September Reading

September was very busy with work and I didn’t read as much as usual. Also, at the start of the month my cousins stayed with us for a long weekend and I didn’t do much reading then. Now, rather late, my reading report:

Ongoing projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    138 pages, my quota for September ̶ one more month and I’ll be done.
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    Total fail again, as usual.

Poetry:

Daniel Karlin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse
I’m really enjoying this collection and am almost done.

Short stories:

  • Jay Rubin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
    I continued with some of these. They are very interesting, but some of them are very intense, so I’m getting ahead rather slowly.
  • Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection
    These are fun to read. I’m planning on eventually reading my way through all the annual collections.

Non-Fiction:

  • Redmond O’Hanlon, In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon
    Very good, see my report here.
  • Carol Ann Lee, The Murders at White House Farm
    Don’t know why I read this, see my report here.
  • Laura Cumming, On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons
    Also excellent, see my report here.
  • Helen Bevington, The Third and Only Way: Reflections of Staying Alive
    A memoir about life in old age, when one’s loved ones are already dead. What keeps one alive? I like reading about how people go through old age. It’s coming for everyone and, who knows, maybe it will be helpful. It’s a quiet reflection, with lots of vignettes and musings on books and life experiences. I enjoyed it a lot and may read some this author’s other books.
  • Thomas Mallon, A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries
    So far, I’ve only read about two thirds of this book. I found a reference to Bevington in it, which lead me to read her memoir. There’s lots of other reading inspiration in the book. I’ll be returning to it again and again, I believe, to find diaries and memoirs to read. And maybe it will help me to keep up with my own blog/diary. I wrote up a few blog entries in September about the chapters I’ve read, too many to link.

Graphic novel:

Total fail. I’m currently not feeling like reading graphic novels.

Novels:

Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge
One of Dickens’ two historical novels. I liked it a lot and mean to write a review.

Toni Morrison, Love
Also a very good read, as usual. Somewhat disturbing, but then, all Morrison’s novels are disturbing. Will write a review.

Lots of non-fiction this month and only two novels. No graphic novel. Not too bad, but I’ve had better reading months.

In Trouble Again

A journey between the Orinoco and the Amazon (1988) by Redmond O’Hanlon. Today I finished this book; I liked it a lot. While the first part of the book describes the journey to discover a river, the Maturaca, that is supposed to connect the Orinoco and Rio Negro rivers and also to approach the Neblina mountain via canoe through the jungle of Venezuela, the second part describes the journey to a tribe of Yanomami in Venezuela. As O’Hanlon and his Venezuelan guides couldn’t find the river (although they did get to the Neblina), they decided instead to visit the Yanomani tribe of Leapopuei-teri. These people are described as dangerous (the Venezuelan guides are afraid of them) and so O’Hanlon’s English companion Simon leaves the expedition about at the half-way point. The others and are welcomed cordially for a few days to the tribe and then told to leave again, politely but firmly:

Jarivanau ostentatiously took down his hammock and packed his catumaré in the front of our shelter. He tied our cooking pot to his load with a length of vine and placed a bunch of plantains on top. He grinned at me and nodded towards the door by which he had entered on the far side of the shabono.

If Jarivanau thinks we should go, I thought, then we had better go.

In Trouble Again (1988) by Redmond O’Hanlon, page 298f.

As with his other book Into the Heart of Borneo, I enjoyed the way O’Hanlon describes his trip, the people he travels with and those he encounters, as well as all the animals and plants he describes. I like his robust humour and the way he describes the Yanomami. At once as ferocious warriors and loving family fathers and mothers. I was surprised, as I hadn’t though that the Yanomami were ferocious, and I remembered that I’d read anther book about them by Kenneth Good: Into the Heart: An Amazonian Love Story (1991). This book describes how the author, an anthropologist, lives among a Yanomani tribe, falls in love with and marries a Yanomani woman. It’s been a long time since I read this book and I’m going to reread it. I also found that Good’s son, David Good, has written a book The Way Around: Finding My Mother and Myself Among the Yanomami (2015). This seems very interesting, as it tells the story of what happened when his mother left Good and her three children because she was unhappy living in America and how they reunited. It must have been very difficult for her and the family, having to reconcile two such different cultures. I’m planning to read this book as well. I love it when books lead me down this kind of interconnected web of stories. I also believe that learning about other cultures is both interesting and important.

