Thursday, June 16, 2016

Like a Note from Home

Reading a lot these days, not writing much, alas. By the time I get out to my desk it's hot outside and nearly afternoon. It feels more like it should be nap time than productive time. Our mornings are spent taking care of the chickens, dog, cats, cats, and cats. We share our space with several of our own cats and several foster cats, some of whom have medical issues.

I did get a bit sidetracked today. In reading an email from another writer I was reminded of the Gutenberg Project's wonderful website. I try not to go there often, because I do indeed get caught there. Today I found (again) the book above and several more in the series. 

If you don't know about the Gutenberg Project, here is my own explanation. I'm sure you can find a better one on Wikipedia or Google. It's basically a non-profit group whose mission is to find and scan old books that are in the public domain. There are all sorts of them already in their system. Today they show over 50,000 in their system, all free to download and read, with many many more available through their several partners. It's a great service, if you know what you're looking for. Virtually any classic book you can think of is in there, or will soon be there, and in several different formats. The only drawbacks I can think of are the lack of description for the books and the scans, while servicable, look sometimes to be unedited. You do find occasional typos. However, I did say it was free!

Back to reading. As I've said before in a previous blog here, I grew up reading this type of literature. These were mostly the books I had available, books that originally were my father's and grandparents. It was many years before I had access to an actual library regularly. (Oh boy, do I remember my first one!) Most of the youth fiction I had available therefore was a generation or two out of date. There were several World War 2 adventure novels there. Among them was Dave Dawson at Guadalcanal and A Yankee Flier With the RAF. These books were my intro to adventure fiction!

Of course, none of the books would ever be published today. Not a lot of political correctness there! They were also, obviously, pro-war, formulaic, and full of stereotypical character, both protagonist and antagonist. They were very much a product of their time. I won't apologize for that. I don't have to. I enjoyed reading the stories and I still do. I can see the times through the stories while disagreeing with many of the concepts. Not unlike reading Huckleberry Finn again. Yes, very dated, very un-PC, but that's not why we read it. We read it because Twain was a genius at capturing the times he lived in and his humor and genius shines through all that.

Okay, Robert Sydney Bowen was NOT Mark Twain, however the humor is there. Does that make me a bad person? If it does, remind me not to tell you about the Miss Minerva series!

Instead, let me tell you about my first library. I was seven, I believe.  I was visiting my mother for a few weeks in Loving, New Mexico. My step-father was working in the oil fields nearby and they were living in a small trailer. We went to Carlsbad Caverns while we were there as well. My mother took us into town to the library. I had never, ever, seen so many books! Even better, we were allowed to take several home with us and exchange them as fast as we read them! It was pure heaven! I have only a few memories of that trip, but that is one of the best ones!

It was an addiction, I know, and my mother was my enabler! So it goes. Now to catch up with Dave Dawson and Freddie Farmer and The Alliteration Tango! (I made that part up!)

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