Thursday, August 17, 2017

Typhoon, Amy Foster, Falk: A Reminiscence, and Tomorrow, by Joseph Conrad (1902)

So I picked up this very nice 1932 copy of Conrad stories at the local antiques store up here in Beulah, a good condition Doubleday.

I think the most interesting story of the bunch is definitely Falk,

These are all classic Conrad and I was itching for more so I am glad to have found it. Conrad at his best "going dark"

Typhoon is the Action story of the four.
In a day and age where you had to "know the signs" it was a judgment call.

Amy Foster is a story of race and prejudice (oddly relevant)
Picture yourself in the position of the main character; an awful position to be in

Falk is about past deeds, acceptance, self interests, and love.
Picture yourself in the position of the main character; an awful position to be in

Tomorrow is about longing for what is gone and self delusion
This old geezer has no idea why "the boy" don't come home

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1927)

I asked myself; what happened between 1915 and 1920 to cause writing to change, and people to change soo much? Oh yes, the 1st World War. THAT War set the stage for where we are to this day.

And so again I learn that I don't like the works that were developed after that shameful time.

I was drawn to this 1st edition copy by the illustrations and the name.




I read it as a filler between longer books. It is a sad book. It has several revelations regarding human nature that are painful, but mostly it is a sad story.

Receiving huge critical acclaim in its day, the world was ready for this and other authors, in some ways it is a terrible book. I don't need sadness anymore.

I see the baggage that we carry with us regarding the people we are closest to. This baggage can make us keep them at arms length or further. This baggage is made up of the bad experiences and is only tempered by the good ones, otherwise they would not be baggage and the relationship would not be tainted.

So when your brother drinks himself to death, a brother who was once your best friend in the world but had become a massive piece of baggage to the point of wishing he were dead you are left with which parts to remember.

This book requires a second reading, I don't think I will get to it.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey (1921) Illustrated by Hoffman

A great summer read, I like this kind of thing because the summer is so free compared to the winter shut-in and Grey takes us out into a wide wild world, full of flowers, lightness and darkness.
Much more compact than "The Riders" a lot less ominous, still very dramatic.

Love, hate, family, outlaws,  and redemption; pretty standard Zane fair, its high reader rating is, I think very well earned.

Very intriguing, with only a couple pages of that over preachy / sappy stuff, otherwise one of those books I could not wait to get back to.

A rough condition 1st edition copy from an estate sale for $1.

The Hoffman illustrations are great but have little chiaroscuro. (I enhanced them in PS for you)

I did some repairs to the binding so it should be good for another 96 years.

My favorite character is (of course) Ben; wilder and dumber in his younger days he has come around to helping others with what little relevant knowledge he has to offer.

Set in his ways, still (as always) willing to say what others don't want to hear, Ben attempts to make up for some long past mistakes.

Grey paints an' paints vistas of the west, this story takes place in some very specific Colorado locations, so for those who know the area it must be an especially fine experience.

Ben tries to make friends with the ungrateful punk-ass son:
""Young fellar, you need to be talked to, so if you've got any sense at
all it'll get a wedge in your brain," went on Wade. "I'm a stranger
here. But I happen to be a man who sees through things, an' I see how
your dad handles you wrong. You don't know who I am an' you don't care.
But if you'll listen you'll learn what might help you.... No boy can
answer to all his wild impulses without ruinin' himself. It's not
natural. There are other people--people who have wills an' desires, same
as you have. You've got to live with people. Here's your dad an' Miss
Columbine, an' the cowboys, an' me, an' all the ranchers, so down to
Kremmlin' an' other places. These are the people you've got to live
with. You can't go on as you've begun, without ruinin' yourself an' your
dad an' the--the girl.... It's never too late to begin to be better. I
know that. But it gets too late, sometimes, to save the happiness of
others. Now I see where you're headin' as clear as if I had pictures of
the future."

 Love the "Western speak" heavy throughout the book.

Probably a dozen or more passages like this where Grey describes the world apart from and indifferent to the comings and goings of man.

"Spring came early that year at White Slides Ranch. The snow melted off
the valleys, and the wild flowers peeped from the greening grass while
yet the mountain domes were white. The long stone slides were glistening
wet, and the brooks ran full-banked, noisy and turbulent and roily.

