Lori's Book Nook

Archive for March 2007

How long has it been since you read Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid? Disney ruined it by giving it a happy ending, of course.

Reading it now, I realize it must have been years and years and years since I read it…but I did, because I just came to a section that I remember vividly:

At last she reached her fifteenth year. “Well, now, you are grown up,” said the old dowager, her grandmother; “so you must let me adorn you like your other sisters;” and she placed a wreath of white lilies in her hair, and every flower leaf was half a pearl. Then the old lady ordered eight great oysters to attach themselves to the tail of the princess to show her high rank.

“But they hurt me so,” said the little mermaid.

“Pride must suffer pain,” replied the old lady. Oh, how gladly she would have shaken off all this grandeur, and laid aside the heavy wreath! The red flowers in her own garden would have suited her much better, but she could not help herself: so she said, “Farewell,” and rose as lightly as a bubble to the surface of the water.

The eight oysters attached to her tail — Oh, how I felt for her when I was 7! Now, as an adult, I wonder just how aware of the trials and tribulations of women Mr. Andersen was…

I was just reading one of Archie’s latest posts, on the book Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton.

I’ve never heard of it…and Archie’s review makes the book sound interesting, but what was most interesting to me was his personal identification with it. It’s about his childhood home, and essentially about his life.

I heard about “Cloudstreet” when it was first released. I chose not to read it because what interest could there be in the streets I knew, in the people I knew? I finally decided to read it. It was a task done slowly as I relived so much of my own life.

I too, would hesitate to read something that potentially reflected so much of my life. What if it brought up bad memories? What if the writer hadn’t seen what I saw? What if…?

The closest to this I have ever come is reading Tom Robbins’ book Skinny Legs and All on a beach on the Sunshine Coast of BC. I was spinning with the carnival that summer, and when I got to the description of Randolf “Boomer” Petway, I almost threw the book in the drink…it was Willie the Welder, the man I was currently involved with:

Randolf “Boomer” Petway was a welder by trade. He was seven years older than Ellen Cherry Charles. He was husky, dark, and, in a broad-faced, silly-grinned, thuggish sort of way, handsome. He drank a lot, guffawed a lot,  and walked with a moderate limp, a piece of equipment having crushed his anklebone in the welding shop. In spite of the lameness, he boogied to country-rock more flamboyantly than any man in east-central Virginia. Some dance critic, who worked behind the bar in a honky-tonk, said that when Boomer danced he looked like a monkey on roller skates juggling razor bladse in a hurricane.

“He’s a complete idiot,” reported Ellen Cherry to Patsy, “but I have to admit he’s a hill of fun.”

The sex was similar too. :p

Anyone else out there find their lives in a book?

Wow. A quiet little email from my favourite cousin this morning has sent me over into a bookish heaven.

I’m actually not going to say anything about it right yet. First, I want you to go check it out: this listing of rare book titles, brought to you by Octavo Digital Rare Books.

Go. I’ll wait.

……

Terribly cool, wasn’t it? An early Old Richard’s Almanac? Or Songs of Innocence and Experience?

This is something I like about the digital age, books I’ll never get my grubby hooks into available for us to peruse at our leisure (and up close — don’t forget to try the zoom feature!). The British Library has a collection too — of beautifully illuminated manuscripts at Turning the Pages. (I blogged about that one a while ago.)

It’s weird. Suddenly I’m busy in my life, and I don’t have as much time to read. Or, when I do read, I’m re-reading some calming bit of fluff for the umpteenth time, just to relax.

And, right now, I’m re-reading my Davies. Of course.

One thing I really love about his writing is his own erudition. He is unabashed about letting his own stuff into his writing.

And it’s inspiring. As a direct result of his writing, I have books on my shelf about saints, psychology, and art forgery, to name a few.

So, the question today: Whose writing inspired you this way?

I really want to know.


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!