richardderus's eleventh thread of 2019

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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richardderus's eleventh thread of 2019

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Edited: Aug 23, 2019, 11:03am

1949 Cadillac Sixty Special. Hubba hubba.
Notorious Luxury is my newest car addiction. I snagged all of these from them.

Edited: Sep 23, 2019, 3:35pm

I'm bowing to reality. My new goal is to write 150 reviews for my blog, meaning real reviews not impressions or squibs. At this point it looks like I might barely make it. My ancillary goal remains to create some sort of post about the Pearl-Ruled books explaining why I am abandoning ship; I'll set an arbitrary count of 100 of those since goodness knows I abandon a lot of books.

My 2018 Reviews Are Here:
Reviews 1-25 are linked there.

Reviews 26-31 are linked here.

Reviews 32-39 are linked there.

Reviews 40-54 are linked over here.

Reviews 55-70 are linked over here.

Reviews 71-101 (I misnumbered) are linked over here.

Reviews 102-110 are linked over here.

Reviews 111 - 123 are reviewed over here.

Reviews 124-127 are there.

2019's Reviews Are Here:
Reviews 1-4 are here.

My first Pearl-Ruled notice and two reviews are found here.

Reviews 7-15 plus some Pearl Rules are in this thread.

Reviews 15-19 and a Pearl Rule are here.

Reviews 20 & 21 are are here.

Reviews 22-32 are back there.

Reviews 33-38, Pearl Rules 6 & 7, and a random review are all back yonder.

Reviews 39-50 and Pearl Rule 8 got left behind.

Reviews 51-57 sont derriere.

Reviews 58-66 and three Pearl Rules are thataway.

This thread's reviews are:
67 Lanny stank. Go see it on my blog because I just do not want to hear the snarking twidgees' mouths. Not in the mood, not in this lifetime.

68 When Did You Last See Your Father? is the 10.5th book in the Chronicles of St Mary's. Really, that's all you need to know. Post 146.

69 The Hanging Stranger is a PKD minor story that makes a bigger impact today than one might expect, post 160.

70 Exhalation: Stories wasn't much to gasp about, post 170.

71 Recursion shouldn't bother coming back, post 170.

72 The Medici Boy great goddess below us! belt up!, post 170.

Pearl Rule 12 Telex from Cuba failed on page 8, see post 182.

73 Latter End is a lesser outing in the Miss Silver series in post 215.

74 The Ugly Chickens amused me and made me nostalgic in turns, see post 223.

75 The Frangipani Tree Mystery was a solid, entertaining first-in-series mystery, post 233.

76 Lie With Me: A Novel delighted me to the extreme, post 245.

77 The Only Son was not how I want to remember David Helwig's writing, post 258.

78 Dominicana: A Novel was nothing all that special, post 258.

79 Alice Payne Rides, OTOH, was a real pleasure to read, see why in post 258.

Pearl Rule 13 was a disappointment, The Crocodile could've been a new series addiction, see post 261.

80 The Lice: Poems is that rarest of aves, the poetry collection that I like, post 262.

Pearl Rule 14 was Season of Doubt, very much of its 1968 times, post 275.

81 With the Fire on High delighted and enhungered me, post 279.

82 Friday Black: Stories delighted me, post 293.

Edited: Sep 23, 2019, 3:37pm

Via Bookish, here's a list of challenges to #KillYourTBR (note that I've modified a few entries to make them possible for me to meet):

  1. A book you bought for the cover
  2. Any Old Diamonds
  3. A book by an author you’ve met
  4. The Front Runner
  5. A book you’re embarrassed you haven’t read yet

  6. A book that is under 220 pages
  7. The King's Evil
  8. A book that came out the year you were born

  9. A book whose title uses alliteration
  10. When Saigon Surrendered
  11. A book in your best friend’s favorite genre

  12. A book from an independent publisher
  13. What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, Copper Canyon Press
  14. A book you borrowed from the library
  15. The Reluctant Widow
  16. A book featuring a fictional language
  17. Friday Black: Stories (final story, "Through the Flash")
  18. A novel that includes a recipe (Bonus points for making the recipe)
  19. With the Fire on High + bonus points for making the bread!
  20. A book won in a raffle/giveaway
  21. With Walt Whitman, Himself
  22. A book about going on a quest
  23. The Burning Page
  24. A book set in a city you’ve visited

  25. A book with a dust jacket

  26. A book by two or more authors

  27. A book that is over 1000 pages

  28. A book that’s been out for less than a month
  29. Black Light: Stories
  30. A book with a name in the title
  31. The Other Boleyn Girl
  32. A book from a genre you want to read more of
  33. The Murders of Molly Southbourne
  34. A book written by a Native American author
  35. Heart Berries
  36. A book with an asexual character
  37. Convenience Store Woman
  38. A book you were given as a gift
  39. The Art of Dying
  40. A book translated from Spanish

  41. An award-winning graphic novel
  42. Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel
  43. A book featuring a false confession

  44. A book you meant to read in 2018
  45. West
  46. A book featuring a memorable companion animal
  47. The Demon Breed
  48. A book set in South America

  49. A book with a cover you kind of hate (but a story you love)
  50. Glass
  51. A book by an author you’ve never heard of before
  52. Coming Through: Three Novellas
  53. A book of short stories
  54. Lot: Stories
  55. A book featuring a nonbinary protagonist

  56. A book you’ve been waiting for forever

  57. A book about intersectional feminism

  58. A book with a place in the title
  59. Our Man in Havana
  60. A book bought at/from a physical bookstore
  61. Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World
  62. A book by an author you’re thankful for
  63. The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri (RIP)
  64. A book with gorgeous descriptions

  65. A book signed by the author

  66. A book set in Africa
  67. The Making of the African Queen
  68. A book about mental health
  69. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  70. A book written by an immigrant
  71. Dominicana: A Novel
  72. A retelling

  73. A book about incarceration

  74. A book recommended by an author

  75. A book with a person of color on the cover
  76. My Sister, the Serial Killer
  77. A book by an author who uses a pen name

  78. A book whose title includes a verb
  79. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
  80. A book recommended by a librarian

  81. A book being adapted in 2019

  82. A book you found in a Little Free Library

Aug 23, 2019, 10:50am

That's all I have to say for the moment. You?

Aug 23, 2019, 11:23am

Happy new one, RD! I like that car up top, especially the color.

Aug 23, 2019, 11:25am

Happy new thread!

Aug 23, 2019, 11:36am

Aug 23, 2019, 11:37am

>1 richardderus: Nice! Happy new thread, Richard!

Aug 23, 2019, 12:25pm

>5 katiekrug: A green fan, are you? As first-in scout, your award is:

Aug 23, 2019, 12:26pm

>6 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita!

>7 ronincats: I know, right?!?

>8 harrygbutler: Totally agreed, Harry. Thanks!

Aug 23, 2019, 12:57pm

Happy new thread!

Aug 23, 2019, 1:53pm

>11 quondame: Thank you, Susan! Happy Friday/weekend reads to you.

Aug 23, 2019, 1:58pm

Happy new thread!

Aug 23, 2019, 2:58pm

Happy New Thread, oh connoisseur of comestibles.

I join your hubba hubba for the Cadillac Sixty Special. On our weekend away we saw a lovely Thunderbird convertible; you would’ve eeped- I sure did. “Eep!” Somewhere I have a photo; I’ll try to get it over here in the next couple of days.

Aug 23, 2019, 3:02pm

There is something about a brand-spanking new (ie, sparkling clean) vintage car, that screams CLASSY....! Woo!

Happy new one, Richard.

Aug 23, 2019, 4:16pm

>14 jnwelch: Ooo! An old Tbirdvertible in its natural home, Cape Cod! I look forward to ogling it.

>15 jessibud2: I completely agree, Shelley, they're suave and classy and irreplaceable. Just gorgeous color, that one, and that never hurts.
So Lanny and I are out doing this odd, not-entirely-pleasant concrete poetry thing together.

Aug 23, 2019, 7:04pm

Happy new thread, Richard!

>16 richardderus: odd, not-entirely-pleasant concrete poetry?? Tell me more...

Aug 23, 2019, 7:24pm

>17 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! I'll go look for an example page. There is no possible way I can explain, I have to show.

Aug 23, 2019, 7:31pm

Happy New Thread, Richard. Love the Fleetwood topper! I want to recommend The New order: Stories to you, since you have been on a story-collection roll, of late. It was a dandy and the reason I love this literary form. Are you a Jemison fan? I have not been reading much fantasy this year, but I think I will finally start The Fifth Season, since it seems to be popular with many of my book pals.

Aug 23, 2019, 7:56pm

>17 FAMeulstee: I found one! Here's a perfect example of the not-quite-concrete-poetry look I was hmmmphing about:

It's not something I'm fully absorbed in just yet. I wonder if I will be....

>19 msf59: Hiya Mark! I like Jemisin a lot, and would definitely say go right into The Fifth Season with all your spidey-senses quivering. You'll likely enjoy the unexpectedness of the interconnections as they reveal themselves.

