WWW Wednesday 4-16-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

I just finished rereading Bunker Bean and plan to reread Ruggles of Red Gap, both by Harry Leon Wilson, and I’m reading Tish by Mary Roberts Rhinehart. To my shock I have realized that these books are literally one hundred years old. My copies are first editions.

This forces me to recognize that I am, in spite of a certain raunchy rowdiness when the moon is full, one of those old farts who read hundred year old novels and relish their grace, their command of English, and their depiction of a slower and more mannered time than our own.

Old fart.  Holy crap, Jennifer.

Tish cover


This cover is the edition I own. But click this picture to get it free at Amazon in Kindle! I just snapped up MORE TISH as well!

Currently I’m reading aloud to my husband a series of longish serial stories written by Mary Roberts Rhinehart. The collection is called Tish, after the central character. Three maiden ladies between forty-five and fifty are lifelong friends. They have adventures generaled by Tish, the oldest and most fearless of the three, narrated by Lizzie, the most cynical, with pratfalls and soppy sentiment provided by Aggie.

I can’t get enough of the offhand way in which Lizzie reports, for example, that they were late to a wedding because their car broke through a bridge–it was quite a small bridge–and there was some trouble with a man who was fishing under the bridge who claimed that the falling car broke his arm, although Lizzie distinctly saw him move it. The three of them managed to pull the machine out, and were spared a lawsuit from the irate fisherman because Tish had had the forethought to remove the number plates. But Aggie’s feet were wet through and she wouldn’t go to church until she had changed her shoes. (I’m paraphrasing from memory.)

I want to be Tish when I grow up. Heck, I’d settle for being Aggie.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Bunker Bean cover


Also free–click here.

Bunker Bean is about a mild-mannered young man who blunders his way into fortune and the love of a millionaire’s daughter. Bean has the soul of an artist without any of an artist’s confidence in his own voice. He worships beauty in a hopeless, utterly detached way: a seashell, a bull terrier puppy, a necktie, a young woman he sees as so far above him that, even while she is courting him, rope and hogtie, he fantasizes that she is flirting with him to score off her “real” fiancé. It takes him nearly to the end of the book to realize how he loves her, and to take possession of his own power and responsibility. This is a theme with Wilson: taking one’s own power. Ruggles uses it, too, as well as a less successful novel called Oh, Doctor!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Ruggles cover


Also free! click here.

Ruggles of Red Gap has been made into a movie, although sadly I haven’t seen it—have you? The title character is the valet of the disreputable younger brother of an English earl. This remittance man loses Ruggles to a rich American in a poker game in Paris. Ruggles is carried back to Red Gap, Washington, there to associate with persons who, in his immortal phrase,”would never do with us.” Like Bean, Ruggles misunderstands much of what he sees and hears, and nevertheless manages to achieve heroic marvels.

What about you? What are you reading, have you been reading, wanting to read next?

 

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WWW Wednesday 4-16-2014 — 10 Comments

  1. I just moved to a new city—Pittsburgh—so I’m looking for ways to get out of the apartment and spend time with people. I’ve been delighted to find book groups, both at my local branch of the library, and on the Meetups website. I’m joining every one I see, which means part of my reading is being driven by the book group selections instead of my usual arbitrary wandering. I’m also looking for a job, instead of working full time at one, so I’ve got more time to read than usual, so more books to talk about!

    The “Genre Book Club” at the library is reading Billy Collins’ Nine Horses. I hadn’t expected a club with that name to read poetry, but April is National Poetry Month. The copies at nearby libraries were all checked out (no surprise), but I found a copy at the excellent Caliban Book Shop used bookstore. I don’t usually read poetry, so reading it was a different experience for me. The language is lovely, and images shimmer as I read, but it vanishes from my mind as soon as I’ve read it. I don’t think I’ll have much to contribute to the discussion tonight.

    The Non-boring Books in the Burgh group’s next book is The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke. She’s a mystery author I hadn’t encountered before, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s suspenseful, the characters are well drawn, and the plot made sense. I particularly liked that the author, and the protagonist, are African American women.

    Pittsburghers Who Love Reading’s next book is Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, by Wayne Gladstone. This is a slim novel that was originally posted online as a series. The technical setup—the internet stops working, and doesn’t get fixed—doesn’t make any sense, but I enjoyed his riff on the social results of it vanishing.

    What with the stress of moving, I’m doing some comfort reading, most recently Dorothy Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise. It had been a long time since I’d read this one. I enjoyed Peter Wimsey, as always, and the satire of advertising and consumer culture. I’d forgotten how well she can write witty dialogue. The plot, however, was just plain silly. These old British murder mysteries often have overly complicated setups.

    I read Cara Black’s Murder in the Marais, which is the first Aimee Leduc Investigations mystery. I did finish it, and rather quickly, so I guess the suspense part worked. The characterization was very thin. I know more about what she wore in each scene than I do about her business partner’s personality. She can’t afford to pay the dry cleaner’s bill on her suit, but she can afford cabs, a hair cut & color, and even buys high tech gadgetry for a raid through the sewers. The computer hacking she does is entirely impossible in real life, but I’ll give that a pass, since that’s a common cheat in books and movies. There are 11 books in the series, so maybe they got a lot better over time?

    What I’m reading right now is Lawrence Hill’s Someone Knows My Name. I was on my “recommended books” list but I’ve lost track of who recommended it to me. It’s a historical novel, being told by an elderly woman in London, who is being used by the abolitionists trying to get anti-slavery laws through Parliament. The narration moves between that “present day” and her own story. I’ve just gotten through the tale of being captured as an eleven year old in a raid that kills her mother and father, a slave ship trip to the Americas, and her early days on a plantation in the Carolinas. It’s well written, and couldn’t be more different than Aimee Leduc’s fashion choices or Lord Peter’s cricket artistry.

  2. Read:
    The Defendant by G.K. Chesterton
    The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton
    The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell
    Reading:
    The Tightrope Walker by Dorothy Gilman
    Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
    To Read:
    Witches and Neighbors by Robin Briggs

  3. You guys are all much more ambitious than I am! All those book clubs, Janet! Yike! And I almost always fail to review books I’ve read, even when I like ’em. (Bad author!)

  4. Jennifer, thanks for the links. I confess I’ve never read Rhinehart. Tried her as a teenager and probably too young to appreciate it. But the scene you described sounds delicious. Will give her a try!