Bookfest #2: Heading to Fort Worth

I’ll start by saying I have recovered from my major irritation with WordPress. It was malfunctioning to the max the night I wrote the humorous post that took a downhill turn (as WP) slid further down the hill–but everyone is allowed one major malfunction. I’ve had several myself whose results were worse than a paragraph-challenged blog. WP works now, I work now, we all work now. Amen.

Now to the heart of the matter:

Last Saturday, with my Sisters in Crime, I sold and signed books at the Heart of Texas chapter booth at the Boerne Book Fest.

2018-10-18 cowboy and steer fort worth pixabay ttm cc0 statue-720781_640Next Saturday, October 20, I’ll sign and sell at the Fort Worth Bookfest. Organized in 2018, the festival’s goal is “to raise awareness of the transformative power of literacy through the BookFest platform to showcase the wealth of talent among all cultures that call Fort Worth and the southwest region home.”

In addition to selling and signing, I’ll participate in an Author Spotlight, where I’ll have the opportunity, in “TED-talk style,” to introduce myself, share some interesting facts, and read from one of my stories. On the same venue will be Tabi Slick, author of Tompkins School Trilogy, set in Oklahoma, and Kimberly Packard-Walton, author of Prospera Pass, set in Texas.

First on the agenda, though, is Friday evening’s Books ‘n Boots Soiree at Lou’s Place on the Texas Wesleyan University Campus. Sounds like fun.

David has been, as the Five Little Peppers would say, a brick during preparations for BookFest. He had a banner for my table made and then spearheaded the drive for business cards. He found book easels around the corner at Wal-Mart so I don’t have to drive all the way across town to Michaels. He’s charged my phone, my camera, and the hotspot. I predict that before we leave town, he’ll do a dozen or two other tasks I haven’t even thought of.

I’m still making a to-do list.

mkwaller banner 2 black

This procrastinator is so lucky to have attracted her opposite–a man who does things now. And who knows how to hurry things along in the nicest way possible.

Book Sales and Books Book

A good day at the Boerne Book and Arts Fest in Boerne, Texas with a group of my Sisters in Crime from the Heart of Texas Chapter

I sold four times as many copies of MURDER ON WHEELS and LONE STAR LAWLESS as I did last spring in Fort Worth–no need to say how many I sold then–but the company of the Sisters  would have made it a good day if I’d sold no books at all. 

I surprised myself by un-introverting and not only saying hello to browsers but also telling them MURDER ON WHEELS is better than LONE STAR LAWLESS because I have two stories in MOW and only one in LSL. I also said I like my stories in MOW more than the ones in LSL. The not-my stories in LSL might be better than their counterparts in MOW, but let’s face it, when I’m selling my own books, I get to say what’s what. 

For future reference, anyone contemplating buying one of the anthologies should buy MURDER ON WHEELS, unless he or she already has a copy. In that case, take the other. My story in LONE STAR LAWLESS is excellent, too. I showed it to my high school English teacher and she said so.

In other news, at The Bosslight in Nacogdoches a couple of weeks ago, I bought a copy of Book Riot’s READ HARDER. Failing to examine it carefully, I thought it was for keeping a record of books read. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered it’s a series of twelve reading challenges. Among them are

-a book about book

-a book about a current social or political issue

-an award-winning young adult book

-a book about space

-a book published by an independent press

-a book that was originally published in another language

So I must make decisions. 

I’m tempted to re-read some books–for a book originally published in another language, for example, I’d like to re-read Giants in the Earth, originally published in 1926, which I read in 1975. Written in Norwegian, it was then translated into English by author Ole Rolvaag. It’s the story of Per Hansa, who in 1873 settles with his family in the Dakota Territory. A look at Wikipedia to check my facts reminds me that Giants is the first book in a trilogy, so I’m free to read the sequels, Peder Victorious (Peder Seier) (1928) and Their Fathers’ God (Den signede dag) (1931). 

For an award-winning YA book, I’d like to re-read Katherine Paterson‘s Newbery winner Jacob Have I LovedAlthough the Newbery is given for children’s books, Jacob is really for older readers, and, I contend, for adults.* As a person of integrity, though, I’ll read a book that’s new to me. Then I’ll read Jacob again.

