The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

bookshelves: film-only, published-1907, summer-2014, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, forest, bucolic-or-pastoral, christian, doo-lally

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Don
Read from June 29 to 30, 2014


Watch the film here

Description: “Here and there among men, there are those who pause in the hurried rush to listen to the call of a life that is more real. He who sees too much is cursed for a dreamer, a fanatic, or a fool, by the mad mob, who, having eyes, see not, ears and hear not, and refuse to understand.” –From The Shepherd of the Hills Originally published in 1907, The Shepherd of the Hills is Harold Bell Wright’s most famous work. Pelican Publishing Company is honored to bring this classic novel back to print as part of the Pelican Pouch series. In The Shepherd of the Hills, Wright spins a tale of universal truths across the years to the modern-day reader. His Eden in the Ozarks has a bountiful share of life’s enchantments, but is not without its serpents. While Wright rejoices in the triumphs, grace, and dignity of his characters, he has not naively created a pastoral fantasyland where the pure at heart are spared life’s struggles and pains. Refusing to yield to the oft-indulged temptation of painting for the reader the simple life of country innocents, Wright forthrightly shows the passions and the life-and-death struggles that go on even in the fairest of environments that man invades. The shepherd, an elderly, mysterious, learned man, escapes the buzzing restlessness of the city to live in the backwoods neighborhood of Mutton Hollow in the Ozark hills. There he encounters Jim Lane, Grant Matthews, Sammy, Young Matt, and other residents of the village, and gradually learns to find a peace about the losses he has borne and has yet to bear. Through the shepherd and those around him, Wright assembles here a gentle and utterly masterful commentary on strength and weakness, failure and success, tranquility and turmoil, and punishment and absolution. This tale of life in the Ozarks continues to draw thousands of devotees to outdoor performances in Branson, Missouri, where visitors can also see the cabin where the real Old Matt and Aunt Mollie lived. Harold Bell Wright also is the author of That Printer of Udell’s (pb) and The Calling of Dan Matthews (pb), both published by Pelican.

How lovely it is to be so ignorant of divisive issues re geography in US. This, in a heap of reviews, is peculiarly Ozark and that it might be hard to grasp. I looked up Ozark on ‘thankheavenfor’ wiki:

Ozarks is a toponym believed to be derived as a linguistic corruption of the French abbreviation aux Arcs (short for aux Arkansas, or “of/at Arkansas” in English)[1] in the decades prior to the French and Indian War, aux Arkansas originally referring to the trading post at Arkansas Post, located in wooded Arkansas Delta lowland area above the confluence of the Arkansas River with the Mississippi River.

Residents, as far as I can tell, are looked down upon by other US citizens. Please feel free to jump in and explain why this is, I am always up for my horizons being broadened.
:O)*

The answer from Don:

Great post Bettie, thanks! I will be out that way later this week so this is very timely and informative to me.

As far as residents being looked down upon, the label for them, hillbilly, as explained by wikipedia, connotes a “stereotype — the poor, ignorant, feuding family with a huge brood of children tending the ancestral moonshine still — reached its current characterization during the years of the Great Depression, when many mountaineers left their homes to find work in other areas of the country. It was during these years that comic strips such as Li’l Abner and films such as Ma and Pa Kettle made the ‘hillbilly’ a common stereotype.” Hope that helps!

Theme tune placed here just for fun

Riight, gotcha, I’m with you. Thanks for answering, Don, I can see why many would not have felt comfortable with replying: regional prejudices are a tricky subject. Funnily enough, because I can see ‘Springfield’ on that map, it set me thinking of stereotypical ‘Dohs’.

