Thursday, August 19, 2010

ADG In Book-Land: What are you reading?

I’m almost finished with Hitch-22 and loved every word of it. I'd have knocked it out a long time ago but I've had too many other seductive distractions...biblio and otherwise. My favorite atheist is I'm sure you know. Hitchens’ esophageal cancer at least waited till he finished this, the story of his pugnacious journey.

Here are a few of Hitch’s own words regarding his predicament…“The word "metastasized" was the one in the report that first caught my eye, and ear. The alien had colonized a bit of my lung as well as quite a bit of my lymph node. And its original base of operations was located—had been located for quite some time — in my esophagus. I am quietly resolved to resist bodily as best I can, even if only passively, and to seek the most advanced advice. My heart and blood pressure and many other registers are now strong again: indeed, it occurs to me that if I didn’t have such a stout constitution I might have led a much healthier life thus far. Against me is the blind, emotionless alien, cheered on by some who have long wished me ill. But on the side of my continued life is a group of brilliant and selfless physicians plus an astonishing number of prayer groups. On both of these I hope to write next time if—as my father invariably said—I am spared.”
Another Man’s Poison by Charles Fountain remains bed-side as a reference for reconciling a few of the George Frazier finds of late. There’s nothing else to compare Fountain’s Frazier work…it remains the only biography of my evolving hero…Acid Mouth.
Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson: Collector and Connoisseur sits in the queue, yet to be cracked. I’ll blow through it in a flash when I get around to it though. I’ve for some time, been intrigued with the turn of the century collector/hoarders in America whose timing couldn’t have been better. England and the Continent were emptying their houses faster than American new-ish money could buy the goods. Berenson and Duveen were only too happy to expedite, validate and charge for the transfer.
Weintraub’s Whistler biography will be bedside forever. I never tire of Whistler lore and Weintraub did a fine job of capturing the Pocket Mephistopheles.
Genet, Brenda Wineapple’s biography of New Yorker columnist Janet Flanner will probably jump the queue as I just finished  my New Yorker flurry. Flanner was on the guest list for Capote’s Black and White Ball.
And last but not least is Mellow’s Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company. I’ve reveled in the Cone sisters-Baltimore-Matisse-Stein lore forever. This tome is one I pick up from time to time and open to any page…and enjoy.
But then this rolled in….Linley Sambourne: Illustrator and Punch Cartoonist by Leonee Ormond. Sambourne was an epic illustrator for Punch and this biography is long overdue. You need to see the Sambourne House museum in Kensington if you haven’t. Oh, and I’ll leave it to you other art history dilettantes to sort out the Lord Snowden, Viscount Linley kinship to Sambourne.

Author Leonee is the wife of Richard Ormond, great nephew of artist John Singer Sargent. Violet Sargent Ormond was John Singer Sargent’s sister. I’ve never met the Ormonds but can only imagine how fun it would be to spend an evening with them, discussing the late 19th and early 20th century London art scene. I’ve traipsed through Chelsea and Tite street on many an early morning…imagining Whistler, Sargent, Pellegrini, Carlyle, Turner and the sycophant but endearing Greaves brothers who catered to Whistler. Shut up.

Onward. Always reading something.


Pigtown-Design said...

may i please have the henry walters book when you've finished. i will trade you for the auto-bio of peter duchin that i just zipped through. or something better from my li-berry.

ilovelimegreen said...

I just read "A Whole World of Trouble" by Helen Chappell and roared, roared, roared my way through it. It’s about two sisters in a fictitious town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the subsequent family drama that follows the death of their mother – who died when she fell into an alligator pit while visiting Florida.

Next on the list is "Collections of Nothing" by William Davies King who “spent decades collecting things that nobody else would want."

And the goal at the onset of the summer was to have completed “The Life and Rhymes of Ogden Nash” by today, Nash’s birthday, but I haven’t even gotten close to that.

I was going to ask to borrow the Henry Walters book too but Meg beat me to it - so maybe she will lend it to me after she reads it - pretty please?

Anonymous said...

I'm reading Monument Wars by Kirk Savage.

It's an excellent history and analysis of the evolution of the mall in Washington.

In The Littoral said...

ADG, I too am working my way through Hitch-22. Truely an enjoyable read, provocative, but enjoyable still. I might have to look into some of your other suggestions too. BTW, loved the last post especially the pics of LFG and the little guy. She really is adorable. My girls are 19 and 21 and while beautifuland wonderful and all, I miss the days when they were like LFG! I know everyone tells you, but savor these days, you will miss them. My best to you both, Dave

Young Fogey said...

I can't believe that you would support Christopher Hitchens in any way. He is a religion-hater who spews particularly strong venom at Christianity. Did you know that he, along with arch-atheist Richard Dawkins, called for the Pope to be arrested "for crimes against humanity"?

That's all for the serious stuff.

RIght now, I'm re-reading the Sherlock Holmes stories, and reading "Christianity & Liberalism" by J. Gresham Machen, as well as a collection of humorous short stories in another language. Why do I always have to have my nose in no fewer than three books at once?

NCJack said...

Thanx for the heads up on the Stein book, and several others you've mentioned. I got hooked on "Paris between the Wars" and the literary/painting cliques. Interesting that the more I read, the more Hemingway appears to be less than trusted for factuality.

ADG said...

Jackie of the North...Read the Duff Cooper diaries to get another glimpse of Paris between the wars.

Fogey...I hear you. Other than what I believe to be Hitchens' misguided position on God, he is a brilliant intellect. I read every word the man reads. I also read my Men's study Bible every morning. Another take, dear Fogey, on why I read Hitchens...and I have reas God is Not Great by the way, is that Christians suck at knowing the "other" as Sun Tzu would call our opposing enemies in the faith.