David Good has a YouTube channel that shows some of the cultural practices also described by O’Hanlon and has started a non-profit dedicated to supporting the Yanomani people: https://www.jointhegoodproject.org/. I haven’t had time to explore the webpage in detail, but I will do so when I read the books. They have expedition summaries as PDFs on their pages which I want to look through as soon as I have time.

Today was very relaxed. In the morning the usual walk with Curious Dog, up the hill and back again through the woods. We didn’t meet anyone, and it was cool but sunny. Later it became overcast and on the afternoon walk, it was a little chilly at the beginning. We only met one other dog in the morning, none in the afternoon. It’s weird, sometimes we meet lots of people with dogs, other times none.

We watched the third part of the German classic Treasure Island TV series and will watch the final part either tonight or tomorrow (it’s on YouTube). Perhaps we will watch the Tatort tonight, the classic crime series that always runs Sunday night “im Ersten“, one of the public service TV broadcasting channels. We don’t watch all instances of the Tatort (which means “Crime Scene”), but this one plays in Vienna and we like the Vienna pair of detectives, so I guess we’ll be watching it tonight (although, if not, we’ll watch it sometime during the week via the channel’s mulitmedia library).

The weekend is over again. It always seems to pass so quickly.

Keep safe, world.

Treasure Island

We watched a classic German TV-version of Treasure Island this afternoon (or rather the first part of it). It’s a four-part series from 1966 directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner. Quite good so far, slightly old-fashioned, but the first part seems to be true to the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson although I haven’t read it for quite some time and don’t know if I remember everything correctly (probably not).

I actually wanted to finish reading the book by Redmond O’Hanlon that I’m currently reading: In Trouble Again: A journey between the Orinoco and the Amazon (1988) but I let myself get sidetracked. Well, the book won’t run away; I’ve still got about half to go. Oddly, O’Hanlon seemed to select people to accompany him on his journeys that that then found them trying at times (to put it mildly):

“You bloody con artist,” he said, staring straight at me, showing the whites of his eyes. “I read your Borneo book. You said that was fun and I believed you. You said this would be fun and I believed you. Well, I can’t even imagine fun anymore, not anywhere. Not anywhere at all.”

In Trouble Again (1988) by Redmon O’Hanlon p. 152

The stress of the journey on the jungle rivers in dugouts, the weather, the others on the team, and the insects get to his companion. I like reading about these things, but I think the insects would do it for me, too. Specially the spiders, and the ticks, and the leeches, and the scorpions, and the ants… No wonder O’Hanlon’s companions never want to travel with him again once they’ve survived the first adventure. Still, it makes for a very good read.

Later, I took Curious Dog for his afternoon walk. On the way back, there were a couple of strangers in our driveway and of course he had to make a fuss. I think the neighbours all think he is dangerous, because he keeps barking and jumping at them and any strangers (though I’ve always got him on the leash). He’s an idiot. I tried to distract him with some treats, but it didn’t work. I think he’s defending his territory or something, because he never acts like that anywhere else apart from by our house. I wish he’d be a bit more relaxed. I’m adding a picture of CD as a puppy. Wasn’t he cute? We had to put the carpet away because he kept chewing the fringe. He’s still cute, but all grown up now. He’ll be turning 6 in November.

This morning, on the morning walk, we saw a very small calf in a nearby cattle field. I’m pretty sure it was newborn. Curious Dog doesn’t like cattle. He gets quite nervous if any of them show interest in us and come up to the fence. He certainly doesn’t bark at them; instead, he tries to pull me past them as quickly as possible.

After the morning walk, I hung around on the sofa reading for a bit and then pulled myself together and cleaned the bathroom. Tomorrow I’m going to do the staircase and the basement. Partner vacuumed the rest of the house, but he never does the stairs and I don’t think he’s ever done the basement. Ah well, he’s currently making Tiramisu, which I never do, so it evens out.

For dinner I cooked a vegetable curry with zucchini, carrots, onions, and bell pepper (basically all the vegetables that we had in the fridge) with whole-wheat pasta. It used to be a staple of ours, but we haven’t had it for quite some time. I also added some soy curls for a bit of protein. It was good.

Yesterday we tried some apple cider that I’d found in our local supermarket. My dad used to drink it ages ago when I was a child to lower his blood pressure (it worked) and since Mum has some issues with high blood pressure, we thought we’d try it again. Although, her blood pressure isn’t nearly as high at home as it at the doctor’s. At home it is just a little above the regular values. She is one of those people that suffer from white coat hypertension.

Tonight, we’ll be watching the next episode of Treasure Island. And tomorrow, I guess, the next two.

Keep safe, world.