2018 reading with PGMCC - Chapter II
This is a continuation of the topic 2018 reading with PGMCC - Chapter I.
This topic was continued by 2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume I.
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Read in 2018
Title Author Status Start/end date
Gladiators, Pirates and Games of Trust by Haim Shapira Reading 08/08/2017-
Confessions of the Pricing Man by Hermann Simon Reading 25/09/2017-
Who Rules the World? by Naom Chomsky Reading 20/10/2017-
A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston Reading 30/12/2017-
The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell Read 12/01/2018-06/02/2018 400pages
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro Abandoned 08/01/2018-25/01/2018 38pages
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers Reading 07/02/2018-
Confusion by Stefan Zweig Read 10/02/2018-14/02/2018 150pages
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens Reading 14/02/2018 - 13/03/2018 360pages
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. 13/03/2018 -
Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan 30-03-2018 - 08/04/2018 470pages
Only the Dead Can Tell 2018Apr
The Quiet American 2018May
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett ? - 17/05/2018 214pages
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens 18/05/2018-08/07/2018
Buried Shadows by John Howard 09/07/2018-
The Leopard 12/07/2018 -30/07/2018 270pages
Write to the Point by Sam Leith. 31/07/2018 - 24/08/2018 271pages
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw 24/08/2018 - 04/09/2018 353pages
Dubliners by James Joyce 05/09/2018 - 20/09/2018 160pages
Dune by Frank Herbert 20/09/2018 - 06/10/2018 550pages.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson 06/10/2018 - 15/10/2018 155pages
The Green Man's Heir by Juliet E. McKenna 15/10/2018- 20/10/2018 365 pages
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl 20/10/2018 - 26/10/2018 Abandoned 80 pages in and now in pursuit of a good book.
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin 27/10/108 - 24/11/2018 607pages
On Literature by Umberto Eco 26/11/2018 -
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 3/12/2018 - 10/12/2018 246pages
Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke 11/12/2018 -
Codebreaker: The Untold Story of Richard Hayes, by Mark McMenamin 26/12/2018-31/12/2018
Currently reading Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, a weighty tome of some 769 pages excluding notes and introduction.
I am just over 200 pages into the book and enjoying the humour, characters and the language. As with Dickens' other works he is highlighting important issues of the day (many of which are still relevant today) but he does it in such an interesting, convolute and humorous fashion, it is hard not to read Dickens with a straight face and it is impossible not to smile, if not laugh out loud, with the turns of phrase he uses and the situations in which he puts his characters.
I think works by Dickens have become comfort reading for me.
Hi Peter and happy new thread to you.
I'm glad you're enjoying NN. You're absolutely right about smiling and laughing out loud.
>3 karenmarie: You had no small part in my catching the Dickens bug.
A funny thing happened to me on my way to the Forum. Well, not on my way to the Forum, but when I was searching for a book on LibraryThing that had been recommended by a colleague. The book is The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
When I clicked through to the book page I noticed there were five books recommended for me "based on my books". These books were:
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco,
The Bridge Over the Drina by Ivo Andric,
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco,
The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek,
and, Q by Wu Ming (or Luther Blisset)
"So what", I hear you say, "is so funny about that?"
Well, the recommendations are based on the books I have. As it happens, I have, and have read, all these books, and have given all of them FIVE STARS.
A cheap stunt, you might say, by recommending five books that the system has recorded my five star ratings for. I would rather think of it in a more positive light. I presume the system is recommending books that I might like if I read and liked The Leopard, the book that I was enquiring about. Taking the reverse view of this, if I liked, and to be honest I loved, the five books on the list, then it is a safe bet that I will like The Leopard.
I believe I have received a book bullet from my colleague. (He is the CEO actually, so I should really take his recommendation, even if it is a crap book.)
I guess I know the next book I shall be buying.
P.S. I strongly recommend those five books.
Oh my. Those all look very interesting. Maybe I can sprinkle some of them in this year. I'll confirm the bullets as I get to them.
>6 Jim53: Just let me know how many notches to mark up. :-)
By the way, in relation to Q, it was written by an Italian writing collective who brought it out under the pen name, Luther Blissett, an English soccer player (whom I had never heard of). Their subsequent books were brought out under the name, Wu Ming, which is the name they used for their group. I understand it is the Mandarin for, "No Name", or "Anonymous". The other books of theirs that I have read, and loved, are, 54, Manituana, and Altai. I particularly recommend 54.
This was not my intention. It happened by pure fluke; a stroke of luck; a random, fortuitous event. I did not plan it at all. Honestly!
Last week I was getting ready for work and put on a suit that I have not worn for a few months. On checking my pockets I discovered a small piece of card. It turned out to be a folded piece of card. It was a folded piece of card containing an "UNUSED" book token. It was one I received as a gift for my birthday last year. I had forgotten it was there.
Now, what am I to do with an unused book token and a free weekend?
Suggestions please, on a postcard, address to...
The Happy Bunny!
It is a gift card dedicated to the purchase of books.
Do they not exist in the USA?
I would use a token for the subway or bus. Barnes & Noble has gift cards
>8 pgmcc: - new books! Lovely, I hope you have something in mind! Are the tokens for a defined money amount, or for a single book?
>12 NorthernStar: It is for 60 euros. I bought two discounted Graham Greene books with it yesterday leaving me with 52 euros on it.
>11 suitable1: Book tokens have been available here as long as I remember. It was always a wonderful gift to receive; a birthday card with a book token in it. In those days it was a piece of paper with an amount printed on it. Nowadays the gift card technology is used. They are still called book tokens. You can get them for any amount and the general book tokens can be redeemed in any bookshop for any books, as long as there is sufficient credit on the card.
Being let loose with a book token is guilt free book buying. What on this Earth could be better than that?
>13 pgmcc: I've always been appreciative of book tokens as a gift form... They've resulted in many happy purchases over the years.
I find it interesting that you can use it in a variety of bookstores, rather than at a single vendor. There must be some way for all the stores to recover the funds. Impressive, actually.
I wish we had something like that!!! I'm afraid to give Barnes & Noble gift cards these days.
O_O Need America to implement book token. NOW! I suppose the closest we have would be an all-purpose Visa gift card, which can be used at any vendor, not just for books.
The most wonderous thing about book tokens is that you can only spend them on books. There is no opportunity to feel guilty about not using the token to buy other things. Total freedom to indulge in guilt-free book procurement. Bliss!
>19 pgmcc: That's what I was thinking. When you get the cards you can spend on anything, so many mundane things come to mind, like gas for the car, or groceries, or something you can share with others.
Still making my way through Nicholas Nickleby. The slow progress is due to limited reading time rather than lack of enthusiasm. I am finding the book fascinating and love Dickens’ sense of humour. I still find myself stiffling out-loud laughs on the bus.
>22 tardis: I shall try to hunt it down.
I suppose that counts as a DVD bullet from you.
I am faced with the reading traveler's dilemma; I have 60 pages left to read in the 770 page edition of Nicholas Nicklbey and I am flying to France tomorrow. Do I take the thick book with me for the sake of the last 60 pages or do I leave it behind and finish it on my return? If I take it with me then I shall need something else to read so I will need a second book.
Answer: Of course I am going to take it with me. It has been, and continues to be very amusing.
ETA: ...and of course I am taking another book. No real bibliophile would consider it a burden to carry two books.
>25 hfglen: I am travelling with only one small carry-on bag. It is a budget airline that sells you cheap tickets but charges you for every little extra.
On the other hand, I did drive to France (via ferry lest you are tempted to crack a joke about a road link to the continent) and my wife still has the car there along with a little collection of books I brought over at that time.
How are you keeping?
Are you feeling back to normal but constrained by rules and prohibitions?
Thank you for your concern, Peter. You are quite correct: I feel normal, but am chafing against the rules and limits -- and only get to see Himself this time next week, so no hope of getting limits raised till then, and I fear precious little chance even then.
>27 hfglen: Hugh, I had typed lengthy post in response to your post #27 and I thought I had saved it, but on my next visit to the thread I realized I obviously had made a Boo! Boo!. My excuse is I was using my telephone in another country to post and somehow it got lost. I shall attempt to replicate its main content here.
Your rules and limits reminded me of what happened my father in the 1970s. He had a few chest pains and the doctor insisted that he lose weight. He was put on a strict diet and was told he could not eat any bread. My Dad loved his bread so he pleaded with the doctor to be allowed eat some bread. The doctor, being a kind and soft-hearted man, relented and allowed my father to eat one quarter slice of bread a day, without butter.