Aug 23, 2019, 8:29pm

from The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide by the inimitable, astonishing prose stylist Bobbie Ann Mason, on page 4:
When the Bobbsey {Twins traveled} to the country, they found a paradise of woolly lambs and fragrant hayrows and pretty red barns and gentle ponies—no mud or bugs or sun-blistering chores. Their free delight reinforced my conviction that my family was isolated and deprived, and created fierce longings for travel and adventure and middle-class comforts. The only place I knew where people had central heating and their own bedrooms and vacations was in the Bobbsey Twins books.

Bobbie Ann Mason was born in 1940. That's not all that long ago. And that was not a deprived upbringing she had, it was pretty normal. Things done changed in the past 80 years lest we forget.

Aug 23, 2019, 8:38pm

>21 richardderus: - BB. I think I need to track this one down. I am considerably younger than Mason but I grew up on these sleuth-girls!

Aug 23, 2019, 9:37pm

Happy New thread, Richard! ( And +1 cheer for Jamison)

Aug 23, 2019, 11:51pm

Happy new thread, RD.

I'm so going to purloin that challenge and see what I have that fits into it.

Have a good weekend, dear fellow.

Aug 24, 2019, 1:50am

Back on your prior thread, your conversation with Shelley about the voodoo doll got me thinking.... Things are going darn well at work these days ("doctor micromanager," as a friend of mine calls her, is still on extended medical leave) but if she returns and things go back to as before, I'm thinking the voodoo doll idea might come up again. Not that I'd believe in its actual power, but the thinking person's punching bag has its appeal!

Aug 24, 2019, 4:39am

Happy new thread Richard!

Aug 24, 2019, 4:45am

>20 richardderus: Ah, Lanny the Dutch tanslation is laying next to me, to be read soon, I loved his previous book Grief is the thing with feathers.
The picture reminds me a bit of the Flemish poet and writer Paul van Ostaijen (1896-1928). Printing wasn't so sophisticated back them, so he mainly varied with hight and font in his poems.

Aug 24, 2019, 8:13am

Good morning, RD, and happy new thread.

>20 richardderus: *shudder* You're a better man than I am, Charlie Brown.

Aug 24, 2019, 11:42am

>22 jessibud2: Try to ensure you're getting the 1997 second edition, Mason had a chance to update her thoughts.

I'm stuck with a very 1975 set of ruminations.

>23 swynn: Thanks, Steve, and yay for the +1

>24 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul, and please's been a terrific way to classify my new reads.

Aug 24, 2019, 11:43am

>25 EBT1002: As a psychological coping tool, I'm all for it...except my targets always seem to get some awful disease or just die, so I'm leery of trying again.

Who needs the karma.

>26 humouress: Thank you, La Overkill!

Aug 24, 2019, 11:45am

>27 FAMeulstee:, >28 karenmarie: I'm really not enjoying the reading experience, Anita and Horrible. Not enough to make me strongly desire to continue. But it's due soon and can't be rechecked and I really want to see the Bookers through....

Thanks for the new-thread benisons, Horrible!

Aug 24, 2019, 4:03pm

>30 richardderus: Hmm, good point. I would hate to carry the burden of any bad outcome. I'll just have go cope the old fashioned way(s): books, liquor, and standing up for myself!

Aug 24, 2019, 4:27pm

Happy new thread Richard.

Aug 24, 2019, 4:33pm

Hey, I saw on Joe’s thread that he recommended Hollow Kingdom to you. Gotta echo that recommendation - I think you’ll like it!

Aug 24, 2019, 5:32pm

>20 richardderus: Am I correct in thinking the book spread shown in this post is in the book Lanny by Max Porter? If not, what book is it from? Looks cool. Yeah, looks can be deceiving, but I'm intrigued.

>21 richardderus: Bobbie Ann Mason. I read In Country when it was published, then drifted to other interests. Recently, I found and read her bio of Elvis Presley, done for the Penguin Lives series. Now more interested in her. I could read that guide.

VooDoo doll. I coulda tried that back in my working days. Happily, I don't think I need that coping tool now.

Aug 24, 2019, 8:54pm

>32 EBT1002: Overall, a less spiritually risky strategy. (Besides booze tastes good.)

>33 johnsimpson: Thank you, John!

>34 drneutron: I have it here, Jim, awaiting its time at the top of the hill.

>35 weird_O: It is indeed Lanny that is pictured. It's a bit pretentious for me...

The Girl Sleuth has a revised edition published in 1995 by the University of Georgia Press. That's the edition I'd recommend reading, but the story itself is engrossing.

Aug 25, 2019, 1:56am

Happy new thread, Richard. I'm interested in The Girl Sleuth and my library has the 1995 edition.

Aug 25, 2019, 4:08am

Happy new one, Rdear. A cup of coffee?

Aug 25, 2019, 9:24am

Good morning, RD!

I'm happily involved in Glass. Sam Savage has apparently snuck into my mind and given my thought processes to Edna. It's somewhat scary, but I can really relate to her!

Aug 25, 2019, 11:11am

Hi RD, wow, did your threads ~ previous and this one ~ ever fill up whilst I was traipsing the high fantastic.
(I was going to say the gay fantastic, which my parents generation exclaimed all the time, but maybe that's, ... ummm, not so politic these days)?

Anyway, as always, gorgeous topper.
I have a vintage MG photo here from my visit to Victoria (B.C.) ~ I didn't manage decent interior views, but it's a refurbished model, not a fibreglass bodied replica.

Edited: Aug 25, 2019, 11:28am

>30 richardderus: You're welcome Rich... oh, wait; wrong thread. I see poetry.

Aug 25, 2019, 11:43am

>37 Familyhistorian: Oh good! I hope it will amuse and entertain you, Meg.

>38 Ameise1: Hi Barbara, thanks for the perfect Sunday-lazy-day gift. I need it quite a lot today.

>39 karenmarie: Oh goody good good, Horrible, I thought you'd like that read. It's very well-done, especially for an older man writing about a woman and her relationships.

>40 SandyAMcPherson: Oh wow, Sandy! An MG!! I think they're adorable, but the skinny tires and the absence of any kind or sort of top makes me more appreciative of their aesthetics than I am of their qualities as vehicles.

Aug 25, 2019, 12:18pm

>41 humouress: Not deliberately, you don't. Lanny and I are not bonding.

Aug 25, 2019, 2:15pm

Blast and damn The Guardian! Their Not-the-Booker fattens my obscenely obese TBR every blessèd year.

Flames by Robbie Arnott:
For all the fronds growing out of arms and flames coming out of characters’ eyes, this story convinced me it was about real people and an important place. By the end, it felt less like Arnott was imbuing his local landscape with magic, and more that the landscape itself was lending his book some of its strange and special power. That’s a decent trick.

Edited: Aug 25, 2019, 9:50pm

>42 richardderus: (Re #40)
There is a rag top. Tucked away, I think because only a frame was visible. Should have a nice cover that snaps down, come to think...

I like the vintage vibe appearance. I dislike convertibles unless it is a very stately drive.

You're probably right about the original tires. These tires (in my photo) may not have been factory style. I looked at my larger photo on the lap top and they weren't those skinny ones.

Aug 25, 2019, 6:57pm

>44 richardderus: Flames is absent in all 3 of my goto libraries...😢

Aug 25, 2019, 7:05pm

Hi Richard. Is the Not the Booker Prize for UK authors only? I have to say other than the Ali Smith book I've never heard of any of the others. Not that that's a bad thing.

Aug 25, 2019, 9:35pm

>45 SandyAMcPherson: Well, those roadster tops do not do the job of a real convertible top. Nowhere near as protective.

I don't think the *really* skinny tires those originally ran on are road-legal most places, unless the vehicle is a registered antique and doesn't get daily use.

>46 quondame: All of mine as well, Shelley, so I'll have to buy the Kindle edition for $9. Someday.

>47 brenzi: Hi Bonnie! Same rules as the Booker used to have, no US authors allowed. Which is how **I** think the Bookers should be still. As no one consulted me, I shall soldier on in the decidedly substandard world they have muddled things into.

Aug 26, 2019, 7:06am

'Morning, RD!

A few sips of coffee, a few thoughts rising out of the mist, but nothing noteworthy.


Aug 26, 2019, 8:13am

Wishing you a happy new thread and almost-Tuesday.

Aug 26, 2019, 8:15am

Reading Lanny and unlike you I like the little lad.

Aug 26, 2019, 10:30am

Morning, RD!

Aug 26, 2019, 10:55am

>49 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! Heigh-ho, it's off to work you go, eh what?

>50 bell7: Thank you, Mary!

>51 FAMeulstee: I don't dislike Lanny, I am deeply suspicious of the author. The character? Well...he's okay.

>52 katiekrug: Howdy do, Katie!

Aug 26, 2019, 11:03am

>53 richardderus: Why are you suspicious about the author, Richard, what makes you feel that way?
I am about halfway and reading a very English contemporary story with some magical interludes... and I expect the magic to cause some trouble in village life.

