Perceiving the Personal in the Pages We Peruse

There are many reasons to love literature, and one of them is seeing things familiar to a reader’s specific life.

Of course, that can mean spotting recognizable emotions, character types, etc., but for the purposes of this blog post I’m mostly talking about other content — as you’ll see. I should add that when authors are accurate or not accurate in mentioning things we’ve experienced firsthand, we obviously know it!

Anyway, I’ll give some examples that are personal to me, and then ask for some that are personal to you.

For instance, I read Sue Grafton’s B is for Burglar this week, and, early in that excellent novel, California-based private investigator Kinsey Millhone flies to Florida and drives a rental car north to Boca Raton to look into the disappearance of a woman. I immediately thought of flying to Florida last April and driving a rental car north to Boca Raton to start a weekend celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday.

Speaking of travel, the mentions of New York City subway rides in James Baldwin’s compelling Go Tell It On the Mountain reminded me of the countless NYC subway rides I’ve taken myself.

Edith Wharton, an author often associated with NYC, wrote some terrific ghost stories. When I read a collection of them last year I was thrilled to see that “The Looking Glass” tale was set in my town of Montclair — the same New Jersey setting for Susan Moore Jordan’s absorbing novel Jamie’s Children, which I also read in 2016.

Then there’s Junot Diaz’s memorable The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which includes scenes at my Rutgers University alma mater in New Brunswick, N.J.

And Audrey Niffenegger’s haunting The Time Traveler’s Wife visits several of the Chicago places I saw during my time as a student at Evanston, Ill.-based Northwestern University. Niffenegger even mentions punk clubs, which made me think of the Clash concert I saw way back when — though that was in NYC rather than The Windy City.

Many of us had “interesting” roommates during and after college, and the different-household pairings of Marian and Ainsley, and Duncan and Fischer, in Margaret Atwood’s quirky debut novel The Edible Woman reminded me of my own dorm and apartment experiences as a young adult.

Moving this blog post out of the U.S. for a minute, I saw the great statue of painter Paul Cézanne during a 2007 visit to Aix-en-Provence, where my French professor wife was presenting a paper at an Emile Zola Society conference. Not long after that trip, I read Zola’s dramatic The Masterpiece starring an artist partly based on Cézanne, and immediately thought of that statue. (Zola’s not-so-positive portrayal of fictional painter Claude Lantier apparently ended the author’s lifelong friendship with Cézanne.)

During that same trip to France, we visited the Chateau d’If island prison off Marseille that figured so prominently in The Count of Monte Cristo. That stony jail was in my mind’s eye when I soon reread Alexandre Dumas’ rousing revenge novel.

And if I ever reread Sinclair Lewis’ eye-opening novel It Can’t Happen Here, I’ll think about miserably getting through Jan. 20, 2017 — the day when a man with fascist tendencies became president of the United States in real life. But those huge, fantastic anti-Trump marches the next day — wow!  🙂

Which novels have contained things personally recognizable to you, and what were those things?

(I wrote a “Recognizing Ourselves in Literature” post in 2012, but today’s new piece takes a somewhat different angle and mentions different books.)

The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone.

My new book Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia will be published soon.

But I’m still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

97 thoughts on “Perceiving the Personal in the Pages We Peruse

  1. Dave, just a final comment about DJT. I was perusing the headlines on HP today and saw one that noted it was a blog about Trump not getting enough sleep. Why did I not immediately know who wrote this “insightful” column? Apparently AH thinks if only Trump gets a good night’s sleep maybe he wouldn’t be doing such crazy things. I wish that it was as simple as this…does she really think all would be somehow better for the country if he charged his phone in a different room? Good grief, how simplistic can one get, but then I have to remember the source of one word solutions for us all: “Thrive,” “Meditation” and “Sleep”! I can’t wait to hear what’s next! 🙂

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    • VERY well said, Kat Lib! I totally agree. While I haven’t read the piece you referenced, arguing that lack of sleep is a major reason for why Trump acts the way he does is just silly (and self-serving on AH’s part given the stuff she’s trying to pitch and promote). While lack of sleep might add a percentage point to Trump’s craziness/nastiness quotient, the guy could get 20 hours of sleep a day and still be a complete *!@#*&^#…

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  2. Dave ” Life of Pi” a fantasy Novel by Yann Martel is a beautiful book later was a blockbuster movie by the same name.
    The spiritual journey started by Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel at a very young age. His father owns a zoo in Pondicherry. Pi is raised as a Hindu who practices vegetarianism. At the age of fourteen, he participated to know Christianity and Islam.

