Below are the first lines of the books I finished reading in December.
On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor.
Dypaloh. There was a house made of dawn. It was made of pollen and of rain, and the land was very old and everlasting. There were many colors on the hills, and the plain was bright with different-colored clays and sands.
I am your maid. I’m the one who cleans your hotel room, who enters like a phantom when you’re out gallivanting for the day, no care at all about what you’ve left behind, the mess, or what I might see when you’re gone.
On October 31, 2022, in a Federal courthouse in Washington, DC, Graydon Young testified against Stewart Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers militia group.
This book tells the story of what Indians in the United States have been up to in the 128 years that have elapsed since the 1890 massacre of at least 150 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota: what we’ve don't, what’s happened to us, what our lives have been like. It is adamantly, unashamedly, about Indian life rather than Indian death. That we even have lives – that Indians have been living in, have been shaped by, and in turn have shaped the modern world – is news to most people.
Stave I – Marley’s Ghost
Marley was dead: to begin with.
It was only November sixth but Chicago had just been hit with its second big blizzard of the season, and Mr. Oswald T. Campbell guessed he had stepped in every ice-cold ankle-deep puddle of dirty white slush it was possible to step in, trying to get to his appointment.
The titles and authors revealed:
Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy. Published 1891. 256 pages.
My younger daughter has advised me for several years to read this book. I finally found the time, and do not regret it. I was reluctant to take up this tragedy, because, well, tragedy, but the tragedy was different than what I had imagined. I loved reading Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native in high school, and Far From the Madding Crowd on my own. In Tess, I was particularly fascinated with his descriptions of the hardship labor required by agriculture at the end of the 19th Century.
This book contains a wagonload of foreshadowing. Birds seem to be an omen. I can’t recall a single positive portrayal of a man; all the male characters are jagoffs of one sort or another.
House Made of Dawn by M. Scott Momaday. First published in 1968. 212 pages.
Takes place in New Mexico and Los Angeles. A heart-breaking story, with stunning descriptions of locale and indigenous culture, although it was often hard for me to tell which character was “on stage” at any given moment. Colors feature prominently.
Wikipedia: House Made of Dawn is a 1968 novel by N. Scott Momaday, widely credited as leading the way for the breakthrough of Native American literature into the mainstream. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, and has also been noted for its significance in Native American anthropology.
The Maid, by Nita Prose. Published 2022. 280 pages.
A murder mystery with interesting characters, a twisting plot, and a satisfying ending. My husband keeps quoting from this book, so I think that means he enjoyed it. I read it for book club #1. The discussion has yet to take place so I don’t know if the others liked it.
Introductory Material to the Final Report of the Select Committee, by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Published Dec 19, 2022. 104 pages without footnotes; 154 pages total.
Infuriating all over again. I don’t plan to read the full report but might read the transcripts, unless they disappear by the time I get to them.
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer. Published 2019. 455 pages (text); 512 pages including endnotes.
This book is a combination of much-needed history lessons, in-depth portrayals of interesting people, and the author’s own reflections. These varied approaches all help fill in the vast gaps in my knowledge about US policies toward Native Americans, and the consequences of those policies.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, originally published 1843. Audiobook read by Simon Prebble, released 2007. 3 hours 9 minutes. (64 pages in the printed version)
Having recently watched two movie versions (the Jim Carrey version and the Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine), I wanted to find out if the Christmas-Eve skating scene and other tidbits were in the original. Simon Prebble gives this audio book a delightful rendition. While both movies are quite good, nothing matches the Dickens Carol itself. The skating scene is only part of one sentence, with Bob Cratchit’s glee implied. There’s also a bit in Stave III where Scrooge seems to criticize the Spirit of Christmas Present for blue laws requiring the closing of businesses on Sunday.
Well done, Charles Dickens and Simon Prebble, and God bless us, every one.
A Redbird Christmas, by Fannie Flagg. Published 2004. 200 pages. This is a book that has recipes at the end. An enjoyable light read.