2.16.2010

Die Bucher von 2010



Jessica and I love to hunt through antique shops and the objects that invariably catch my eye are books: stacks or books, boxes of books, shelves of bunting spines, their titles just waiting to be looked over! Book stores are a haven of scintillating joy and also an inspirational admonishment to go home and read the books I already own, sitting on the shelves. This year I've started some oldies as well as bought some new ones and simply needed to share:

Bleeding in from last year I'm still in the process of finishing Bulfinch's "Mythology". It's astounding how much literature and culture is contingent upon the Greek and Roman tales he chronicles in the "Age of Fable" section. After finishing those tales I returned to C.S. Lewis' "Till We Have Faces," a present from Nathan for my bachelor party. Lewis enthralls me with his baptism of pagan characters and themes, a practice clearly evident in his Narnia. He also depressed me with his realistic and all-too-familiar portrayal of human pride.
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Waterhouse
I continued Bulfinch into the "Age of Chivalry" section of his "Mythology", making it through Arthur and his Knights and the strange stories of the Mabinogeon. These stories became rather tiresome as every new knight is without fail brave and true and loyal and good and puissant and all the rest, far over his peers... until the next knight is introduced. Yet when you get down to it, only four knights were worthy enough to find the Grail. For all their valor and might they lack essential grace. Very tragic when you look at it long-distance. Now I've changed tracks to Spencer's "The Faerie Queen", a grand 1000+ page brick of a book that takes this Arthurian idea to a new level in beautiful Spencerian sonnets.

I finished Kramer's "Why Classical Music Still Matters" and greatly enjoyed it. I read it through quickly without underlining anything and just attempting to understand the heady philosophical postulates he puts forth. Very much worth a second reading with pencil in hand.

The Grimm Brothers wrote down some crazy German Tales. In my "Ausgewählte Märchen", a present from Kath, I've been learning the true fate of the evil Stepmother Queen in "Schneewittchen" and the violence of the Princess in "Der Froschkönig". Got to use it for a German class presentation too.
This Valentines Day weekend I surprised Jess with a getaway to scenic Placerville, CA. It was wonderful for her to visit her hometown with a totally new sense of self, strolling Main Street with her husbie and perusing the shops. My favorite shop in the strip is The Bookery, open for 27 years with labyrinthine, claustrophobic shelves made from old 49er flume boards. Inside its hallowed and hushed chambers I found the following three purchases: Mary Austin's "Land of Little Rain". She lived right there on Market Street across from where we'd sometimes warm up for cross country. So wonderful to hear the poetic prose of my formative home. Russell Martin's "Beethoven's Hair" looks to be a very interesting read, something like CSI and The Red Violin. Jeffery Kallberg's erudite "Chopin at the Boundaries" presents seven essays about Chopin from a variety of viewpoints. Complicated and sometimes a little iconoclastic, it keeps me on my toes and helps remind me of the depths of history.

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