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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Little Batty

I've just adopted a little fellow. His name is Bert. He may not be the handsomest of bats, but he's pretty marvelous.
Here is a bit of his story: "Bert is a lion-hearted little brown bat who survived all odds.
He was found in the sub-zero snowdrifts of Glacier National Park in Alaska, barely clinging to life. The wings that once carried him so well, the ears that once twitched as they echolocated and the tail pouch that held his nightly catch, were all now consumed by the insidious effects of frostbite
." You can read more of Bert's story here.
Bat World has other bats for adoption and each one has a story. There's "Mr. Kitty" who was rescued by a cat, Van Gogh (guess why), and Cleobatra among others. I think it is entirely appropriate that Bert came into my life on Halloween, don't you?
Thanks to One Crabapple for posting the information about the Bat World Sanctuary in Mineral Wells, Texas. She adopted "Sticky" who had to be disentangled from the fly paper that encased his little body.
Happy Halloween!

Short stories, essays, novels, poems

I am not a fan of short stories. Until I read one. Not sure why this is, but I'm always reluctant to read anthologies of short stories even though I love their completeness and the ability to put the book down after reading just one. When choosing books, I always want those that have one narrative thread that pulls things together, and I'll pick up a bad novel before excellent short stories. When I do get involved with short stories, I always enjoy them, so this contradictory behavior sort of baffles me.

I love essays. Essays also offer the ability to read "just one" and not feel compelled to keep reading. Like short stories, they offer the opportunity to pause and digest. My favorite anthology of essays is still Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay, but essays by one author are also fun as they offer a deeper insight and a broader view of the author's life, imagination, philosophy, and background. Why I not only tolerate, but love essays and don't feel the same desire for short stories is another puzzle.

I adore LONG books. If the book is really good and appeals to me, I don't want it to end; that is the beauty of trilogies, especially in fantasy. Robin Hobbs' set of 3 trilogies --The Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man Trilogies (all well over 500 pages each) -- created another world and the 3 sets of 3 intertwined with certain characters woven, even if briefly, throughout all 9 books. Tolkien's Ring Trilogy is still my favorite, but after that comes Robin Hobbs' Farseer, Liveship, and Tawny Man tomes.

Poetry is necessary. Can't live without it. It is in my head even if I neglect reading it for long periods.

On another note entirely: I found this post about author quotes on other books (you know, "loved it" on back cover and the name of an author) on Another 52 Books and the link to this Jennifer Crusie's blog where she wrote about her experience -Confessions of a Reformed Quote Whore-with this (often dishonest) phenomenon. Great post!

Monday, October 30, 2006

October Reading - final update

French, Nicci. Beneath the Skin. Centering on the lives of three women, this suspenseful novel is divided into three segments, developing each character and relating the events involving a serial killer. I found the difference in personality and social status to be well done, French manages to keep the reader involved with each of the women as each in turn comes (unknowingly) in contact with the murderer. I will look for more by Nicci French.

Harris, Charlaine. Grave Sight. reviewed here

Connelly, Michael. City of Bones. A Harry Bosch mystery concerning the bones of a child recovered after 20+ years. What happened, who was this child, who was responsible? Harry goes through some significant events with a rookie, his superiors, and his own growing wavering commitment to his role in the system. Fast read, full of rippling effects resulting from an event that took place years earlier.

Chang, Jung. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. Jung Chang uses the lives of her grandmother, her mother, and herself to illustrate the changes that took place in China during the 20th century. Her grandmother, born in 1909, was a product of feudal China: her feet were bound, she was more or less traded to her first husband as a concubine, and she was essentially powerless in these circumstances. Chang's mother lived through the Japanese Occupation, the civil war between the Communists and the Kuomintang, and the Cultural Revolution. Jung Chang herself suffered through the Cultural Revolution, "Re-education," and the denunciation of her parents.

The book was enlightening, to say the least. Chang's style does not allow the story to become bogged down with the horror of various situations, but neither does she allow the reader avoid the realities of life in China during war, peacetime betrayals, and famine. I had to take frequent breaks from the tension. The corrupt officials, the abuse of power, the destructive policies of Chairman Mao--are all presented through the effects on the Chang family. Reading history in a general sense and reading history from the personal point of view of someone who has been there and experienced it all first-hand -- are significantly different experiences. Excellent book.

