Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blog Changes

I'm making some changes in my blogs. This is becoming my regular spot for notes and newsletters. I am also continuing to keep Literature and the Web in its usual place-- latest post on "The Joy of George Eliot!"

I now have a page on my website here with links to very old blogs and family photos. I had a lot of fun with that blog, back when things were more computer based--earthbound rather than The Cloud! But the time has come to consolidate and update!

For the record, here are the links to old things:
Blog 2010
Blog 2009
Blog 2008

July-December 2007
Jan-June 2006
July-Dec 2006
Blog 2005
Blog 2004
Personal Photos

Photos of MSW for Publicity Purposes
College Graduation
Christmas 2006
Andy's Honoring

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snowed in again! Andy is snowblowing after a scare when the machine didn't work for a while, I've been out shovelling steps for two porches, will go out later for the car. The sun just came out so it is extraordinarily beautiful, a little blue sky peeping, and this means we'll get a lot of melting and evaporating, but this wa at lot of snow.

The picture above, from my office window was from before it snowed again.

I've now got all (I think) of George Eliot's fiction on the Kindle. This probably says a lot about my prehistoric taste in literature. I just read "Brother Jacob" and "The Lifted Veil," probably the only fiction of hers I’d never read before. Often grouped together because of length (short) althought the lifted veil was written between Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss .

"The Lifted Veil" is a kind of Henry James-in-his-supernatural mode story with a touch of Poe, very overwrought and with a totally bizarre medical experiment in the end that causes a corpse to Tell All– still, there were parts that completely gripped me, the strnage passive narrator who sees too much and is involved in a truly rotten marriage-- which I'm beginning to think is the great Victorian subject-- being caught in a relationship with the wrong person and being unable to get out of it.

I’m reading a little in Haight’s bio of her, too, the parts I didn’t pay much attention to like her first time alone, in Geneva, in pensiones, a thirty year old mademoiselle, not beautiful (even the drawings of her barely manage to flatter– the big hooter, the half-blind eyes, the pendulous lower lip). Thank God for George Lewes making her happy and thus Middlemarch and The Mill and Adam and Daniel and Gwendolyn and all the rest.

"Brother Jacob" is a parable, unpleasant family thief found out by his enormous pitchfork toting retarded brother.

I LOVE getting these free and reading them in the calm gray linear environment of the Kindle.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Reading on the Kindle Notes

I’ve finished my first book on my Christmas Kindle: Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister. I did not start the book on the Kindle, having read maybe a fifth of it in a Penguin paperback, but read most of the book on the e-reader, including early pages that I didn’t read well becaues of self-awareness and awareness of the device.

Once I got used to it, I liked it a lot. Here are some initial observations:

The lightness of the device (when it isn’t wearing its new protective cover), is amazing and much better for reading in bed than any book I’ve read since comix.

Something about the format, the relatively small screen, which is highly readable, changes my reading style with the intense focus on the present paragraphs. I find it hard to skim and modulate my speed, which I apparently never realized I did so much of. Since I will also be reading hard copy books, as well as the Kindle, I hope this simply turns into another way of reading, an addition to my reading repertoire.

What does look likely, and as I planned, is that I will gradually get all the free Victorian novels onto the Kindle and always travel with Geo. Eliot, Jane Austen, Uncle Tony, Charles Dickens, and all the rest of them. I’m not so sure about the Great Russians because of the issue of translations– the best translations are probably not going to be free. Do I really want Constance Garnett’s Tolstoy? Maybe I do. Anyhow, what I’m likely to carry with me is going to be out-of-copyright English language novels.

I haven’t tried poetry yet.

I haven’t bought a book for money yet. I was going to try the last of the Fire and Ice George R.R. Martin sword and sorcery books, but had already ordered a cheap used copy– a giant hard back. Too bad. I might still shell out six dollars to try it on the Kindle.

I’m not satisfied with how some of the books for Kindle look that are from sources other than the Amazon store (including the Smashwords books ): they have a double space between paragraphs, a combination of business letter and conventional narrative paragraphing that irritates me because it denies us novelists another means of expression– the double space.

More anon.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Yes, Yes, It's January 1, 2011

January 1, 2011

A slow logy start to the new year. Banana waffles a la Andy, journal entries, bright and snowy uotside. It's a house bound few days for me followed by 4 days with Wayne 4th graders.

We saw a DVD of It's Complicated last night with Meryl Street and Alec Baldwin and a somewhat wasted Steve Martin (although knowing his comic genius makes his attractiveness to her believable– external to the movie, of course, except for one scene when high on pot and dancing, his zaniness busts out, his physical comedy) Streep is beautiful with her sixtyish face that occasionally collapses into crepey wrinkles, but comes back to beauty-- very realistic. Alec Baldwin is brilliant– fatuous, sleekly fat with his dense pelt of hair, smooth talking– steals the show, as does the actor who plays the older daughter's fiancĂ©.

And then there is Southern California. When do we get a working class story in which the people look spectacularly attractive and have complex feelings and act generally ethically, or at least correc their errors? Hollywood, of course, doesn't believe this is possible.

There is something really obnoxious, too, about how these people live, that part of the plot hangs on Streep finally getting the kitchen she has always wanted– an extenstion for a house that is perfect as it is. Give me a break. As I have always said in these situations, sure it's fine to hear about the sufferings etc.– of the rich and beautiful, and the intrense interior struggles of straight white men– but only if we get the other side too! And the other side is not just symbolic suffering of the pathetic poor! Being working class isn't tragic.

But you won't get it from Hollywood, nor, apparently, from conventional novels.

Does this mean I ought to be adding a POV for Merlee to Safe Houses?