Note: All of Paterson’s book are exquisite. She believes that once children reach a certain age, they should not be given fairy tale happily-ever-after endings. Her books carry the message that life can be difficult–as it will be–but that readers have the knowledge, courage, and strength to endure, and that there is always hope. The daughter of missionaries to China, herself a missionary to Japan for a year, and the wife of a Presbyterian minister, Paterson writes realistic–and drop-dead funny–books that hold a prominent place among titles most often banned in the United States: Sometimes, when pushed to their limits, her characters say, Damn. They also have problems, have to make hard choices, and are not happy all the time, conditions some adults have forgotten from their own childhoods. Young readers, however, love her stories.

For a book about books, I’ll read The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1979). It examines Victorian literature–specifically, the works of Jane AustenMary ShelleyCharlotte and Emily BrontëGeorge EliotElizabeth Barrett BrowningChristina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson–from a feminist perspective. The title comes from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, in which Edward Rochester’s mentally ill wife, Bertha Mason, is secretly confined in the attic.

I read part of Madwoman years for a graduate course and found it fascinating. According to Wikipedia, some critics say it’s outdated, but that won’t keep me from being fascinated again. A second edition was released in 2000.

I’ll check the Internet and journals for the subjects of other challenges. The only book I’ll have trouble choosing is one I “would normally consider a guilty pleasure.”

I can’t imagine feeling guilty about reading.

*The best children’s and YA books are for grown-ups, too. Adults who don’t read pictures books don’t know what they’re missing. A good book is a good book. 

Here’s a grandmother reading The Wonky Donkey to her grandchild. Or trying to read it. Pay no attention to background noise. 

 

The man standing beside the SINC Heart of Texas banner is author Nichols Grimes, who kindly let us take his picture.

Remiss but Not Missing

I have been remiss.

I haven’t posted here lately, probably because I’ve been posting more on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. I hope you have, or will, check out the blog. It’s currently second home to Cherley Grogg, Mike Staton, Neva Bodin, Abbie Johnson Taylor, S. J. Brown,  Cindy Carroll, Cole Smith, Debra Easterling, and Keri De Deo. Next week, Stevie Turner will guest post.

We write about everything from the U. S. space program, to tap dancing, to writing and editing, to wildlife photography, to obsession with elf ears–and more.

Changing directions now, I’ll mention few blogs I read:

Travels with Kaye
Kaye George is the author of four mystery series: Imogene Duckworthy, People of the Wind, Fat Cat (as Janet Cantrell), and Cressa Caraway Musical. I mention Immy Duckworthy first because it’s my favorite, drop-dead funny and unlike any other mystery series ever written (I’m sure of that). Last summer Kaye published a short story anthology she edited, Day of the Dark: Stories of Eclipse.  She has stories in many publications, including Austin Mystery Writers’ Murder on Wheels and Lone Star Lawless and was instrumental in getting four writers published for the first time. I shouldn’t mention this, but I will: Kaye is also Grand Pooh-Bah Emerita of Austin Mystery Writers. She was facilitator of AMW before she escaped for greener pastures, but the eyes of Texas were upon her. We gave her a title so she could not get away.

 

Contemplation and Elation and All Else

“Who am I?” the blogger writes. “I’m still discovering just who I am, I suppose.” She shares books and photographs. Her posts are brief, eye-catching, and–eclectic. I never know what she’ll post next, but I’m always glad I found out.

 

Abbie’s Corner of the World

Abbie Taylor Johnson was a registered music therapist and worked–and still volunteers–in facilities that serve senior citizens. In addition to writing about music, she posts about love and marriage, family life, holidays, vacations, her volunteer activities, and more. She also posts books reviews and recordings of her poetry. Her essays are personal, covering, she says, “my writing and other aspects of my life. It’s a life worth reading about. She also posts on Writing Wranglers and Warriors and has published several books, including the memoir My Ideal Partner and the novel We Shall Overcome.

