March 9, 2022 I’ve read a lot of good books in the last few months including A Gentleman from Moscow, a brilliant book, loaded with literary nuance, historical events, art, music and movie allusions, a large cast of original characters. It made me re-watch Casablanca to better appreciate the end of the book and makes me want to re-read Anna Karenina but I probably won’t. Total different, very entertaining is Thursday Murder Club which seems like an extension of PBS’ British programming. Move over Midsommar Murders et al. Stockholm Sven, also a highly original book, for me at least, set in the Spitsbergen archipelago north of Norway I discovered, set mostly between WWI -WWII. Trappers, miners, loners, outliers, people who don’t fit into the mainstream in one way or another, an amazing story.
Dec. 31, 2021 Six months later–a new Covid variant and back to masking, cancelled events, etc.despite vaccinations. Today the prediction is the pandemic will run itself out in 2022. I guess that was the original prediction but isn’t this going into a third year? The “new normal” is people keeping their distance in one way or another. They are buying a lot of books,though, so the pandemic has been great for the bookstore, the cloud with a silver-lining effect. My December personal reading has included two wonderful books, The Paris Library and A Gentleman from Moscow. Both have a sense of siege and imprisonment that suits the current time. The WWII story presents people doing horrible things to one another, but the Gentleman’s story is gentler, humorous, rewarding because of his erudition and ability to make the best of his situation.
What will 2022 bring?
July 2, 2021 Things feel almost back to the good old times, though some people are still using face masks, either not yet vaccinated or fearful of the new Delta virus strain. Recent reading: A memoir by Robert Jensen who heads the world’s largest company dealing with large scale catastrophes like the Tulsa bombing, 9-11, tsunamis, plane crashes. It never occurred to me this was a professional business or rescue, searching for remains, meeting grieving survivors and so on. It’s actually a fascinating account, highly informative and timely as right now this company is there in Miami at the site of the building complex collapse. And a new book by T.C. Boyle, “Talk to Me” about researchers teaching language to a chimp. Normally I find Boyle very funny and love his books dealing with historical figures and events. This book, not so funny, more kind of a gross inter-species story, humans tolerating normal chimp behavior mixed with humanizing the animal in foolish ways.
June 22, 2021 An infrequent addition to this blog: New sidewalk is being laid downtown. Typical of any construction project, it’s taken longer than predicted but of course looks nice. Winters and snowplows are hard on us in various ways. Joyfully, we are enjoying a renaissance in other ways as downtown events have returned. Still, it feels normal, but different. “It won’t be the same” does seem to be the case. As for the business of book selling, it has continued good, surprisingly. Covid and online buying has not driven us out of business and in fact we have enjoyed an uptick in in-store shopping in the last year as people have stayed home, shopped locally, and read more. As for myself, I finally read “The Warmth of Other Suns” as our book club pick.. It’s sobering, painful and highly important. I feel ashamed for not knowing more about this South-to-North migration, but having studied and taught “A Raisin in the Sun,” for example, I knew parts of the story. I just recommended for the Sept. Indie Next List “Personal Effects,” a memoir by Robert Jensen who heads the world’s largest disaster clean-up company. It’s a transfixing account of his work with every major disaster of the last 30 years or so.
March 4, 2021 Sometimes the book you started isn’t what you expected. This is the case of a books described “hilarious” called “The Parson and the Professor.” The Brits have a long history of poking fun at clergymen, and having read some of novels in that vein, that’s what I expected. Not at all. The is about an actual person named Robert Parkin Peters who passed himself off as a clergyman and academic numerous times, mostly inventing credentials and letters of recommendations, sometimes switching religions between Anglicanism and Catholicism, and academic disciplines between theology and history and purported degrees from Canadian and English and Australian universities. Born in 1918, he sometimes listed 1928 as his birth year. He was married 7 times, divorced 2 or 3 times, so add bigamy to his escapades. His economic frauds almost see the least of his crimes, such as not paying his book bills or car payments. A pathological liar, he tripped up on his own lies. In the end his psychological condition is described as Narcissistic. Well, we are familiar with this, aren’t we? “The Parson and the Professsor” isn’t hilarious, more sad, the tale of a truly pathetic person.
Jan 30, 2021 Starting over, a month into a new year, half way into my twelfth year as a bookstore owner. It took me a while to identify as a bookseller but the older I get, the more distant my forty years as a teacher, now forestalling identifying as a retiree.