Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Saul Bellow

Tonight we discussed Bellow's short novel Seize the Day at my Great Books Discussion Group. What an intriguing read it is! Interestingly, Bellow kept me reading and eagerly anticipating a moment of enlightenment for the main character, Tommy Wilhelm. This moment never comes, at least according to my reading. I was left feeling frustrated, but still happy for reading such a creative work. (My frustration was reminiscent of how I felt many years ago when I read Robbe-Grillet's The Voyeur for an experimental literature class.)

The entire novel takes place in one day. We follow Wilhelm around from one disaster to the next, but we are often in his thoughts of past events. Wilhem is a sad figure, his father is a sad figure, a bizarre psychologist named Tamkin is also a sad figure, yet is it really comedy or tragedy?

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Today I went with my husband to see Factotum. The film is based on one of Charles Bukowski's novels by the same title. Matt Dillon plays Henry Chinaski. Chinaski is a character who appears in many of Bukowski's writings. The character is a thinly disguised Bukowski and understood to be Bukowski by most.

We both enjoyed the film. I was a huge Bukowski fan in my 20s. I still have nearly an entire shelf devoted to him in my personal library.

Knowing we were going to see the film today, I pulled some of his books out last night and read a few poems I marked many years ago. I can see why I marked those particular poems. There is an intense beauty of language found there.

I will always have a soft spot for certain writers. Bukowski is one of them.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Alvarez, Gluck, & Native Foods

This has been a productive weekend. I completed another chapter for my book. I finished a complete draft of my review of The Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature by Mary Ellen Snodgrass. I continued my reading of Lawson's biography of P.L. Travers.

I ate a delicious meal with my husband last night at Native Foods in Costa Mesa.

I also started reading poems from two wonderful collections: Julia Alvarez's The Woman I Kept to Myself and Louise Gluck's Meadowlands. I intend to take both books along with me to work tomorrow. Even if I'm too busy to take a peek, I can at least look at the book covers in anticipation of the evening.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Is it work or play?

I've been having way too much fun updating my research guides to get ready for the fall semester. In addition to the two I've been responsible for, English and Women's Studies, this semester I was added Gerontology and Human Services. In fact, call me crazy, but I could not wait to get to work this morning and arrived at my desk around 7:30 a.m.

In addition to this, I'm working on preparing materials for a September exhibit on banned books. This is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week. One brochure I'm working on will provide students with a listing of selected challenged or banned books from the library collection. I'm using lists and other information from the ALA site.

Feminist Collections

A wondrous delivery came to my mailbox today. I'm very happy to have received a copy of The Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature by Mary Ellen Snodgrass to review for Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources.

I began my subscription to Feminist Collections, along with Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents and New Books on Women & Feminism while still in library school. I now have a growing stash of these helpful and always intriguing publications. All three are published by Phyllis Holman Weisbard, the Women's Studies Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I'm continuing my reading of the biography of P. L. Travers (what an interesting life she led).

It was somewhat sad to finish 44 Scotland Street over the weekend. I enjoyed the characters and the book created a sort of calmness while I was reading it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mary Poppins and Synchronicity

These 3 things below illustrate synchronicity:

1. While in Berkeley in late July, I pointed out South Hall to my husband and explained it was the first building on campus and also where a scene from Mary Poppins was filmed. (I was informed of this many years ago when I was a student. I have since discovered that the Mary Poppins filming at South Hall is an urban legend.)

2. Yesterday a new book arrived for me to review from Library Journal. What is the book? Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers by Valerie Lawson.

3. Then, my husband mentioned to me last night that Mary Poppins is playing down the street tonight at the historic Fox Theatre in Fullerton. This film was selected to start off the Fullerton Film Festival.

Maybe I'm just too much into the synchronicity thing, but I rarely think of Mary Poppins on a regular day. Now she seems to be everywhere.

I'm looking forward to beginning my reading of Lawson's biography of P. L. Travers. Being a reviewer for Library Journal has been one of the most rewarding activities I've been involved with since making a career change to librarianship.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Making Book Plans

One just shouldn't make plans with the order of reading books, because another book, or several, will come along and change everything. My plan was to finish Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy (which I did - it was wonderful) and take her Mr. Potter along to begin reading while in Berkeley.

I took Mr. Potter along, but Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street caught my eye at Moe's and Mr. Smith's book became the next on the list. I'm near the end and enjoying it immensely. Of course, it is not the mastery that one will find in Kincaid, but I don't think the two can even be compared. Smith's books are entertaining and perhaps not masterpieces, but they are also not fluff. He writes well and creates interesting characters.

Late last week I also purchased a Jack Johnson DVD that includes a concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley (where my graduation ceremony in 1993 was actually held). I am a huge Johnson fan. I also discovered another band on his label, Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO), that I need to explore more. ALO sounds like pure hippie music. What can I say? It sounds great.