***

I blog occasionally on Whiskertips, mine until cats (like the one trying to lie on the keyboard) took it over. I also post on Austin Mystery Writers, which has been quiet for a while as members worked on their books. Laura Oles recently published her first, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MENAlthough my skin has turned a lovely Shreck green, I’m not at all jealous.

My stories are published in MURDER ON WHEELS, LONE STAR LAWLESS, and DAY OF THE DARK, and on the e-zine Mysterical-E.

My friends know me as Kathy, but I now write under the name M. K. Waller. The CFO of Coca-Cola is also named Kathy Waller, and she keeps coming up first in Google searches. M. K. fares better, at least when I look for her.

Thank You, Nightstand Book Reviews

img_0489
William and Ernest examine Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light and the box it came in.

When I was eight, my grandmother gave me two Nancy Drew mysteries for Christmas: The Secret in the Old Clock and The Clue of the Tapping Heels, and I was hooked. One title led to another.

Since then, I’ve read through Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti, Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley, Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford, Ngaio Marsh’shttp://ngaio-marsh.org.nz/index-ngaio.html Inspector Alleyn, Dorothy L. Sayers‘ Lord Peter Wimsey, Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant…

Yesterday, Nightstand Book Reviews sent me a copy of a novel from another popular series: Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light, one of the titles in her series featuring Inspector Gamache.

A Trick of the Light has received the following honors:

English: Louise Penny
English: Louise Penny (Photo credit: Wikipedia). By Ian Crysler (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ]

Winner of the Anthony Award for Best Crime Novel 2012
Finalist for the Macavity Award for Best Crime Novel in the US 2012

Finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Mystery of 2011
Finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in Canada in 2011
Finalist for the Dilys Award from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association for the book they most enjoyed selling in 2011
Finalist GoodReads Choice Awards for 2011
Publishers Weekly top 10 Mysteries of 2011
Amazon.com top 10 Thrillers and Mysteries of 2011
Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore: Favorites of 2011
The Toronto Star: Favorite Read of 2011
New York Times Book Review: Favorite Crime Novel of 2011
BookPage, Readers’ Choice: Best Books of 2011 (#6 all genres)
Women Magazine: Editor’s Pick #1 Book of 2011
The Globe and Mail: Top 10 Mystery of 2011
The Seattle Times: Top 10 Mystery of 2011
Quill and Quire: Top 10 Mystery of 2011
I-Tunes: Top 10 AudioBook of 2011
Richmond Times-Dispatch: top 5 Fiction Books of 2011

My copy of was a windfall from Nightstand Book Reviews.

NBR reviews a variety of genres by both established authors and those newly published. Subscribers receive notice of reviews by email. Only recommended books are reviewed–“books that are great reads.”

NBR also conducts drawings for free books from the list of email subscribers. I’m a subscriber. My name was drawn. A Trick of the Light arrived in today’s mail.

Thank you, Nightstand Book Reviews.

Now I’m off to begin a great read.

One Pebble in a Shoe Can Change the Universe

It happened again.

An author killed off a character I love.

I hate that. I hate the author. I continue to like the book, but the author I despise.

This time it’s Anne Tyler. I love her novels. The Accidental Tourist. Breathing Lessons. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. My favorites, if I have favorites, are Back When We Were Grownups and Saint Maybe.

"Must Love Anne Tyler." Cherry Ride. "Must Love Anne Tyler." CC BY 2.0.
“Must Love Anne Tyler.” Cherry Ride. “Must Love Anne Tyler.” CC BY 2.0.

Tyler’s plots are rather loose. Instead of going directly from here to there, they detour, turn corners you didn’t see coming, abandon the now for backstory that might take you a generation or two into the past before returning to the main narrative.  “[C]haracter is everything,” Tyler said in an interview. “I never did see why I have to throw in a plot, too.” 

She writes about families: ordinary, quirky, dysfunctional families–dysfunctional as ordinary families tend to be. They’re humble people, living in ordinary houses, working at ordinary jobs; their furniture is often mismatched and their carpet runners often worn from someone’s pacing. Her families stick together; children and grandchildren don’t stray far, come home often, and sometimes don’t leave at all.

