Friday, November 14, 2008

Meanderings: Feeling Bookish

It was a documentary that started it off. Yesterday, attempting some culinary concoction involving heavy cream and sherry, I caught the word Krakatoa coming from the television in the other room. Immediately, the thought of a book I've been meaning to read came to mind- Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27 1883. The last volcanic eruption-themed book I read was in installments in the The National Enquirer way back when.

The Enquirer of my youth was a black and white publication, more given to headlines like the one I spotted on the way down the steps to the candy store next to Sam's on Court Street, the name of which eludes me. It was on the back cover which someone had left exposed: "Woman Bites Off Son's Tongue." Apparently, Momma was enraged when Junior informed his father of her infidelity and took out her displeasure by biting off a huge chunk of the offending organ. How that haunted me! That single action- because in my youthful niaivete I believed it- threw into doubt my hitherto unwavering belief in the goodness of mothers. Could my loving but tempermental mother turn on me one day and strike out in the same fashion? Perhaps I was primed to worry by the couple who were my sometime babysitters. They seemed to joy in remarking that my "tongue was long," another way of denoting that I had a habit of saying unfortunate things, usually followed by the threat of having the same reduced to ground beef. I always found these interactions distasteful. Thankfully, my parents were not given to such lingual observations.

So the Enquirer of yesteryear was more of a Ripley's of print. At one point, they ran a serialization of a book on the eruption of Mt. Pelée on the island of Martinque in 1902. It was really fascinating. Ever since, I've been hooked on natural disasters. For a while there, we had a good run. Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm was followed by Eric Larson's Isaac's Storm about the Galveston hurricane and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air which detailed the deadly storm on Mt. Everest. Later there was Hemingway's Hurricane by Phil Scott based on the deadly storm which hit the Florida Keys in 1935.

Since then, it's been slim pickings, although I do have to point out Candice Millard's River of Doubt which follows the journey of an expedition, including ex President Theodore Roosevelt, to map the unknown reaches of an Amazon river.

At that point in my mental meanderings, the sauce thickened, so I missed the documentary. They will inevitably rerun it. It's cable, after all.

Some titles newly on or soon to hit the shelves-
Coming in December is Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta. No info as to plot at this juncture.
On November 25, we have the 20th Dirk Pitt adventure from Clive Cussler, along with someone suspiciously named Dirk Cussler, Arctic Drift. His son, I believe.
The Camel Club returns in Divine Justice by David Baldacci which hit the shelves recently.
Dean Koontz rounds out the offerings on November 25 with Your Heart Belongs to Me. The plot reminds me of another novel, just can't remember. They made a movie of it with Clint Eastwood.
Forgot, Michael Connelly's Brass Verdict which is just out. Amazingly the 14th in the Harry Bosch series. I once used the 2 minutes I got to speak to Connelly to ask him how to pronounce Harry's first name. Unfortunately, the fog of voices and Merlot left me no more knowledgeable. I know he answered; I just can't remember what. Go figure. Boy, do I miss the reading festival.

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