This past week I've been doing one of those interactive thingies on Facebook where you tag other people in the often forlorn hope that they will do it too. Actually, I'm OK if people choose not to engage. But it's nice to be asked.
This one was all about beloved and favoured books. No wonder I engaged. My problem was there was so many to choose from! And one of the conditions was that the post (a seven day thing) was to be minus comment or review.
But this is my blog and I can comment and review as much as I wish.
This was my transition book. The first one I read that wasn't children's literature and I first read at around nine years of age in abridged form, part of my Uncle Desmond's Reader's Digest library. It only appealed because there were children in it, Abra, Caleb, Aaron. Their Chinese caretaker. All the Cathy part went right over my head. The only bit that stuck was the rotting lettuces when Adam went into the refrigeration business. I read it again in my teens and was struck at how powerful it was. I was still too young to understand Cathy. Read it again a few years ago, as did Bert. We talked about it for weeks.
Recently, our friend Billy came to visit and announced,
"I've just read the best book I've ever read in my life. East of Eden. Have you read it?"
Billy is a generation younger than us and sadly, Steinbeck is rather overlooked these days. I let him know that we'd most of the books and he was welcome to share.
If Steinbeck was my late teens then Flann O'Brien aka Myles na Gopaleen was the boyo for my self-conscious early twenties. Not that that was a bad thing because self-conscious twenty-year-olds need heroes too. His writing made me laugh. Out loud. On buses. The Third Policeman was the third or fourth book of his that I read and I didn't read it on a bus. I read it in the wild garden beside our house (Joe's house now) in a very hot summer and I laughed out loud and nobody heard me and that was alright. I still don't understand what it was about and that's alright too.
This one had been hanging about our shanty for ages. I recommended it to Bert a while back and he really enjoyed it but, it was when he started talking about it that, I realised I hadn't even read it myself. So I did and it was good and started me on an Atwood revisitation. I'm currently halfway through the Maddaddam trilogy and re-reading The Handmaid's Tale.
Is that a fucking wasp on that book? It is. One of those wee bastards stung me the day before I took that picture and my hand swelled up like a bap. And stayed that way for two days. There was a time that a wasp could sting me and it would itch for a while and that was that. But now, two days of infirmity. Still, at least it wasn't a bee. Not worth getting the EpiPen out for a wasp. The throat doesn't close over for a wasp sting.
But. The book. That book is well-thumbed. It's a gem. It doesn't do much. Just lets me know what I should be sowing in the polytunnel and when I should be doing it. The other stuff, the technical stuff I cannot even be bothered reading about. I just ask Zoe. She knows.
One thing I have learned. If you don't want to eat it, don't grow it.
I love old books. Probably lots of people, dozens have perused this copy of The Wind In The Willows but not me. I just picked it up in a second-hand bookshop somewhere, sometime and stuck it in my bookshelves only because I love possessing shabby old books. I read it first at my primary school on one of the rare occasions that our horrible teacher, Cassie O'Neill allowed us to choose books from our paltry bookshelves. I was entranced by it and never got the chance to finish reading it. I don't remember when I got back to it but I would still have been a young child. Probably my Uncle Vincent's collection. Like myself, Vincent had a connection with old and well-read books. Staying at Vincent and Marian's house in Rasharkin was the rarest of treats, myself and my sister, separate beds, linen sheets, and Vincent's bookshelves. It was almost like being English!
I had a plan for Day 6. But when I woke up I entirely forgot it even though I had the book laid out and everything. Instead,
I photographed this one,
Bert and I were very taken with the film The Tin Drum which was shown on Channel 4 more than twenty years ago. Soon afterwards we both read the book. It was very powerful. Uncle Vincent once told me that if there was a choice a person should always see the film first, then read the book because the book would always be superior to the movie. He had a point but with The Tin Drum it was a close call.
The book I had meant to feature for Day 6 was Brian Sewell's Sleeping With Dogs which was poignant, lovely, heart-breaking and all about dogs. It's a loan from Zoe and I must remember to return it to her.
This was my morning.
With my children's dogs. Maya, Gracie and Ziggy.