What are you Reading?

OliveOyl

Well-known member
Messages
148
I’m reading this one...almost done.
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The title is the translated name of the Rio de las Trampas, actually more of a stream, that (still) feeds every plot of land in an old Hispanic farming village in the Sangre de Christo mountains of New Mexico. The true-life friendship story mostly focuses on how Jacobo Romero (an old farmer of Mexican Indian/Spanish heritage) taught two young “gringos” - Bill (the writer of the book) and Alex (the book’s photographer) - the fine art of ditch irrigation.

Yep....that’s the “plot.”

Here’s Jacobo with his wife Eloisa.
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Weirdly, I found out about the book through a house listing on Zillow. The sale was actually for two 175 year old adobe houses for the price of one. There was a picture in the book to confirm the listing...and showed that the one in the foreground was Jacobo’s home and the other belonged to his brother, Juan.
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In another picture in the listing, you can see the ditch running through the property. It’s a lush site, filled with pretty flowers. At one point more recently, they say “famed gardener” Sarah Hammond lived here. She’s googable. You’d think she would have renovated the old place and knocked the rustic charm out of it...but no...it still looks fairly primitive. Nice to see the Romero’s “fancy new fangled stove” (an upgrade from a pot on a fire) still standing there. They called it “Fatso.”
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These are the kinds of “romantic” southwestern houses I’m usually drawn to, but boring practicality has its way of killing those dreams. Oh well. At least I’m enjoying the book because it’s the only way I’m going to ever “be” in New Mexico until the covid crap ends.

The End
 

laf.art

Well-known member
Messages
1,128
The last book I read was The case against Perfume by Kate Grenville. If your puzzled at the rising number of people with autoimmune disorders, or the increase in Parkinson's then read this book and you will never feel the same way about your aftershave/perfume again.. It is pretty shocking what goes into these scents...chemicals..that often haven't been tested for safety but nobody wants to talk about it because it's a multi million dollar industry.
This looks like an interesting read Katie
 

laf.art

Well-known member
Messages
1,128
I’m reading this one...almost done.
View attachment 3310
The title is the translated name of the Rio de las Trampas, actually more of a stream, that (still) feeds every plot of land in an old Hispanic farming village in the Sangre de Christo mountains of New Mexico. The true-life friendship story mostly focuses on how Jacobo Romero (an old farmer of Mexican Indian/Spanish heritage) taught two young “gringos” - Bill (the writer of the book) and Alex (the book’s photographer) - the fine art of ditch irrigation.

Yep....that’s the “plot.”

Here’s Jacobo with his wife Eloisa.
View attachment 3311
Weirdly, I found out about the book through a house listing on Zillow. The sale was actually for two 175 year old adobe houses for the price of one. There was a picture in the book to confirm the listing...and showed that the one in the foreground was Jacobo’s home and the other belonged to his brother, Juan.
View attachment 3314

In another picture in the listing, you can see the ditch running through the property. It’s a lush site, filled with pretty flowers. At one point more recently, they say “famed gardener” Sarah Hammond lived here. She’s googable. You’d think she would have renovated the old place and knocked the rustic charm out of it...but no...it still looks fairly primitive. Nice to see the Romero’s “fancy new fangled stove” (an upgrade from a pot on a fire) still standing there. They called it “Fatso.”
View attachment 3313
These are the kinds of “romantic” southwestern houses I’m usually drawn to, but boring practicality has its way of killing those dreams. Oh well. At least I’m enjoying the book because it’s the only way I’m going to ever “be” in New Mexico until the covid crap ends.

The End
Fatso looks in need of a little tlc🙂
 

OliveOyl

Well-known member
Messages
148
Hi.
I love reading.
Have I ever told you?

So, I followed Ninth Street Women (30 years of the 5 Ab-Ex painting queens in 800 pages) with another big book. That was Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns (the story of the great migration of African Americans from the south told in 600 pages.) Anyway, I don’t measure books by their page count; I’m just proud I held my attention long enough to read them.

