Monday, May 31, 2010

kennebunk book port

The Kennebunk Book Port bookstore in Kennebunkport, Maine is a great, privately owned, old world bookstore. Its tucked in on the second floor, over a fancy gift emporium, in what used to be a rum warehouse. You walk between the weather beaten, clapboard dock buildings, and up a set of stairs to a large porch which looks out over a small inlet of the Kennebunk River, which splits Kennebunkport from Kennebunk lower village.

Like many of the stores in Dock Square, the building is old, and the old wooden floors, walls and framing are left exposed. The shelving is made in the same rough wood to match. There is a desk in the middle of the floor, close to a steel spiral staircase to the upper level (the attic), and there is a couch for reading by the big window which looks out over the square.

[Screeach!] That, my dear friends, was the sound of me dragging the needle off the record of the serenade I was just singing to you about this bookstore. I (Just Now!) went looking for their web site so I could provide you with the link, and found that they have moved since I was there last. So, forget all that. It was great when I was there, you can check out the new location for yourself and let me know.

I had a chat with the proprietor when I was there last, and he was asking what kind of books I read, and recommended a book for me: The Beast God Forgot to Invent, by Jim Harrison. This is a collection of 3 short stories that are very well written about some edges-of-humanity kind of folks. I liked it a lot.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

children of dune

Well, I finished it. Children of Dune, is the third installment of the Dune Chronicles series by Frank Herbert. I think he intended it to be the last of the series but there are three more, which I mentioned in my review of the last book, Dune Messiah. I felt like Dune Messiah was a bridge to this book, and now that I've read it, I think it was. It was a good story on its own, but this one was even better. A lot of the careful planning that went into this saga is revealed in this third volume, in a very satisfying way. The plots were more well thought out than I had anticipated, both the plots in the books and the plotting of the characters.

The Children of Dune are the twin son and daughter of Paul Atreides, Muad'Dib, of the first story. The twins were introduced in the second book, and this story is about them, and how they move the story of the House Atreides forward into the future. And man, do they!

When Paul Atreides stepped outside the norm, to become Muad'Dib, I thought that was some funky stuff going on. But what the twins do, and especially the male twin: Wow. That's some wacky stuff, but fun and really thoughtful. I can imagine how you can get three more stories out of that. Okay, maybe I'll just peek at them at the library.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

mark skinner library

The Mark Skinner Library in Manchester, Vermont is a beautiful library in a truly beautiful town. Manchester sits in the valley east of Mount Equinox (altitude 3848 ft.), and the mountain views surround the town. The town is home to The Equinox, a lovely old world inn, the Northshire Bookstore, and lots of shopping outlets, spas, golf, and foliage in the autumn.

This lovely little book was printed for the July 7, 1897 opening of the new Mark Skinner Library, and given out to the guests and attendees. I was presented with this copy by the director of the library as a gift for traveling to see her, and her library, as we prepared our proposal for the design services for their much needed additions and renovations project. The official title of little volume appears to be "The Opening of the Mark Skinner Library". Google has actually scanned this volume, see it here.

This book is essentially a program, and a record of the day's events for the grand opening celebration. The book was printed by R. R. Donnelley and Sons at the Lakeside Press, Chicago, under the supervision of Herbert S. Stone and Company. The book is cloth bound in green linen, measures 7-inches by 4 1/2-inches, with 71 pages. The head bolts are unopened and the leaves have a fore-edge deckle. A number of black and white photo plates are pasted into the body. The plates include: a portrait of Mark Skinner, with an image of his signature and the words 'Yours Truly' beneath, various photographs of the building's interior and exterior, and a plan of the main floor.

The building was actually built by Frances Skinner Willing, in memory of her father, Mark Skinner, and has actually spend most of its history as a private, subscription library. Only since 2003 have the Manchester voters have supported the library, in part, making it more of a public library, as we traditionally think of them. In addition to Frances Skinner Willing's generous gift, the library has also received two other substantial donations in its past, from two separate, unmarried women. Sounds like a wonderful tradition.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

dune messiah

Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert is the second book in Herbert's original trilogy. Dune Messiah felt, in a lot of ways, like the middle book in a trilogy; by the time I finished it I felt like the bridge between the first book, and what comes next, was built here.

In the introduction, Herbert's son Brian Herbert, says as much, and complains about faithful readers of the first book, being short sighted in their views of his father's efforts in the second installment of the Dune series. It's also clear that the younger Herbert both loves and looks up to his father, saying of him, "If he had been a politician, he would have been an honorable one, perhaps even one of our greatest presidents." Brian Herbert also wrote a biography of his late father, entitled Dreamer of Dune.

I'm pretty sure I read Dune when I was a teenager as well, but the politics were beyond me and I didn't read any of the other books. I've read it again, but it's been over a year and probably longer since, but the story came back as I read through this second adventure on the desert planet. 12 years has past since the end of that story if I remember correctly, but I also remember that some of the ages of the characters didn't seem to add up to what thought they should be, so I've got something wrong. I'll tell you what I don't understand, and that's why a better movie couldn't be made from these books. It's seems ripe; but that silly thing with Sting, come on. And wasn't there another one with that dude from Twin Peaks that was on TV a few years ago? Maybe I'm getting them mixed up.

Anyway, the story is short, fast, fun and surprisingly deep. There are all kinds of things going on in this story, and Herbert expects his readers to keep up. That faith he has in us, to follow the complex web of interconnected politics, religion, war, drugs, ecology, love, jealously, economics, family ties, and all the conflicting pressures they place on the leaders in this story, is what I think makes Herbert so popular with his readers.

Herbert went on to write some more books in the Dune series: God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune. Brian Herbert has also taken up the mantle and has written some Dune books as well, like twelve or thirteen of them! All I have is the original trilogy. I've just started on the last: Children of Dune, and I think I'll see how that goes before getting into anything further.