Sunday, June 07, 2009

What am I reading???

We are not too well acquainted with the lazy, hazy days of summer, - the kind where you sit out in the garden with a book. Out in the garden where sound is the gentle murmur of butterfly wings, bumble bees and soft breezes sighing.....

We come from the era where 'a thing worth doing is worth doing well' (my father) and where one must squeeze the most productivity from every available moment (the beloved's watchword). The key word here is available. Mornings are available. The earlier the better. But after the morning hours have been squeezed dry of productivity the afternoon activity is best accomplished stretched out flat on the couch, or lying back in the lazy boy chair, I believe this is called re-charging.....

It doesn't include reading, alas. Reading is reserved for evenings, or bedtime.

And so now, at night, I am reading Alan Bradley.

When I first heard of Alan Bradley,seventy years old with a surprise contract for six yet unwritten books, a resident of Kelowna just two hours away from us here in the Similkameen, I envisaged a Grandma Moses type, or a Susan Boyle, - a newly discovered author, a son of the land, a simple, gifted writer upon whom fortune had finally smiled.

However my interest led me to discover that he was a much more sophisticated author 'who has published many children's stories as well as lifestyle and arts columns in Canadian newspapers'. (flyleaf) Click and read more about his connection with the University of Saskatchewan, and his many other accomplishments.

And I did discover that B.C. cannot claim him as a native son, but can only be grateful that he retired to this beautiful province after garnering an impressive CV in Saskatchewan.

I have yet to read the book he wrote with Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant, Ms Holmes of Baker Street, - the book that advanced the theory that Sherlock Holmes was a woman, and 'was greeted upon publication with what has been described as "a firestorm of controversy"'. I can well imagine!

What I have read is his delightful and clever story of an eleven year old mystery solver, Flavia de Luce. Flavia is a unique child, a product of her eccentric family, her penchant for poisons and chemistry, her individuality as the youngest girl, shunned by older sisters, and her sharpness! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is delightful and a book that makes it difficult to put out the night light...

What I am reading now is Alan Bradley's earlier book, 'The Shoebox Bible' - a poignant memoir of a family who 'managed' after the father ran away from home, and a mother who stored hope in a shoebox. I am still immersed, having only reached page 45, but I have a lovely eagerness to go to bed early, and read more of the Songs of Solomon that expressed hope, and the gloomy Old Testament
passages full of grief and despair.

P.S. I forgot to say that the writing is beautiful with many imaginative pictures - 'my right arm stretched to the shuddering point', and a fair amount of elegance.

'Often, as we grow older, we forget how keen our senses used to be. We forget the bottlebrush intensity of a caterpillar tickling its way across our upturned palm; the thousand shades of green a leaf can be; the wonder of watching a devil's darning needle touch down weightlessly on a sunflower; the sound of raindrops plopping like little wet meteorites into the dust; the way in which, after the rain, the sky drips with liquid gold, and how it felt to breathe in the rich black odour of the earth itself.'

And in addition the excerpts from the Songs of Solomon and Proverbs add an ageless beauty.

Lovely reading....

1 comment:

The Weaver of Grass said...

How your post made me smile - I could hear my mother saying just the same things (e.g. "you're not reading in a morning are you? Isn't there anything else you have to do?") One of the joys of retirement is that (in theory) you can read whenever you like (as long as you can ignore impinging jobs). And isn't it lovely when you find an author you really enjoy and there are a whole lot of his books you havben't read?