Aug 26, 2019, 12:59pm

>54 FAMeulstee: When authors resort to typographical trickery to make you read their words in a special way, it raises flags for me. I'm a cynical old soul. It gives me the impression that they didn't have enough idea to make me follow them using standard techniques. If the technique is the point, that's a one-trick pony and it's a technique we've seen many a time before.

Edited: Aug 27, 2019, 1:42am

>55 richardderus: I haven't seen it often, Richard, and thought it was used in a nice way to visualise random pieces of thoughts.
I just finished the book and liked it very much :-)

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 6:50pm

I'm in and OH MY GOD I want that car!

Aug 27, 2019, 7:33am

Trying to be back in the swing of things after a conference week. I still have the lingering effects of the cold I caught the week before the conference. Just haven't rested enough to get rid of it. Maybe I'll slowly get rid of it this one.

Aug 27, 2019, 7:36am

'Morning, RD!

Yesterday was noteworthy for Roger Federer beating a qualifier, but only after his losing the first set. He looked awful, but woke up in time to take the next three sets.

Today is NOT work although I have some errands including book sorting for the FoL and etc.

I hope your day is splendiferous.


Aug 27, 2019, 9:50am

>56 FAMeulstee: That's the happiest of all possible outcomes, Anita!

>57 SomeGuyInVirginia: Me. Too. *drool*

>58 thornton37814: Hi Lori! Yuck on lingering colds, and *tsk* on not allowing yourself to heal...but sometimes there's just too much going on, I get it. Less work, more sleep? Could that be arranged?

>59 karenmarie: Hey Horrible, happy Federering. The FoL sorting really comes more under the heading of "treat" than "work," for sure.

I hope my day contains less nasty knee erupting and bloody wound tending. I don't enjoy those days, and two in a row would make for a sucky day indeed.

Aug 27, 2019, 1:03pm

Lovely scene, no? I think the source (VideoHive) is English.

Aug 27, 2019, 2:01pm

>58 thornton37814: Last week it could not be arranged because of the conference. This week, I'm trying to mostly take it easy although I do have something scheduled most evenings. Fortunately most of the things are not particularly stressful.

Aug 27, 2019, 5:44pm

>60 richardderus: Sorry your gout was acting up again, Richard dear. Hoping todays isn't that bad.

Aug 27, 2019, 6:20pm

>62 thornton37814: Here's to hoping it works, Lori. Extended colds are seriously rotten.

>63 FAMeulstee: It was pretty ghastly, unfortunately, but thanks for the well-wishes, Anita.

Aug 27, 2019, 6:26pm

Hey, RD! I hope you had a great day. It was another lovely one in the Midwest. We have been on a great stretch and it looks like it continues through the weekend. Yah!

You read The Fifth Season, right? I am really enjoying it on audio, (her writing is fantastic) but it is tough to keep all the threads together in this format, so I may have to try it in print, one of these days. Just when I think I am giving up on fantasy, someone comes along and surprises me. She is the real deal! Take that, George RRRRRRRRR Martin!!

Aug 27, 2019, 6:45pm

Hi Mark! It's going to get warmer here for the rest of the week, but won't be into "YUCK" territory. Thank GOODNESS.

I can not fathom ear-reading The Fifth Season! I would be so lost so fast...I really think you're better off tree-booking this one. It's the real deal, I agree, Jemisin's got that certain something that tells you the story and the reader are in good hands.

Edited: Aug 27, 2019, 11:00pm

>60 richardderus: Eww! Sounds awful. I hope you decided not to continue with that for a second day.

Over here, weather-wise, we finally had a decent drenching of rain a couple of days ago after about three weeks without any. Most unusual in a country where three days in a row without rain constitutes a dry spell. Not enough for things to start greening up again, yet, but it's been overcast yesterday and today so hopefully that means more precipitation.

ETA: >65 msf59: >66 richardderus: Well, that one is on my shelves and I'm trying to decide what to read next ...

Aug 28, 2019, 7:01am

Hi RichardDear! I hope you have a good day. *smooch*

Aug 28, 2019, 10:24am

>67 humouress: I firmly rejected any notion of continuing my pain-filled rock-popping kneeish ways. My knees, however, rejected my resolution and declared for continued unpleasantries. Day three and a tense standoff is underway. rain for three weeks...but climate change isn't real...*shiver*

>68 karenmarie: Merry Wednesday, working girl! I do, too, and thanks for the well-wishes. *smooch*

Aug 28, 2019, 12:47pm

Okay, I admit it. I was wrong about Leviathan Wakes. It's a solid 3-plus star read. Not quite a four, there are a few focus issues...extended time spent in Eros's casino level, f/ex...where the point gets made a bit harder than is good for the story. But my dismissive early review is wrong.

Aug 28, 2019, 6:44pm

>69 richardderus: Oh dear. Would you like Boris Johnson to pop over and handle negotiations?

Aug 28, 2019, 7:32pm

>70 richardderus: I agree LW has good points - but waddabout the whole Martian super military? I can understand the militant attitude, but nothing is more expensive than an army unless it is a space force and Mars isn't shown have the real economy to support that kind of expenditure. I know it's critical to the rest of the series, but that alone explodes 2 stars off any rating for the entire series

Aug 28, 2019, 7:46pm

>60 richardderus: Sorry to hear that your knee pain is acting up again. Wishing you a speedy recovery :)

Aug 28, 2019, 8:21pm

>71 humouress: Ja! I mean, Ha! (Have to get used to speaking German, Merkel's gonna take over both our countries.)

>72 quondame: It's down to resource allocation: Mars has priorities Earth doesn't, and can afford to have them, because its population is dinky compared to Earth's. China has GDP nearing US levels, and 5x the population; who can afford the bigger army?

>73 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita! So far, your good wishes are not doing much to keep the ick at bay. 4 hours in the ER and now I'm fully lavaged but not in any less pain. *grumble*

Aug 28, 2019, 8:27pm

Yikes! 4 hours in ER and still in pain. Tender hugs and many smooches to you.

Aug 28, 2019, 8:30pm

>74 richardderus: Still not buying it. 1 person on Mars takes a much larger portion of GDP to keep alive than 1 person on earth does. And GDP is produced by people, not simply available minerals. China & USA don't have to fund oxygen, and can prioritize to the level they control their populations.

Aug 28, 2019, 9:27pm

Oh no, four hours in the ER! Here's hoping the pain soon abates Richard.

Aug 28, 2019, 9:48pm

Ugh, sorry to hear about the pain and ER visit.

Edited: Aug 29, 2019, 1:11am

>74 richardderus: Four hours! Sorry to hear that. I see Boris didn’t help (but then, I don’t think anyone was expecting him to).

PS: was it at least a constructive four hours? I once spent the entire night in ER with my son who had a numb wrist but it was more on the order of ‘Nothing to be done, it’ll recover by itself in 6 weeks - but just in case we’d like to check {X-ray or whatever} so can you hang around for another while while we sort that out?...’

Aug 29, 2019, 6:31am

Sending quick and gentle healing vibes out your way, my friend. {{hugs}}

Aug 29, 2019, 6:40am

Morning, Richard. Sorry about the intense discomfort. Hopefully you are doing a bit better today.

Edited: Aug 29, 2019, 10:09am

Morning, Richard. What Mark said. I hope the pain eases and your day goes well.

I had some technical difficulties, but here finally is that TBird convertible we came across at Grays Beach on Cape Cod:

Aug 29, 2019, 10:19am

>82 jnwelch: Ooh! Batmobile.

Aug 29, 2019, 1:03pm

>75 karenmarie:, >77 brenzi: Four hours is a flying visit! I was bleeding, so I was whisked into the back and curtained off while they un-bleedinged me. Then a *really* tired ER doc wandered in and stared at my lumps and bumps. I gave him the diagnosis code for severe tophaceous gout (M1A.00X1, if y'all care), told him the tophus in question was left knee and if I was expected to stop bleeding any time today, would he please get the hook-lookin' dingus and fish it out, please?

We got on fine. He did the hookin' and a nurse lavaged the hole it left for like a million liters of sterile saline. I accepted his Rx of silver sulfadiazine antibiotic cream, asked for but wasn't given a Rx for wound-care supplies (insurance), and ooohed and aaahed over his 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix restoration in progress.

All done! Still hurts, but the tophus-calving is over for the moment. A good result.

>76 quondame: In the world of The Expanse, they sorta-kinda do, though. There are 4x as many people on Earth then as there are now. That presumes there's some **MAJOR** geoengineering in our future! But anyway, the book's universe is deep enough that we can actually have that kind of conversation about it, so I'm adding a star to my mingy 2.5 of the past.

Aug 29, 2019, 1:11pm

>78 bell7:, >79 humouress:, >80 jessibud2:, >81 msf59: Thanks, Mary and Nina and Shelley and Birddude! I got to meet a cute car-nut doc, so yeah it was a good four hours.

>82 jnwelch: OOOOO

A 1957 Thunderbird in its proper state...topless. Beautiful machine, no? Thanks for the Lovelymobile!