After the initial shock my father started to acclimatize himself to the notion of only having one quarter slice of bread a day, without butter. The upshot was my father saving his quarter slice of bread until supper, which in our house would have been at any time from 10pm to 1am, which was consumed before people started to retire to bed. (I know it is not the healthiest approach to eating but we were all in the habit of having tea late at night and perhaps a biscuit, or a bit of cake, or a piece of tomorrow's roast and gravy if it was ready.)
This resulted in what can only be described as a ritual. The table would be set for supper; the tea pot brought out to the table; and my father would take his place sitting on his favourite stool. There would be a solemn procession from the kitchen as my father's piece of bed was carried out on a plate and placed at my father's place. He would then enjoy his savoured moment and consume the bread with relish, and I do not mean the sort you spread over things.
I hope you are feeling the benefit of your abstinence and discipline. Keep well.
I have been remiss in posting with having been away on
A quick update on recent reading, to be repeated in more detail at a more relaxed time.
Nicholas Nickleby was super. I finished it and want to extract some of the things I learned while reading it. The whole of Chapter II was a description of the machinations and hype around the launch of a new share offering and it could have been the setting up of a new web company. The same promotional techniques were used as are used today with the technology being the only exception.
Buried Shadows by John Howard is a wonderful collection of weird short stories. I brought this on holiday and have read about half of the stories. I find them truly wonderful but they must be read slowly. I found that I could not finish one story and go right onto the next. I had to put the book down for a few hours, or even a day or so before starting the next story. They are very evocative, thought provoking, and a joy to read.
The Leopard was recommended by our Chief Executive. Being the lackey that I am I investigated. The fruit of my investigation is documented in post #5 above. Needless to say, I sought out and acquired this book. (I used some of the credit on my birthday book-token so it was bought in a totally guilt-free fashion. I wonder if one acquires a book in a guilt-free fashion can it really be considered a book purchase that can be set against one's Thingaversary obligation. Debate for another day.)
I am about 70 pages into the book (length, 260pages) and am loving it. Historical fiction with a lesson about politics, influence, revolution, change that keeps everything the same. A wonderful book.
Now I am heading to bed and hope to see you all again soon.
I shall get on to that in the next couple of days. Photos will most likely involve Tin Tin, hummingbird hawk moths, and the occasional avian neighbour.
What, exactly, composes an "active time at home"? Enquiring minds!
>32 suitable1: ummmm? Fixing leaks in the plumbing. Planning a bathroom refit. Watching the formerly green grass and plants turn brown in the drought.
>36 suitable1: My back is doing fine, thank you for asking. I just have to be careful when I am being active...at work or at home.
>30 clamairy: Here you will find some of the classified documents you were looking for.
Some of our training equipment
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Damsel in distress. Well, not really in distress; more at the side of a lake.
The country cottage. We call it Chateau Cheverny.
For those of you interested in live action espionage games the link below will bring you to a website where you can sign up for games designed to test you skill as a spy. It is based around The Circus, John Le Carré's head quarters for his British Secret Service. The games are designed as tests of potential recruits.
Let me point out, this is not a real MI6 recruitment campaign. It most certainly is not. It is just a bit of fun. Yes, just a bit of fun. There is no way this is a spy recruitment exercise. There isn't. No way! Definitely not.
>46 MrsLee: Shall
On our weekend trip to Donegal the weather was not conducive to taking beautiful landscape pictures, so I ended up taking some shots of the currently resident wildlife.
In this picture you will see mallard ducks just off the near shore, followed by two black swans with their three cygnets, a cormorant sticking its head out of the water in the mid distance, mute swans forming a line further out, and geese near the far shore.
This picture shows a flight of geese arriving. About four hundred geese arrived at the lake over the weekend. They joined several hundred who have been arriving for the past week.
Grianan Aileach (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Grianan%20of%20Aileach.html) is looking spooky with these ominous clouds. The ring fort is believed to date back to the first century.
Three hares came out to watch the cows graze. Exciting stuff.
This magpie was too lazy to fly or walk so it hitched a lift on the back of a local sheep.
On a more domestic note, this cow just munched away, chewing the cud.
>50 pgmcc: very nice! Although are you sure that's a cormorant? Looks kinda like Nessie.
>51 Jim53: I thought the same when I first spotted it but decided to avoid controversy.
>50 pgmcc: The epitome of "bucolic." A lovely place, and so unexpected for spy work.
Lovely photos, especially the layered one with 5 varieties of birds. Of course the magpie on the sheep is quite special, too. I recently saw a magpie for the first time when I was visiting a friend in a different part of the US.
>55 karenmarie: Hi, Karen.
I hope you are keeping well. Thank you for your comments on the pictures. I had fun taking them.
I have finished Write to the Point by Sam Leith and I have given it a five star rating. I would never have thought I would enjoy reading a book about grammar and punctuation so much. He tried to strike an informal conversational style and he succeeded. Well worth a read for English language writers on either side of the Atlantic. Leith deals with usages from both sides without prejudice or malice. :-)
I have started reading Strange Practice. I am only a few pages in and am enjoying it.
>59 Peace2: I certainly found it entertaining. I found myself making time to pick it up and read it. There are not many grammar books that would have that effect on me, or anyone else I know for that matter.
It also gave me a pleasant Twitter moment. I am not a frequent user of Twitter but when I reached the half-way point in Write to the Point I thought I would see if Sam Leith was on Twitter and if so let him know I was enjoying his book. When I searched for him a 2015 post appeared. It was announcing the publication of "Write to the Point". I thought he does not use Twitter much but I shall leave him message on the off-chance that he might pick it up.
Within a minute of my posting he had Tweeted a thank you and followed me. That made my day. :-)
>60 pgmcc: I love hearing stories of authors who acknowledge their readers - makes me appreciate them even more.
>62 Sakerfalcon: I picked up Strange Practice some time ago with the thought that it could be good fun or dreadfully terrible. Someone in the GD mentioned reading it and enjoying it and starting the author's next novel. That was enough for me to dig it out and start reading. I am about 45 pages in and enjoying it. It is well written and the characters are entertaining. Many of them are taken from traditional Gothic stories which adds an extra appeal.
ETA: Word of warning. I did spot one irritant. The main character drives a mini: in one scene she opens one of the back doors of the car. Aaaaaaarrrrrggggggghhhhh!
I forgave her, but I am watching.
>64 hfglen: There were no pictures so I cannot tell. It was referred to as a car that was not worth stealing so it could be either. :-)
I asked because the current, bloated version one sees around here has 4 doors. I would rate is as "not worth stealing" other than as an example of a design that's lost its way and its point.
>66 hfglen: After your query I googled mini cars and was disgusted to see four-door abominations appear in the mix of images. I think you would agree that if a car has four doors it could not possibly be a real mini.
Forgive me for what may be a silly question, but isn't the major selling point of a mini the way that it fits into ridiculously small parking slots? Is it really relevant the number of doors?
Don't mind me. I'm just here to provoke discussion.
>68 jillmwo: Yeah, the 4 door ones are not Minis. Oh, they're called MINIs, because BMW bought the marque, but they're both wider and longer than a proper Mini, which is a very small, two door car with a tiny boot in the back. Proper Minis fit in small places, need a certain amount of babying to keep them running, and are ridiculously fun to drive. The BMW version of the Clubman is practically an SUV.
There are variations on the standard Mini - there's a tiny woody station wagon, a van (like the station wagon except with no windows in the back), a pickup truck, the moke (like a beach buggy), and a few others.
My husband loves Minis; he has 4 at the moment. They are proper Minis, from the 1960s, complete with ineffective defrosters and dodgy Lucas electrics. Three are in running condition, one is waiting for restoration. He also has a Wolseley Hornet (kind of like a Mini), a Ford Cortina (British Ford), and a Saab Sonnet.
Many years ago, I learned to drive in a Mini with an instructor (driving a much larger car at home with my Dad) - it was a real Mini (as in small and two door!) and I used to panic every time he picked me up at the bus station that the buses couldn't actually see us because we were too small! It was a relief to pass my test and not need to go in them again. SMART cars give me the same impression nowadays (although they seem to be driven here by much worse drivers than the Minis were).
>69 tardis: I may be mis-remembering this but wasn't there also something about Minis being able to kind of deflate their tires and sink down, once parked? I would swear that I watched somebody's Mini do that in a parking spot in Amsterdam. The whole conference room gathered at the window to watch.
>70 Peace2: Yes, that would be a really unnerving aspect if driving in an urban setting.
