Thursday, July 17, 2014

A peak into Chasing Aphrodite and To Say Nothing of the Dog

I am going to start with the nonfiction book again for this weeks Book Beginnings on Friday, hosted by Rose City Reader.

I am on a stolen art kick since reading Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett torqued me off so badly.  I have wandered though The Irish Game by Matthew Hart and The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick. Now I have gotten my hands on Chasing Aphrodite by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino.

In the predawn light of a summer morning in 1964, the sixty-foot fishing trawler Ferrucio Ferri shoved off from the Italian seaport of Fano and motored south, making a steady eight knots along Italy's east coast. When the Ferri reached the peninsula of Ancona, Romeo Pirani, the boat's captain, set a course east-southeast, halfway between the dry sirocco wind that blew up from Africa and the cooler levanter that swept across the Adriatic from Yugoslavia. 

For my fiction choice, I am going with one of my standby favorite reads ... To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  My copy has been read so many times it is disintegrating.

There were five of us – Carruthers and the new recruit and myself, and Mr. Spivens and the verger. It was late afternoon on November the fifteenth, and we were in what was left of Coventry Cathedral, looking for the bishop's bird stump.

I can't show you a bird stump, but here are the ruins of Coventry Cathedral ...

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice page 56 of Chasing Aphrodite is not good - it is the last page in chapter 3 and a spoiler, so from page 57 ...

Sitting in the Getty's conservation laboratory was a seven-foot-tall marble Greek kouros, or statue of a nude young man. The face bore the vague smile that was a signature detail of the archaic period, the end of the sixth century B.C. The man's hands were pinned stiffly to his sides, with one foot slightly forward, in a pose Greek sculptors had borrowed from the Egyptians.

This might make more sense if you simply see the Getty kouros - it has bugged people for years!

Getty kouros
Anavyssos Kouros, ca. 530 BC.

If you look carefully you might see why the Getty kouros has long been contested.

And from page 56 of To Say Nothing of the Dog ... 

I looked at my watch. It wasn't there, and I squinted at my wrist, trying to remember whether Warder had taken it off me when she was trying shirts on. I remembered she'd tucked something in my waistcoat pocket. I pulled it out, on a gold chain. A pocket watch. Of course. Wristwatches were an anachronism in Nineteenth Century.

I had trouble getting the pocket watch open and then difficulty reading the extinct Roman numerals, but eventually I made it out. A quarter past X. Allowing for the time I'd spent getting the watch open and lying on the tracks, bang on target. Unless I was in the wrong year. Or the wrong place. 


  1. The ruins of Coventry Cathedral are beautiful, if a really tragic site due to history. I always love it when you can see that a book is loved! I actually haven't read that many stolen art books although I love watching documentaries about it, maybe I should get into some! Thanks for sharing :) I hope you have a great weekend!
    My Friday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    1. If you are interested, there are several good ones out there. They can be fascinating.

  2. Both sound like interesting books. I know what you mean about having an old favorite fall apart after so many readings. That is why I have at least two copies of my favorites on my shelves and, now, a Kindle copy too. Happy reading!

    1. That makes me feel slightly better about having multiple copies of some book, and this weird compulsion to by more when I see them in a store/at a sale.

  3. I've heard about Connie Willis's book. Never have read it. Everybody seems to love it. I really want to find a chance to read it. Thanks for showing Coventry and the Greek statues.

    1. To Say Nothing of the Dog is the funny one - Domesday is the sad one - and Blackout/All Clear is/are the ridiculously long one where I think she lost it, but lots of other people love. Have you tried the short story - Fire Watch - it give you a feel for them.

  4. Both books sound fascinating! I especially love the opening to Chasing Aphrodite. It really draws me in and makes me wonder where the trawler is headed.
    Here's the link to my Friday post: MURDER ON ASTOR PLACE.

  5. Great 56 post! I haven't heard about these books, but they sound interesting.

  6. Replies
    1. I am afraid that would be telling. You have to read the book to get the full impact.

  7. I haven't heard of these books but they sound interesting. I do love a book that you've read so many times it's falling apart! I'm interested in art theft but while I've seen a few documentaries that have been interesting I haven't tried any books. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I have a few books I've had to replace because they fell apart from reading so much. I still have the originals though. How could I not keep them!
    Here's my 56 -

  9. I like the snippets of both books, but admit, I am more drawn to the latter.

    Happy weekend!

  10. Chasing Aphrodite sounds GREAT. I cannot resist art crime stories.


Hi! I do read all of the comments and want to let you know that I really appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave a note. Work has fallen in on me and I have not had enough time to reply coherently lately so I apologize preemptively but still want to assure you that your comments are valued. I am using comment moderation to avoid using more annoying spam avoidance. Thanks for your patience.