impulsereader: (Default)
I very luckily happened to have the Olymics on as soundtrack when they played Tom Brokaw's bit about WWII London.  I dvrd it and now that I'm trying to catch up, turned it on when I got home this evening.  It immediately reminded me how much I love Herman Wouk's (read about him there) The Winds of War and subsequent War and Remembrance, so I thought I should come here and urge anyone who might stumble across this post to read these books; if you have already read them, do so again.  I reread them almost yearly.  In fact, I urge you to read everything by Mr. Wouk, all of his books are excellent; I say this not even having read all of them, I am just that confident in his skill as a writer.  :-)

He wrote The Caine Mutiny, a novel, and he wrote the adaptation of that novel which became the amazing movie starring Humphrey Bogart.  He will break your heart and make you laugh like you have never laughed before - probably in the same book.  He writes fiction, he writes non-fiction, he writes about his Faith in both.  He writes incredibly intelligently, he writes about the Superconducting Super Collider - and that's in a comedic novel.

These books, Mr. Wouk's WWII novels, are a commitment in both time and emotion, but it is an investment well worth making.  These books are heartbreaking at times, they deal very graphically with life in concentration camps and there have been moments when I have had to close my eyes, put the book down and think very seriously about the terrible things we do to each other.  I have cried over the characters in these books.  In these books, not everyone survives.  This is part of the reason why you should read them.

The characters which these books follow, though they are fictional, live.  They leap off the page and pull you into their lives, then tell you their stories with grace and bravery.

I'm not even going to attempt to summarize these books, but if you would like to read a little bit about the story they tell before you commit, Wikipedia seems to do a decent job of that.  Please read them if you have not already.  Please read them again if you have.  I promise you will not be sorry if you do.
impulsereader: (Default)
I very luckily happened to have the Olymics on as soundtrack when they played Tom Brokaw's bit about WWII London.  I dvrd it and now that I'm trying to catch up, turned it on when I got home this evening.  It immediately reminded me how much I love Herman Wouk's (read about him there) The Winds of War and subsequent War and Remembrance, so I thought I should come here and urge anyone who might stumble across this post to read these books; if you have already read them, do so again.  I reread them almost yearly.  In fact, I urge you to read everything by Mr. Wouk, all of his books are excellent; I say this not even having read all of them, I am just that confident in his skill as a writer.  :-)

He wrote The Caine Mutiny, a novel, and he wrote the adaptation of that novel which became the amazing movie starring Humphrey Bogart.  He will break your heart and make you laugh like you have never laughed before - probably in the same book.  He writes fiction, he writes non-fiction, he writes about his Faith in both.  He writes incredibly intelligently, he writes about the Superconducting Super Collider - and that's in a comedic novel.

These books, Mr. Wouk's WWII novels, are a commitment in both time and emotion, but it is an investment well worth making.  These books are heartbreaking at times, they deal very graphically with life in concentration camps and there have been moments when I have had to close my eyes, put the book down and think very seriously about the terrible things we do to each other.  I have cried over the characters in these books.  In these books, not everyone survives.  This is part of the reason why you should read them.

The characters which these books follow, though they are fictional, live.  They leap off the page and pull you into their lives, then tell you their stories with grace and bravery.

I'm not even going to attempt to summarize these books, but if you would like to read a little bit about the story they tell before you commit, Wikipedia seems to do a decent job of that.  Please read them if you have not already.  Please read them again if you have.  I promise you will not be sorry if you do.
impulsereader: (Default)
Magdalen College,
Oxford
Nov. 10th 1952

Dear Mrs. _________

It is a little difficult to explain how I feel that tho’ you have taken a way which is not for me* I nevertheless can congratulate you - I suppose because your faith and joy are so obviously increased. Naturally, I do not draw from that the same conclusions as you - but there is no need for us to start a controversial correspondence!

Yours most sincerely
C.S. Lewis

*She had left the Episcopal Church to become a Roman Catholic

-------------------------------------

I love that - "There is no need for us to start a controversial correspondence!" Imagine! Despite the fact that we begin with a Religious Difference, which has both the same and yet different connotation now, we can still conduct a correspondence which is not controversial. We reach out and we connect, there is no need for controversy.

Please note all correspondence comes from the subject volume. Any errors or typos are my own. I have left the delightful vagaries of date format intact in order to precisely identify which letter each excerpt comes from (preposition proudly at the end of this sentence, acceptable per CSL).

