Sunday, August 25, 2013

On Hiatus

Hiatus: noun -- pause, break, gap, lacuna, interval, intermission, interlude, interruption, suspension, lull, respite, time out, time off, recess; informal breather, letup.

I am so thankful that I have many great friends and fellow bloggers that tune in to Bookpuddle now and then, but lately you have probably been disappointed in the lack of postings. 

I hate the thought of not blogging, but it's probably time I address the issue and just say that I'm experiencing a bit of lack of inspiration lately and I think I just ought to more fully attend to a few other things that need to take precedence right now. And once that stuff is sorted out, I'll be back here.
It happens to all of us from time to time I think, so please be patient with me as the thought of people reading what I have to say is very important to me. 

But, as that great philosopher Play-Doh© once said -- Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.
For now I shall be on hiatus until I become [somewhat] wise again.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

“...I shall be as tender to you as my father was not to me. For what's the point of breeding children, if each generation does not improve on who went before?”
-- Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall --

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Splash du Jour: Monday

Someone once asked me why women don’t gamble as much as men do and I gave the commonsensical reply that we don’t have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women’s total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage.
-- Gloria Steinem –

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Make your educational laws strict and your criminal ones can be gentle; but if you leave youth its liberty you will have to dig dungeons for ages.
-- Michel de Montaigne --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”

-- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Chapter -- First Paragraph

I discovered a real neat blog-meme over at Diane's excellent book blog, Bibliophile By The Sea.
She calls it First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros.
I guess the idea is to show the beginning of the book you are reading, or are about to read next in line. By the way, you know you are a true "Bibliophile" [whether you are "By The Sea" or not] if you are already thinking ahead to your next book! This is my theory. And I am always doing this. I'll be reading a book, and already scanning my shelves, to see what I will be tearing into next.
Since I am right now reading a book about a pivotal year in the life of Shakespeare, I thought it might be the perfect occasion to go a bit further back in time, re-visit Tudor England, and finally dig into Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-Winning book, Wolf Hall.

Here is the first paragraph of the book: 
'So now get up.'
Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned towards the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.

Have you read this one? What do you think? Would you keep reading, based on that first paragraph?
Visit Diane's blog-meme [and join in] by clicking on the image at the top of my blog. 

By the way, that's her image, and I hope she doesn't mind that I purloined it!
See how reading about Shakespeare will affect your vocabulary?


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Theology is-- or should be-- a species of poetry,which read quickly or encountered in a hubbub of noise makes no sense. You have to open yourself to a poem with a quiet, receptive mind, in the same way you might listen to a difficult piece of music... If you seize upon a poem and try to extort its meaning before you are ready, it remains opaque. If you bring your own personal agenda to bear upon it, the poem will close upon itself like a clam, because you have denied its unique and separate identity, its inviolate holiness.
-- Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness --

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

LARGE -- Re-Defined

I just love discovering some of the mind-boggling scientific facts about our universe. Especially when they are explained with respect to things that we can observe and know about -- in the sense of comparisons. Something to put it in perspective! That way we can better try to understand the magnitude of what is "out there".
I saw this YouTube video about the size of a few others "suns" that exist in the known universe, blazing away even now. And it was so astounding I have to share it with you. I imagine some sort of aliens tanning on a beach a few zillion light years AWAY from that last sun mentioned. WOW! Can you imagine the SPF-factor needed?
It only will take a minute to watch this video clip -- so -- DO IT!

Friday, August 09, 2013

I Still Know How To Read...

