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lgpiper

Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
On The Beach (Vintage Classics)
Nevil Shute Norway
The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett
Obscure Destinies
Willa Cather
A Start in Life (The Michael Cullen Novels)
Alan Sillitoe
Mobilizing Web Sites: Strategies for Mobile Web Implementation
Kristofer Layon

My Mortal Enemy

My Mortal Enemy - Willa Cather Ah, always nice to get back to Willa Cather. I think with the reading of this one that I've read all her books except a few of her short stories. I'm wondering how long I can hold out before I begin re-reading them all.

Anyway this book is a sort of meditation on the life of a woman named Myra Henshawe, as seen through the eyes of the much younger Nellie Birdseye. Myra was quite popular in her small, midwestern town and an especial friend Nellie's Aunt Lydia. Myra elopes, against the wishes of her uncle and is disinherited. But she makes a good life for herself—well the hard work of her husband, Oswald, does—in New York city. Teenage Nellie meets her once when Myra comes by to visit the town where she grew up and where Nellie lives. They meet again when Nellie and Aunt Lydia stay with the Henshawes for a week or so during their Christmas holidays.

Some ten years later, out in San Francisco, where she has gone to study, Nellie again runs into Myra. Oswald, has fallen on hard times, and they are not so well off. In addition, Myra has become an invalid. Nellie rekindles their friendship.

So, there's not lots of action: no explosions, no sword fights, no hot archer chicks. Just glimpses of the lives of ordinary people some 100 years ago. Glimpses which are very beautifully and poignantly written, and which detail people's motivations, triumphs, and failures.

Some day, I hope to find Miss Garner, my 11th-grade English teacher and apologize to her for having snickered at the thought of Willa Cather ("that midwestern hick") back when I was a callow teenager. Willa Cather is one of my five or ten favorite authors, right up there with Murakami, Dickens, and Shute.