This post is actually a prime example of ‘preaching to the choir’, because you guys all know already how encouraging and pleasurable it can be to have a pen pal. Still, I wanted to follow through on this idea as I took a great deal of pleasure in reading this collection of letters, and I was really astonished by the extraordinarily close parallels I was able to draw between Lewis’s letters and actual LJ conversations I’ve participated in. When I first had the idea of writing up this post, I had no idea I would actually be able to cite almost identical communications.
Read more )
impulsereader: (Default)
Magdalen College,
Oxford
Nov. 10th 1952

Dear Mrs. _________

It is a little difficult to explain how I feel that tho’ you have taken a way which is not for me* I nevertheless can congratulate you - I suppose because your faith and joy are so obviously increased. Naturally, I do not draw from that the same conclusions as you - but there is no need for us to start a controversial correspondence!

Yours most sincerely
C.S. Lewis

*She had left the Episcopal Church to become a Roman Catholic

-------------------------------------

I love that - "There is no need for us to start a controversial correspondence!" Imagine! Despite the fact that we begin with a Religious Difference, which has both the same and yet different connotation now, we can still conduct a correspondence which is not controversial. We reach out and we connect, there is no need for controversy.

Please note all correspondence comes from the subject volume. Any errors or typos are my own. I have left the delightful vagaries of date format intact in order to precisely identify which letter each excerpt comes from (preposition proudly at the end of this sentence, acceptable per CSL).

This post is actually a prime example of ‘preaching to the choir’, because you guys all know already how encouraging and pleasurable it can be to have a pen pal. Still, I wanted to follow through on this idea as I took a great deal of pleasure in reading this collection of letters, and I was really astonished by the extraordinarily close parallels I was able to draw between Lewis’s letters and actual LJ conversations I’ve participated in. When I first had the idea of writing up this post, I had no idea I would actually be able to cite almost identical communications.
Read more )
impulsereader: (Default)
I’ve just spent a long time watching my cursor blink. This was after I’d begun a rec/review of this book and then decided to start over. The problem is very likely that Douglas Adams is impossible to follow in any capacity. I apparently think that I am one of the funniest things to happen to Earth since clowning came into fashion at the beginning of time, but even my brain admits that there is no way I can write a competent, funny review of this book which has any chance of getting across how perfect and wonderful it is. So instead of reading the blather which follows, you should really just get yourself the book and read it instead. http://www.amazon.com/Last-Chance-See-Douglas-Adams/dp/0345371984/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340219152&sr=1-1&keywords=last+chance+to+see Astonishingly, my local used book store has gifted me with at least two copies. I have a hard time believing anyone who has read this book was willing to let it out of their sight afterwards. But – there is some benefit to continue reading if you so choose, because this all leads to bonus Stephen Fry at the end, saving you the research.

This book was born of what Adams calls ‘some sort of journalistic accident’. It was the very happiest of accidents, because it produced a work which casts Adams in a role for which he is perfectly suited – that of translator and interpreter. In 1985 a magazine sent him, along with Zoologist Mark Carwardine, to Madagascar. Their task was to seek a glimpse of an aye-aye, a very rare lemur, in the wild. In a precipitous moment which surely indicated from the start that this partnership was charmed – Mark and Douglas managed to spot the animal, at night (the aye-aye is nocturnal), in the rain, and their photographer captured the image for posterity. It had been many years since anyone else had laid eyes on an aye-aye in the wild. Adams is hooked, and he and Mark make an appointment to seek out more endangered species around the world – in three years, because of some pesky books he has to write beforehand.

What follows is a rousing tale of travel to places which are very definitely not tourist friendly in a time when travellers had to do quite a lot of ‘telexing’ to make arrangements, and the picture of what you would encounter once you arrived could be unbelievably distorted from the reality in which you eventually found yourself. For example, conflicting reports abound regarding at what point they will need to acquire a three-day-dead goat in order to bait a Komodo Dragon – whether or not they will be forced to share a choppy ride in a small boat with the dead goat then becomes a point of serious concern.

While in China in search of the Baiji – the Yangtze River dolphin – Adams decides it would be a good idea for them to put a microphone into the water so that they can get an idea of what the dolphins are up against. The animals are endangered because the noise pollution in the river messes with their sonar and they are consequently being chopped up by boat propellers at an astounding rate. This leads to a hilarious hunt for condoms carried out in three languages, one of them sign.

