30 June 2007

Reads & Listens, June 2007


This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers ed. by Elizabeth Merrick
Some really excellent stories here. Sadly, I was more embarrassed to be seen reading it than I ever was with any actual chick lit piece. I would have loved this better were it not for the title and its hot pink lettering.

The Professor's Daughter written by Joann Sfar (illus. by Emmanuel Guibert)
Graphic novel set in Victorian London about a girl who has a romance with a mummy. Nonsensical little read with rather lovely illustrations.

Cast In Shadow by Michelle Sagara
First book in the Cast series, this is essentially the story of a girl who grows up on the wrong side of the tracks, escapes, and then returns to Make Good. You can also read it as a detective or romance novel masquerading as fantasy. It doesn't really matter how you read it, just as long as you do.

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young
Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country
by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

Yes, I have read this before. Yes, I will read it again. Yes, it is that good.


Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (read by Lynn Redgrave)
When I was a kid, this was my 2nd to least favorite Narnia story (1st was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe). Alas, I was out of library audios and had to settle for what I already owned. Lynn Redgrave did a bang-up job reading this novel and made me like it a whole lot more. Definitely, a reader to keep an eye out for.

Lolita by Nabokov (read by Jeremy Irons)
I was mostly revolted by this novel -- not so much because of the pedophilia (I don't think is glorified in the way I had previously believed) -- but because it was so full of the most beautiful descriptions and cunning phrases that I nearly forgot exactly what Humbert Humbert was describing (usually inappropriate lust, nymphets, etc).

I think, in some ways, Nabokov has described mid-girlhood sexuality pretty well. Based on my own experience, 12/13 year old girls are brimming full of sexuality and crushes and cruelty and Dolores seems not unusual by herself. Even after Humbert Humbert rapes her/enslaves her/loves her, her behaviors still seem realistic. It's because everything is seen through the distorted lens of HH's story that it all becomes .. revolting.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by (read by Lisette Lecat)
Overall, I liked the audiobook a lot, but I do think it tried to be three different stories all at the same time. The story I appreciated least was the one about her students -- they seemed more like vehicles to extend her storytelling that actual people. Sometimes, it actually made me think of Plato's Dialogues -- philosophical essays masked by the conceit of conversation. Or something.

03 June 2007

Another Rosy Weekend in West Hartford

The Husband surprised me last week by driving all the way up to myplaceofwork just to have lunch with me. Sweet of him, no? And a nice way to start off a long weekend. I had a holiday day I needed to use so I'd arranged to take that Friday off and do stuff with The Husband out in the Big Blue Room.

Mostly, this meant driving up to the Capital to check out the roses at Elizabeth Park. Like the Norwich Rose Garden, this garden is also an AARS-accredited public rose garden which, I guess, is supposed to award them a tidy amount of street cred in rose garden land. Or something. There were a fantastic number of roses in bloom, although not all were labeled, so I couldn't really tell you which ones smelt or looked best to me. There were some ruffled pink ones the size of nickels which smelled divine and reminded me of the ones the old farmers had trained against their parlor window, but does that help identify them? Not in the least. And not that it mattered. It was enough to sit with The Husband in a rose-y nook and quietly bake in the sun. (Oh, yes, we are all set for dotage).

Aside from the two and half acre rose garden, the park boasts several other nice garden areas as well as pathways, greenhouses, lawns, a pond with untidy waterfowl, and a cafe. We had rather nice lunch at the Pond House Cafe (after ice cream for elevenses) and stopped for more ice cream on the way home. I know, ice cream twice in one day. We are decadent and depraved people.

But well-contented depraved persons -- and that makes all the difference.

A Rosy Weekend at the Norwich Rose Garden in Mohegan Park

What with the weather being nice and me having full weekends off, I'm inclined to do as much outside stuff as possible before the twinkly glow of full weekends fades, the humidity creeps in, and I cannot be bothered to stir from the couch. Anyway, this weekend we hied off to the Norwich Rose Garden in Mohegan Park to sniff flowers and take in lots of healthy fresh air.

Prior to visiting, I'd done a little reading up on the Garden and found that the two-acre garden is one of the 130-odd All American Rose Selections's accredited public rose gardens and features over 120 varieties of roses. At the time, 120 varieties of roses sounded pretty fantastic. Alas, when we visited, the garden didn't seem quite as fantastic as anticipated -- about half the roses seemed either new or so recently (and heavily) pruned they weren't more than greenish brown sticks. (I hear the garden suffered a lot of deer damage last autumn and this may account for the less than stellar rose showings).

After we sniffed all the roses we could and canoodled on one of the shady benches, we explored the rest of Mohegan Park -- quite a nice experience, really. The wisteria lined walk which skirts the pond was quite lovely even though not in bloom (must be simply fantastic when in bloom). We managed to while away a not insignificant portion of the afternoon walking the little woodland path around the lake, watching the fishes, and whatnot.