Monardo, Anna. Falling in Love with Natassia. I did not enjoy this novel. From the beginning, I was ambivalent, and at more than one point, considered just putting it aside. Then I'd get interested in the characters and their situations again. Then disgusted. Then interested. The interest, however, was always a distant kind of curiosity rather than a connection. The conclusion felt neither "concluded" nor open-ended. More like "this is as good a place as any to stop." Secrets are implied but never really uncovered. The last sentence in the first paragraph: "Years would pass before either of them would ever begin to understand why they had done this." Similar sentences occur throughout the first chapter. The first one was enough to catch your attention. The others were annoying. By the end, I really didn't care why they had "done this," knew more than I wanted to about the characters' backgrounds, and still had only a vague idea of why each character had behaved as he/she did. Psychological revelations aside.

Reichs, Kathy. Cross Bones. reviewed here.

King, Laurie. The Art of Detection. The first book I've read in the Kate Martinelli series (I've read several about 5 of the Mary Russell series), and ironically, this one is also connected to Sherlock Holmes. Martinelli, a San Francisco detective, investigates the murder of a Sherlockian devotee and collector. The story involves the discovery of a manuscript that may have been written by A. C. Doyle while on a trip to San Francisco in the 1920's.

Mitchell, David. Black Swan Green. This is my favorite book so far this year. I loved Jason/ I loved his struggle through his tempestuous thirteenth year and alternately cheered him on or suffered the agony of adolescence with him. I loved his innocence, his willingness to believe fantastic stories, his desperate need to fit in and still be himself. Someone on the back cover compared the novel to Catcher in the Rye (the only similarity I see is that both are about adolescent boys); I think it is more like To Kill a Mockingbird in tone. It was also fun to chuckle about the references to 1980's language, styles, and music...and startling to see the political scene after a great distance.

Banville, John. The Sea. Reviewed here.

Zerries, A. J. The Lost Van Gogh. The reappearance of a Van Gogh plundered by a particular cruel SS officer in 1944 quickly results in the location of an heir. The painting is estimated to be worth $50 million, and various art houses show aggressive interest in the painting. Clay Ryder, the "art dective" with the NYPD, finds that the Mossad is also interested in the case and especially in the SS officer who stole the painting. The Lost Van Gogh is the first novel by this husband and wife team.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

When it rains...

it pours in a nice way. Reading The Book Thief and The Light Years with several other excellent library books waiting. An Amazon order arrived yesterday, and two others are now on their way and should arrive in the next few days.

I'm feeling a little pressure with so many good books in progress and in the waiting to be read pile and more winging their way here. Almost too much of a good thing and too many decisions about what to read next.

Yesterday, there was little time for reading with errands, Tai Chi (great class yesterday), shopping, and K.K. and Jonathan's wedding (K.K. was a gorgeous bride! and Amelia was a beautiful bridesmaid in a slinky black dress - all the bridesmaids were in different black dresses - very effective). Today will be busy, too, but planning on some serious reading time tonight.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Festivals

The Louisiana Book Festival is this weekend in Baton Rouge. I held on to the two invitations I received for a couple of months before admitting that there really was no way I could attend as I was committed to a wedding (which I DO want to attend, just wish the two events were not conflicting). It would have been the perfect way to enjoy family and books as I could have stayed with Erin and played with the grandkids.

Booklogged, on the other hand, is going to make a Book Festival in Salt Lake City this weekend!

Finished Beneath the Skin and will look for other Nicci French books. Now reading The Light Years and The Book Thief. I have Atwood's Alias Grace and The Stolen Child on standby.

R.I.P. List and SciFi: Evolutionary Split?

Thanks to Carl for the entertaining R.I.P Challenge. I read some interesting books and have accumulated a long list of TBR titles from participating bloggers. I'm still waiting for about 5 more books that will go into the bonus R.I.P. category.

My R.I.P. list:

  1. House on the Borderlands - W.H. Hodgson

  2. Lolly Willowes - Sylvia Townsend

  3. Death in the Garden - Elizabeth Ironside

  4. The Wyvern Mystery - Sheridan LeFanu

  5. The Haunted Hotel - Wilkie Collins

Only one of these authors (Wilkie Collins) had I read before, although LeFanu was one I kept saying I was "going to read" --someday. I think I learned something from all of them.

