Bits and Bobs (the progress edition)

Not resting on my laurels
My friend Roz and I are in a competition to see which of us can read a 100 books first. Earlier in the year she had expressed a desire to read at least a hundred books in 2013. Knowing what a competitive person she is, I thought a little rivalry was all she needed to achieve her goal. Last time we checked-in with each other she was at 36 books and I was at 41. I think both of these totals are pretty impressive with only four months of the year gone. But all Roz could see was that she wasn’t in the lead. I think she is a little hard on herself. She will clearly meet her goal for the year and she is a much, much busier person than I am. If she isn’t running half marathons she is running all over DC doing more things in a year than I have done in a decade.

So the other day when I was at the fantastic Politics and Prose not far from my house I spotted the enormous Vikram Seth novel A Suitable Boy. I have always been curious about this book. I even think Roz mentioned that she was thinking of reading. And it was just one of those moments when one knows the time is right. Plus I thought with 41 (now 42) books completed for the year already I certainly had the breathing room and it might give Roz the chance to keeping running half marathons and to take the lead in our reading competition.

Like I did with War and Peace, I have decided to keep a counter of my progress. Unlike War and Peace, A Suitable Boy is several degrees more enjoyable to read and I find the Indian names easier to follow than Russian ones.

Spring has sprung like crazy
After some weird, freakishly warm weather in early April, temperatures here in DC have settled into a very nice, coolish, largely, sunny spring. The early warmth seems to have really encouraged everything to grow and bloom at once. This is in crazy contrast to the snow that continues to dog the midwest.

And speaking of weather
The film adaptation of Julia Strachey’s Cheerful Weather for the Wedding arrived from Netflix on Friday. I found it thoroughly enjoyable. I think the fact that I had read the book a few years ago helped put me in the right frame of mind for watching it. I wonder what I would have thought if I hadn’t known what to expect. Although it had been a while since I read the book, I was pretty sure that liberties had been taken. Nothing jarring, just different. So when I finished the film I pulled the book off the shelf and read it in one sitting. Both book and film benefited from the reread.

The book takes place in March, the film takes place at Christmas. My guess is so that they could dress the set
to make it clear that it was a cold time of the year even if the landscape didn’t indicate so. For those of you interested in architecture, note the way they did the (what appears to be lead?) flashing above the door.
Usually, at least in DC, it would be done with a simple, but less elegant stepped pattern.

Flashback to sunnier times.

You can’t tell in this photo, but there were a couple of scenes in the film when actress Zoe Tapper looked a bit…plump.
I thought she might have been pregnant during filming. Turns out she had a child in 2011,
the film came out in 2012, so I may be correct.

The wonderful Barbara Flynn played Aunt Bella. She also played Mrs. Jamieson in Cranford.

I am annoyed that this picture loaded fine as a thumbnail on Google, but the original image refuses to load. But Kitty was my favorite character in the film, so I decided to include it anyway.

That’s Gareth from The Office on the left and the wonderful Fenella Woolgar on the right.

Barbara Pym week is less than a month a way
Barbara Pym week begins on June 1st. Have you decided how you are going to celebrate Pym’s centenary? Amanda and I will have a week’s worth of Pym related posts and links. And lots of prizes. Books, bags, teabag holders…

Have you ever had to create an index?
The history of St. Elizabeths Hospital that I have spent a year writing for my job is so close to done I can taste it. I decided that it couldn’t be worth its weight in digital 0s and 1s if it didn’t have an index. Not only does it behoove a work of non-fiction to have one, but I like the thought of putting some obscure names that I plucked out of millions of pages of archival material out into the cybersphere. Who knows who might find that useful. Maybe someone searching for their ancestors will stumble upon the fact that they were once fired from St. Es, or led a staff rebellion there, or ran the prosthetic limb shop. You just don’t know. At any rate, creating an index is kind of fun and plenty tedious.  Still, it almost done and should be online around mid-month.

Lucy’s version of TV
There is a hole in the fence between our yard and the neighbor’s yard. Sometimes Lucy gets transfixed with whatever she sees on the other side and will sit for an hour just staring.

11 thoughts on “Bits and Bobs (the progress edition)

  1. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 4, 2013 / 11:08 am

    I have been toying with the idea that I would like to try tackling A Suitable Boy again (I tried about 4 years ago, but then I hit about the 200 page mark and there was a large swath that got bogged down in the intricacies of Indian politics and I totally tuned out and lost steam), but of course there is no ebook version available. And there is no way I'm carrying that sucker around with me… budget airlines here in Asia have super strict carry-on allowances and I am sure that that chunkster alone would take up my entire allotment! ;)


  2. Susan in TX May 4, 2013 / 12:23 pm

    I'm not familiar with A Suitable Boy, so I will be eager to see your progress reports and hear your assessment. Love Lucy! Those ears!

