Bitch on the Blog

October 28, 2012

Start at the beginning

Filed under: Books — bitchontheblog @ 22:35
Tags: ,

Sweethearts, the nights get longer – a bit like earlobes do (according to Phil) as time passes on. Since I have long hair I shall worry about that once my hair starts falling out. In the meantime my main ambition is to not get long in the tooth.

In the absence of anything better to do I have (no, not lit a fire) looked through a stack of  books, forlorn and neglected in a corner. And came across an author I find so incomprehensible I will give him away. Our twain will never meet. Want to know the name? Just ask. Not that he is the only one. I will give any print a try – well, no, not any, but most – yet, by Jove, one’s patience may be tested.

Talking of which, and please do tell me now: Leaving non-fiction aside since with non-fiction it doesn’t matter on which page you open the book: Are any of you that most awful of creatures who reads the end first? If you are please don’t tell me because you will go down the greasy pole of my esteem before you can say ‘rock bottom’.

It’s no joke. There is a book I’d love to give to two long distant friends of mine. Bought the copies for them years ago. It’s a brilliant read. It encompasses all both of them are interested in. Not least food. Yet, I can’t bring myself to send it to them. Why? Because I know them. They’ll flick through it, read the last page and spoil the whole surprise. Which makes the whole exercise pointless.




  1. I like to take things a step at a time – no peeking at presents, no opening the oven door until the timer goes off, and no ruining the plot by reading the end first. Am dying to know which author your find incomprehensible. Please share.

    Comment by writingfeemail — October 28, 2012 @ 22:42 | Reply

    • Well, Renee, it appears we are birds of a feather.

      Who is the author? In this case Saul Bellow. His “Herzog”. There are others. I love Gore Vidal, the man. As I related recently it was said of him: “No one pisses from a greater height”. True. How we’d have locked horns in discussion. The pleasure of him taking me apart. Not that I wouldn’t have bore a hole in some of his arguments. Yet, most of his writing is not for me. Though his memoir “Palimpsest” one of the finest. Unfortunately he died. You can’t rely on people hanging around till you get a chance to meet them. Bastard.


      PS Come to think of it: Maybe you and I, and I dare say some of our commentators may be game, could come up with a running dialogue who speaks to us and who doesn’t – unless it’s a bit too personal

      Comment by Ursula — October 29, 2012 @ 18:54 | Reply

      • “Our twain will never meet.” Shucks, my guess was Mark Twain.

        Comment by bikehikebabe66 — October 31, 2012 @ 00:13 | Reply

  2. I always start at the beginning and proceed to the end, but since I am studying Hebrew lately am a bit confused about which direction to proceed.

    Comment by Looney — October 29, 2012 @ 13:40 | Reply

    • Yes, Looney. You and your Hebrew. It’s enough to make me wake up in a cold sweat. My youngest sister studied Chinese (can’t remember now which branch – they have so many). And they read backwards, right to left, or some such. One thing I know about English that if you only have a vague inkling as to how a word is spelled you will spend many a happy minute flicking through your dictionary. Learning lots. Till you choose another word.

      Keep your compass handy,


      Comment by Ursula — October 29, 2012 @ 18:44 | Reply

      • Speaking of Chinese, I remember a business deal we were involved with. A high tech company was trying to get their products distributed into China. I remember getting a 20 page fax proposal with nothing but Chinese characters, and an occasional American word (the name of the products) scattered about the page. We had several Chinese scientists on staff that were helping us to decipher the damned document, and I remember them circling a number of characters. Those were characters they were not familiar with and would have to be researched. It was then when I realized why the illiteracy rate is so high in China. How in the hell do you look up a specially formed character, unlike words formed by our alphabet? It wasn’t pretty.

        Comment by Phil — October 30, 2012 @ 20:10 | Reply

        • Phil, there is a fairly simple logic to the Chinese characters so that they can be quickly looked up in a Chinese dictionary … or with a Chinese online system. There is one sub-character to the left or top that can be one of about a hundred different types. Then there is the total number of strokes in the character. With those two bits of info you can go straight to the place in the dictionary.

          The problem your company had was probably related to traditional vs. simplified Chinese characters. The later is taught in mainland China and Singapore, while the former is Taiwan and Hong Kong. T. They are related, but it can be confusing.

          Comment by Looney — October 31, 2012 @ 13:36 | Reply

          • Looney, at the time (mid 80’s) we were dealing with Hong Kong, but I did observe our Chinese scientists doing much of what you said on the characters that were tripping them up. Nonetheless, it looked a lot less efficient than an alphabetized system, and it really made me think about written language and what we take for granted. Complex and confusing for sure.

            Comment by Phil — October 31, 2012 @ 13:45 | Reply

  3. Aw, come on U, send the books. Once they are out of your hands, they are out of your hands.

    Think about it. I just said something very profound.

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — October 29, 2012 @ 18:04 | Reply

    • Yes, I know, Lorna. You said something very profound. Yet, a gift is given with an intention. The intention usually to give pleasure. Not just to the recipient but the giver too. Call me selfish but there it is. Sometimes you just know when to sit on something. In fact I could sit both of them down (difficult since neither has been on speaking terms with me for the last three years – their idea not mine) and read them the book. I love reading to others. As I love being read to. Must be the Neanderthal in me. Sitting round the fire telling each other stories.

      May the storm not blow you away.


      Comment by Ursula — October 29, 2012 @ 18:36 | Reply

      • If the storm blows me away, it will blow away my condo, too. I’ll be the 2012 version of Dorothy. It fits. America right now feels about as sane as Oz and who knows which Wizard will be in charge of the smoke and mirrors…

        I’ll be safe. I’m more concerned about Phil. He’s so close to the shore and the real energy of the storm.

