Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Library Loot: Readathon On My Mind

With the Readathon only days away, I did a more thorough stalking of my library on Monday during my hour break between classes. Prowling through the stacks (trying hard not to disturb nappers and couples making out), I wandered through what felt like acres and acres of books in Hangul. Every time I started to feel kind of mournful at the thought of never being able to read any of this stuff, I'd hit strange little pockets of English-language books. I also checked out the children's literature situation more closely. There are numerous books of how to teach CL, but relatively little of the genre itself. Every now and then I'll find the odd picture book mixed in with usual casserole of Korean and English fiction.

After careful consideration, I presented the shiny, happy self-checkout machine with 3 books:

1. Little House On The Prairie: A Reader's Companion - Virginia L. Wolf. According to the dedication, "Wolf" is not the author's birth name. Aren't you wildly curious to know if the author hesitated or rushed headlong into that married name? I try to put myself in her shoes: What if Mr. Sontag or Mr. Glaspell had appeared at my door instead of Mr. Bybee?

Anyway, this book is a scholarly analysis of the 3rd book in the Little House series, but the author also maintains an ongoing discussion of all the novels. She provides a good deal of historical context, which I appreciate. There is only a brief mention of The First Four Years; she doesn't count that since it was published after both Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane had died.
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Speaking of Rose, Virginia Wolf addresses the debate swirling around the "authorship" of the series, and arrives at the same satisfactory conclusion that I did several years ago: Laura was strong on storytelling and weak with craft and Rose was the opposite -- they complemented each other perfectly. Finally, at the end of this study, there is an promising-looking appendix that provides ideas on how the Little House books can be used in school.

2. St. Mawr - D.H. Lawrence. I wasn't familiar with this title by Lawrence. It's a short book and the first couple of pages read nicely, so I decided to give it a go. From what I gather, it's about a bored and rich young woman, newly married, who buys a horse (the title character) and finds that he is much more interesting and vital than her husband or the other men in her social set. Was Lawrence having a bit of fun? Will I be exposed to a degree of Ick factor? I'll let you know, but I suspect that sometimes you should just say neigh.

3. Some Tame Gazelle - Barbara Pym. I know I like Pym. I remember reading Excellent Women back in the 1990s, but I can't remember anything but faded spinsters and gentle comedy. Maybe I just wasn't reading her at the right time of life. This short novel about two spinster sisters who befriend the new curate in their parish looks like refined fun. Perhaps it will end up being an antidote to St. Mawr. (I shouldn't be that way, but I know Lawrence. In my mind, I keep seeing the fig-eating and nude wrestling scenes in the film version of Women In Love.)

As always, I left behind a few treasures. In particular, I wanted The Collected Works of Richard Wright, The Hammett Collection, and The Forsyte Saga, but they're all Chunky Monkeys. I was already weighed down with textbooks and papers to grade, so I had to pass, but I'll get back there once more before closing time on Friday.

9 comments:

Val said...

just say 'neigh'...love it.

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

whew...what literary selections! as summer gets closer, the books i read get 'lighter'. good luck with the 'thon--i'll be rooting for you!

Anna said...

The Lawrence book sounds especially interesting. I haven't read too many of his books.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Eva said...

Did you know Rose Wilder Lane was a ghost writer for celebrity memoirs pre-helping her mom? I just found that out!

Jessica said...

I just wanted to say the first thing I noticed when I looked at your header was a copy of The Tightwad Gazette! It made me smile.

Bybee said...

Val,
Somehow, "I love my horse" stories seem ok for little girls and a little strange for grown women.

Nat,
Oh, I thought this was "light" -- actually, none of the books are very long.

Anna,
I think I'll start the Readathon with St. Mawr.

Eva,
From what I can see, Lane was really crackerjack at behind-the-scenes aspects of writing. I read Let The Hurricane Roar AKA Young Pioneers and her style is so staid and conventional, even a tad creaky. It hasn't aged as well as Laura's and her work.

Jessica,
I've been wondering if anyone would recognize any of the books on my shelves...the photo, taken with my son's laptop is a little blurry and too brightly lit. But yeah...TTG stands out nicely.

fleurfisher said...

What a great set of books. I'm curious about the Lawrence, because the name sounds Cornish and where he lived in Cornwall was just a few miles from me. I've struggled with his writing though. Whereas Barbara Pym I love. Enjoy your books!

JoV said...

I hope you get to re-read Siddhartha again. I'm experimenting, but hope I'm not disappointed. Great loot for you too!

Christine said...

Good luck on your readathon! It sure looks like you've got some serious reading time ahead of you with that loot! Enjoy. :)