Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, ed., Books and Culture. / New at patreon.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Books 3 Ways

Tonight I spent almost four hours at at the Oneonta Book Club and had a rollicking good time. I haven't done much with book clubs lately--I used to visit them often in Chapel Hill--and had forgotten how smart and how much fun nineteen women in one room can be.

The OBC has been going strong since 1969. Three of the women present had been yacking about books at the book club since 1969.

Alice Lichtenstein has visited them. Also somebody with a book with a lemon on the cover and naughty bits inside. I missed part of the story on that one! The unknown writer left promptly, unlike me.

I am very glad that nobody has tried to put a lemon on one of my books.

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During the evening, I remembered an odd thing that happened about B. I wrote The Wolf Pit in great part because of his ruling passion about the Civil War (and his distress about why his ancestors were on the wrong side.) During a t.v. interview in Wilmington, I was asked what he thought of the book by a very cheerful hostess. I said quite truthfully that he hadn't read it! (B. does not read fiction.) The interviewer was a bit confounded and shaken in her cheer.

She: Why not? Aren't you bothered about that?

Me, after a split second of panicked wonder about what on earth to say in response: I didn't give birth in order to increase my readership!

As he still hasn't read it, I hold to that opinion. His latest read was a book on English heraldry, very useful to the obsessive young historian.

* * * * * * * *

I just read and signed N's 3rd-grade journal for school. Funny stuff noted: "Today is Tuesday, April 4, 2006. Today we made a prediction about tomorrow's weather. We are going on a Field trip. Homework: make a list, clothes I plan to wear on the field trip. Do not bring glass. Ware flies and scrachy pants."

Ware flies and scrachy pants?

Beware flies and scratchy pants?

No. Wear fleece and scratchy pants!

After the field trip: "Rogers Environmental Center. Today we went on a field trip. I saw bugs I've never seen befor. I saw a dead frog! We went to a pond and we got a net and we caught bugs!"

The dead frog is a nice touch, isn't it? How very environmental. N. also has drawn a marvelous picture of a Canadian goose, realistic except that he has a human eye, a nose, and a beak that looks like a pair of protruding lips.

His follow-up essay seems pleasantly exclamatory. Amazing how lively one can be given the motivation of "scrachy pants."

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Photo credit: Royalty free "card catalogue" by Pawe Sobociñski of Kraków, Poland. Source: www.sxc.hu/

7 comments:

  1. Interesting that you should mention book clubs- the book club I belong to is starting up again tonight! :) It's a Mock Newberry Bookclub, where we get to read armloads of advance reader copies. Undistinguished books are chopped off the lenghty list, until in January we are left with our own "Newberry Winner"! Last year we recieved copies of Ingledove, which almost reached our Top Ten. Sadly, it too recieved the ax.

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  2. I'll have to go read some more O'Connor wisdom for consolation!

    Have fun, and don't stay out quite as late as I did. I've been yawning all day. Perhaps it's the rain...

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  3. Until the age of twelve, my son, too, would not read fiction, so being the concerned yet enterprising mother, I employed him for three summers. His job: to read novels from a booklist I had created. And being a wise young man, he read and gathered in the cash. Today he is an adult with an extensive library to accommodate his reading habit, but he doesn’t read fiction. Some things just are.
    But if I’d written a book for him, he’d damned well better read it! You’re a wiser mom than I.

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  4. No, I just had a certain type of old-fashioned Southern humility inflicted on me at a tender age!

    I have another child who has read and reread my books (and even writes a bit like me), but I don't measure either one by reading done or left undone...

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  5. Oh, I so enjoy reading these excerpts from your children's writing! I miss those flies and scrachy pants days.
    (Although, truth be told, I was never crazy about the scrachy pants part.)

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  6. Oh, lovely. Everything about this post delights me, from the picture (soon no one will recall card catalogs, everything being computerized)to the reading group and certainly to your fledgling nature writer's notes (fleece pants are a necessity of life, and make scratchy ones wholly unnecessary).

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  7. Whew.

    Hours and hours in Oneonta attempting to amuse myself while N was at a birthday party at the ever-popular Interskate 88--not quite as bad as a Chuck E. Cheese parlor, but getting close. They kicked me out of the public library but not before I found a couple of Diana Wynne Jones books that R had not read. Amazing. Thought we'd run the gamut. My husband said that when he was a boy (way back when), the libraries in New York were open until 11:00 p.m.

    Fleece pants! We even have some, and I didn't think of it. N wore fleece on top and briar-proof heavy jeans on the bottom... Good old scratchy pants.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.