>71 jillmwo: On-purpose tire deflation is not a feature that I've ever seen - certainly not in any of my husband's Minis. I'm having trouble seeing an advantage to it :)
>70 Peace2: Smart cars are everywhere here - the difference between them and Minis is that they're a lot taller, so visibility is better.
I learned to drive a standard transmission in a Mini - when I dinged the fender in a parking lot and my instructor (also my boyfriend) didn't go ballistic, I knew he was the guy for me. I was right - still together after all these years :)
>72 tardis: That is true love.
My wife asked me to teach her to drive. I have always maintained that it is a bad idea for one partner in a relationship to attempt to teach the other partner to drive as there are so many potential landmines. I attempted to teach her but my efforts only stretched to two lessons after which we both agreed I was right and, for the sake of our relationship, she should get a professional driving instructor to complete her driving education.
Lesson 1: On a wide, firm-sand beach while the tide was out.
My wife was driving along the beach and started to steer towards a tree stump that was sticking out of the sand. I suggested she steer away. She continued to narrow in on the tree stump. I said brake. The car did not slow down. I said brake again, probably a little louder. "I did" replied my wife.
I managed to grab the steering wheel and the car veered past the tree stump. With the hand brake and my wife taking her feet off the pedals we managed to stop the car with a jerk. It was still in gear.
Post Lesson 1 analysis:
Me: "Why were you steering towards the tree stump? Why did you not steer somewhere else?"
My wife: "There was nothing else to steer towards."
Me: "Why did you not brake when I asked you to?"
My wife: "I did."
Me: "Your foot was not on the brake."
My wife: "I had put my foot on the brake to turn it on. It works like a switch, doesn't it?"
Lesson 2: On a local road.
Approaching a junction at which we intend turning left. (Cars are on the left side of the road here so we were not crossing traffic.) We were travelling at 30 miles per hour.
My wife indicated, turned left...without slowing down. We took the corner on two wheels and luckily did not flip over.
Me: "Why did you not slow down to take the corner?"
My wife: "I did not realise you were supposed to. I thought the speed limit was 30 mph."
Having just recovered from the 30mph left turn we came to a roundabout. My wife enters the roundabout without giving way to the traffic already on the roundabout. Horns blown. Lights flashed.
Me: "What...What...What...did you do that for?"
My wife: "I remember being in France and the driver was trying to remember the rules there for roundabouts and kept repeating, 'Give way to cars joining the roundabout. Give way to cars joining the roundabout. Give way to...'. I remembered that and as I was joining the roundabout the other drivers should have given way to me."
Me: "That was an old rule in France. It was never a rule here. We give way to traffic on the roundabout."
Lesson 3: Never happened.
Oops! Another couple of slip-ups by Vivian Shaw in Strange Practice. In adjoining pages she had two of the main characters using verbs that did not match their subject in number. One might forgive this in reported speech from
>73 pgmcc: I'm glad you survived this experience. It sounds a lot like when I tried to teach my wife to play bridge. We decided we'd rather stay married.
>71 jillmwo: I've never seen a Mini do that - but do remember Citroens used to have a sort of sinking suspension when they parked, (something to do with a smoother driving experience on bumpy roads), so the car would drop (slowly) when parked up. I don't think they do it anymore. If I remember correctly it used to be really noticeable on the 2CVs (a strange car if you ask me - a friend drove one and it had this release where you could open the bottom of the windscreen on I guess a hinge when you wanted to demist the screen or I guess have more air through the car!)
>76 Peace2: I remember the Citroen C4 suspension with its pump. When you turned on the engine the pump activated and the car rose, only to sink back down when the engine was turned off.
>75 Jim53: I am not quite sure which is more life threatening, teaching a partner to drive or teaching to play bridge. I can see arguments for both cases.
>76 Peace2: I once had an acquaintance who drove a long-since-obsolete Citroen (DS, I think) around the nature reserve in Swaziland where she worked. As she didn't worry too much about whether there was a road or even a track under the car, the hydraulics leaked. And the "green blood" it needed to rise up before takeoff was almost unobtainable in Swaziland. This made her guided tour of the reserve an, er, interesting experience (though the scenery was and for all I know still is, breathtaking).
>73 pgmcc: LOL, I enjoyed your driving lesson stories. Did the professional instructor look a little shell-shocked after each of your wife’s lessons? :)
>80 YouKneeK: She had her lessons while I was at work so I never got to see the condition of the instructor.
In the end she passed her test first time, so there was a happy ending.
Come to think of it, I did not get to see the condition of the examiner either.
>73 pgmcc: The secret to a long and happy marriage, is knowing when NOT to work together. :) Mark and I discovered that very early when we tried to put together an antique Knockdown Wardrobe. A closet which fit together like a puzzle, and really did take two people to assemble, but was demonic in nature. We kept it until our fifth move (I can't remember how it ever got assembled, not by us as a team, that's for sure) and then passed it along to my brother and his wife. For all its beauty, I wasn't sad to see it go. It never functioned well as a closet for us, being too narrow for modern hangers.
We can work beside each other, on our own projects; he grilling the meat, me working on the rest of dinner. Things like that.
Curious. Who taught your kids to drive?
>82 MrsLee: My eldest daughter has had lessons from an instructor but has not done her practical test yet.
None of the others drive. Insurance is very expensive and running a car costs a lot. Public transport meets the needs of the family mostly.
My wife uses the family car and I take it when I need it for work.
Funnily enough, I drive mire in France than I do here.
>82 MrsLee: Both my boys had lessons from professional instructors, but I was the one who got to sit in the passenger seat of my car while they practiced, because my husband's cars were too precious. I suggested he could sit in the passenger seat of my car, but he always found something more important to do. Older son got into racing and rallying, and has become a "car guy". Younger son still doesn't have a license and it's been 10 years since he took lessons. He seems to manage fine without a car most of the time.
>73 pgmcc: Oh my. I can see why there was never a lesson 3.
Roundabouts are somewhat uncommon in the US, but here in North Carolina they are building more of them because they really are more energy efficient - no electricity needed for lights and less gas wasted being at an arbitrary stop. When I was growing up you had to take driver's education through your high school. Then and only then could you get a permit, which was when parents could help coach you and let you drive under supervision. Ditto for daughter - she took driver's education, got her permit, then I let her drive to and from school until she was old enough to try for her driver's license.
>73 pgmcc: oh my! Do you not have to take a written test about driving before getting to actually drive?
When I was in college, my then boyfriend tried to teach me to drive a manual transmission. Not good. My roommate ended up teaching me instead.
>85 karenmarie: we have tons of roundabouts here in Bend. They are tricky when first learning them, but now I really like them. They are way better than four-way stops.
>86 catzteach: The theory test waa introduced about twenty years ago. My eldesr daughter has passed it and has been taking lessons. One now has to have had at least twelve driving lessons from a qualified instructor before taking the practical driving test.
I am sorry, but I have to interupt this transmission to inform you that I am drinking wine and eating Gruyère cheese.
I found this an entertaining read; a bit of fun, but with a few flaws that interrupted the enjoyment and leave me not convinced about buying the next Greta Helsing adventure.
Without giving any key elements away, the story involves some rather elderly aristocratic characters who would be very serious about doing thins correctly. Shaw has them saying things that their characters would never say (e.g. “Shut up”) and making basic grammar mistakes that their characters would be totally ashamed of (e.g. “..there’s been eleven murders” and “there’s some other tunnels”).
The book is an interesting diversion and an easy read but it is no more than that. If one wanted to give it a heavier meaning one could say it was an allegory for the periodic rise of evil regimes in the world, but this is only a superficial similarity, albeit intended. It can also be considered a commentary on the value of diversity in a population.
The characters are all quite derivative and the story has the feel of fanfiction. I also found the actual story predictable, which took the edge off it.
This book has a lot going for it, but with its derivative nature, out of character dialogue, and storyline predictability I can not give it a very high rating. A good book rates three stars with me. I would have given this book a three star rating had it not committed grammatical sins and been so predictable.
E.T.A.: I expect to receive hate-mail for my above comments.
>92 pgmcc: Thank you for your comments and warnings about this book. I shall continue to resist the temptation when I see it in the bookshop.
>93 Sakerfalcon: It is an enjoyable read so do not write it off totally. The things tgat annoyed me may not annoy others. I am just a fussy old curmudgeon. Perhaps borrow it from the library.
>94 pgmcc: Speaking of fussy old curmudgeons, I think that is my developing role in our mystery book club. I've seen a couple of notes in advance of our Thursday meeting that praise James Patterson's writing. I'll have to decide how fussy, grumpy, etc., I want to be.
