"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turning the pages of 2011


Only 10.
So much for my goal of reading at least a book a month, something easily accomplished in previous years.

But thanks to two writing, published friends, at least there have been 10. Back in October there had been just five, and  Kent Anderson and M. Scott Carter published novels, Cold Glory http://bkentanderson.com/books/cold-glory/ and Stealing Kevin's Heart.http://www.mscottcarter.com/

That required trips to bookstores to get copies and authors' signatures. I'd already dipped into Kent's book, and then...Any visit to Full Circle Bookstore http://www.fullcirclebooks.com/ brings you surprises and discoveries, and before I left with Scott's signed book in my hands, I saw another on a shelf, The Paris Correspondent, A Novel of Newspapers, Then and Now, by New York Times journalist Alan S. Crowell. There's no way I--an old and proud journalist, can pass that up, and didn't.

I started Scott's novel, but soon  immersed myself in the Paris book. Along came the Oklahoma Creativity forum in Norman, and I bought Gregg Fraley's small novel, Jack's Notebook, which while not as tense emotionally as Scott's, was a clever, if pedantic way of describing creative problem solving.

Sometime after my trip to New Mexico in November to bury my uncle Mike, I turned again to Okie Tony Hillerman, found a signed first edition of his memoirs, Seldom Disappointed, which I had not read.
In December, I finished all of these. Comments on Hillerman, Carter, Anderson and Cowel's books in the next post.

For the record, the other five books included New Mexico photographer Craig Varjabedian's Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby, http://www.craigvarjabedian.com/ about his dramatic black and white photos, coinciding with his exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Getting to meet and work with him, and a signed first edition is a highlight of the autumn. See earlier article on this blog.

The other signed first edition was Hanging Men, poetry by fellow Oklahoma professor Alvin Turner, reviewed in august on this blog. Getting to meet him and have coffee was a bonus. Thanks to friend Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and Mongrel Empire Press http://mongrelempire.press.orgfor this opportunity. She's also responsible for me meeting Craig, but that's another story.

I started the year in January finishing Simon Winchester's Atlantic, one of myfavorite writers, and obviously a journalist.  An earlier discovery at Full Circle was Mary Oliver's   poetry, Blue Pastures. I also ready Calvin Trillin's About Alice, about his wife.

So while the middle of the year may have as been as dry in reading as the Oklahoma drought, at least the quality of these discoveries were welcome bookends to the year.

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