Finders Keepers

I just finished reading  Finders Keepers,

 a Karin Kallmaker that I have never read.

 It was published in 2006.

 I guess I’m a few behind.

Anybody, who has read this blog knows that I adore Kallmaker.

 A few of her novels are on my top lesbian romance list.

My all time favorite romance is Wild Things one of her earlier offerings.

I liked Finders Keepers, sort of.

The two main characters are likable and intelligent.

The novel deals with issues in an original fashion.

Lynda  is a beautiful woman, drop dead gorgeous and, that is the last thing she wants to hear.

Her mother, uber bitch to end all bitches,

 made her that way,

 and I don’t mean genetically.

Marissa is a big girl, with a big brain and issues with her mother as well her body.

I liked both women , I felt for them, real empathy.

I didn’t believe their love story.

I felt the shipwreck meeting was contrived.

A little too  Deus Ex Machina  for me.

Let me tell you in all the years I have been reading Kallmaker,

 it is the first time I didn’t buy the love story or the lead up to the sex.

I’m disappointed I was looking forward to a sexy, romantic read.

God knows, I could use one.

This book has merit, and deals with important issues in an intelligent and thoughtful way.

It wasn’t what I was looking for.

This book was a Lambda finalist, so obviously I’m in a minority in my opinion.

All of my favorite writers have at least one book that I appreciate less.

Even, Somerset Maugham wrote The Magician that I hated,

 and John Irving had the truly weird and boring Son of the Circus.

I will read another Kallmaker soon, Sugar,

 sounds like something I would enjoy.

I’m taking a break from romance for a while, maybe I’m jaded.

Later girls

BB

Finding comfort in old “Friends”

I’m trying not to feel down but, I’m not really succeeding.

Yesterday, I went to the Grande Bibliotheque.

I visit every 3 weeks or so.

I got a Henning Mankel for my mom, she loves his stuff,

 me?

 not so much.

I went with my friend Sylvain he explored and so did I.

I’ve already mentionned how I love to randomly peruse the stacks,

well, quasi randomly,

 I would never peruse in economics or  something like that.

I came across a whole bunch of Muriel Spark’s  that I have never read,

it wasn’t that difficult I have only read two or three.

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, left such an impression on me as a teenager.

The movie starring the wonderful Maggie Smith might have left an even bigger impression.

I love books about boarding schools or just private British schools,

 it is one of those inexplicable things,

 like my love for books about Himalayan exploration,

 go figure.

Anyway, Miss Jean Brodie, Goodbye Mr Chips and To Serve Them All My days

I would re-read in a heartbeat.

Funny, how things impress you at a young age.

Twenty years ago or so, I watched The Prime Of  Miss Jean Brodie, with my ex.

She had never seen it and I wanted to share it with her.

 Now, my ex is nothing like me,

 very logical, very Cartesian.

I think, by now you guys know, that I am a hopeless romantic.

So, she says to me, ” how can you admire that character, she’s  a bloody fascist.”

I was deeply offended but, on second look she was  right, she usually is.

Miss Brodie is blinded by beauty and ideal she doesn’t see the ugly,

 in her or in others.

If you haven’t read it you should, it is slim and a quick read.

Most, of Spark’s books are slim and yet, they are dense and full of the darkest irony.

I’m not sure I always get her irony but, I enjoy trying.

The novel I picked up yesterday is called,  The Girls Of Slender Means.

I have seen it on a list of  must read books. I’ll let you know.

Another book I brought home is, The Christmas Holiday  by Somerset Maugham.

Somerset Maugham is one of my favorite writers.

 I’m shocked to notice that I have never mentioned this fact.

I have read many of his books–  novels and memoirs as well as numerous short stories.

I think he is a master.

The book I picked up yesterday, is called Christmas Holiday  and I had never heard of it.

I love his style,

 precise, never flowery and yet not stark like Hemingway.

I also love the fact that he never rewrites the same book twice.

Don’t get me wrong I like coming back to a familiar world  ( Harry Potter)

or to an author who uses recurrent symbolism  ( John Irving-bears, Vienna and wrestling).

Maugham is an old pro, was he died in 1965,

who I am always willing to follow on a journey through the human psyche.

