01 September 2017

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

We vacationed in August and I had a very good month of reading!

I always tell people that I rarely reread books, but I've been rereading a lot recently, and so my happiness is to be expected, since I'm rereading books that I previously enjoyed. You'll see my reviews reflect the weight of most of these being old favorites.

I read 7 books; 4 were rereads, 3 were new to me.

I’ll post my reviews separately.

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale
by Lynda Rutledge

A reliable friend recommended this book to me when I was seeking a humorous book to read. I continued to wonder why for quite a long time. Stick with it; there is a punch line.

Set in Texas on New Year's Eve of 1999, this book explores the long-standing broken relationship between a mother and daughter. Relationships are mended, and restarted as a mysterious set of events unravels alongside the mind of the sundowning matriarch of the Bass family.
I like to imagine books as movies, and I enjoy playing casting director. For this cast of
characters I would pick Diane Lane to play Claudia Darling, Dulé Hill as John Jasper Johnson, and Dina Spybey-Waters as Bobbie Ann Blankenship. Faith Darling would obviously be played by Cloris Leachman.
A friend just told me that this IS being made into a movie; I can't wait to see it.

When our oldest son was a junior in high school, he took English Literature AP. It wasn't his favorite subject, by far...in fact it may have been his least favorite. Hubs and I, however, felt he needed to gain the discipline and growth which should be the side effects of taking the class. We've since changed our mind about this particular class. Our oldest two children have supported their argument that our high school's teacher of this class elevates her status as an AP teacher and revels in making her class hell for the kids, compared to the professors at our junior college. Hubs and I have attended curriculum nights at our high school, and just this week we concluded that we would pull our current junior out of the class because this teacher directly tells parents that her class is more important than any of the kids' other classes. Enough said. If a teacher has no compassion for her students, she shouldn't be teaching.

I should let my readers know that my fascination with books and words and editing has only been alive since adulthood. I was not a reader in school. One day, in high school, I remember it vividly...I was b.o.r.e.d. Algebra 2 or Trigonometry class; I'd finished my homework already, like the good girl that I was. I looked around to see what others were doing to prevent themselves from falling alseep. I saw that a few of the smart girls were reading books. They were reading books...for pleasure.

I had to get to the bottom of that.

I decided to look at the titles of the books and do a bit of my own research. The next time I was near a bookstore I popped in and bought myself my first paperback. I read it and actually enjoyed it. (It was V C Andrews' Flowers in the Attic.)

As an adult I began homeschooling our first two children when they were ages 2 and 3. Just before that I was inspired by a dear friend I am still close to. Tami was telling us about a book or books she'd been reading. I commented in disbelief that she could find the time to read as a mom who was also busy running her husband's business from their home. (She's gone on to do even greater things and continues to inspire me.)

Her reply to me was my inspiration to begin reading as an adult and also my inspiration for this blog:
"Ang...you find time for the things you love."

Since then I've been reading and loving it.

So...back to the point of this post.

What makes a good reader?

Our son's teacher asked them to read this:
Good Readers and Good Writers by Vladimir Nabokov

I want to discuss Nabokov's thoughts. I approach my discussion of his wise words with the fact that for the past few months I've been developing a particular belief or thesis of my own. "Why is good writing lauded and revered whereas good reading is ignored? Do not both have their virtues? Good writers can not exist without good readers."

I love that Nabokov sums up his response as being a sort of "Kindness to Authors". I have decided that as a reader it is easy to be negative about a person's writing. I think that writing, and no less~ reading~ are very personal endeavors. It's easy to be a critic. I try very hard to keep my blog positive. I post mostly positive reviews. I want to share what I feel are really great books. I want to discuss them at depth. I want to hear how they affected other readers.

 I previously had little appreciation for fiction. I considered it fluff; twaddle, as Charlotte Mason would have labeled it. In fact, my homeschooling is what changed that impression. The curriculum we mainly used, Sonlight, is based on literature; fiction, historically-based fiction, and non fiction. Those stories drew me in and created, for me, the ability to develop an appreciation for adult fiction. I like to think of them as stories for adults, for that is what they really are. Some days I just want to be lost in a good story. I want to suspend reality and all the natural laws that go with it. Nabokov says that preconceived notions are detrimental. I agree. Of course a book is about a particular main topic but it is also about so many more little things too. Nabokov points out that all writing creates a new world. I think this is so true, especially in fiction. I found that I did that very thing when I read The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. My Review of The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett I feel we should respect the fact that the world created by a writer doesn't have to follow the laws of real life. This is most true in fictional writing of course.

