Regarding this:  entitled Liar, Liar, Books on Fire! I left the following comment, and once again I felt it too long that it should not be included here as a regular entry.

There is a book or two that, due to my advancing years, I cannot now remember having read–or not.  Still this is an interesting topic.  As a young man of science, I could not have imagined the reason or cause for “peacocking,” if I am using the offered term correctly.(?)

And, as a young man, the nature of the books I read, filled as they were with diagrams, equations and very, very densely specialised text, such fakery would have been inconceivable.  As a much (much, much, much) older man, I do of course understand the nature of a man who might wish to be thought greater than he is.

Still I would not commit this act of bravado.  And, as it happens, I myself have a very solid reason to commit such an act.  I have a standing agreement with a colleague of mine, who has some kind of irrational aversion to the reading of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” to wit, that he will read the book in question if and when I complete Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamozov.”

I have tried.  Indeed I have.  I am some few chapters in at my last attempt.  But I believe my friend will win this contest of ours if I play fair.  And I will, I am afraid, even though I believe Miss Rand’s book will, for him, answer some very important questions which he has to me voiced over the many decades.

As for the above list:

I have read Orwell’s ‘1984’ I wish I could claim to have read it During the year itself, but I cannot now remember.  Most likely, I read it a few years before that time.

My sweet wife and I have read the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy aloud, taking turns over many successive evenings.  These books read very well in this way, almost as though they were written with such a method in mind.

I attempted, but did not finish “Pride and Prejudice” as a very young man.  I will here state that I enjoyed, to some degree, the 1/5th that I did read, but that its language was a bit too much for my equation-addled brain to parse.  Merely having fallen in love with a “humanities girl” was not then enough to grant me the gift of comprehension of such language.  (This failure is partly what led me to study the poetry of various periods–to my scientific mind, a much more efficient way to survey the language of various eras)  I have not attempted it yet again, but I believe that, were I to do so, it would afford me no trouble at all at this late date.

And, even though it was not so very long ago, my failed attempt to read “Catcher in the Rye” induced a kind of glaze of the eyes, which condition still has not completely abated.

10 responses to “Peacocking???

  1. Ah David, as a diehard. salinger worshipper, i must recommend Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters or Franny and Zooey wherein the Glass family are the main participants, including the damaged Seymour, who inspired me to write Mr. Salinger. Very zen and often a bit abstract, i can quote you chapter and verse. Included on this group is a short story, in which we meet Seymour, A Perfect Day for Bananafish. I read Salinger during early spring and mid-autumn.

    I have never cared for Austin or any of her ilk. Oscar Wilde is my choice, along with Bram Stoker’s evil fairy tale, Dracula. A modern day fantasy writer, Barbara Hambly takes up much space on my kindle. She is a multi degreed historian. As a specislist in Victorian and edwardian England, i find her spot on and accurate. She reads like thick cream: rich, smooth, flavorful, with substance. Dragons, alternative universes, wizards, warriors, vampires, 1830s new orleans (s free man of colour who is a doctor, musician, and damn good detective, i have, like Salinger, read everything at least 3 times. Save rand, 1984,dostoyevski for the pretentious. Read her for fun, fright, historical accuracy, and great grammar. Mrs. E may like her Dark Trilogy or the Asher/Ysidro Vampire books. The read aloud great.


    • Hmmmm….sounds truly delectable, Kanzen, thank you! I will look up Ms Hambly directly. I hope I can find some good prices for ebooks, I am anxious for something new to read to David.

      I will admit to having a true affection for Dear Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters and, yes, Oscar Wilde. I do not care for James Joyce but he is about the only one I can think of that wrote nothing I found to enjoy. I went through a wild craze for Russian authors at one time. For Dante, I was blessed with a charming tutor who helped me read Dante’s love letters to his dear Beatrice instead of The Inferno. When my sweetheart calls me his “Humanities Girl” most people probably think that means I got that title in school, but that would not be accurate. It is where my heart lies. My growth as a young humanities girl came from my grandfather’s well stocked library and lots of time to spend in it reading. This led to me finding books and authors who fit my many young moods, and tutors who allowed me to lead them on a merry chase through the, so called, Great Books. And then there was reading to my Grandfather at night. I read many books before I was old enough to understand them and reread them later with love and fond memories of the time spent with him. How could I help but learn to love great literature.