        Comment by Lorna's Voice — October 29, 2012 @ 18:49 | Reply

        • Don’t worry about Phil. Says she who is so worried about Phil I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to tell him. I keep telling myself that he is a man of many resources. Honestly, Lorna, what to make of a man who has presence of mind to clear his gutter before the storm hits? And went voting. I have no idea who he voted for, neither do I wish to know. But considering his efforts his vote should count at least double.

          He’ll be as snug as a bug in a hug. And when he gets bored with the sound of wind howling he can always listen to his many varied music. You can tell,.can’t you: I am not worried at all. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

          Wizard of Oz, never got into it, Lorna. May give it another try. Other than that your election is …….. and no I won’t use the appropriate word since I learnt that you don’t like it. Still. one wonders on whose side the gods of weather are on. Have to say, from a distance, just love those ‘undecided’ areas on the US map.


          Comment by Ursula — October 29, 2012 @ 19:18 | Reply

          • Yes, Phil does have his act together, but this is one powerful storm. But with both of us worrying over him, I’m sure he’ll pull through just fine.

            And yes, I bet our map is a source of much delight from afar… 😐

            Comment by Lorna's Voice — October 29, 2012 @ 21:23 | Reply

  4. I’m not sure how to respond. I can certainly be orderly and type A, especially when it comes to preparations regarding my home, but that is not the reason I would never peek at the end of the book before reading through. I can be rather spontaneous and non orderly, because I am always open to possibilities, and that is the reason I believe I don’t cheat and peek ahead. I like having my mind contemplate on a good thriller about all the possible outcomes and their reasons. I delight in being surprised.

    I’m rather impressed that you and Lorna seem to think I have my act together. I should probably take a few pictures of my desktop at work and my mail pile at home to dispel that notion you might have of me…

    Comment by Phil — October 30, 2012 @ 19:59 | Reply

  5. Patience is a game in which I cheat. But book reading? Nope. I start at the beginning, and end at the end.

    Are your ears pierced? Is that why the lobes get longer? Do you sleep with ear-rings in place?!

    Comment by Priya Dubey Sah — November 6, 2012 @ 14:50 | Reply

    • Priya, you are so sweet. No, my ears are not pierced. I don’t mutilate my body. I will admit that some piercings and tattoos do look stunning. On others. But it’s not my thing. I haven’t even so much as dyed a hair of mine. Ever. Where most other women I know will mess with their hair so that, over the years, you actually forget what they were originally I stick to the original.

      ‘Getting long in the tooth’ is a polite way of saying that your gums recede. Which leads many to vigorous brushing. Don’t. Gently does it. Two friends of mine, neither of them squeamish when it comes to calling a spade a spade, pointed out to me (and I am not sure which one said which): As you get older your earlobes (maybe by law of gravity – who knows) will get longer. I don’t like it, Priya. Earlobes tell you a lot about a person – more of which another time. The other friend, and this was a true shocker to me, said something about your NOSE getting longer as time passes. Where he gets this notion from I do not know. It’s a first. My only comfort being that I do not lie (reference Pinocchio) so I might be given a reprieve. Also, come to think of it, it’s quite unfair: Say, you were born with a tiny nose you can afford a bit of growth. But what if you were born with my nose or that of Adrien Brody? Why not take a short cut and start life as an elephant? I love trunks.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 10, 2012 @ 04:33 | Reply

      • “As you get older your earlobes (maybe by law of gravity – who knows) will get longer.”
        I talked to a long-ago neighbor at the grocery store. I didn’t ask her about her earlobes but I wanted to ask. 🙂 sorry U. They were heading for her shoulders. She said she was 93 & had a ways to go. Not done yet.

        Comment by bikehikebabe66 — November 12, 2012 @ 14:48 | Reply

    • I do like trunks. Especially the wooden and tin kind. And then I like to paint them.

      I’d rather be spicy than sweet, Ursula. But I fail often.

      Comment by Priya Dubey Sah — November 12, 2012 @ 08:04 | Reply

  6. That Saul Bellow fella,
    I read one novella
    Written by him
    Found it quite grim
    Might go there again
    But then again
    Try a different novella
    Of that Saul Bellow fella

    Comment by Maria — November 9, 2012 @ 14:29 | Reply

    • Thanks, Maria, for making rhyme and reason.. Being the mule I am (round and round the garden like a teddy bear) I did give Bellow’s “Herzog” another go. Guess what: it’s quite extraordinary and not the first time in my life: What doesn’t speak to us at one time, years later it will. So, yes, I am spellbound. Only on page 21 so far – will let you know. Mind you, whether I’ll ever see eye to eye with Ulysses remains to be seen. Maybe they can bury me with a copy – keeping me occupied for eternity.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 10, 2012 @ 04:47 | Reply

      • I’ll explain it to you word by word. We’ll have fun.

        Comment by Maria — December 4, 2012 @ 07:16 | Reply

  7. Ugh – the long in the tooth explanation – of course, sounds right – but I’d avoided thinking about the reality of it before.
    Ears keep growing while you live – like hair even beyond.I wonder how many people have wigs/hair extensions made from post mortem hair?

    Back to the books – no nay never skip to the end. Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start – as the governess sang to the von Trapps. Though I’m no longer subject to the tyranny of finishing everything I start. Usually I do – but some few books just don’t deserve it.

    Comment by blackwatertown — November 10, 2012 @ 23:15 | Reply

  8. As a general rule I never look at the ending in advance, I don’t want to spoil the flow of the story and I’m happy to wait patiently for the denouement. But I must admit I sometimes peek at the end to see if a much-loved character ends up dead or alive. Or to make sense of a baffling bit of plot that the ending might clarify.

    Comment by Nick — November 11, 2012 @ 09:40 | Reply

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