Monday, June 30, 2014

Books My Mom Suggested

Eating Sweet Potato Fries with my Mom
at the American Diner in West Philadelphia, 1994

One of Gerry McCartney's favorite jokes:

Two guys are sky - diving and their parachutes fail to open.
One says: "It's at times like these that I wish I'd listened to my mother."
The other one asks, "Why? What did she say?"
The first one answers: "I don't know; I never listened!"


But seriously, I did listen when my mother recommended the following, though I must confess that so far I'm only about half - way through the list. You'll notice a strong emphasis on one of Mom's specialities, American History; so if you're in need of a beach book for the upcoming Fourth of July Weekend, you need look no further:

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany

The twin narratives of two amazing African - American sisters -- Sadie (September 19, 1889 – January 25, 1999) and Bessie (September 3, 1891 – September 25, 1995) who forged successful, professional careers despite the discrimination they faced in post - slavery America. With fortitude, education, humor, and strong family ties, they let nothing stand in their way and lived to tell all!

The Egg and I
by Betty MacDonald

A highly entertaining collection of essays on the real - life trials and tribulations of chicken farming in the Great American Northwest.

My favorite lines on the joys of life in the country:
Jerry: "I think this is an idea spot to do penance in,
but a hell of a place to live."

Jerry's wife: "But Jerry, this moonlight, the mountains,
the quiet and the food! It's like something you dream about."

Jerry: "Uh - huh, but we'd rather have a peanut butter sandwich
in Grand Central Station, wouldn't we Betty?"
(p 190)

I was reminded of another favorite quotation,
this one from the French painter Edouard Manet ((1832–1883):
"The Countryside only has its charms
for those not obliged to live there."

No Survivors
by Will Henry

Old Jules
The Battle of Little Big Horn
Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas
all by Mari Sandoz

Valley of Decision
by Marcia Davenport

"Reading . . . began to fill more and more of her time. . . . Now she realized in a few extraordinary hours that she need no longer spend her empty leisure time grinding her problems over and over in her head. She could sit on the straight - backed chair in her cramped room, with a book between her hands, and literally step off the planet of her everyday life into intoxicating space" (111).

"It smells good here," she said.
It did. It had the indefinable smell of a perfectly - kept, well - loved American home; and the smell found nowhere else on earth. A smell of cleanliness and polish and Ivory soap and potted plants and baking bread -- the sweet warm smell of simplicity and abundance. . . . everything in the room felt kind and gentle and safe
" (407).

Not As a Stranger
by Morton Thompson

Dress Gray
Full Dress Gray
both by Lucian K. Truscott