Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review of Fyodor Dostoevsky by Peter Leithart

As a recent convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I was interested in learning more about Fyodor Dostoevsky, an Orthodox Christian writer who lived in Russia from 1821-1881. I admit that I’ve never ready any of Dostoevsky’s works, but my daughters list his Crime and Punishment among their favorite books. I decided to read this biography to learn more about him.

As is true of many artists, Dostoevsky was a tortured soul, in more ways than one. He suffered from epilepsy and other ailments, experienced profound loneliness at times, and was unfaithful in marriage. Because of his political views, he was sent to a prison camp in frigid Siberia. It was there that his faith took root, and this faith became a central part of his novels. Though he achieved success as a novelist, he struggled financially all his life. The final chapter tells of a moment of victory he experienced during a speech he gave honoring the Russian poet Pushkin.

The author uses fiction techniques to tell the story of Dostoevsky in an interesting way.  The story comes out in bits and pieces, through conversations, recollections and flashbacks.  I found myself confused at points, and more than once I wished the author had told the story in a chronological, linear format.

I found Dostoevsky a fascinating character, and I learned a lot about a little-known period of Russian history. Perhaps it’s my turn to read Crime and Punishment.

NOTE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze. The opinions expressed are my own.

 You can see the books I've read so far (starting in 2011) here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Major 2012 Sled Dog Races in Alaska - Mostly Mid-Distance and Long-Distance Dogsled Races

The following are the major sled dog races in Alaska.  Click on the name of each race to go to the website for the race.  See my previous post for a handy chart in pdf form that you can print out.

Sheep Mountain 150 - Dec. 17, 2011

Alaska Excursions 120 - Dec. 17, 2011

Gin Gin 200 -  Dec. 28, 2011

Knik 200  - Jan. 7, 2012

Copper Basin 300 - Jan. 14, 2012

Kuskokwim 300* - Jan. 20, 2012

Northern Lights 300 - Jan. 27, 2012

Don Bowers 200 - Jan. 27, 2012

Tustemena 200 - Jan. 28, 2012

Yukon Quest - Feb. 4, 2012

Fur Rendezvous - Feb. 24, 2012

Junior Iditarod - Feb. 25, 2012

Iditarod - Mar. 3, 2012

Percy DeWolfe  - Mar. 22, 2012

Kobuk 440 - Apr. 12, 2012

*Includes Bogus Creek

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2012 Sled Dog Races - A Chart for Following the Races

It's almost time for Sled Dog Racing season!  The first two races start this weekend.  Following the races online adds so much excitement to the long winter days.  I've made a chart for following the major races in Alaska.  This is by no means an exhaustive list; but it includes most of the mid-distance races, the two distance races (Iditarod and Yukon Quest) and the Fur Rondy.  Simply follow this link and print out the pdf.  The chart includes the name of the race, the start date, the website (which you can click to follow) and another blank, which you may use how you wish.  You may use the blank to fill in your favorite musher, the winner, or whatever you wish to remember about the race.

Click here for the chart.

Happy race season!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Velvet Shoes - "Let us walk in the white snow."

We had our first snow today, and I went walking in the falling snow. It reminded me of the poem "Velvet Shoes," by Elinor Wylie.  Some say this poem has symbolism of love and marriage. To me, it's just a good example of poetry.  I use it in my poetry writing class to demonstrate excellent use the poetic elements of simile, metaphor, alliteration, repetition, unusual words together (i.e., white silence), and involving all the senses.

Because this poem was written in 1921, it is in the public domain.  I have illustrated it with photos that I took during today's walk.

Velvet Shoes
Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow’s milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes;
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.