    The history of the city of Pondicherry is recorded only after the arrival of Dutch, Portuguese, British and French colonialists.
    The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most important ashrams in India, founded by the renowned Freedom Fighter and spiritual philosopher.
    It is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.
    I have visited the Ashram decades ago , so many people renounce all their possession and have taken refuge there to participate in their scheduled daily activities.

    There was no mention of the Ashram in the book and Pi being spiritual never visited the place.

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  3. Howdy, Dave!

    — Which novels have contained things personally recognizable to you, and what were those things? —

    Aspects of the architectural landscape of Caleb Carr’s “The Angel of Darkness” — the second of his three novels associated with the criminal-profiling psychologist Laszlo Kreizler (with the others being “The Alienist” and “Surrender, New York”) — are easy to visualize, as much of the action centers on an area of Manhattan between Madison and Washington squares familiar to me for multiple reasons, among them my long-ago employment at a certain magazine with which you yourself are well acquainted: The Flatiron Building merits a mention on the book’s first page, the Metropolitan Life Tower in its first chapter and 808 Broadway immediately thereafter. Depending on my chosen route, a walk to work could have had me glancing eastward and westward, uptown and downtown, as if seeking to catch a glimpse of Gotham’s equivalent of the Baker Street Irregulars helping Kreizler & Co. to crack their case. Vivid!

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    P.S.: Meanwhile, I cannot visit or even walk by the Morgan Library & Museum on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan without E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime” popping into my head. Most painful, as it is quite a substantial volume, with sharp edges!

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    • Thanks, J.J.! It’s great when various New York City-set novels, including “The Angel of Darkness,” evoke NYC sights we’ve seen with our own eyes. Nicely evocative comment yourself. And I do remember a certain magazine with an ampersand in the middle of its name… 🙂

      Some of my favorite NYC-centric or part-NYC-centric novels — whether set in the past or present — include Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” Henry James’ “Washington Square,” Jack Finney’s “Time and Again,” Pete Hamill’s “Forever,” and Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” among others.

      Ha! Your “Ragtime” quip…

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      • Whenever I’m walking around Washington Square, my thoughts are taken up, about equally, by James’ novella, and by the fact that Edward Hopper lived in a building facing the Square. I seem to remember also a filmclip of a young Ed Koch strumming a folk guitar with enthusiasm on one of the benches that border the center green.

        Most of the time, it’s not fiction that comes to mind hereabouts, but history. From Washington Square it’s a short walk to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory building, and a little farther, in the opposite direction, to Charlton Street where in the mid-19th century, a gang of river pirates (!) awaited the waterborne. The White Horse Tavern is not far either, where one night Dylan Thomas outdrank his mortality.

        I used to walk by Owney Madden’s (gangster who owned the Cotton Club) apartment building every day on my way to work. Heck, on my own block, at the corner with Broadway, Damon Runyon used to meet people in the bar there, though by that point after a pickled early manhood, he eschewed what most people bought inside.

        Then there’s personal history– having lived here for over 35 years, there are days when I feel as if I’m walking among ghosts– of people, businesses, buildings that have gone into the dustbin of history before me. Pitcairn Island isn’t the only place that works that way.

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        • jhNY, loved your descriptive comment! Yes, so much personal history and history history in NYC (I lived there about 15 years myself, and worked there 25 years). I think famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady had a studio on 10th or 11th streets, and Mark Twain spent a few late-in-life years in NYC before moving to his final home in Connecticut. And Willa Cather lived in the Village for a number of years before her apartment was demolished because of subway-line construction.