Pennies from Heaven by Dennis Potter, Kenith Trodd (Introduction)

bookshelves: play-dramatisation, film-only, under-50-ratings, summer-2014, period-piece, britain-england, forest, music

Read from June 07 to 17, 2014


1978 mini-series

Pennies from Heaven (1978)TV Mini-Series

IMDB description: Arthur, a sheet music salesman, has an ear for the hit tunes, but nobody will trust it. And his imagination often bursts into full song, building musical numbers around the greatest frustrations in his life. He meets an innocent young school teacher, Eileen, who seems to hear the same music, but when Eileen learns that he’s married, and that she’s pregnant with his child, she runs away. Arthur gives up everything to find and protect her, but fate and the music haven’t finished with Arthur Parker. – Written by Kathy Li

Bob Hoskins
Gemma Craven
Nigel Havers

Theme Tune

The bits that my better half finds so ugly are the singing interludes, those songs of the times that further the story along and explain innermost thoughts. Personally, I love the Royal Forest of Dean setting for Arthur’s alternative life.

Yes, this is a dated offering but it is one that I have waited a long time to see. Potter was one of the ground-breaking social-realism playwrights. No doubt Mimal will like the Singing Detective better when we get to it. Episode details that follow are taken exclusively from wiki:

Part 1 ‘Down Sunnyside Lane’: In the mid-1930s, Arthur and Joan Parker (Bob Hoskins and Gemma Craven) are an incompatible married couple living in the London suburbs. Arthur, a travelling sheet music salesman, is a passionate man who is frustrated by his wife’s repressed nature. On a car journey to the Gloucester area he picks up ‘the accordion man’, a vagrant (Kenneth Colley) who invariably busks on the instrument in the vicinity of the other characters, but the signs of the man’s mental illness soon lead Arthur to reject him after they spend several hours together. While trying to persuade a shopkeeper (Arnold Peters) to take some of his goods, Arthur notices a female customer with whom he immediately becomes besotted. Arthur and ‘the accordion man’ both manage to frighten the young woman. Before returning to London, Arthur has sex with Marjorie, a Gloucestershire prostitute (Rosemary Martin) in the back of his car.

Part 2 ‘The Sweetest Thing’: Arthur’s bank manager (Peter Cellier) refuses to give him a loan. Eileen Everson (Cheryl Campbell), the woman he encountered, is a junior school teacher in the Forest of Dean who lives with her widowed coal mining father and two brothers, also miners. Meanwhile, Arthur has returned to the area to trace the woman he is obsessed with. He finally encounters Eileen in a wood near the Everson’s cottage, and returns to their home where Arthur claims his wife has died in a motorcycle accident. He and Eileen eventually make love after the rest of the household have gone to bed.

Part 3 ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’: The Parker’s marriage briefly revives after Joan smears lipstick on her nipples, and appears to respond to some of her husband’s sexual fantasies. Joan is persuaded to use her inheritance to finance Arthur’s desire to open a record shop. Meanwhile, Eileen has discovered she is pregnant and is forced to give up her job. After unexpectedly meeting a young blind girl (Yolande Palfrey) in a field, whom he lusts after under his breath, Arthur reappears at the Everson family home, and his relationship with Eileen revives. The blind girl is raped and murdered, for which Arthur is arrested, but soon released. Eileen moves to London, but she has though lost contact with Arthur again.

“Part 4 Better Think Twice”

Almost destitute, Eileen eats little and is in arrears for her cheap hotel room. She meets the superficially sympathetic Tom (Hywel Bennett), a wealthy man with no obvious occupation, and becomes dependent upon him. Arthur opens his new record shop, but he has very few customers, an exception being Tom. The two men get along very well, and Arthur delivers some records to the apartment where Eileen is recovering from an (illegal) abortion paid for by Tom, but the couple are not reunited. Arthur later glimpses Eileen in the pub where she had met Tom, and they leave for the record shop. Unaware of Arthur’s connection to Tom, Eileen explains that the man who paid for her abortion now has a hold over her, and he intends to be her pimp. The couple decide they have to escape from London, and shatter Arthur’s stock of fragile shellac discs.