>83 humouress: I agree, Nina, a Batmobile in the very best sense: Something Bruce Wayne would drive.

Aug 29, 2019, 1:40pm

>82 jnwelch: Epic T-bird! Yes, 57 is the finest!

>84 richardderus: I'd say fun rather than deep, but OK I guess.

Aug 29, 2019, 2:37pm

>86 quondame: Yeah, "deep" is a bit overstated. Howzabout "nuanced" or "richly textured"?

Aug 29, 2019, 4:20pm

>87 richardderus: Baroque and bumpy?

Aug 29, 2019, 4:24pm

>88 quondame: *applause*

Aug 29, 2019, 4:25pm

>88 quondame: Thank you, thank you!

Aug 29, 2019, 4:39pm

from The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide (1975 edition) by Bobbie Ann Mason, p17:
It remains for the academicians of popular culture to document the sources of the girl detective. It is not my purpose to provide a detailed history, but to offer some interpretations of a few of the major girl sleuths, to see if I can suggest why we loved them and how they have affected us. How are women to interpret these popular heroines now? How "liberated" were these independent and intelligent adventurers? I will try to give my version of these problems by telling about my own experience in reading and following the trail of these alluring girl sleuths.

And that, laddies and gentlewomen, is why this is such an oft-cited work. It's why The University of Georgia Press put out a twentieth-anniversary edition of it that is in print today, 24 years later! Almost fifty years this tome has been a good starting point for scholars and dilettantes alike in their quest to "get" girl sleuths and their astounding, enduring appeal.

Aug 29, 2019, 4:46pm

HI RD! Hope you're doing better today... *smooches* from your own Horrible

Edited: Aug 29, 2019, 5:16pm

from The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide (1975 edition) by Bobbie Ann Mason, p24:
I remember the hope chest silverware saleslady came to our house when I was about fourteen and still not sure if I was going to be a boy or a girl (with a name like mine, how could I be sure?). The silverware saleslady wanted me to spend nearly a hundred dollars of my hard-earned berry-picking money on some table tools that I would hide in a box until some hypothetical time that I wasn't sure I wanted to see. I threw a fit and was rude to the woman for trying to box up my hopes in a chest just when I was fixing to flex my wings.

Today, she'd be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and set on track to transgenderness. She eventually married a man and moved home from New York City, and doesn't seem to have felt herself ill-used, so one wonders what today's little ones being channeled into identities suited to the procrustean binary norms of our world will think when they're eighty, as Mason almost is.

Aug 29, 2019, 10:27pm

Today is LT’s birthday. Were you around for the beginning? I wasn’t. I didn’t join until 2008.

Aug 30, 2019, 7:15am

'Morning, RichardDear!

>93 richardderus: Added to my wish list.

Aug 30, 2019, 7:25am

Happy newish thread, Richard! That car is a thing of beauty.

Aug 30, 2019, 10:09am

>94 benitastrnad: I came along a year later, Benita, in 2006.

>95 karenmarie: Hello there, Horrible! *smooch*

It will please you, I feel sure.

>96 kidzdoc: Isn't it?! So long and sleek. And really graceful.

Happy weekend reading!
I do love this aperçu via Anu Garg's A Word A Day email (I've got these emails going back 16 years!):
Each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand mediocre minds appointed to guard the past. -Maurice Maeterlinck, poet, dramatist, and Nobel laureate (29 Aug 1862-1949)

Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 11:11am

>97 richardderus: - I thought of Obama vs the current *mediocre minds* when I read that this morning! (as one example...)

Aug 30, 2019, 12:42pm

from The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide (1975 edition) by Bobbie Ann Mason, p32

In the winter I slept with a hot brick...because we had no furnace. Fireplaces were a tedious necessity, but at {the Bobbsey Twins' vacation spot} centrally heated Snow Lodge fireplaces were a luxury:
"The nights in Snow Lodge were filled with fun. Mr. Bobbsey had bought a barrel of apples, and when the family gathered about the fireplace these were put to roast in the heat of the glowing embers.
Corn was popped, and then it was eaten, with salt and butter on, or with melted sugar poured over it. Sometimes they would make candy.
The Bobbsey Twins at Snow Lodge, p. 159
This is how it was supposed to be! Getting lost in a Bobbsey book is just like snuggling into a teapot cozy. These rare comforts tease the less fortunate readers.

Okay. That's just as telling as anything I've ever read: Someone alive today, someone whose youth included a World War and whose womanhood has seen the Kennedy Assassination, Stonewall, the Moon Landing, Watergate, felt teased by these sad little creature comforts that the majority of people in this country take for granted in 2019.

Things have changed! I've also ordered the new edition of this book because I want to see what she changed by 1995. She was forty years beyond her Bobbsey life then and the country had changed a lot, and in this 1975 edition was only twenty years beyond that past life and she was addressing others whose lives had a decent chance of mirroring her own.

Very very telling.

Aug 30, 2019, 2:05pm

>99 richardderus: - You know, I don't think you are allowed to hit someone twice with a BB for the same book. That someone would be me.

Off to see if I can find it through Abesbooks…...

Aug 31, 2019, 6:18am

'Morning, RD!

I went to bed so early last night that I woke up at 4:30 feeling pretty good.

>99 richardderus: I just bought Bobbie Ann Mason's memoir - Clear Springs. It sounded interesting.

Nancy Drew introduced me to mysteries, still my favorite genre, and I also read the Dana Girls and the Hardy Boys. Then my mother introduced me to Perry Mason when I was in 6th grade. Bertha Cool & Donald Lam followed, as did Ellery Queen and Nero Wolfe.


Aug 31, 2019, 7:48am

Morning, RD. Happy Saturday. I just arrived at work. Very quiet commute. It should be an easy work day and then I can enjoy the next couple of days off. Enjoy your weekend, my friend.

Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 9:32am

>98 jessibud2:, >100 jessibud2: Heh. Mason's ideas and Maeterlinck's aperçu make for a hearty brew, eh what?

>101 karenmarie: Hi Horrible, how's tricks? Mason's life and times are interesting to me as well. This entire exploration of her early involved passion for mysteries has been quite heavily shot through with telling and unexpected (to me, at least) evocations of the lady's life.

I'm so glad I got on this kick!

>102 msf59: Hey there Mark! A nice way to usher in your busiest season, this: Peace and quiet. You've earned it!

Aug 31, 2019, 10:14am

Happy new(ish) thread! Hope you have a good weekend!

Aug 31, 2019, 10:30am

>104 ChelleBearss: Thanks, Chelle, and the same to you. Any good reads planned?

Aug 31, 2019, 4:40pm

I'm back from the depths of Flushing! just in time to wish you a good rest of the weekend xo

Aug 31, 2019, 4:50pm

>106 katiekrug: you mean you crossed TWO rivers to get to the deepest darkest borough of . . . . Queens?

Tip your native guides and beaters lavishly.

Flushing is the best Chinese food I've ever eaten - better than Manhattan Chinatown - better than San Francisco Chinatown too

And the Flushing RKO Keith's movie theater - still here just a shell remains - was the first theater I went to "on my own" (without parents) and I still remember it fondly

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 11:23am

from Lanny by Max Porter, p9:
and then he hears it, clear and true, the lovely sound of his favourite.
The boy.

It would have the head of a dolphin and the wings of a peregrine, and it would be a storm-warning beast, watching the weather while we sleep.

Dead Papa Toothwart hugs himself with diseased larch arms and dribbles cuckoo spit down his chin. ... Surgical longings invade him, he wants to chop the village open and pull the child out. Extract him.

Aug 31, 2019, 10:53pm

>106 katiekrug: Depths they are, those of Flushing. A locale most fearsome.

>107 magicians_nephew: the intrepid Jim will attest!

Sep 1, 2019, 9:52am

>108 richardderus: Lanny!

I just had my place in the hold queue come to the top. Planning to pick up the book on Tuesday afternoon, when the library opens again after the long weekend.

Sep 1, 2019, 11:09am

I know you're not a fan of the fancy type format sections in Lanny, and I'm with you on that. I kept thinking, "Oh no, here we go again". I wish he'd picked some other way to present that, as the tidbits were otherwise interesting. I did enjoy the rest of Lanny, although I'm not sure why his books are considered so high level.

Sep 1, 2019, 12:08pm

>110 SandyAMcPherson: Happy Sunday, Sandy, and I hope you're thrilled and delighted by Lanny when you get it.

>111 jnwelch: I think the problem is experience in reading spread over a long, long reading life and a wide, wide area of literary curiosity. This will seem more NEW! WILD!! fresh and special! to those who didn't read Aldus and His Dream Book by Helen Barolini (and she wasn't the first scholar to study Manutius, goodness knows!) to learn that typographical whimsy is far, far, far from novel (in its original sense).

But, before I rain heavily on the parades of others, I rush to say that Porter's writing is good and his storytelling eye is superior.

Happy Sunday, like it matters to us old-and-wrinklys, and a sympathetic hug to Debbi for the sadness inevitable in learning that one's spouse has committed poetry publicly.