Even their extraordinary problems  are ordinary, the kinds of problems real people experience.

Her characters’ days are filled with matters of little importance. “As for huge events vs. small events,” says Tyler, “I believe they all count. They all reveal character, which is the factor that most concerns me….It does fascinate me, though, that small details can be so meaningful.”

She loves to “think about chance–about how one little overheard word, one pebble in a shoe, can change the universe…The real heroes to me in my books are first the ones who manage to endure.”

If her plots meander, it’s because they reflect the common, insignificant, everyday events that are so important, because, taken together, they form the essence of life.

Tyler cares about her characters. “My people wander around my study until the novel is done,” she said in another interview. “It’s one reason I’m very careful not to write about people I don’t like. If I find somebody creeping in that I’m not really fond of, I usually take him out.”

And therein lies my problem, and the reason that Anne Tyler is, for the moment, on my bad list.

She isn’t alone in liking her characters. I like them, too. Some of them, I love. And when one dies–or, as I see it, when she kills one–I take it personally. The character’s family stand around in the kitchen saying all the plain, simple, often awkward, frequently funny things that real people say when someone they love has died.  They crowd together in pews to hear a sermon by a minister who didn’t know the loved one and might not know how to pronounce his name. They return home to refrigerators stuffed with casseroles and play host to friends and neighbors until they’re so tired they’re about to drop. Left alone, they get on one another’s nerves and offend with, or take offense at, the most innocent remarks. Then they pick themselves up and go on with their lives.

But I don’t. Because even though I stand outside the novel, reading about people who don’t exist, never have, never will, I know them. I’ve been where they are, said what they say, done what they do. And when I have to go through it one more time, with them–that seriously messes up my day.

Tyler always manages to redeem herself, though. One of her characters says or does something so remarkable, so absolutely right. And the world of the novel shifts. And so does mine.

In the book I’m reading now–I won’t mention the title so as not to spoil it for you–Tyler gives that role to the “disconcertingly young” minister who conducts the funeral. After a friend and a sister-in-law and a fourteen-year-old granddaughter wearing “patent leather heels and a shiny, froufrou dress so short she could have been a cocktail waitress,” have paid tribute to the deceased, he approaches the lectern and does what the deceased wanted–to “say something brief and–if it wasn’t asking too much–‘not too heavy on religion.'”

He starts by saying he didn’t know their loved one and so doesn’t have memories like they have.

But it has occurred to me, on occasion, that our memories of our loved ones might not be the point. Maybe the point is their memories–all that they take away with them. What if heaven is just a vast consciousness that the dead return to? And their assignment is to report on the experiences they collected during their time on earth. The hardware store their father owned with the cat asleep on the grass seed, and the friend they used to laugh with till the tears streamed down their cheeks… The spring mornings they woke up to a million birds singing their hearts out, and the summer afternoons with the swim towels hung over the porch rail… and the warm yellow windows of home when they came in on a snowy night. “That’s what my experience has been,” they say, and it gets folded in with the others–one more report on what living felt like. What it was to be alive.

And so Anne Tyler performs her magic. Once more I start bawling. I reconsider. My hostility passes into nothingness. I forgive her. We’re friends again.

I leave the church and go home with the family to a refrigerator stuffed with casseroles, and visit with their friends, and watch them give and take offense but then quickly, or perhaps slowly, repair their relationships, and pick themselves up and go on with life.

Now I have to read the second half of the book. That’s a lot of pages to cover without the character I love. But, like the others, I pick myself up and get on with it.

If I can’t have the character, I can still love Anne Tyler. And I will. And I do.

###

Of Tyler’s novel Searching for Caleb, John Updike wrote, “Funny and lyric and true, exquisite in its details and ambitious in its design…This writer is not merely good, she is wickedly good.”

What a fine thing to be–wickedly good.

