Novelist Laura Lippman’s Inspiration for her latest crime novel, Lady in the Lake, came from two real-life disappearances in Baltimore in the 1960s when the body of Shirley Lee Wigeon Parker, a black 35-year-old divorcee, was found in a fountain in one of the city’s parks. That same year in September, Esther Lebowitz, an 11-year-old Jewish girl, was beaten to death inside a fish store, a gruesome killing that profoundly impacted Baltimore’s Jewish community.
Lippman’s main character is Maddie Schwartz a beautiful, bored, 37-year-old housewife who decides one day to leave her husband and become a crime reporter because she wanted to live a life that mattered.
Maddie Schwartz finds the body of schoolgirl young Tessie Fine. She needs a job and uses the details she learns about Tessie to get herself hired at the Baltimore Sun hoping to turn that into a reporter job.
After she is hired by the newspaper, she becomes obsessed with the disappearance and drowning of Cleo Sherwood and her focus is intense as she tries to find out what really happened.
The plot moves with a strong backdrop of the racism of the Sixties. Maddie has an affair with Ferdie, a black police officer, who isn’t allowed to use a patrol car but borrows one at night to visit her. The one-time Maddie and Ferdie goes out in public it is to a baseball game and she pretends not to know him acting like they just accidently sat by each other. The never talk of marriage but Maddie mentions that Interracial marriage was not legal in the United States. (Not until 1967)
Maddie evolves from a woman whose main skill is the ability to get men to like her to a woman who has learned she’s going to have to fight her own battle.
Lady in the Lake is a great newspaper novel and captures much of the feelings of the 1960s.
“A woman dies young, it’s man trouble.”
“How could 1906 and 1966 be part of the same century? In 1906, there had been no world wars, most people didn’t have telephones and cars. In 1906, women couldn’t vote and black men could by law, but not in practice.”
“Kindness could be so much more painful than cruelty.”
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Gertrude Stein's was born in 1874 in Pennsylvania and raised in Oakland California. She moved to Paris in 1903. She associated with Hemingway, Picasso and other famous artists and writers. Her book tells us about Picasso and his life as a great painter.
In 1904, Picasso rented a studio in an old, dilapidated building in Paris filled with artists and poets located at 13 Rue Ravignan in Paris. Picasso painted Stein between 1905 and 1906 in a style foreshadowing of his adoption of Cubism—and portrays her face like a mask with heavy lidded eyes.
Picasso was one of the innovators of Cubist artwork where objects are analyzed by breaking them up and reassembling them in an abstracted form and Steins seems compelled to defend the art form in this book and mentions that in 1909 when Picasso had completed the Cubist paintings Horta de Ebro and Maison sur la Colline that she was shown the photographs that inspired the paintings.
We learn from Stein’s writing how much Picasso’s home in Spain shaped his approach to art which was considered ahead of its time or avant-garde. She was one of the first Americans to claim that about his work.
Stein's close relationship with Picasso provided her with a unique vantage point to the man and his approaches.
Quotes from Gertrude Stein
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
We are always the same age inside.
America is my country and Paris is my hometown.
“One must dare to be happy. ”
“We are always the same age inside. ”
“It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing.”
“Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something. ”
Reflections on the Dialogue Between Man and God
C.S. Lewis presents fictional letters written to a close friend Malcolm, who seems very real, that discuss things that are puzzling about having a dialogue with God. ‘For example, one question he asks is “If God is omniscient, why do we give Him information?” Lewis is skilled at explaining difficult questions, and this book considers many giving easy to understand answers.
The book starts out discussing "corporate prayer", praying with others, and private prayer discussing "when to pray and where, ready-made prayer, petitionary prayer, prayer as worship, penitential prayer, and prayer for the dead". Of corporate prayer it is clear he has a negative opinion when he says in a letter: “If you were thinking of corporate prayer, I won’t play. There is no subject in the world (always excepting, sport) of which I have less to say than liturgiology. (the system of church rituals and their symbolism}
The book concludes with Lewis looking into the subjects of the soul and the resurrection and then summing up how he feels by saying “If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Someday, please God, it will be.”