Sep 1, 2019, 9:14pm

>84 richardderus: Oh jeez, that does not sound fun. But I'm glad your tired ER doc was also agreeable and competent. Just be careful, my friend. I know this is familiar territory for you, and I know that none of us is a fan of my Evil Boss, but what she has experienced has made me much more wary of anything that gives infection an opportunity to set up shop in our bodies. (Evil Boss is allergic to penicillin so that has complicated things.) So just take care, okay?

Hmm, I have a copy of Lanny on hold at the library as an eBook. I'm not sure exactly what you and Joe are referencing in terms of the "fancy type format sections" (quoting Joe there) but I wonder if it will translate to eBook format. Or maybe it won't make the short list and I'll be off the proverbial hook. Ha.

Sep 2, 2019, 8:17am

Not publicly! No! That requires at least two life changes to overcome.

I recommend the podcast Slightly Foxed. Book chat out of London. I hope you like it!

Sep 2, 2019, 9:28am

'Morning, RichardDear! I hope your old-and-wrinkly self has a splendiferous whatever-day-of-the-week this is.

Sep 2, 2019, 10:47am

>112 richardderus: But isn't his son a famous slam poet?

Sep 2, 2019, 2:58pm

>113 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! No fan of the boss does NOT equal wishing horrors on her body. I spent 21 bad days in the hospital years ago, and ended up losing my right great toe joint, to MRSA. After weeks of IV Cipro, no less. I am extraspecialsuper-dee-duper aware of infection's signs now, I promise you.

>114 SomeGuyInVirginia: I'll have to check that one out, Larry, thanks for the tip.

>115 karenmarie: It was lovely! I'm done with it now, though, my corpus is ready to topple from the walk Dadbod and I took. Rob's away for the long weekend.


>116 humouress: Yes, well, it's no surprise that, is it, now that we know he's been a closet poet the lad's whole life. *tsk*

Edited: Sep 2, 2019, 3:28pm

from Lanny, p31:
This, Lanny, is a significant place.


This is the point at which you can no longer be seen. The village is always watching, but past this point you're beyond their gaze.

Basically, a more loudly trumpeted and darkly foreshadowed plot twist I have not seen.

from p35:
I vote it's not the slightest bit weird, said Greg. He's Peter Blythe, he was pretty famous back in the day, so you're getting a bargain. And if they get on well, and he needs the company, go for it.

'Needs the company' is exactly why it's not right. It's unprofessional, said Sally.

Exactly, says Robert, waving his expensive salad tongs. Who needs the company? Are we lending out our son to stave off Pete's loneliness? Like conversational meals on wheels for sad old artists?

Oh, fuck off, Robert, I said. Is it beyond your shrunken world view to imagine that something nice might exist without money ever needing to change hands?

Mum, Dad, and the Village arranging themselves on the sides they'll occupy when The Twist twists their collective noses.

Sep 2, 2019, 10:35pm

I'm done with this damned review at last. I did not like the book.

Sep 2, 2019, 11:31pm

>119 richardderus: Gosh, really? And here we all thought you were shaping up to be it’s number one fan :0)

Sep 2, 2019, 11:55pm

>120 humouress: I sincerely believe I'm being generous rating it three damned stars. Go see it on my blog because I just do not want to hear the snarking twidgees' mouths. Not in the mood, not in this lifetime.

Sep 3, 2019, 1:46am

Hello, handsome. Hope the knee is behaving. Thank God you are done with that review!! Smooch.

Sep 3, 2019, 8:32am

If you didn't like the book, 3 stars is very generous.

Sep 3, 2019, 8:46am

>118 richardderus: Ooops.

I just got the library notice that this Lanny book is on hold for me...
Stay tuned while I wade into the review fray later on...

Sep 3, 2019, 10:00am

>122 Berly: Hey there, Berly-boo! I'm happy to see you out and about. Labor Day will bring a modicum of calm to your world, won't it, with everyone at school. And goodness knows you're not one to take on the lit'ry side of your little coastal outpost...after all, the few who wagon-train that far out can't be terribly interesting....*smooch*

>123 thornton37814: I think Author Porter deserves some serious kudos for making the points he makes about how the very bones of reality are malevolent in some deeply alien ways. He doesn't spend a lot of time soppily sloshing tears and humidly summoning sobs, either, so there's that going for him.

>124 SandyAMcPherson: I know, right?! But the news is *excellent*: This book wasn't on the shortlist!

Sep 3, 2019, 1:43pm

Drive-by smooches....

Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 2:40pm

>126 katiekrug:
John L'Heureux was born in 1934, became a Jesuit priest in 1956, & jumped ship in 1971; he didn't die until April 2019, when I saw his Obituary therefore discovered he'd ever even existed. So now I'm reading The Medici Boy to see what he was all about.

Sep 3, 2019, 3:10pm

>121 richardderus: I liked Lanny way better than you did, Richard.
I like your review, despite of different opinion ;-)
For me the ending kept it from being a 5* read.

Sep 3, 2019, 4:06pm

>121 richardderus: Each to their own taste, Anita, many many people didn't dislike Lanny...but the ending was a twist I was expecting, I must confess, it seemed obvious to me that the book *had* to end that way.

Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 6:11pm

^The BBS, has been quiet, these past few work days but I did see a few blue jays, a catbird and a couple of robins this morning. Still waiting for my first fall warbler, at this spot.

Happy Tuesday, Richard. The rain ended early, just as I started the route and stayed that way until I got home. Sun shining now. I hope you had a good, pain-free day.

Sep 3, 2019, 6:32pm

Hiya, RichardDearest! Just dropping by with a star and a *smooch* for you. Here's hoping that knee of yours is behaving. Stupid crystals.

Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 9:05pm

I'm sort of glad Lanny didn't make the short list. I still have it on hold at the library (eBook format, which I'm not sure will work) but I will focus on the other books first. I'm quite liking 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

Sep 3, 2019, 9:20pm

Hmmm I didn't know if I'd like Lanny. I still don't but I see you didn't Richard. And that's food for thought.

Sep 3, 2019, 10:50pm

>130 msf59: That's beautiful Mark! There's a thread in the Gardens & Books group that would be happy to have him, if you'd like to show him off there.

Sep 4, 2019, 12:55am

I enjoyed the quotes from The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide, Richard. I will have to hunt it down when I can't back from my upcoming trip.

Sep 4, 2019, 7:18am

'Morning, RichardDear!

We're watching Hurricane Dorian - looks like we'll get some wind and some rain, but not much of either, thank goodness. Jenna came home which is a very good thing. Wilmington will not be a good place to be Thursday and Friday.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Sep 4, 2019, 10:35am

>130 msf59: Hey Mark, that's a handsome jay indeed. I hope Wednesday's crop of sightings at the BBS includes a lifer!

>131 LauraBrook: Hi Laura!! It's really nice to see you here! The stupid crystals are misbehaving again today. They didn't really ever stop, I'm afraid...but it's all par for the course.

>132 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! I've got the Shafak on hold at the library...I'm next. It sounds really intriguing to me.

Sep 4, 2019, 10:43am

>133 brenzi: Hi Bonnie! Many people liked the read very much. It's just not to my personal taste. You'll know fairly quickly in the read if it's to yours.

>134 humouress: :-)

>135 Familyhistorian: It's a very enjoyable book, Meg, though I confess I'm eager to get my hands on the 1995 edition to see what's changed (if anything). Twenty years is a lot of distance from an old self; forty is an often-unbridgeable gulf.

>136 karenmarie: *smooch* I saw the predictions for W'ton. Not encouraging. Chick being safe in nest = happy mama. *smooch*

Sep 4, 2019, 1:16pm

What an interesting ramble through your thread, Dear Boy. In no order...

I hope that your pain has been as mitigated as possible.

Oh, that T-bird. Want. Badly want.

Beautiful Jay. I love listening to them screaming, “Thief! Thief!” while trying to steal the food of others. (Bonus point for remembering the ref).

Oh my. Bobbsey twins! Nancy Drew! And Ginny Gordon, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden and my beloved Dana Girls! I’m buying this book immediately, as in right now.

Sep 4, 2019, 4:21pm

>139 bohemima: Hi Gail, glad to see you out tottering about! The pain wishes are unrealized, sad to say.

I'm totally on board with that want.

This Tiffany Blue one's for sale in Sarasota...just sayin'

I don't know what the ref brain's making the scary *whirrwhirrwhirr* noise....

I can not WAIT to hear what you think of Bobbie Ann Mason's book! Which edition did you buy?

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 4:55pm

Well, you won’t believe it...wait. Of course you’ll believe it; this is LT, after all, but I bought both. Because I’m a sucker for a. Books about mysteries; and b. Books that speak to and of my youth.

It may be well before your your era, but The Adventures of Sammy Jay and numerous others by Thornton W. Burgess. My favorite was The Adventures of Johnny Chuck, which opened with a young woodchuck’s plan to run away; and The Adventures of Reddy Fox because Reddy was such a very naughty fox. They were among my first read-alones, and taught me the virtue of seeing life as others see it.

