Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

The elephant’s pleasure was plain to see. The water and the scrubbing motion of the broom must have awoken in him some pleasant memory, a river in india, the rough trunk of a tree, and the proof was that for as long as the washing lasted, a good half hour, he did not move from the spot, standing firm on his powerful legs, as if he were hypnotised. Knowing as one does the preeminent virtues of bodily cleanliness, it was no surprise to find that in the place where one elephant had been there now stood another. The dirt that had covered him before, and through which one could barely see his skin, had vanished beneath the combined actions of water and broom, and solomon revealed himself now in all his splendour. A somewhat relative splendour, it must be said. The skin of an asian elephant like solomon is thick, a greyish coffee colour and sprinkled with freckles and hairs, a permanent disappointment to the elephant, despite the advice he was always giving himself about accepting his fate and being contented with what he had and giving thanks to vishnu. He surrendered himself to being washed as if he were expecting a miracle, a baptism, but the result was there for all to see, hairs and freckles.

* * * * *

Despite the brutality of the crimes, many whites did not mask their enthusiasm for the lurid story. OSAGE INDIAN KILLING CONSPIRACY THRILLS, declared the Reno Evening Gazette. Under the headline OLD WILD WEST STILL LIVES IN LAND OF OSAGE MURDERS, a wire service sent out a nationwide bulletin that the story, “however depressing, is nevertheless blown through with a breath of the romantic, devil-may-care frontier west that we thought was gone. And it is an amazing story, too. So amazing that at first you wonder if it can possibly have happened in modern, twentieth-century America.” A newsreel about the murders, titled “The Tragedy of the Osage Hills,” was shown at cinemas. “The true history of the most baffling series of murders in the annals of crime,” a handbill for the show said. “A Story of Love, Hatred and Man’s Greed for Gold. Based on the real facts as divulged by the startling confession of [Individual 1].”

* * * * *

….The pottingar delivered his opinion in a most insinuating manner; but he seemed to shrink into something less than his natural tenuity when he saw the blood rise in the old cheek of Simon Glover, and inflame to the temples the complexion of the redoubted smith.
….The last, stepping forward, and turning a stern look on the alarmed pottingar, broke out as follows: “Thou walking skeleton! thou asthmatic gallipot! thou poisoner by profession! if I thought that the puff of vile breath thou hast left could blight for the tenth part of a minute the fair fame of Catharine Glover, I would pound thee, quacksalver! in thine own mortar, and beat up thy wretched carrion with flower of brimstone, the only real medicine in thy booth, to make a salve to rub mangy hounds with!”

* * * * *

But one distinguishing characteristic of this great author’s mind and feelings deserves, even in the shortest allusion to his memory, to be mentioned as giving colour to all his works – we mean his love of country – his devoted attachment to the land of his birth, and the scenes of his youth – his warm sympathy in every thing that interested his nation, and the unceasing application of his industry and imagination to illustrate its history or to celebrate its exploits. From the Lay of the Last Minstrel, or the border ballads, to the last lines which he wrote, he showed a complete and entire devotion to his country. His works, both of poetry and prose, are impregnated with this feeling, and are marked by the celebration of successive portions of its wild scenery, or of separate pieces of its romantic annals. Hence his friends could often trace his residence, or the course of his reading, for periods anterior to the publication of his most popular works, in the pages of his glowing narrative or graphic description. Hence the Lady of the Lake sent crowds of visitors to the mountains of Scotland, who would never have thought of such a pilgrimage unless led by the desire to compare the scenery with the poem.

from the obituary of Sir Walter Scott

* * * * *

….Like so many mornings after a torrential rainstorm, the day broke awash with brilliant sunshine and fresh air. Though the sun had warmed the tin room to the point where I’d grown hot in my sleeping bag, the wretched position in which I’d finally fallen asleep had morphed into borderline uncomfortable.
….I gazed at the cot above me expecting to see the impression of Pia still sleeping there, but it was flat. To my left, Rachel’s bed was empty too, her bedroll neatly tied. I was relieved to see Sandra still bundled in her red sleeping bag, head tucked down. Like Pia, she was a natural-born sleeper.
….Led by aromas of French toast and coffee, I climbed up the hill across grass flattened by the night’s downpour. In the distance, our destination: smoke-blue mountains obscured and then revealed by morning fog. I felt equally pulled and repelled. What did the mountains care about our plan to climb them, rafting the waters that divided them? They had eternity before us, and eternity after us. We were nothing to them.

* * * * *

So… are you tempted?

33 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. You’ve really got some interesting books there, FictionFan! I’m particularly drawn to the Grann, but they all strike me as having a strong sense of context. And I do like biographies, so I’ll be interested in what you think of Great Scottish Lives, too.

    • The Grann was good, though I found the structure a bit too loose for my taste. But what a dreadful story! The Great Scottish Lives is variable so far – an awful lot of soldiers with histories of their various battles. I’m hoping it picks up once I get past the Napoleonic Wars!! 😉

  2. I’m still feeling enamored of the elephant, but before I committed to reading it, I’d *have* to know that he’s not abused or killed. That would be a complete NO for me!

    • The elephant is happy and well looked after throughout! However, the book didn’t quite wow me as much as I hoped – review soon, but I’m thinking it’s maybe not his best… 😦

    • I’m loving The Fair Maid – Scott is such a great writer, and in this one he’s not going in for loads of Scottish dialect as he sometimes does, which makes it easier to read… 😀

  3. The elephant book sounds realy interesting-is it non-fiction? Is that a stupid question based on what I just read? LOL

    And the last book seems like a modern-day thriller-how’s that going so far? No women in red coats on the cover so that’s a good start 🙂

    • It is fiction but apparently based on a true story that an elephant was given as a gift from the King of Portugal to the Archduke of Austria and travelled across Europe.

      Hmm… The River at Night started quite well and then became ludicrous halfway through! I should finish it tonight so it still has time to redeem itself, but I don’t think it will… 😉

  4. Killers of the Flower Moon was also my read this week and I liked it a lot. I finished it nearly in one sitting because I was so engrossed into the story. What a shocking case, I must say, and I am excited that there is a rumour about the film being in pre-production (from Scorsese and DiCaprio).

    • Oh, I didn’t know about the film – sounds as if it might be great! I was shocked by the story too – especially that it’s the firs time I’ve heard about it. You’d think something so awful would be more widely known!

      • Exactly. I am also pleased that Tom White finally “got known” by more people via this book. I think more people should know about him and how he contributed to demystifying this difficult case.

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