Soft and fresh of color the gray old sage slopes came out from under
their winter mantle; the bleached tufts of grass waved in the wind and
showed tiny blades of green at the roots; the aspens and oaks, and the
vines on fences and cliffs, and the round-clumped, brook-bordering
willows took on a hue of spring.

The mustangs and colts in the pastures snorted and ran and kicked and
cavorted; and on the hillsides the cows began to climb higher, searching
for the tender greens, bawling for the new-born calves. Eagles shrieked
the release of the snow-bound peaks, and the elks bugled their piercing
calls. The grouse-cocks spread their gorgeous brown plumage in parade
before their twittering mates, and the jays screeched in the woods, and
the sage-hens sailed along the bosom of the gray slopes.

Black bears, and browns, and grizzlies came out of their winter's sleep,
and left huge, muddy tracks on the trails; the timber wolves at dusk
mourned their hungry calls for life, for meat, for the wildness that was
passing; the coyotes yelped at sunset, joyous and sharp and impudent.

But winter yielded reluctantly its hold on the mountains. The black,
scudding clouds, and the squalls of rain and sleet and snow, whitening
and melting and vanishing, and the cold, clear nights, with crackling
frost, all retarded the work of the warming sun. The day came, however,
when the greens held their own with the grays; and this was the
assurance of nature that spring could not be denied, and that summer
would follow."





Thursday, July 13, 2017

Two Little Savages by Ernest Thompson Seton (1903)

Really wonderful book regarding the harsh up bringing of Yan, Sam, and Guy, it is almost exclusively a man-mentor world for the boys, if they survive each new lesson. (they all have moms and they are involved)
Seton is credited with setting the foundation for the Boy Scouts. After surviving his own cruel up bringing he desperately wanted to provide young men with compassionate guidance, not abuse.
This should be mandatory reading for some boys at the age of 10.
My 1927 copy seams to be much like the first ed. it's bespeckled with lots of Seton's little sketches throughout.

This Puritan upbringing has its good points and its bad, toughness has to be experienced and there is only one way to do that... experience it! The discussion currently floating questions how much coddling is too much, and how to prepare young people to be adults. Since we seem to be drifting toward a world where conflict is more likely than not, should we not consider mandatory conscription?
Don't confuse toughness with conservative a-holiness; it is possible to be a compassionate tough person.  

"Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff"

Because it is part "how to" part "old guy telling stories" and part "remember the stupid shit we did" it takes a while longer to "set the stage."

Sam drives me crazy; I hate people like this; they revel in being a-holes. In the beginning Sam is not a good friend and is not a good person, he sets the tone for everything and it is only Yan's internal fortitude that steers himself away (most of the time) from Sam's evil influence.At the end he becomes a more trustworthy friend.
This "I'm better than you" false bravado it eerily familiar; it sounds exactly like millennial/donald speak. "I'm the greatest," "if you even show me what your doing you must be challenging me," if you show me what your doing I need to belittle it... you know the type.
Guy too is a lying little coward with the low esteem that only a mean father can produce. His bragging and lying about what he's done are nearly unreadable, an annoying little twit.
Ultimately Yan is "the better man" being a kind of Renaissance man he is interested in learning, art, manly pursuits, and is compassionate.He makes plenty mistakes but learns the better lesson from them. Following Yan's internal dialog as he learns the ways of the wild, what it means to be impulsive and the consequences is very rewarding.


The drawings are not the best and the printings are worse but a person could get a long way thru the woods with the information within these covers.

So now I know:
How to make moccasins
How to make a  TeePee
How to make a Bow and arrow
How to make an album
How to make a signal fire
How to make a no-kill-trap




Caleb's rant regarding trapping and hunting is/was the primary argument made by humane hunters around the world and thru the centuries. He is describing pure Survival Compassion.
Caleb is my favorite character being a most sober, thoughtful, and compassionate person.



What I always wondered (and found out in Riders of the Purple Sage) was what people did BCP to remember something wholly visual; the Indians created a challenge game to sharpen pattern a  young'uns recognition
.
BUT the ending is Great; our hero is shown to have courage, and concur his fears. We see everyone come together.
This book ends with a tender moment and a back to reality finish.
Only a man that has lived with a dog could have written such.