###

In writing this post, I relied heavily on “Anne Tyler” from Wikipedia. More information can be found at

http://www.nytimes.com/topic/person/anne-tyler
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/457.Anne_Tyler
http://www.npr.org/2015/02/10/384112113/cozy-blue-thread-is-unabashedly-domestic
http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/arts/bal-book-review-anne-tyler-s-vinegar-girl-a-clever-riff-on-shakespeare-s-shrew-20160622-story.html
http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/04/19/specials/tyler.html
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/15/anne-tyler-interview-i-am-not-a-spiritual-person-spool-of-blue-thread
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-2931435/Anne-Tyler-began-writing-idea-wanted-know-like-somebody-else.html
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/13/anne-tyler-interview

Find her on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Tyler/e/B000APV4K0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1466827414&sr=8-2-ent

 

 

17 Must-Read Books*

Gertrude Stein

  said,

  ” To write is to write is to write is to write

is to write is to write is to write.”

 She spoke the truth.

 Email. Blog posts. Blog comments. Email. Manuscripts. Introductions. Blog posts.
Email. Email. Email.

 What happened to reading?

 I shall find out.

  ***

 Pennebaker. The Secret Life of Pronouns.

  Connolly, ed. Books to Die For.

Howells. Annie Kilburn. (Again)

  James. Portrait of a Lady. (Again)

 Wharton. The Custom of the Country. (Again)

  The House of Mirth. (Again)

   Zelvin. Shifting Is for the Goyim.

   Kaufman. The Writer’s Guide to Psychology.

   Duhigg. The Power of Habit.

   Ratey. Spark. (Again)

Castle. Murder by Misrule.

    Tartt. The Goldfinch.

   Saylor. A Twist at the End.

   Cain. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

   Edgerton. Lunch at the Picadilly. (Again)

   De Becker. The Gift of Fear.

   Hallinan. The Fear Artist.

  ***

   Where to begin?* Probably not with the Agains. They sing their siren songs, but I mustn’t answer.
Wouldn’t be prudent.

  Quiet. That’s the one. In the past three weeks, I’ve had a lot of contact with humans and
too much bustling.

  I’m just wo-ahn out.

  It’s crawl-under-a-rock time. With a book.***

   ‘Night.

   ***

  *Experts (says an article on the web) say readers are attracted to lists with numbers in the titles. We’ll see.

  **I have other possibilities. These are the ones I can see without getting up and crossing the room.

  ***I started this post last night but fiddled so long with it that I didn’t have time to read.
I’m still fiddling with it.

  But tonight . . .

***

I love WordPress, but sometimes we disagree about formatting, mostly about position of photographs and about spacing. What I see here on the edit page isn’t always what both of us see on the published page. I have done my darndest to make it do what I tell it to do. At this point, I don’t care. If the post looks funny, please just read it and ignore the WordPress deficiencies. My deficiencies you are welcome to notice and even to point out.

Get a Clue! Mystery Authors Crombie, Hallinan, & Koenig @ Texas Book Festival

Mystery authors Deborah Crombie, Timothy Hallinan, and Minerva Koenig will appear on the panel Get a Clue at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday, October 25, at 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., in Capitol Extension Room E2.014.

*****

Deborah Crombie is the New York Times best-selling author of the Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid/Sergeant IMG_3556Gemma James novels. A SHARE IN DEATH, her first novel,  received Agatha and Macavity nominations for Best First Novel of 1993. She has won two Macavity awards for Best Novel and her books have been nominated for a number of other awards. Her fifth novel, DREAMING OF THE BONES, was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1997, was short-listed by Mystery Writers of America for the 1997 Edgar Award for Best Novel, won the Macavity award for Best Novel, and was voted by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of the hundred best mysteries of the century. The most recent book in the Kincaid / James series, TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, was published by William Morrow in September 2014.

A native of Dallas, Crombie has lived in both Scotland and England, and visits England, where are novels are set, several times a year.