Before the fat books, I read a teeny tiny book called, How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz. And the book just finished was How to be an Antiracist by Ibrahim X. Kendi. Haha. I just need to find, “How to Be an AntiArtist Racist” and I’ll be all set. For something.

Now I’m reading Eric Fischl’s Bad Boy (artist memoir) and I have to say he’s a pretty good writer...in a rollicking fun kind of way. For those that don’t know...he’s a narrative painter of suburban scenes, was around in the olden neo-expressionist period of the 70’s, and he’s still around...now in HIS 70’s.

And gifts from Christmas, which are sitting on my night stand and patiently waiting their turn is Ali Smith’s (one of my favs) Hotel World. It’s about the stages of grief in relation to the passages of time. It’s all postmodern and dreamy and female plotted. And I also have Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You because I’m doing paintings about collections and thought it might be interesting. Also, After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus about the post-punk, tortured feminist writer and My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris (below). This was her debut graphic novel which she wrote after contracting West Nile Virus and becoming paralyzed at age 40.

Geesh. Didn’t realize all the angsty stew I’m going to be getting immersed in, with these last two. Although...they seem to be a perfectly fitting place to rest my infected state of mind...
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stlukesguild

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1,484
I tend to read a lot more poetry and short fiction and non-fiction (Kafka, Borges, Gautier, The Arabian Nights, etc...) than novels now. This is likely due to the fact that I have less time available... although that's not completely true. Some of the poems I read are quite long. I suspect my attraction is also due to the fact that I see a link between poetry... which is more musical, more musical, more cultivated in forms of language and form, more suggestive than prose.

I am currently reading two books:

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They are both translations of the same work: the Hebrew Biblical Psalms. Unfortunately, a good many fail to recognize just how brilliant the Bible is as a work of literature. This is due in a large part thanks to the hypocrisy and other egregious actions of many Evangelical "Christians". The King James Bible is probably the best translation of the Hebrew Bible into English... but with the exception of a few examples... such as the 23 Psalm ("The Lord is my Shepherd...") the King James translations aren't overly successful as poetry. In The Poet's Book of Psalms the editor has done a marvelous job at selecting the finest version of each poem in English. Poets include Robert Burns, Thomas Wyatt, Sir Francis Bacon, John Donne, John Milton, Philip Sidney, Christopher Smart, etc... on through a number of contemporary poets.

Robert Alter is one of the leading scholars on Hebrew literature and perhaps the finest translator of the books of the Hebrew Bible. Over the years I collected and read each of his new translations as soon as they were released. He finally completed the entire Hebrew Bible in a 3 volume set which I plan on ordering ASAP:

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The collection is actually quite reasonably priced.

I have multiple translations of a number of major works of non-English literature unless there is one indisputably "best" version. This is true for the Iliad and Odyssey, the Aeneid, Dante, Goethe, Petrarch, Racine, Baudelaire, Mallarme, Rilke, Montale, as well as the Bible.
 
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Artyczar

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Staff member
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3,342
I don't want to get into a religious discussion, but I don't agree that the King James version of the Hebrew Bible is the "best" English translation (especially Genesis). I can't cite what is, but it's always best to read the Torah in Hebrew. Chabad.org has a literal translation.

Anyway, I just downloaded an uncorrected copy of Rickie Lee Jones's memoir. I haven't started it yet though. I imagine it will be interesting, at least from what I know of her.
 

Iain

Huh?
Messages
1,115
I liked Pop Pop.

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I would like to read the forthcoming biography of Francis Bacon (21st, I believe), but i probably won't. The lifestyle, the idea of the lifestyle, fuels the imagination, a bit like Harry Potter, I guess. Now that would be a good working name for a ceramicist.
 
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stlukesguild

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1,484
I don't agree that the King James version of the Hebrew Bible is the "best" English translation (especially Genesis). I can't cite what is, but it's always best to read the Torah in Hebrew.

Well... I suspect you are correct that it is best to read the Bible in the original Hebrew... although, from what I have read of the history of the Bible, the closest we have to the "original" Hebrew is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls as all the Hebrew texts were lost over the centuries and were later reconstructed largely from early Latin translations. Even so... I suspect it is always best to read any work of literature in the original language... but that's not an option for me unless I learn Hebrew.

