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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
Something Permanent - Cynthia Rylant, Walker Evans I loved this book. Long before I had my son, I found this book in the poetry section of a very good children's book store. I'd always found Walker Evans's Depression-era photos haunting and I felt the poems made the photos even more personal. It reminded me in a way of Chris Van Allsburg's book "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick," in which a series of black-and-white drawings each has a single caption to use as a launchpad to write your own stories. Except here, a poet has written poems that tell the stories. I didn't know who Cynthia Rylant was at the time and I've only just made the connection that this is the same person who writes the books my son loves so well, such as the Poppleton series, Gooseberry Park, and the Mr. Putter and Tabby books. She's a remarkably versatile writer. These poems aren't really for kids. Maybe teenagers. Some deal with complex issues, such as the death of children, making love, poverty. Here is an example on a picture of a grave mound that has a saucer on top and a simple board for a headstone:


It was customary to decorate
a child's grave with something pretty
from the house
and a china plate
was as pretty as they had,
though it gave them
not one bit of solace,
and they worried late in the evening
some dog or somebody
had come along
and tipped it over,
making their boy's grave
look a foolish thing
and it wasn't.
It wasn't.

And here's another, for a photo of a rocker at the bottom of a staircase:


She wanted to be sure to hear the
other babies if they cried,
so she nursed them, one at a time,
at the bottom of the stairs
then carried them,
one at a time,
softly up,
their small