          I’m a huge fan of Edward Hopper’s paintings, as are many other people. And I guess the young Ed Koch was a little more counterculture or something before his conservative-leaning mayoral years.

          I was in Washington Square Park a couple of months ago. Definitely fancied up to a certain extent as NYC relentlessly gentrifies.

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          • “I was in Washington Square Park a couple of months ago. Definitely fancied up to a certain extent as NYC relentlessly gentrifies.”

            The arch there, featuring the Father of Our Country, was lovely enough in the distance, but upon close inspection, his face was creased and crumbling in a most unlovely way. Have a feeling it too has been gussied up since last I had a gander.

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  4. First thing that came to mind was a movie, not a novel, but it certainly is an instance of perceiving the personal.

    After a few years toiling in musical obscurity, I began to work with a fellow songwriter, who, unlike myself, was effortlessly able at self-promotion, and soon, on the basis of a demo we made in my apartment over a couple of days, we were rewarded: a record deal, from a major label! Sure it was for a single, not an album, but we were sure it would be the launch of a career in music, which was all we wanted. We hired a lawyer, got a contract, got the lawyer to renegotiate the contract to a slightly higher production budget, and then, we waited. And we waited. Phone calls went unreturned; then we learned that our chief enthusiast at the label had been fired. A week later, we got a letter rescinding the contract offer. It came on a Saturday, and after a bit of mutual consolation over late breakfast, we decided to go to a new movie playing down the street: Spinal Tap.

    At first, I was laughing along with everybody else, as was my songwriting partner. But as the momentum of ridiculousness increased, and more and more incidents of destructive egotism unreeled, I began to feel awful, and worse, depicted. Airhead guitarists whose precious guitars no one could touch? Yep. I’d known a few. Girlfriends whose unhelpful meddling and imperious whims destroyed a band? Been there, as a band member, not as a boyfriend, but I’d been there. Sleazy transparently dishonest managers and label reps? Met them and hoped to be abused by them, only to have my hopes realized ten-fold. Playing rock and roll before a hostile uncomprehending bunch of soldiers on base? Did it. Once was enough. Never had an exploding drummer though, so there’s that. Of course, I did have one melt down at a rock festival after ingestion of LSD, which amounted to more or less the same thing, as he was never quite the same, but still….

    By the time the girlfriend was plotting the Spinal Tap tour on the basis of astrology, I could take no more, funny though I knew it was, or would be, later. A few years later. I could not endure seeing so much of me and my ambitions reduced to laughs the day I lost my record deal.

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    • So sorry, jhNY. It’s dismaying how a trick of fate (your chief enthusiast at the record label being fired) can have such a negative impact on one’s hopes. And I could see how a movie about the music biz — whether satirizing it or not — would be ultra-painful to watch.

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      • Tricks of fate, even some good tricks of that variety, played themselves on me and mine over the years I pursued a recording career. Pretty sure I know, thanks to Bill the Bard, where they came from. Hint: not the stars.

        Despite how I put it above, I had other deals on other days, before and after. But only once did I go from the end of one into a movie house…

        Had I quit then and there, I might have made another sort of career for myself– but the fascination in me for music was strong, and I spent another 20 years in and around the business. Even now, nothing moves me more than music– books, films, real life included.

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    • Sometimes I have a burning desire to ask if you’re famous, jhNY 🙂 Your posts are intriguing.
      Ozzy Osbourne once said he was the only audience member not laughing when he first saw “Spinal Tap” because he thought he was watching a documentary. I never knew if that was because the movie accurately reflected what it’s like to be in a band, or if Ozzy was tripping. From your description, definitely the former, and from what we know about Ozzy … 🙂
      I can’t imagine life without music. I have a running soundtrack in my head for most of my entire life. Thousands of songs. Just a few chords from any one of them can unexpectedly evoke a memory or an emotion.

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      • I am not famous. But I have spent time close at hand to some famous folks. It occurred to me a while ago that I have been occasionally sort of like Woody Allen’s Zelig, only cropped out of the picture altogether.

