Wheel by Bruce Weber. Weber writes obituaries for the New York Times so he already spends a lot of time thinking about mortality, love, life, and travel. At the age of 57, he decides to invest in a souped up road bike that will take him across the country from Oregon to Manhattan. This story is part travelogue, part memoir with more insights into what it is like to grow older than I expected. This is a great book for bike enthusiasts, domestic travel enthusiasts, or your dad. I’m also reading Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar. In 1959, nine hikers in the Ural Mountains near Siberia set out on an adventure together. None of them returned. Adding to the mystery surrounding this event – now dubbed the ‘Dyatlov Pass Incident,’ several of the hikers were found not properly clothed and without shoes as if they fled the tent in a hurry. One hiker had her tongue cut out. Some were found with elevated levels of radiation on their clothes. What happened to these hikers? Eichar seeks to answer this question in this gripping work of literary nonfiction. Spooky! “
Sue S. is also busy. She wears many hats here at The Home. She can be found shelving, working the Welcome Desk and she is that Friendly Friday Film Girl. Here is what she loves movie-wise this week. “Delivery Man featuring Vince Vaughn is the story of an underachiever named David Wozniak, who goes from zero to a hero when he finds that he fathered 533 children through sperm donations he made twenty years earlier. In debt to the mob, rejected by his pregnant girlfriend, things are looking pretty bad for him especially when he is hit with a lawsuit from 142 of the 533 twenty-somethings who want to know the identity of the donor known to them only as Starbuck. As David struggles to decide whether or not he should reveal his true identity, he embarks on a journey that leads him to discover not only his true self, but the father he could become as well. I really liked this movie and found it to be heartwarming, touching and funny. I highly recommend this film.”
Those who know Babs B know that she loves herself a thriller. And a medical thriller? Don’t get between her and the book. Here is her take on Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons. “Chief Resident Steve Mitchell is well on his way to nailing down the job of his dreams which is to teach at University Medical School. He has the perfect life with two adorable kids and a loving wife. You know that this happiness will not continue and it doesn't. A very clever psychopath is on the loose in the hospital that has murdered a patient and has plans to to do so again. This is a chilling and compelling medical thriller that takes you into the hospital and details the hierarchy among Doctors, as well as the life and death decisions that are made every day by flawed human beings. The author happens to be a doctor as does his wife which adds to the authenticity of this first time novelist's book. Move over Robin Cook and Michael Palmer! You have competition!”
Pat S is doing the whole April in Paris thing. In her mind anyway. This is her view of The Hotel on Place Vendome by Tilar J. Mazzeo. “This is the history of the famous, or infamous, Hotel Ritz in Paris. Built in the Belle Epoch, Mazzeo takes us through the early years in titillating anecdotes featuring the beau monde of the day including Proust, Escoffier and Oscar Wilde. Yet it is WWII when the hotel becomes a hotbed of intrigue and licentiousness. In occupied Paris, the hotel housed all of the German top brass including Reich Marshall Goring, and their local playmates such as Coco Channel, Marlene Dietrich and Arletty. Additionally, the Ritz also was home to a small but effective wartime resistance operation. Once liberated, the good times continued to roll with Hemingway and Robert Capa leading the march. This is a very breathy, almost Vanity Fair-esque tale of occupied Paris-but engaging nonetheless. Mazzeo rushes through the post war years, but highlights the last sighting of the Princess of Wales before her death. It is a most enjoyable history of a storied enterprise.”
Pat T is using 2 formats to the same end. “I recently read, as well as listened to the audio of Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill. This novel is a stream of consciousness of a woman known only as the Wife who invites the reader into her thoughts on all the conditions of life: issues of love, trust, betrayal and the complexities of marriage; motherhood and the all-consuming demands of parenting a child; professional ambitions and the conflicts between personal and professional choices. I liked listening to this story, more so than reading, because the narrator captured the emotions of the wife's angst and musings on the everyday issues of life.”
Miss Elisabeth of the CL sent this to me with a caveat. “I know magic is not your thing, Jen, but this book was FABULOUS. Worth reading for the joy of reading alone! Last week I was finally able to take a break from reading KidLit for potential book talking this summer and dive into an adult book, and what a book it was! Among Others, by Jo Walton, won the Nebula award in 2008. It tells the story of Mori, a teenager whose recently been sent to a fancy prep school in England, far different than the bucolic life she previously led with her twin sister and close extended family in Wales. But after Mori’s insane mother tries to bend the fabric of the world and take over one of the last magical places on earth, Mori’s life is irrevocably changed. With her twin dead and her mother stalking her from Wales, Mori tries to assimilate to life in stuffy England. She finds her escape in sympathetic librarians (the book is dedicated to librarians) and in works of science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy. Anyone who loves reading will love this book. The joy that Mori (and, we can assume, the author) gets from reading is suffused through the pages, so much so that I read most of the book with a huge grin on my face. This is a story of magic, love, life, and most of all, a story about the power of words to take us away from our situations, to comfort us, to guide us, and to give us hope. As Mori says, ‘If you love books enough, they’ll love you back.’”
DJ Patty McC is back from her trip to the Wrong Coast and is back in the State Up North. Take it Patty! “It’s official. Spring has finally sprung! What has felt like the longest wait EVER is finally over. In Los Angeles the jacaranda trees are beginning to blossom and the heady scent of star jasmine is otherworldly. Back here in the D grass is transforming from brown to green. The black/brown snow peaks found in every parking lot are nearly gone. Potholes are swallowing vehicles on a regular basis. Truly, the official beginning of spring is the sprouting and birth of orange barrels on our roadways. Enjoy some sounds of spring.”