My thoughts, when it comes to literary translations mirror those of the poet/painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his preface to his classic translation of Early Italian Poets:

"The only true motive for putting poetry into a fresh language must be to endow a fresh nation, as far as possible, with one more possession of beauty. Poetry not being an exact science, literality of rendering is altogether secondary to this chief aim."


The King James translation is likely not the best translation from Hebrew (and the Latin & Aramaic of the New Testament) in terms of literality. But a good number of the literal translations I have read are dull, plodding, awkward, and often full of absolute vulgarity and howlers in terms of literature. The King James Translation is probably the finest translation into English in terms of literature... of putting into a fresh language one more possession of beauty. As such, it shouldn't be surprising that the King James translation of the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare are deemed in many ways of having produced "modern" English and having the largest impact on our language of any works of literature. But like any translation, the King James has its flaws which is why I frequently employ multiple different translations for many major works of literature.

When I was still an obsessive reader and lover of literature and frequented several literature forums (most of which have gone belly up) I made friends with a brilliant young scholar who was far more well-read than I had illusions of being. He was Israeli born and moved to Canada. He was fluent in Hebrew, French, and English and later taught himself Italian due to his love of Italian poets such as Dante, Leopardi, and Montale. He later turned to Chinese and Japanese and spent some years in China turning himself into a scholar of Asian literature. We were discussing the Psalms one day when I mentioned wanting to find better poetic translations than those of the King James translation. He declared that the original Hebrew were actually not all that fine as works of literature and that the King James translations and those of the great early English poets were far better as works of literature. Personally, I cannot offer an opinion. I can only follow the guidance of Robert Alter and Harold Bloom and other scholars and critics with regard to opinions on translations as works of literature. Biblical translations, histories, and criticism make up one of the largest groups in my library... along with Shakespeare studies, studies of William Blake, and studies of Dante. Biblical studies are so huge in part because as with Homer, we have no undisputed "original" text... or even certainty of the author(s).
 

Iain

Huh?
Messages
1,115
The only "Old English" I would be happy to see is a sheepdog. I once had the bright idea of enrolling in an A-level English Literature class. First on the curriculum was Chaucer's Tales. The first class consisted of the teacher reading from the text at breakneck speed. I looked over at the only other student in the class, an Indian girl, and she was taking copious notes. Old Geoffrey sounded like y Gymraeg. Exactly.
Apparently, Olde English (of Willy) is closer to Scots than to modern English.

 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
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1,484
Chaucer is actually Middle English. It is a bit of a challenge at first, but after a while you get the gist of it:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye,
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Half of the challenge is simply the spelling. Personally I agree with Ezra Pound who suggested that anyone not willing to put forth the effort to master Chaucer should never be permitted to read fine literature again. :LOL: At least this should be true for serious reader/student of literature.

Old English is something else altogether:

Hwæt. We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning.

It's as much a foreign language as German or French.
 

Iain

Huh?
Messages
1,115
You can say that again!

I believe Chaucer was influenced by the Italian, Boccassio. Or maybe it was the other way around. The Decameron is a text for these times, with its upright priests, so to speak, and lockdown. I experienced deja vu while reading one of the stories about "putting the devil back in the hole." Not that i had ever asked a nun to put the devil in the hole, you understand. I couldn't do that. I never knew any. But I am sure i had heard the story before, as a playground joke. Not that I remember jokes. But I do remember enjoying The Golden Ass.
 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
Messages
1,484
Many of the classic tales traveled throughout Europe and may have come from the Middle East, Greece, Rome, and India.

Yes... the Decameron is definitely for our time... especially the prologue set in Florence at the height of the Black Death. Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year is even more for our time with the wealthy fleeing cities where the numbers infected is high, politicians covering up the seriousness of the plague and playing down the numbers of the dead, etc...

Of course the tale of "putting the devil back to Hell" is a classic dirty tale. I cracked up when I first read it (along with "Nowell's Flood" in Chaucer). My wife loved it as well.
 
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