        That soundtrack runs in me too, and has always, so far as I can determine. I used to have, before electric versions were common, a real problem trying to sleep with an alarm clock in my room. The ticking would act like a metronome and for hours I would lie awake as melodies, some from the past and many generated seemingly out of the air, played through my mind in the dark.

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        • Thank you for clearing that up for me, jhNY 🙂 I haven’t seen “Zelig” but now I’m curious. Amazon isn’t streaming it at the moment, but hopefully they will at some point. As for the alarm clock/metronome — that was quite a visual description. There are definitely worse ways to have insomnia than “melodies, some from the past and many generated seemingly out of the air…”

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          • “There are definitely worse ways to have insomnia than “melodies, some from the past and many generated seemingly out of the air…”

            Yes indeed. Nowadays, it’s mostly what threatens to drive you screaming into the benighted cornfields that keeps me awake.

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  5. Dave, I came up with another geographical place that has a very deep connection to me. There’s a mystery writer named William Kent Krueger, who lives in St. Paul but has his sheriff turned PI living in a northeastern Minnesota county. Cork O’Connor is half-Irish and part-Ojibwe, a populous Native American tribe in both Canada and Northern US. When my grandparents emigrated to the US from Sweden, they ended up in northeastern Minnesota. I noticed when I visited my father’s birthplace in Sweden how similar it was to where they settled. My parents grew up as neighbors in the small town of Mountain Iron, which is located in the Mesabi Iron Range, not far actually from where Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan, grew up. He wrote a song about it “North Country Blues” and Springsteen mentioned it in his song ”Youngstown.”

    After years away, my parents and I moved to Minneapolis in the mid-sixties, and we visited northern Minnesota quite often, especially to Lake Vermilion. I bought Krueger’s book “Vermilion Drift,” and enjoyed it very much, even though it didn’t specifically mention the lake we loved so much. I think I only read one or two other books by him, but now I want to read them all as I’m feeling nostalgic. He incorporates a lot about the Ojibwe culture into his novels, which is fascinating.

    When my mother died almost 15 years ago, we had her ashes added to my father’s, and per his instructions, my siblings and I stayed at a resort on Lake Vermilion and rented a pontoon boat to find a secluded cove to put their ashes together, the place where they honeymooned many years ago. My sister read a lovely poem, I put the ashes into the water, my sister-in-law threw two white roses into the water, and a Bald Eagle flew over as we did this. It was so special to all of us.

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    • Such an interesting, moving comment, Kat Lib. It does sound like Minnesota had/has an enormous nostalgic pull for you and your family, and I’m glad William Kent Krueger evoked some of that for you.

      The Lake Vermilion scene you poignantly described in your last paragraph…special indeed.

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      • Thanks, Dave. The thread below about DJT, Kellyanne Conway and the Women’s March was getting so long, so I’ll insert my comment here. Just since those comments were posted, Trump has in the past two days written Executive Orders that will take funding away from safe and easy access to abortion for women world-wide, declared his Inaugural day as a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” and OK’d the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, among other things. Now I’ve just read that Congress is targeting abortion rights, in addition to the already stated goal of gutting the ACA. I’m unable to march or stand at protest events, so I just yesterday ordered a T-shirt that says, “I’m with the Resistance! Defeat Trump’s Agenda” offered by the Progressive committee that supports Elizabeth Warren. It’s not much, but the very least I can do, except signing petitions and sending emails/calling my representatives.

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        • Several mistakes as usual, Dave. My English teachers and professors would be appalled. Can you please fix the quotation mark to be around “I’m with…” and insert “emails” after “sending” in the last paragraph. Thanks! 🙂

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        • So depressing, Kat Lib, that Trump didn’t waste any time in implementing his far-right agenda and other Republicans’ far-right agenda. And the majority of this country doesn’t want any of it.

          We all fight Trump and his actions in ways that we can. In my case, that includes slamming Trump in my weekly newspaper column. Signing petitions and calling representatives helps! Many GOP representatives ignore all but their most conservative constituents, but I think even those reps can sense when the public overwhelmingly turns against them.

