Sunday, April 8, 2007

Steve and Libby and 10 Books to Take to Antarctica

Recently Steve Bodio posted a photo of his desk. Also, Dr. Hypercube, a fellow blogger, has posted a photo of one wall of Steve's library here, which led me to this post by Odious of Odious and Peculiar concerning Steve's library here.

One of the quotes from Odious is "Following Mr. Bodio in his obsession means following him in his literary wanderings, too--any reader can easily come away with a list of twenty books or so that they now must read."

All of these posts, and in particular the quote from Peculiar above, reminded me of the following blog post I have had stashed away in my mind.

A number of years ago just before I was to return to Antarctica for my first 6 month stint of research, I asked Steve for a list of the 10 books I should take to read. Steve not only provided me with a list of those books, he bought copies of all ten for me! That generosity, both in the time Steve took to compose a very thoughtful list and the purchase of those books, has stuck with me. All were wonderful reads.
The list, as best I can remember and in no particular order is:

1. Patrick Leigh Fermor – Between the Woods and the Water
2. Thomas McGuane – Nobody’s Angle
3. T.H. White- Once and Future King
4. Patrick O’Brian – The Far Side of the World (I think this was the title. I liked them so much I have bought at least one or two of the next in the series every time I have returned to Antarctica)
5. Eric Hansen – Motoring with Mohammed (This is one I no longer have. Probably gave it to someone in Antarctica to read).
6. A.S. Byatt – Possession
7. Lois de Berneires - Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
8. Cormac McCarthy – The Crossing
9. Peter Hoeg – Smilla’s Sense of Snow
10. Actually this one is in order. I can not remember what other book I received from Steve. I think that it may have been George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings but I am not sure. I know that Steve recommended this one but I am unsure if it was on this list or not. Steve?

Although it has been many years since I saw Steve's currently library, I certainly remember spending many hours visiting with Steve in the Bozeman version. To me it was much more grand than a Merlin's cave. In my mind it was a cross between a Victorian naturalists lair and Charlie Russell's studio; a place to wander away from the drudgery and pain of a dysfunctional graduate program with real conversation and mental stimulation. Not to mention my first exposure to good red wine, cooking excellent and different food at home, Steve's wonderful friends and family, and his menagerie. I learned about falconry and pigeons and literature and guns get the picture. I particularly miss our conversations on art and artists as well as being able to join in conversations when Steve's artist friends visited.

Steve's library is the model of the library I hope to have some day. I have these plans of moving this old one-room school I know of, left in the middle of the prairie by the departure of the homesteaders, into my backyard and restoring it into a studio for sculpting and painting and a library. With a big leather chair to read in surrounded by my books, collected artwork, my art, and the artifacts found by a traveling biologist...but that is probably a whole other post.

I spent a lot of time with Steve, Libby and Jackson at their Bozeman house and the place changed a lot when they left. I really miss being close to them and would love to be able to spend a few days hanging out in Magdalena in the library with Steve as well as in the garden with Libby. They gave a lot to me, as they do to all their friends, and I can never repay them for what they gave. A heartfelt thanks and this post will have to do for now.

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