We are asked if we can ever rely on the image painted of a time or place in a piece of writing. All I can say is that from my experience living in England I am swayed to believe that Miss Austen, in particular, knew something about her subjects. Even if it wasn't everyone's reality it was her reality. It was life the way she saw it. Even while we were living there I could still see things that were obvious outgrowth of their social system and mores in the Victorian era. While I think we must be careful of believing that everything we read represents truth, especially historical fiction, I also think that we can discern some truths from it.

I love the way he compares the differences between geniuses and minor authors! A genius writer is able to create something someone else has never imagined; able to cause you to imagine a form of it too! I want to be the "happy reader" atop that mountain embracing the "master artist", together viewing the masterpiece!

Nabokov asks readers to pick from ten attributes the ones they believe make a good reader. I chose the exact ones he wanted his readers to choose. As I made the choices I tried to envision what my answers might have been if I were a young, inexperienced student, sitting in one of his lectures. I believe my life experiences and the fact that I read for pleasure and not from a sense of coercion enabled me to decide upon those attributes with a firmness I'd have not possessed back then. Today, even if he disagreed with me I'd have been able to substantiate my choices by backing them with clear and concise reasoning. As a reader I possess imagination. I enjoy trying to catch the author's vision. As far as memory is concerned, I regularly try to improve my memory. Since I own an ereader and use it for most of my reading I don't have to dog-ear the pages of my books or take copious hand-written notes; instead, I bookmark the passages that have great meaning to me and I type my notes in so that I may return to them later. My NOOK has an inherent dictionary. In fact, I am not that impressed with it. I have found many words that are not in the dictionary used by Barnes and Noble. I have voiced my concern over this issue, asking that they align with a more comprehensive dictionary. Artistic sense? I think I possess that attribute. I am certainly very left-brained but I still attempt paintings when the mood possess me, as well as trying to pull together a household atmosphere that, I hope, evokes one of comfort for my husband, our five children, myself, and occasional guests. I think artistic sense sort of goes hand in hand with having an imagination.

We are told that the first reading of a book is a process and that the brain is the only instrument we possess which can interpret it. Having lived in Europe and at the same time taking painting classes, as well as possessing a strong attachment to the Impressionists I feel that I tend to spend more evaluating a painting than he believes most first-time viewers do. Still, the amount of time it takes to digest a painting is far less than the amount of time it takes to ingest a written work!

Nabokov firmly believes that a book can make such an impression as to change the demeanor of a reader. If one is not changed by that which he reads, what then is the point I ask? I love that he asserts that a reader should use his imagination in his efforts to read, equal to that of the effort put forth by the writer. This is how I generally read. I take, at times, copious notes. I want to be able to refer to them and know what went through my mind upon reading meaningful passages. I find it incredibly interesting if different passages speak to me upon rereadings.

It is imperative to read in a manner that is both aloof and involved all at the same time, according to Nabokov. He wises for readers to read with a slight bent toward science while also possessing the imagination that is practically diametrically opposed. I feel that I do this most of the time. I used to struggle with watching films that involved time travel. I would sit and watch the film while inwardly arguing with myself about the impossibilities of the concept. (Case in point, the Back to the Future trilogy.) Upon reading The Time Traveler's Wife, however, I was so drawn into the world created by Audrey Niffenegger that I pushed myself to forget the impossibilities and live in the moment. No...if I am honest, I actually, probably did not even have to push myself that hard. Niffenegger drew me in so deeply that I found that I actually began to wonder...what if there really were a genetic disorder which could cause displacement in time! Yes. I became a believer. For a moment. That's all that is really necessary; even a brief reprieve from reality.

It is implied that the art of literature occurs when something unexpected in fact occurs. Deception, according to Nabokov, is the hook that draws us in. The character in the story can even take on a life of his own and be the one who appears to grab the attention of the reader.

I agree with Nabokov that a writer must possess three abilities, those of: storyteller, teacher, and enchanter with enchanter needing to be the strongest ability for genius to show through. Truth can be beheld but one can be mesmerized at the same time if the story is woven with just the right ingredients.

The ideas expressed by Nabokov ring expressly true with me. They resonate in my innermost being. Yes, as in many readers, there is that part of me that believes there is something that is supposed to be written by me. Sometimes I believe that it is my story of how one can manage to quite happily move a large family across an ocean. I would love to share the details of that in order to help others. Conversely to that, though, I am happy to be a good reader; the best I can be.
Colossians 3:23
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

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