Tuesday, July 1, 2008
One of my great joys on Saturday morning is listening to National Public Radio while I'm scouting yard sales or doing errands. I love all the comedy shows -- Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I'm sure other drivers think I'm crazy, speeding down the road while laughing my head off. Of course, I like the non-comedic NPR shows as well. I've been known to pull over to the side of the road to write down the name of an author or musician for future consumption. Last Saturday, June 28, Scott Simon of Weekend Edition spoke with Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's son, who turned 80 that day, and inspired me to revisit his father's work.
I have never been a Hemingway fan. I read him in high school and as an English Major had to read him again in college. Sadly, his writing never spoke to me, and the superficial image of him as a macho, gun-toting, heavy-drinking hot shot turned me off. But -- I loved listening to his son the other day. He takes the stewardship of his father's books and name very seriously, but still has a great sense of humor. (Patrick told the story of someone he met about 15 years ago who told him how much he admired his work, and that his favorite book was The Grapes of Wrath. Both Hemigway and Steinbeck must have turned over in their graves . . .) My favorite quote from the radio interview is this: "Literature is what intelligent people have instead of dope." It made me laugh. My husband says I read too much. I cannot go to sleep at night if I have not read at least a chapter of my current book. Right now I have 4 books going at once. . . I guess I am a reading addict.
Anyway, I liked Patrick Hemingway so much, I decided to put away my prejudices, and read his father's work again. I went to the library and took out a rather dog-eared copy of A Farewell to Arms. I've read a couple of chapters and do believe I am liking it a bit better than I did 35 years ago . . . So we'll see.
Here's another gem I'll be reading this summer: Hooked Rugs and How to Make Them written by Anna M. Laise Phillips and published in 1925. I recently added this to my rug hooking library after winning it on ebay.
Here is the forward to this little book:
"Out of darkness cometh light, out of chaos cometh order, after sorrow cometh joy.
Sometimes I wonder if the thing itself is as important as the reason for its being; and in view of the darkness and dawn, the chaos and then the order, the trials and then the joy of our work, it seems that the things we do are but the outlet of our inner selves. We grope in darkness and then suddenly over our world comes a light, softly stealing away all the shadows. We may remain in the spot where once it was dark, yet just because of a little thing, a circumstance, perhaps, that place is forever glorified and black darkness is forgotten in the light of a new activity."
Whew. Heavy duty stuff for a rug hooker . . . Rug hooking isn't even mentioned until the second page, after Satan is introduced. This is a far cry from current books about rug hooking, which are filled with dye recipes and color photos of faces hooked in shades of blue. . . I'll be getting a religious education as well as some tips on creating the perfect rug.
My third and last suggestion for summer reading is much lighter. I am a big fan of mysteries, especially British mysteries. Give me a new P. D. James or Ian Rankin and I'll have it read in a matter of hours. But there are some great American mystery writers out there, too. Lisa Richland, the director of William Floyd Memorial Library here in Greenport, highly recommended this first novel by Cornelia Read to me. A Field of Darkness is the title, and I find myself rereading passages that are so beautifully written I wish I'd written them myself. Her second novel is out now, The Crazy School, and I am looking forward to reading that as well.
So that's my current reading list. Any suggestions to add to it? Just leave me a comment . . .