This Morning I Picked Up...

Took a walk this morning to pick up a package from the post office. It was a shirt the folks at Current tv sent me. Took'em long enough. On the way back home I passed by a couple tables covered in old paperbacks and hard covers and decided to take a look. This is what I picked up.

The Bostonians is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Century Magazine in 1885-1886 and then as a book in 1886. This bittersweet tragicomedy centers on an odd triangle of characters: Basil Ransom, an unbending political conservative from Mississippi; Olive Chancellor, Ransom's cousin and a zealous Boston feminist; and Verena Tarrant, a pretty protege of Olive's in the feminist movement. The storyline concerns the contest between Ransom and Olive for Verena's allegiance and affection, though the novel also includes a wide panorama of political activists, newspaper people, and quirky eccentrics.

Although all set in Dublin and focused upon the themes of death, disease and paralysis throughout, Dubliners is a collection of short stories only interconnected by symbols and moods. They are not as bleak as their themes suggest, at least not in all cases, and are often heartening in their subtle evocations of experience common to all. The collection was published after numerous hassles from publishers and almost a decade after they were written, in 1914. It is hard now to see the innovation in Joyce’s construction of stories that are not based on the contrived set-ups familiar from nineteenth century short stories (Maupassant, Poe etc) and the way in which he avoids precise beginnings or ends to present instead an ‘epiphany’ or spiritual awakening. The Dublin portrayed in the short stories is usually grimy and full of cynical and indecent individuals. From this gleam a few thinking individuals who the author seems to side with. They are generally the sensitive or young ones, and the adult world is often seen as foolish, futile and unpleasant (see "The Boarding House" or "Ivy Day in the Committee Room"). These stories are easily Joyce’s most accessible works, and their vision of a composite life created around a chronological sampling of Dublin lives from youth to age is still both amusing, moving and serious.

The Old Man and the Sea is a novella by Ernest Hemingway written in Cuba in 1951 and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it centers upon an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Though it has been the subject of disparate criticism, it is noteworthy in twentieth century fiction and in Hemingway's canon, reaffirming his worldwide literary prominence and significant in his selection for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.