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          • Dave, I don’t watch much TV these days, perhaps only some news, clips from comedy shows from the night before on my laptop, and Jeopardy, but no dramas, sitcoms or reality shows. However, I’d like to say how much I loved Mary Tyler Moore (who died yesterday), on both The Dick Van Dyke Show and her own sitcom. The latter especially, because she portrayed a single working woman living alone, and it took place in Minneapolis, which was my home from the mid-60’s to sometime in the early 70’s. There weren’t many location shots, except in the opening montage, which changed once or twice throughout the run of the show, but my favorite one was her walking around Lake Calhoun.

            There were three large lakes within the city limits: Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, and Lake Harriet. The last one was where my folks and I lived for 6 or 7 years. We lived 1/2 block away from that lovely lake, which we could see from our living room window. It was about 3 miles around with a great walking/biking path. There were a few times a group of us would bike around all three lakes in an evening. One of my friends had a small sailboat, there were two beaches, and then on summer nights, there were concerts in the bandshell, along with a refreshment stand.

            I loved that city so much, but I couldn’t take the cold and snow after college. Be that as it may, I’ll always be thankful for MTM as a role model for me and many other young single working women, and the joy of her twirling around and throwing her hat in the air!!

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            • So sad to hear about Mary Tyler Moore’s death. I loved her 1970-1977 show. (Saw a bit of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” when very young, but was not a regular watcher.)

              Her show’s Minneapolis locale — though it wasn’t shown often — indeed must have been evocative for you, Kat Lib. Plus you were living there for part of the show’s run! Sounds like a great, beautiful place to live, other than the cold. I visited Minneapolis just once, in 2000, when I was covering an editorial cartoonists’ conference there.

              I agree — Mary Tyler Moore was definitely a role model, on TV and in real life.

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              • The theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show was written by a Cricket! Sonny Curtis took over the lead vocals for Buddy Holly’s band after the plane crash, having recorded with the man a bit earlier.

                His other famous song? I Fought the Law, first made a hit by the Bobby Fuller Four, later recorded by John Cougar Mellencamp and The Clash.

                Funny to think the same guy wrote both tunes…

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            • Kat Lib, from time to time you share memories of your life and describe various experiences; I just want to tell you how much I enjoy reading those posts 🙂

              Mary Tyler Moore was one of a kind. Her show made a very real difference in the way women were/are viewed in the workplace. It was done with humor, intelligence, and some of the best writing and character development in a tv series to this day. The lady made a difference.

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              • Hi Pat, I’m sorry that I just saw your comment because I’ve been in a loop every time I try to post something on this blog, that is telling me that this site “is not responding,” not the only one I’ve had problems with, so I’m sure it’s my laptop or Windows 10. I’ve also been trying to respond to your comment to jhNY and music, but no luck with that either. I’m typing this into a Word document with the hope I can copy and paste it, but who knows? Anyway, thanks for enjoying my comments about my personal life and feelings about both books and music. I also enjoy reading yours as well. I think of all of you as family members — that we don’t know too much about except for our love of books, films, music and are decent human beings. Of course, none of this would be possible without our fearless leader, Dave. Thanks Dave!

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  6. Although a film. “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” comes to mind as takes place on a Long Island Rail Road train from Rockville Centre Long Island to Montauk. I took the Rockville Centre line for most of the 10 years I commuted into the city. The film which I think came out in 2004 was watched on a VCR and the tape got stuck in it so I did not fully complete watching it! Will look into the DVD at some point. Charlie Kaufman film’s are all over the place, present, future, past, takes time to digest.

    I did watch a stop animation film he made called “Anomalisa.” It was strange, very adult, very much spoke to being lonely. All the characters looked alike. However, I thought it was a thought provoking, creative film and leaves one thinking.

    On your other very important mention, the Women’s March. It was glorious, empowering. I took part last Saturday in NYC. Started at UN to Chump Tower, ended near his “pied a terre” 55th and 5th. He will be back soon, don’t fret, to sleep in his big boy bed.

