Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 128

1. AOTW: I didn't really have anyone this week (other than the usual traffic-jerks), but then, this morning, at the grocery store ... we were in line ... a new lane opened up next to us ... but the AOTW (who was right behind us) scooted over there with nary a backward glance at us. And Darwin smiles ...

2. In the mail this week ... a new volume from the Library of America (to which we've subscribed from the git-go), a volume of stories by ... John O'Hara, with whom I became obsessed a few years ago ... read everything he wrote (and there was a lot), visited his hometown of Pottsville, PA, several times (and environs), saw his grave in Princeton, NJ (he lies near Jonathan Edwards!), his final home in Princeton (which a kind university prof let me tour), etc. I published on Amazon Direct a monograph ($2.99!) about that experience (shameless plug, I know). (Link to that publication.) Anyway, O'Hara was a fine short story writer--and still holds the record for the greatest number of appearances in the New Yorker.

3. This week I blogged about memorizing my 200th poem/literary passage. Then--I realized--I actually have 201! For some reason I'd left off my list that classic classic "Casey at the Bat" (1888) by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, a poem I memorized to entertain my grandson Logan, who loves baseball. So now, I guess, I'm on the way to 300 ...?

4. I finished three books this week ...

     - The first was the debut work by a former student of mine at Western Reserve Academy (I had her in 2001-02), Sulome Anderson, who has just published a memoir--The Hostage's Daughter: A Memoir of Family, Madness, and the Middle East (see yesterday's post, including a link to the fine review Sulome earned in the New York Times). As I said yesterday, Sulome is the daughter of journalist Terry Anderson, captured by militants in Lebanon in 1985 and held for about seven years in brutal captivity. At the time of the capture, Sulome was growing in her mother's womb, so she did not meet her father until she was in elementary school.

Sulome artfully weaves several narrative threads here: memories of her own childhood and adolescence (the latter was marked by her horrific battles with drug abuse and psychological demons), the story of her father's capture, her father's return to his home (where things were profoundly difficult for all), Sulome's pursuit of her father's story in Lebanon and elsewhere (she is a journalist in the region now), and, ultimately, her determination to find and interview her father's captors.

As I said yesterday here, I read the book in two greedy gulps and ended with such admiration for Sulome (admiration that was already substantial), for the capacity of her heart and her amazing courage. The most dangerous thing I do is go to the coffee shop. I cannot imagine the world(s) she has entered with such determination--and with such profound compassion, as well.

     - The second was the most recent Lee Child novel about Jack Reacher--Night School--a novel that takes us back into Reacher's earlier career. He joins some others in Germany to pursue someone who has stolen something worth $100 million to our enemies. What is it?

I prefer the Reacher novels that tell about his roaming about the remote parts of the USA, finding danger and terror and crime, kicking ass, etc.

There's a little ass-kicking in this one--but not enough to satisfy my primitive taste. Still ... it reads quickly, like the others, and I admire Child for his ability to do this, time after time. (This is the 21st Reacher novel.) And--not all that relevant--I can't stand Tom Cruise as Reacher in the two films (so far). Reacher is well over 6 feet--and physically intimidating. Tom Cruise ... never mind.

     - Finally ... a 2002 collection of short stories by Richard Ford, A Multitude of Sins. As readers here know, I'm slowly working my way through all of Ford's work. And I'm nearly finished. So I'm slowing down--not eager to read the final one (though I see he has a memoir coming down the road). All that remains are Canada (2012) and Let Me Be Frank with You (2014--four novellas about Frank Bascombe, who has been the principal character/narrator of three previous novels).

So ... Sins ... more and more about the profound failure of most men and women to be able to live together for very long. I mean, the first sentence in the first story ("Privacy") is this: "This was a time when my marriage was still happy" (3). The second story ("Quality Time") is about an affair; a later story ("Reunion") is about what the narrator calls "ordinary adultery" (66); in "Dominion," a character thinks ("Love, Henry remembered thinking then, was a lengthy series of insignificant questions whose answers you couldn't live without," 153); and "Abyss" (the final story) is about a pair of illicit lovers who visit the Grand Canyon; things don't work out, let's say.

Ford has the ability--rare in many writers, I find--to make me laugh aloud in the public places where I'm reading, bring tears to my eyes, make me think about things in ways I'd not ever before considered. What a talent ...

5. Joyce and I saw the film Lion this weekend at the Kent Cinema--and we both were astonished by the performance of Sunny Pawar, who played the little boy in India--lost on the streets--surviving (some very nasty moments)--ending up adopted by a kind couple from New Zealand. I think it's the best performance by a child I've ever seen--and I loved watching him run (which he had to do a lot!). The "grown" version of the boy was okay, too--but, man, that kid ...  (Link to trailer for the film.)

6. Final Words--some words from the various online word-of-the-day sites I subscribe to ...

     - from dictionary.com
froideur \frwa-dœr\ noun
1. French. an attitude of haughty aloofness; cold superiority.
... how can I express the cruelty of the atmosphere, the impertinent froideur of the air, which bit at any exposed parts of our bodies in a manner reminiscent of the Empress's loathsome puppy.
-- John Boyne, The House of Special Purpose, 2009
Origin of froideur

Froideur means “coldness” in French and is formed from the adjective froid “cold” (from the Latin adjective frigidus). The French suffix -eur (from the Latin suffix -or) is also used in English loanwords from French, e.g., entrepreneur, voyeur. The word entered English in the 18th century.

     - from wordsmith.org
pronunciamento  (proh-nun-see-uh-MEN-toh) noun
An official or authoritarian announcement.
From Spanish pronunciamiento (pronouncement, military uprising), from pronunciar (to pronounce), from Latin pronuntiare (to put forth), from pro- (toward) + nuntiare (to announce). Ultimately from the Indo-European root neu- (to shout), which also gave us announce, denounce, pronounce, and renounce. Earliest documented use: 1832.
“Johnny Depp’s statement, after Amber Heard ended their 15-month marriage, was blunt:
‘Given the brevity of this marriage and the most recent and tragic loss of his mother, Johnny will not respond to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies ...’ Need I tell you that Depp’s pronunciamento didn’t stop the gossip?”
Doug Camilli; “Depp Just Wants to Get This Over With”; Montreal Gazette Canada); May 28, 2016.

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