Friday, February 21, 2014

winter reading


Looking for answers I am reading Winter Worldby Bernard Heinrich. I've not discovered the secret of deer winter watering holes, but I did find out why ice doesn't sink:

There is something quite remarkable, simple, and yet profoundly important that happens when water turns to ice in a pond. Compare this with what happens when water turns to ice in a cloud. In a cloud, the ice crystals fall because water and ice are heavier than air and the gas phase of water. However water becomes lighter when it transforms from a liquid to a solid state.

Is that something I should have known?

 I just finished rereading The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. Oh, that man can write.

Sometimes when she is able to spend the night with him they are wakened by the three minarets of the city beginning their prayers before dawn. He walks with her through the indigo markets that lie between South Cairo and her home. The beautiful songs of faith enter the air like arrows, one minaret answering another, as if passing on a rumor of the two of them as they walk through the cold morning air, the smell of charcoal and hemp already making the air profound. 

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Read him slowly, dear girl, you must read Kipling slowly. Watch carefully where the commas fall so you can discover the natural pauses. He is a writer who used pen and ink. He looked up from the page a lot, I believe, stared through his window and listened to birds, as most writers who are alone do. Some do not know the names of birds, though he did. Your eye is too quick and North American. Think about the speed of his pen. What an appalling, barnacled old first paragraph it is otherwise.

I keep thinking about the phrase "appalling, barnacled old first paragraph". The brilliant use of the word barnacled. I've read most of Ondaatje's books, but not In the Skin of a Lion. That's next.





27 comments:

  1. Well, I didn't know that about ice anyway. :)
    I've never read Ondaatje and so am going to add him to my list. I don't really have a list but when I hear of good books on blogs now I just put a hold on it at the library. Kind of like a list.

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    1. Oh good--read The English Patient first.

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  2. I found this very interesting to learn when I was a kid. if ice was heavier than water, lakes would freeze from the bottom up rather than from the top down and nothing would be able to survive. now I'm not a religious person, but this does make you wonder. it's the only substance that behaves like that. fascinating, no?

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  3. The English Patient - a wonderful book, and a wonderful film, with some truly memorable scenes (the rope harness in the booby-trapped library!). What a writer.....

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    1. He is amazing. The characters from that book are unforgettable.

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  4. Oh...I love The English Patient. I think you and I have very similar tastes in authors, in a lot of things really.

    I didn't know that about water and ice either. Isn't that something we should have known before now. hhmmm. But I majored in English and took very few science classes. :)

    Happy Weekend!!

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    1. I think we need a way to share out favorite books in our little blog community.

      I think I only took one science class in college, and that was botany.

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  5. I loved The English Patient - and thought the movie was wonderful, too.

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    1. I agree-it was one of the few movie/book combos that didn't disappoint.

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  6. Hello Jen;
    How simply wonderful to be spending time reading, something which winter somehow allows for but which summer takes one away from - or so it is with us.
    There is so much to read, and never enough hours, but we should recommend, should you come across it, a novel we much enjoyed: ' A Venetian Theory of Heaven' by William Riviére. We think that it may be your kind of thing.
    Have a lovely, restful weekend.

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    1. You're back! I hope you've been waltzing around Europe, having a grand time. I will look for that book--I love getting recommendations.

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    1. Thank you. I've gotten two cats since we last met.

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  8. Hello Jen,
    I have not read the book The English Patient. I have the film. I thought it such a fantastic film.
    I must look at some Ondaanje books.. never read any.
    wishing you a happy weekend Jen..
    Thank you for your kind comments on my blog..
    val

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    1. Val, I don't know your taste in books, but think you would be interested in the worlds he writes about. He lived in Ceylon as a child, and returned (now Sri Lanka) as an an adult to learn more about his family history; then wrote a memoir about it--Running in the Family.

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  9. Well yes I saw the movie... several times. As to ice I'm sick of it knocking down trees on the power line here. It's ok with scotch and soda though....;)

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    1. I like the way you think, troutbirder!

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  10. Jen... your recommendations always make me want to rush to the library! I reread Rosamund Pilcher's The Shell Seekers and Anne Tyler's The Ladder of Years, but have not found anything else I wanted to jump into. Guess I needed a dose of complicated family relationships! Not sure if I knew about the ice, but then when we put it in sweet tea, it floats! ;-) Susan

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    1. I wish I was in Charleston now, drinking sweet tea...

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  11. I didn't know that about ice either. Come to think of it I've never thought about why ice doesn't sink, it's always been one of those things that is a given. Thanks for the education. I LOVE The English Patient. It's probably the only book I've read after seeing the movie, I thought it was brilliant and so poetic. He's a beautiful writer.

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    1. This was my second time reading and I enjoyed it as much as the first time.

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  12. I should've wondered why ice floats on the water^ ^; This reminds me of the poetry by Kaneko Misuzu (1903-1930), a writer of poetry for children some whose verses are translated by D.P Dutcher titled Something Nice;

    It's weird how
    Shiny silver raindrops fall from black clouds
    It's weird how
    Silkworms turn white when they eat green mulberry
    It's weird how
    Moonflowers open at dusk without a poke from anyone
    It's weird how
    People I ask laugh and say "Nothing starnge in that"

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    1. I love that poem--it really captures the wonders of nature. Thanks so much for sharing it.

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  13. Jen,
    Have you read The City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt? i found it spectacularly readable; non-fiction that flows & reads as smoothly as a tablet made of silk. How's Jane doing, any word? Thanks.
    Diane in Denver

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    1. Also, I have been enjoying your ice photos immensely; well-done! And intriguing to the eye.
      Diane

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  14. the english patient is a favourite of mine. it's been a while since i read something wonderful.

    what a glorious use of barnacled

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Your comments make me happy. Thanks for taking the time.