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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Kates (and other reading)

I re-read a book entitled Converting Kate some time back, a discussion with some other thoughts on young adult fiction and the like covered here (2008? smh).  A taste:
I like to think that I write about young people but not exclusively for them. Down with distinctions. … well written stories that happen to be about the young can and should be read without apology by adults. If I have, so far, written primarily about young people, it is probably because in my life adolescence is inescapable. Two adolescents are permanent residents [1980] of my house. I taught for many years in a public high school. My own childhood and teenage years stand out in sharp focus for me, most of the time, than more recent stages of my life. Finally, I like young people enormously. I hope I convey that, above all, in my books.

-- Robin F. Brancato
The book has a religious theme, which is timely for the National Day of Prayer (5/4), which has been discussed here in the past.  My general concern has been that the nature of the holiday inherently favors certain types of religion ("prayer" will do that), without even focusing on the groups involved (not exactly ecumenical, itself by definition having a Christian flavor).  It would surprise no one that this is the case this year, even if the ACLU decided it didn't pay (yet) to have a lawsuit arising from the events (left that to more strident groups on such questions).  A day honoring religious freedom or even religion in general would be better.

As seen in the side panel, I also re-read The Trials of Kate Hope, a sort of pun, since it involves a 14 year old lawyer in 1973 Denver. Hopefully, in the fiction universe somewhere, in the spirit of her grandfather, she is still fighting for justice now. Good read and helpful in these times. As one review I found online noted, it would be a good idea for a movie or perhaps even a t.v. series.  The grandfather even not only honored "living" common law (living constitutionalism supporter surely!) but noted that on the whole police do want to tell the truth.  But, still was angry at injustice. The book was published in 2008 though the author [a lawyer himself] was old enough to be familiar with the times. 

These days, in part because of reading so much online (not only though), have less success finding books that interest me (a few attempts at re-reading old ones failed; though as seen, not always).  Quick reading books help in that regard and three I saw at the library in one sitting had that character.  OTOH, did not like them that much as a whole.  The first was a new biography of Beatrix Potter, the movie version of her life was one I enjoyed at the time. Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter was too dry though it did have some nice pictures and large margins. I posted a recent book with lots of pictures geared to younger viewers on the side panel (a sort of 150 year anniversary book) that I liked better.

The second was a character biography though not of one of the plays that I have read yet (ordered the DVD of one of the films): Rosalind: A Biography of Shakespeare's Immortal Heroine. I liked the concept and some of the poetry but the author kept on repeating herself. The book was not that long (low 200s) as is, so it seemed like padding. Needed a better editor.  One thing that came to mind with Shakespeare is that it is a trudge to read since the language is antiquated.  But, though it was still poetic, not simple colloquial English, the language (if not all of the allusions) was not so at the time.  It was how they spoke, so more approachable.

Finally, Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes was in effect a dual autobiography of a friendship (teenage years to their 30s).  I liked this the best, but it was somewhat too flippant in certain ways. Still, it was a good quick read, with some life lessons by both women that kept us interested.  One is a political journalist (online, one finds she was pregnant when the book came out), the other an illustrator/costume designer. As to recipes, put aside with a vegetarian boyfriend they were rather meat focused, that stuff is always like food porn. Who has all those ingredients?

I have started Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee, largely consisting of a series of letters between an historian of Alabama subjects with the author, mainly in the last fifteen or so years of her life. It's an attractive hardcover, another quick reading affair (little over 200 pages, but not really that much material) that wold make a good Mother's Day gift for someone interested in that sort of thing. I liked the Charles Shields biography as a whole, but it was slim regarding the second part of her life.* Part of the problem there was probably non-involvement with the subject, who was upset with the final product, especially material involving her mother.  There is a lot of material available to flesh things out and this helps with her final years, including with a suggestion that she very well might have wanted that "sequel" to her novel to be released. Maybe a release of a collection of her other writings? 

Happy Reading!


* Reading further in the book, the author noted to Lee that he thought the biography had no poetry. The beginning of the book in particular did seem rather dry, as I recall, so can see that criticism. As to inaccuracies, don't know enough about Alabama history or her life to say. But, did find the middle portion, especially regarding her helping Truman Capote with his non-fiction book particularly informative. And, the inaccuracies as the author here honestly says is in part a result of Lee and others close to her not helping, even to correct such things. Finally, especially regarding personal things that happened long ago, she was not totally objective or perhaps even fully knowledgeable (such as the full story about her mother).

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