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

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wandering the web...with or without aim

October 22 to 27, 1976 I read:

Mom, the Flag & Apple Pie, ed of Esquire and others, particularly Gore Vidal, Gordon Parks, Marshall Brady, Andy Warhol, Jean Stafford, R. A. Arthur

Murder and Madness, D.T. Lunde
This book turned out to be a frequent re-read when I was writing mysteries some years later

The World of Jimmy Breslin, Jimmy Breslin
Didn’t finish this.

How to Talk to Practically Anybody about Practically Anything, Barbara Walters & friend
Would that it were that easy.

October 22 to 27, 2006, I didn't read any books at all.

I'm overhauling my web page--at long last. When I started talking to my web diva, Sue Trowbridge, about this, she pointed out that I do have a chatty little note in my bio along the lines of, "As I write this in 1998…" Eeek! The cute little tuxedo kitten sucking on my neck as I wrote that, has now grown up to be a compact adult cat, who…well, he's grown up enough to only drool a little and we've worked out a deal where he confines the claw-kneading/drooling to a towel around my neck. Unfortunately, every time I pick up a towel…

Anyway, I've been looking around to see how web pages are done in this millennium…

So I spent way too long trolling through the shallows of the net, looking for what I know not. They say that Truman Capote's last years were spent reading magazines when he coulda, shoulda been writing that unfinished book that offended so many people. I get the impression that alcohol involved in that case.

In this case, no alcohol--just the insidious lure of information. Wandering on the net, you can snare things you never expected, even as large segments of your life slip down a black hole never to be seen again.

I blame the New York Times online or maybe YouTube for the last episode. The NYT story on Weird Al Yankovich provided a link to YouTube's where Yankovich's parody of Star Wars was performed to the tune of American Pie.

As a totally word-obsessed sixties survivor I fixate on song lyrics the way more visual people fixate on album cover art. Weird Al's parody ensured that I woke up the next morning pondering, "Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died?"

Um, no, I don't recall it, because I never figured those lyrics out at all.

The folks at Don McLean's web page didn't seem to have figured them out totally either, but the effort to do so has evidently become a cottage industry, which is probably even better. On his web page I saw a link with something else I hadn't realized. As it says: "Don McLean is immortalized as the subject of the Roberta Flack/The Fugees No. 1 hit, Killing Me Softly With His Song." The link on that page takes us to a page explaining that this song was originally written for Lori Lieberman, inspired by a poem she wrote after watching Don McLean perform. Who knew?

"Who is Lori Lieberman?" you may ask--even as a sixties survivor. I asked. So I searched out her web page and found that she's been living the good life in LA and writing songs all this time, presumably having come to terms with the past

Lieberman has a new CD out and it was endorsed by Christine Lavin, another person I never heard of, but who sounded interesting when I looked her web page. I also loved the wonderful (free download) Stop Your Sobbing wherein the friends of a jilted person do the Happy Dance that she/he has gotten rid of the jerk they have hated for lo these many years. Certainly this song should be provided at a judicious moment to heartbroken people everywhere


And furthermore, Lavin has collaborated with many other artists on a CD (with cookbook!) of food songs entitled One Meatball…which just so happens to be the name my father gave my pet alligator, whom I remember fondly in a recent essay. (My father named the alligator that after the Andrews' Sisters hit song by that title, although most folksingers reference the Dave van Ronk version.)


This brings me back full circle, so here's where I had to stop.

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/One-Meatball" rel="tag">One Meatball</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Christine+Lavin" rel="tag">Christine Lavin</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Weird+Al+Yankovich" rel="tag">Weird Al Yankovich</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lori+Lieberman" rel="tag">Lori Lieberman</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Roberta+Flack" rel="tag">Roberta Flack</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Killing+Me+Softly" rel="tag">Killing Me Softly"</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/30+Years+Ago+Today" rel="tag">30 Years Ago Today</a><br /><br />

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crates full of genius, dream lives & fictional refuge--once more with links!

--somehow the links didn't come up, I hope they do this time! L

From October 9 to October 21, 1976 I read:

The Rest of the Robots, 8 Stories from Isaac Asimov
This was fun to read, I still remember Robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin

The Clewiston Test, Kate Wilhelm
My note--mucho depressing feminist "attitude" study

The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr

The Story of a Novel, Thomas Wolfe
this site shows a picture I particularly like of Wolfe standing with his foot propped up on "one of three crates containing the sprawling manuscripts for
Of Time and the River.

Yikes. I read all of Wolfe's books when I was a teenager, and he appealed to my enthusiasm and energy. I don't know if I could re-read him. Maybe. He's pretty much overflowing with lyrical stuff. Of course, he did die at the age of 38, so maybe he had to squeeze it all in.

I had to love the (probably untrue) story of editor Maxwell Perkins informing Wolfe that his book was now complete and getting the reply, "It is?" I probably wouldn't be so fond of that story if I hadn't absorbed the idea that it is somehow "better" to be a genius pouring out great quantities of prodigious manuscript. You write what you write. Legendary editors like Perkins aren't available for most of us poor slobs either. So we have to deal with it the best we can.

