Thursday, February 17, 2005
The over-riding constant in this book was rain--so much rain that there hadn't been anything like it in Sussex in living memory. When two teenage siblings go missing along with their weekend chaperone, their rather unstable mother is convinced that they have drowned. Inspector Wexford feels certain that is not the case, but is at a loss as to what has actually happened to them. Eventually the woman who was supposed to be looking out for them, is found dead in her car in a ravine, but the weeks drag on without any sign of Sophie and Giles. All this time, we are finding out, bit by bit, just how dysfunctional their whole family is--as well as many bizarre facts about the dead woman. A fundamentalist-type religious group figures into the equation, as well as a very eccentric, pot-smoking granny. When the grandmother has a stroke, Sophie reappears, having called the EMTs, but she refuses to say where her brother is.
I had some of this mystery figured out even before the Inspector did, but he beat me to the identity of the actual murderer.
I decided to take one of Alberto Manguel's suggestions and improve my vocabulary by jotting down words I did not previously know, along with their definitions. These were Demesne, Virago, Etiolated, Distrait, Zeugma, Syllepsis, and the one that intrigued me the most was Simnel Cake. I went online to find a recipe, which I pasted into the small booklet on the right side. The cover for that was made by wetting a piece of Arches Text Wove paper and dropping on diluted Plaka paints and diluted Holbein Pearl Gold gouache. Then the wet paper was picked up and shifted around to get the colors to mingle. Of course, the scan doesn't do it justice, but in person it is so shimmery and beautiful.
Monday, February 07, 2005
This book is about the healing power of family. When Naomi's son dies and leaves his mother and wife bereft--awash in their individual and shared sorrows, they find strength in their love for each other. When Naomi suddenly decides to leave Massachusetts after 50 years and return to her childhood home in South Carolina, Ruth goes with her. They are welcomed by extended family, some of whom they barely know--and others not at all. They are flooded with a love they are nearly too fragile to accept.
Naomi is also dealing with the guilt she still feels after betraying her husband 40-odd years before. When she discovers that he had known all along and forgiven her anyway, she is at first devastated--but the knowledge of his forgiveness at long last allows her to forgive herself--and to permit Ruth to love again, too.
Here is a quote from Naomi:
"I felt all this, and knew suddenly and deeply and fully what it meant to be alive, because I seemed in this small moment so very far from it: to be alive was to be the one in bed and to have lived your life so that there would be someone beside you, someone there to hold your hand no matter the cold of it or the dead white skin and frail bones hiding underneath that skin. No matter the cluster of ghosts you carried with you every breath you took in. And to be alive was to live in a way such that you were both of these people: the comforted and the comforting, the loved and the loving, so that finally all you were, all that you had lived your life to become, the sum total of each sunrise and sunset you'd ever managed to witness, was to love. To live was to receive love, and to give it away."The images on this page are rubber stamps painted with Prismacolor pencils and outlined with a metallic gold gel pen. I've found that the chalky feel of the craft paints that I use on most of my backgrounds will destroy gel pens if used too extensively, but you can get away with using them in limited amounts.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
I listened to this audio book on the way to Nacogdoches and was hoping it would last long enough to see me back home as well, but it concluded about the time I passed by the airport. I enjoyed it enough so that I got another book by Mr. Silva when I went to the library on Monday. When I checked online, I discovered that he has written 7 books in 7 years, and 3 of them comprise what he calls "an accidental trilogy dealing with the unfinished business of the Holocaust." This book happens to be the third one in the series, but it stands up well on its own.
Gabriel Allon is an Israeli agent whose alter ego--Mario Delvecchio--is an art restorer working in Venice. When a deadly bomb destroys the Wartime Claims and Inquiries office in Vienna, Gabriel is sent to investigate. His questions lead him to discover a Nazi war criminal with ties to the Vatican and the CIA. Ultimately, he learns of a (real) German secret operation called Aktion 1005 that was a plan to conceal evidence of the Holocaust by excavating millions of decomposing corpses and burning the remains. The specially created SS unit was so successful that even today pseudo-scholars and anti-Semites argue that the Holocaust was greatly exaggerated since the remains of 6,000,000 Jews can't be produced.
Reviewers compare Silva to John LeCarre and Graham Greene for his intelligently-wrought thrillers with important lessons to be learned and vital history to be remembered.
The capital "I" is a rubber stamp. I used Ranger's Archival Jet Black ink to stamp it, and it came out nice and crisp on the acrylic painted page. The picture on the opposite page shows a street scene in Vienna that I found online. The original picture was sepia-toned, but when I printed it out, it looked like a red negative because my printer had run out of black ink. But after I printed it out correctly, I decided to use the funky one after all. I sprayed the print with Krylon Workable Fixative and then wrote the title with black gouache and a # 2.5 Tape nib. The author's name was written with a # 6 Mitchell nib. I used a Uniball Vision micro pen for the text.