Saturday, April 10, 2010

Greensleeves, Library Snaps, and Damned Good Books

"So does Greensleeves do that?" my husband asks.
"Or Green Jeans." 
I'm snapping a picture of my library books. It’s a satisfying stack of library books--the kind of musty out-of-print middlebrow English novels I read for comfort, as well as a book of Elizabeth Bowen's letters.  I gloat over my treasure.  I vaguely register what he has said.  I have no idea who Greensleeves is.  Green Jeans is a character from Captain Kangaroo.
Finally it occurs to me he's talking about bloggers. He persists in believing the bloggers are some kind of virtual reality show. This Greensleeves thing is coming up a lot. Now all women bloggers are known as "Greensleeves" and all men as "Green Jeans."  
“Pictures of library books are a blogger stand-by. It's endemic to the blogging system. You feel like blogging, but haven’t read any books today.  So you take pictures of books.”
“But you’re always reading,” my husband objects. "And does anybody want to see pictures of library books?"
"Sure they do.  They like to see any pictures of books."
Okay.  I admit it.  I’m reading Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December, but I'm not ready to blog about it. His  Birdsong was a great favorite of my friends, but somehow it never appealed to me.  Then I got around to Charlotte Grey, which was a damned good read.  A Week in December, however, is something altogether more--a Hensherish/Drabbleish sociological fictional portrait of London, with a fascinating gamut of characters ranging from a tube driver who loves to read to a financier who barely observes the letter of the law to a drab lawyer to a snotty book reviewer who devotes his reviews to the evisceration of contemporary novelists.  I spent an hour reading it in the car on our way to the university library 40 miles away and could barely tear myself away.
The university library is a great luxury.  If only we could move to the university town!  But it’s too far away for a commute--what’s the point of living in a small city if you’re going to commute the distance you did in the big city?  We haven’t been to this library in a while, because the last time we came we forgot our library cards.  This university library is very fussy.  They won’t accept a driver’s license instead of a library card.  They won’t issue library cards on the spot--they have to vet you, as though you’re Sarah Palin.  (The ghastly Repubs certainly didn’t vet her very well, and thank God for that!)
Checking out books here is very trying.
I didn't quite make it to the American literature section.  My attention wandered here and there in the English stacks, and I was first drawn to this Hogarth Press edition of E. F. Benson's An Autumn Sowing. Not that I've had much luck with Benson.  I love his Lucia novels but have never made it through any of his other books. And I was a bit daunted by John Julius Norwich's daring words in the Introduction.  Brace yourself:
"...indeed, I know of no other novel that reminds me so much of Jane Austen, or that strikes me so forcibly as being exactly the sort of book that she would have written had she lived a century later than she did."  
Hm.  But I decided to let it pass.
A. A. Milne's Two People has been roundly praised by Hannah Stoneham and Stuck in a Book.  Inspired by these two excellent reviewers, I decided to take a chance on this, though I've never had a desire to read Milne's adult books (because I didn't really like Winnie-the-Pooh.  I keep hoping to go back to it, though). Capuchin Classics has reprinted Two People, as I see from jumping over to their reviews.  And their editions are always lovely!
As for Rose Macaulay, I adore her!  Some of her books are good, some are medium, and others are just plain bad, but I like her saucy point of view and took a chance with I Would Be Private.  Going strictly on the Macaulay brand name here.
I was very keen on getting Love's Civil War, the letters and diaries of Elizabeth Bowen and her Canadian lover, Charles Ritchie.  Perhaps this will inspire an Elizabeth Bowen revival.
And that's it!  Tomorrow:  More on Sebastian Faulks.


Rochester Reader said...

Hello! I just came across your lovely blog and enjoyed reading this entry.
I am also a great fan of the Mapp and Lucia novels. The only other Benson I've read so far is 'Secret Lives' and I loved it... very much in the same vein as the Mapp and Lucia series but set in London: delicious! I have also been told that 'Mrs Ames' and 'Paying Guests' are Tillingesque novels so I look forward to reading those too. I think that 'An Autumn Sowing' is a little more serious in tone but I also have that one on my TBR.

Frisbee said...

I'll put these other Benson novels on my TBR. It's very difficult to know which ones to choose. I didn't do well with his Dodo books. I picked up Dodo and a sequel at a used bookstore and ended up sending it to someone who didn't like it, either. So who knows what its fate was?

The Lucia books are classics: what can measure up?

Thanks for stopping by!