>94 pgmcc: Hail, fellow curmudgeon! Yes, what you mentioned in the Greta Helsing book would irritate me as well. Those errors aren't so much grammatical (though on the surface they are) as failures in characterization. I'll pick this up if it's on sale as an ebook, but otherwise probably skip.
Yes, I am reading The Dubliners by James Joyce. It is a collection of short stories and I can get one read on my commute in the morning and another on the way home in the evening.
Unlike the other works of Joyce I have attempted this one is very straightforward and the stories are not long enough to generate the "Why am I reading this" reaction. The stories are little glimpses of Dublin life. There are vivid and are a record of Dublin and its characters of the time (early 1900s). The stories focus on the darker elements of Dublin life; the type of thing people seldom talk about, e.g. the alcoholic who comes home and beats up his wife and his children, the scroungers who smooch from their friends for a drink, the timid character whose old friend who migrated to London years ago comes home for a visit and makes him feel even more inadequate than he had before, etc.. These are all sketches of real life and they indicate Joyce's observational skills.
One of the things I find interesting is the backdrop of a Dublin which at that time was considered the second city of the British empire. The collection of stories was published in 1914, two years before the Easter Rising. So far I have only detected one tangential allusion to the politics of the day. These stories contain details of the life of ordinary people getting on with life and bring out people's insecurities and the drudgery of their everyday lives.
Am I enjoying it?
These stories are hard to enjoy, but I am glad I am reading them. They deal with some horrible situations but it is good to see some Joyce writing that I find value in.
I read a note recently that Joyce was asked why, having lived abroad for many years, did he continue to set his stories in Dublin. Apparently he responded that if he continued to write about Dublin and dissect it he would eventually understand every city in the world because the general is in the particular. I can see this in these stories, in that he is capturing "types" and one can imagine equivalent "types" anywhere. As I have said before, "It is amazing how often people turn out to be people."
>97 pgmcc: From what I remember, I'd say I appreciated these stories more than enjoyed them. Even the last one, which is so impressive. But it's been so long I might profit from a re-read.
>99 clamairy: I grew up in Belfast in Northern Ireland, the part of the island under British rule. The recommended books on the school curriculum were all by British writers. Of course, given that the whole Island was within the British Empire at the time of Joyce writing these stories one could claim Joyce was a British writer but one would not expect the British civil servants designing the school curriculum to think of that. Anything associated with Dublin, and hence the current Republic, would be an athema to those setting the syllabus content. A book called, Dubliners, appearing on a Northern Ireland school syllabus would have given rise to protests and riots in loyalist areas of Belfast.
Apart from the socio-political environment of my youth leading me away from Joyce, I had attempted to read Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and was disinclined to attempt any other Joyce.
Does that answer your question? :-)
Thank you for your comments on the pictures. I could not resist the magpie on the sheep. It was hilarious.
>102 jillmwo: Whenever I would tell people how unimpressed I was with Joyce they would say I should read Dubliners. They would say, "Those stories are more accessible." I think they were trying to insult me, but the stories are good and the other works still fail to impress me.
As Jim53 said in post #98, one appreciates these stories rather than necessarily enjoying them. I would say they are worth a read.
I have praised Kevin Barry's short stories. He is a modern, young writer who has been winning big prizes. He has two collections of short stories and two novels published. His first publication was a critique of Joyce's The Dead. It is the final story in Dubliners so I am keen to read it. Barry is an excellent writer. I can see how his short stories are like Joyce's stories in "Dubliners", but they give a glimpse of a more recent Ireland. Some of his stories are located in England and he is just as astute in his capturing the nuances of English culture. I would say he is a better writer than Joyce, but I can see he has learned from Joyce and added to it. Kevin Barry is accepted by the literati in Ireland, the pompous high-brow snob world of literature, but he is a wonderful, straightforward human being who does not promote the snobbery of the literati. He is really down to Earth and a very pleasant person.
Yes, I am recommending you have a look at his short stories.
Did I mention we have a new member of the family?
Her name is Willow, she is almost a year old, and has been living with us for two weeks.
I am on the last story of James Joyce's collection, Dubliners. His stories really catch a sense of place, character and the times. These stories were published in 1914, two years before the Easter Rising. It is interesting to see Dublin in those pre-revolutionary times. There is limited reference to the politics that gave rise to the Rising (if you excuse the pun) but the final story, The Dead, has an element of it. I am only half way through the story but there has been a discussion that clearly identifies the sentiments and attitudes that lead firstly to the Rising and the War of Independence, and subsequently to the Irish Civil War.
These events were all in the future for the Dubliners of the time when these stories were written.
>104 pgmcc: Not only is Willow adorable, but the composition of that photo is lovely. I thought it was a painting at first.
Thank you! I took seven hours planning and setting up the shot.
Or was that the lucky shot I took with the camera in my phone?
I find it holds up well and is even relevant to current happenings. Everything changes and everything remains the same.
As with so many other books, I got far more out of it on a second and third re-read.
I am enjoying Dune very much but have been surprised in some places by poor copyediting. I am reading the 50th anniversary edition and I am surprised that the publisher has released such an iconic book without better copyediting. The errors are mostly missing letters, such as "its" without "s", a couple of duplicate words, and the occasional missing word.
This is not taking away from my enjoyment of the story but it does trip one up as one is reading and it disturbs the experience. The errors are not evenly distributed but they are frequent enough to warrant comment.
On the positive side, I am seeing layer upon layer of meaning and theme in the book. I still see plenty of thematic commonality with Lampedusa's The Leopard and see much of the content very relevant to today, both ecologically and politically.
The viewpoint changes frequently in the story and I am finding this intriguing and very useful. With two people having a conversation Herbert gives us the thoughts of each participant as well as the words they speak. This is proving excellent in terms of showing the different aspects of the situation in which the conversation is taking place and the motivation of the characters involved. It is also used effectively to give information without using an info-dump.
Willow is adorable!
Dune was one of my dad’s favorite books. I’ve been meaning to read it for years. The Husband likes the movie. I’ve never seen it all the way through, just snippets and it doesn’t appeal. It’s made me put off reading the book.
>117 catzteach: I have had a copy of the book for over twenty years but am only getting to it now. I am really enjoying it.
If you are put off by the length of the book you might like The Leopard by Lampedusa. It has many similar themes to Dune but is historical fiction rather than set in a Science Fiction world. It is also much shorter. I think that if you like it you will like Dune.
I think I’d probably like Dune. I’m convinced to try it. It is a long one so I’ll have to read it during a vacation.
I am enjoying We Have Always Lived in the Castle. As with many good stories it gives hints about what is happening and can lead you in a wrong direction. My thoughts to date on the book are behind the spoiler screen.
Impressions before reading the book: I had developed the idea that the book was about a ghost family living in a castle but having started reading it I see that I am wrong.
Initial views from first chapter:Initially I thought the narrating character was a ghost and was inferring that people could see her in certain situations. That stopped when she was addressed directly.
Moving on: If she is not a ghost then she is socially inept, and introverted. I was wondering why the locals had such venomous feelings towards her so there was obviously a story behind that. I thought that perhaps her sister and uncle had died and that she was living alone and only, due to mental illness, not accepting that they were dead. I pictured their rotting corpses in the house that only she entered.
Now: The secret was obviously the poisoning of the family and the trial of the sister, Constance. I suspect we will find that the narrator, who obviously has mental illness issues, is the culprit and that possibly Constance has shielded her from the accusations of murder.
The cousin has just arrived and I await the next event. I suspect the narrator will take some notion and poison her remaining relatives, and perhaps even herself. I am sure I am wrong. I always am. I am a man, after all. :-)
And then again, Constance could be the killer, or it was all an accident.
>121 pgmcc: Two of my favourite books in the same post! I look forward to following your thoughts on the Jackson.
I am enjoying the Jackson, even if I am totally wrong in my speculations as I progress through the story.
I watched the film of Dune last night. It is decades since I saw it and had fond memories of it. The special effects were cringe-worthy by today's standards but I still enjoyed the film. Some of the characterisation was over the top (e.g. Baron; Baron's nephews; evil advisor;...) but I was amazed as the cast and delighted that I recognised some actors whom I had not realised were in the film.
It was only half way through that I realised the Paul Atreides was played by Kyle MacLachlan whom I knew from Twin Peaks; and that Chani was played by Sean Young whom I know better as Rachel from Blade Runner and recognised in one of her early scenes with Paul Atreides.
Other actors that I was delighted to see include:
Max von Sydow
I tend not to look at the cast in much detail before I watch a film and am usually very bad at linking the faces with names or remembering where I have seen them before.
