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Books!

During the trip week-before-last, we stopped at Rivertown Fine Books.  The sign said 'closed', but we looked so disappointed that they opened up for us anyway.  Soon after we'd buried ourselves in the stacks, two chatty women entered, one immediately exclaiming "oh, it's JUST a bookstore!"  But they did not leave; they just kept on chatting, exclaiming over the prices, and...being there.  I felt bad for accidentally facilitating their entry.

Anyway, we got books.  There's not much chaff at Rivertown; basically, you can reach out and grab a book and likely it will be worth reading.

Here's my haul:
Rogers, Ann (1979).  The New Cookbook for Poor Poets (and Others).  For a cookbook that's geared toward someone with a single hotplate and an absence of nickels to rub together, some of the recipes sound quite good, and most are quite entertaining.  There's a recipe for making an omelet out of a dismantled still life, a "dinner for instilling hope", and a "scripture cake" where the instructions are just references to bible verses ("follow Solomon's advice for making good boys and you will have a good cake").
Burgess, Anthony (1992).  A Mouthful of Air:  Language, Languages...Especially English.  Linguistics and phonology are fascinating topics, but their texts tend to be strangely dry.  This one is not.  I will need to keep in mind that the phonology part of the book leans British.
Barns, Cass G. (1970).  The Sod House.  Reprint of a book from 1930.  It's the story of a doctor-farmer in late 1800s Nebraska.
Williams, Stephen (1991).  Fantastic Archaeology:  The Wild Side of North American Prehistory.  Part of why I didn't major in anthropology is that I had trouble with what seemed like a lack of scientific rigor.  Some of that is lingering stigma and confusion from the days when scientific rigor was run over by the twin horse-wagons of wild speculation and one-upsmanship.  Some of it stems from archaeology not always being taught as a science; that is less true these days, but I'd like to see more of the old conclusions re-verified using the new rigor.  Anyway, I loved the subject, but was skeptical of everything I read, especially anything using the words 'clearly' or 'obviously'.  This includes being skeptical of debunkings. This book should be an interesting read.
Washburn, K. and Major, John (Eds) (1998).  World Poetry:  An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time.  There's a lot of bad poetry in the world.  There are also many bad translations of good poetry:  how does one translate the appropriate cadence into another language, or gracefully translate a word for which there is no clear parallel?  The Amazon reviews criticize some of the translations in this book, and certainly there is value in studying more than one translation of a poem to see where the overlap is and get a more general feel for the other parts.  But if these translations expose new people to good poetry, then it's a job well done.

I picked up one other recent book, in Wabasha:
Hunt, Linda Lawrence (2003).  Bold Spirit:  Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America.  The story is fascinating; it prompts thoughts of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?  The writing itself is...well, she didn't have a lot to work with, and she attempted to pad it out to book length via speculation and repetition, instead of fleshing it out factually with other tales of late-1800s women's ill-advised journeys, acts of desperation, and perseverance.  I feel like she stumbled on a good story and wanted to tell it, but was not prepared for the task.  A situation I can relate to, certainly.  But it diminishes the story.  Also, "Victorian America" is a questionable phrase.

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