I have to begin this review by thanking Beth Kephart. When we met her at the signing at Books of Wonder she mentioned that she was currently reading The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver. She told me that she was loving it. Well that was enough for me because she has impeccable taste.
The End of the Point is a beautifully told family saga that follows the Porters of Ashaunt Point, Massachusetts from the tumultuous years during World War II up until 1999 (mentally insert Prince lyrics here – I know I have a warped mind – this book has nothing in common with the song except the year.)
When we first meet the Porters they are spending their summer in their second home on this tiny point of land that juts into Buzzards Bay. Graver draws each family member from Bea the Scottish nurse to the Porter children, to Gaga the matriarch with a fine brush. Each member is integral part of the whole and truly human with desires, faults, and frailties. What draws them together and keeps them whole is this ill-gotten parcel of land, bought from Native Americans before the Porter’s ancestors came ashore by the first settlers for “thirty yards of cloth, eight moose skins, fifteen axes, fifteen hoes…” a true bargain. It’s the land that draws the family back year after year, summer after summer. It’s the land that holds them together, shelters them, comforts and holds them. A land that will change over time with hurricanes, wars, and impending development – changes that take place outside of the Porter’s control. The land that is at once a permanent member of Porter family, but their hold is tenuous at best. A land that, like the Porter’s themselves, is subjected to being disturbed and destroyed by the heavy hand of human intervention.
Graver gently reminds us that the earth doesn’t belong to us, we inhabit it and are entrusted with stewardship. The house and the land that the Porters return to grounds them and sustains them, but in the end it will go on when they no longer exist.
There are books that as you read them you think “I could have written this.” The End of the Point is a novel that reminds one that writing is a gift bestowed upon the few who are true artists. Each word, each character, each event is deftly placed and beautifully done. This is a book that is wholly human and elegant. Graver is a master and The End of the Point a masterpiece.
Read Full Post »
I know many of us are all stressed out, bogged down with last minute gift shopping, bucking the crowds at the malls. It’s interesting to note that in the past week, we’ve had three outbreaks of fisticuffs at the library, a telling indicator of the stress caused by the materialism of the holidays, the economy and world events.
So, while I know it’s difficult, I hope that this holiday season we take time out to appreciate the meaning of the holidays…the miracles we overlook every day like a child’s laughter, the sun casting its light on us in the morning and lowering in the evening, the vision of a family of deer, their white tails receding in the distance as they bound over the hillside, white fields of virgin snow in the winter transforming into fertile fields of greenery each spring. I could go on and on.
I know I’ve been blessed this year with family and friends. As the year draws to a close, I relish looking back at the year’s events and the happiness they’ve brought: holidays in Cape Cod and Warwick with Susan, graduations, new jobs, new apartments. We tend to dwell on the negative, but let’s resolve to dwell on the positive from now on.
So, from my family to yours, we all wish you a happy holiday season.
P.S. May the season be filled with the wonderousness of books and the worlds they open to all of us. And where do you get these great books? At your libraries and independent bookstores. So, support them! You need them and they need you. (I had to put this in!)
Read Full Post »
I buy my share of used books and I typically start with the major online sellers, BarnesandNoble.com, Alibris, Abe’s Books and Amazon. What’s nice about them though, is that they steer you to independent, online retailers and sometimes, for some reason or other you strike up a conversation with them or something about them strikes your fancy and you become a customer.
And so it was with Marie of LD Books. I bought a book from her and because of the tight wrapping, I ended up nicking the book with a scissor when I opened it. Being a stickler for unblemished books when I can get them, I wrote to Marie suggesting in the future that she leave a little scissor room on the package so customers can get their scissors under the tape and open the package without damaging the book. Really and truly, a constructive suggestion. Marie ended up refunding my purchase price, despite my protestations. (I donated the proceeds to an upstate library that lost much of its children’s collection due to flooding.) She also asked whether it would be alright to suggest future books should they come her way.
And then there is CDBaby who, when confirming my order wrote: “
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, November 23, 2011.
We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!Thank you, thank you, thank you!
We miss you already. We’ll be right here at http://cdbaby.com/, patiently awaiting your return.”
There is something about the small guy. Mystery on Main in Brattleboro, VT or the Old Bookstore in Unionville, NY or CD Baby or LD Books–and these are only a few. They provide you with more than a product. They provide you with old fashioned customer service. They earn their reputation the hard way…by working hard to make customers happy.
So, forget about Amazon’s request that you scan a book at a local bookstore and then buy it through Amazon for a 5% discount. Amazon will never, ever, give you the excellent customer service that the independent bookstores will give you. So, please, please, please patronize your local book stores and music stores. They deserve your business.
Read Full Post »
Last Saturday, in the midst of the snow storm, I told you Susan and I set out for Old Books, the Unionville, NY bookstore. The owner, William McDonnell is a friendly sort of guy and, once you’re there for a bit, he begins to warm up and chat with you.
After searching for a while, I came up with this copy of Anatole France’s The Crimes of Sylvestre Bonnard, published in Boston in 1911. As you can guess, the cover attracted me.
Bill said that between 1880 and 1910 book covers reached new levels of sophistication and were works of art. If you look closely, you can see the artist’s initials in the lower right corner. Book designing was big business. Unfortunately, around 1910, wonderful book cover designs gave way to the paper book jacket.
So, now I’m on the search for more information about book covers between 1880-1910. I’ve ordered some books through interlibrary loan, contacted an author of a paper on the subject who is sending me a copy of her paper and I’ll see what I can dig up. This may be a whole new area of book collecting for me. (I’ve got all those Warwick bookshelves to fill up.)
Susan asked me whether I’m going to read this copy of the book or get a copy out of the library. But I think I’ve got to read this one, while being very careful–the paper is thin. But this is a beautiful book that should be enjoyed both by looking at it and reading it. I’ll let you know how it is.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Baking, Bookstores, Ed on November 1, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
Susan and I started out early Saturday (maybe late morning) for the Old Bookstore in Unionville, NJ. It was snowing lightly and, of course, we got a little lost, so it took us longer to get there than it should have. The owner is a nice guy and once you’re there for a few minutes, he starts chatting with you and gets kind of friendly. But more about the bookstore in another post…I promise.
Anyway, poor Harley was in the car while we browsed and by the time we came out, it was snowing harder. Leave it to us to get lost coming home as well.
As we sat in the living room watching the snow fall and accumulate, all of the sudden I watched as a 15 – 20 foot pine tree fell across our yard, on top of our little Colorado spruce. Poor little guy. Susan and I sawed off a few branches later to make sure he was unscathed.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, as we sat we heard CRACK!!!!! and watched and listened as branches fell. The next morning we saw what we had lost…not too bad, considering the weight of the snow bowed many of our tree branches and shrubs.
But we did learn one thing, folks. If a Tree Falls in the Forest, it does make a sound, regardless of who’s there to hear it.
Hope you all weren’t affected by this past weekend’s snow storm.
P.S. Off to bake a blueberry bundt cake. We’ll see how that comes out.
Read Full Post »