I wrote down everything I read and began writing my own first novel...

This blog aimed to contrast what I was reading in in 1975-79 with the same month, week and day, 30 years later in 2005-2009. I'm leaving the blog up in archive mode, blogging in real time on Live Journal--and still writing novels.

Lynne Murray's Live Journal and Bride of the Dead Blog

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Digressing...attempting HTML...fortunately not trying to chew gum as well

Apologies if anyone receives this twice (or for other wierdness).
The experience of guest blogging for Laurie Edison and Debbie Notkin at
Body Impolitic the past month has encouraged me to try again to put in some codes, and even join the searchers at technorati.com. Your patience is appreciated in the face of any disappearing links and bizarre formatting mishaps that may ensue!

May 18 to May 23, 1976 I read:

Hauntings; Is Anybody There, Norah Lofts
British, schlocky Edna Ferber was my verdict back then.

I should say that for me an "Edna Ferber" type book (Show Boat and Giant are the bert known) is one that starts with young romance, proceeds through disillusioned marriage that inevitably lands the heroine into full catastrophe style marriage (nod to Zorba the Greek for that phrase) and/or widowhood. The conclusion shows a stalwart matriarch finding pleasure in having endured to see her grandchildren. I must have read six or seven Ferbers in adolescence and they all move right along plotwise, but the way people's lives developed in the books frustrated me every time. At that age (and even now) I don't think about life that way. Ferber herself had an
interesting life
. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for So Big, a novel I particularly disliked for all the reasons mentioned above--but I read it! You have to specifically query to get a bio that mentions her marital status--I guess that's politically incorrect to mention but I was curious. I searched around some, until I found a...well, I'll be polite and call him a jerk--oh, wait, the byline is "Luke Warm" so possibly it's a typo for "Luke Worm," although the copyright is to John Troesser, "http://www.texasescapes.com/They-Shoe-Horses-Dont-They/Is-There-an-Edn
a-Ferber-in-Your-Mailbox.htm/">urging people to protest
Ferber being on the 83-cent stamp because, essentially, "she's ugly."

Troesser/Warm/Worm does inform us that, in fact, Ferber never married, due to the aforementioned ugliness. He doesn't want her on a postage stamp for the same reason. It never seems to occur to him that the overachievers on postage stamps are not chosen for their looks. He isn't protesting Ben Franklin's getting on a stamp. Um, yeah, and it's the women who don't meet his standards whom he wants out of public view. With her never-married status proving her unworthy of public honor, Ferber appeared to present a hilarious target. Nothing like peeing on an old dead author's grave to start the day right. Excuse me, where's your Pulitzer Prize, Mr.Troesser/Warm/Worm?

Anyway, this non-gentleman provides a demonstration of the sort of dude Ferber's heroines were always marrying in haste and repenting for the rest of their lives. Much as Ferber's attitudes bothered me when I read her books, hearing her castigated as unworthy of being on a postage stamp simply because she didn't make some guy's worm warm, gives me the urge to yell, as many an old granny has--"Where's my shovel, Doris? I wanna kill another snake."

Nora Lofts (remember her? Back before I digressed?) may have a similar view of life to Ferber, and I might have responded to that in 1976. I may look up Lofts again because of her interest in haunted houses

Online I found an interesting web site about a
Lofts may have written about (or not).

Hell House, Richard Mattheson

I copied the blurb on the cover of this book because I thought it was unintentionally funny:

This book should come complete with three medals. The largest of these would read 'I have read Hell House,' the second one, smaller but still impressive, 'I have read half of Hell House.' Finally, the last of all, 'I read past page 60 of Hell House.' Even the wearer of this one deserves recognition for his bravery. The Charleston Gazette.

I still think it's amusing that you should get a big medal for finishing the whole book. That just doesn't sound good. Some books, a reasonable cash payment would be nice. My memory of Hell House was that it was over the top and not so much fun.

People Reading, Bier and Valens
1976 note: Did not finish but would like to--2006 note: that's highly

Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
I re-read this a few months back and it's still compelling.

Smart Aleck - The Wit, World and Life of Alexander Woollcott, Howard Teichmann
This was fun, funny and fascinating

George S. Kaufman, an Intimate Portrait, Howard Teichmann
Even more fun than the book on Woollcott. I had read Moss Hart's Act One years earlier, and this was an interesting description of his collaboration with Kaufman with the focus on Kaufman.

Coincidentally, or not, Edna Ferber (see above)was also a member of the Algonquin Roundtable, featured in both the Woollcott and Kaufman bios, a gathering that has quipped its way into American legend.

May 18 to 23, 2006, I read:

Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
This is a charming, fast-moving fantasy story that a sheltered 10-year-old could read without encountering anything to make her parents worry.

