Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Getting enjoyment out of life in various ways

It's been absolutely glorious weather, warm enough for summer (in Scotland) but with those long shadows that remind you that the earth is tilting away from the sun and you'd better enjoy things now before autumn closes in. We've been enjoying from the top of Corstorphine Hill -

- ooh, look: some tell-tale autumnal colours there -

and along the canal -

- not a ripple on the water -

- and in Princes Street. There were some Japanese tourists with parasols. Now, those were optimistic items to bring on a Scottish holiday at the end of September.

So that's been nice, but the real joy's come from a review which I've just read of a novel which has been long-listed for the US National Book Award for fiction. I don't like to criticise your taste, Americans, but - really?

Here are some quotes from the novel which were used in the review.

"She made a promise that he would never know the scope of her darkness, that she would never show him the evil that lived in her, that he would know of her only a great love and light."

"The dean's eyebrows were caterpillars that chew down apple trees overnight."

"She had gorgeous hands, like owlets."

"The ice had retracted from the banks to resemble gums with exposed tooth roots."

"Her grandmother's mouth was more dash than n, signalling happiness."   (???)

"His looks were both promising and as if some essential promise had fled and left wreckage in its wake, which was odd, the boy being fifteen at most."

There you are. That cheered you up, didn't it? I wish I were still teaching - what fun I would have discussing these with a class.

(I don't like to type out the complete title in case ... well, I don't know. But it's F-tes and Fur--s by Laur-n Gr-ff. I think I need to order it from the library to find a few more gems.)


  1. Oh my gosh, who was her editor, what drivel. Reading the description of the book---I just ran over to Amazon---it sounds interesting, but after your outtakes I think I'll give it a miss.

  2. I read that review too, and the owlets completely baffle me. As for the dashes and "n"s, I can only assume that Grandmother is a complete misery, and if her mouth isn't downturned but merely a straight line, she must be happier than usual?

  3. I wonder if the "more dash than n" has anything to do with em and en dashes? That's the first thing that popped into my mind. More likely it means her mouth was set straight and not down turned like an n.

    Thank you for the warning on that book. A local independent bookstore is offering a "collector's club": every month you get a signed first edition of a new release selected by bookstore staff, along with some original artwork (unrelated to the book, but from a local source). I've been dithering: it sounds like an interesting way to build a library, and I'm intrigued by the artwork, but what if I don't like the book? And after a year I'll have 12 new hardcovers I'll need to make room for on my shelves. I read a lot, but usually library books, and if I love a book I'll buy a copy of my own. The first book the store is offering for this club is the one you mentioned. I think I will pass on this book and the club!

    I am still reading your blog even though I rarely comment and my own blog is mostly silent. I enjoy hearing about your children and grandchildren and your outings with Mr. L. The quilt you made is lovely, and I know your daughter will treasure it.

  4. Anonymous7:16 pm

    Not a promising book but I think that a dash and an n are compositor words in printing, mind you, I haven't worked in print for about 50 years, so my memory might be tricking me...

  5. Hey Hey Now ... don't be grouping all of us Americans together LOL. I suspect that a LOT of lobbying for the prize happens, which is how these things are sometimes decided. At least I hope that's the case, otherwise, ... well ... how depressing!!!

  6. I 'm reading a book by a very famous modern Irish author left to me by my recently departed visiting cousin.There were things that were totally taboo to speak of in civilized circles when I was growing up over there but now it seems that kind of thing is ALL they talk/write about. Her use of language is impressive and carries you along but I'm not sure how much further I'll get if the subject matter doesn't improve! Maybe I'm just a repressed old fuddy duddy but for now, I'm embracing my fuddy-duddy-ness. She also made a remark to the effect that Americans have no table manners.....Hmmm. Anyone care to weigh in on that one?
    Step softly --- I'm almost American at this stage!

  7. The strain of the author's efforts hauled against the warp and weft of the troubled pages, hustling the words into a fitful murmur as they reached the paragraph's end. Green thoughts stirred in a fresh chapter, soared into a simile and nose-dived to earth. Her memory clinked like cutlery: it had happened again.