Although, I have read about twenty of his books , only one I didn’t enjoy, The Magician.

I have no interest in the paranormal, OK, little interest.

Should be finished Finders Keepers, the Karin Kallmaker, today.

I’ll have quite a bit to say about it.

Later girls

take care

and don’t get heat stroke

BB

Micheal Tolliver Lives

Enough of that, Thanks to all of you for the support, you know who you are.

OK, so, Armistead Maupin’s Micheal Tolliver Lives.

I really enjoyed it.

 Maupin has a real gift for weaving tales that have an almost unbelievable amount of coincidence.

He has a very southern flavour, in his humour and his sense of the tragic-comic lives of people.

I read all the Tales of The City  books many years ago,

 I loved them they were about a place and a people that I was fascinated by,

 the  San Francisco of the 1970’s.

It was the first time I read about a transsexual character, the magnificent Anna Madrigal.

Now, in Micheal Tolliver Lives, we get reacquainted with the former residents of Barbary Lane.

They are older and still living their lives on their terms.

That is one of the things I always liked about the series, these people created a family for themselves.

No closet,

 they chose to live in a city that not only tolerated difference but, thrived on it. 

It wasn’t a gay thing either, all the characters were individuals.

To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, They chose their own society.

In this installment, although Maupin claims it is not a sequel, the meaning of family is explored.

Real blood family and the kind we chose for ourselves,

 and how both shape us and make us who we are.

I cried, I laughed and I cared.

I can’t ask for much more from a book.

I’m tired and hot and not feeling very loquacious so I’ll sign off now.

Thanks girls

 later

BB

It is soooo Hot

We are having a heat wave in Montreal,

 actually the entire eastern part of North America is smog and heat.

 I have been in most of the day-

 I hate the heat,

 and I didn’t have much to do (day off).

A friend gave a copy of,  Back To Basics- A Butch-Femme Anthology.

This book was published by Bella After Dark a few years ago (2004)

I’m really glad she did I enjoyed it.

I expected this anthology to be like most of them.

Some stories I would like, some I would hate and, some would just not be my thing.

I was surprised this anthology contained some truly thought provoking fiction.

Don’t get me wrong, I love lesbian romance and erotica.

But, this book was a notch above,

 with some stories that asked some questions about our notions of butch, femme and what truly is feminine.

You should check it out.

Next on my list, one of the books I bought with my birthday gift certificate,

 Micheal Tolliver Lives!by Armistead Maupin.

I remember loving all of Maupin’s Tales of the City series as well as The Night Listener,

I hope I enjoy this one as much.

One thing is for sure, I will be sharing.

I anticipate having a lot of time to read, with the heat people don’t go book browsing.

I hope I am wrong, but, if I am right,

 I am equipped with quite a few books.

Have a good one, stay cool.

Later girls

BB

I always knew I was weird

My reading has been all over the map lately.

 Last night I started reading a book of letters by James Agee.

 I have never read James Agee, although, I have been meaning to for years.

 He wrote, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men which features photographs by my favorite photographer,

Walker Evans.

 This book is an homage to the working people and the poor in Depression era USA.

 I heard about Agee some time ago,probably on PBS.

 He was also a fantastic movie critic and his work: critique, prose and poetry is collected  in two volumes of

 The Library Of America.

I had one of the volumes in the bookstore a couple of years ago, it went so fast I barely had time to look at it.

 Ever since,I have been on the lookout, so on my last visit of the Grande Bibliotheque,

 I spotted this book of letters, so I took it out.

 I like to wander around quasi aimlessly, it’s fun and surprising.

 I figured it would give me an idea of his voice, it’s terrific.

 Really gives insight into the ups and downs of the creative process and how difficult it is to earn a living.

 I will definetly be reading more of his work.

 But, the truly weird part —this book has been part of the collection since 1962 and

I am the first person to take it out.

I know Montreal is a mostly French speaking city, but still…

I always new I was weird, odd, as my friend Jane would say a Martian?

I guess I am distinct in a distinct society.  lol.

Later girls

BB

Truth? Memory?

Well, I finished my book on Everest. I enjoyed it, brave men and that Mallory, wow.

Personally I’m sure he made it to the summit.