"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending."
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
"Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties."
"Don't shine so that others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see HIM."
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The Red and the Black was Stendhal’s major work when it was published in 1830. The book is a character study of Julien Sorel, a carpenter’s son and an ambitious young man who uses seduction as a tool for advancement. He does not see any path for success in the military despite his admiration for Napoleon. That just leaves the church because in Sorel’s time that is the best way to gain power.
The army is symbolized in the novel by the color red and the church by the color black. The novel examines careerism, political opportunism, the climate of fear and denunciation of materialistic values in the Restoration of France.
Sorel is employed as a tutor for the mayor’s wife, Mme de Renal. At the same time, he is training to become a priest and he decides to seduce the mayor's wife, because he thinks that it is his duty.
M. Chélan, the town priest and Julien's mentor, sends him to the Besançon seminary to avoid any further scandal. The director of the seminary, M. Pirard, likes Julien and encourages him to become a great priest. Julien does very well at the seminary, but only because he wants to make a fortune and succeed in French society.
He then goes to Paris where he seduces the aristocratic Mathilde who is the daughter of his second employer. The book ends with Sorel’s execution for the attempted murder of Mme de Rênal after she had jeopardized his projected marriage to Mathilde
“A good book is an event in my life.” ...
“One can acquire everything in solitude except character.” ...
“There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness.” ...
“I love her beauty, but I fear her mind.” ...
“A novel is a mirror walking along a main road.”
“A melancholy air can never be the right thing; what you want is a bored air. If you are melancholy, it must be because you want something, there is something in which you have not succeeded.
It is shewing your inferiority. If you are bored, on the other hand, it is the person who has tried in vain to please you who is inferior.”
“A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.”
“After moral poisoning, one requires physical remedies and a bottle of champagne
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The writers were students at New York University, and both had worked as Nannies for a number of wealthy families on the Upper East Side, where the book is set.
The book starts off with Nanny telling us: “Every season of my nanny career kicked off with a round of interviews so surreally similar that I’d often wonder if the mothers were slipped a secret manual at the Parents League to guide them through.” This is an early tipoff of predictability that follows in this Nanny’s experience in the summer ahead.
Nanny is an NYU student in her senior year and she takes part-time job as Nanny for a Grayer X the 4-year old son of Mr. and Mrs. X. She cares a great deal about the boy and is concerned about the lack of any relationship that he has with his parents. She picks him up at school, makes sure he goes to the activities that are arranged for him, and in addition works at being a personal assistant to his self-centered not very good mother.
Nanny meets a young man who goes to Harvard living in the same building and has a relationship with him. Nanny’s other life is of some interest but her experiences with the X family are funny, sort of, and predictable
Quotes from the Book
“And he doesn't care what you're wearing or what you've brought him. He just wants you there. Wanting him. And time is running out. He won't love you unconditionally that much longer. And soon he won't love you at all.”
“There are people─ in your home─ human beings─ drowning in their desire for you to look them in the eye. You made this family. And all you have to do is to show up and like them. It's called 'relating'. So get over whatever totally-absent-buying-your-affection parenting that you received and get here, man─ because this is your LIFE and you're just pissing it away.”
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Austin Kleon tells us in his new book, “Show Your Work!, 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered”, and then how to do it. Each of the ways listed is expounded on. He tells us that the key is a process, not a product and that we should share something everyday.
Kleon says it is about being find-able, about using a network instead of wasting time networking.
The book is a next step from his prior two books, “Steal Like an Artist, and Keep Going”. He says the key is that you do good work. It has to be worth stealing.
The 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered are:
You don’t have to be a genius.
Think process, not product.
Share something small every day.
Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
Tell good stories.
Teach what you know.
Don’t turn into human spam.
Learn to take a punch.