“Part 5 Painting the Clouds”

A police inspector (Dave King) visits Joan after Arthur’s unexplained disappearance and the destruction of his retail stock. Her comments about Arthur’s sexual tastes, particularly his wish for his wife to move around the house without wearing her knickers, lead the police to make a connection with the murder of the blind girl whose undergarment had been removed. ‘The accordion man’ is haunted by her image and his responsibility for the murder. (It is clear he is not delusional over this event.) He is disorientated when running into Eileen while she is street walking; the dead girl bears a resemblance to her. Arthur is now living off Eileen’s immoral earnings, and she is a client of a Conservative MP, Major Archibald Paxville (Ronald Fraser), who she unsuccessfully attempts to blackmail. ‘The accordion man’ commits suicide, probably by throwing himself off Hammersmith Bridge (which also features ominously in The Singing Detective), and his corpse is discovered. Arthur and Eileen’s false optimism for the future is dashed when they see a newspaper headline indicating he is wanted for murder.

“Part 6 Says My Heart”

Arthur and Eileen are on the run. They spend the night in a barn, but Eileen’s attempt to find help eventually leads her to shoot dead a lonely and deranged farmer (Philip Locke). They feed and clean themselves in his farmhouse, and scavenge through the man’s possessions for money and things they can sell. Leaving the farm Arthur stops, thinking he has seen ‘the accordion man’, but cannot restart their stolen car. Passing police take the couple in for questioning, and Arthur is charged with the murder of the blind girl. In the crown court inconsistencies in Arthur’s various accounts, and a witness unwittingly confusing Arthur’s fixation on Eileen for an obsession with the blind girl lead to his conviction and execution. After Eileen notes the time set for his hanging has passed, Arthur reappears and a happy ending is announced by the two characters.

CR Pennies from Heaven
5* The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today
TR The Singing Detective

The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today by Dennis Potter

bookshelves: published-1962, summer-2014, forest, fradio, nonfiction, autobiography-memoir, essays, politics

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 13, 2014

 

R4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jndk

Description: Dennis Potter was born and brought up in the Forest of Dean, a place he described as a heart-shaped place between two rivers, somehow slightly cut off from the rest of England. This book, first published in 1962, is Potter’s personal study of that small area – its people, traditions, ceromonies and institutions – at a time of profound cultural and social change. He describes the fabric of a world whose old ways are yielding to the new: the collieries closing, the chapels emptying, the local clubs and brass bands harder to sustain. He asks whether the gains of modernity have, for the individuals and society he evokes, been worth the loss.

Episode 1: Revisiting his birthplace, Dennis Potter found the Forest of Dean in a state of profound uncertainty. Read by Robert Glenister.

Episode 2: No job for life: For the Forest of Dean’s coal-mining community, pit closures in 1961 sparked traumatic change.

Episode 3: Empty Pews: In 1961, the old Chapel religion of the Forest of Dean was losing its grip on the local community.

Episode 4: Out With the Old: he Forest of Dean elders remembered the past, while the young embraced what was new.

Episode 5: A Time of Tension: Change can breed insecurity or opportunity. For Forest of Dean locals in 1961, it sparked tension.

Goodrich Castle

Clearwell Caves and the Royal Forest of Dean Iron Mining Museum

The Music: There’s a Land Between Two Rivers – FOREST OF DEAN MALE VOICE CHOIR

Dennis Potter resigned from his post as a trainee with the BBC because he was writing this book with political bias, making a conflict of interest.

Used to spend alternate weekends at the Christchurch, Berry Hill camping site (every other w/e at Port Eynon campsite, The Gower)so I love the place. I’m sure that my repeated visits set the need for a forest vista deep into my psyche. How sad to see that Christchurch is now closed to tents, it has become a lodge site: the changing forest comes into play once more.

Trivia – Jimmy Young was born and bred in Cinderford

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

bookshelves: spring-2014, gardening, forest, gutenberg-project, e-book, lit-richer, maine, published-1896, victorian, travel, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, period-piece, north-americas, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: Wanda
Read from May 16 to 18, 2014



Read for free: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/367/36…

Opening: THERE WAS SOMETHING about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of eastern Maine. Perhaps it was the simple fact of acquaintance with that neighborhood which made it so attaching, and gave such interest to the rocky shore and dark woods, and the few houses which seemed to be securely wedged and tree-nailed in among the ledges by the Landing. These houses made the most of their seaward view, and there was a gayety and determined floweriness in their bits of garden ground; the small-paned high windows in the peaks of their steep gables were like knowing eyes that watched the harbor and the far sea-line beyond, or looked northward all along the shore and its background of spruces and balsam firs. When one really knows a village like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single person. The process of falling in love at first sight is as final as it is swift in such a case, but the growth of true friendship may be a lifelong affair.