Sep 4, 2019, 7:33pm

>141 bohemima: Yes, of course I believe it! And goodness knows that books speaking of one's youth grown ever more expensive. Gutenberg didn't print that many things, after all.


I hadn't heard of any of those titles! Wonderful, I'll go check them out.

from The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux, page one, first two lines:
It is right and just to confess at the very start that it WAS fornication that took me out of the Order of Friars Minor and set me on the path of sin. I am an old man—perhaps sixty-seven—and make this confession at leisure and in detail since, imprisoned in this monastery, I have nothing left but time.

I believe I now know whose reincarnation I am.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 8:57pm

Re: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds, the "if we maintained consciousness for about ten minutes after we died" premise is, so far, rather minor. And the story -- and indeed the stories within and throughout -- are wonderful. Such great charagters!

Sep 5, 2019, 5:47am

'Morning, RD!

Insomnia has reared its ugly head, but what with hurricanes and daughters at home, my brain is Wide Awake.

gentle hugs and *smooches*

Sep 5, 2019, 9:14am

I've been rambling through this thread this morning ~ laughed my head off when I got to >142 richardderus: Gutenberg didn't print that many things, after all.

I had a whole collection of Thornton Burgess. One hardly ever sees them around second-hand sales. The Man says children's books of that era are usually passed along to the next kids or other families until they're falling apart and thrown away, being in such poor condition.

I tried re-reading some of my remembered childhood faves after seeing them at garage sales. Some of the worst re-reads in my life, though. The Happy Hollisters ~ ugh. Nancy Drew, older editions were so dated and didn't mature. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton and The Hardy Boys were dated but still kind of fun, of the couple I re-read (just to clarify, I didn't re-read the entire series of any of these authors).

Sep 5, 2019, 10:13am

68 When Did You Last See Your Father? by Jodi Taylor

Rating: 4* of five

A really enjoyable and enlightening light shone on the character, somewhat underdeveloped in the series, of "Leon Farrell" as we know him.

I am sure that means nothing to newbs. Please believe me that you're not going to learn anything you need to know by reading this book out of order. All that will happen is you'll spoil some lovely moments in the earlier books. But for the series regular, this entry will expand the emotional landscape against which Max and Leon have formed, re-formed, and reformed their partnership.

My quibble is with the oblique angle the story takes on its events. We're always watching someone watching the action. It takes place in offices and on the internet and we see, as in with the immediacy of a story, the results of the actions. Yes, the stakes are clearly delineated from the beginning. They're discussed in detail. But the action? Off stage, so to speak. It's not a reason to skip the tale, not at all, but it does distance me from the full emotional impact of the actions St Mary's takes on behalf of Max and Matthew.

In the end I hope those who're addicted to the series will get here, read this tale, and feel themselves warmed an charmed by the depth of the bond the Dramatis Thingummy share.

Sep 5, 2019, 10:29am

>143 EBT1002: You make a good case for anticipating the arrival of my hold!

>144 karenmarie: Yuck! That rots on ice, I'm so sorry. I hope all calms down soon. *smooch*

>145 SandyAMcPherson: I'm so pleased you're enjoying the voyage around the world of the thread! Many strange and odd items to be discovered.

Infant books seldom survive the infancy of the infant who received them. Mine weren't hand-me-downs because my sisters were 10 years older than me, childhood had already changed a lot in that time, and they were girls. Reading was much more gendered then than now.

Nancy Drew was the only female I knew personally (so to speak) who knew how to shift a stick. (That memorable scene in the first book where she ground the gears of her blue roadster as she blew exhaust smoke in some importunate boy's face.) Of course my mother, my grandmothers, and aunts all knew how to shift gears but we had Cadillacs and Buicks...go find one of those with a manual!

Bobbue Ann Mason's second edition of The Girl Sleuth is on its way to me so I'll be able to make some comparisons between them. That promises to be most interesting. The closest I'll ever come to a series-long re-read. (This lifetime, anyway.)

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 3:47pm

>140 richardderus: Lordie when was the last time they manufactured a car with no back seat? Is there a rumble seat in that baby at least?

Love the color , must say.

Sep 5, 2019, 5:25pm

>148 magicians_nephew: Not sure if you would call it a car, but we had a Smart Car for a few years. It kept drowning itself, caught mildew and had to be totaled.

Sep 5, 2019, 6:08pm

>148 magicians_nephew: See >149 quondame:

>149 quondame: They're a great idea just not quite fully baked yet.

Sep 5, 2019, 9:52pm

>150 richardderus: I loved being able to park between the 2 SUVs in the compact spots.

Sep 6, 2019, 1:48am

>149 quondame: Caught mildew?!

Sep 6, 2019, 6:37am

Morning, Richard. Happy Friday. I went on a nice hike yesterday, with friends. Not a lot of birds but just taking advantage of a beautiful day. One more week, and the Old Warbler will be on vacation. This will be only the second of the year, so I am looking forward to it.

Sep 6, 2019, 7:22am

'Morning, RD!

Coffee infusion begun, off to the salt mines today. Strangeness has begun - friend Vanessa, who guilted me into asked me to work part time, called yesterday from Florida to tell me that she's turned in her notice. I haven't told Bill because I figure it's Bill's boss who should tell him, not me, and I didn't want him to have something else to worry about with the threat of Dorian. Today should be interesting. I usually don't like 'interesting'.

Sep 6, 2019, 8:56am

>151 quondame:, >152 humouress: :-)

>153 msf59: Being out in a beautiful day is a reason in itself, yes? Vacay hooray!

>154 karenmarie: Oh no, that's the kind of "interesting" that makes the word rank down there with "surprise" as an Omen. Boo hiss, I'm sorry for your surprising, interesting day.

Sep 6, 2019, 12:04pm

>152 humouress: >155 richardderus: The condensation drain blocks easily and the overflow pools around the battery killing the electrical system. The second time this happened the car was probably not driven for a few days and between it being 3 years older and the mildew it was totaled.

Sep 6, 2019, 3:23pm

Hi, Richard.

Our adventure today was at Daunt bookshop, a store you’d love. Originally a travel bookstore, it now has the full panoply. But it also has book sections by country or region, with travel guides but also noteworthy fiction and nonfiction books from that part of the world. Combined with well-curated displays, it’s a great way to come across books you might otherwise never know about.

One I did know about and found is the new (for us) Camilleri, The Other End of the Line.

Sep 6, 2019, 6:13pm

>140 richardderus: That must be the biggest trunk ever! Where's the backseat?

>142 richardderus: "I believe I now know whose reincarnation I am." LOL

Sep 6, 2019, 10:04pm

>156 quondame: They're such a great idea, but not quite ready for prime time.

>157 jnwelch: OMG Daunt Books!!! I am so so jealous. I'm almost "wishing-Trump's-hurricane-science-worked" jealous!

That's #24, which I believe is the latest Montalbano to be translated. We've got two more after that.

I hope you aren't enbarrassing Debbi by committing poetry in public while you're in a foreign country.

>158 Berly: *smooch* Hi Kimmers! No back seats on 1957s. They put one into the 1958 model and sales quadrupled.

Sep 7, 2019, 2:00pm

69 The Hanging Stranger (link, not touchstone) by Philip K. Dick

Rating: 4* of five

You just can't beat PKD for atmospheric horror. I can't say I liked the story...I wasn't entirely sold on the 1950s-ness of it, Emerson and Phico TVs and Loyce driving his Packard are references anyone more than five years younger than I am isn't likely to follow...but listen to it and be transported (haw) to a paranoid, mentally ill man's nightmare of reality.

PKD's obsession? fascination? with the religious worldview is clearly on display here. The carefully constructed puzzle is one we've encountered so many times at this point in the 21st century that it's not remotely surprising. It's a delicious iteration of the survivor-of-the-invasion story because it's so low-tech, so unconcerned with whys and hows. Loyce does awful, unspeakable things with his clarity, and is punished for them; somehow he's got time in his headlong rush to Save The World to think through the implications of what he's seen in the context of the Old Testament; and thus is PKD's hand tipped. He's giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the Status Quo. Harry Harrison bought this story for the December 1953 edition of Science Fiction Adventures, so it was written sometime in the heat of the Second Red Scare. That atmosphere of paranoia, that sense of the world as you knew it disappearing from under your feet, is one that resonates strongly (on both sides of the great cultural rift) today. The religious underpinning of Loyce's revelation/break with reality is eerily prefiguring the pink beam experience PKD had in 1974, and the subsequent strangeness of his denunciation of various figures as moles for the Warsaw Pact powers.

All in all, a good listening experience, a satisfactory early-PKD read, and a TV episode loosely inspired by the story will round out one's experience of how a tormented mind's solidly crafted crumbling structure can enlighten the more fortunate, less troubled, sheeple of the world.

Sep 7, 2019, 10:46pm

>147 richardderus: Well, Richard, dear, I do make a good case for anticipating your arrival but apparently I can't spell "characters." Sheesh. Generous of you not to comment. *rolls eyes at self*

Sep 8, 2019, 11:30am

>154 karenmarie: oh my god, what are you going to do?! I don't like 'interesting', either.

