Are there some writers you are REALLY interested in?

laceyvail 6A, WV

I'm wondering if anyone else loves some authors so much that you want to know about their lives. There are 2 for me, possibly 3.

The first is E.B. White. As a child I read his children's books, then his essays, letters, a biography, and eventually included in my interest his wife, Katherine White; his colleagues at The New Yorker magazine--Harold Ross, Thurber, etc-- and the history of The New Yorker itself. I've been a fan of the magazine for almost 70 years; my mother got it and I fell in love with the cartoons long before I started reading it. It's still the best writing in America. And I think White is possibly the best essayist ever.

The second is J.R.R. Tolkien. I've read The Lord of the Rings many times and The Silmarillion twice, though I've not read much of Tolkien's huge legendarium, organized and published by his son, Christopher, who worked for years to make sense and order of his father's papers. I've also read Tolkien's famous essay on Faerie and his equally famous essay on Beowulf , which transformed how scholars viewed that poem. I've read biographies of him, several works about his works, and several books on the Inklings, the group of writers that met regularly for years and read and critiqued one another works. C.S. Lewis was also a member. Presently I'm enjoying a podcast on Tolkien--ThePrancingPony.com. The two podcasters, Tolkien lovers of course, who record it weekly are knowledgeable and insightful (though I find their digressions sometimes a little silly) and they have also interviewed a number of Tolkien scholars.

The third, though certainly less so, is Patrick Leigh Fermor, writer extraordinaire and WW II hero. I've read all his books, and one biography.

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annpanagain

I prefer not to know about an author's background. It can put me off their writing.


I made an exception for Simon Brett as he lives near a place I grew up in. I emailed him to discuss something he mentioned in one of his Fethering mysteries. He was very charming and I have contacted him a few times about his new books through the email address as he always replied.

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vee_new

Lacey, I find the life of Charles Dickens very interesting, though as Annpan says, some of his attitudes/morals leave much to be desired . . . eg the terrible treatment of his wife and his attachment to her sisters and later to a much younger woman. He also had little time for his many sons as they grew to manhood but doted on his numerous daughters and wanted them around him all the time. Of course his huge ego had been stoked by his adoring public but to me it is amazing how interested he was in 'life' around him plus the social conditions of the time, how he would walk for miles through London and Kent where he met many of the characters who would become part of his books.

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lemonhead101

I am endlessly fascinated by E.B. White as well. Plus Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald - such a disaster as a couple! Actually, I'm curious about almost everyone which is why I adore The Humans of New York blog...! (Everyone has a story, right?)

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laceyvail 6A, WV

Interesting link, lemonhead. Do you listen to The Moth on the radio? Great stories that people tell about their own lives.

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woodnymph2_gw

I have been thinking about this thread for a long time and am late in my response. Ever since I read 4 books by the late W.G. Sebald, I have been fascinated by his unique style of writing. He repudiated his upbringing in Nazi Germany and relocated to the UK where he was tragically killed in a car accident when his writing was at its peak. I especially admired how he used b & w photos as a subtext for his writings in "Austerlitz" especially. I would like to know how he formed his unusual style.

Not a writer, but an artist, I so admire the work of Scandinavian Carl Larsson that I would like to know absolutely everything about his life and work. He married an artistic woman and between them they had a large family, all of whom Larsson painted in great detail, as well as their picturesque home and land. The scenes are mostly filled with joyous family celebrations. Paradoxically, someone told me that Larsson spent almost his entire life in a deep depression. One would never know this from his subject matter. I have 4 books filled with his art, which I cherish.

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carolyn_ky

I am also a devotee of Dickens biographies, and I have read quite a bit about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've never visited her farm in the Ozarks and would like to do that sometime. It would not be too far to drive from here (~450 miles) for a short vacation.

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vee_new

Carolyn, some time ago I read a biography of Wilder by her daughter. From what she wrote her Mother was not the person we 'see' from her writing . . . of course her incredible tough/harsh upbringing probably had a lot to do with it.

Do you, or anyone, know of an even-handed biography of her life please?

Your 450 miles trip to the Ozarks would have most English people quivering with the thought of the vast distance and cost of the fuel, plus many of us would have fallen off the edge of the country many miles nearer.

eg We have an excellent fish 'smokery' about 13 miles up the road . . . it goes back to the days when the rivers Wye and Severn ( we live 'between' the two) were full of salmon, now sadly diminished. They also sell a wonderful range of very fresh fish, but DH says a round-trip of 26 miles is only to be undertaken as part of a longer necessary journey. But by NOT going we are certainly reducing the carbon footprint of the planet!



Severn and Wye Smokery

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laceyvail 6A, WV

Jeeze, Vee, I drive 26 miles one way just to go grocery shopping!

But I am so glad to see others responding to this thread. Woodnymph, I too very much like the work of Carl Larssen, but know very little about him. And I've never heard of WG Sebald, but will check him out.

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vee_new

Laceyvail re the Sebald books. We had a 'discussion' here some years ago and read 'Austerlitz' which I found very difficult to understand or appreciate. eg one sentence in the book is NINE pages long. But certainly his work is greatly admired among the literary community

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laceyvail 6A, WV

Well, I'm a fan of Faulkner, so maybe could handle a nine page sentence. (Grin) But then again, maybe not.