Critical acclaim for Deborah Crombie’s novels

Crombie has laid claim to the literary territory of moody psychological suspense owned by P. D. James and Barbara Vine. – Washington Post

Deborah Crombie is an American mystery novelist who writes so vividly about England, she might have been born within the sound of Bow Bells. (She) gets better with each book…lyrical, biting and evocative. Cleveland Plain Dealer

*****

Timothy Hallinan has written eighteen critically acclaimed novels. He’s been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, and Lefty, IMG_3552among others, and is currently a Shamus nominee for his book LITTLE ELVISES.  He writes two series, one set in Bangkok, where he lives half-time, and the other in Los Angeles, where he lives the rest of the time. The Bangkok books feature an American travel writer named Poke Rafferty, who has married a Thai woman and adopted a Thai daughter, a street child, right off the sidewalk. The books are as much about family as they are about crime. The seventh Rafferty novel, FOR THE DEAD, comes out November 4, and William Kent Krueger described it as . . .”not only a fast-paced, compelling tale, but also, on every level, a fine literary read.”  His Junior Bender series, about a San Fernando Valley burglar, who works as a private eye for crooks, has just been bought by Iddie Izzard as an NBC television series. The fourth and most recent to be published is HERBIE’S GAME. [Thanks to Timothy Hallinan for writing this copy, which appears here unaltered.]

Critical acclaim for Timothy Hallinan’s novels

“Bender’s quick wit and smart mouth make him a book companion on this oddball adventure.” ~ New York Times Book Review

“A modern-day successor to Raymond Chandler.” ~ Los Angeles Daily News

*****

Minerva Koenig is the author of NINE DAYS, published by Minotaur in September of this year. The main character, Julia IMG_3548Kalas, is described as “short, round, and pushing forty, but … a damned good criminal. For seventeen years she renovated historic California buildings as a laundry front for her husband’s illegal arms business. Then the Aryan Brotherhood made her a widow, and witness protection shipped her off to the tiny town of Azula, Texas. Also known as the Middle of Nowhere.” With a local law enforcement officer as watchdog.

Julia has no intention of lying low, but she also doesn’t intend to raise her profile so high that half of Texas—good guys, bad guys, and who-knows-what-kind-of-guys—are either chasing, or being chased, by her. One thing is sure–Julia won’t be pushed around by any of them.

Scott Montgomery, crime fiction coordinator at BookPeople Book Store, says, “NINE DAYS introduces us to a fresh-hardboiled voice. Koenig embraces the genre, yet doesn’t completely play by its rules. I can’t wait to see what other conventions she breaks.”

Joy Tipping of the Dallas Morning news hails Julia Kalas as a successor to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone, saying, “Let us praise the literary gods, then, that a worthy successor has arrived with Austin author Minerva Koenig and her debut novel, the funny, scary and devilishly twisty NINE DAYS.”

A long-time resident of Texas, Minerva is a licensed architect who runs a one-woman practice in Austin. Among her other interests are sewing, playing chess, and fighting the patriarchy.

Critical acclaim for Minerva Koenig’s novels

“Small-town Texas is vividly brought to life in this atmospheric and entertaining debut that also introduces a memorable and unusual protagonist.” ~ Library Journal

*****

Information about Deborah Crombie and Minerva Koenig was drawn from their websites.

Get a Clue ~ Saturday, October 25, 2014 ~ 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ~ Capitol Extension Room E2.014

 I will be moderator of the panel.

Select Tender Type or, Another Reason Literature Is Useful (Repost)

Below is a piece I originally posted, under a slightly different title, several years ago. I don’t know why the text looks as it does, but it will stay that way until tech support and I find a remedy. I hope you will read and enjoy anyway.

Ophelia, oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in
“Ophelia,” oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in (Photo credit: Wikipedia) John William Waterhouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
At HEB this afternoon, having verified that I had, indeed, spent my last sou on a cup of coffee at Waterloo Writers, I ran my credit card through the scanner. The resulting screen read, Select Tender Type.

Tender.

Such a formal, old-fashioned word for this new-fangled device.

It reminded me of the scene in which Polonius asks Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet:

Polonius: What is between you? give me up the truth.

Ophelia: He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
Of his affection to me.

Polonius: Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

Ophelia: I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

Polonius: Marry, I’ll teach you: think yourself a baby;
That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;
Or–not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
Running it thus–you’ll tender me a fool.

