She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.― Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
It’s the time of year that it actually starts to feel warm enough to sense that Spring is here or nearly here. We got that this week and it’s a welcome break from the long, cold Winter weather that we’ve had this past year. Residents of this remote Scottish Estate took advantage of those days and spent as much time as they could outside walking around and doing needed chores under the guidance of Gus, our Estate Groundskeeper.
Now mind we’re in the third day of an icy rain storm that barely sees temperatures a few degrees above freezing and with a wind that would guarantee anyone outside would be soaked to the skin in minutes even if they were wearing proper storm gear. So we’re all inside until it passes, staying warm.
I hope that if you’re in the regions of the globe where it’s still Winter, you’re warm and comfortable as you read these words. Hopefully you’ll find much to entertain yourself here. Me, I’m off to get some more hot chocolate and maybe a peanut-butter and chocolate bar or two.
In looking at The Time Quartet, Naomi has a confession to make: ‘As far as I am concerned, Madeleine L’Engle’s books should be required reading in all schools, as they open doors — not only in the imagination, but also in the academics, math and science especially. These wonderful tales could inspire the next Einstein to take the proper courses and feed his mind. I enjoyed the journeys that Mrs. L’Engle’s works took me on, and yet, I am saddened by the fact that I never read them as a child. I will rectify this mistake by introducing my own children to them posthaste!’
Vonnie says Patricia McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange ‘is nearly a prose-poem. The writing is lyrical, the events mysterious, the metaphors shadowy and aquatic. The plot suffers from it, as it does from turning the ocean into a character. This is a diffuse mystery, and the reader has to trust the writer that a point will eventually emerge from the pages. McKillip is both good enough and well-known enough to entitle her to our trust, but at its best, this novel is not a page-turner. Even more so than most of her books, the best way to enjoy Something Rich and Strange might be to read it aloud, enjoying the leisurely trip rather than racing to the destination.’
Warner has a book on writing for us: ‘The written word has been the standard mode of conveying information across time and distance for centuries. There was in Spring of 2019 an exhibit at the British Museum dedicated to the very topic of writing and its history. To accompany it the British Library put together Writing Making Your Mark with editor Ewan Clayton. Clayton is an excellent choice for editor, being already experienced in the subject and having written a celebrated volume on the subject, (The Golden Thread). The British Library’s offering is a large and impressive volume, giving a brief history of the written word as well as a look into its potential futures.’
He also says ‘Providence After Dark and Other Writings collects much of T.E.D. Klein’s nonfiction. This includes his introductions, critical articles, and even reviews. There is a fair assortment in the book, and, being gathered together for the first time, this collection gives the reader an opportunity to both better understand a respected name in the genre and also to more easily get a view on the various works and writers he dealt with.’
HandMade Films was a British film production and distribution company founded by that George Harrison. Notable films from the studio included Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Time Bandits, The Long Good Friday and the film Cat’s reviewing for us, The Raggedy Rawney. He says that it ‘is based on traditional Rom folklore — something I personally found fascinating. This adaptation of folk tradition to contemporary times makes it more fully comprehensible, compared with portraying it in the ancient long, long ago time. At least for me.’
The Michael Kamen soundtrack is equally fascinating for him, as he tells us: ‘Some pieces of film music stick with you long after you’ve seen the film. And if it’s a really interesting tune or song, it may make you seek out the soundtrack and see how it sounds outside of the film. Such was the case with the specific piece that got my mojo rising: the Blowzabella-style music that showed up in the wedding scene in Raggedy Rawney’.
Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups doesn’t sound like the sort of roots and branches of our shared global culture that we’d bother to comment upon but our resident Summer Queen explains why we are doing so: ‘I have a confession to make. Yes, I have a problem. And that problem’s name is Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. I’m the person at Hallowe’en who looks at the bowl of candy designated for trick or treaters and asks, plaintively, “Could we hold the Reese’s in reserve? Or at least hide them on the bottom of the bowl?” and who will blatantly pilfer from the bowl throughout the evening. And if there’s any left over? Bliss!
April is more than a little enthusiastic about another installment of Bill Willlingham’s Fables: ‘When a series is as consistently excellent as Fables, it can be extremely difficult to decide which is the finest issue or volume. However, The Good Prince, the tenth volume, certainly makes a strong case for itself as the best of the best.’
Cat has some comments on a very non-traditional rendering of the music of Charles de Lint, Zahatar’s The Little Country: ‘Zahatar is more akin to a classical music ensemble than it is to a folk group, and their arrangements of de Lint’s The Little Country compositions very much reflect that. It’s a lively but dignified approach to his songs, more closely akin to what you’d hear if you were listening to any classical music ensemble than to, say, a contradance band.’
Gary liked Land of Milk and Honey from Texas singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson: ‘This album is a satisfying and deeply felt blend of overt political comment and intimate personal observation.’
Kelly has a look at a splendid neo-traditional Nordic recording: ‘When last I heard of the Swedish folk band Ranarim, they had just performed at the 2001 Nordic Roots Festival in support of their debut album Till the Light of Day. Over the next five years, they expanded from a quartet to a sextet and recorded one album that didn’t get released outside Sweden, but had otherwise kept a low profile since 2003. As often happens with Nordic folk bands, the members of Ranarim had all sorts of other projects to work on. They have most definitely benefited from the time off, though, as their new album Morning Star is as fresh and vital as any Scandinavian album I’ve heard in quite some time.’
Robert once again takes us somewhat out of our usual music focus with Moby’s Innocents: ‘I have to admit, when I first listened, my reaction was “What have I done?!?” but it all makes more sense now. It’s definitely a strong album, although I’m not sure that’s the right word to use – maybe “substantial” is better.’
So here’s an interesting What Not for you. When Christopher Golden was Oak King here some years back, he gave us ‘The Art of The Deal,’ a short story that I’ll not detail at all as it’s best to read without being told about it, so go here to read it. And do not post it elsewhere as we’ve got exclusive digital rights for it.
So let’s finish out this week with some more music from Altan. It’s ‘A Tune For Mairéad And Anna’ from their performance at the Folkadelphia Session, 7th of March, 2015. It’s a really sweet piece of Irish if I must say so myself.