Only Douglas Adams could have written a book so heartrendingly bleak as he ponders the fate of these species and yet so damn funny that you will be laughing out loud – I promise. Near the end, he translates to a readership of laymen the convoluted world of the scientist conservationists who are working on these projects going on around the world who are desperately trying to keep endangered species from tipping over into extinction. For a real-life look at some of the work being done today in this area, (though this particular video is focusing on collection of specimens rather than the endangered aspect of the equation) go watch this rather wonderful video – if you will be upset by the sight of dead birds and rodents respectfully collected for scientific research and the benefit of future generations of both animals and people, please skip this portion of today’s lesson. :-) http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/multimedia/film-discovering-mount-gorongosa

And as a lovely follow up and tribute to his friend, Stephen Fry also travelled with Mark for a stint. http://www.bbc.co.uk/lastchancetosee/archive.shtml Oh! And if you go there you can listen to the original radio show that Douglas Adams did! Score! As soon as I have speakers I’m on that!
impulsereader: (Default)
I’ve just spent a long time watching my cursor blink. This was after I’d begun a rec/review of this book and then decided to start over. The problem is very likely that Douglas Adams is impossible to follow in any capacity. I apparently think that I am one of the funniest things to happen to Earth since clowning came into fashion at the beginning of time, but even my brain admits that there is no way I can write a competent, funny review of this book which has any chance of getting across how perfect and wonderful it is. So instead of reading the blather which follows, you should really just get yourself the book and read it instead. http://www.amazon.com/Last-Chance-See-Douglas-Adams/dp/0345371984/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340219152&sr=1-1&keywords=last+chance+to+see Astonishingly, my local used book store has gifted me with at least two copies. I have a hard time believing anyone who has read this book was willing to let it out of their sight afterwards. But – there is some benefit to continue reading if you so choose, because this all leads to bonus Stephen Fry at the end, saving you the research.

This book was born of what Adams calls ‘some sort of journalistic accident’. It was the very happiest of accidents, because it produced a work which casts Adams in a role for which he is perfectly suited – that of translator and interpreter. In 1985 a magazine sent him, along with Zoologist Mark Carwardine, to Madagascar. Their task was to seek a glimpse of an aye-aye, a very rare lemur, in the wild. In a precipitous moment which surely indicated from the start that this partnership was charmed – Mark and Douglas managed to spot the animal, at night (the aye-aye is nocturnal), in the rain, and their photographer captured the image for posterity. It had been many years since anyone else had laid eyes on an aye-aye in the wild. Adams is hooked, and he and Mark make an appointment to seek out more endangered species around the world – in three years, because of some pesky books he has to write beforehand.

What follows is a rousing tale of travel to places which are very definitely not tourist friendly in a time when travellers had to do quite a lot of ‘telexing’ to make arrangements, and the picture of what you would encounter once you arrived could be unbelievably distorted from the reality in which you eventually found yourself. For example, conflicting reports abound regarding at what point they will need to acquire a three-day-dead goat in order to bait a Komodo Dragon – whether or not they will be forced to share a choppy ride in a small boat with the dead goat then becomes a point of serious concern.

While in China in search of the Baiji – the Yangtze River dolphin – Adams decides it would be a good idea for them to put a microphone into the water so that they can get an idea of what the dolphins are up against. The animals are endangered because the noise pollution in the river messes with their sonar and they are consequently being chopped up by boat propellers at an astounding rate. This leads to a hilarious hunt for condoms carried out in three languages, one of them sign.

Only Douglas Adams could have written a book so heartrendingly bleak as he ponders the fate of these species and yet so damn funny that you will be laughing out loud – I promise. Near the end, he translates to a readership of laymen the convoluted world of the scientist conservationists who are working on these projects going on around the world who are desperately trying to keep endangered species from tipping over into extinction. For a real-life look at some of the work being done today in this area, (though this particular video is focusing on collection of specimens rather than the endangered aspect of the equation) go watch this rather wonderful video – if you will be upset by the sight of dead birds and rodents respectfully collected for scientific research and the benefit of future generations of both animals and people, please skip this portion of today’s lesson. :-) http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/multimedia/film-discovering-mount-gorongosa

And as a lovely follow up and tribute to his friend, Stephen Fry also travelled with Mark for a stint. http://www.bbc.co.uk/lastchancetosee/archive.shtml Oh! And if you go there you can listen to the original radio show that Douglas Adams did! Score! As soon as I have speakers I’m on that!
impulsereader: (Edinburgh map)
Georgette Heyer's The Quiet Gentleman

This is seriously the cutest little romance ever. I am in love with the heroine; she is practical to a fault. She acknowledges this in a scene where 'the prosaic Miss Morville' argues with her would-be passionate incarnation 'Drusilla'. Excerpt below, none of it written by me.

