Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thanks Dave!

"I am not solitary whilst I read and write,
though nobody is with me."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
~ from his essay "Nature" ~

Where our grandparents lived, 1940s - 70s;
back in those days it was painted a dignified moss green.
When visiting the old town last Spring,
we found it painted in this vivid hue!

That big front attic room where the upstairs windows are --
that's where I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time --
Memorial Day Weekend, 1974

A few ideas for Spring Break or Summer Beach reading:

My spring break reading included a couple of very enjoyable, non-conventional, non - criminal John Grisham novels that my oldest brother David picked out for me. Playing for Pizza is an American / Italian football novel. In addition to detailed play by play narratives of the game, it is also filled with mouth - watering descriptions of gourmet dining that will have you planning your next vacation to Italy if at all possible.

A Painted House is a novel of American history and local color, set in 1950s Arkansas. I read it through the filter of my brother's observation that it made him think of our grandparents. Dave wrote:

It is not typical Grisham fare and is a very moving and thinking kind of book. I came away impressed and also with a lot of thoughts of G'Pa and G'Ma Carriker. I felt a strange sort of disconnect while reading this novel. My mind was lost in the book and its characters while at the same time I was also feeling as though I was a part of it and the characters are people I have known but can't quite place.

I too shared Dave's reaction. The funny thing was, I had to keep reminding myself that the story was taking place not in the years when our parents were children, but in the same years when my brother was little, and just before I was born! Somehow in the novel it all seems so long ago, the farming, the dirt roads, the overalls, the old-time carnival rides.

After reading, I wrote back to Dave and told him that this is the kind of book I'd like to see turned into a movie. Oh, guess what? That's already been done: A Painted House.

Now I shall pass a copy of the book on to my twin brother Bruce and my youngest brother Aaron; I know they'll love it for the running subplot about the St. Louis baseball Cardinals!

When I talked to Bruce about the novel, I asked him how it was the little boy has come to be such a fan of the Cardinals, and he explained:

"When that story was set...in the post-WWII South...the Cardinals and St. Louis Browns were the only major league teams west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason-Dixon Line (except for the Washington Senators). If you drew a line from Savannah, Georgia thru Fargo, ND to the Canadian border, the Cardinals were the closest major league team for anyone living south or west of that line.

"They were carried on KMOX radio, which had the strongest signal of any station in the country at the time. If conditions were right, KMOX could be heard as far away as Scotland, South Africa, and the Artcic Circle. ( I can get it in PA some evenings...no, not on the Web.)

"As a result, the Cardinals had a radio following in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, the Dakotas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. If you lived in one of those states, and you were a baseball fan, odds were good you were a Cardinals' fan.

Even today, with teams in Georgia, Colorado, three teams in Texas, and the Royals in western Missouri, the Cardinals' regular broadcast affiliates include stations in Mississippi, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, as well as Missouri."

Thanks Bruce & Dave!


The Kneeling Bus, by Beverly Coyle: some say novel; I say short stories. Connected? Yes, a collection of 1950s Florida vignettes. Unified? Not really, but consistently narrated by the middle daughter who makes a few memorable mother - daughter observations:

Mom believed in good hair, simple lines, light make-up; but the endless variations, the waste of time in playing with them, filled her with doubt. For her, sin was a measure of one's silliness, and people's extravagances shocked her more than their reputed lusts, though her own husband [a Methodist minister] would not have known what in the world she was talking about. None of this was in Dad's theology." (133 - 34)

And . . .

Mother: "It's all going to be too confusing for me."

Daughter: "Not if you change that little habit of yours."

Mother: "What habit?" She dreaded habits very much.

Daughter: "Insisting something is confusing that is actually simple to grasp and, conversely, taking rather difficult concepts and making them simple. It reminds me of flirtatiousness in coeds."

Mom blinked. "Half the time I don't know what you're talking about."

The Kneeling Bus
is also mentioned in my post: "How Ironic!"

Also of interest: Rebecca Solnit's extended essay, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which carries a recurring theme of "The Blue of Distance."

See my posts: "That Old Blue Willow" and "Always Far Away"