It is a great cast.
I was also delighted to discover the screen-play was written by David Lynch who also directed the film. I am a big fan of Twin Peaks.
I thought the film was quite stiff as it was trying to give the story without missing key elements, but not including a lot of the detail from the book. Squeezing a 550 page novel into 1 hour 38 minutes required cutting a lot out and as is generally the case, the book is much better. I still enjoyed the film despite its corny costumes and characterisation. Very entertaining. Luckily my younger son did not come in until late or I would have had him complaining about the special effects.
>104 pgmcc: Ah, what a lovely pup!
>107 pgmcc: The Dead is the best of the lot, IMHO.
>121 pgmcc: I've been thinking about listening to some of my old favorites, and I think Dune might be one of the ones that I attempt. I'm ashamed to admit I started We Have Always Lived in the Castle a couple of years ago and couldn't get into it. Although if memory serves me correctly it would be well suited to this time of year.
>124 pgmcc: Having read We Have Always Lived in the Castle twice, I am enjoying your guesswork, Peter. Recalling the book, I can see exactly where you are getting those impressions from and, though you are finding your gender an obstacle in making accurate predictions, your guesses are nevertheless similar to some thoughts that I recall having during my first time through the novel. Of course, I am also male so perhaps that explains that.
>127 clamairy: I was rather lukewarm on the book the first time I read it. However, I had a much better time during a subsequent re-read, (coincidentally, it was in the month of October! ;). I picked up on a ton of little things things the 2nd time around just from knowing what was (or wasn't) coming. One could do worse when choosing a 'Halloween read'.
>127 clamairy: Willow is cute.
I agree with your humble opinion. The Dead is a very moving story.
Having read the collection of stories and having been greatly impressed by them I am amazed his bigger works have turned out to be so boring. I still cannot get into them.
Dune is certainly an excellent book. I have many underlined sections in my copy and I suspect it may prompt me back to writing more than just a few paragraphs about a book. There are so many things in the book that are applicable to any time or place.
How is the unpacking going? :-)
>129 pgmcc: As you could tell from all of the beach picks I took a break from the unpacking while the workmen were ripping apart parts of my basement, and using a jackhammer on the cement floor. Now they are finally done with the new bathroom and the giant closet, but I am having troubling making myself get back to the unpacking. Tomorrow, perhaps.
>131 clamairy: Do not be beating yourself up about unpacking. There is no obligatory schedule to keep to. Taking photographs and long walks is much more beneficial.
>131 clamairy: You know the cold, short, winter days are coming. Save your unpacking for those days, then opening each box will be like a celebration because it will have been so long since you saw your stuff. :)
Thank you, pgmcc. However, the problem has mysteriously cleared up. The posts on the three separate threads are now all appearing as they should. (The gremlins responsible for double-posts on my thread have found a new way now to torment me.)
Again, thanks for checking!
I have finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I thought it was disturbing and excellently so. Themes include family relationships, societal prejudice, bullying, and mental illness.
The cousin was a totally nasty piece of work. The villagers were caught up in misinformed hysteria and I was wondering if Merricat was going to poison the water source and kill the whole town population.
I think Jackson did a great job of getting the reader into the world of the main protagonist and showing us the world through another's eyes.
This is definitely a good eerie book for this time of year.
I have started reading The Green Man's Heir by Juliet E. McKeena.
This is the first one of Juliet's books I have read and I was hooked in the first chapter. So far I am four chapters in and am finding it interesting and well paced.
It is set in rural England, involves a murder mystery and some supernatural beings. I understand the idea of modern surveillance comes into the story but that has not come to the fore just yet, though I believe I have spotted the way it will come into the story.
Without giving away any spoilers, the story is about an innocent man who stumbles into a murder investigation and is probably going to get into the position of being a suspect, if not the only suspect. We shall see.
>137 pgmcc: Glad you enjoyed the Jackson, it's one of my favourite books. Merricat is a great narrator and character.
The Green Man's Heir has captured my attention and I am picking it up at every opportunity. I read to 1am in bed one night, something I have not done in a long time. I am even reading it on the Kindle app on my phone. I am going to that abomination of a place, Starbucks, on my way to work and reading, arriving in work a 8:45am rather than my usual 7:50am.
It is a mixture of murder mystery, folklore tale and woodland guide, a mix that works very well. It takes place in the English country-side with visits to an ancient woodland. The locations are described in a way you feel you are actually there. The country villages and their pubs are realistic. The people are believable and behave in believable ways.
This is the first Juliet E. McKenna book I have read but I will be reading more of her work.
>140 pgmcc: A direct hit. I only intended to put it on my ever-growing wishlist, but the Kindle version was under $5, so it now belongs to me. I think I will start reading this soon because mystery, folklore and nature reading are three of my favorite genres.
>141 MrsLee: yep, that one got me too! Folklore seems appropriate at this time of year.
I am showing great restraint. My pre-ordered copy of Haruki Murakami's new novel, Killing Commendatore, arrived this morning. It is a hefty 681 page tome. The first paragraph is his usual clear, succinct, and intriguing prose.
I have wrapped this book in a plastic bag to protect its dustcover and will be handing it over to my wife this evening for her to put away as her Christmas present to me.
Yes, I am in a cold sweat; yes, I am biting my tongue; no, I do not know if I will be able to go through with this. I need your support.
>144 pgmcc: maybe you can take your mind off this book by picking up a few others... yep, I'm an enabler...
I finished The Green Man's Heir on Saturday. I enjoyed it and would agree with MrsLee's assessment of it in her thread.
While I read it using the Kindle app on my phone I ended up buying a copy at Octocon as the author, Juliet E. McKenna was at the con and I did not want her signing my mobile phone.
That is Juliet on the right.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Garth Nix who had a book launch at the convention and who visited our table and was gracious enough to pose for a pictures. He came across as a lovely person.
Great photos! That looks like a fantastic event to be a part of.
I actually came here just to let you know that I am really enjoying The gone-away world.
>149 Sakerfalcon: I am delighted to hear that. I shall post the link to a youtube video I put up after Nick did a reading from it some years ago. You can watch it after you have finished the book. I would not like it to spoil your fun.
>151 suitable1: It shall be put away until the festive time. It shall be hidden where this child cannot find it.
Great pics! I’d love to meet Garth Nix!
I’ve looked for The Green Man’s Heir at my library. They do not have a copy. But if Amazon Kindle has it for under $5....
I am 70 pages into The Technologists by Matthew Pearl and finding it contrived and the characters are stereotypical and one dimensional. I think it may not be long before I dump it.
There are much better books than The Technologists sitting on my shelves begging to be read. This story is a bit banal. As stated above, the characters are stereotypical and one dimensional. I cannot build up any enthusiasm for any of them and care even less about the story.
This will be a DNF.
Melmoth the Wanderer is likely to be it replacement in my back for reading on the way to and from work.
>156 pgmcc: Life is too short to read bad books. You made the right decision.
I am an enthusiastic DNFer and wasn't impressed by The Dante Club which is the only Matthew Pearl I've tried. You've given me more reason to avoid him in future.
>159 Bookmarque: I read The Dante Club and on looking back I gave it 4 stars. That does not tally with my recollection of the content. I did enjoy it more than The Technologists but I do not think I would give it more than 3 stars now. I recall having issues with the use of characters from real life but felt he did a reasonable job with it. I did have the feeling of its being very contrived.
I think I got mixed up between Matthew Pearl and Iain Pears at one time and that is what led me to reading some of the former's work. Not a mistake I shall make again.
I went for a walk by The Liffey this morning. On my what there I met this little lady.
I have started reading Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. This will be very apt for the run up to All Hallows' Eve.
I am enjoying Melmoth the Wanderer. It is a glimpse into Ireland of the 19th century, a glimpse into Gothic literature of the time, and an insight into the perception of English men travelling through Catholic Europe in the years after The Reformation.
The spookiness is building up nicely.
Published in 1820 this story is reinforcing my experience to date that classics are well worth visiting and that they contain many words of wisdom, keys to the past, and moments of great humour. Of course, one’s sense of humour might differ from mine. :-)
I am reading my book and was making a note in the margin. There is a cat on the table in front of me and his brother is on the chair beside me. As if acting in unison the one one the table head-butted me just above my nose and the other one sretched over and started chewing the top of my pen and trying to pull it out of my hand.
As I attempt to make this pist I am being head-butted constantly and a tail is being waved over the screen of my phone making it difficult to post.
Such love is rarely received from humans.
The cats must want to be fed.
