Three Books

By , June 28, 2022 5:59 pm

Ai Wei Wei, Ross King and Catherine Hernandez are the authors of the three books I read on my time off from school.

A few days after surgery I walked with Val to the local bookstore. It’s not really that far but it was a nearly exhausting experience. However, I knew I had to have something to read during my recovery.

I started with Ai Wei Wei’s memoir. I can’t say I previously knew too much about him; I’d seen a few documentaries and studied a bit of his art for the grade 12 World History e-learning course. I’m familiar enough with Chinese history to be able to contextualize him. The first half of the book was a quick read in which he detailed his father’s experiences in various camps and forms of detention in the Mao era (and not just the Cultural Revolution). So young Wei Wei lived with his poet father in these isolated, harsh places and learned to make the best of them. His free spirited nature as an artist surely developed out of those experiences.

Similarly, in Scarborough, the characters live difficult lives, some of which they overcome, and some they don’t. The novel is hard to put down – this coming from a reader of primarily non-fiction. Hernandez gets right to the point and doesn’t mince any words in narrating and describing the lives of families who make use of an early learning centre in a public school. All of them face challenges, not just economic ones. The teacher (or social worker) who runs the centre is caring and compassionate, though her boss is not. The boss does not want her to provide food to the families and children. Sick political angle.

Ross King’s latest Renaissance book follows the life and career of Vespasiano, a man who commissioned the hand-scribing of manuscripts – primarily editions of Greek philosophy – in Florence and beyond during the 1400s. He became so good at his craft that he worked with Medici’s and popes. The book was interesting to me not so much for the content of the Humanist books that Vepasiano created, but for the descriptions of the process: paper, parchment or vellum; modern or Gothic script; rubricated (I love that word)! At the same time as this self-made bookseller reached his zenith, the new technology of printing was spreading across Europe. The competition began.

Great spring reading. I highly recommend all three.

Now on to Charlie Angus’ Cobalt!

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy