Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Want To Go To Concord!

I so wanted to get back to Concord last spring. Or this fall. Or anytime. It's not going to happen this year. Knowing that Mitali Perkins has recently been to both Walden Pond and Orchard House only rubs salt in the wound.

Orchard House is wonderful.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

An End Of The Year Gift

Another one of my obsessions, Louisa May Alcott, will be getting an American Masters special on December 28 at 9 PM. Evidently we're going to learn that she was another unhappy writer.

Is there any other kind?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some Alcott Info You Won't See At Just Any Litblog

When I was at Orchard House last month (Orchard House being the Concord home of the Alcotts, of course), my traveling companion noticed the property survey hanging on a wall. Being someone who is in to surveys, site plans, etc., he noticed the surveyor's signature.

Well, now you can see said survey, too. Click on the plan, scroll down to the bottom, and you'll see that the surveyor was Henry D. Thoreau.

The Concord Free Public Library has a whole array of Thoreau's surveys available on-line.

I'd gotten the impression that he didn't do a whole lot. I've just started rereading Walden (because you just can't be reading too many books at once), and in that first essay I feel (as I did when I first read it, according to my notations) that he doesn't hold working folks in much esteem. Seeing that he really did meaningful work--that could come into play in twenty-first century title searches--may have an impact on my reading of his book.

But is that a good thing? Shouldn't the meaning and significance of his work be right there on the page in front of me regardless of what I know about him?

Ah, a question I struggle with frequently.

Nonetheless, surveyors are cool.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Transcendent Day

Well, yesterday I finally went walking around Concord, Massachusetts, presumably in the very spots many transcendentalists walked before me. There is so much transcendentalist stuff to do in Concord! We're going to have to go back.

We left the center of town and walked out to the home of Nathanial Hawthorne. We didn't have time to tour that spot, but will hit it another day because not only did Hawthorne (who, I must admit, I'm not wildly enthusiastic about) live there, but the sign out front says Margaret Sidney, who wrote The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew also put in some time there. On top of that, the place looks old and intriguing.

We did stop next door at Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott lived with her family. I had toured the place once before many years ago, but you can't tour Orchard House too many times. Our tour guide was fantastic, too.

We were meeting someone late in the day, so we had to hustle back to the center of town and drive to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery instead of walking. The cemetery contains an area called Authors Ridge where you can find a number of famous dead writers all in one place. It really is an impressive place, because it's both beautiful and modest.

Though I'm a big Alcott fan, the most thought-provoking spot at Authors Ridge yesterday was Ralph Waldo Emerson's grave, not because of the grave itself but because someone had left him a gift--a fresh rose was lying in front of the headstone. We wandered about a while and noticed another couple visiting the Emerson family plot. When we went back to get a picture, we found that in addition to the rose, there was now a small piece of paper with writing held down with a stone on top of the grave.

What an incredible tribute because the guy has been dead for something like a hundred and twenty-five years.

By the way Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Captain Kirk's Connection To Kidlit

William Shatner has been in the news a bit lately because he has a new book out. This morning, I was thinking of Little Men, I had been reading about The Shat last week, and all of a sudden the two unrelated mind-threads came together.

Well, by way of Little Women, anyway, because Wild Bill played dear Professor Bhaer back in a 1978 television version of that story. Scroll down at the link I just gave you, and you'll see him in the very first row of images. (Shouldn't he have had a beard?)

If you scroll down to the fourth row, right in the center, you'll see a youngish man talking to a big hat. That's John de Lancie before he played Q on STTNG.

I have actually seen this version of Little Women, though, of course, I was very young at the time.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How Much Are We Influenced By Childhood Reading?

I have been treating, and will continue to treat, you to my Peter Pan obsession. Unfortunately for you, I also fixated Little Men and to a lesser extent Little Women when I was young. I've even read Jo's Boys. This has has also led to an up-and-down interest in Louisa May Alcott and Transcendentalists. All of which led me to read Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury.

Which leads me to this: Susan Cheever says Little Women is a significant book because in it "Louisa May Alcott invented a new way to write about the ordinary lives of women, and to tell stories that are usually heard in kitchens or bedrooms." She says that in Little Women she learned "that domestic details can be the subject of art, that small things in a woman's life--cooking, the trimming of a dress or hat, quiet talk--can be just as important a subject as a great whale or a scarlet letter."

Next week I'll be giving a talk in which I will address my interest in what I (and others) call situational humor and what situations interest me. I don't write about divorce, death, abuse, or any combinations thereof and not just because those situations are not traditionally funny. I am interested in what has been called "the poetry of the everyday"--mundane events that can have a huge impact on our lives.

And now I'm wondering how much Louisa May had to do with that.

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