Just Looking for Another Girl

A New-England Tale
Catherine Maria Sedgwick

The first street I lived on in the Bronx ran parallel to one of the longer ones in the borough. Each was named for a luminary. Mine was named after the shipbuilder William Henry Webb, whose Institute of Naval Architecture once sat at the foot of it before decamping, as my family did a few years later, for Long Island.

The longer lane, from which mine broke off and later ran back into, was Sedgwick Avenue. Starting at the Harlem River it stretches north until Van Cortlandt Park keeps it from Continue reading

Back With the Same Old Style

The Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent.
Washington Irving
(History, Tales, and Sketches–A LIbrary of America Volume)

In the last century, when my love of reading was born, I early on discovered the tales of Washington Irving. Here was a guy I could really sink my teeth into, and a local to boot.

Though I spent my formative years on Long Island, the Hudson River valley is as important to me as the beach. And, as a kid, the discovery that stories are about places Continue reading

She’s Leaving Home

The Awakening
Kate Chopin

My ongoing dialog  with the Tao te Ching has convinced me of one thing: the universe sends us messages and we’d be foolish not to listen.

Consequently, when a hardcover edition of Kate Chopin‘s most celebrated work fell into my hands soon after I’d terminally misplaced my just-set-aside-for-a moment Continue reading

The Ghost of a Romance

Indian Summer
William Dean Howells

Indian_SummerI was raised on classic romantic comedies. True, you couldn’t escape the endless stream of WWII movies in constant rerun, but if there was a choice Mom always picked the chick flick. Which is why I have a weakness for the form.

William Dean Howells has convinced me that before we Continue reading

I Ran So Far Away

Readling Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Azar Nafisi

Reading“There ain’t no such thing as a coinky-dinky.” I’m pretty sure Tennessee Ernie Ford, playing Cousin Ernie on “I Love Lucy,” said that. And whether or not I scrambled the facts in my Cuisinart of a memory, I think I’ve always sort of taken it as received wisdom.

So much so that I went to graduate school to get a degree in why that shouldn’t be so. Yet I remain the superstitious Continue reading

A Piece of Pie, A Piece of Puddin’

Pudd’n’head Wilson
Mark Twain

pudd'nheadWoody Boyd made an awesome Mark Twain.

Or maybe he made an awesome Hal Holbrook who, after all, created the one man Twain show Woody was starring in. Regardless of which you’re familiar with (if you know neither look for the video bonus below), you’d come away with a strong belief that Twain was a great aphorist. Yet Continue reading

Change, You Can Change

We don’t have to think up a title till we get the doggone book written.
Carl Sandburg

pymIf all you know of Edgar Allen Poe is ‘The Raven‘ or one of the stories–maybe ‘The Telltale Heart‘ or ‘A Cask of Amontillado‘–you really should click on the image to the right and read the page-long subtitle to Poe’s 1838 novel.
Back then, before the invention of rotogravure, 4-color printing and high-speed rotary presses that made it cost-effective, subtitles served the same purpose as a fancy dust jacket does now–they sold the book. Poe’s is a riotous parody of an already over the top genre. (And one I fear, at times, that we are revisiting, especially when it comes to the subtitles of non-fiction books.)
All of which is a long-winded introduction to a less than earth-shaking announcement. Well, not even an announcement. That word has too much weight for today’s purpose. And update seems too bland and corporate a word for what I have to share.
So let’s just say I want to call your attention to a change in this blog’s subtitle. When I started this experiment (and like the song says, at times I have been one poor correspondent) I had a notion of what I wanted to do. It seems, though, I’ve gone in a different direction and there’s no point misleading anyone who stumbles into the space.
My interest lies–always has–in ideas. Primarily in ideas encountered in books. So I hope the new subtitle is more indicative of the less than organized material covered in this space.