Monday, April 12, 2010

Brenda Peterson, D. H. Lawrence, & Miscellaneous

High on my TBR list is Brenda Peterson's Animal Heart, a novel about a wildlife pathologist's investigation of "an eerie mass stranding of whales and dolphins," according to the cover flap.  And it went to the top of the list today because Brenda Peterson stopped by and left a comment on my review of her new memoir, I Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth. In this charming and innovative memoir, she interweaves an engaging narrative about her upbringing as the daughter of a well-educated fundamentalist forester with thoughts on the origin of her lifelong reverence for animals, her rebellion against religion, and her work as a writer and an environmentalist. Her ideas about disseminating positive pro-active information about ecology are sensible:  many of us emphasize what not to do as opposed to what to do. Thank you for stopping by, Brenda!  In theory I know that some people read my blog, but in reality I don't believe it. You can visit her website at Iwanttobeleftbehind.
We've been bicycling lately because we're having a hot April. The day goes like this:  start with your sweatshirt zipped up and pedal along a trail for a couple of hours to a pretty small town.  By the time you get there it's hot enough to sun oneself in one's shirtsleeves. My bicycling book of the moment is Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, which I carry around in my panniers as my paperback for breaks. Reading Hardy this winter made me think of Lawrence, who considered Hardy the only good writer of the 19th century, if I remember correctly. One of Lawrence's best novels is Sons & Lovers, the story of a miner's son, Paul Morel, who is loved too much by his mother.  The first part of the novel is actually the story of his mother Gertrude's agony as the wife of a drunken miner and her passion for her children.  I'm still reading about Paul's childhood, but I do remember Paul later in the novel is miserable in his teaching job and embarks on an affair with a woman to whom his mother objects.  Freeing himself from his mother is one of the main conflicts of the book.  Typical anti-family-pro-sex-preaching Lawrence!  But the situation is realistic and I understand all too well.  His writing is exquisite and poetic, but I can't read him endlessly.  Hardy is poetic, but less obtrusive. 
April, the cruellest month, is National Poetry Month, so I should be reading T. S. Eliot.  But being a big fan of I, Claudius, I’m reading Robert Graves’ quiet, undemanding poems instead.  The language washes over me, but I don’t have to think (as I do with T. S.). And, weirdly, it reminds me a bit of Lawrence’s.   

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