Archive for January, 2009

John Updike has died.

Now may a new generation emerge?

Oh the horror of someone who has exhausted their pen on mindless suburban fictive elements.  I wrote a while back on his sheepish review of Toni Morrison. Yeah that’s all I have to say about Mr. Updike.

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As this first cup of coffee oozes into my stomach lining I will tell you a little tale of love and redemption, hope and loss.

I was in Washington for about a five day stretch for the inauguration of Barack Obama and I dipped into the National Gallery twice. Once on the Saturday before the inauguration. The second time was on the Wednesday after the big thing that went down in D.C.  So there I was in the halls of light, the palace of forboding that is the art that was collected by the Mellons’, the Kress’, the Wideneners’ of the world.  Here in all it’s gathered glory was the Renaissance of Italy, Northern Germany and France, and the Netherlands.  Also there was that thing called American art that we shan’t touch today, only in future ages shall one look back to see the Elihu Vedders of America.

I stood transfixed by an Annunciation, my favorite piece of Christian imagery, from Florence circa 1500. The artificial light that streamed through its’ rear lit the panels so exactingly that it would be hard to be a Raphael and not take notice of such beauty all around and then to be molded by Pietro Perugino, ahh, what a world indeed. But these two pieces of stained glass held me in their arms for a just-so moment and then we parted ways.  I courted some medals from Venice and Florence and the angel of God and Mary reflected on how ugly the curator is for the National Gallery, the one they see everyday.


P.S. It is a wonderful thing that our new president is being compared to such notable presidents as Lincoln and FDR.

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So after having my copy of Dombey and Son stolen from my friends car by a homeless person I finally went out and bought a copy from Borders.  Having finished the book I am sad to part with it.  Yes the new Paul Dombey Sr. was a glancing blow to my established notion of the distinguished curmedgeon but it was a welcome change, if a bit sentimental.  Wal’r and Miss Floy become happily married and Mr. Toots and the Nipper are given to “connubial bliss” and even the dread Mac Stinger marries Bunsby in a flash of a marital headlock. 

This book was something of a long one, clocking in at only 925 pages there’s no wonder it took me months to read it.  I know the laundromat owners thought I must be crazy to keep lugging the same book there each week. I must say though that this is a well rounded book with all of its’ plot lines being cut and dried and served steaming hot with a side of emotional effrontery thrown in to satisfy the deeper reaches of the psychological palate. 

Anyways I have recently picked up Little Dorrit and David Copperfield and Oliver Twist and hope to read them this year.  For isn’t it said that to be truly literary in the least one must read all of one author’s works or some bo log na like that?  I will drink a Labat Blue tonight in hopes of honoring that proposal.

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I found this volume at the Philadelphia Book Festival last Spring. While it is slim, it is highly engaging and interesting.  It gives one a sense of the history and richness of Pennsylvania’s painting tradition.  The Peales figure prominently, as they should, but also obscure Lancaster County housepainters are in the book and the Impressionists and Modernists are also there.  What I found most interesting, though maybe not that surprising, was that Pennsylvania artists matured with the rest of the country and produced memorable landscapes and genre scenes in the 19th century. Reminiscent of the Barbizon school of France Pennsylvania painters, most notably Lloyd Mifflin Jr., painted lush scenes of lasting importance.

To purchase the book please visit the Pennsylvania Historical Association’s website: http://www.pa-history.org/pastudyseries.htm

There you can find a plethora of picture books that deal with Pennsylvania history. At this years Philadelphia Book Festival I will probably pick up more from the Association.

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Recent Acquisitions

With 2009 upon us I thought I would share my recent acquisitions with you.

-A book of Ogden Nash poetry

-Ben Jonson and the Cavalier Poets (Norton Critical Edition)

-Of Human Bondage-Somerset Maugham

-Thomas Hardy

     -Return of the Native

     -The Hand of Ethelberta

     -The Woodlanders

-The Power and the Glory-Graham Greene

-Death Comes for the Archbishop-Willa Cather

-The Custom of the Country-Edith Wharton

-The Sea Wolf-Jack London


Hopefully I will read all of these books in the present year and dutifully report upon them.

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