>166 pgmcc: Kittehs are demanding service and their hoomin slave pigheadedly insists on finishing his post! This should not happen to Feline Overlords.
>167 Busifer: I am relatively new to cats. We found five kittens in the garden five years ago and still have two of them.
A friend of mine pointed out that dogs have owners while cats have servants.
>140 pgmcc: Uhoh... Might have been a hit.
>148 pgmcc: I've only read the first of Nix's Old Kingdom Trilogy, Sabriel. I enjoyed it, but just never got around to getting to the rest. He looks like a normal friendly guy. :o)
I have owned cats since I was 21, with only a handful of cat-free years sprinkled here and there. I grew up in a house full of pets, and kids. (I'm one of nine.)
>173 clamairy: The Green Man's Heir has accounted for a number of hits. It is very much folklore magic.
I have not read any of Garth Nix's books but my younger daughter loved his stories. He was one of those "buy it when it comes out" authors for her. Garth Nix was pleased to hear that and asked me to pass on his regards to her.
(I'm one of nine.)
That must be unusual for the States. I am one of seven and my father was one of ten. That would not have been unusual for a Catholic family in those days in Ireland. Our having four children appears to be quite unusual nowadays.
As a child I was not allowed have a dog but always wanted on. when I got married my wife was keen on a dog too, so we took one from the pound and we have only been without a dog for a few months since 1983.
Less than 200 (of 607) pages left in Melmoth the Wanderer. It is fascinating in many ways. I shall have to be careful how I comment on this book as it contains many religious aspects. It is quite interesting to see how Maturin uses the book to present his arguments. He was a Church of Ireland minister and was a renowned preacher. I believe "Melmoth the Wanderer" was as much his preaching as Gothic novel.
It is, however, full of many astute observations on society and the thought processes of individuals. While the book was published 198 years ago its content is as valid today as Maturin must have thought it was then.
It is slightly long winded and takes a long time in presenting lengthy processes and uses the language of the time, so it could be regarded by many as a difficult read. I feel an essay coming on but I am not sure I will actually make the time to write it. I have certainly filled the blank back pages with reference notes and underlined many parts of the book.
In essence it is about the struggle between good and evil, both in society and within the individual. It is also about the manipulation of what is considered good and evil, and is written from a particular point of view. This is one area where politics and religion overlap in this story.
>174 pgmcc: I work with a man who is one of 17 siblings, and those are the ones born who lived! My boss is one of 6.
>173 clamairy: "I have owned cats ...
Or, more correctly, been owned by cats. Surely.
Apropos nothing in particular other than there being a nice moon out tonight.
For those interested: F8; 1/125s; ISO400; 500mm manual focus lens
The top one is the raw photograph but I found this feature on my computer called Zeke and it produced the second picture. The change in contrast helps the features stand out more clearly.
Of course, as I am reading a Gothic novel, and there is a lot of sitting looking up at the moon by one of the characters, I might have had mysterious forces moving me to photograph the moon and share the results.
Seven of Nine is my brother John. :o)
And large families were very common for Irish Catholics this side of the pond as well. There were kids in my class at St. Kilian's School who were one of eleven and twelve. I weep to contemplate it myself. I'm the youngest, and the only one of my family under the age of 60. Four of the nine are already in their 70s.
Loving those moon photos!
Hey...did you just moon us? 😜
My grandmother was one of 20. Single live births. No twins. Amounts to slavery pretty much. Never met either woman, but I would have liked to. Saw pictures of my great grandmother and it’s what you expect - hard used and old before her time.
My mother had one brother who died young. She used to be slagged (teased) about being "an only child". The implication was that she was spoiled.
We had a neighbour who was probably not the most sensitive but when complaining to my mother on a number of occasions about some man she would explain that it was all down to his being "an only child".
My mother would, in her soft accent say, Mrs Loggie, I'm an only child.
The neighbour's response was always, "I mean boys, Mrs McClean. It's 'only childs' that are boys is the problem. It's different with girls. I didn't mean you at all."
Imagine that in a broad Belfast accent.
>181 clamairy: That was some make up and costume your brother wore in Star Trek Voyager.
By the way, being the youngest is the best position. My nearest sibling, my brother Seamus, was the youngest until I arrived. He still has not forgiven me.
There are three of us in our 60s. We are the young ones. My eldest sibling is 77.
>182 Bookmarque: Apologies for the mooning. I do not know what came over me.
One of 20 is scary.
Yeah, the family basically took up a whole tenement building in the city in NH. No idea how my great-grandfather earned enough to keep them all until the older ones could start working. Crazy.
>184 Bookmarque: My earliest memories of my eldest brother are of him sleeping during the day because he was working as a compositor in The Irish News newspaper. He was seventeen when he started that job and retired from it a few years ago. We always had to be very quiet getting up to have our breakfast and get ready for school because he was sleeping having worked all night.
I know the scenario - my dad worked nights for a lot of my childhood. Same routine, quiet in the mornings and basically kids couldn't come and play at my house until he was up. A weird side benefit, kinda, was that I got to stay up later than I would if my mom had dad for company. In his stead I'd get to watch another hour or so of TV with mom.
I stopped by for a little friendly catch-up and got plugged twice: The Green Man's Heir, which sounds like just my kind of treat, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, the title of which brings Gormenghast to mind (no resemblance, though, I hope). I haven't read much Shirley Jackson, but she lingers there at the edge of awareness, like a ghostly presence you haven't quite dared to recognize. A good choice for the dark of the year.
On the many siblings-topic Sweden is protestant but "only child" has traditionally been a derogatory here, too. The last people to have large families were my parents' generation, born in the 1930's. My husband has 15+8 aunts and uncles, partners not counted - I have only 3+1, which is an aberration, especially the latter: that my dad only has his sister. People born i the 50's and onward tend to have one sibling. Two or three is heard of, but unusual. From the 70's onward zero or one seems the norm.
That said there are families with 8 or more kids. Not that common, because you'll have to have a hefty salary to house and feed the lot, or live out in no man's land were living space is practically free of charge and you have land to grow your own potatoes. A bit hard to get a salaried job, though, out there.
Hi, Meredy. I am delighted to see your dropping by.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle was my first Jackson. Like yourself, I have had her on the edge of my awareness for some time. On my trip to Boston in 2016 I picked up a couple of her short story collections and am looking forward to reading them some time.
Gormenghast is one of my favourite books and I can assure you, "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" (WHALITC), is nothing like it but I can understand how you might think that. I knew nothing about WHALITC before reading it but did have some preconceived ideas on what it was about and...I was totally wrong. I certainly enjoyed the book and an encouraged by my experience to continue reading Shirley Jackson's stories. The next one will be either The Haunting of Hill House or The Lottery.
>186 Bookmarque: Our excuse for staying up late was my father's occupation as a publican. He did not get back from work until after midnight and he would have his supper at that time. We all stayed up to have a cup of tea and a snack with him. I put my ability to sleep at night after drinking tea down to the years of late cups of tea. I find if I come in late at night I have to have a cup of tea before going to bed. My wife refuses to take tea that late claiming she will not sleep. The fact that she does not sleep when she has not had a cup of tea before going to bed is never taken into consideration in any discussion on this topic.
>188 Busifer: Big families are very rare in Ireland these days. We have four children but most of my colleagues from approximately the same generation have one or two children. My eldest daughter is expecting her second child in the next few weeks and my other daughter has a nine month old. My sons have not reproduced as yet.
>190 pgmcc: I grew up in a family were coffee was for daytime, tea for night and bedtime. I have no issues with with sleep after having had tea.
As I got older I was fascinated to learn that people thought of tea as a "pick me up". Total news for me. Tea is for toast with marmalade, or for cheese and crackers - both nighttime snacks in my family.
>192 Busifer: Our family was not into coffee much. My father would have had cheese and crackers at supper time but I was not into cheese at that stage. Toast and marmalade has always been a breakfast thing here. My wife loves toast and marmalade in the morning. Marmalade is something I have never acquired a liking for. Paddington Bear would be most disappointed in my; he might even give me a stern look.
>193 pgmcc: My mum is a Paddington Bear devotee and I grew up with homemade marmalade being had at any time ;-)
>194 Busifer: Our 2.5 year old granddaughter loves Paddington Bear and when she is with us watching one of the two recent films is the "go to" solution for a bored child. We appear to be doing a good job because she never really complains until her parents arrive to take her home. :-) Her mother is expecting a second child any day now so we will have the 2.5 year old for a few days once the new baby decides to arrive.
