Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Week in Reading July 27 - August 2

More well known author names show up on the list this week. We start with the French in the nineteenth century with the other Alexandre Dumas. This one has the 'fils' after his name meaning he's the son of Alexandre Dumas, pere, the adventure novelist. In that same century Alexis de Tocqueville made quite a name when he visited the United States and explained Americans to others (and to later Americans.) The French born Hillaire Belloc became one of the best known English writers of the first half of the twentieth century.

Then there are three of the most well known U.K women who ever wrote, Emily Bronte, Beatrix Potter, and J. K. Rowling. Other British writers of note are novelist Malcolm Lowry and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Topping off the world tour are Italian scientist / story writer extraordinaire Primo Levi and the exquisite Chilean-American novelist Isabel Allende.

Here in America we have no less to celebrate than Herman Mellville of Moby Dick fame, James Baldwin, and a couple of extremely well selling authors whose names would mean little to those under sixty. Booth Tarkington wrote the Penrod series, which among his many other novels, got young people into libraries last century the way Stephanie Meyer does today. And Don Marquis' sketches of life as the cockroach named Archy (entertaining his alley cat friend Mehitabel), jumped around the typewriter keys of the absent newspaper columnist were not to be missed in their day.

This Week's Question: What California city is named after an author born this week?

Answer to Last Week's Question: No other author, probably, bragged as much as Ernest Hemingway. To some, he deserved to. To others, such braggadocio showed the sportswriter level of his craft which he never fully got past. In either case, his effect on novel writing in the twentieth century was indisputable and, for good or ill, many began to write as one spoke rather than as one reflected. (The picture at right was taken by this librarian and shows Hemingway's writing room at his Key West home.)

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