A Tale of Two Covers

April 9th, 2012

In the course of unpacking — a slow and reflective process in our house — I have come across a number of books I forgot I had. Some are mementos of childhood, my own and others’; some have been carefully saved up in hopes I’d eventually find time to read them. But my favorites by far are those old friends whose scarred spines and tattered covers,┬áthe results of being carried around in pockets and bags to be enjoyed in odd moments, bespeak many happy re-readings.

Some in fact are so battered as to be unfit for further use. The pair of paperbacks pictured here were in such terrible condition that keeping them at all seemed futile. But still I couldn’t quite bear to part with them completely. So I removed the crumbling pages and kept their covers (I do so love pulp cover art).

Book Covers

The Night of the Hunter, published in 1953, is perhaps even better known as a film — the only one Sir Charles Laughton ever directed — starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and the divine Lillian Gish. This copy belonged to my husband, who also used to own the soundtrack record.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is in a different class altogether (sorry Mr. Grubb). It was banned in the US for many years on grounds of obscenity. Ha! Today Connie’s exploits would be considered tame by comparison with your average family-oriented television sit-com script. But at the time it was shocking.

Barney Rosset’s Grove Press, crusader against literary censorship, eventually won the right to publish Lawrence’s 1928 novel in its original form. This gorgeous edition was a gift from my husband before we were even engaged. I drove my mother crazy by carrying it around in my purse and reading it conspicuously in public. I’ve always been something of a literary exhibitionist…

Hat in Bloom

January 28th, 2011

What do Princess Ella (the sweetest girl on the Central Coast), Zelma’s tea cozy, D. H. Lawrence, and Katherine Hepburn have in common? They are all responsible for my winter hat this year.

My Winter Hat

Yes, it does have a pixie-ish top — as Richard Diamond (my favorite radio detective) would say, “bless your little pointed head.”

See, what happened was this. When dear Ella was just a wee thing, I knitted her a baby pixie hat from a pattern that I found online. Ella’s Mammy, Mme. Zelma, was very taken with the little pink pointed chapeau, and jokingly made me promise to make her one too.

Last fall, I was trying to use up yarn from a large stash of acrylics that my grandmother passed along, and managed to crochet a spur-of-the-moment tea cozy. I mailed it Zelma, as my contribution to her legendary salon. She wrote back wondering if I could make a hat to match the cozy (you have to admire a woman whose millinery matches her tea service).

In the process of making said hat, it somehow morphed into a long-overdue adult version of Ella’s hat. It was a misty green, lined with pink and white stripes. But it still lacked quelque chose. So I crocheted a leafy vine with darker green wool and made it grow ’round the hat.

While fitting the hat before sending it off, I realized that the cloche shape suited my face, and suited my new resolve to dress like a character out of D.H. Lawrence (think early 1920s eccentric artist). So I made myself one in grey (also from Gram’s stash). Because the leafy vine took forever to crochet, I decided to decorate mine in tribute to my favorite Katherine Hepburn line: “the calla lilies are in bloom…” Yes, I swear those purple things are calla lilies.

So now you know. Unfortunately, when people stare at me on the street, or stop me to ask about my hat, I don’t have the heart to make them listen to the entire explanation. I’m sorry I wasn’t so kind to you.

And to make matters worse, I have just finished knitting yet another of these hats. It’s a dark Wedgwood-ish blue and only wants a lining and some decorative touches. Then I may give it away (if I can find anyone to appreciate it), or sell it for an exorbitant amount of money. Interested?

Dressing for D.H.

December 19th, 2010

Earlier this fall, two unrelated events happened to coincide, with a very odd result.

The first item is that I was reading D.H. Lawrence’s novel Women in Love — partly because I love D. H. Lawrence, partly because I love T.E. Lawrence (who also loved D.H. Lawrence), and partly because I will read anything to avoid finishing Paradise Lost. I should have read The Rainbow first of course, but I didn’t know any better. I still like Lady Chatterley the best anyhow. (Has anyone else noticed that many of Lawrence’s male protagonists are frail, bearded, with deep set eyes, and prone to coughing?) Read on…