I may have forgotten how to BLOG, but at least I still know how to read.
In the past month I've managed to read five books, even though for one week of July I never read a single page of anything because I was entertaining guests at my place -- a time I would not have traded for any amount of books, by the way.
But I thought I would drop in to the Puddle tonight and inform anyone who may have been wondering if I was alive at all -- that yes, I am still breathing. 
Let me say the briefest of words regarding my impression of each of these books.
A Student of Weather, by Elizabeth Hay. 
I admit, I am partial to Elizabeth Hay because she lives in one of the best cities in the world. My own -- Ottawa, Canada. And this novel largely takes place right here. So often I knew the very streets her characters walked. It's the story of a girl named Norma Joyce Hardy, and I hope the author will forgive me for summarizing this excellent tale in so brief a synopsis as the following: The person you first fall in love with when you are very young [i.e., the one who takes your virginity] is not necessarily the one you should also remain [hopelessly] devoted to for the rest of your life. I savoured this book. It is a treasure. I've read four of Hay's books, and this one is my favourite. I highly recommend it to you.
Next, The Visible World, by Mark Slouka. 

This is definitely one of those books that gets better as you read it. At first I was a bit disappointed, but in the end, oh yes, it proves itself worthwhile. Growing up in New York, our protagonist becomes aware that his mother had a love affair that rang a bit truer than the one she currently has with his own father. He discovers that she was involved in a revolution in Czechoslovakia, but for reasons I will not divulge here, as an adult he is unable to ask her about her past. So he revisits the homeland to search for clues about her earlier life and is stymied at every turn. The second half of the book is his fictional account of what took place in his mother's life -- and we, the reader, end up believing in it as much as he does. It is a gorgeous, but searing and sad-ending love story that will nevertheless make any reader appreciate the finer aspects of true love in their own life. Again, I recommend it with very little reservation.
Foreign Bodies, by Cynthia Ozick. 

The author has built a really wonderful tale around the simplest of premises. A truly obnoxious and arrogant [and lazy] brother coerces his sister to leave America and go to Paris to find his estranged son [her nephew]. Aunt Bea does it, and becomes embroiled in an endless amount of subterfuge and duplicity as she increasingly sympathizes with the reasons that the lad has flown the parental coop in the first place. She becomes a bit over-involved, let's just say. It's wonderfully written, and has made me want to read other things by this writer. When it comes to "family matters", Foreign Bodies will cause the reader to speculate upon the question of how appropriate it is to stick one's nose into [what amounts to] other people's business.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, by Raymond Carver. 

I am not going to have a lot of good things to say about this collection. Mind you, I am not really a proficient [and definitely not a prolific] reader of short stories, in general. So maybe I don't know beans about it. For my taste, I just thought these stories were a bit too ambiguous. Too often they seemed as if they were displaced chapters of a greater book. And the endings left me saying, "What?" As in, "the hell?"
I appreciate a good vignette now and then, but Carver lost me too often with his abrupt endings. Not fleshed-out enough for me. I'm all for "Hemingwayesque" when it comes to simplicity and abbreviated dialogue and all that jazz, but I'm afraid these stories did not at all grab me as they probably might enthrall another reader who likes to fill in the blanks.
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes. 

Now here is a book I can heartily endorse sans regret. 163 pages? Really? It felt like a story that another author would have had to take 400 to tell. The conciseness is baffling. Told in first person, Tony Webster sort of reviews his entire life -- his college life, his loves and losses. And the strength of the book is the universal [we all can relate] philosophy laced throughout, with not the slightest trace of pedantry. My second Barnes book, but definitely not my last. I thoroughly recommend your grubby little hands on it.
So this has been just a few words about the past few things I have read.
Please forgive me my lack of blogging lately.
It is a hot, humid summer here, and I work in a building that does not have air conditioning. 

Need I say more? 
I myself am thinking of writing a memoir entitled The Stench of [Every Weekday's] Ending!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Splash du Jour: Thursday

My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.
-- Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.
-- Christopher Hitchens --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

When a woman thinks her husband is a fool, her marriage is over. They may part in one year or ten; they may live together until death. But if she thinks he is a fool, she will not love him again.
-- Philippa Gregory, The Other Queen --

Have a great Tuesday!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Splash du Jour: Thursday

No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream--alone.
-- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness --

Have a great Thursday!