I thought it was going to be a ho-hum story but Seton made it a real page turner at the end.



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)

A little out of my time period but still nicely BCP.

Really a quick read its almost like an engineering project description.

It really didn't do much for me but I knew the ending which may have tempered the suspense.

Still it is a nice look into the past.

The view of "peoples" and their "traits" is prominent within the story line, Agatha new her nationalities and their propensities for this that and the other thing.
The Italians are this way, the English are that, the Americans are another way, and it is mostly true, what do we do with these truths and how far do we take it?
I guess we are heading back to a time where this is considered correct, its a rough and tough way to look at things but since we are such poor stewards of our neighbors it seems to be our only answer.






Friday, June 16, 2017

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

I was looking for something a little light and settled on Little Women

This Rainbow Classics 1934 copy is illustrated by Hilda van Stockum




The full color plates are nice but the silhouette graphics at each chapter are my favorite


All in all I am very impressed, what a great story, such insight into life. young dreams and harsh realities.

Its an interesting contrast to Gone with the Wind in that it is a Northern viewpoint. (life seems to be the same before and after)

Women's roles were more narrowly defined in those days but this does not out date this story. 

I think that every man and women getting married should read this book 1st. It outlines some of the fundamental tenants of marriage that I think apply as much today as they did a hundred and fifty years ago.

The lure of fame, the comfort of home, the desire for wealth, its all here. 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Master of Precision: Henry M. Leland (1966)

I 1st read the Master of Precision in the early 80's, and wanted to revisit it as I am getting back into manufacturing in the great city of Detroit.

Forgotten because he didn't put his name on the companies he started most notably the Cadillac Motor Co. and the Lincoln Motor Co.

So in fact old Henry started two of the most popular lux brands in the industry.

One of the sides lines that the book reminds us of is just how much of an A-Hole Henry ford was; a small man who lied and cheated others just because he could.

Henry came from the Horse Age and lived into the Air Age. He was without a doubt one of the fathers of the Automobile Age. Lelands father was farmer and drove an eight-horse wagon between Boston and Montreal.

The Father of Precision may be a better name:  
I had trouble at first, in the early 1900s, in selling Mr. Leland our roller bearings. He then taught me the need for greater accuracy in our products to meet the exacting standards of interchangeable parts. Mr. Leland came to the industry with a mature experience in general engineering and in gasoline engines, which he had long made for boats. One of his specialties was precision metalwork, which went back to his experience in tool making for a federal arsenal during the Civil War, and which he afterward developed in the Brown and Sharpe Company, machine-tool makers of Providence, Rhode Island. It has been called to my attention It has been called to my attention that Eli Whitney, long before, had started the development of interchangeable parts, a fact which suggests a line of descent from Whitney to Leland to the automobile industry.

And who do you think created the electric started for the industry?
After getting to know the young Daytonians  Henry Leland told them about a friend of his who had stopped to help a woman whose car had stalled. As he cranked the starter, it kicked back and broke his jaw. The man later died from an infection as a result of that accident. This led Leland to ask Kettering and Deeds if they could use electricity to start a car. Of course, they accepted the challenge. A self-starter would not only prevent such accidents but would also open up the car market to women who were unable to crank a car. They returned to the Barn to try and make the first self-starter for automobiles... It was an intense period of hard work, trials and errors, but they ultimately had the system functioning well enough to submit the patent in November of 1910 and had it running on a Cadillac in January 1911. Following extensive testing in Detroit, Deeds and Kettering received an order for 12,000 systems from Henry Leland. The size of this order caught them by surprise and they were unable to find anyone to make such a quantity. So now they had to become manufacturers and moved into a new building downtown, effectively ending the need for the barn. But from 1908 to 1911, it was the birthplace of automotive electrical equipment.

I was born and raised in Detroit and will most likely die here, my father and his father worked in the car industry. I watched the decline of Detroit my whole life and never thought I would live to see the return.
But with pride I am happy to say that it is truly on its way back and the energy here is amazing.
I am joining in with the others to bring small scale manufacturing back in the areas of leather working.