Thursday, December 06, 2007

On My Nightstand

No, the pants aren't done yet. The knitting is, but there is still a bit of finishing. I don't do Christmas knitting because the deadlines and the need to concentrate on one thing (that I don't even keep to keep!) make me crazy.

I haven't been reading as much as usual, but I did finish Anne Tyler's Amateur Marriage a little while ago. Sharon wasn't kidding when she said it is a bleak book. It struck me that these could have been my parents, had they stayed together -- while my mother was not nearly as nutty as Pauline, she is emotional and vivacious. My dad, on the other hand, was very much like Michael, stoic, not as expressive (I think this has changed some in the last few years). They weren't very well suited to each other and had they stayed together their marriage could well have become just as damaging. Not that divorce is a barrel of laughs.

After that most cheerful book, I started (and am currently reading) Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America. I've read many of his very funny books, and I am pleased to see that I have not exhausted his catalog. My favorite, so far, is A Walk in the Woods, his account of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I am also still reading Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963. It is very interesting and well written, but because it is so dense it's been slow going for me. I've just finished the section on the Kennedy-Nixon presidential race which is especially relevant. It's very interesting to see that race from a civil rights perspective: their civil rights planks were very similar and blacks were quite divided on who to support. It is a very complicated story, but because John F. Kennedy telephoned Coretta Scott King while MLK was in prison and Robert Kennedy called the judge in the case, the black vote swung to JFK, and may have been the deciding factor in the race. It was all kept hush-hush, the phone calls were publicized by pamphlets handed out at churches, since the Kennedy campaign didn't want to upset Southern whites. What was so interesting to me about this section of the book was how packaged the candidates were, that just as happens now, everything Kennedy and Nixon said and did or didn't say or do, was calculated to maximize public opinion. So little was genuine. True then, true now, sad to say.

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