>195 pgmcc: I foresee Paddington overload ;-)
I loved Paddington as a child. Especially the stories were he decided to wallpaper, and the one were he ruined a painting for Mr. Gruber. When us kids moved out our mother told us that we could take almost anything we wanted with us, except her Paddington books. I think me and my sister would had ended up fighting over them if they had been up for choosing.
I do respect that some people have yet to get the greatness of the grubby little Peruvian bear found at Paddington Station, though ;-)
>196 Busifer: As a child I was aware of Paddington but never had direct exposure to the stories.
The films are well made, but of course, in these days of CGI it is much easier to make the fantastic appear on a screen. I find there is sufficient humour to keep me interested and the actors involved are very good. They still have not given me any more of a taste for marmalade.
I finished reading Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer on Monday, 26th November. It proved very interesting and quite entertaining for several reasons and I have made numerous annotations and notes on the blank pages at the back of the book and beside the text in the body of my more than 600 page tome.
I feel an essay coming on and have started structuring it. The interesting factors relate to the socio-economic environment of the time when the book was written/published (1820) and the period in which it was set, the personal circumstances of the author, and the significance of the novel in the context of the development of the Gothic genre. Other elements of interest include the way the story was structured, the familial links between the author and other authors (Oscar Wilde for one), and the relationship between this book and others that came out before it, about the same time as it, and subsequent to its publication.
The socio-economic and authors personal circumstances involve political and religious elements that may make anything I write taboo in the GD threads, but I need to get my thoughts into a document to help me find closure in my experience of the story.
I would recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in Gothic tales. There are a few parts where Maturin does go on a bit to make a point, but I felt it worth reading to see the points his characters were making. These points, which he claimed strenuously were the views of his characters and not his own, dropped him in trouble with his superiors in the Church of Ireland and resulted in members of his hierarchy accusing him of being an atheist despite his being a very popular and strongly Calvinist preacher, who enjoyed parties and dancing.
Finding time to get it completed is an issue.
There is an extensive "Introduction" which I have avoided to date wishing to read the text untainted by the thoughts of others. I am reluctant to read it until I have finished writing my own thoughts at which point I will feel suitably equipped to take on the thoughts of others and cringe in discovering the ignorance of my assessment or smugly point out the errors of the Introduction writer when the introduction ignores perfectly obvious influences and prejudices.
My interest in this book was such that I even sought out some of Maturin's sermons in order to validate some of my hypothesis regarding his motivation behind writing the novel.
I was another Paddington fan as a child. I never saw any movies or anything, if they even had any back then, but I do remember reading and really enjoying several of the chapter books by Michael Bond when I was maybe 5 or 6. And I had a stuffed Paddington bear.
For some reason I don’t think I ever re-read them though, so I only remember a very few fuzzy bits and pieces. Maybe we borrowed them from a library or from somebody else, because I read most of my children’s books over and over. At that age, I don't think I ever really grasped that the Paddington books were set in a whole different country from mine. I probably would have really enjoyed that aspect if I had been a little older.
>199 YouKneeK: The London thing was a huge thing for me as a kid. I had never been and never thought I'd ever get there but I loved the idea of Paddington station, marmalade, and that he just did things ;-)
When the first Paddington movie was released a few years ago there was a Paddington Bear trail in London, with lots of decorated statues of him located around the city. My friend and I tracked some of them down - here are photos if anyone is interested.
I never read much of the Paddington series myself, but my daughter adored them. When I was teaching my children, one of the things we did was arrange a little play based on a book they were reading at the moment. She chose to act out the scene of Paddington eating grapefruit for breakfast with the help of her father and her special bear (which was a white bear, nothing like Paddington). Grandparents happened to be present, and the grapefruit prop worked perfectly, squirting as required, leaving us all in hysterics. Fond memories.
Oh, the grapefruit story!
I haven't read anything Paddington since the late 70's, and are unlikely to do so unless I borrow the books from my mum, but some stories are just etched into my mind forever :-)
Peter, I can't wait to hear what you have to say about The Haunting of Hill House when/if you finally get to it.
Busifer, tea has caffeine! LOL Especially when I brew it. I use Twinings Irish Breakfast tea most of the time, and I let it steep for eons. :o) I do have coffee once a week or so, on the days that I really need to get moving. I use a French press for that, because it seems to be lower in acid.
>204 clamairy: We are a Barry's Tea household.
One day, when my daughter was living in Boston, I went into the General Post Office in Dublin to post some goodies to her. I was sending chocolate and crisps (what some people would call potato chips).
As I was sending the goods outside the EU I had to fill in a customs docket. I wrote chocolate & crisps. The Post Office looked at the docket and said, "C.C.B.T."
I said, "Pardon?"
He responded, "C.C.B.T. 90% of all goods posted to the US are C.C.B.T. Crisps, Chocolate, Batch loaf and Tea."
We had a good laugh.
Batch load refers to a particular shaped loaf. I would never think that people would send bread to the States but apparently they do.
I believe everyone likes a bit of home landing on their doorstep when they are living abroad. The chocolate here is much different to that available in the US. "Tayto" is the original Irish brand of crisps and is very popular. I think people prefer the tea they are used to. It is very difficult to get good tea in continental Europe and it does not appear to be readily available in the US either. I am interested you are able to get Twinings. It is not very common here. Most people go for Barry's or Lyon's, the Irish tea brands. Bewely's is another Irish brand, but it tries to position itself as an up-market brand and is mostly bought as presents or by people who want to spend more money on their tea. I do not want to burst your bubble, but while you are buying Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea it is a brand from a London company.
The Haunting of Hill House could, thanks to your comment, be my next read.
Oh, I know about the caffeine in tea, especially since I prefer black tea (Yunnan - yum!). It just never have affected my ability to sleep.
The same goes for coffee, actually, but I much prefer the taste of tea in the evening.
>205 pgmcc: Twinings is one of the main brands available in Sweden. I used to buy their Yunnan, and as I'm a bit lazy I used to buy their sadly discontinued Yunnan tea bags instead of loose tea leaf.
Now I have to go to a specialty tea shop to get my tea; Yunnan is never available in ordinary grocery shops. I don't know how many times I've been looking at an whole aisle of "tea" in frustrations, swearing over idiots that think new age herbal infusions and real tea are in any way related ;-)
I used to make up batches of Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger (hibiscus) tea and keep it in the fridge, till we discovered that it makes you sick, which turned out not to be true after all. These days I drink the green tea that they sell at Turkey Hill (a convenience store chain like 7-Eleven or whatever they have OTOSOTP). I've generally preferred hot chocolate if I'm having a hot drink, although warm cider is also quite nice.
I just purchased probably enough tea to get us through next year. I purchase from the Twinings' USA website. My preferred is Prince of Wales, although I also ordered a couple of other varieties. I buy it loose in lovely tins. Then I try to find someone who will take the lovely tins from me when they are empty because I do not have a use for them, but can't bear to throw them out.
Also purchased from Uncle Lee's tea website. I like their Black tea, it is mild, almost like green tea, but not. Also their bamboo tea is refreshing, and good for the hair and nails. :)
I was given some Barry's once, and it was worlds away better than Lipton, but still a bit strong (tanic?) for me. I don't add cream or sugar, so that may have something to do with it.
>205 pgmcc: Yes,I know it's British, so you are not bursting any bubbles. (Or taking a wee into my tea, either.) I only tried one brand of actual Irish tea here in the US, and it must have been sitting on a shelf too long before I bought it because it didn't taste so great. It tasted nothing like the tea I had while visiting Ireland. I also love Earl Grey, but they must have changed their bergamot source for the Twinings Earl Grey because it isn't half as good as it used to be. I switched to Stash Earl Grey. One of my other favorite brands of tea is Bigelow, which is made in Connecticut. I have a ton of loose teas, but often in the morning I'm too bleary to use it, so it's mostly bags for me.
I agree that people love a taste of home when they are away. I have heard tales of cases of Skippy peanut butter being mailed over seas to desperate students. :D
>211 pgmcc: I'm so glad! It is one of my favorites, and I'm overdue for a reread.
I watched the Netflix mini-series loosely based on the book a couple of months ago. As long as one isn't expecting a strict adaptation it's pretty awesome. And the 1960s B&W film version with Claire Bloom and Julie Harris is outstanding.
>212 clamairy: Jackson obviously had the same jaundiced view of the world as I do. Her humour comes through and her writing is a delight.
I've read all of Jackson's novels and have at least liked (mostly loved) all of them. She was a brilliant writer. I agree with Clam, The Haunting is a great adaptation of The haunting of Hill House.
