Thursday, April 30, 2015

"A Reliable Novel" by Robert Goolrick

Actually, the original and well-crafted novel, called "A Reliable Wife", reminded me a little of "The Devil in the White City". Deeply twisted evil lurks beneath the veneer of turn-of-the-20th-Century American Midwest, as a fantastically wealthy man from northern Wisconsin advertises for a "reliable wife" in the newspapers of large Midwestern cities. At the beginning of a frigid and hard Wisconsin winter, the man send his private railcar to Chicago to pick up his chosen lady. The lady arrives; he sees immediately that she is not quite the lady she claimed in her letters and photo. But she is alluringly lovely; he lets her stay. Supplied with his money, she buys wonderful fabric and hand sews amazing beautiful dresses for herself, as is her passionate skill. She yearns to plan and execute a flower garden for the next summer---and she plans to execute something else, too. The author sites "Wisconsin Death Trip", a coffee table book of the 1970's filled with Victorian era photos of dead people in their coffins; stories of Wisconsin people driven mad by the recurring, frozen expanses of winter. My usual complaint about sloppy editing does not apply here; the book is smartly crafted.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Breaking News...sadly; Rest in Peace, Gizmo.

Gizmo, who lived and brought happiness to a wonderful family from Texas, passed away at almost 15 years of age. He was a smaller breed of collie. His human boy, Tim, is the son of our dear friends who visit us whenever they are in the area and have time. Gizmo was his boyhood puppy-dog companion. The photo above is pinched from a notice on FB; it shows Gizmo in his younger days, a handsome and fluffy little collie. I only met Gizmo the one time, during a visit to Texas a couple of years ago; he was slowing down at bit, but just as handsome. There are some very funny stories about the pup; but this is not the time. If every dog and child in the world received the same perfect care and nurture as little Tim and his friend, Gizmo, what a wonder place the world would be! Sympathy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter

Set in various eras and localities, the novel is engrossing and solid, well-written. I can't complain about the editing, etc. Certainly, a film will be made of this story--it feels like it was composed with that in mind. It will probably result in a popular, scenic and successful film. I will not detail the plot there. It is a recent publication--I think many have read the novel.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mark Helprin: A Literary Genre all to Himself. "Refiner's Fire".

A soldier in one of the Israeli-Arab conflicts of the 1960's is gravely wounded in combat--so much so that he is laid among other dying soldiers in hospital ward, kept sedated for comfort. A lone young nurse watches the men for signs of life or proof of death. The soldier's name is Marshall Pearl; much of the action of the story takes place in the druggy, fevery visions and dreams in his head as he lies, awaiting the end--of his life or of the current condition. What memories he has! the author goes far out on limbs of description to bring to life this adventurous, intrepid young man. He is an American by upbringing and adoption, but was conceived in the ashes of the Holocaust and born on a sinking ship as its captain tries to run the British blockage of Palestine to deliver camp survivors to Israel.
Marshall barely survives his birth! As a child, his is fortunate to be adopted by wealthy Americans; he is given much freedom to roam around his parent's estate on the Hudson; he learns to climb, he hops freight trains, he is all about rugged adventure. But that doesn't begin to tell of the richly woven tapestry of the narration. If you ever read and liked "A Soldier in the Great War" by this same author, you will understand: the scenes in the book simply come alive in your head as you read; different scenes, repeatedly. Amazing story, released in 1977. The occasional gem of the book like this is why I love to read!

Monday, April 13, 2015

More Evocative Paintings from the Grohmann Museum..

 The solitary miner in the dark and apparently endless tunnels...

 Laborers or fellow miners burying the dead after an accident or mine collapse..the detail of the little dog on the lower left is especially touching..
and a whimsical paintings of an old fashioned steam shovel, almost like an illustration from a child's story book.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Art is Supposed to Challenge our Thinking, as well as entertain...

I was completely unfamiliar with the Grohmann before our visit--we came to see a temporary exhibit of railroad graphics. As I strolled among the galleries of the permanent collection of these interesting industrial landscapes, I realized many of the paintings could only have been commissioned by the noxious and deadly regime that controlled much of Europe and tried to take over the world in the 1940's! The paintings are generally from the 1930's, before the true evil was generally understood.
My Goodness; a unique and slightly creepy experience--yet I am glad for the openness to exhibit such subjects without glorifying them. Usually, I credit art works on the 'Blog; in this case I decided not to mention specific artists or subjects--the museums collection can be explored on-line.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Haystacks and Smokestacks...

A combination you don't usually see in landscape painting. I liked the weird, "starry night", but strange quality of the night-time scene in the middle...

The Butterfly Hotel is open for business--and packed!

We started, several years ago, to assist the butterfly population by nurturing the young specimens indoors. It was slow going. But this...