Bookmania reviews, August 1996

From my first web site back in 1996, Bookmania!

Sadie's Big Beaver Restaurant

Western Trees. Petersen Field Guide. Also Trees.
(Golden Nature Guide) and Pacific Coast Tree Finder.

I have been poring over these
books lately, trying to identify trees in my neighborhood, although all my books are for the west coast. Eastern cottonwoods, various other poplars and aspens, ash, elm, sycamore,
maple, black locust, Alianthus, and catalpa trees are all common in Hyde Park. No oaks yet, but
on the U. of C. campus, especially noticable down Ellis, several nifty gingkos. Why this strange obsession with trees? I don’t know, but at least they sit still to be identified. Birds are too difficult.

The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister, Earle Stanley Gardner

Playback, Raymond Chandler.

Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, Paul Conlinvaux, 1978.

Fire with Fire,

Naomi Wolf. rr

This has my vote as the coolest book of the year. It is very heartening to read Wolf’s arguments that women are the political majority (51%). Her analysis of Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas & also TV commercials, other media- hilarious & interesting. The positive trends she was predicting a few years ago are continuing.

“This is a book written for Jill Blow, not Gloria Steinem. Wolf encourages feminists to live fruitfully and responsibly in the mainstream. In a voice
remarkably free of backbiting or jargon, she speaks compassionately of the problems that women still face, encouraging women to be successful as individuals; the more economic clout and personal satisfaction you have, the more resources and energy you have to give to your cause.” – review by Barbara Strickland

Nova, Samuel Delany .

Three Plays, Turgenev

A Month in the Country was the best. Everyone in it was in constant emotional anguish. It is hard to keep all their names, nicknames, and patronymics in mind. Vera should definitely NOT have married the farmer, that’s all I can say.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare. rr

100 Selected Poems, ee cummings.

O sweet spontaneous earth

Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences, Abraham Maslow. rr

The Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Illustrated. rr

Vinland Sagas

Another Icelandic saga. This has the story of the discovery and settling of Greenland and Vinland. Especially memorable: Eirik the Red’s evil daughter Freydis, when the colonists are running from the Skraelings with flint tomahawks, screaming that they are all cowards, and standing off the whole tribe of attackers, even though she was in advanced state of pregnancy. She comes to a bad end, though.

More on Vikings in New World

The Ink-Dark Moon, Transl. by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani. rr

Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu.

    How invisibly
    it changes color
    in this world,
    the flower
    of the human heart.

      –Ono no Komachi

Slow Funeral, Rebecca Ore.

I recommend this book to people who don’t usually read speculative fiction. Well written, made me feel that my sense of reality and sanity were twisting a bit, just like Maude’s was when she confronted her witchy Appalachian family. Better
crossing of the line between sanity & schizophrenia than in Woman on the Edge of Time. Very moving portrait of her dying grandmother, of how people act around old & dying people, the tensions in families. I especially liked it when Maude “hears” what people are actually thinking/meaning behind their ordinary small talk.

Impossible Things, Connie Willis.

Great science fiction short stories. Hilarious realistic details of the way people act, of the bureaucratic obstacles of life, of marriage, family, & midlife crisis. She is quite versatile- from hard to historical to psycho-social SF- I can’t wait to read her novels.

Quote for August:
If you are no true men, be at least true animals. Be unaffected, and you will, of necessity, be useful or agreeable to somebody.” — Baudelaire, Intimate Journals.