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The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal…

The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws (original 2009; udgave 2009)

af Margaret Drabble (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
25915103,829 (3.5)42
The author offers an innovative mix of memoir, jigsaw-puzzle history, and the strange delights of puzzling, with sketches of her family members and her thoughts on the importance of childhood play, art, and writing.
Titel:The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws
Forfattere:Margaret Drabble (Forfatter)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2009), Edition: First Edition, 368 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws af Margaret Drabble (2009)


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» Se også 42 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 15 (næste | vis alle)
I wanted to like this book. It's an interesting idea: memoir, interleaved with a history of the jigsaw and related pastimes. A shared love of jigsaws drew Drabble closer to her great-aunt Phyllis.

Each part of the book is interesting in its own right: the story of Phyllis and Margaret, and their family; the discursive discussions on jigsaw history, and other pursuits that seem to tick some of the same boxes - mosaic making for instance. But it feels a lot longer than it should have been, as though Drabble hasn't been able to bear to edit out any nugget from her research.

I was determined to reach the end, and was relieved when I finally did. ( )
  Margaret09 | Apr 15, 2024 |
Memoir-ish account of the author’s relationship to jigsaw puzzles and other games as well as to her aunt, a schoolteacher with whom she did many puzzles; there are also extended accounts of the history of puzzles and games focusing on roughly 17th-19th century England with some excursions onto the Continent and occasional mention of the US. Wasn’t for me despite my interest in jigsaw puzzles. ( )
1 stem rivkat | Nov 16, 2021 |
I was rather hoping this would come in a box, like The unfortunates, but with odd-shaped pieces you have to put together in the right order to make a 300 page book. Sadly it doesn't. But that's just about the only thing that disappointed me in this gloriously wide-ranging, unpredictable, clever and sympathetic celebration of jigsaw puzzles and the author's Auntie Phyl.

Drabble shoots off down every conceivable side-track, to look into not only the history of the puzzles themselves, but the way they relate to other toys and games, as well as to crafts and adult pastimes. She examines her memories of childhood holidays at her aunt's house, a B&B in a village on the Great North Road, and of her adult relationship with her aunt in old age (both of which involved doing jigsaw puzzles together, of course) and tries to make sense of where the borderline falls between kitschy nostalgia and permissible aesthetic appreciation of the artefacts of the past. She's pretty sure the brass warming-pan she rescued from her aunt's house is on the wrong side of this line, somehow, but she's hanging on to it anyway.

There's a lot here about Perec and La vie: mode d'emploi, but also about Jules Verne and his use of the Goose Game, and Southey and Coleridge on their "Aunt Hill". Meanwhile, passing by on the A1 are Doctor Johnson — who might have been more relaxed if he'd agreed to play draughts sometimes — and the mad poet John Clare. Drabble finds jigsaws and jigsaw imagery in the most surprising corners of fine art and English literature, gets to put together one of John Spilsbury's original Dissected Maps in the British Library (the pieces for Scotland and Corsica are missing), and is taken on a tour of the unexpected mosaics and interlocking pieces of London by a helpful cabbie called Kevin.

This is a book that will tell you a lot of things you didn't know you needed to know, and will probably leave you with an odd urge to get out one of your old jigsaw puzzles. Apart from that, I'm not quite sure what it is for or how to classify it, but I enjoyed it very much. ( )
  thorold | Oct 26, 2021 |
"... a memoir like no other," indeed ... Margaret Drabble's personal history and history of jigsaw puzzles is maddening, rambling, knowledgeable and thoughtful. Like a good jigsaw puzzle, I found it impossible to give up on it, even as it was driving me crazy.

Structured (because, yes, lack of structure is a kind of structure ...) like a jigsaw, Drabble first builds a kind of frame, as she describes her original (and quickly abandoned) idea for the book, and the context of her husband's illness, and tensions between herself and her siblings over writerly usage of family memories. She then groups together the details just as you would do, setting about a particularly tricky jigsaw: sorting, resorting, grouping and regrouping, by "color" and "shape," by singular images and hidden patterns. The bigger picture of her life, her family and her career as a writer, and the history of puzzles, emerges as she painstakingly brings those pieces together. But --and here's the catch -- the reader isn't allowed to be idle, you have to work with her. Drabble would no more hand you a neat, finished picture, tied up with a bow, than she would present someone with a completed jigsaw puzzle, and expect them to be grateful to her for saving them the trouble of doing it for themselves ...

