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Thursday, April 30, 2020
The Artist Reads
Yikes!!! What is THIS?
He's halfway through this tome.
These days (a phrase I see and hear myself using ceaselessly these days!), both of us find our attention spans shorter than usual and our minds hopping around restlessly from one place to another. When I complained of the trouble I was having focusing on a single task and the Artist said, “Me, too! I’m the same way!” frankly, I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only one. I’m disciplined about sticking to my work when it’s a matter of reading a book to review, but otherwise, I have bookmarked volumes all over the place, and so does he. Every time he picks up Tom Wolfe, he exclaims again about what a trenchant observer of the scene the author was ... and we agree on that point ... and we agree what a brilliant writer Wolfe was, how deftly he skewered pretensions. But the Artist reads only a couple of pages more and is then ready to take a break from all that penetrating erudition.
One book that failed the focus test before it even got underway was The Sea, Volume II, Fiction – not, however, for any of the reasons you might think. The problem was a teeny, tiny typeface. He showed it to me. Oh, yeah! That’s a problem!
There are a couple of practical books in his to-read stack at present. How to Do Just About Anythingseems timely, doesn't it? I mean, these days (there it is again!) more and more of us are doing more and more for ourselves and having to learn a lot from scratch. The title How to Clean Practically Anything might surprise his fans more, but the truth is that the Artist has at home in Michigan quite a little collection of books on the subject of cleaning and stain removal. I suppose some of it might relate to art restoration, solvents, and such; basically, though, he simply cannot resist household tips.
(Similarly, he can never resist a gas can at a yard sale. Once, after counting the number he had on hand, I asked him if he planned to open a gas can boutique. Maybe it could be the Gas Can Boutique and Stain Removal Bookstore?)
Where The Sea failed, Patrick O’Brian succeeds. Though a paperback edition, the excitement and detail of Master & Commander is presented in a readable typeface, with generous spacing between lines. Well done, Norton! I love Norton, anyway. They are employee-owned, and they publish Bonnie Jo Campbell, so I am favorably inclined whenever I see their name on a book spine.
Rescue at Los Baños and Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program are a couple of books I am unlikely to pick up myself, though no doubt the true-life stories are gripping. The Artist certainly finds them so. Tiny Houses, now, is one I’ll probably look through myself. It’s a little strange how the Artist is drawn to the tiny house concept, since however spacious his territory, he quickly fills it up, but maybe a large colony of tiny houses would accommodate his treasures. But miniature anythings seem to fascinate all of us in one way or another.
The image at the very top of this post (placed there to grab your attention) is one with an arresting title in these days (again! "these days"!) of global pandemic. The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About … before it’s too late presents a collection of world's-end fantasies envisioned from books and movies, and each includes a little reality check. With this kind of book, as with history, I often turn first to the index. In this case, under 'plagues,' we are told to see 'viral wipeout' --
and here is a sample from the many viral wipeout visions:
Will the Artist linger over the various apocalyptic visions longer than I did? Will his fascination for what he calls "train wrecks" (often exhibited by his ability to watch television pseudo-news shows even while he cries out in outrage at their absurdity) hold his attention? Time will tell!
Both of us have books scattered all over the place these days, indoors and outdoors. Yes, outdoors, too, because our life has been greatly improved by the addition of a porch table looking out past the bird feeders and toward the mountains. The little porch is the Arizona equivalent, for now, of our Michigan farmhouse front porch, and whatever we are reading, it feels good to be able to do it surrounded by nature rather than walls.