Brazilliant calls these stories adorable – and that, dear friends, is more than good enough for me.

“A shipmaster was apt to get the habit of reading,” said my companion, brightening still more, and taking on a most touching air of unreserve. “A captain is not expected to be familiar with his crew, and for company’s sake in dull days and nights he turns to his book.” – Captain Littlepage.

Mrs Almiry Todd: ‘There was something lonely and solitary about her great determined shape. She might have been Antigone alone on the Theban plain. How I would love a friend such as this one.

And said of Mrs Todd’s mother: [..]she had that final, that highest gift of heaven, a perfect self-forgetfulness.

Note: SARAH ORNE JEWETT (1849-1909) was born and died in South Berwick, Maine. Her father was the region’s most distinguished doctor and, as a child, Jewett often accompanied him on his round of patient visits. She began writing poetry at an early age and when she was only 19 her short story “Mr. Bruce” was accepted by the Atlantic Monthly. Her association with that magazine continued, and William Dean Howells, who was editor at that time, encouraged her to publish her first book, Deephaven (1877), a collection of sketches published earlier in the Atlantic Monthly. Through her friendship with Howells, Jewett became acquainted with Boston’s literary elite, including Annie Fields, with whom she developed one of the most intimate and lasting relationships of her life.

The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) is considered Jewett’s finest work, described by Henry James as her “beautiful little quantum of achievement.” Despite James’s diminutives, the novel remains a classic. Because it is loosely structured, many critics view the book not as a novel, but a series of sketches; however, its structure is unified through both setting and theme. Jewett herself felt that her strengths as a writer lay not in plot development or dramatic tension, but in character development. Indeed, she determined early in her career to preserve a disappearing way of life, and her novel can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and hardship on the inhabitants who lived in the decaying fishing villages along the Maine coast.

Jewett died in 1909, eight years after an accident that effectively ended her writing career. Her reputation had grown during her lifetime, extending far beyond the bounds of the New England she loved.

 

In the Greenwood by Mari Ness

bookshelves: spring-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-2013, e-book, forest, debut, medieval5c-16c, historical-fiction, mythology, newtome-author, lifestyles-deathstyles

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Nataliya
Read on May 18, 2014

 

Tor.com blogger, fantasy writer, and insatiable reader Mari Ness makes her Tor.com short fiction debut with a beautifully told tale of complicated and conflicted love, a translation and transformation of a very old story that is sure to be familiar to every fan of folklore and history.

This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by editor Liz Gorinsky.

Opening: Afterwards, neither could agree on where they’d first met, or when. She thought she’d been six; he said four. Both agreed he’d been older than she, although how much older was something they never discussed, nor tried to figure out, quite deliberately. He’d been infuriating, she remembered. She’d been aggravating, he said. He’d once thrown rocks at her.

I’m late to the show – Tor.com have made a tranche of shorties available for free. This Robin Hood rethink is available here, and seeing how I love short stories as palate-cleansers in between main reads, this is exceptionally lovely of them.

Hey Bezos! not everyone is money-grabbing.

A surprising end to this heart of the forest tale.

In the Blood by Lisa Unger

bookshelves: published-2014, e-book, mystery-thriller, winter-20132014, north-americas, dodgy-narrator, psychology, epistolatory-diary-blog, boo-scary, forest, newtome-author, mental-health, eye-scorcher, families, recreational-homicide, revenge, bullies, the-wrong-pyjamas, doo-lally

Read from January 19 to February 25, 2014

Description: LANA GRANGER LIVES A LIFE OF LIES. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to control┬¡ling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

Dedication:

For
Ocean Rae
I love you like the cherry blossom loves the wind

Opeing quote:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

William Blake, “The Tiger”

Opening to prologue: There are twelve slats of wood under my bed. I know this because I count them over and over.

Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelve

I whisper the numbers to myself and the sound of it comforts me as I’m sure a prayer would comfort someone who believes in God. It’s amazing how loud a whisper can be. Surrounded down there by the white glow of my bed skirt, the sound of my own voice in my ears, I can almost block out the screaming, the horrible keening. And then there’s the silence, which is so much worse.

Suspend your belief and scorch your eyeballs through this suspense novel. You’ll have everything sussed by the time the denoument comes in the book, however there were some taut moments.

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White Beech: The Rainforest Years by Germaine Greer

bookshelves: published-2013, radio-4, zoology, winter-20132014, those-autumn-years, nonfiction, fradio, forest, environmental-issues, australia

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 27 to 31, 2014

 

R4 BOTW

BBC description: Germaine Greer is in search of ‘heart’s ease’. She longs to find a patch of her native Australia to make good, to restore after years of misguided exploitation. And she has just the person to help her with her project – her sister who is ‘a properly trained Australian botanist’. But finding the right patch of land turns out to be far more difficult than she ever imagined.

Read by Germaine Greer Abridged and produced by Jane Marshall A Jane Marshall production for BBC Radio 4.

1. Overview and reasons why. GG finds herself an Eco Warrior in her mid-life

2. After a two-year search, Germaine Greer has almost given up her quest for a piece of land to heal. But then she goes to see an abandoned dairy farm on the Gold Coast.

3. Germaine Greer has bought a piece of battered rainforest on the Gold Coast and the task of restoring it seems overwhelming. Now she has to admit to her sister what she’s done.

4. The hero of Germaine Greer’s rainforest is the rare white beech tree. She discovers it is neither white nor a beech, but it is one of the most endangered species of the forest.

5. Germaine Greer returns from a six-month stay in England to find some exciting plantlings in her propagation unit in the rainforest – a discovery that makes all her work worthwhile.

Gondwana Rainforest

Soo good I shall look at deals on the paper book.

5* Poems for Gardeners
5* White Beech

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

bookshelves: winter-20132014, under-1000-ratings, tbr-busting-2014, published-2012, britain-scotland, taiwan, recreational-homicide, casual-violence, mental-health, lifestyles-deathstyles, fraudio, britain-england, psychology, boo-scary, anthropology, mystery-thriller, sci-fi, dystopian, filthy-lucre, forest, mythology, religion, arran, sweden, trolls, fantasy, dubai, environmental-issues, suicide, little-green-men, cannibalism

Read from July 01, 2012 to January 20, 2014

Description: A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?

As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. He has never been good at relationships. Asperger’s Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics.

Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when his Taiwan contact dies shockingly, and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, Hesketh is forced to make connections that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and – most devastatingly of all – his role as a father.

Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.

Origami Crane

Origami Praying Mantis

Origami Hermit Crab

In the Dubai gymnast leap sequence Tokoloshe was mentioned three times.

From wiki: In Zulu mythology, Tokoloshe is a dwarf-like water sprite. It is considered a mischievous and evil spirit that can become invisible by drinking water. Tokoloshes are called upon by malevolent people to cause trouble for others. At its least harmful a tokoloshe can be used to scare children, but its power extends to causing illness and even death upon the victim. The way to get rid of him is to call in the n’anga (witch doctor), who has the power to banish him from the area.

The children start forming a collective consciousness, show signs of arrested development and an addiction for salt.

Hesketh narrates the first person action from an anthropological and autistic viewpoint and it works very well. In Wyndham’s ‘Midwich Cuckoos’ the story is satisfactorily resolved (view spoiler), all tied up with bows; here was a somewhat wobbly ending as the author mounted her own environmental soapbox, her viewpoint working through the Professors notebooks and Hesketh’s epiphany. Lost a star right there. It has been a while since I read The Rapture but I have a feeling the same thing happened there too. Time for a re-visit of that before I spend future money on habitual preachy endings.

That said, 95% of this was very exciting and fresh.

4* The Rapture
4* The Uninvited

Trivia: Liz Jensen is married to author Carsten Jensen:

5* We, The Drowned
3* I Have Seen the World Begin

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