Friday, July 31, 2009

Giovanni's Room

Let me begin by saying I have never read a book like this before. Once I closed the cover for the final time, I realized this must have been one of the most controversial novels discussed at the 'liberal' cocktail parties of 1956. I am picturing smoke filled rooms, hands lifted to mask the whispers, pseudo-intellectuals pontificating on the issues of race and sexuality.

James Baldwin tells the story of a white, middle class, American ex-pat living in Paris. He (David) falls in lust/love/confusion/denial with Giovanni, an Italian bartender. They live in a world the majority of the population will never know. A world of young boys and wealthy used up queens. And it is a sad world.

David's sexuality is really not the issue. It is his inability to give love and to be loved. He is so concerned with his warped sense of morality, that he cannot see the beauty of any given moment - and his affected personality that borders on amoral.

Giovanni in many ways is his victim. And so is David's fiancee, Hella. They both love this man who is not an active participant in his own life. He watches himself from above with self loathing and repugnance. But his for his part in the lives of others, he does not give one damn.

This is a tragic novel on so many levels. And I am still trying to decide if it was truly well written. Having just returned from Paris, I was truly enjoying the amount of French sprinkled throughout the text, the descriptions of scenes in Paris... This my dears is not for the faint hearted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One Prayer to Every Stitch

The mother of one of our Raveloe group has fallen ill. This strip will be one of many to be pieced into a shawl. May it bring her some comfort.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer is for Reading

Over the last four weeks I was able to squeeze in three books. First on the docket is Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. May I begin my saying I envy her life? Or at least her address book. She was born of Polish parents in Germany and raised in London. She now splits her time between Delhi and New York. This Booker Prize winning novel catalogs the life of two women, fifty years apart. The novel is set in India and centers around the life of Olivia, the wife of an English civil servant. Her story is told by the Douglas' (the civil servant) granddaughter as she traces Olivia's steps. The novel slowly develops parallel life lines for these two women, but with very different outcomes.

Love it, I did not; however, I found that Merchant and Ivory made a film based on the novel and I quickly added it to my NetFlix queue.

The next selection is The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. Oh how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways: poorly written...she had a thing about "sweaty kitchen smells" that were meant to be someone's dinner, overly long with a plot that went NO WHERE, and an ending that many of my eighth graders could have written. Add to the fact that she stole the majority of the life below stairs from "Upstairs, Downstairs", and you are left with a very unimaginative mystery that was less than satisfying.
But now my favorite. And I really needed this one. Coming home from my two week vacation has been very difficult. Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas really helped. Hennie Comfort is a woman we all wish we knew. Her name truly says it all. Granted, the quilting references get to be a bit tiresome. I am convinced that Sandra Dallas must be an avid quilter - anyone remember The Persian Pickle Club? And there are certain elements of the plot line that tie up a bit too slick. But honestly, you want them to. You need them to. This one is next month's book club pick and I am a bit miffed that the hostess 'broke' our rule - we are to stick to paperback. I am not exactly thrilled I had to pay $24. 95 minus my Barnes and Noble discount for a two day read. But I did love it and it cheered me up.

Fred and Ginger

Ok, how cool is this. I open up my Internet homepage, MSN, and there is a building I stood in front of less than two weeks ago! I feel so 'all that and a bag of chips' right now. To the left you will see Frank Gehry's "Dancing House" located in Prague. After dinner, a small group of us headed to the river and came across this beautiful building. My day shot is not quite as impressive:( But I know if you google it, you'll find tons of awesome shots!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Vienna Treasure

This little gem was part of my walking tour in Vienna. Who says these guys don't have a sense of humor?
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