MegTown...yes you can have it. can read?

Richard M said...

Agree with all the selections except Hitchens, that over-educated boor who substituted the worship of Paul Wolfowitz for the worship of God, and eloquently refers to those he disagrees with as "scumbags". I have no use for him or his works.As for his disease, it is self inflicted due to his personal habits. A wretched, self-important and overpublicized man.

little augury said...

the lists expand-always there is something in your list pile that is needed in mine-the Walters Berenson is on its way right now. The Whistler bio is great as is the Stein book-she could draw a crowd. On a Mitford jag right now- Diana's Duchess of Windsor, Nancy's Voltaire and Diana Cooper's 4 autobios, she did lead a full life. Isn't it great that there are books like this that do not require our constant attention?

Turling said...

What am I reading? Where do I begin? Keeping in mind, I have the attention span of a gnat, so I have to juggle many things:

Book 11, The Reverse of the Medal, by Patrick O'Brian. I'm desperately trying to get through this series, as it is spectacular, but remember...gnat.

Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale. This is a slow read, as 250 pages of "we're all going to grow tits and die young" gets old quickly.

America's Library: The Story of the Library of Congress by James Conaway. The fact we have a library at all seems astounding with what it took to get here. I think the most amazing thing is that in our 230 plus year's, we are only on our 13th Librarian of Congress. Do the math.

The Scouter's Companion. My son's a scout. I'm trying to keep up. I'm pretty sure he thinks he gets to kill, skin and eat something this year. He'll be disappointed.

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. How I want to retire.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading HITCH-22 a couple of weeks ago. I actually thought of your blog while reading his impression of the then current fad for short-legged trousers upon first visiting America (page 208). I had just run into Hitchens at Politics and Prose, and at a synagogue during the tour before the illness was discovered. On my way back from Adams Morgan the other night, I passed by his apartment and looked up to see if there were any lights on.

I'm currently reading a little book about Plato's Republic written by Simon Blackburn. I recently acquired "Paintings in Proust" and would highly recommend it:

I also own The Library at Night and would encourage it as a welcome addition to a bibliophile's shelves.


oldominion said...

Was happily making my way through The Irregulars recently on vacation when, looking up, I saw the author herself walking towards me in her tennis whites. The book is wonderful when focusing on Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, Ivar Bryce and Henry Marsh, slows a bit otherwise. Recommended.

The night before seeing her I was browsing in a bookstore in Southampton when a dapper elderly man walked in: tailored very light linen with what appeared to be a half-lining of seersucker with working sleeve buttons, white trou, white Keds and, incongruously, a cummerbund. Of course you know who it was: My fellow Richmonder Tom Wolfe, God bless him.

Just started Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps, so far so wonderful.

Anonymous said...

An interesting defense of your reading of the atheist Christopher Hitchens, rather than his much wiser, Christian brother, Peter. Well, I suppose that Fogey may be able to derive a certain satisfaction in the irony that Christopher Hitchens himself has no hope.

ADG said...

Hey folks, I'm not a Hitchens defender or apologist. He's a brilliant writer and articulates and defends views in rapier fashion. I'm not scared to read Hitchens and I'm not scared to read my study Bible.

Old Dominion...I HAVE to quote you in a blog post. What a great little story. I loved The Irregulars and you'd probably love Evan Thomas' The Very Best Men.

Turling...great list. If your boy kills-skins-cooks-eats something this year, it might be his first and last go.

Hilton...thanks. I'm gonna have to check out The Library at Night.

Little to Alibris or one of the other used book sites and order The House of Mitford by Jonathan Guiness. You won't be disapointed. Also, find a copy of The Duchess of Bloomsbury by Helene Haff. But don't read it till you read or re-read 84 Charing Cross Road.

Richard M. I hear you and appreciate your views on Hitchens and indeed...esophogeal cancer...smoke that much and drink that much swill and you get an ugly malignancy as such. Bladder cancer and smoking...another one.

Young Fogey said...

It is true that many Christians, especially the in-your-face evengelical types, are often ignorant of the enemy. Having come over from their camp, however, I really don't want to wallow in that fetid cesspool any more, and choose to get my knowledge of them from the swamp gas that inevitably wafts into my nose every time I read, or listen to, anything modern.

Still, I appreciate what you're saying. I enjoyed Max Brooks' well-written zombie books, even though they had occasional paeans to socialism, anti-capitalist screeds, and even out-and-out attacks on Christianity.

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

Unfortunately, reading for pleasure has become a foreign concept to me here lately.

ADG said...

Belle...I hope that you are busy with fun and intriguing things.


DAM said...

If you haven't done it, read "The Help" not a real "manly" book, but given your raising in The South, I'm sure you'll appreciate. To that end, I also devoured "South of Broad" from the big man from your home state and looking forward to making a Conroy book an annual summer tradition leading up to our annual weekend in Kiawah/Charleston land.

ADG said...

DAM...I read "The Help" and will be doing a blog post on it. Slow getting in to it but then it turned into a page-turner.

Conroy turns 'em out so slowly that unless you've yet to read his earlier stuff, you won't be getting a new novel every summer to read.

Anonymous said...

Cosmos, Creator & Human Destiny:
Answering Darwin, Dawkins and the New Atheists
Dave Hunt, 2010 (Amazon books)


Kit said...

Charles Baker's Jigger, Beaker, and Glass: Drinking Around the World. A beautiful read from a man who is credited with creating one of the first global cocktail books. A man that makes the Dos Equis guy look like a low-level IRS accountant.

ADG said...

Ta' can't read.

Kit ... just ordered it from Amazon....thanks!