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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Bookish Time Travel Tag

I wasn’t tagged but Helen at She Reads Novels invited anyone to join in – and I thought, I’m anyone – so here you go. (Acknowledgment to The Library Lizard, the originator of this tag)

1. What is your favorite historical setting for a book?
I don’t think I have a favorite. So, instead I’ll just mention a period that I’d like to read more of – The Wild West (second half of the 19th Century, North America). I’ve only read two Westerns in my 100 Greatest Novels Quest: Blood Meridian and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Both were excellent, though neither is a typical Western. I’d like to read more of this genre – typical or not.

2. What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?
I’m going to say both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. It’s a fun thought – but seriously, what could I say to em? Whattya think of J.K Rowling? Regardless, it goes almost without saying, this meeting would have to be in a small English pub, while throwing back a pint. I’d also need to get a tweed jacket with elbow patches, and a pipe.

3. What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?
The Catcher in the Rye. I didn’t read this when you are supposed to – in High School. I’m not sure how much my opinion would change, because I was not terribly angsty even in H.S., but perhaps I’d find a little more empathy for Holden.

4. What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?
I was just mentioning to another book blogger, that I will probably reread Ulysses someday. I am fairly certain I will appreciate it more when I am not necessarily older, but better read.

5. What is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?
This distant future of Dune.

6. What is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?
I was set to give a three way tie to: To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, and The Count of Monte Cristo – but then I thought of my current read, which is both future and backward in time. How? Ayn Rand was certainly writing about some time period in the future from her own, but which is now definitely in the past from my own.

7. Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?
Nope, I never do this.

8. If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?
This is not a book related question right? So, I’d go back to the 2009 Kentucky Derby, bet $1000 on the Superfecta: Mine that Bird, Pioneer of the Nile, Musket Man, and Papa Clem. That would give me $2.7 billion before taxes.

9. Favorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?
I haven’t read a lot involving time travel – in fact, if I limit it to my 100 Greatest Novels Quest, only one thus far: SlaughterhouseFive whose main character, Billy Pilgrim, is unstuck in time.

But I’m going to throw in, for honorable mention, 100 Years of Solitude, which covers – you guessed it – 100 years.

It just hit me, if I give credit to Gabriel García Márquez for writing a novel of 100 years, I should mention James Michener. It’s been a long time since I read him, but the two novels I read: The Covenant and Hawaii covered thousands of years.

10. What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?
This was the easiest one to answer. I’d love to have my memory purged of any knowledge of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and read them anew with no expectations or preconceptions.

I’m going to follow Helen’s example by not tagging anyone specifically. But of course, feel free to follow suit, and let me know in the comments so I can read your responses.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Problem Today – NOVA this week (October 15, 2016)

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

As I said the last time I composed NOVA this week I detest political rhetoric – but political discussion is unavoidable right now.  I was asked this week whether I thought ignorance or apathy were the biggest problem in the world today.

I thought about it a minute and then replied – I don’t know, and I don’t care.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Top Ten Villains - Top Ten Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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

October 4:  All about villains. Best…ermmm…worst villains.

10. Roger Chillingworth from The Scarlet Letter

9. Uriah Heep from David Copperfield

8. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

7. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights

6. The Man (rich, exploitive, land owners) from The Grapes of Wrath

5. Danglars from The Count of Monte Cristo

4. Big Brother from Nineteen-Eighty-Four

3. Sauron from The Lord of the Rings

2. The Judge from Blood Meridian

1. And the #1 most villainous of them all – Caligula from I,Claudius

Thursday, September 29, 2016

If Orwell wrote The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien wrote Nineteen-Eighty-Four

The good folks at The Classics Club posed this meme reboot from September 2014:  Select two classics from your list (by different authors) that you have finished reading. Now switch the authors, and contemplate how each might have written the other’s book.

When I first read this I thought – I got nothin.

And then, an epiphany: What if George Orwell had written The Lord of the Rings and J.R.R. Tolkien had written Nineteen-Eighty-Four.

Orwell’s final chapters of LOTR would go something like this:  Frodo and Sam enter the bowels of Mount Doom, just as Tolkien described, Gollum appears and wrestles with Frodo for the ring, bites his finger off, BUT --- just as he is falling to his death, the Lord of the Nazgul appears, grabbing Gollum by the arm, he draws his sword, cuts the arm off below the wrist, and Gollum indeed falls to his doom. The ring is in the hands of the Nazgul, quickly to be taken to Sauron. The rest of the Nazgul arrive to capture Frodo and Sam. One of them dips his sword into the lava until it is white hot, and cauterizes Frodo’s wound to stop the bleeding. It is not an act of mercy. Frodo and Sam are wanted alive for torture. They are packed off to the fortress of Barad Dur, where they are subjected to unspeakable physical and psychological torment. They are offered relief, if they will only betray the other. They resist until Sauron devines each one’s greatest fear – Frodo’s something to do with spiders, Sam’s being forced to eat PO-TA-TOES without salt. In the face of such terror they break and each renounces the other forever. They are released to wander and make their separate ways to the Shire. Once there, they discover Sauron’s puppet Saruman has been given regency over the Shire, which he rules with an iron fist, and forced labor, growing pipeweed and brewing beer. Aragorn and the rest of the fellowship perished at the gates of Mordor. Gondor, Rohan, and all free peoples are brought under the subjugation of Mordor. The End.

Tolkien’s version of Nineteen-Eighty-Four:  First the title is changed to The 16th Year of Big Brother’s Reign – Oceania Reckoning. The rest of the novel goes off as Orwell described until Winston Smith and Julia begin their clandestine relationship. Winston and Julia come in contact with the underground resistance, which they learn has been aided recently by a magical race of beings known as urban elves. The elves by cunning and craft, and occasional garrote, have developed elaborate means to traverse Oceania undetected. They use this freedom of movement to recruit more forces for the resistance and to prepare several weapons caches in strategic locations. All that is lacking is the prophetic appearance of Bigbrokaput, or in the common tongue – He who will kill Big Brother. Winston is declared to be the long awaited Bigbrokaput, by virtue of arm wrestling, or a trivia contest, or ability to solve Rubik’s cube – the certain account is lost to us. During a special rendition of the Two Minute Hate – special because it is scheduled to last four minutes, though it is inexplicably not renamed the Four Minute Hate – but during the HATE rendition, Winton is ushered by the urban elves through a labyrinth of secret passages, only to emerge at the central studios of the inner party, where he kills Big Brother on camera for all of Oceania to witness. Winston is proclaimed Emperor, but he only rules long enough to outlaw newspeak and leisure suits. He institutes a general election and retires from public service. Winston is quickly forgotten as the great hero of New Oceania, but he is perfectly content. He and Julia retire to the country, have two sons, George and Lennie, and raise rabbits.

Next year perhaps: what if Cormac McCarthy wrote The Little Prince and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote No Country for Old Men.