 One of my weirder obsessions.

Today, was a gorgeous day in Montreal,

 and since the lovely lady I’m dating works on Sunday’s,

 I went to the Jazz Festival.

 One of my customers was performing with his Big Band.

 A breeze, a very civilized crowd, The Jazz Fest brings out the best in Montreal.

 I’m feeling much better, the moon is no longueur full and my crazy hormones seem to be,

 less crazy.

Still in a bit of a slump book wise, usually I have a pile waiting.

I have a pile but, I’m not so sure what to read.

While at the bookstore on Saturday, I started reading a book by Anthony Arthur ,

Literary Feuds: A century of celebrated quarrels from Mark Twain to Tom Wolfe.

I figured how could I go wrong at the very least I’ll learn something,

 a tidbit to be used in dazzling  conversation.

The first section I chose to read is the feud between Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy.

Lillian Hellman, was a very successful playwright in her day,

 most lesbians are familiar with her work,

 think,

 The Children’s Hour.

Today, she is not as appreciated as her mostly male contemporaries, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and all.

Her plays were ok, if you see The Little Foxes playing on the late show and you have nothing else to do,

 it’s worth a watch.

 But, Miller and Williams are definitely better.

The reason I started with this section, is that I have always had a thing for Hellman.

When I was a teenager I picked up one of her books, used, probably cost me a quarter.

It was a memoir, An Unfinished Woman. I liked the title, I liked that she was a tough broad

who lived for years  with a tough guy writer, Hammett.

Over the course of many years I read all her memoirs.

Pentimento, a section of which was turned into the movie, Julia,

starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.

 I also read Scoundrel Times,  about the Hollywood communist witch hunt that was The House Un-American Activities Committee.

I admired Hellman’s grit, her live by her own rules attitude to life, the woman had courage and principles.

Or so I thought.

Mary McCarthy was a celebrated critic in her day and an altogether forgettable novelist.

Her most famous work is, The Group, I read this book, I had heard there was a lesbian character in it.

In those days I was starved for any lesbian representation, even fleeting.

In 1979, McCarthy stated on the Dick Cavett Show that Hellman was an over-rated and dishonest writer.

Hellman sued. A long legal battle ensued.

After years of litigation it turns out that most of what Hellman wrote in Scoundrel Times and large parts of Pentimento

specifically the Julia story,

 were is some cases gross exaggerations, in others all out lies.

This freaked me out a little and then,

I started to think how memory often plays tricks on all of us.

Can we really be counted on to remember accurately?

I think Hellman probably embellished as we all do, she would have been better off calling them novels,

much safer and more “truthful”.

Memory, truth and the tumbling off their pedestals of our heroes and heroines.

That’s what I have been thinking about.

Later Girls

BB

Monday, date with an angel, I hope her cold is better.

Can’t get into anything

I don’t know what’s wrong with me I can’t get into anything.

 I haven’t read a book all week!

 I know you’re thinking she’s insane, a week big deal.

I read everyday, I own a bookstore, reading is my life, in many ways.

 I have been preoccupied.

 Sometimes that coincides with the full moon,

 sometimes, although I am loath to admit it, with the high hormone part of the month.

Right now, I don’t know if it’s either one. I feel petulant and childish, it’s not a great feeling.

But, enough about me I did start a book last night because I couldn’t sleep.

It’s a non-fiction book from 1946, Kingdom of Adventure: Everest.

For a long time I have had a fascination with the exploration of the Himalayas, especially, Everest.

It’s odd because I don’t have an ounce of athlete or explorer in me.

 I’ve read over the years quite a few books on the subject.

One of the first was, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

 The particularly interesting part of Into Thin Air was the commercialisation of Everest,

 it’s not about athleticism so much, as how much money you have. That is a dangerous, lethal combination.

 If you are  interested in a good “story” check it out.

 Recently, I read Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer of all people.

 This is a novelisation of George Leigh Mallory’s life.

The man many believe was the first to make it to the Summit Of Everest,

the story is fascinating and the “proof” is compelling.

 I didn’t think Archer had it in him.

 A beautiful, touching story about a type  of man that no longueur exists. Fantastic.

Bonus , an oh so romantic, love story.