    I went perusing around the internet to pick a Barbara Pym (no shame, the mention of “prizes” prompted me to go) and found that several of her titles were reissued in Virago Modern Press editions with fun-looking covers. Of course, since I'm not familiar with her work, I don't know if they capture the spirit of the books, or if they were considered bad form – and before I invest, I'd love to hear from the Pym fans that have seen them. (Some are out of print, but easily found in the used marketplace.) Any thoughts on those? This is my book nerd coming out in me…don't want to love the book and end up with a cover I hate in case I start collecting and will feel the need to have them matching…..any other OCD sufferers out there? Book Depository is where I saw them.


  3. mary May 4, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    I'm not sure what happened to Cheerful Wedding over here. Did it ever come out or has it disappeared without trace? I remember seeing a trailer ages ago but it had that straight to DVD feel. I'd never have guessed Gareth from the Office, though – almost makes me want to see it!


  4. Thomas at My Porch May 4, 2013 / 4:27 pm

    Steph: I think I may have just gotten through the part that stopped you from continuing A Suitable Boy. I'm too interested to see what happens to Lata to not finish the book.

    Susan: I don't think the the new covers are even remotely Pymsian. I've gotten over my annoyance of them because I feel like if they draw in new, younger readers that is a good thing. But I hate them. Plus, I don't know if you have noticed, but a lot of UK paperbacks in the last five to ten years are being published on really low quality pulp paper that frankly makes my teeth itch. I don't know for sure if those Pym Viragos have that kind of paper, but I suspect that they do.

    I haven't done the research on this yet, but I am not sure if there is a complete Barbara Pym by any publisher. The one that I favor is the old Duttons from the 1980s which seem to pop up the most and have the patterned covers that served as the inspiration for the Pym week banner. I think Penguin Modern Classics has a nice Excellent Women in print, which isn't a bad place to start with Pym.

    And then Open Road Media here in the US just published 4 or 5 of her books including my favorite Some Tame Gazelle. The covers kind of nod to the Dutton editions, essentially just the title with a wallpaper pattern. They don't look too bad and they are printed on very nice feeling paper.

    Mary: I am pretty sure it went straight to DVD. I was a bit worried because for a while Netflix was showing a “short wait” and the a “long wait” which is often prelude to them not carrying the disk at all. In this case thankfully, they did actually come through. I am sending it back on Monday so I don't keep the next person waiting.


  5. Kim May 4, 2013 / 4:51 pm

    First–that pic of Lucy is just darling. Wouldn't you just love to know what she is thinking.

    Second–loved the Cheerful Weather book but completely missed that it is now a movie. Just went in the queue–thanks, Thomas!


  6. Melwyk May 4, 2013 / 10:41 pm

    I'm waiting to watch Cheerful Weather when I can get hold of it, I do love Fenella Woolgar!

    Looking forward to Barbara Pym week, I've been keeping a couple unread titles aside specifically for it — and then my husband found me a copy of An Unsuitable Attachment at the latest church sale so I am all set!


  7. winstonsdad May 13, 2013 / 12:15 pm

    thanks for reminding me about Pym ,must pick one up ,also cheerful weather looks great lets hope it is as good as last persephone filmed .I read suitable boy when it came out wonderful book ,think he is wrinting a follow up of sorts which I'd like to try ,all the best stu


  8. Thomas at My Porch May 14, 2013 / 2:18 pm

    Kim: My guess is she is thinking “squirrel”. Isn't Netflix great?

    Melwyk: Fenella was good, but I feel like she deserves a bigger role.

    Stu: Maybe I will finish reading Suitable Boy by the time Seth finishes the follow up.


  9. Kristine May 14, 2013 / 8:20 pm

    Not sure how I got to your blog but so interesting that you are beginning a Pym read June 1. I have just started Crampton hodnet. I will check back to see your future comments on Pym.


  10. ArchitectDesign™ May 24, 2013 / 12:02 pm

    film added to my queue. LOVE the flashing detail -thanks for pointing it out!


  11. Thomas at My Porch May 24, 2013 / 2:31 pm

    Kristine: It's always fun to find something you didn't know you would be interested in. Thanks for stopping by.

    Stefan: If you haven't already, you should click on the pic of the flashing to see an enlargement. It really is quite amazing. I actually saw one locally recently that was close to this.


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