(favorites, by a long shot, #3 and #5; all have been reviewed somewhere on this blog)

Bonus R.I.P:

  1. The Keep - Jennifer Egan

  2. A Coldness in the Blood - Fred Saberhagen

  3. Grave Sight - Charlaine Harris

(favorite, #3)

Carl and Angela (and anyone else interested in science fiction), here is an article that could be developed into countless science fiction novels! Not that most of it hasn't been done before, but it provides a new impetus for futuristic novels.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Winding down the Halloween Season and Noisy Nora

This is an altered photo of a scene in a very ordinary cemetery that I took not long ago. The original is a mundane photo of old monuments, but this version came out pretty spooky. Suits the season.

I'm currently reading Beneath the Skin by Nicci French. Suspense! I'm completely involved with the characters, but the suspense is intense. I wasn't familiar with Nicci French and found the recommendation at Reading Matters in her Favorite Beach Reads post.

I've also been reminded of a book that my children loved (and one of those special books that adults love reading to children every bit as much as the children love the book). Noisy Nora is an excellent book for young children. Thanks, Jay.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Two More Quick Mysteries

Finished two quick little mysteries. Michael Connelly's City of Bones, a Harry Bosch mystery, was quick and entertaining.
The other one, Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris, is about a character who "finds dead people." Struck by lightening when she was 15, Harper Connelly developed the ability to locate the dead. She and her step brother Tolliver Lang work for various police departments who have a missing person. Harris handles this pretty well, and I was easily able to "suspend disbelief" and enjoy the story. Very fast read. This was not actually the book I was looking for--Butterfly Books had posted an entry about the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, but the library didn't have these, so I got the Harper Connelly one instead. Hate the cover and wouldn't have chosen the book if the author had not been on my list, but I did enjoy the book.

It was nice to have two quick and enjoyable bon-bons after the huge, sober, and disturbing books finished this weekend.

Piles of Books

Found this link on The Laughing Librarian and thought you would enjoy the many, many piles of books. I took a quick look, but will go back later and look for familiar names. Have any of you contributed pictures of your piles of books to this site?
I found this picture of my reading companion Mac in my "reading chair" with its required pile of books from last winter.

Monday, October 23, 2006

personal libraries

Jay Parini finds Other People's Books provide insight into their personalities: "What interests me about other people's books is the nature of their collection. A personal library is an X-ray of the owner's soul. It offers keys to a particular temperament, an intellectual disposition, a way of being in the world. Even how the books are arranged on the shelves deserves notice, even reflection. There is probably no such thing as complete chaos in such arrangements."

Received an email from Amazon a while ago, and my most recent order has been shipped. The order before that, the one from September 24, has not been shipped.

Oh, well, I'll get The Thirteenth Tale sooner than I'd hoped.
"From ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord Deliver Us."
Old Scottish Prayer


Finished Wild Swans on Saturday and Natassia on Sunday--991 pages combined. I reviewed them here in October Reading.

On to City of Bones by Michael Connelly.
October is drawing to a close, so here is an old poster with a Halloween feeling. I've thoroughly enjoyed the R.I.P. reads and am eager to get my copies of The Woman in White, The Woman in Black, The Haunted Bookshop, and Parnassus on Wheels. That Amazon order should be here this week. I hope.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

funny links and other stuff

I know. I know. I've posted this link before; but...I just can't help it and want to be sure the rest of you have the opportunity to snort and snicker, too. It is Miss Information. Again.

And since I am being insensitive, I must note that John Mandeville has posted on Geoffrey Chaucer's blog. Oh, and just one more, Katherine de Swyneford has a new post. How can you resist a post titled "Constaunze is swych a bitche!" Of course, the conflict is an old one, but still...

I received my advanced edition of The Ravenscar Dynasty by Barbara Bradford yesterday. The title will be released on in December. I was gone all afternoon and checked the mail when I got home around 7:30 and found it. :)

Danielle and others received the same email...some accepted the offer. Danielle also posted a link to Isabella's blog for an entry about review etiquette. I like the Edwardian period and hope that I'll enjoy the book. I enjoy a wide variety of books so it shouldn't be a problem. The only other offer I had for a review copy was after I'd reviewed a book by the same author.

I now have a surfeit of books:
- a huge Robin Hobbs tome
-City of Bones by Michael Connolly
-The Ravenscar Dynasty
-about 8 books on order (mentioned in previous posts) and a few that have just been hanging around waiting for me (that makes a total of about 15 books either in a pile or on the way)

I've finished Wild Swans and Falling in Love with Natassia and will review them later, right now, I'm off to spend this beautiful afternoon with my husband.

