Wednesday, February 1, 2017

First lines: January 2017 edition

St custard's


I only finished four books this month. 

Book 1
I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem.  As with so many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect.  But had it not been for a series of unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it.

Book 2
On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.  Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach.

Book 3
Stella Montgomery lay hidden behind the ferns in the conservatory of the Hotel Majestic, flat on the mossy tiles, tracing a path through the Amazon jungle in a small, damp atlas.  She skirted around a vague outcrop of some kind – possibly mildew – and continued upriver.
….
Stella wiped some water drops off the map and read,…. Serpents forty feet long and capable of swallowing considerable quadrupeds, such as hares, goats, deer &c.  There was a picture of such a serpent in the margin. Stella studied it wistfully.  It looked large enough to swallow an elephant, and had a hungry expression.  A serpent of that size could swallow a person, an Aunt for example, as easy as your hand.  Several Aunts, probably.  It looked sufficiently hungry.  The people who lived in the Amazon jungle would not be bothered by Aunts.
            After eating, they lie torpid for several weeks.  Stella imagined the enormous serpent sleeping off a dinner of three Aunts.  Aunt Condolence for starters, Aunt Temperance for next, and then Aunt Deliverance for pudding.  There would be three big lumps in the sleeping serpent.

Book 4
 ‘O.K. Come In’
This is me e.g. nigel molesworth the curse of st custard’s which is the skool i am at.  It is utterly wet and weedy as i shall (i hope) make clear but of course that is the same with all skools.
            e.g. they are nothing but kanes, lat. french, geog. hist. algy, geom, headmasters, skool dogs, skool sossages, my bro molesworth 2 and MASTERS everywhere.
            The only good things about skool are the BOYS wiz who are noble brave fearless etc. although you hav various swots, bulies, cissies, milksops greedy guts and oiks with whom I am forced to mingle hem-hem.
            In fact any skool is a bit of a shambles
                        AS YOU WILL SEE.


And here are the titles/authors.

Book 1
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
I read this for book club.  There were many humorous moments. My favorite scene was when two characters are in a ritzy scarf shop and judge which scarf goes with which of their colleagues and friends.  But I couldn’t shake the idea that I shouldn’t be laughing, given the situation. 

Book 2
Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
For book discussion at the women’s retreat.  The discussion was one of the few good parts of the retreat for me.  I can’t say that I liked this book tremendously, but I am glad I read it.  Fitzgerald’s prose is excellent. He uses words like “autochthonous.”  The narrative viewpoints were interesting to me.  It turns out that rich Americans running around Europe in the 1930s have problems, too.  Big problems.  My alternate title for this book is “White People Frolic on the Beach In France and Annoy Each Other.” 

Book 3
Withering by Sea, by Judith Rossell (children’s lit)
This book has Three Horrible Aunts, a wicked magician, children with special powers, and educated cats.  It was pleasant to read children’s literature.

Book4
Down With Skool! by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle
This book!  My father spent a large part of his childhood at a British boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas.  The stories he told us of his time at Woodstock School are borne out in this orthographically challenged exposé of St. Custard’s, the boarding school where one Nigel Molesworth attends.  I suppose not many could tolerate reading this book: every other word is misspelled and the punctuation is atrocious.  But I find it highly amusing and makes me think fondly of my Dad.  The drawings by Ronald Searle are brilliant.  This book is hard to obtain – I had to send to Britain for it.  If you want to read it you will have to come over and look at my copy.  Reading it will not edify you. As any fule kno.

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Masters:  Know the Enemy


What have you all been reading lately?

4 comments:

Lori in CT said...

Hi Carolyn! I've been reading your blog a long time and always enjoy your 'First Lines' posts. Thanks for keeping up your blog! You might be interested in an old New Yorker article that profiles the real-life couple (the Murphys) who were the inspiration for Tender is the Night. It was featured a few days ago in an online NY-er newsletter and I thought it was a fascinating read. The real Murphys seem much more pleasant than their fictional counterparts! (Search 'Living Well is the Best Revenge', July 28, 1962 issue). Happy February!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Those illustrations look positively whimsical.
Your reading sounds better than mine of late.

Allie said...

I don't have time right now to read books (am a bit sleep-deprived as it is), but for pure enjoyment, I'm not sure anything beats reading your blog!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Thank you for your book post -- I always enjoy the way you draw us into the books you read.
Aside from reading the news online (an exercise in despair), I have been reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I'm seeing familiar scenes at times since my dad grew up in Steubenville, OH. I suggested to my book group that we read this one but warned them about the language.
How interesting that your dad attended boarding school! I would have a terrible time making it through that book with it's spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Good for you, making the extra effort!