'It is a great piece of folly to suppose that because his manners are so very engaging he regards you with anything but tolerance!' she told her image. She then blew her nose, sniffed, and added, with a glance of contempt at her rather flushed countenance: 'Depend upon it, you are just the sort of girl a man would be glad to have for his sister! You don't even know how to swoon, and I daresay if you tried you would make wretched work of it, for all you have is common-sense, and of what use is that, pray?

This embittered thought brought to her mind the several occasions upon which she might, had she been the kind of female his lordship no doubt admired, have kindled his ardour by a display of sensibility, or even of heroism. This excursion into romance was not entirely successful, for while she did her best to conjure up an agreeable vision of a heroic Miss Morville, the Miss Morville who was the possessor not only of a practical mind but also of two outspoken brothers could not but interpose objections to the heroine's actions. To have thrown herself between the foils, when she had surprised the Earl fencing with Martin, would certainly have been spectacular, but that it would have evoked anything but exasperation in the male breast she was quite unable to believe. She thought she need not blame herself for having refrained upon this occasion; but when she recalled her behaviour in the avenue, when the Earl had been thrown from his horse, she knew that nothing could excuse her. Here had been an opportunity for spasms, swoonings, and a display of sensibility, utterly neglected! How could his lordship have been expected to guess that her heart had been beating so hard and so fast that she had felt quite sick, when all she had done was to talk to him in a voice drained of all expression? Not even when his lifeless body had been carried into the Castle had she conducted herself like a heroine of romance! Had she fainted at the sight of his blood-soaked raiment? Had she screamed? No! All she had done had been to direct Ulverston to do one thing, Turvey another, Chard to ride for the doctor, while she herself had done what lay within her power to staunch the bleeding.

At this point, the prosaic Miss Morville intervened. 'Just as well!' she said.

'He would have liked me better had I fallen into a swoon!' argued Drusilla.

'Nonsense! He would have been dead, for well you know that no one else had the least notion what to do!' said Miss Morville.

'At least I might have screamed when Martin came through the panel!'

'He was very much obliged to you for not screaming. He said you were a remarkable woman,' Miss Morville reminded her.

'I heard him say the same of his Aunt Cinderford!' said Drusilla, refusing to be comforted.

Miss Morville could think of no reply to this, but issued instead depressing counsel. 'You would do better to put him out of your mind, and return to your parents,' she said. 'No doubt he will presently become betrothed to a tall and beautiful woman, and forget your very existence. However, a useful life lies before you, for your brothers will certainly marry, and although you yourself will remain single, you will be an excellent aunt to all your nephews and nieces.'

It was perhaps not surprising that it was Miss Morville rather than Drusilla, who presently carried his medicine to the Earl.

End snippet - but earlier, our intrepid Earl, in the haze following his being shot...

A train of thought was set up in the Earl's mind. He said suddenly: 'She does not object to Pug, and they can make up ten beds.'

'That is excellent,' said Miss Morville calmly, sponging his face again. 'Now you may rest.'

'What happened to me?' he asked.

'You met with a slight accident, but it is of no consequence. You will be better directly.'

'Oh!' His eyelids were dropping again, but he smiled, and murmured: 'You are always coming to my rescue!'

She returned no answer. He sank into a half-waking, half-dreaming state, aware of an occasional movement in the room, but not troubled by it. Once, a firm, light hand held his wrist for a minute, but he did not open his eyes.

But presently he was disturbed, rather to his annoyance, by a new and an unknown voice, which seemed to be asking a great many questions, and issuing a tiresome number of orders. It was interrupted by Ulverston's voice several times. The Earl was not at all surprised when he heard the strange voice say: 'I assure your lordship I should prefer to have no one but Miss Morville and the valet to assist me.'

Ulverston seemed to think that Miss Morville could not assist the stranger. he said, in his most imperious tone: 'Nonsense! She could not do it!'

