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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R D Blackmore (1869) Illu. C. Clark

Possibly one of the best books I have read.
LD is an outstanding time capsule, plenty of characters and just enough on each of them so we get to have an opinion of and a relationship with them all.

This is of course my style of great book; written by a master, takes place along time ago, and has many life lessons folded into it.

John claims to be stupid or slow but we see is just careful and measured. It is the classic Romeo and Juliet but they both live in the end. There are brothers and sisters who like and dislike each other, cousins and uncles who are good and bad, neighbors with daughters and neighbors who are murderers. There are many historical references which always have me looking up the facts. All in all it is a wonderful story to drop down into and leave our current train-wreck behind.

My copy was as inscribed a gift for Christmas in 1917, I bought it in October of 2016 while in Toronto visiting the Bata Shoe Museum during the HCC convention. I search out an antique book sellers when I travel for souvenirs and found Contact Editions The book I had seen online that they had turned out to be not very interesting and so I asked about my genre and they pointed out this wonderful copy. We had a nice conversation and I was on my way back to the seminar happy as a clam.
Turns out the second inscription was as a gift for Christmas in 1987... and so I wonder who will get it in 2087?

Some excellent passages
- "Least said soonest mended, because less chance of breaking"

- "He who will not when he may, when he will, he shall have nay"

- A classic romantic, pages long description of the beauty of the forest.
"Then the woods arose in folds, like drapery of awakened mountains, stately with a depth of awe, and memory of the tempests. Autumn’s mellow hand was on them, as they owned already, touched with gold, and red, and olive; and their joy towards the sun was less to a bridegroom than a father.
Yet before the floating impress of the woods could clear itself, suddenly the gladsome light leaped over hill and valley, casting amber, blue, and purple, and a tint of rich red rose; according to the scene they lit on, and the curtain flung around; yet all alike dispelling fear and the cloven hoof of darkness, all on the wings of hope advancing, and proclaiming, “God is here.” Then life and joy sprang reassured from every crouching hollow; every flower, and bud, and bird, had a fluttering sense of them; and all the flashing of God’s gaze merged into soft beneficence.
So perhaps shall break upon us that eternal morning, when crag and chasm shall be no more, neither hill and valley, nor great unvintaged ocean; when glory shall not scare happiness, neither happiness envy glory; but all things shall arise and shine in the light of the Father’s countenance, because itself is risen.
Who maketh His sun to rise upon both the just and the unjust. And surely but for the saving clause, Doone Glen had been in darkness. Now, as I stood with scanty breath—for few men could have won that climb—at the top of the long defile, and the bottom of the mountain gorge all of myself, and the pain of it, and the cark of my discontent fell away into wonder and rapture. For I cannot help seeing things now and then, slow-witted as I have a right to be; and perhaps because it comes so rarely, the sight dwells with me like a picture.
The bar of rock, with the water-cleft breaking steeply through it, stood bold and bare, and dark in shadow, grey with red gullies down it. But the sun was beginning to glisten over the comb of the eastern highland, and through an archway of the wood hung with old nests and ivy. The lines of many a leaning tree were thrown, from the cliffs of the foreland, down upon the sparkling grass at the foot of the western crags. And through the dewy meadow’s breast, fringed with shade, but touched on one side with the sun-smile, ran the crystal water, curving in its brightness like diverted hope.
On either bank, the blades of grass, making their last autumn growth, pricked their spears and crisped their tuftings with the pearly purity. The tenderness of their green appeared under the glaucous mantle; while that grey suffusion, which is the blush of green life, spread its damask chastity. Even then my soul was lifted, worried though my mind was: who can see such large kind doings, and not be ashamed of human grief?
Not only unashamed of grief, but much abashed with joy, was I, when I saw my Lorna coming, purer than the morning dew, than the sun more bright and clear. That which made me love her so, that which lifted my heart to her, as the Spring wind lifts the clouds, was the gayness of her nature, and its inborn playfulness. And yet all this with maiden shame, a conscious dream of things unknown, and a sense of fate about them.
Down the valley still she came, not witting that I looked at her, having ceased (through my own misprison) to expect me yet awhile; or at least she told herself so. In the joy of awakened life and brightness of the morning, she had cast all care away, and seemed to float upon the sunrise, like a buoyant silver wave. Suddenly at sight of me, for I leaped forth at once, in fear of seeming to watch her unawares, the bloom upon her cheeks was deepened, and the radiance of her eyes; and she came to meet me gladly."


- Nothing indeed has changed
"For, according to our old saying, the three learned professions live by roguery on the three parts of a man. The doctor mauls our bodies; the parson starves our souls, but the lawyer must be the adroitest knave, for he has to ensnare our minds. Therefore he takes a careful delight in covering his traps and engines with a spread of dead-leaf words, whereof himself knows little more than half the way to spell them"

 - If this is not the definition of my mother nothing is!
"Then (if you come to think again) lo!—or I will not say lo! for no one can behold it—only feel, or but remember, what a real mother is. Ever loving, ever soft, ever turning sin to goodness, vices into virtues; blind to all nine-tenths of wrong; through a telescope beholding (though herself so nigh to them) faintest decimal of promise, even in her vilest child. Ready to thank God again, as when her babe was born to her; leaping (as at kingdom-come) at a wandering syllable of Gospel for her lost one"

- Why I read
"Pure pleasure it is to any man, to reflect upon all these things. How truly we discern clear justice, and how well we deal it. If any poor man steals a sheep, having ten children starving, and regarding it as mountain game (as a rich man does a hare), to the gallows with him. If a man of rank beats down a door, smites the owner upon the head, and honours the wife with attention, it is a thing to be grateful for, and to slouch smitten head the lower"




Friday, January 20, 2017

Dubliners by James Joyce (1914)

After the Count I needed something short.  The Dubliners seamed good and I had never read any Joyce.

It reminded me how much I like poetic English especially coming from The Count translation where I'm guessing that any lyrical formations in the French version were lost.

However, it also reminded me why I hate short stories. Also reminds me that I do not care for the early 20th delve into realism.

A nice 1926 copy. 



Some Quotes:
"He had neither companions nor friends, church nor creed. He lived his spiritual life without any communion with others, visiting his relatives at Christmas and escorting them to the cemetery when they died. He performed these two social duties for old dignity's sake but conceded nothing further to the conventions which regulate the civic life."

"One of his sentences, written two months after his last interview with Mrs. Sinico, read: Love between man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse."

Oh how true, how true.