Dear RD, the weather here continues weird. I have the ac blasting but need to remember to turn it off every few hours so the filaments don't frost over. My reading tone has elevated slightly, not because I've abandoned my love of trash but because I've been listening to the Slightly Foxed podcast. Their taste is lovely and I can't hear someone talk about a book without wanting to read it right away. This is why my lie-berry is my TBR pile. Just finished The Diary of a Bookseller. Didn't love it but it has made me determined to support independent bookshops. Even if the price of new books is absurd, which is why I fell in love with Amazon in the first place. Remind me to tell you how my affections are swayed by toys, when we do one day sit down to gin and tea. Now reading the Bloomsbury edition of Vertigo. I blame the translation. Watched the first 15 minutes if the original Dynasty on Netflix and was hooked. Much love.

Sep 8, 2019, 11:44am

Hi RD! I hope you're doing okay today. *smooch*

>155 richardderus: and >162 SomeGuyInVirginia: - things are still under wraps. Nothing was mentioned by either of the two bosses on Friday. Vanessa will be back in the office tomorrow and we'll see how it goes. I still haven't told Bill because it's still not my place to.

Sep 8, 2019, 11:57am

>162 SomeGuyInVirginia: Aren't the Slightly Foxed podcasts wonderful?

Sep 8, 2019, 2:24pm

>140 richardderus: Ooh, pretty! I missed my classic car fix this year because I volunteered during the PoCo Car Show and just didn't feel like drooling over the cars after 4 hours in our booth, besides, I think I had somewhere to be as usual. >154 karenmarie: Be very cautious with your "interesting", Karen.

Sep 8, 2019, 3:05pm

Sorry y'all...I'm worse today, can't type well, and want to go back to Time Team while the antibiotic does its work. Fever's spiking, generally a good sign, so yay-slash-blech. Tomorrow!

Sep 8, 2019, 4:50pm

Hi Richard, hope you are having a really good weekend and sending love and hugs from both of us dear friend.

Sep 8, 2019, 5:16pm

Hi, Richard. Sorry, to hear you are feeling poorly. Miss seeing you around. I am having a very lazy day with the books and my losing Cubbies.

Sep 8, 2019, 8:59pm

Feel better soon, Richard!

Sep 9, 2019, 1:26am

As Birddude calls it, it's the Lightning Round!

70 Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang

Not going to bother with a tale-by-tale because I wasn't interested more than three stars'-worth in any of them. I must be at fault. I don't care for or about the stories or the collection.

71 Recursion by Blake Crouch

I liked it exactly three stars'-worth. I liked Dark Matter better and felt that, in this iteration of the man-unmoored-by-events trope, the angsty Dresden-ness was overwhelming my give-a-damn meter.

72 The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux

*Seriously* overwritten. I wasn't enjoying myself as I trudged through the last hundred pages. I'm as affected and verbose as they come, but even *I* know when to dim down a notch. I don't think the recently departed Author L'Heureux and I will be deepening our acquaintance.

Sep 9, 2019, 8:43am

I just read your review on Lanny. I refrain from reading reviews until I've formulated my own opinion.

Not that I mean to ruin your day by mentioning this novel, I've now read yours and that was an understatement (I sincerely believe I'm being generous). Indeed, very generous!

I alotted all of 2 stars. Though you did warn me by saying the good news was: the book didn't make the short list. What I keep wondering (cynical thoughts on a Monday morning): who paid off whom for it ever to have made the long list in the first place?

(yes, my grammar this morning is terrible. But ~ see above ~ it's Monday morning).

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 8:45am

PS. This is a wonderfully worded sentiment:
I don't think the recently departed Author L'Heureux and I will be deepening our acquaintance.

I'm thoroughly cheered to have that phrase in my repertoire (of snarky thoughts on authors), if I may.

Sep 9, 2019, 9:51am

Imagine typing with this thing. So, no one wonder if they don't see more than an occasional drop-in.

Sep 9, 2019, 10:43am

Heal fast and feel better soon!


Sep 9, 2019, 2:29pm

Richard, I hope you get relief!

Sep 9, 2019, 2:43pm

This new substance for external wounds is doing an interesting job. It's a hideous grey color, feels like Moleskine, called "PolyMem Silver Max" and replaces topical cream antibiotics. Wrap it around the open wound, it's good for up to 72 hours of bacteria-slaughtering power. Allergic to penicillin/mold? This stuff is the new juice. It's also terrifyingly expensive. "Cheap compared to 3 weeks in the hospital with MRSA," said the nurse (whose visits are perfunctory because "you're as good at dressings as I am").

*modest blush*

Lots of practice.

Sep 9, 2019, 3:02pm

Sending smooches and wishes that you feel much better very soon.

Sep 9, 2019, 4:12pm

>173 richardderus:, >176 richardderus: *wince* I hope you're doing okay, buddy. That PolyMem Silver Max sounds like a fine development, but, *wince*

Sep 9, 2019, 6:06pm

*smooches* on my thread and *smooches* on your thread.

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 6:56pm

>173 richardderus: That does not look comfortable, at all, RD. As long as you can still turn the pages, all is not lost. I hope you get some relief soon.

ETA- We had similar feelings about Recursion. It was NO Dark Matter but I did think the first third was amazing.

Sep 9, 2019, 8:53pm

>173 richardderus: Wretched, is what that is. So sorry. But I"m glad to hear there IS "new juice" in the antibiotic realm. I hope it works pluperfectly for you.

Edited: Sep 13, 2019, 1:22am

Pearl Rule 12 (p8) Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner

Daddy swore out loud and rushed to the garage where Hilton kept the company limousine, a shiny black Buick. We had two of them—Dynaflows, with the chromed, oval-shaped ventiports along the front fenders.

Dynaflow is a brand of transmission that Buick developed. The car itself was a Buick Roadmaster. If you don't get details such as this right, I lose my sense that you're getting things important to the story, things invisible to me, correct; that means I get the sense that your novel's world is built on misunderstandings and faulty assumptions.

Fiction is made up. It's not history. A detail, a grace note like a thirteen-year-old boy telling the reader that his dad was getting out the Buick, is the world-building that deepens the experience of reading a novel. Unlike speculative fiction, authors can not wave their hands and say "it's my world, so that's how it is." This is January 1958, in Preston (now Guatemala), Cuba; a real place, in a time many now alive remember. Take care to research details or please don't deploy them. Getting something that your point-of-view character is absolutely sure to know *cold*—he's being set up as a bog-standard teen boy and, in 1958 in the US imperial zone, that meant he knew about cars or was...funny—wrong is a signal to my overbooked eyes that this isn't the read for me.

Sep 10, 2019, 3:52pm

Photos of the progress made by using this weird silver-soaked stuff would only serve to unsettle lunches. Suffice it to say that the progress between first and second applications has been remarkable. The oral antibiotics have made the systemic yucks lessen. The awful antibiotic lethargy is still present, and in spades; but the silver cushion's ability to draw out and de-bacterialize the wound itself on top of the blood-borne slaughter of the microbes results in greatly reduced swelling and pain!

So things are headed the proper way, even if my hand's huge swaddling of stuff still makes typing cumbersome and uncomfortable.

Thanks for visiting and commiserating, Meg, Shelley, Sandy, Mark, John, Horrible, Joe, Larry, Katie, Micky, Linda3rd, and Ellen! Please tell me if I missed someone's name...I've checked three times to be sure and that usually means someone's there in my head but not on the page.

Sep 10, 2019, 4:27pm

So here's a photo of today's haul:

Note the library's 1975 copy of The Girl Sleuth on the "new" 1995 edition is a good deal spiffier, no? Chigozie Obioma's Booker-nommed tome is going to be tough to read with the hands and fingers as they are.

Sep 10, 2019, 8:55pm

I'm glad there's a new medication that's so helpful Richard. Hopefully you'll soon be up to snuff.

Sep 10, 2019, 11:05pm

>183 richardderus: All my commiseration was on karenmarie's thread. I'm glad to know about this treatment and very glad it is working for you.

Sep 11, 2019, 12:15am

>173 richardderus: That's just plain awful!! So sorry you have to continual deal with this shit. You are a saint. Glad the new meds are working. You deserve a break! Enjoy your latest book haul. Smooches Evermore.

Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 9:43am

Yay for moving in the right direction! May you speed on through to the end of this bumpy road without further detours or roadblocks (in one of those shiny new ve-hicles like the one in >1 richardderus:!) :-)

Sep 11, 2019, 10:18am

Hope the healing continues!


Sep 11, 2019, 10:36am

>173 richardderus: Oh OUCH, my friend, I'm glad to hear that there's been some improvement, and here's some more healing *whammies* to speed up the process.


Sep 11, 2019, 10:47am

>185 brenzi: Hi Bonnie! Thanks for the well-wishes, and happily the progress continues.

>186 quondame: I saw the wishes, Susan, and thanks for them. I hope all's well in SoCal.

