Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sunday Salon: October was...

Autumn colors
Blogging break
Concert season begins
Docks out, ready for winter
Emotional roller coaster: definition of life with 2 high school seniors
Flu shot - ouch!
Group read of Madame Bovary... behind again
The Irresistible Henry House
Kindle or Nook?
Last open house/curriculum night
Maine, again
New oven ordered - 4 month ordeal draws to a close
Old Forge - a beautiful fall day in the Adirondack Mountains
Pumpkin Spice Lattes!
Quiet, please! Stop the annoying political phone calls (don't even get me started on the ads)
Reading time? What reading time?
Snow, but at least it didn't stick
The Mikado
Used book sale with Mom
Visa application to study abroad - Daughter #1 gets fingerprinted
Will Bleak House ever end? 700 pages in and still 289 to go!
eXactly how many colleges have we visited? Wait, don't answer that...
Yes, I know the admission process won't last much longer.
Zelda is hypothyroid? I thought it was just greyhound "coach potato syndrome".

Welcome, November!

My blogging break may continue another week or so, but these ABC monthly reviews are really fun to write. It may become a regular feature...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Blogging Break

My plate is overflowing. It seems there are not enough hours in the day. Something has to give and, for now, it's blogging. I'm still reading, and will return once portion size is brought back under control.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Sale Restraint

My tbr pile is embarrassing... really. There are enough books on the shelves to keep me reading for years to come, yet there is something so alluring about a library book sale. Armed with our canvas shopping bags, my mother and I browsed the sale in her town yesterday.

Mom came away with about 20 books, but my pile was considerably smaller. It was the second day of the sale and virtually all the trade paperbacks were gone. So while I could claim to have exercised remarkable restraint, the truth lies somewhere closer to mild disappointment. Wish I'd picked up that battered copy of The Handmaid's Tale after all...

My stack:

The Ambassadors by Henry James
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

The Ambassadors is a Norton Critical Edition that looks like it's never been opened. It wasn't what I had in mind for my next Henry James novel, but it was only a quarter.
Is anyone funnier than David Sedaris? I usually listen to his books, but will read Holidays on Ice as the season approaches.
The Magnificent Ambersons, winner of the 1919 Pulitzer Prize, has been on my wish list for some time.

Not bad for seventy five cents.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Sunday Salon, from Maine

Good morning again from Maine, but it's just until tomorrow this time. A college we visited early last month ended up near the top of Twin A's list. Unfortunately, most students were not around then, and it's hard to get a true sense of the campus without them. We drove up yesterday, plan to relax today, Twin A will attend classes and hang out at the college Monday, and then we'll drive the 7 hours home. Wonder if I'll get to see a moose this time...

As for reading, I finished The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald. This wonderful novel is my book club's next selection. It begins in 1946 when Henry, supplied by a nearby orphanage, becomes the next 'practice baby' for a college home economics program. The premise grabbed my attention right away... and I believe my group will have a field day discussing the book at the end of the month!

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Lydia Davis, is my current book. Frances at Nonsuch Book is hosting a group read this month and the insightful posts have added much to my own understanding. There are even two or three participants reading in French! I hope to have Part 2 finished by Thursday but, if not, I'll just combine it with the wrap-up the following week.

As for Bleak House, Amanda has finished and posted her final review. I continue to read/listen and will reach the halfway point within the next day or two. Look for an update soon.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Madame Bovary: the first post

And so it begins. Frances from Nonsuch Book is hosting a group read of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert to coincide with the release of Lydia Davis' new translation. The group is posting today about the introduction and Part 1, but I've decided to write about my past experience with the novel and offer a short translation comparison.

My first reading of Madame Bovary was in college. The semester, loaded with both organic chemistry and physics, was demanding. Near the end, and much to my current embarrassment, I resorted to SparkNotes. For the next 25 years, whenever Madame Bovary was mentioned, I felt a pang of nagging guilt.

In 2005, an online classics group that I co-owned chose to read Madame Bovary and provided an opportunity to finally assuage that guilt. My Vintage Classic edition featured Francis Steegmuller's 1957 translation. This time I read the book in its entirety, but still felt surprisingly neutral.