      I hope I can encourage any who wish to foster a love of such as is now considered arcane and inaccessible literature to keep it around the house. You never know what a truly bored child may pick up and when it is raining and snowing and there is a comfy chair just next to a window with a good light it can be a wonderful bit of rebellion to read things that people don’t think you should want to read. No sparkly vampires in Stoker’s book. Wuthering Heights should be all the drama any seventeen year old girl can take! Don’t forget the ever transgressive Gustave Flaubert! (I think I’ve digressed into “how to corrupt your children with Great Literature…heh)

      Ahem…how my mind does wander. About “Peacocking”. I do not see it’s use. Who cares what book one has read unless it is for the purpose of being able to discuss and enjoy with an acquaintance? Were I to meet a fellow Jane Austin lover at a party we would have something to converse about which would be very nice since I don’t know much about football or television. But what would be the use of looking like you read Jane Austin? It isn’t a punishment, it’s a book! I haven’t read anything on the Times best seller list because they’re too expensive, but to lie about it and then try to carry on a conversation about specific books would be laughable. In fact, were it not for my advanced age I’m sure the sniggering would be audible and harsh.

      And now I need a nice nap! I will dream of reading Barbara Hambly who is somehow like green tea ice cream. Delightful!

      The plum tree outside the bay window is budding out, Kanzen.


    • Good morning to you. I do hope your nap left you refreshed. I have noticed the buds on the cherry trees in the area are getting fatter. This give much hope to my flower starved soul. My perennial blue birds have begun to nest in their yellow house with the copper roof. it seems everywhere in the world spring is bursting forth, except here, except at this point, in my soul. It has been a hard month and I anticipate it getting harder. But I will survive!
      I began reading when I was three and by the time I was six, I was asking all sorts of embarrassing questions and making odd quotes at funny times. The only way my parents could find to punish an odd and headstrong child was to forbid me to read!
      I’m a bit of a Humanities Girl myself although I have found a certain amount of poetry in science and mathematics in my later years. I have now become the one around the house to install computers, dimmer switches, ceiling fans, fix the dishwasher – what have you. I always stop midway to have a quick read though, as a reward and incentive to finish the task.
      I read Austen as a teenager and just couldn’t get into her or the Brontes. I tried. I knew they were classics and supposed to be good, but they reminded me of the girls I with whom I went to school and disliked or ignored. I tried again as an adult. I went through my phase of Russian writers. The reading didn’t do a lot for me but it spurred me to the history surrounding the literature. That gave me great pleasure!
      I enjoy Ms. Hambly so much. Her main vampire, Simon Ysidro, is often described as a golden praying mantis….I can see him – thin, still, considering. She will sometimes write of the humans observing him that for just a moment, they catch a glimpse of the human he used to be, or the smile he had when he was young man, or the rare flash of humor from when he was alive, or the parts of him that used to be human being replaced by crystal. Thus she addresses all of us and how we used to be before some life changing event occurred – the before and now, what the after is like. In her books about a woman mage, her husband and a dragon whom she battles, she states if we know the true name, we can use that name as a weapon. In order to remove poison from the dragon’s body, he has to give her his name. she discovers the true name of a dragon is a few notes of music, unique to each dragon. I found that intriguing and lovely. I wonder what my true name would sound like? What would be the riff?
      And so I must end this delightful conversation with you and get to mundane work. I hope your day is full of magic and music.


    • One problem I have being a writer of any kind is that I am not as avid a reader as I should be. And, I do mean “should be,” for all the finest writers say if one is not writing one should be reading.

      My neurons are not at all properly arranged (this is not a joke, although it IS funny) and it can keep me from (the experience of) appreciating things which are appreciated by many.

      When it came to “Catcher in the Rye,” my stubborn neurons just would not behave–in much the same manner in which they would not behave when I attempted “The Brothers Karamozov.” Although the translator may have been more to blame than Dostoevsky himself for that. I was much younger when I read Rand’s 4 novels. And even though there were layers upon layers to them that I did not, at first, perceive, they were not difficult reading–quite the contrary I was on the edge of my seat through all of them.

      I recall the same was true reading “1984.” This even though it is “one of those books you are supposed to read” ™….

      What is interesting about Miss Rand’s books is not only that they are entertaining stories as well as being undeniably prophetic, but that they number in the top 10 sellers of all time as well as being consistently named in the top 10 most important books of all time (by readers, not by academics) and that these books accomplish this without any of the academic welfare that most other “books you are supposed to read” ™ receive. This alone made me curious to read them.

      I will tell you most sincerely though that I feel like a horrible cad, not having been captivated by Salinger, because I know he is among your favourites. Someday I may try another of his, but as I mentioned, I do not read nearly as much as I should; and when I do I usually opt for lighter reading… a good story wherein a goodguy kills all the bad guys and saves the girl, whether upon a white horse, or in a spaceship : )

      Please forgive me.


    • Then skip all the other “supposed to read” and “should read” and “smarty savvy sleek” reads. Go to Ms. Hambly forthwith with Those Who Hunt the Night – bookish professor (secret HRM agent) who saves beautiful intelligent wife from hordes of vampires and learns to find the good and human in someone who is neither good nor, no longer human. Takes place in Oxford and London and while not full of explosions, is full of biting, staking, and a scene wherein the hero and the vampire ride an Indian from London to Oxford to save the girl….


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