Forgive me, readers, for I have been neglectful. It has been over three months since my last post, and even that was pretty lame.
It isn’t that I haven’t thought about posting, but beyond that, I haven’t had any real thoughts while walking. Not to say that I haven’t had some mental activity at other times; in fact, I even briefly considered the idea of a new blog, “What I learned today.” I dismissed that idea pretty quickly. It’s not that I don’t learn something (almost) every day, and some of the things I learn might even be of interest or use to my notional readers, but you and I both know that there’s no way I’d actually write a blog post every day. So forget that idea.
I haven’t much excuse to offer for my lack of thoughts except that my walking these days is done mostly inside, on a treadmill, rather than outdoors. And on Sundays, when I do hit the streets, I don’t seem to see anything worthy of comment.
At the gym, on the treadmill and also on the elliptical machine, I read. Because I read from my Kindle, and because I’m too cheap to actually pay for Kindle content, I’ve been reading (and to some extent rereading) a lot of literary classics and other material that is out of copyright and therefore free. A few months ago I accidentally stumbled upon a previously unknown work of Louisa May Alcott (Shawl-Straps) and subsequently became embroiled in exploration of Alcott’s life and work. I became especially fascinated by the way so much of her work reflects her life experiences, and, as a result, I’m preparing a presentation on “Louisa and the Alcotts in Fact and Fiction” for a book review program next March. I’m reading Alcott’s own works (or at least as many as are available for Kindle) while walking, but I’ve also read several biographies and additional primary source material in hard copy, mostly in books checked out of the library, though in many cases I’ve ended up ordering my own copies.
I’ve also read several contemporary novels based on Louisa’s life and work. The best of these is Geraldine Brooks’s March, a novel about “Mr. March,” the father of the four March girls in Little Women. Alcott doesn’t give Brooks much to work with, so her character is based (as Louisa’s Mr. March was) on Louisa’s father, Bronson Alcott, with much of Bronson’s biography grafted onto the life of Mr. March. It is a stunning tour de force, and I enjoyed it very much.
It was also quite interesting to read, one after the other, Louisa and the Country Bachelor, by Anna Maclean, and The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O’Connor McNees. Both books are set in the summer of 1855, when the Alcotts were living in Walpole, New Hampshire. Though both stories incorporate the few known events of that summer, as recorded in LMA’s journals and letters and the journals of other family members, they take dramatically different turns, as McNees has Louisa experiencing a passionate summer romance, while Maclean has her solving a murder mystery!
Never fear, I’m not going to turn this into an LMA tribute blog (there’s already one of those and in any case I’m husbanding my efforts for my March presentation), but it may not be inappropriate to post here occasionally about what I’m reading, and I’ll try to do that more often.