Poor Ophelia. She was a sweet thing, and young, and the men in her life treated her so shabbily.

But even while Polonius belittles his daughter to her face, the way Shakespeare moves tender through the passage, varying its meaning from one line to the next, makes the language as briliant as its meaning is dark. Polonius, as Hamlet later implies, is a rat—and he pays for his treachery a couple of acts down the road—but he has such a way with words.

Thinking of Polonius and Ophelia reminded me of Lord Capulet‘s rage when Juliet tells him she will not marry Paris. He explodes, and Juliet adds fuel to the fire.

Capulet: How! will she none? doth she not give us thanks?
Is she not proud? doth she not count her blest,
Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought
So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?

Juliet or The Blue Necklace (1898) by John Wil...
Juliet or The Blue Necklace (1898) by John William Waterhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Juliet: Not proud, you have; but thankful, that you have:
Proud can I never be of what I hate;
But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.

Capulet: How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?
‘Proud,’ and ‘I thank you,’ and ‘I thank you not;’
And yet ‘not proud,’ mistress minion, you,
Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds,
But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next,
To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church,
Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!
You tallow-face!

“Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds, / But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next,…” Beautiful. Just seeing it on the page gives me the shivers.

To some, Capulet sounds like a terrible father, but, as I pointed out to my freshmen, year after year, Juliet starts it. She’s rude and disrespectful. Her father doesn’t know she’s already married; he thinks she would be thrilled to marry Paris. But she behaves like a brat. It’s no wonder Capulet threatens to drag her on a hurdle thither.

The two female characters present an interesting contrast: Ophelia refuses to speak for herself; Juliet shouts. But neither one lasts to the end of Act V.

A scholarly paper might lurk in there somewhere: “Shakespeare’s Women: A Study of the Consequences of Self-Actualization Within the Context of the Father-Daughter Relationship Complicated by Nascent Heterosexual Bonding, with a Focus on Hamlet’s Ophelia and Romeo and Juliet’s Juliet.”

Or perhaps not.

By the time I finished with the Capulets, the cashier had almost finished scanning. While she bagged the items, I had time to wonder whether the name of Jasper FForde‘s protagonist, Thursday Next, was inspired by the once-projected date for Juliet’s wedding.

I also remembered that The Idylls of the King contains a line echoing Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds; I believe it’s spoken by Guinevere–maybe–but I’ve not been able to locate it, and it looks as if I’ll have to re-read the entire Idylls to ease my mind.

But I did catch the next lines that drifted by: Guinevere, jealous of Elaine, takes up Lancelot’s gift of diamonds

“And thro’ the casement standing wide for heat
Flung them and down they flash’d, and smote the stream.
Then from the smitten surface flash’d, as it were
Diamonds to meet them, and they past away.”

That image—diamonds falling into the sunlit stream, and water splashing up, like diamonds to meet them—remains with me when the rest of the book has passed from memory.

Well. By this time, the cashier and I had completed our transaction. I wheeled the groceries to the car. End of shopping.

End of post.

Except to point out that I stood for ten minutes in one of the most boring places imaginable and forgot to be bored.

I was busy elsewhere.

 

 

 

Other People’s Words

I stayed up late the past two nights and didn’t make up for the sleep lost. As a result,  my attention span hasn’t kicked in, and since an attention span is almost essential to my writing, today’s post focuses on what other people have written.

***

Totsymae climbed a ladder the other day but came down by a different route. Read about it here. No one can tell a story quite like Totsymae. She illustrates as well.

***

Yesterday marked my first post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors. There are nineteen bloggers in the group. When they asked me to join, I jumped at the chance. You might have seen my post about E-Impulse on the reblog here yesterday, but please stop in at Writing Wranglers and Warriors to see what others are writing. Today Erin Farwell, author of historical mysteries, writes about Keeping the Tradition. Two days ago, Doris McCraw posted Outside the Lines, about leaving the rules behind and making new traditions. Doris also blogs at fivesevenfivepage.

***

Gale Albright posts memories of her friend Cinda Cyrus in Visions and Revisions.

VP Chandler outlines required reading for her prospective informal education.

Elizabeth Buhmann posts about a neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia that inspired a setting in her novel Lay Death at Her Door.

***

I would express my opinion of the operating system that accompanied my new laptop, but if I did so, you would stop thinking of me as a truly nice person and start thinking something closer to the truth. The fact that four out of five critique partners agree with me would make no difference.

The laptop itself, however, is truly nice. So is LibreOffice, the free office suite I downloaded to handle documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other functions I haven’t discovered yet.

***

The time has come to retire, lest the lose-sleep-lose-attention-span thing start all over again. ‘Night.

At Sharechair: New Kindles Announced by Amazon

English: Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying ...
Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’d like to know more about the new Kindle Paperwhite–and the older versions as well–check out Sharechair: Everyday Technology for Everyday Folks.

“I will highlight these products here, and try to give you an overview without getting you overloaded with details you probably don’t want to know.”  

New Kindles Announced by Amazon.

 

Image of Kindle made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. 

“I should wash him!”

“Well, then,” returned my aunt… “Now, here you see young David Copperfield, and the question I put to you is, what shall I do with him?”

“What shall you do with him?” said Mr. Dick, feebly, scratching his head. “Oh! Do with him?”

“Yes,” said my aunt, with a grave look, and her forefinger held up. “Come! I want some very sound advice.”

“Why, if I was you,” said Mr.Dick, considering, and looking vacantly at me, “I should—” The contemplation of me seemed to inspire him with a sudden idea, and he added, briskly, “I should wash him!”

“Janet,” said my aunt, turning round with a quiet triumph, which I did not then understand, “Mr. Dick sets us all right. Heat the bath!” ~ Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Bleak House where Dickens wrote David Copperfi...
Bleak House, Broadstairs, England, where Dickens wrote David Copperfield--Image via Wikipedia

During our (brief) study of Paradise Lost, a high school senior said, “Do you actually read this stuff when you’re home at night?”

Actually, and emphatically, No. I read Dickens.

Today marks Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday, and I’m determined to get my greeting in before I have to add the word belated. That means finishing this in 21 minutes, a daunting task when William is curled up in my lap, trying to control the touchpad and the space bar, and licking my hands. And deleting things. The deleting is bad, but the licking is worse. Ick.

Speak of the devil. He just deleted the paragraph above. I got it back.

Anyway.

When I was twelve, I checked out a copy of David Copperfield from the bookmobile and fell in love. Peggoty, Barkis, Aunt Betsey Trotwood, Mr. McCawber, Little Emily, Dora, Agnes, Uriah Heep, Mr. Dick, King Charles’ head, even the nasty little pug. I followed up with A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, Dombey and Son…I haven’t read all his books, but I also haven’t given up the idea that someday I’ll be able to say I have.

Author and editor William Dean Howells said that Dickens wasn’t so much a novelist as a caricaturist, and paid homage to Dickens by creating in Annie Kilburn a wrong-headed character who is always trailed by his wife and a passel of children (a la Mr. McCawber) and who frequently speaks of his Growlery (a la Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House).

I like Howells’ novels and think his comment about Dickens has its merits. But I couldn’t care less. Finding that Dickensian gentleman in Howells’ book delighted me. It was like finding an old friend.

Note that although I banged out twenty pages of lit. crit. on Annie Kilburn, I don’t remember that gentleman’s name. I never wrote a word about Dickens, except perhaps on an undergrad exam, but I can recite names from a string of his novels.

I’ve often thought that certain artists give such pleasure to so many, it’s a shame they have to leave. John Gielgud, Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Lew Ayres, Katharine Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain, P. G. Wodehouse, Edith Wharton, Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson, Victor Borge, Mary Cassatt…They’re keepers. They should be allowed to stay with us, acting, playing, reading, painting, composing, writing.

Charles Dickens is a keeper. But in his absence, books fill his place.

The clock tells me that once again my birthday card will be stamped belated.

But I don’t think the recipient will care.

Happy 200th birthday, Mr. Dickens, and many more.

***

Photo by Heron on 3rd October 2005. Released into the public domain.