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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On the Light Side

What with bookstore and gallery events, visitors and customers, daylight coming later and leaving earlier, not to mention computer woes, my reading of late has not been terribly ambitious. Since I love Jane Austen so (no shame there, eh?), I approach Austen knock-offs with trepidation but have been known to enjoy one or two, and the other day I picked up one I'd formerly passed by with scarcely a glance. I was particularly suspicious of AUSTENLAND, by Shannon Hale, as, early in the book, we learn that the main character is going on vacation (thanks to a deceased aunt's bequest) at a manor house in England where the whole point is to pretend to be living at the time and in the manner of characters in Austen's novels. I mean, 'precious' hardly seems to cover the ground. But it turned out to be fun, after all, and there were a few times I stopped in admiration of the writing, e.g., "Her heart bumped around in her chest like a bee at a window..." and "That was her problem, Jane decided--she'd always lugged around an excess of hope." Also, formulaic as the novel was, it did manage surprises all the way to the end. This cold, chilly, cloudy, cheerless afternoon I also raced to the end of THE RICH PART OF LIFE, by Jim Kokoris, a novel told from the point of view of a young boy whose widowed professor father unexpectedly (how else?) wins big in the lottery, changing their lives dramatically. A small book, but it works and doesn't copy anyone else.

One can't, after all, read economics all the time, but I read an Adam Gopnik piece in the NEW YORKER about a new biography of John Stuart Mill that I'll have to order, and I was surprised to learn that Mill is buried outside Avignon. Had we known that eight years ago, we might have visited his grave. Eight whole years ago! How is that possible?

Saturday and Tuesday were particularly busy days at the bookstore. Was it the glorious weather? The symphony of fall colors? Lots of Indiana and Chicago visitors on the road and in the skies this past week. Sarah has been making lots of new friends.

NORTHPORT NEWS: The new Northport Fitness Center, right across the street from Dog Ears Books and the Painted Horse Gallery, is slated to open this coming Monday, Oct. 20. From my vantage point, the place is shaping up nicely. Cheers to Jeanette Egeler and Bruce Viger for this new addition to town!


Gerry said...

Does it seem to you that Austen is enjoying a sudden increase in popularity? (Although strictly speaking I suppose she's not in a position to enjoy it.) Why do you suppose that would be?

Sorry you're having computer woes. I'll bet you have some glorious fall photos to share, and I'll further bet that not being able to post them frustrates you almost as much as the disruption to your business recordkeeping and communications!

Walt said...

Speaking of health centers, has the pool and health center up the hill reopened yet, or have they said anything about when it will?

P. J. Grath said...

Not being able to work with and share my photographs is much more frustrating than anything else. My new accounting method for 2009 (I personally think this is brilliant) involves inter-office memo envelopes. Remember those? Each expense category will have an envelope, receipts and paid bills will go inside, with contents listed in the spaces on the outside. Nothing can be accidentally deleted. I really think this is the answer for me!

Walt, you are the second person today to ask about the pool, etc., so I'll have to make a call or two tomorrow and find out what's going on up the hill. Thanks for the memory jog.

P. J. Grath said...

Oops, and then I forgot to answer the question about Austen. I could say that the Austen reading renaissance was sparked by film versions of her novels, and while I think that's part of the answer, it doesn't explain why the films themselves were such a hit. Could it be that we enjoy beautifully dressed people speaking civilly and cleverly to one another? What a concept! Our world today is full of cleverness, but much of it is mean, and very little of it is well dressed (said the bookseller in jeans with a wry, self-deprecating smile).