    I will say to participate in such a sea of humanity of all ages, colors, creeds was really magical, I would say in my adult life was one of the most exhilarating experiences as 400k like minded people came together in peaceful protest against a man who, in my opinion, is very dangerous.

    I am thankful to live in a democracy of freedom to be able to gather in unison, in solidarity. I was so moved by the outpouring all over the United States and the globe. Even marchers in Antarctica!

    I will leave my post on a lighter note: one of the myriad of signs said: Cervix Said: Stay out of my womb!

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    • Thanks, Michele! Recognizing something in a movie can be especially memorable given that we’re literally seeing that thing, place, etc.

      The NYC women’s march was definitely huge, wonderful, and — as you noted — diverse. So heartening, and great that you were part of it.

      “Chump Tower” — love it! Yes, Trump will be back to NYC often — snarling up traffic, costing taxpayers tons of money for security, and “gracing” us with his graceless presence.

      Very eloquent description by you of the opposition to the awful Trump. Thank you.

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  7. Seems as if any author would want to write things that readers can relate to, or else they won’t have readers very long. Books are a way to visit places you have never seen by seeing through the eyes of characters. I don’t necessarily relate in a geographical or physical way most of the time but through feelings, emotions, and imagination.

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    • Very true, Sheila, and well said! Yes, even if we haven’t personally experienced tangible things (such as a place) in a novel, good authors will have us recognizing all kinds of intangible things. Thank you for commenting!

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  8. Mr. Astor I am just beginning to write my poetry on a blog and would invite your feedback. My post are about life and love and death and drugs and the here after. Some are deep (to me) and others are frivolous, but I just want to get them out and maybe help someone through the trials of life. Don’t want to get into politics and such but appreciate you liking my “Redeemed” post.

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  9. Dave,

    What a compliment to have my novel “Jamie’s Children” mentioned in a paragraph about Edith Wharton’s masterful books! Thank you. Here’s a mystery I had to unravel: I recalled a book I read, “The Singing Sisters” about the female poets Alice and Phoebe Cary. It took place in Cincinnati, where I went to college and lived for some thirteen years. Apparently now out of print, it was published in 1941 and is considered “juvenile fiction” which I suppose is the same as today’s YA fiction. I had a good time setting a few scenes in “Jamie’s Children” in the Pocono Mountains, where I now make my home, and in particular one scene in the iconic Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap. As always, I enjoyed this column.

    Sue Jordan

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    • You’re welcome, Susan! And very true that “Jamie’s Children” had some scenes outside of Montclair, NJ — with one of the places being Colorado, if I recall correctly.

      An excellent novel with Cincinnati as a major setting is Darryl Brock’s time-travel/baseball novel “If I Never Get Back.”

      Interesting that YA fiction used to be called “juvenile fiction.” I like YA better. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

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  10. Hi Dave, I know I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoyed Lisa Scottoline’s legal thrillers, because they are set in Philly and surrounding suburbs. There is even one that mostly has to do with my new hometown of Kennett Square and the mushroom farms. This is of course “the mushroom capital of the world”! There are days, when the wind is blowing a certain way, that one can smell them in the air, and we also have a “Mushroom Drop” on NY Eve. This has also been mentioned as a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, which makes me feel very proud. I think I mentioned last week about being in London and how it was the one city that I’d read so many books about that actually was just how I’d pictured it. It was interesting how my two girlfriends and I were assumed to be English, or mostly Swedish (which we were) when we were in Europe in 1969, and were treated better than most young Americans at that time, rightly or wrongly.

    I’m sure I’ll come up with others, but I’d like to say how proud I am of the Women’s March yesterday, including three of my oldest girlfriends. I think one of my favorite and funniest signs was from two friends from St. Louis, which said “We Shall Overcomb,” with a crayon drawing of DJ’s head, or should I say the very top of it. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kat Lib! I did enjoy reading Lisa Scottoline (“The Vendetta Defense”) after you recommended her, and I can imagine that enjoyment would have been even greater if I lived in or near Philadelphia like you do. And I do like mushrooms — just made them as part of a vegetable stir-fry tonight. 🙂

      I bet Trump would have opposed the Underground Railroad if he was around before the Civil War — probably as a slave-owning plantation owner who moved South from Manhattan…

      London! What a treat to visit, and any reader of English lit would recognize any number of things. Glad you got a chance to be there.