Friday, October 20, 2006

RIP Craving, Prose, and Close Reading

I finished my RIP Challenge some time back, and have even completed some bonus books. The Gothic appeal, however, still has me in its grip, and I've books on order to continue the compulsion. Yesterday would have been the perfect day to indulge, but I didn't have a Gothicky thing at the moment (waiting on Amazon). Nevertheless, when I got home after lunch, I settled in for a couple of hours of comfort reading, cuddled up with dog, soft throw, and hot tea. Looking out the window, I'd think about how glad I was to be back inside and warm.

Most readers recognize different levels of skill on the part of an author: skill with language, with characterization, and with narration. But of course, all of it is achieved through language. If an author is especially good, I'll re-read sections for the pleasure of seeing a master at work. You do it, too, because in your blogs, you not only mention such passages but frequently quote them as illustration. Sometimes we take it a step further and analyze (almost subconsciously) the author's language techniques.

This morning, in reading book-blog, I discovered a review of Francine Prose's (pleasant irony) book Reading Like a Writer. I usually skip this kind of review because I'm not interested in becoming a writer. Kind of silly since I love books about "reading." In a good book about "writing," there is a confluence -- as writers are writing to be read, and as long as the book isn't a formulaic step-by-step-to-becoming-a-better-writer, there is a promise of learning how the author creates what the reader experiences.

Debra's review of Reading Like a Writer and the close reading technique appeals to me. How does Highsmith make a character like Ripley engaging? Read Debra's review (are there others of you who have read the book?), and you may end up adding another title to your TBR list. I did.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

in progress... on order...of childhood

Falling in Love with Natassia: on page 216, almost half way through. I've had to get past a section that made me want to chunk this one, but things are better now. At almost half way, Natassia is not a major character, although she appears to be the inciting incident. I have no idea at this point what my final decision on this novel will be.

Wild Swans: on page 258, right at half way. The Changs have survived so much, but the Cultural Revolution is imminent, and I'm fearful. I was unaware of the famine in China that killed approximately 30 million people in 1958-1962. Chairman Mao's policies were both ridiculous and amazingly destructive, but disagreement of any kind was fatal. As Cheya and I have discussed, examining and comparing the lives the "three daughters of China" led in comparison to 3 generations of our own families is revealing.

I've given up getting The Thirteenth Tale from the library and placed another Amazon order. Another mixed bag: Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl, The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield, Five on a Treasure Island - Enid Blyton, and The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton.

Last year on my other blog, I did several posts relating to children's books as a result of doing a Meme about them. I visited several sites that also completed Shelley's Meme and found that Enid Blyton's books called to me. Recently, I've read several mentions of Enid Blyton and the Famous Five

Other posts resulted from an article about what children should have read before finishing school with choices from J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, and Andrew Motion and just pondering the subject of children's books. As a result, I eventually ordered a set of L.M. Montgomery's Ann books which I started and stalled on this summer. Now, I'm pursuing Enid Blyton (the choice of many readers who did Shelley's Meme as well as showing up frequently in other places in the blog world).

Monday, October 16, 2006

How Important Is Your Library?

How important is your library? I found this link (where? sorry, I'm not sure where I found it) that lets you calculate your library's worth to you. Based on an average of 10 books per month, mine came to $150 - I suppose if you were paying to "rent" them during the course of a year. But to buy? My gosh, as I've told my husband and the librarians over and over - especially when paying a fine - the library is PRICELESS. So far this year, I've read 118 books...most of them from the library.

Finished Cross Bones. I liked the archaeological parts. Temperance Brennan and Ryan end up in Jerusalem trying to solve the mystery of bones found on Masada. Much of the book is based on facts about the Masada excavation - with a mystery created around an archaeological mystery. Has some DaVinci Code overtones, but although Reichs' interpretation is fiction, the dig (1963-1965 by Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin on Masada) and some other strange coincidences really occurred. The facts may be more interesting than the fiction.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Literary Traveler and more on Wild Swans

Wouldn't this be fun? A Literary Tour! I like the title of these two: Mystery and Manners in Savannah and Wigs and Words: Dickens' London.

An article about H.P. Lovecraft; one of many articles on the above site.

At first, Wild Swans was reading very quickly. Not that even in the beginning, you can avoid being grateful not to have lived in that time and place where women have little or no value. Now, however, the horror of events under the Japanese (although I've read much on this before) has slowed the reading down because contemplating what man can do to his fellow men can only be taken in small doses.