One great pleasure of this book are the multitude of offhand observations about jigsaw-doing, so beautifully written and so relatable, so that I felt like I was comparing notes on preferences and technique with a fellow addict:

... when a piece that has eluded intensive search over hours and days and weeks suddenly makes itself known, and fits itself into its home. At once, the piece loses its profoundly unknown quality and becomes so much part of the pattern that within seconds you cannot remember where the gap was ... (page 11)

I think one of the reasons I am drawn to these puzzles is precisely because they have no verbal content; they exercise a different area of the brain, bring different neurons and dendrites into play. (p. 122)

There are marvellous factoids, such as that it's "mere chance" that jigsaw puzzles aren't called "fretsaw puzzles," as the jigsaw and fretsaw are almost the same thing. The story of the man who collects jigsaw puzzle pieces that he finds in the street. The heartbreaking story of the sad childhood of Robert Southey, poet laureate and great rival of William Wordsworth ... The fantastic quotes that cast light on how the great and the good perceived the jigsaw puzzle, either as an activity or as a metaphor. She mentions a number of puzzles that sound just wonderful, and I would love to get my hands on them ... (the Jackson Pollack! The Venus of Urbino ... Kinderspieler, by Brueghel ...)

There is the touching portrait of Drabble's Auntie Phyl, a woman who clearly taught her so much, and provided her with some much-needed unconditional love in her childhood. A woman who, like a good puzzle, and like her neighbours in the village of Long Bennington, on the Great North Road, "They were what they were. They were complete in themselves."

There are so many threads that Drabble follows, that makes this book worthwhile. Threads about family, about childhood. About getting older. About the activities that make life worthwhile. Reading this while the world is struggling with the effects of the Pandemic was an amazing experience, because so many of the things that Drabble says, written over ten years ago, sound as if they come from the heart of the struggle for meaning that so many people have found themselves in, as the usual sources of entertainment and community and distraction have been denied us, during Lockdown ... This isn't because Drabble had a crystal ball, but because she knows how to make connections, how to fit the pieces together ...

Books, too, have beginnings and endings, and they attempt to impose a pattern, to make a shape. We aim, by writing them, to make order from chaos. We fail. The admission of failure is the best that we can do. It is a form of progress ... ( )
1 stem maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
This is a rambly part-memoir, part-jigsaw-informational, part-game-history mess of a book. She acknowledges this near the end of the book:

"I have strayed far from my plan, which was to write a brief illustrated history of the jigsaw puzzle. I find myself with a bucket full of leftover tesserae, some with jagged and uneven edges encrusted with old mastic and resin, which do not fit into my original design."

But gracious - the territory she covers!. I lost count of all the authors she's read (complete with their excerpts) who mentioned anything about jigsaws (or other games), all the visits she's made to museums, libraries, the art, tapestries, movies... If there was any kind of minutiae to be found about puzzles or games, she found a place to put it in this book.

I didn't love it, but I finished it, which is more than I can say for the only one of her sister's books that I started and abandoned forever. ( )
  countrylife | May 22, 2015 |
Viser 1-5 af 15 (næste | vis alle)
“The Pattern in the Carpet” is a discursive, loosely organized mix of Drabble’s memories — some but not all of them having to do with solving puzzles — and her accounts of her own research into the history of jigsaws and other games.
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As she went to bed that night, she said that she wished we had been able to finish the jigsaw. 'It's a pity,' she said, as she gave up. 'It's a pity.' It was the last evening of the last summer.
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The author offers an innovative mix of memoir, jigsaw-puzzle history, and the strange delights of puzzling, with sketches of her family members and her thoughts on the importance of childhood play, art, and writing.

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