Well, I think I’ll go brood. No wonder I can’t get/keep a girlfriend, I’m a beast (not in a good way).

later girls

BB

Milenium finished

Well, I finished it.

 Long sucker.

 I have to say I admire how he managed to tie up the loose ends.

 The bad guys got theirs.

 This book had some dynamite strong female characters.

Lisebeth, but, also Erika, Anika and Monica

(sounds like a bunch of ABBA singers “Does your mother know that you’re out”).

 I’m glad I read it, it was OK.

I’ve read better, I’ve read worse.

If someone tells me how amazing it was, I can argue that it was not that great.

Like I did when people told me how amazing Pillars of the Earth was—( GAG)

If you have some time, quite a bit. Read it.

I’ll catch you all later

BB

Almost finished Milenium

I am reading the third installment in the millennium series,

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.

 Normally, I would never buy this type of book in hardcover but,

I got it for my mom’s birthday and at over 50% off. I enjoyed the first two novels.

 Do I think it’s high art? Of course not, it is entertaining.

 One thing I don’t like about Scandinavian mysteries,

they are very dark and have little humour, Ian Rankin it isn’t.

I will finish it and I am glad I read them but, honestly, I’m going to keep reading the Brits, Scots and Yanks.

The characters in millenium are good, non-conventional, complex, some of them are barely likeable.

Not really run of the mill but, not as well drawn as Carol O’connell’s Mallory for instance,

 the anti-hero to end all anti-heroes

 There is a trend in recent crime fiction, the villains all seem to be pedophiles.

 While I agree that pedophiles are the scum of the earth, do I really want to read novel after novel about them?

 Enough, already.

 This summer I am reading nothing about sickos.

 Jane Austen, Armistead Maupin and a few others who make me think and make me happy

and dream of romance and love.

Sigh.

Monday, I am going on a date!

It’s been a while I won’t tell you how long, I’m embarrassed and besides why would you girls care?

The woman I am going out with is adorable,smart,funny and likes me—- go figure!

The other day I finally woke up. I said to her, we should date and she said, basically, what took you so long?

I had a problem because she is younger, until a friend of mine said

 “it’s always the older person who has a problem with that”.

I’m sick of letting my life glide by, so I’m going for it.

When I finish the Larson I’ll give a fuller appreciation.

Until then

Later girls

Wish me luck

BB

Books are my Solace

Whenever life gets me down or kicks me in the face, books are my solace.

The British writer Ruth Rendell once said      “Some say life’s the thing, I— prefer reading”

That statement although a slight exaggeration, has a lot of truth.

Books rarely let you down. Even if, for whatever reason, they don’t appeal to you, you can always find something

enjoyable about them. The cover, the smell—– whatever. A book is boring? You get another book. No feelings are

hurt– there are no misinterpretations.  Books never think you’re cold or cerebral , they set forth stories, ideas, theories—that you “buy” or not.

Over the years a few  books stand out  in the bringing of solace and pleasure.

Anything by John Irving, most especially The World According To Garp.

My top book for old sweater comfort by a roaring fire is,  84 Charing Cross Road.     

I first discovered this book in a way I often do,  through a really good movie.

84 Charing Cross Road,  was a intelligent feel good movie starring the great, and sorely missed, Anne Bancroft and the very touching Anthony Hopkins. I saw this movie, loved it, and went on living my life.

Years later, I came upon an article that delighted over the book   (which enjoys a small cult following)

and the same week a customer of mine, who has impeccable taste, mentioned it. I went out the next day and bought a copy.  I have read it at least twenty times since. The book is a correspondence between a New York writer, Helene Hanff and a London bookseller, Frank Doel. Frank works for Marks and Co. booksellers located at 84 Charing Cross Road. Their correspondence spans over 30 years, it is delightful, humorous and irresistible to the lover of books.

I have since read Hanff’s other books, I liked them, she’s funny and well-read, but, Charing Cross is to me unique in it’s warmth and succinctness. It’s a small book, novella length and thus can be read and re-read, it is not a massive undertaking. A couple of hours spent with an old “friend”. 

I can’t tell you how much it has helped me over the tough times over the years

Later girls

BB

this post also appears at bookishinmtl