And here we are. It's interesting to read a novel when you are already familiar with the plot. The main focus is no longer on what happens next, and closer attention can be paid to other details. Normally, I would not consider a reread so soon, but group reads are far too tempting- plus I am fascinated by translation.  Whenever multiple options are available, I always read a chapter or two of each before choosing. Even so, I wonder what I am choosing. How can I possibly evaluate which one is closer to the author's actual writing style? Is my choice based solely on current language usage and readability?

Beginning Madame Bovary for the third time, I am especially interested to see how the translations differ. Here are the introductions of young Charles Bovary.

First, Steegmuller's translation from pages 3 and 4:
"The newcomer, who was hanging back in the corner so that the door half hid him from view, was a country lad of about fifteen, taller than any of us. He had his hair cut in bangs like a cantor in a village church, and he had a gentle, timid look. He wasn't broad in the shoulders, but his green jacket with its black buttons seemed tight under the arms; and through the vents of his cuffs we could see red wrists that were clearly unaccustomed to being covered. His yellowish breeches were hiked up by his suspenders, and from them emerged a pair of blue-stockinged legs. He wore heavy shoes, hobnailed and badly shined.
We began to recite our lessons. He listened avidly, as though to a sermon - he didn't dare even cross his legs or lean on his elbows; and at two o'clock, when the bell rang for the next class, the teacher had to tell him to line up with the rest of us."
Now, the same passage from Davis:
"Still standing in the corner, behind the door, so that one could hardly see him, the new boy was a fellow from the country, about fifteen years old, and taller than any of us. His hair was cut straight across the forehead, like a village choirboy's, his manner sensible and very ill at ease. Although he was not broad in the shoulders, his suit jacket of green cloth with black buttons must have pinched him around the armholes, and it showed, through the vent of its cuffs, red wrists accustomed to being bare. His legs, in blue stockings, emerged from a pair of yellowish pants pulled tight by his suspenders. He wore stout shoes, badly shined, studded with nails.
We began reciting our lessons. He listened to them, all ears, as attentive as though to a sermon, not daring even to cross his legs or lean on his elbow, and at two o'clock, when the bell rang, the teacher was obliged to alert him, so that he would get in line with us."
So will this new translation allow Madame Bovary to 'speak' to me in a way it never has before? We shall see...
Visit Frances for the list of participants and links to their posts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

TSS: Not exactly a read-a-thon...

Good morning! It's the day after. Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is ending as I type, and the dedicated, hard-core readers are heading off to sleep. Being something of a literary lightweight, I have not participated in a read-a-thon. There always seems to be a conflicting family activity, and yesterday was no different.  However, I did manage to spend some time in Barnes & Noble with a pumpkin spice latte and my current book club selection.

The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald was published earlier this year, but has received little attention from book bloggers. Henry, born in 1946, is a "practice baby" in a home economics program at a prominent college. The book captured my attention from the opening sentence:
"By the time Henry House was four months old, a copy of his picture was being carried in the pocketbooks of seven different women, each of whom called him her son."
I'm afraid there won't be time for reading today though. It's a perfect fall day here in New York, and we will enjoy it in the Adirondack Mountains. I'll catch up with Henry House and the rest of you later tonight. Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Sunday Salon: September was...

Inspired by Joan and Verity, here is my version of September in review.

Apple picking
Back-to-school one last time... my 'babies' are seniors
Cutting for Stone
Dog walking
Early decision???
Football ... I love fall!
Graphic novels - Persepolis 2 and Embroideries
Happy 75th Birthday to my Mom!
Ice cream cake for Matt's birthday
Just can't seem to get these reviews written...
Kindle.... maybe for Christmas?
Not enough time to read!
Oven repair - an ongoing headache
Pasta Fagioli, the best recipe ever. Thanks, Melissa!
Questions for the college counselor.... lots of them!
Read-along... loving Bleak House, but will I ever catch up?
Sunsets (see below)
Travel plans for spring - London? Paris?
Under pressure - college deadlines closing in
Visiting colleges, more interviews
Where does time go?
eXam prep - one more SAT
whY can't the favorite schools be closer to home?
Zelda hates the cold.... poor pup has no idea what's ahead!

Wishing you all a wonderful Sunday. Happy October!


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