      You’re right — the women’s marches in Washington and elsewhere were absolutely inspiring!

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  11. Hi Dave … I can’t think of anything at the moment, but I’ll look for inspiration in the many comments you’ll receive. As for January 20, 2017: it really happened. Donald Trump became President of the United States. Vladimir Putin is very happy, I’m sure.

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    • Hi Pat! I look forward to another comment, if the inspiration happens.

      Yes, it’s kind of surreal to realize Trump is now actually President. Those hoping he’d be as nasty and lying as ever surely have not been disappointed. 😦 As you allude to, Putin must be thrilled. He has certainly cowed (Moscowed?) Trump.

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      • Between Sean Spicer’s blatant lies and Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” spin, I’m numb already. As I’m sure you recall, Dave, the impeachment process for Nixon was a harrowing experience for this country. Morale was so low. I’ve always hoped this nation would never have to experience that again. Until now, that is. Now I find myself hoping the President of the United States gets impeached — but then I think, “No! That would be terrible for this country.” But HE’S terrible for this country. I need cheesecake.

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        • I hear you, Pat. The blatant lying, time and time again. And much of the mainstream media still uses euphemisms for the lying, such as “at odds with the facts.” Much of that media really needs to get a spine.

          I remember living through the Nixon impeachment process in college. At least back then there was a somewhat moderate Republican (Gerald Ford) as vice president to be the presidential successor. Now, a successful impeachment of Trump would mean Mike Pence. I’d actually rather have the disgusting Trump, because his vileness is there for all to see while Pence puts a nicer veneer on his disgusting views.

          LOL — cheesecake sounds good! 🙂

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          • Dave I disagree…Pence is amoral and dumb it will not be hard to beat Pence after four years. But if DT is allowed to continue the same people might again vote for this vindictive man.

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              • Because he’s perceived by so many as “telling it like it is”. One of my favorite political cartoons shows a billboard with a wolf, and he’s saying “I’m going to eat you.” The billboard stands in a field of sheep,and one of the sheep says, “He tells it like it is.” (I’ll have to locate the name of the cartoonist so I can give proper credit).

                Liked by 1 person

                • So true, Pat! I saw that cartoon! Yes, those fake populists who talk so crudely are credited with “telling it like it is” even though it’s almost all lies and/or bigoted stuff and/or bullying. NJ Gov. Christie was “popular” with that approach for a while; I hope Trump’s “popularity” takes a similar nosedive.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Somehow, that cartoon reminds me of another from some years back, in which a fellow arrives home to see a pile of smouldering ashes where he used to live. A fireman tells him: ‘We tried fighting fire with fire, but your house burned even faster.”

                    Liked by 2 people

                    • Life imitates art department:

                      In the Guardian, this very day:

                      Donald Trump ‘has used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.”’

                      And our house will burn even faster.

                      I guess I could find David Byrnes of Talking Heads singing something appropriately titled, but I guess the rugged sentimentalist in me prefers the old daze:

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, torture by the “beacon of democracy” United States absolutely works…in brutalizing the victims, setting an example for other countries to do the same, in making people in other countries hate the U.S. even more, etc. 😦 Ugh.

                      Like

          • I disagree also. Trump is a political phenomenon, impervious to all that would have destroyed the chances for victory for any ordinary candidate. He won without spending money, without a ground game, without many allies in his own party. It should not have been possible, yet now we have President Trump.
            Pence, on the other hand, is a fairly standard issue right wing pol, with all the menacing charisma of a vice squad officer lecturing a high school class. He does not inspire adulation, and so, could not get away with half of what Trump will do in the next six weeks– even if he had four years to do it.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Pat D, I was watcher Conway `s spinning in different morning shows yesterday , she was screechy loud, argumentative and would not stop to answer any questions. This just the beginning and four years of lies and more lies.

          Liked by 2 people

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