Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my entirely self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.

Recently Quoted

  • So much for the general situation. As for my own predicament, I was in no mood to brood on the hazards of this mad adventure, a hundredfold more hazardous than my fog-smothered eavesdropping at Memmert. The crisis, I knew, had come, and the reckless impudence that had brought me here must serve me still and extricate me. Fortune loves rough wooing. I backed my luck and watched.

    an excerpt from The Riddle of the Sands, written by Erskine Childers in 1903

  • Not for the first time a sense of the ludicrous came to my assistance, as I saw myself fretting in London under my burden of self-imposed woes, nicely weighing that insidious invitation, and stepping finally into the snare with the dignity due to my importance; kidnapped as neatly as ever a peaceful clerk was kidnapped by a lawless press-gang, and, in the end, finding as the arch-conspirator a guileless and warm-hearted friend, who called me clever, lodged me in a cell, and blandly invited me to talk German to the purpose, as he was aiming at a little secret service on the high seas. Close in the train of Humour came Romance, veiling her face, but I knew it was the rustle of her robes that I heard in the foam beneath me; I knew that it was she who handed me the cup of sparkling wine and bade me drink and be merry.

    an excerpt from The Riddle of the Sands, written by Erskine Childers in 1903

  • Banana School

    The day I learned that monkeys
    sas well as chimps, baboons, and gorillas

    all peel their bananas from the other end
    and use the end we peel from as a handle,
I immediately made the switch.

    I wasted no time in passing this wisdom on

    to family, friends, and even strangers
as I am now passing it on to you—
a tip from the top, the banana scoop,

    the inside primate lowdown.

    I promise: once you try it

    you will never go back except

    to regret the long error of your ways.

    And if you do not believe me,
swing by the local zoo some afternoon
with a banana in your pocket

    and try peeling it in front of the cage

    of an orangutan or capuchin monkey,

    and as you begin, notice

    how the monkeys stop what they’re doing,
if they are doing anything at all,

    to nod their brotherly approval through the bars.

    Better still, try it out on the big silverback gorilla.

    See if you can get his dark eyes to brighten a bit

    as the weight of him sits there in his cage

    the same way Gertrude Stein is sitting
in that portrait of her she never liked by Picasso.

    an excerpt from Whale Day, written by Billy Collins in 2020

Recently Noted

  • A weird mix of pretty-technical sailing details and low-key spy adventure. A slow boil for sure, and one where you have to do a lot of close reading. But apparently it was influential in UK spy novels as a genre, and ALSO influenced the British intelligence community to actually pay more attention to their North Sea defenses. Interesting!

    an note about The Riddle of the Sands, written by Erskine Childers in 1903

  • The first of the confusingly-named 'Polly O'Keefe' books, where there is DEFINITELY a character named Poly O'Keefe, but stridently NOT Polly. It was fine? A 60s YA from L'Engle. Not my thing for the most part. I see what it's going for, it just doesn't land for me.

    an note about The Arm of the Starfish, written by Madeleine L'Engle in 1965

  • THE classic on how-to-draw. I've been doing some more drawing lately and a little frustrated with how I don't seem to be getting any ... better? Thought I'd dig up the basics and see if it helped me think differently about it.

    It's the classic how-to-draw text for good reason; I think Edwards is really clear here in demystifying drawing. But for someone who went to art school, these lessons have been pretty well drilled into me - so it's not revelatory but good reminders.

    an note about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, written by Betty Edwards in 1979

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Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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