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annpanagain

Vee, I remember my husband thinking we could cover the UK very quickly as he thought nothing of long drives like Perth to Adelaide (1675 miles) just to see a Grand Prix motor race!

I couldn't make him understand the problem until we actually got to England. It isn't the mileage, it is all the places that must be visited that take up the time! Plus the then eye-watering cost of fuel compared to the Australian price.

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yoyobon_gw

I would love to get to an event where Louise Penny is the honored guest and speaker ! I missed two very close to me last spring ( I wasn't quite as rabid a fan as I am now :0))

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laceyvail 6A, WV

Re Louise Penny. I love her characters, especially the amazing love Gamache has for his wife, Reine Marie. Spoiler Alert Coming But I have to say that one of her recent books (Kingdom of the Blind I think,) depended on a completely incorrect translation from the German that equated the "child" in Rothschild with the word "kinder" which does mean child. Rothschild means Red Sign--the word is "schild". Nothing to do with child. Perhaps she thought most of her readers wouldn't catch it, but really, I'm sure many did, and I thought it was unacceptably sloppy to build a plot around such an obviously incorrect device.

Still read her books, however.

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donnamira

Vee, the best biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder that I've read is Caroline Fraser's Prairie Fires. It's the only one that expands the details of LIW's life in the broader context of the physical and political climate, and covers a lot of Rose's life as well - the mother/daughter had a difficult relationship. The Zochert biography, Laura, is unabashedly affectionate and sentimental; The Ghost in the Little House is a polemic. Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder, by John E. Miller, is a more even-handed description of how Rose coached Laura in her writing career. I haven't read Pioneer Girl, which is Laura's own memoir, annotated, but maybe someone else has and can comment.

Prairie Fires

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woodnymph2_gw

laceyvail, when I read Louise Penney, I, too, caught the error with "Rothchild." I was astonished that she had let that one slip through. I am still a fan of her series, however.

I recall that long ago here we had a great discussion of the work of Sigrid Undset, the trilogy "Kristin Lavransdatter." I have always wanted to learn more about the author.

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vee_new

Donnamira

Many thanks for the 'Prairie Fires' book. I have had an interesting half hour checking out the various comments on Amazon . . . many of them seemingly longer than the book . . . and several pointing out the author's modern 'take', bringing in politics, climate change, even contraception etc!

Annpan, driving is little fun over here as the roads are so congested, especially the 'motor ways', built to make driving between cities quicker and stress free . . . hollow Iaugh.

I don't know how much fuel costs in Australia but over here it is priced per litre . . . so a litre of petrol is roughly £1.30 . .. making a gallon more or less £5.85 ($7.50). I haven't worked out the difference between a US gallon and an Imperial gallon; life is too short.

How much is 'gas' in the US? (diesel here is slightly more expensive)

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msmeow

Vee, here in Orlando gas is between $2.29 and $2.35 per gallon for "regular" unleaded, with mid-grade being 10 cents higher and high-octane 10 cents above that. Diesel is 10 or 20 cents higher than the high octane gas. I think Florida tends to be below the national average on gas prices.

Donna

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Rosefolly

Certainly your prices are below Bay Area California, where regular gas is currently between $4.18 and $4.30 per gallon.

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annpanagain

As I don't own a car, I can't comment on petrol/gas/diesel prices. However, wouldn't income in the various countries come into this?

I looked up the average income in Australia to see what salaries are like now. and got bombarded with figures so I am really no wiser! It depends on the work one does, apparently and where one lives.

As my husband and I worked for graded salaries, we never had to worry about having to ask for raises and we got set paid holidays, four weeks for me and six for him.

I also got paid for six months leave if I stayed for seven years. This is a perk in some professions from the days when it took three months to sail back to the UK and allowed for three months in the Home country.

Nowadays people spend their Long Service Leave in any way they choose.

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Rosefolly

Many years ago I read a book by Robin McKinley that resonated with me to the extent that I felt that it was a book I might have written myself, if I worked a great deal harder than I ever did at writing (and also had more talent). It was kind of a "Killing Me Softly" moment, to those of you who are familiar with that song. When I learned that she was exactly my own age, and that she grows heritage roses just as I do, I felt a kind of kinship.

Well, time went on. I very much enjoyed her next few books, then less so the books after that. I read her blog for a while and discovered that we really are not very much alike at all. I've been over it for many years now. But I do still love her early books.

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yoyobon_gw

For Louise Penny fans, here's a lovely interview :

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/the-world-of-mystery-author-louise-penny/

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carolyn_ky

Thanks for posting that, Yoyobon. Ms. Penny really is a lovely lady.

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vee_new

What an interesting interview. Ms Penny comes through as such a 'genuine' person with no arty-literati 'side' to her.

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cindy_7

I was unable to get the above link to work. Not sure if this is the same video, but it did work:

https://www.cbs.com/shows/cbs-sunday-morning/video/QKkB4x08ta_4gcQGMRD8WUnn57ilP_fz/the-world-of-mystery-author-louise-penny/

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