Such a Strange Lady, Janet Hitchman
Bio of Dorothy L. Sayers, my recollection is that it seemed like a very sad life--perhaps a motivator to create such a strong dream world in her fiction. this site has a more intimate picture than you usually see of her (though not as carefree as the one of Agatha Christie with her surfboard--I kid you not, there is such a picture!)

Shogun, trying to finish
I had thought I finished this earlier, but I guess I put it down and picked it up again. My note was: 10/17 = finished whew!

October 9 to October 21, 2006 I read:

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
This is an interesting book, and an exquisitely written one, as the evocative title suggests. But it's definitely not a fast read. The author is covering 17 years of living and teaching Western literature in her hometown of Tehran, as it slipped into the kind of totalitarianism where the works of Western fiction she was teaching about were viewed as dangerous. Eventually, to satisfy her need for uncensored educational experience, she began teaching a special class in her home for the more motivated female students. I finished the book at a leisurely pace, and was glad to have read it for the evocation of an unknown world as well as the insights on Nabokov, Henry James and Jane Austen as they relate to the condition of women who have been robbed of most of their civil rights due to a fundamentalist religious state.

One thing that made my interest level in the book rise and fall was the way it slipped back and forth in time. I identified enough with the author that I was relieved when she got out of Dodge, as it were, without getting arrested for teaching an illegal class, letting her veil slip or getting caught having a cup of coffee with a male colleague. Just reading about that degree of repression was claustrophobic, and hearing of the sad fate of so many people in the book saddened me. The author's powerful belief in the elevating effect of literature gave it a transcendent quality as well.
this site has an article by Nafisi.

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Asimov" rel="tag">Asimov</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Thomas+Wolfe" rel="tag">Thomas Wolfe</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Dorothy+L.+Sayers" rel="tag">Dorothy L. Sayers</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Janet+Hitchman " rel="tag">Janet Hitchman</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Azar+Nafisi" rel="tag">Azar Nafisi</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne <br /><br />Murray</a><br /><br /><br />

Sunday, October 08, 2006

yarnspinners and fun research

Just a quick update with more links than comments.

October 1 to October 8, 1976

The Man in the High Castle, Phillip K. Dick
a website maintained by the author's family.

The Quick Red Fox, John D. MacDonald
an appropriately nostalgic site

Colette, a Taste for Life, Yvonne Mitchell

The Super Crooks, A Rogue's Gallery of Famous Hustlers, Swindlers and Thieves, R.M. Williams

October 1 to October 8, 2006

Haunted Land: Investigations into Ancient Mysteries and Modern Day Phenomena, Paul Devereaux
This was research for me, to factual to be very juicy, but I found some possibly useful things.
web site

Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
Rereading a book I first read a few years ago. Just as good the second time.

Topper,, Thorne Smith
This was a re-issue with a great foreword by Carolyn See. Definitely humor from a byegone age. Smith's hero has something in common with the Thurber daydreaming guys who live in fear of women. For me, the movie (Cary Grant as a ghost, wow) and the television series with Leo G. Carroll evoke fond memories that the book didn't quite...
one site
and a critiquey site.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

still escaping after all these years

[Apologies about the wierd formats. Too late for me to figure out!] L

September 16 to 30, 1976 was a good time for biographies, a mixed bag of nonfiction
and escape into thrillers and political cartoons, I read:

Jack Lemmon, Don Widener

Sylvia Plath, Method and Madness, Edward Butscher
My note: a psycho-critique -naïve in the extreme, lovingly calling Plath "neurotic" and "manic depressive" as if synonyoms for "nervous" and "moody."

Oscar Wilde, Louis Kronenberger

Pumping Iron, Charles Gaines & George Butler
This was a book, not the film, but by the same people

Post-mortem, D.M. Spain, M.D. w/Janet Kale

For Money or Love, Robin Lloyd
I had to look this up to see that it was about homosexual boy prostitution. Not the same boys as the Boys from Brazil below, that was about Nazis coming out of hiding.

The Boys from Brazil, Ira Levin
Gotta love the Stephen King quote in Wikipedia calling Ira Levin "the Swiss watchmaker of suspense novels."

Speaking of Inalienable Rights, Amy, G. B. Trudeau

September 16 to 30, 2006, I took a pretty simple escape route into an alternate world, I read:

A Fistful of Charms, Kim Harrison.

More about Rachel Morgan, the witch and "runner" (essentially a paranormal private investigator in an alternate world where half of humanity has been decimated by genetically engineered "killer tomatoes" and the witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies & etc., & etc. are able to come out of the closet without fear of lynching, and live in an uneasy state of truce.

I love this interesting world Harrison has created, but I see symptoms of a syndrome that affected both Laurell K. Hamilton and Patricia Cornwell's heroines. I don't know how to describe the way the effect is created. It may be worth studying, but the upshot (for me anyway as a reader) seems to be that

(1) Almost everybody (except the bad guys) loves our heroine, who is markedly deficient in common sense on many occasions, but that's just part of her charm.

(2) people who used to be close to our heroine have now turned into "bad guys" and it's not our heroine's fault, she's just too much of a softie to realize that they aren't worth her time and/or they're just jealous of her.

I have no idea where these fictional quirks come from, but they took me out of the story and made me impatient with the characters (which I think was the opposite of the intended effect).