Saturday, April 9, 2016

My March Reading

March was a fog of the parents visiting for the month, the flu, and the passing away of one of the most wonderful men I've ever known—I was close to him and he was my brother in all but blood. As a result of this fog, my reading suffered. Nothing entertained. Nothing sustained. But in the interstices of the fog, I managed to read some good books.

Oreo by Fran Ross
Categories: Literary Fiction
Diversity: African-American and Jewish characters
Comments: This was a tough book to read, not so much for the content but for the style. The style is a hodge-podge collection of narrative jumps and stylistic weirdnesses. It's a book with a cult status and is acknowledged as being very influential to African-American literature. But I persevered with it and was richly rewarded. The heroine, Oreo, is widely different from anybody I've ever met or read about. She's brilliant and profane and smart and funny and she looks at the world upside down and sideways. Under the guise of setting out to look for her deserter father as her life's quest, Oreo sets about tilting windmills. Oreo was recommended by Liz McCausland and her excellent review is here.

Against Hasty Marriage: I & II
Categories: Poetry
Diversity: Deciphering Middle English took a bit of work and consultation with a dictionary
Comments: The Trials and Joys of Marriage (2002) edited by Eve Salisbury is a collection of Middle English poems/lyrics from the fourteenth and fifteen centuries. These were my readings for World Poetry Day on March 21.

Against a hasty marriage, the author suggests caution. Know or thow knytte; prove or thow preyse yt. Before you leap into it and praise it, make sure you have proof of it being a good relationship. I'm assuming by proof, he means of the entire relationship, not just the carnal side of it.

For, the author laments: For "had y wyst" commeth to late for to lowse yt. For "had I known" comes too late in order to loosen the nuptial bond.

I think the author speaks from a bad experience. Even before the wooing, he warns that marriage is a "longe wo."

Admonitions against widows are not a Georgian/Regency societal norm as romance novels would have you believe. They go far back.
Wedowis be wol fals, iwys,
For they cun bothe halse and kys
Til onys purs pikyd is,
And they seyn, "Go, boy, goo!"

Apparently, widows seek remarriage under false pretenses, i.e., not for love, but for financial or sexual reasons. They will hug and kiss till they pick your purse then they'll discard you.

Even of maidens, this misogynistic author writes that they're false and fickle.
Of madenys I wil seyn but lytil,
For they be bothe fals and fekyl,

If he had his way, no one would enter into the state of holy matrimony.

The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe
Categories: Romance, Regency
Comments: This Regency romance was my TBR Challenge book for this month and my comments are here.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Categories: nonfiction, fiction, children's
Diversity: Sudanese children
Comments: In this partly fictionalized account of actual events, Park tells the story of two Sudanese children from 1985 and 2008 whose lives have widely variant trajectories but who come to a common meeting point at the end of the book. It's a shocking story of pain and hardship for such little ones in war-torn Sudan. A beautiful book. It's my TBR Challenge book for April. [Edited to add a link to the review here.]

A Broken Vessel by Kate Ross
Categories: Mystery, Regency
Comments: I read this with Sunita and Liz and our discussion post is here.