Welcome to The Once Lost Wanderer. The name is derived from two poems: Amazing Grace by reformed slave trader John Newton, and All That is Gold Does Not Glitter by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors in 2016

December 6: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

This should be easy since I barely read ten books in 2016, but I have to explain – there were some really big books. Are you tired of me whining about that? It seems like I’ve whined about it a lot, but seriously, there were some really big books:  War and Peace, The Count of Monte Cristo, Atlas Shrugged, Tom Jones – See! I’m just sayin. Tolstoy and Dumas were not new to me though – and a few of my other not so big books were also not new – sooo, the Top Ten is only Top Six.

In order – least liked to most liked. (I’m averse to the phrase least favorite or most favorite – as they literally don’t make sense. Something is a favorite, or it is not.)

Martin Amis – Money.  He was new to me, but shouldn’t truly be on a “TOP” anything list. I didn’t like this at all. Last year was my first read of his father, Kingsley Amis – Lucky Jim. I liked the father pretty well.

Henry James – The Ambassadors. Not a big fan, but I have more Henry James coming up, and I have read he has distinctly different styles base on different periods in his career. So, the jury is still out.

Flannery O’Connor – The Complete Stories. I liked these, didn’t love em, thoughtful and poignant.

Theodore Dreiser – An American Tragedy.  I liked him quite a bit, but I don’t know how to pronounce his last name. I just call him Theo.

Henry Fielding – Tom Jones. One of Dickens’ favorite authors, so I was bound to like him. I did.

Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.  I REALLY liked Atlas Shrugged. The Fountainhead – not so much. Still I think Ayn Rand is brilliant. Apparently she thought she was too.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor

The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
With grown people, a road led either to heaven or hell, but with children there were always stops along the way where their attention could be turned with a trifle ~ From A View of the Woods

This is the first time I’ve read this or any work by Flannery O’Connor.  It is a collection of short stories, which are decidedly Southern Gothic. 

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

This book satisfies #12, a volume of classic short stories, from The Back to the Classics Challenge2016.  It is not part of the 100 Greatest Novels Quest – cuz, ya know – it isn’t a novel.

I picked up this book years ago after I’d read a quotation somewhere by O’Connor that intrigued me. I don’t remember the quotation, and I didn’t get far into this book at the time – as it failed to intrigue me.  However, I seldom forsake a book forever, and when The 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge called for a collection of short stories, I knew it was time to pick it up again.

And I’m glad I did. Flannery O’Connor seems to have been an astute student of humanity in her short 39 years.

Her stories can you leave you a bit dissatisfied if you are looking for full conflict, resolution, and closure. Her endings are not like that; in fact they are often left quite open ended. Her stories are about humans and their abundant flaws.

I’ve never been entirely clear on the meaning of the term “dirty south” but I got the distinct feeling O’Connor was writing about the dirty south.

The main characters of most of the stories struggled with their place in the world, often disillusioned with society and flatly contemptuous of religion. They were often plagued by well-meaning Christian folk, who simply didn’t understand the protagonist’s existential crisis. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought O’Connor shared the protagonist’s contempt of religion, as the Christian characters were usually rather simple, while the main character was far more complex – and unhappy.

So, I’m a bit perplexed about her point. O’Connor asserted her stories were neither apologetic nor didactic. Perhaps they were simple observations – let the reader infer the meaning. In that regard, I liked them. They made me think, and they made me feel. Be warned – they feel sad.

The cover has peacock feathers. O’Connor kept a small flock of peafowl and called them The King of the Birds.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Free Books - NOVA this week (December 3, 2016)

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

I have an embarrassing admission; I’ll get to it in a minute.

I’ll get to the free books in a minute as well – be patient – that was the hook.

If you’ve used Wikipedia recently, you probably noticed they are making their annual fund raising, donation pitch. A few years ago, I happily contributed for the first time, just a small amount, bit more than the minimum they suggest, and I’ve contributed every year since.

Two simple reasons: I use the site a lot, and they are not obnoxious about asking for donations. So, like I say – I’m happy to contribute. It’s an excellent source, and they don’t hit me with ads the rest of the year. Well – I guess that’s four reasons.

I only mention Wikipedia, because this same week I discovered another free internet resource that I will happily contribute to once a year. And this brings me to my embarrassing admission, and the free books.

It should go without saying that I read a lot. And, many of my books are classics, and many of them – because they are old books – are no longer copyrighted, meaning they are in the public domain, meaning they are free.

But, I didn’t know I could get them free for my eReader. ***I know – I’m so embarrassed***

So yeah – Project Gutenberg has thousands books free to download to your eReader. In my case, it is easier to first download to my computer, and then transfer to my nook, but my understanding is, they have formats for just about any reading device you might use.

One more internet resource that is always free – The Once Lost Wanderer