Sep­tem­ber — the end of sum­mer — and still busy like sum­mer. A hand­ful of books read but noth­ing in the audio book list. I bought a lot of music this month.

The books I read:

Dogsbody — Diana Wynne Jones (1975/2012)

A pleas­ant young read­ers book. Not near­ly as sim­plis­tic as some of the stuff being churned out today. You’ll have to do some think­ing to fol­low along. It also helps if you know a lit­tle about dogs. The dogs here are very dog­gie, even if the dog at the cen­ter of the sto­ry is actu­al­ly a star that’s been sen­tenced to live a dog’s life on earth until he man­ages a seem­ing­ly impos­si­ble task. The child at the cen­ter, Kath­leen, is a young Irish girl bil­let­ed unhap­pi­ly with her uncle’s fam­i­ly some­where in middle(class) Eng­land. No one is hap­py about the sit­u­a­tion. Kath­leen’s res­cue of a near drowned pup­py only makes the sit­u­a­tion worse.
This is one book that man­ages to vio­late my num­ber rule one about dogs in books (thou shalt not kill the dog) with­out mak­ing me want to throw it across the room. Yes, I just spoiled it for you. Except that the dog does­n’t real­ly “die”, he… well it’s com­pli­cat­ed. Though I have to admit that Kath­leen’s reac­tion at the end of the sto­ry is a lit­tle hard to com­pre­hend. I think it’s just a slight weak­ness in the writ­ing that makes Kath­leen’s reac­tion seem so blank.
Real­ly though, if you need a lit­tle some­thing to kill off an after­noon of couch slouch­ing while slight­ly ill you could­n’t do bet­ter than Dogs­body. (Or almost any Diane Wynn Jones book.)
* All dogs are stars fall­en to Earth *

The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roch, The Big Box Store, The Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All — C. D. Wright (2016)

Where­in one of the most influ­en­tial poets of the 20th cen­tu­ry and beyond lays out her the­o­ry of poet­ry in a series of prose poems and frag­ments that exam­ine not only her own work and that of her col­lab­o­ra­tions but also the work of a hand­ful of poets who influ­enced her. For a woman who died so sud­den­ly it seems pre­scient that she would have writ­ten a last book that so much serves to indi­cate the way for future read­ers and schol­ars to con­sid­er her work. If you are con­cerned with the poets men­tioned or the act of mak­ing poet­ry it’s a worth­while read. The Ques­tion­naire of Jan­u­ary that ends the work will pro­vide you with a life­time’s worth of inquiries onto the ways and means of mak­ing poet­ry. It also the longest title of any book that I have read. (That does not include titles that use a colon to make two sep­a­rate titles appear as one. Which I con­sid­er cheat­ing in the truest sense.)
* Wright’s Ars Poetica * 

The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish — Linda Przybyszewski (2014)

What can I say… it’s a his­to­ry, most­ly, of the Home Eco­nom­ics move­ment and the pow­er­ful influ­ence it had in ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca seen through the lens­es of a hand­ful of women who taught, wrote, and lec­tured about the art dress­ing well on a rea­son­able bud­get. Here is where I have to admit that I am an absolute suck­er for old Home Ec pam­phlets and such. (Did you know that there is an entire dig­i­tized library of them?) This book is about the women who cre­at­ed them. And I would have loved it for a his­tor­i­cal sur­vey. If the author had left it at that. But it feels as if half the book is tak­en up with her histri­on­ics of the “mod­ern women are shame­less and ill-dressed” type. Yeah, I know — I have some pret­ty dire opin­ions on the mat­ter myself, but I’m not writ­ing a his­to­ry of the women who wrote about and influ­enced the lives of mil­lions of mid­dle and low­er class women in the first half of the 20th century.
I’m glad I read the book, it’s right up in there in one of my favorite guilty plea­sures but I’d have liked it a good deal more if it had stuck to its stat­ed top­ic. If you’re a fan of all things dress and dress­mak­ing you’ll enjoy it. If you look­ing for his­to­ry you’ll find the author’s con­stant inser­tion of her­self and her opin­ions unbear­ably unprofessional.
* Yeah, I’m old enough to have made that apron in Home Ec * 

13 Clocks — James Thurber (Marc Simont — Illustrator) (original 1950)

I like Thurber. There I said it. I like the man with the fun­ny dog car­toons and a lot more. This lit­tle gem of a fairy tale is either a fairy tale or a satire of a fairy tale or some love­ly com­bi­na­tion of the two, con­tain­ing as it does an enchant­ed princess, a brave prince, and evil duke, and some­thing that might be a fairy tale troll, or the weird­est fairy god moth­er ever. What­ev­er it is we are assured that it is the only one of its kind. Full of love­ly mumblety-pumbelty lan­guage that begs to be read out loud.
* Fairy Tales nev­er go out of style * 

Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither — Sarah Baum (2015)

Two books with dogs in them in one month. That’s just not some­thing that should hap­pen. Two books with dogs in them that I actu­al­ly liked (well maybe not “liked” but appre­ci­at­ed) in one month is a mir­a­cle of some sort. I can’t say I liked this book. Liked would imply that it was a pleas­ant light-hearted read. This isn’t. It is any­thing but hap­py and light-hearted; it’s a dense, beau­ti­ful, lyric, trag­ic thing. In all the mean­ings of trag­ic. The pro­tag­o­nist has a trag­ic flaw that will guide and per­haps ruin his life. So does the dog. It’s odd to think of a dog as a trag­ic hero. But this one is. Per­haps through no fault of his own.
The writ­ing is lyri­cal. In the mode of poet­ry. In fact she uses a num­ber of poet­ic devices. There are many melod­i­cal­ly com­posed sen­tences, vary­ing line length, allit­er­a­tion. I even found pleas­ing exam­ples of slant rhyme. There is also a great appre­ci­a­tion of the nat­ur­al world fil­tered through malaise — is that the word that I want? The pro­tag­o­nist is some how very dam­aged and that dam­age col­ors his inter­ac­tions with the world in a fear­ful and awed way. His rela­tion­ship with the nat­ur­al world is some­thing that he’s build him­self. No one taught him about the birds and the plants that he so admires and that seem to bring him into touch with the only flow of time that he encoun­ters. All the rest of his life is a long, dull, fear-tinged now.

* A chal­leng­ing book to read but reward­ing in so may ways *