Lori's Book Nook

Archive for November 2007

Much has been written about the late, great Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker series (yes, geeks, I am aware that it’s a trilogy in umpteen parts…) with their rather random sense of humour. The Dirk Gently books which always reminded me a bit of Thorne Smith (1892-1934) books.

But, there will always be a little place in my heart for The Meaning of Liff — here’s one of my favourite entries:

PELUTHO (n.)
A South American ball game. The balls are whacked against a brick wall with a stout wooden bat until the prisoner confesses.

And here it is online, in its entirety. Gotta love the Internet!

Back to Thorne Smith, because he was just a weird and wonderful writer, and yes, Dirk Gently reminded me of him. Here’s an except from the beginning of my favourite of his books, The Nightlife of the Gods (available in its entirety online as well, with others):

CHAPTER 1

CRITICIZING AN EXPLOSION

THE small family group gathered in the library was only conventionally alarmed by the sound of a violent explosion—a singularly self-centred sort of explosion.

‘Well, thank God, that’s over,’ said Mrs Alice Pollard Lambert, swathing her sentence in a sigh intended to convey an impression of hard-pressed fortitude.

With bleak eyes she surveyed the fragments of a shattered vase. Its disastrous dive from the piano as a result of the shock had had in it something of the mad deliberation of a suicide’s plunge. Its hideous days were over now, and Mrs Lambert was dimly aware of another little familiar something having been withdrawn from her life.

‘I hope to high heaven this last one satisfies him for this spring at least,’ was the petulant comment of Alfred, the male annexe of Alice.

‘I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting,’ came a thin disembodied voice from a dark corner. ‘Night and day I’ve been waiting and expecting—’

‘And hoping and praying, no doubt, Grandpa,’ interrupted Daphne, idly considering a run in her stocking and wondering what she was going to do about it, if anything, and when would be the least boring time to do it if she did, which she doubted.

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A while back I wrote about dictionaries, as all bookish bloggers are wont to do (aren’t they?). I really enjoy having dictionaries, knowing they are there for when I need them.

I like them in person, hard and weighty tomes. I enjoy contemplating what they represent — the unfathomable hours of labour by word enthusiasts, the preserving of ever-changing nuance, the slanting of opinion, even the dictating of form and sound.

I have physical dictionaries, dictionaries on my computer, and links to numerous language resources in my bookmarks.

And of course, there are the thesauri, word lists, menus, reverse dictionaries…ooh! I could go on forever!

But then, there are the visual dictionaries. The online Visual Thesaurus used to be something free, but now you have to pay. I’ve never been able to justify it, as I would not use it as intended, I would just follow the visual trails for hours, ignoring the original need for a synonym.

Today I stumbled upon another online dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary.  Probably more nouns than you’ll ever possibly need, but just in case you needed to know the name of the doohickey on a whatchamacallit, now you can just look for it.

4 Books

Posted on: November 17, 2007

Stolen from casa az, who plundered it from alejna

Four childhood books

  • Freddy the Pig — don’t really remember much about the books, but that I used to love them. (Animal Farm always sort of freaked me out, with my Freddy background.)
  • The Donkey Rustlers by Gerald Durrell. Again, I don’t remember much about the story, but I do remember taking it out of the library again and again.
  • Paddington Bear — of course. I think he is the root of my love of the absurd…how can you resist a world where people don’t think twice about talking to a bear in a coat carrying a suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches, with bacon hanging out of it and dogs following him?
  • No fourth comes to mind…the Hobbit, the Narnia books — all begun in my childhood, and continued to be read and re-read in my teens, my young adulthood, my middle ages, my dotage…

Four authors I will read again and again

  • Robertson Davies (I’m with az here)
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • JRR Tolkien
  • Jasper Fforde
  • [This is all really quite random…there are 100s (10s?) of authors I would re-read again and again, I could continue this list on to the next page…]

Four authors I will never read again

I blank out the unpleasant in my life. I’ve not much interest in ever reading Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett (sorry az for putting those two in the same sentence), or Stephen King. Authors I don’t like, I just don’t remember. 😦

The first four books on my to-be-read list

  • Ulysses by James Joyce (az, alejna and I are threatening to read this together)
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Plus a cast of 100s! Too many to list. (Wow. I’m being rather lazy with this one.)

The four books I would take to a desert island

  • LOTR
  • The complete Shakespeare
  • Norton Anthology of Poetry
  • a big blank book, with some pens

The last lines of one of my favourite books

  • I don’t have any. Sorry to disappoint. Although I may think on this one, and change this some random morning at 4 a.m. when a line pops into my head and won’t let me sleep until I’ve added it here.

Anyway — tag yourselves on this one!

One of the books I’m reviewing is, well, rather brilliant — mesmerizing even. Zed, authored by Elizabeth McClung (Arsenal Press).

If you can read the first paragraph and not be drawn in, then okay, you don’t have to buy it. But if you can’t wait to read more, here’s the first chapter online.

Her name? Zed. Age? Eleven, twelve, maybe thirteen – it wasn’t like she was getting three square a day and multivitamins. She was small, four-foot nothing: thin, grubby, but with a thrust to her chin which told you, as you saw her beetling down the hall towards you – best step aside. Most people were fairly certain Zed was female. Her soft features and long lashes were contrasted by grey uniform coveralls, slick and shiny from constant wear. The hair was the deciding factor, because it fell, wildly uneven, to shoulder length. Once a year, Zed assaulted it with her knife, hacking it back above her ears. She had a habit of tilting her head down and staring up at people from under her bangs. She just showed up one day – no relations, no history. No one knew much about her, and those who did never passed it on. People didn’t gossip about her, at least not more than once, because if she caught them she’d stick her knife point somewhere soft on them and ask, “Got anything more to say, Chuckles?” which, invariably, they didn’t.
Yes, she fit right in with the Tower.

C’mon, Elizabeth! Get working on another one!


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!