'Yes, she could,' said the Earl, roused by this injustice.
impulsereader: (Edinburgh map)
Georgette Heyer's The Quiet Gentleman

This is seriously the cutest little romance ever. I am in love with the heroine; she is practical to a fault. She acknowledges this in a scene where 'the prosaic Miss Morville' argues with her would-be passionate incarnation 'Drusilla'. Excerpt below, none of it written by me.

'It is a great piece of folly to suppose that because his manners are so very engaging he regards you with anything but tolerance!' she told her image. She then blew her nose, sniffed, and added, with a glance of contempt at her rather flushed countenance: 'Depend upon it, you are just the sort of girl a man would be glad to have for his sister! You don't even know how to swoon, and I daresay if you tried you would make wretched work of it, for all you have is common-sense, and of what use is that, pray?

This embittered thought brought to her mind the several occasions upon which she might, had she been the kind of female his lordship no doubt admired, have kindled his ardour by a display of sensibility, or even of heroism. This excursion into romance was not entirely successful, for while she did her best to conjure up an agreeable vision of a heroic Miss Morville, the Miss Morville who was the possessor not only of a practical mind but also of two outspoken brothers could not but interpose objections to the heroine's actions. To have thrown herself between the foils, when she had surprised the Earl fencing with Martin, would certainly have been spectacular, but that it would have evoked anything but exasperation in the male breast she was quite unable to believe. She thought she need not blame herself for having refrained upon this occasion; but when she recalled her behaviour in the avenue, when the Earl had been thrown from his horse, she knew that nothing could excuse her. Here had been an opportunity for spasms, swoonings, and a display of sensibility, utterly neglected! How could his lordship have been expected to guess that her heart had been beating so hard and so fast that she had felt quite sick, when all she had done was to talk to him in a voice drained of all expression? Not even when his lifeless body had been carried into the Castle had she conducted herself like a heroine of romance! Had she fainted at the sight of his blood-soaked raiment? Had she screamed? No! All she had done had been to direct Ulverston to do one thing, Turvey another, Chard to ride for the doctor, while she herself had done what lay within her power to staunch the bleeding.

At this point, the prosaic Miss Morville intervened. 'Just as well!' she said.

'He would have liked me better had I fallen into a swoon!' argued Drusilla.

'Nonsense! He would have been dead, for well you know that no one else had the least notion what to do!' said Miss Morville.

'At least I might have screamed when Martin came through the panel!'

'He was very much obliged to you for not screaming. He said you were a remarkable woman,' Miss Morville reminded her.

'I heard him say the same of his Aunt Cinderford!' said Drusilla, refusing to be comforted.

Miss Morville could think of no reply to this, but issued instead depressing counsel. 'You would do better to put him out of your mind, and return to your parents,' she said. 'No doubt he will presently become betrothed to a tall and beautiful woman, and forget your very existence. However, a useful life lies before you, for your brothers will certainly marry, and although you yourself will remain single, you will be an excellent aunt to all your nephews and nieces.'

It was perhaps not surprising that it was Miss Morville rather than Drusilla, who presently carried his medicine to the Earl.

End snippet - but earlier, our intrepid Earl, in the haze following his being shot...

A train of thought was set up in the Earl's mind. He said suddenly: 'She does not object to Pug, and they can make up ten beds.'

'That is excellent,' said Miss Morville calmly, sponging his face again. 'Now you may rest.'

'What happened to me?' he asked.

'You met with a slight accident, but it is of no consequence. You will be better directly.'

'Oh!' His eyelids were dropping again, but he smiled, and murmured: 'You are always coming to my rescue!'

She returned no answer. He sank into a half-waking, half-dreaming state, aware of an occasional movement in the room, but not troubled by it. Once, a firm, light hand held his wrist for a minute, but he did not open his eyes.

But presently he was disturbed, rather to his annoyance, by a new and an unknown voice, which seemed to be asking a great many questions, and issuing a tiresome number of orders. It was interrupted by Ulverston's voice several times. The Earl was not at all surprised when he heard the strange voice say: 'I assure your lordship I should prefer to have no one but Miss Morville and the valet to assist me.'

Ulverston seemed to think that Miss Morville could not assist the stranger. he said, in his most imperious tone: 'Nonsense! She could not do it!'

'Yes, she could,' said the Earl, roused by this injustice.

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