Monday, July 30, 2012

Don't Miss Nan Parson Rossiter on Cape Cod!

Summer is in full swing on the Cape, and Godine author Nan Parson Rossiter is set to read from her new book The Fo'c'sle: Henry Beston's "Outermost House" next week. Bring the kids, hear Nan talk about writing and illustrating this beautiful book, and pick up a copy to take home!

Here's where she'll be:

Don't miss her!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Fo'c'sle in the Wall Street Journal!

Our new title The Fo'c'sle: Henry Beston's "Outermost House" written and illustrated by Nan Parson Rossiter is the lead children's review in the Wall Street Journal this weekend!


In 1926, the naturalist Henry Beston lived for a year in Thoreau-like solitude on a Cape Cod dune overlooking the Atlantic. He spent his days observing the rhythms of his environment and recording his impressions in a journal that would be published in 1928 as "The Outermost House." That was the name local people had given to Beston's snug dwelling, a tiny house with 10 windows that made it, he wrote, "something rather like an indoors out of doors."

In a serene picture-book account of Beston's sojourn, Nan Parson Rossiter has captured in oil paintings the lonesome, windswept beauty that drew Beston to the ocean. "The Fo'c'sle: Henry Beston's 'Outermost House' " (Godine, 32 pages, $17.95) takes children ages 7 and older through the naturalist's quietly consequential year.

In autumn, he marked the southward passage of migratory birds. In winter, he opened a welcoming door to surfmen who patrolled the shoreline. We see him beside a campfire, a human speck against a great tableau of foaming sea and starry sky: "Beyond the crackling, salt-yellow, driftwood flame," Beston wrote, in one of several excerpts from his journal here, "over the pyramid of barrel staves, broken boards, and old sticks all atwist with climbing fire, the unseen ocean thunders and booms, the breaker sounding hollow as it falls." Some picture books seek to educate, some to excite; this one feels like a restful pause.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crime and Puzzlement Giveaway!

It wasn’t us—promise. But see how sharp your detective skills are with Lawrence Treat’s puzzle, then get ready for more: Crime and Puzzlement ships free on all orders over $25! For orders over $50, you'll receive Crime and Puzzlement and Crime And Puzzlement 2! And with any order of $75 or more, receive all three Crime and Puzzlement books!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Caballine n Horselike. "Just turn your head to the right a little, Miss Montmorency, while I set the focus and shutter speed. I want to have the light falling on you in half-profile, to bring out that . . . how shall I describe it? . . . caballine quality in your facial structure . . ."

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Caballine appears in the Second.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Morning with Emerson

We never met much in college—very surprising, I know, for an English major. I do remember running into you briefly, that one time in junior year AP English. Ms. Williams was it? I think I hated you. We were preparing for the AP exam and you were getting in the way.

Was it because we ran in different circles, Emerson? You with your philosophy majors, me, taking classes on the American Novel and aestheticism. I read Pater, Ruskin, and Henry James; you met with Hawthorne, Alcott, and Thoreau.

But I think we would have gotten along quite well, Emerson. As our recent reprint of A Year With Emerson: A Daybook tells me in the title, we need a full year to get acquainted. I’ve got until lunch.

So diving in, I had to see what Emerson said on my birthday:

While on his trip to the Southern states in an attempt to improve his health (he was showing signs of the weak lungs that were common in the family), Emerson writes from St. Augustine on February 23, 1827, to his brother Charles. 

Dear Charles,

            You are in the heyday of youth when time is marked not by numbering days but by the intervals of mentality the flux & reflux of the soul. One day has a solemn complexion, the next is cheerful, the south wind makes a third poetic, and another is “sicklied o’er with a pale cast of thought,” but all are redolent of knowledge & joy. The river of life with you is yet in its mountains and sources bounding & shouting on its way & has not settled down into the monotony of the deep & silent stream. Vouchsafe then to give to your poor patriarchal exhorting brother some of the sweet waters. Write, write. I have heard men say (heaven help their poor wits,) they had rather have ten words viva voce from a man than volumes of letters for getting at his opinion. – I had rather converse with them by the interpreter. Politeness ruins conversation.

Feeling a bit homesick, Emerson expresses feelings about the letter itself. In writing, man “divests himself of his manner & all physical imperfects” and speaks “pure intellect.” This is more interesting when we consider Emerson not just as a writer, but as a famous orator who dominated the lecture circuit, a feat highlighted most recently in The New Yorker. “Instead of the old verse, "Speak that I may know thee," I write 'Speak, that I may suspect thee; write, that I may know thee.'”

Perhaps the authenticity of the written word explains why we at Godine still use typewriters. Something about it just feels nice. It’s thoughtful; it’s cool. This book gives a bit of that authenticity in short, daily glimpses that are easily digested and remembered. If you and Emerson haven’t spoken since high school, or if, like me, you should have met but never did, this is what you need.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Crime Passionel phrase (From the French.) A crime motivated by the passions – such as the murder of a treacherous lover. As with other foreign or classical terms (see pinus radiata), the Superior Person always uses the original pronunciation – in this case, for example, "crime" is pronounced as "cream". At the average dinner party, there is always at last one guest who is not familiar with the phrase and can be persuaded, while the hostess is out of the room, that crime passionel is in fact the name of the passionfruit cream dessert that has just been served. This can lead to some entertaining after-dinner conversation.

Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett, and Mr. Green at dessert.
Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Crime Passionel appears in the Second.