Archive for January, 2011

Today’s Quotes:

“It was not just that Ross Macdonald taught us how to write; he did something much more, he taught us how to read, and how to think about life, and maybe, in some small, but mattering way, how to live.”

– Robert B. Parker

“It’s tempting to say the Ph.D. didn’t have an effect, but it’s not so. I think whatever resonance I may be able to achieve is in part simply from the amount of reading and learning that I acquired along the way.”

– Robert B. Parker

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Random Thoughts:

Best Western Novels:

Earlier this week I posted the American Western Writers’ of America selection of the Best Western Novels of the 21st century.  My goal for this year is to read all 18 of these selections.  A few of them I have already read, however, I plan to re-read those, as well as the ones I have not read.  It has been my good fortune to have  personally met and talked with a couple of these authors: James A. Michener, and Norman Zollinger.  My expereinces with these two authors will be highlighted in a future post.

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The Charge of the Light Brigade  by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The poem, Charge of the Ligth Brigade,  reveals the story of a British brigade consisting of 600 soldiers who rode on horseback into the “valley of death” for half a league (about one and a half miles). They were obeying a command to charge the enemy Russian forces that had been seizing their guns.

As the poem reveals, not a single soldier was discouraged or distressed by the command to charge forward, even though all the soldiers realized that their commander had made a terrible mistake: “Someone had blundered.” The role of the soldier is to obey and “not to make reply…not to reason why,” so they followed orders and rode into the “valley of death.”

The 600 soldiers were assaulted by the shots of shells of canons in front and on both sides of them. Still, they rode courageously forward toward their own deaths: “Into the jaws of Death / Into the mouth of hell / Rode the six hundred.”

The soldiers struck the enemy gunners with their unsheathed swords (“sabres bare”) and charged at the enemy army while the rest of the world looked on in wonder. They rode into the artillery smoke and broke through the enemy line, destroying their Cossack and Russian opponents. Then they rode back from the offensive, but they had lost many men so they were “not the six hundred” any more.

Canons behind and on both sides of the soldiers now assaulted them with shots and shells. As the brigade rode “back from the mouth of hell,” soldiers and horses collapsed; few remained to make the journey back.

The world marvelled at the courage of the soldiers; indeed, their glory is undying: the poem states these noble 600 men remain worthy of honor and tribute today.

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Today’s Poem:

The Charge of the Light Brigade    by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred

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Random Thoughts:

Homicide In Hardcover by Kate Carlisle

 Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle centers on Brooklyn Wainwright a famed book restorer who works like a skilled surgeon. Her patients might smell like mold and have spines made of leather, but no ailing book is going to die on her watch. The same can’t be said of Abraham Karastovsky, Brooklyn’s friend and former employer.

On the eve of a celebration for his latest book restoration, Brooklyn finds her mentor lying in a pool of his own blood. With his final breath Abraham leaves Brooklyn with a cryptic message, “Remember the Devil,” and gives her a priceless—and supposedly cursed—copy of Goethe’s Faust for safe-keeping.

Brooklyn suddenly finds herself accused of murder and theft, thanks to Derek Stone, the humorless—and annoyingly attractive—British security agent who found her kneeling over the body. With the death of her friend the mystery begins.  Brooklyn has to read the clues left behind by her mentor if she is going to restore justice and save her own life…which she ultimately does.  This was a good read, and I am looking forward to reading the second in the series, If Books Could Kill.

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Today’s Quotes:

“From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.’  – Groucho Marx

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”   – Groucho Marx

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”  – Groucho Marx

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I just finished reading Desperadoes an anthology of Western short stories by numerous well-known authors.  The book brings  together 17  Wild West stories published between 1939 and 2001. Written by such luminaries as Loren Estleman, Louis L’Amour, Ed Gorman and Bill Pronzini.  I enjoyed all 17 stories, it gave me several days of good reading…and I only paid .10¢ for this great read at a local library sale!

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