Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rita Mae Brown in The Week

If you don't know, Rita Mae Brown is the author of several murder mystery series, two of which I adored when I was growing up. Mrs. Murphy, a talking cat who always comes through to solve the mystery for the humans in her unusually crime-filled rural town of Crozet, VA, charmed me, as did Brown's insistence that Sneaky Pie Brown (Rita Mae Brown's cat) supposedly co-authors her books. The other series I read was the "Sister Jane" foxhunting murder mystery series. Rita Mae Brown foxhunts herself, so all of the details are entirely accurate, and I learned a lot of foxhunting terms from her books! The Sister Jane series focuses less on the animal characters and more on the underside of foxhunting society--the juicy affairs, the hunt club political drama, and of course their tendency to murder each other. Note to self: Don't cross anyone from Crozet, VA. They'll stab you with an icicle to melt away the evidence.

When I got back from school a few weeks ago, I tried to reread Outfoxed, but I don't think I can quite immerse myself back in that fictional world just yet. Not enough time has passed since being an English major. Her style of writing is very ornate, and it's a little too adjective-happy for me to not pull my hair out about all of the unnecessary descriptors, since for the past few years I've been taught concision, concision, concision. But then again...being too concise wouldn't make for a very suspenseful mystery novel.
Rita Mae Brown not wearing an ASTM-approved helmet (tsk!) on
Anyway, Rita Mae Brown was featured in The Week this week with a list of her 7 favorite animal books to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mrs. Murphy series. I thought I would give a list of my own. I hope you'll leave a comment with your book recommendations!
    via HorseBooksEtc
  • Build a Better Athlete: 16 Gymnatic Exercises by Leslie Webb--This book of dressage exercises is so easy to follow and commonsensical. Each gymnasticizing exercise builds on the previous one, and with step-by-step pictures and instructions for the exercises (as well as pictures of common mistakes), you can figure out how to ask your horse to become a better athlete no matter what your discipline is. I skimmed some of the theory stuff, but she does explain the why behind each exercise if you are interested. I've started to incorporate several of them into my own riding, especially the spiral in/spiral out for getting the horse to move off my leg.

 Okay, so the rest of these are not horse-related because Rita Mae Brown used up Black Beauty (and I don't think it needs a recommendation anyway) and since I haven't read many animal books since I was young, those books are in storage. So here goes:

    via Wikipedia
  • Laika by Nick Abadzis--I picked up this graphic novel on a whim from a dog-themed display by the circulation desk at the library and it was such a treat to read. It's a fictionalized account of what Laika's life might have been like prior to her one-way space flight, and although it is incredibly sad (think the whirlwind life of Black Beauty minus the happy ending and plus a very confused dog), but it has such a poignant ending and great character development throughout. Also there are some sequences where Laika and her first owner, a little girl, dream of Laika as a moon dog, and those are super cute. Neat fact: Laika means "barker" in Russian. Other neat fact: Growing up on a dairy farm in Puerto Rico, my mom had a Collie/German Shepherd named Laika. I told her I read this book and she said, "Laika? Just like my old dog, how funny!" Apparently she missed the memo that her dog was named after the first dog in space, which is pretty odd considering "Laika" is not Spanish-sounding in any way, shape, or form.
  • via B&N
  • My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl--This one is about a fabulously rich playboy named Oswald Cornelius Hendryks and his scheme with a bug, not an animal, per se. Jeez, I am really bad at staying in the "favorite animal books" category, but I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Roald Dahl books like The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Matilda as a child but has since grown up, because My Uncle Oswald is definitely NOT for children. I would have never thought Dahl wrote for adults as well, but this book and his short stories have that same sort of formula as many of his children's books: Someone figures out a fantastical scheme, scheme works beautifully, scheme is foiled in the last few pages. This particular scheme has to do with the aphrodisiac powder made from the Sudanese Blister Beetle, artificial insemination, and the famous artists and celebrities of the early 20th century. The resultant hijinks and the fabulously eccentric characters make for a hilarious read.

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