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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Visual Inspiration #2

Question: Where have I been?

Answer: Somewhere unfortunately unaware of the artist Maira Kalman, who has recently returned to her blog, "And the Pursuit of Happiness," at the NYTimes.

I found her recent post, "The Inauguration. At Last." moving, inspiring, and uplifting. Below is a sampling, but PLEASE check out the full piece, as my little sampling seems forlorn and out of place on its own. In case you didn't catch my earlier link, you can find it here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Like a Decoder Ring for Chick Speak

I confess. I'm one of those women. I love Pride and Prejudice. I first read the book at the age of fourteen, a literary experience I can still vividly recall. Then, of course, the screen adaptations followed. I own the A&E version on DVD, with the dreamy and brooding Colin Firth, and I saw the Keira Knightley adaptation in theaters three times. It's a little bit sad, I know.

I've always imagined that I had a special connection to Jane Austen, since we share a birthday, though I feel no such affinity towards Beethoven who also shares the day. More to the point though, I think I've always fancied myself a little bit of an Elizabeth Bennet. And what P&P loving woman hasn't?

So it was to my great pleasure that I came across this article by Kyle Olson, "The Guys' Guide to Pride and Prejudice." In the article, Olson (henceforth known as Darcy-In-Training), takes on the challenge of actually reading the book to discover what secrets it seems to hold about women. P&P loving women.
My survey, statistically flawed as it is, came to the conclusion that if a gal enjoys reading, that gal loves Pride and Prejudice. This book could be some sort of lady-kryptonite, weakening the knees of the heterosexual XX crowd (and therefore must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands). It's like the Rosetta Stone for females: the resource that, once cracked, gives us the insight to achieve understanding far beyond what we had previously held. So, gentlemen, if we can only harness the secrets of this novel, our luck in love could drastically change.
Darcy-In-Training's article is funny and flattering, and I'm fairly certain that you'll enjoy it as much as I did, no matter what chromosomes you've got. And if you're a little bit of an Elizabeth Bennet, you'll probably wind up with a crush. Cheers, Mr. Kyle Olson.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit at Rest

One of my greatest literary influences has always been my father. I can imagine that I once believed he arrived in this world fully formed as 'my father the lawyer', a man who made my sack lunches for school in jeans every morning and arrived home in a suit with his briefcase every evening. But of course my father had been living his life long before my sister and I made our entrance, and in that life my father was passionate about writing.

I became aware of myself as a writer long before I knew that he was a writer. I can recall one afternoon, though I don't remember the impetus, during which my father brought out his writing to show me. Thin pages, more than a decade old, punched with the dark ink from a typewriter. That day I finally knew. My dad is a poet.

As far as I know, my father no longer writes, but his literary passions remain, passions we often share and discuss. He has long admired the great American writers, namely Ernest Hemingway, but often he has encouraged me to read John Updike, calling me into a room with him just so he could read a passage aloud, sharing some small snippet of the tales of Updike's most famous character, Rabbit.

So it is through my father that I feel the loss of John Updike who passed today at the age of 76. He was one of America's great writers, and though he was prolific over his lifetime, it still feels too young too soon to lose so great a talent.

You may think to yourself that you've never heard of him, or simply never encountered his writing, but that is likely not so. Updike was near omnipresent in literary circles, a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. The New York Times obituary provides an extensive review of his life and work.

I regret that I haven't read one of John Updike's novels during his lifetime, but I know I will enjoy one during mine, and certainly during my father's.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Birthday Book Haul

Not too long ago... okay, a while ago... it was my birthday. My friends seem to know me rather well as I cleaned up in the book department.

I've already devoured three of the six books and am midway through the fourth (Weaveworld by Clive Barker). There are some pretty special books in there, from some pretty special friends.

So a special thank you to all of my friends for continuing to support my addiction to books!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

- President Barack H. Obama

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Beginnings

Now here is some good news to get this blog started in the new year:

According to a new National Endowment for the Arts study, reading among American adults is up for the first time since 1982.


This is fantastic news for writers and lovers of literature.

And check this out:

Young adults show the most rapid increases in literary reading. Since 2002, 18-24 year olds have seen the biggest increase (nine percent) in literary reading, and the most rapid rate of increase (21 percent). This jump reversed a 20 percent rate of decline in the 2002 survey, the steepest rate of decline since the NEA survey began.

You can read more about the study here.

I am thrilled, and I hope you are too. Here's to a great, positive new year!