Although the Japanese Occupation was only a small part of this film, Farewell My Concubine is a fascinating look into the Peking Opera and the lives of two boys who also lived through this period and much of the chaos that followed with the Cultural Revolution. Informative and visually stunning. A friend from my Tai Chi class lends me Chinese movies, and I watched this one several months ago. Thanks again, J. L.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Referrals and recs

From checking other reading blogs, I've made a long list of books I would like to read. Here are some of them:

Frances Burney's Journals and Letters - Of Books and Bicycles
Angela Carter's The Magic Toy Shop - Aurora's Books
The China Garden by Liz Berry - Booklogged (Cheya didn't give it the highest marks, but I still want to read it- has a mythological bent)
Sixty Lights by Gail Jones - Reading Matters
Buzzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Book Shop - A Work in Progress

Currently reading:

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I've been quite frustrated by my latest Amazon order which didn't arrive and didn't arrive; checked on it and discovered I'd checked deliver all of them together. Evidently, at least one of the books was not immediately available. On order: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Bookshop and Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley, and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. They were supposed to be my bonus R.I.P. reads, but I may not get them in time for the October deadline. Not a huge problem as November is also a good month for Gothic...

Anyway, after a visit to The Library Ladder, I saw that my problem isn't unique.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Reading Itineraries

While visiting Book Lust , I was reminded of the way we move from one book to another and started thinking about it.

All readers talk about the surprising places one book can take them. I read Brief Gaudy Hour (one of Mother's Book of the Month choices - a novel about Anne Boyleyn) when I was in maybe the 5th or 6th grade. It led to many, many books about the Tudor family and about the time period-- both fiction and non-fiction, including Sir Walter Scott's Kenilworth (which led to many more of Scott's novels and a digressive path toward Vikings as well). Of course, other side trips along the way covered Elizabeth, Mary (Elizabeth's sister and Protestant Burner), Lady Jane Grey (tears for this poor, brief queen), Mary (Elizabeth's cousin and Queen of Scotland) and more. Most recently, mystery series by Fiona Buckley, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Karen Harper, Simon Hawke, and Edward Marston and the excellent non-fiction, The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser.

I love Book Lust's idea of charting the paths reading can lead a reader down; branching out and out and taking you in directions that can't necessarily be predicted. Any good book can take you to other books by the same author, to books on the same subject, and to any interesting detail that you notice in the book.

What are some of the books that have taken you on unexpected journeys? If you decide to creat a book itinerary, please leave me a comment. I'd love to see some of the journeys you've taken.

The paintings of Anne Boleyn come from The Anne Boleyn Gallery.

Finished Black Swan Green - my favorite book this year!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another Chinese Detective...

Those of you who were interested in Qiu Xiaolong's mysteries might also enjoy Eliot Pattison's novels The Skull Mantra, Bone Mountain, and Water Touching Stone which are excellent. A former Chinese investigator who looked too closely at situations he should have overlooked in Beijing has been exiled to a "gulag" in Tibet where he becomes influenced by the Buddhist Monks who are also imprisoned and condemned to a labor force. For Shan Tao Yun, watching the Buddhist monks leads to a search for a higher morality. These novels are long and involved, the characters are well-developed, the situations tense, sometimes horrifying, and based on the oppression of native peoples in Tibet as China attempts to eliminate cultural differences and religious beliefs.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

When Red Is Black

I've read and enjoyed Qiu Xiaolong's novels, and I think he has a new one out that I haven't read yet. Recently an NPR interview with Qiu says that his novels "are gaining a faithful following, as much for their whodunit storylines as for their portrait of China in transition."

Another excerpt from the interview:

"Qiu's hero, the poetry-loving Chief Inspector Chen, pounds the pavement as he pursues murderers, triad members and corrupt officials.
Qiu is an accidental writer of thrillers. He originally made a name for himself translating T.S. Eliot's poetry and William Faulkner's novels. When he started writing his first Inspector Chen book, he didn't even realize he was writing a mystery until he'd finished."

His intention was to write a novel about contemporary China, a China in transition, and he certainly did, but the novel turned into a mystery with a detective who is caught in the midst of the changing attitudes. Qiu's own father was a victim of his own success when the Cultural Revolution was in full swing; now China celebrates business success. An irony that is not lost on Qiu who now lives in St. Louis, but who regularly visits Shanghai.

