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Joe Mac

Loot from my mother's shelves

I'm just back from a funeral, followed by week of settling my mother's estate with my siblings. Sad, but unavoidable, et cetera....

So...I came home with a few books, which I'm very much looking forward to dipping into without the usual three-week library pressure.
There's a 1,250-page Mark Twain anthology, containing many short stories as well as four novels and one work of non-fiction.
Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, and Tolstoy's and Chekhov's short stories are in another fat volume called Russian Authors.
On a slimmer note, there's Three Men in a Boat, by somebody named Jerome, Bend Sinister, by V. Nabokov and Christ Stopped at Eboli, by Carlo Levi.

On the non-fiction side I brought home God's Secretaries, by Adam Nicolson (about the making of the King James Bible) and The Meaning of Everything, by Simon Winchester, which tells the story of the Oxford English Dictionary.

I have my work cut out for me.

Lots of sympathy RN Singer - been there, done that Sad
Three Men in a Boat is very funny. You have to read it in the correct tone of voice but it is a real classic of Victorian fiction. It can be real laugh out loud humour. It is perhaps not what you are feeling up to at the moment but, when you do, I think it could be very cheering.

I read Christ Stopped at Eboli at university, and thought it was wonderful.  I don't remember too many details now, just a couple of scenes really, and an overall sense of finding it compelling - it's a book I would love to read again, thanks for reminding me of it!

Much sympathy winging its way across the ocean from here, RN - as you say, these things are unavoidable, but no less sad for all that, and grief can express itself in unexpected ways, so do look after yourself.

My sympathies too, Joe. I was wondering why you haven't been around recently.  Your mother (or perhaps father) had interesting reading tastes.  Those should keep you going for quite some time.

My problem is that I have plenty of home books; it's just that they always have to take second place to the library books.  And I don't like not to have library books, as they keep the library figures up.

Best wishes, Caro.

I send my deepest sympathies at what is always a sad and difficult time. In our family, it was my father who was the reader, so to choose a few of his books to add to my collection was a wonderful way to enhance the memories attached to those books. I have his copy of 'Silas Marner', which he received as a Sunday School prize in the 1920s, and was one of the first adult books that I read, exactly the same copy, as well as 'Some Adventures of an Irish R.M.', which he was given by one of his officers during the war. Several others are boys' adventure stories, 'In the Days of Drake', 'Coral Island' and 'Last of the Mohicans', none of them quite my to taste, but very evocative of him.

Like some others, I much admire 'Christ Stopped at Eboli', which I found powerful and moving, if quite distressing at times. I'm not much of a fan of 'Three Men in a Boat', although I know it has quite a devoted following. Many of the others, the Russian authors for instance are just the sort of thing you need time to absorb without the pressure of returning the by the due date.

I hope reading these books will help to make you feel in some ways that your mother is still a prescence in your life (as, indeed, she always will be) and provide some consolation for your loss.

Best wishes

Joe Mac

Thanks very much, all you nice people. My mom was one of the all-time greats, and now she's off to wherever it is we're all headed.

I learned of Christ Stopped at Eboli from a Paul Theroux travel book, of all places. On a tour of the Mediterranean he stopped at the village Levi wrote about, having been sufficiently impressed by the book to want to stop there. Maybe I'll read it first.

Sincere condolences from me too RN. No-one in my family is much of a reader, so unfortunately I will not have any books coming my way. It must be such a wonderful comfort to have something of ones parents knowing how much it was treasured. Enjoy.

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