Saturday, December 21, 2013

Books that have Stayed with Me, Part 3

Here's the last installment of Books that have Stayed with Me:

9. Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat. I was assigned to read this book in my college biology class and I still remember how irritated I was at the assignment. I read constantly, and always had a TBR pile ready to go. I didn’t want to have to read what someone else thought was good for me. I remember griping and growling about it until I set down with the book and started. Within moments I was laughing uproariously and totally engrossed. I later picked up and read almost everything Mowat has written. This particular tale is about Mowat’s study of Wolves in Canada, but it is nowhere near as dry as that description suggests.

10. The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen. Never Cry Wolf got me into reading stories of nature and this is another such tale. But it’s also much more. It’s the story of Matthiessen’s journey into the Himalayas to find the elusive Snow Leopard, but it’s also a spiritual journey and offers great insights into the human condition.  It also has some of the most incredible writing I’ve ever seen. When I want beautiful prose that resonates through me, I often go to this book.

11. Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin. This is also generally considered a classic and had I read it as a youngster I would probably not have liked it. However, since it deals with gay characters I would never have found this book in any high school curriculum in Arkansas in those days. I read the book in my thirties, after having already read and enjoyed a number of other Baldwin books such as The Fire Next Time and Go Tell it on the Mountain. The story is about an American Gay man living in Paris and about his relationship with Giovanni, an Italian fellow. I didn’t continue reading this for the adventure. It’s a character study and has great humanity.  It’s also impressive to me that Baldwin, an urban African American man, could write so well about white characters in France. Of course, Baldwin was gay and had lived in France for many years, but still I found this work well worth my study as a writer.


12. House Made of Dawn, by N. Scott Momaday. This book opens with gorgeous prose and is a very fine character study as well. I still pick it up from time to time for the prose. It was also memorable to me as an introduction to a Native American character with depth and a kind of humanity that I did not get from most of the reading of western genre fiction earlier in my life.
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15 comments:

sage said...

I've read the first three and Giovanni's Room (which I've blogged about) certainly was an eye-opener for me (I was in college when I read it). I need to read "House Made of Dawn."

Cloudia said...

Very wise choices,, I'd say.
Enjoy your holidays, Charles

Brian Miller said...

well you have got me on all four today....adding to the reading list...esp the snow leopard with such high praise from you...and house made of dawn....

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

I remember reading Never Cry Wolf. It was a surprisingly good book using nature as a backdrop with humor.

Little Messy Missy said...

I am added The Snow Leopard to my library list now. Thanks. xoxoxox

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, I was surprised to find myself liking Giovanni's Room, but the writing was extremely good.

Cloudia, than you.

Brian, The Snow leopard is probably my favorite book of all time, and I've reread parts of it many, many times.

Bernard, absolutely. Surprised the heck out of me but I really enjoyed it.

Little Messy Miss, I bet you will enjoy.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I have heard much about "The Snow Leopard" by Peter Matthiessen and following your recommendation I'll try and read it now.

Charles, A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and Lana!

Riot Kitty said...

I have yet to read Baldwin; this reminded me that I need to.

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, thank you!

Riot Kitty, good stuff.

Richard Prosch said...

I just got HOUSE MADE OF DAWN on my Kindle. Great stuff.

Richard said...

Mowat was and still is a favorite of mine, too. Never Cry Wolf was the second or third of his books I read, after starting with The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. Good stuff.

Richard said...

Oh, and of course, a Very Merry Christmas to you, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Richard Prosch, it is indeed.

Richard, thanks, man. I read most of Mowat's stuff when I was in my 30s, I think. I should reread some of that stuff, although nothing stayed with me quite as much as Never Cry Wolf.

jodi said...

Charles-the Snow Leopard sounds interesting and I have James Baldwin on my list to get to sometime soon. Thanks for reminding me!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, no prob