literary trivia, and commentary
The Dogs of Babel
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
Specs: Hardcover 264 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Date: June 2003
Paul Iverson returns home to find his wife dead. The police
have ruled it an accident - they state she fell out of the backyard
apple tree. In the days that follow Lexy's sudden death, Paul
uncovers strange clues. He believes her death isn't this simple.
There's too much he can't seem to ignore. Paul becomes obsessed
with revealing any truth that he can find in Lexy's death. Paul
begins to teach their dog Lorelei, the only witness to Lexy's
death, to speak to him. His attempts, through many experiments
and his vast knowledge of linguistics, prove to be comedic as
well as tragic. In his relationship with their dog, he reveals
timidity, resolve, and fortitude that may not have resided in
reoccurring flashbacks, Parkhurst's use of the male voice in
this novel indicates she works well using a male POV for narration.
Only a few bumpy passages bring the reader out of the story.
Flashbacks that Paul Iverson experiences reveal the unique and
quixotic marriage that he and Lexy shared - from their first
meeting at a garage sale, to their first date that took them
all the way to Disney World and back, to the days that led up
to Lexy's death. While remembering better days spent with his
wife Paul embarks on a wild journey searching for the truth.
The character escapades keep your interest in this.
debut novel delves into the world of mystery, romance, ghost
story, and tragedy. She adds twists and turns to the plot that
enhance her exploration into a wide range of emotions and symbolism.
year, Esquire said her book was, "one of 34 reasons to
be optimistic about 2003."
magazine calls Parkhurst "one of the new writers to watch."
Trivia - Ever tried the Spa Treatment for
slow selling novels? Agatha did it.
Agatha Christie, born September 15, 1890.
are tidy bits about her life. When things got tough for her,
she escaped to a spa in what may have been, in the 1890s,
one of the first well-planned publicity stunts by a woman author.
It was that, or book revisions were making her personal windmills
tilt. Either way, we wish Agatha a very belated birthday. More
Clarissa Agatha Miller, later known as Agatha Christie, is born
Torquay, Devon, England. Educated at Ashfield, her parents’
comfortable home, Christie began making up stories as a child.
Her mother and her older sister Madge also made up stories;
Madge told especially thrilling tales about a fictional, mentally
deranged older sister.
Agatha married Colonel Archibald Christie in 1914, before World
War I, and had one daughter. While her husband was off fighting
in World War I, Christie worked as an assistant in a pharmacy,
where she learned about poisons. She began to write on a dare
from her sister and produced her first mystery novel, The
Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), featuring Belgian detective
Hercule Poirot, who would appear in 25 more novels during the
next quarter century. The novel found modest success, and she
continued writing. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
became a bestseller, and she enjoyed phenomenal success for
the rest of her life.
Agatha Christie entered a period of emotional turmoil after
the death of her mother and a divorce from her first husband.
She disappeared for 11 days, eventually turning up at a health
spa. Her disappearance was highly publicized, and an expensive
government search ensued. She was later criticized for not coming
forward with her whereabouts.
In 1930, she married archeologist Sir Max Mallowan and accompanied
him on expeditions to the Middle East, which became the setting
for many of her novels. She then created Miss Marple,
one of her most beloved detectives. All told, Christie wrote
some 80 novels, 30 short story collections, and 15 plays, plus
six romances under the pen name Mary Westmacott. She was knighted
in 1971 and died in 1976, just a year after she killed off Poirot
in the novel Curtain: Hercule Poirot’s Last Case.
Poirot received a front-page obituary in the New York Times
on August 6, 1975.
By the time Christie died, more than 400 million copies of her
books had been sold in more than 100 languages.
Trivia - If you are going to gossip, for
heaven sake take a seat next to Madame Bovary.
1, 1856 - First installment of Madame Bovary is published.
On this day, the Revue de Paris publishes the first segment
of Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. The novel was
published in installments from this day until December 15, 1856.
The novel, about the romantic illusions of a country doctor's
wife and her adulterous liaisons, scandalized French traditionalists.
Flaubert was brought to trial for obscenity in 1857. He was
acquitted, and the book became a popular success.
The book's realistic, serious portrayal of humble characters
and situations became a milestone of French realism. Flaubert,
the son of the chief surgeon of the hospital in Rouen, France,
began writing stories in his teens. In 1840, he went to Paris
to study law but failed his exams.
1846, he began a long, tempestuous affair with poet Louise Colet,
which ended bitterly in 1855. Meanwhile, he traveled extensively
with French writer Maxime du Camp, taking extended walking tours
with her and journeying to Greece, Syria, and Egypt from 1849
to 1851. When Flaubert returned from the journey, he began work
on Madame Bovary, which took five years to write.
The book was a hit, as was Flaubert's 1862 novel, Salammbo.
The novel's detailed portrayal of ancient Carthage, based on
the author's trip to Tunisia in 1860, launched a Tunisian fad
in Paris. His 1869 novel, Sentimental Education, about
the July 1848 French uprising, was not well received. In 1877,
his story collection Three Tales, including the story A
Simple Heart, was published. Flaubert died in 1880.
Literary History Tidbits: courtesy of The History Channel.
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