Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Books By My Bedside

My dining room table. Collages to be assembled.
It's so easy for me to pick up a book, read a few pages, even a chapter or two, all in the midst of the day's activities. A slow moment arrives, or a moment of procrastination, and I'll pick up a book and then another, read a few pages or a chapter or two. I have as many as a dozen books going all the time. This is the way I read. Here are a few of the books by my bedside or on the kitchen table:

"Fairfield Porter, a life in art", Justin Spring. I found this book on Amazon after spending a week in Maine on Great Spruce Head Island, summer domicile of the Porter family. I asked Elita about Fairfield's paintings, as I knew nothing about his work. She referred me to the book that Bill wrote about Fairfield. I purchased Bill's tome as well as Spring's biography, which as I read it, is certainly affecting my thoughts about the island and the Porter family. Such a back story.

Over the weekend, I found a book in my guest room that I purchased when? where?  It's called "Memory's Daughters, The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth Century America." Written by Susan M. Stabile of Texas A&M and published by Cornell U Press, the book discusses the genealogy of memory with a focus on a women who wrote journals and commonplace books in 18th century America. I am stunned with how closely their interests and writing are like my own. Her book led me to a website called Project Muse that collects digital humanities journals and papers. Would that I could read more than the first several paragraphs of articles on memoir writing. Especially the paper titled "How Memoirists Use Style to Shape Substance." I've asked my archivist daughter Mary B to find access to this on-line trove. She'll know how. We are both are becoming memoirists.

While in Seattle, I walked with Kelan and Lauren to a bookstore on Phinney. Bought them each a book and couldn't resist buying one for myself. "Forty-one False Starts, Essays on Artists and Writers" is a collection of essays by Janet Malcolm. I am halfway through these riffs. Loved her takes on the artist David Salle, the Bloomsbury group and the German photographer Thomas Struth. Still to read? Essays on Salinger, Edith Wharton, John Ruskin and Gene Stratton Porter. Glad I bought the book.

Earl left me the book he finished over the weekend. Says its good and there's more to the series. I've always intended to read James Lee Burke's books. Known about him for years. Guess now is the moment as I have one in hand. Very early this morning, I read several chapters of "Crusader's Cross". Every sentence the man writes is filled with visual images. Picture after picture after picture. And he's authored over two dozen books. Think what's in store?

Last evening, I took a pot of home made soup over to John and Trish's. On the way home, I stopped at Half Price Books. Couldn't help myself. Spent an hour lingering in the art, cooking, gender and travel book sections. There were books I couldn't leave behind.
A few of the things on my kitchen table, picked up on my morning neighborhood walk
and purchased last evening at Half Price Books.
"A Queer History of the United States" by Michael Bronski charts the 'breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, from 1492 to the 1990s…abounds with startling examples of unknown or often ignored aspects of American history. Always love books that upend conventional knowledge. "Memory's Daughters" is doing for me the same thing that I suspect "A Queer History of the United States" will do. Broaden my perspective.

"Disco Divas, Women and Popular Culture in the 1970s" edited by Sherrie A. Inness. Since this was my decade - meaning this was the decade when I learned language to describe my woman's life, when I realized that women were powerful and yet not, the decade when I was young and sexy, when I was raising three daughters and drowning in a bad marriage, when I worked to define myself and often floundered, when I found an ever broadening circle of women friends that kept me afloat - well, I had to buy this book weighed down with footnotes.  I'll read and remember how Carole King and Carly Simon, Anita Hill and Helen Gurley Brown, Gloria Steinem, Charlie's Angels and MS. magazine changed my world.

I am dipping into all of these books. Who wouldn't be?

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