If I may offer a thought, I would think that the 1963 version of the Haunting is better than the 1999 version. You should be looking for the Julia Harris version, not the Catherine Zeta-Jones one.
I read The Haunting of Hill House about ten years ago and enjoyed it at the time, but thought the movies more compelling.
Oh, and I am now thinking that I might at least sample Melmoth the Wanderer. Although your reference to his sermons gives me a bit of a pause. Does Maturin hiit one hard with a moral hammer in Melmoth the Wanderer?
>216 jillmwo: Not really. His hierarchy acused him of being an atheist for the content in the book but he insisted it was only the words of his character. I do not know whether his sermons were born out of a real faith on his part or were the result of his knowing what his audience wanted. Certainly his novel was written with making money in mind as he was not wealthy and worried a lot about money.
I have been wary about Perry’s rewrite but I am inclined to read it to see what she has done with it. A new edition of Melmoth the Wanderer has come out here and Perry wrote the introduction. I hope to finish my notes on the original before reading Perry’s version.
>216 jillmwo: Yes, that is the version I recommend in my post, as did Claire in hers.
There will be a short interlude in normal transmission as our third grandchild was born at approximately 11:30am this morning. 6.5lbs. Boy. Malachi. Mother and son doing well. Father recovering.
>219 pgmcc: Ah! A wondrous Christmas gift for all. May there be much happiness and awe for your family this season.
>220 suitable1:, >221 haydninvienna: & >222 MrsLee:
Thank you for the congratulations and good wishes. As you might guess we are in a good place. Not "The Good Place", but "A Good Place". :-)
The new arrival's big sister (2.5 years old) is sleeping on our couch. She has been staying with us since Friday.
>223 pgmcc: My goodness, but you're adapting well to the state of grandparent! Congrats!!!
>219 pgmcc: Oh, congrats! I bet the boy will be mad at his parents when he get older for having his birthday too close to Yule ;-)
Ahh, I'm so happy for you Peter. Wishing you all much joy with the new addition.
>224 jillmwo:, >225 Busifer:, >226 clamairy: & >227 tardis:
Thank you for your congratulations and good wishes.
>224 jillmwo: I just go with the flow. It is my wife that does all the work. I just do what I am told and make funny faces when required.
>225 Busifer: His mother loves Christmas and her biggest concern was that she would be in the maternity hospital for Christmas day. Her due date was December 21st, so she was a bit worried. She will make sure that Malachi has both a birthday and a Christmas. She would never want a son of hers to lose out.
>226 clamairy: Thank you. We are over the moon.
>227 tardis: Thank you! It is surreal having our routine messed up at this time of year.
>228 pgmcc: I don’t think any parent would want that. But I know a fair share of people with December and January birthdays who as kids would had liked a bit more of a distance from Yule. Because, more special!
>229 Busifer: I know poor souls in the same position. My daughter, however, will make sure Malachí does not suffer that fate. She celebrates or commemorates every possible anniversary and she will make the 9th December a big day regardless of its proximity to the 25th. :-) Her own birthday is at the end of August and she starts discussing it in early June.
I have completed reading The Haunting of Hill House.
I enjoyed the atmosphere and the humour. The doctor's wife was great comic relief.
It has dated but it is very comforting to read one of the original haunted house stories, and it is nice to see the old style build up of suspense and tension.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
>231 pgmcc: Yay!
Perhaps we will have to use the planchette to ask Shirley Jackson what she intended. :-)
Congratulations on your new grandson! I hope you will enjoy getting to know him.
And yes, one of the things I like about Hill House is that it's left open to interpretation. Much more unsettling I think.
>234 Sakerfalcon: Thank you, Claire.
I agree that Hill House leaves the reader free to scare themselves in any number of ways. :-)
I have started reading Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke.
This is an intriguing book and it holds no punches when highlighting the flaws in the plethora of books on how to write...anything. He has a lot of relevant experience from media, mostly television, and has a foot in academia. He states that this is not a "how-to" book but more an explanation of why and how stories work.
He has used a lot of quotes from various writers and movie directors and uses film and TV programme examples to demonstrate his points. I was getting a feeling that the quotes of others were going to make up most of the book but he does refine the message after giving the quotes.
The use of films and TV programmes is a deliberate action as they are more readily available to people and many people will have seen the shows/films he uses. He points out that the same fundamental story structure attributes apply to stories across all media.
I suspect his book will live up to his boasting and I am enjoying it at this point.
Last Tuesday I attended a one day session on using story telling in business. It was an excellent session and John Yorke's book is supporting all the points made in the story telling course.
The group that facilitated the session is called The Core Story. The facilitator on the day is very good. His background is in corporate business and stand-up comedy. The job titles of the team are great:
- Audience Alchemist
- Authentic Voice Fairy
- Story Wizard
- Captain Content
- Performance Pirate
- The Maker of Maps
- Truth Seeker
- Story Hacker
With job titles like that what is there not to love?
>236 pgmcc: The job title that I have wanted (officially) for years is Information Goddess. But I could go with Captain Content if need be.
>237 jillmwo: I like “Information Goddess”. You could be known as “InfoG”.
In work we have a “Head of Risk”. I call him “The Risk Master”. Of course, when I call him that I put on a deep, sonorous voice just like what one hears in movie trailers.
About the best title I can think of for my work is Paper Shepherd. Sigh.
Let's see. I also do the work to license the vehicles with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Perhaps a Title Titan?
Licence DISC-overer? (assuming that you also have paper discs attached to the windscreen)
"Keeper of the Scrolls" suites you better I think.
Possibly, "Sheaf Shuffler".
My official work title is a complicated thing designated by the EPA, but since much of what actually consumes my time involves coordinating chemists I can be referred to as a Nerd Herder :D
Just now seeing about your new addition. Felicitations to all!
My sisters and I all have birthdays from mid-October into December. When we were young, we used to have half cakes on our half birthdays.
>233 pgmcc: My son's girlfriend, a techie project manager, uses that same title.
>237 jillmwo: I think Information Goddess is a great title! Captain Content would have to bow to you, imho.
>239 MrsLee: I agree with >242 pgmcc: - Keeper of the Scrolls. Great with added skeleton companion :-)
I would be... "Human Translator", maybe. My job is trying to understand what it is people do at their jobs all day, using those insights to help designing digital tools that actual human beings can get something out of. Among other things.
So I translate humans to techies and business owners ;-)
I do think Authentic Voice Fairy is aimed at me, though.
I hope everyone enjoys the holiday break, has great fun, and gets plenty of time to read everything they want to read.
>249 pgmcc: I hope you and your family are enjoying a very Happy Christmas!
Christmas 2018 was pretty kind to me in relation to books.
The first image below shows the books my wife got me for Christmas.
The second image is a gift from a friend who came to dinner on the evening of the 28th. She had been at a talk about Margaret Atwood and the speaker mentioned the Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen and my friend recognised her as one of the writers included on a poster about Irish writers of the supernatural produced by Swan River Press and knew I would be interested in reading her work.
These should keep me busy for a little while. I have already started "Code Breaker", a book obviously so secret it does not have a Touchstone.
The poster I referred to above can be seen below. Elizabeth Bowen is in the middle of the bottom row.
2018 in perspective.
Highlights of 2018 for me are:
Arrival of Fiona in February, my second granddaughter.
Arrival of Malachí in December, my first grandson.
My daughter and her husband moving into their new house.
My son and his girlfriend finding an apartment.
Getting our en-suite and main bathroom refurbished.
My wife and her colleagues on the Lucan Festival Committee winning the overall award from the County Council for their efforts in promoting community spirit and co-operation.
Not a bad year.
That is a fine list of achievements. 2019 has got its work cut out to top that!
What a lovely haul of Christmas books you received! I've only read one novel by Bowen, The last September, but I loved it and have been meaning to read more of her work. Eva Trout and the Collected stories are on my shelves awaiting the right moment. I hope you enjoy her work, as well as your other gifts.
Like Sakerfalcon said - a fine list, indeed.
I googled the Code Breaker book and I'd be interested to hear if it's any good.
Sorry I haven't visited for a while. I hope your Christmas was wonderful.
Wishing you a new year filled with joy, happiness, laughter, and all the wonderful books you could wish for.
Happy New Year, everyone. I think I shall make this the last post in this tread and start my 2019 post with a new review.
>257 Busifer: I have posted a review as my first book review in my 2019 thread. My reservations are on the writing, the editing and the proofreading. The content is very interesting but one has to work hard as a reader in some parts to resolve ambiguities and to follow the line of thought. It jumps about the timeline a lot. The topic deserves a much better produced book.
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