I enjoyed it for the parts a younger person would be unlikely to notice. The heroine tangles with a witch who turns her into an elderly crone, so she goes out to seek her fortune in the world. She finds herself newly assertive, because when everyone perceives her as an old person, she has nothing to lose.

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Norah+Lofts" rel="tag">Norah <br />Lofts</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Edna+Ferber" rel="tag">Edna <br />Ferber</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Luke+Warm" rel="tag">Luke Warm</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/John+Troesser" rel="tag">John <br />Troesser</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Pulitzer+Prize" rel="tag">Pulitzer <br />Prize</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/postage+stamp" rel="tag">postage <br />stamp</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/George+S.+Kaufman" rel="tag">George <br />S. Kaufman</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Diana+Wynne+Jones" rel="tag">Diana <br />Wynne Jones</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Richard+Mattheson" rel="tag">Richard <br />Mattheson</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Bier" rel="tag">Bier</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Valens" rel="tag">Valens</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Alexander+Woollcott" <br />rel="tag">Alexander Woollcott</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Howard+Teichmann" rel="tag">Howard <br />Teichmann</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Anne+Rice" rel="tag">Anne Rice</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne <br />Murray</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Body+Impolitic" rel="tag">Body <br />Impolitic</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/orangenotebookoflynnemurray" rel="tag">orangenotebookoflynnemurray</a><br /><br />

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Literary luminaries and scary prose from Japanese resorts

May 10 to May 16, 1976 I read:

After the Good Gay Times: Asheville-Summer of '35, A Season with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anthony Buttitta

I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse to have both Fitzgerald's talent and a life that was even more interesting than what he wrote. My favorite book of his has always been The Crack-Up, maybe because it was so wrenchingly honest, elegantly sad, and defiantly funny. Somewhere I ran across a reading of The Crack-Up, or a portion of it by Jason Robards, Jr., which was incredible. It was in the days before video recording from television broadcast. But if it exists, I have hope of tracking it down to hear again.

Ogilvie, Tallant & Moon, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

My recollection is that this was a fun read.

May 10 to May 16, 2006 I read:

Ring, Koji Suzuki

I don't read a lot of truly frightening literature. But in a way it's taken the place of other sanity-defying things I used to do in younger days. I'm not risking life, limb or sanity--only some sleepless nights. A review convinced me that Ring wasn't so much terrifying as suspenseful, so I decided to give it a try. It is the first in a trilogy and has gone on to both Japanese and US movie adaptations--which sound too scary for me to watch. The book didn't scare me, but it conspired with other events in my life to make me very, very anxious. Not an enjoyable feeling. I put it down for a day or two and then came back to finish it.

Major suspense. The characters were presented with a certain distance, so I didn't find myself getting overly involved enough to care a lot whether they escape the curse they had stumbled into. But the premise of a video tape that doomed everyone who saw it to death exactly a week later... except that there might be a remedy, if only the hero could find out what it was. It was more a matter of seeing if the hero and his friend could solve the puzzle to get out of it. Lots of twists at the end. Will the characters survive? Yes! No! Yes! Maybe not... Um, kinda... Clearly the set up for the sequel.

One unexpected reaction I had was nostalgia for the mountain part of Japan--every trip I've made there has involved pilgrimage in the Mount Fuji area. Although my stays were about spiritual development and didn't have the overtones of doom the book brought out, it is true that along with the peacefulness, the mountains there have a kind of loneliness and a sense of human frailty facing an implacable natural world. I was also somewhat familiar with the resort areas around Hakone and Atami, which made it easier to envision the outdoor scenes there. The American movie version of The Ring was set in the Pacific Northwest and that seems to me like an interesting equivalent.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

First there is a sofa, then there is no sofa, then there is...

May 1 to May 9, 1976

Goodey's Last Stand, Charles Alverson
My note was: female characters naively done. Looking it up it seems he was trying to do something in the manner of Raymond Chandler in the 1970s, 'nuff said.

On the Track of Murder, Barbara Gelb

The Running of the Beasts, Bill Pronzini and Barry Maltzberg

May 1 to May 9, 2006

Recently, I've been straying into other people's spaces, and guest blogging over at Laurie Edison and Debbie Notkin's Body Impolitic at .

Between the technicalities of unfamiliar blog space, editing one of my own manuscripts, and orchestrating the departure of a huge sofa that had become primarily a cat perch, I haven't read anything new in the past week. However, my cats have now forgiven me, and I found a copy of Tricky Business by Dave Barry. It turns out I had read that book before (and possibly even reported on it here). But any book where even the acknowledgements can make me laugh out loud on the second reading was too good to put down. So I read the whole thing again.