These mysteries are revealing and frightening. I simply cannot imagine the mental dexterity required in dealing with the changing political attitudes that China has undergone.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Librarian Costume

Librarian Avengers lets us know that Target sells these "incredibly accurate" Halloween costumes for only $59.99!

I didn't like Ghostwritten by David Mitchell; in fact, after reading over 3/4 of the book , when my 2 week library time was up, I returned it without regret. When I started reading blog entries about Black Swan Green, I shrugged and thought, "Nope, not for me." However, the entries in various blogs sounded as if BSG was a completely different style from Ghostwritten, and when it showed up on the library shelf the other day, I cautiously included it in my bag. I began reading last night after finishing The Sea by Banville, and found myself immediately captured by Jason and his world. I didn't get a chance to read tonight, because I was watching Netflix and finishing up another Halloween quilt, but I'm looking forward to continuing tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

he must go down to the sea again... (updated)

Started reading Banville's The Sea last night. His prose is beautiful (I've jotted the page numbers of somany pages where a sentence or a paragraph seemed so absolutely right), but this kind of remembrance and self-examination is usually a tool leading to an unpleasant revelation of some kind. So I can read for 15-20 minutes before the tension gets the better of me, and I put it down for awhile. I remember Danielle saying that Max Mordent was not a particularly likable character and several passages of his childhood behaviors do give pause. Are they foreshadowing of some kind? Thinking about his name - Mordent - I went from morbid to mordant. A mordant is a fixative when dyeing cloth, and as many quilters dye their own cloth these days, I hear it frequently. But mordant can also mean critical or caustic.

The attention to detail is remarkable and beautifully recorded. I should pull passages to quote, but the visual image Banville created of the picnic is so vivid and complete that it will probably remain as the most memorable portion of the book for me. Since the book is so short, I should finish tonight if I can force myself to read the last little bit. At this point, all of the characters are ghosts in several senses of the word.

I did finish. And was surprised and not surprised. The writing is marvelous, Banville's language often a joy, but caring about any of the characters was difficult. I will go back over some passages before returning the book to the library, just to read some of those sentences once again, but although I sympathized with Max at times, not one character claimed much emotional attachment.

More on censorship

Well, sometimes I'm not fully informed. Here is another article about the opera Indemeneo. Kimball is also unhappy about the cancellation of the opera, but evidently this production has little left of Mozart's version.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Poor Mozart. Mr. Neuenfels is one of those directors more interested in nurturing his own pathologies than in offering a faithful presentation of the geniuses with whose work he has been entrusted.

In the best of all possible worlds, we wouldn't be treated to such artistic desecrations. But in this world, such productions are business as usual. And Deutsche Oper's decision to cancel the production because some Muslims might not like it is both craven and shortsighted.
Not, I hasten to add, that Deutsche Oper was wrong in its calculation that the opera will offend those Muslims who are eagerly waiting to be offended.

Read the entire article. It is excellent and raises the questions we need to be asking ourselves about censorship and self-censorship. While Kimball finds this version of the opera offensive (another subject worthy of discussion), he also contemplates the cost of freedom and freedom of speech.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Forgery and Censorship

Finished The Lambs of London Friday afternoon and found it interesting. Not what I expected, but interesting. I was not familiar with William Henry Ireland, but from the beginning was making connections with Thomas Chatterton, whose name eventually came up in the novel. Since I've loved Charles Lamb's essays for a number of years, I was disappointed that his character in the novel becomes something of a foil and not a particularly charming one. Ireland, with his discoveries, proves the most interesting character (surprisingly, more interesting than Mary) . As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ireland went on to write Gothic novels which fits in nicely with the October Gothic-ness many of us have been enjoying.

Finished North by Northanger (a Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery) by Carrie Bebris and found it charming. Bebris develops characters that retain the flavor of Austen's originals in a more economical style and in the less formal setting of a newly married couple. A light read that provides a little extension into the lives of the Darcys and their associates. Another bit of Gothic connection since Austen's Northanger Abbey was meant to parody Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho.

On another note, the opera Idomeneo (music by Mozart) has been cancelled in Munich because of one scene. That. Might. Offend. And create a security threat. The opera has been performed countless times all over the world since its premiere in 1781. Now, I have to wonder if it will ever be performed again... I am offended by this censorship (even though I can certainly understand the fear of repercussions) and have to wonder where it will lead.