>187 Berly: It's sure as hell painful, Kimmers, but chronic conditions are all about management as you well know. It's as good today as it can be expected ever to be again, which mantra will in fact save one's sanity when dealing with the grinding dailiness of A Condiiton, not a disease.

Sep 11, 2019, 10:52am

>188 jessibud2: Hi Shelley! OOO a Sixty Special to ride in, no less. Yummy thought.

>189 katiekrug: Thank you, Katie, me too. It's doing a darn fine job since the ugly-looking Moleskine arrived. The difference is *remarkable*!

>190 bell7: Yeah, Mary, it's not a great thing but, in the past, it's been so much worse. I remind myself that an untreated infection (when I had no insurance) led to three weeks in a hospital with IV Cipro (a monster of a killer that was, then, about the only defense against MRSA's worst ravages) and surgery to cut a joint down to healthy bone.

Perspective check: Unlocked.

Sep 11, 2019, 2:16pm

The Testaments came in for me today!! The librarians saw my name on the holds list and our library bought one, instead of relying on the system's multiple copies. That way I got my hold immediately instead of being wherever I was in the triple digits.

They like me. They really like me.

Sep 11, 2019, 4:19pm

>193 richardderus: - Nice to have friends in high places, or at least, in places where it really matters! ;-) Yay!

Sep 11, 2019, 4:26pm

>194 jessibud2: I know, right?! It's a really lovely gift.

Sep 12, 2019, 7:03am

>184 richardderus: Nice haul! I am especially interested in the Obioma.

Sweet Thursday, Richard. Last work day, before vacay, so there will be an extra pep to my step, as I chug through the route.

Sep 12, 2019, 7:16am

'Morning, RD! I hope you're doing better today. Nice Librarians. Good for you.

*smooch* from your own Madame TVT Horrible

Sep 12, 2019, 7:19am

>173 richardderus: Looks very painful! I hope that you are healing well.

Sep 12, 2019, 12:35pm

>196 msf59: Have a great vacay, Mark! I'm eager to delve into the Obioma. I liked his debut, The Fishermen, a good deal.

>197 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible, I'm a LOT better today. I'm still battling the antibiotic lethargy. I'll be eating a 2lb container of yogurt every four days for a month or so while I get the gut population back to healthy levels. Gets pricey for me, but the alternative is unpleasant and not worth the false economy to endure. If I had this room to myself, I'd be planting my dearly belovèd french breakfast radishes in the emptied containers...sandy soil's right outside my door...but Old Stuff would *freak*out* if I did.

>198 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita, I'm happy to report I'm doing a lot better and bid fair to make a complete recovery.

Edited: Sep 12, 2019, 10:39pm

Sorry to hear, and see, that you are doing poorly - or richly, considering the meds are actually working and making you better. LT would be lonely without you.

I am at the end of a big work week. I taught at least one library instruction class everyday this week. I am very tired tonight, but teaching those little chillen’s to find things in the library is fun! Today I worked with a class of grad students getting ready to start research on their dissertation literature reviews. Again, it was fun and the enthusiasm made me all warm inside. Sometimes it is good to be a librarian. Times like this make me think twice about retirement.

Sep 13, 2019, 1:20am

>173 richardderus: Dude, I'm pretty certain that I've had words with you on this subject before (and if I haven't, I should have) but kindly cease and desist with all this falling sick malarky. It does no-one any good (least of all you).

I'm glad the medication is working, however ghastly it may look.

>199 richardderus: French breakfast radishes? Radishes are all very well in their place (salads) but I wouldn't have them for breakfast. Are french radishes different?

I am contemplating making my own yoghurt, which other LTers do - or rather, introducing my sons to the concept of making their own, since they love the stuff (not that I have any objection to it). Could you do that?

And what about radishes makes your room-mate freak out? Can't you hide them where he won't see them?

>200 benitastrnad: That sounds like a good week.

Sep 13, 2019, 7:02am

I'm glad to hear that you're doing a LOT better, my dear Richard.

Breakfast radishes? Do tell.


Sep 13, 2019, 10:45am

>200 benitastrnad:, >201 humouress:, >202 karenmarie: French breakfast radishes:

A bunch about this size is ~$2.50 at the farmer's market. The greens, if chopped w/3mm of radish on them, root beautifully in a sunny window, on a slightly moistened crumpled-up unbleached coffee filter. Takes about two-three days; they can then be transplanted into a rinsed yogurt container, four tops evenly spaced about 10mm from the outside edge and one directly in the center. In ten days to two weeks, five free radishes result! Multiply by available containers/lack of interest in eating a mess o' steamed greens (1min instant pot delight).

The radishes are the least zingy variety ever, introduced about 1880 in France. They still have a spicy edge, just not much heat; the base flavor is sweetness, like most root veggies. They're really not breakfast food, but traditionally elevenses fare. Take off the root end, slice the radish up the middle almost to the stem to form an "X" and pack the middle with a sliver of butter (a half-pat if that measure means something to you) and serve three with a croissant and a cup of coffee.

My roommate came here with NOTHING. A year in a VA hospital and the way he'd got there meant no possessions of any sort, no clothes even. And so he, being the kind of miserable person he is, resents the abundance that I possess, carps about how he has no room for any of his stuff, "you can't have/do/eat that!", and is impervious to the logical query: "what stuff?"

He's a disagreeable person. I no longer make any effort to accommodate his grouses because they don't stop if I do. So now he simply befouls my air with smoker stink, drinker stink, and nasty whiny sounds.

Sep 13, 2019, 11:04am

>200 benitastrnad: I agree with >201 humouress:, that sounds like a darn good week. I'm happy that my hand is cooperating with the healing program, as well.

>201 humouress: Nina! Dearest! No no no! Radishes are *scrummy* when halved and roasted, cut side down, in olive oil and salt and pepper. They're delightful when stewed whole in place of potato chunks. Their greens are, when young and springy, great as a substitute for arugula, and when older are delish as steamed greens by themselves or added to mixed greens. Spanish black radishes

are fun when boiled and mashed and dressed with butter and lemon zest.

I'm all for no more infections! If I can swing it, I won't get another any time soon. The antibiotics are powerful and have side effects; I want the infection less that I want the lethargy.

My room would be a modestly sized master bedroom in a US-normal house. I've created a milk-crate bookshelf between the beds so I at least don't have to see Old Stuff in his altogether. There are no cooking facilities...and rules against having any open-coil hearing devices like hotplates and toasters and the I cobble together the stuff I eat with a contraband crock pot, a contraband InstantPot, a rice cooker for one, an immersion blender, a few silicone spatulas and spoons, and a dorm-sized fridge to keep a few things cool.

I don't do a whole lot of creative cooking because I *have* to stow stuff away in innocuous-looking boxes between uses. Piled high with books to make them look extra innocent.

But at least I *can* do the unusual things if I summon the will.

>202 karenmarie: Hey Horrible. *smooch*

Sep 13, 2019, 2:56pm

from Live a Little: A Novel by Howard Jacobson, p8:
"It's a safe bet no other mother refused to read her children bedtime stories because she found them jejune. You actually used that word—jejune, for Christ's sake!"
"There you are—I gave you a word you still remember...."
"But can't use."
"Then try moving in more educated circles."
"I sit in the House of Lords, Mother."
"You make my point for me."


Sep 13, 2019, 3:52pm

>205 richardderus: Love it!

Happy Friday, Richard. I saw that you started the new Atwood. Fingers crossed that it will be a winner. I am bringing Stories of Your Life and Others on vacation with me. Looking forward to it.

Sep 13, 2019, 7:13pm

>193 richardderus: That's awesome!
I got a copy too, but I think I want to reread The Handmaid's Tale first.

Edited: Sep 13, 2019, 10:09pm

I love radishes with butter. I put butter (not margarine - BUTTER!) on nice thick slices of bread - crusty bread with substance and body. Slice the radishes onto the bread slices, and put a little sea salt on them and eat! Good stuff.

I can’t get French radishes so just use the plain old round supermarket radishes. Somehow the butter mitigates the heat of the radishes. They taste peppery and some of them have more heat than I like, but they are passable. I would love to get those French radishes. I would bet that would be scrumptious eating.

Radishe steamed are good eating as well.

Sep 14, 2019, 4:06am

Happpy Birthday, Rdear. Wishing you a fabulous day. May all your dreams come true. xxx

Sep 14, 2019, 4:28am

Happy Birthday, mate!

Sep 14, 2019, 7:25am

Happy birthday, Richard!

Sep 14, 2019, 8:08am

Happy birthday to you!! Is it a big one?

Sep 14, 2019, 8:58am

Happy Birthday!!! I knew it was in September but not the exact day.

Extra *smooch*es from your own Madame TVT Horrible

Sep 14, 2019, 10:41am

Happy Birthday, Richard. Celebrate your fine self.

Sep 14, 2019, 11:28am

73 Latter End by Patricia Wentworth

Exactly three stars. While the manner in which Miss Silver collects her final clue to the murderer's identity worked in the 1940s, it's so utterly incredible today that it'd be cause for the MS to be firmly rejected by any publisher.

The standard country-house mystery, a basically unoriginal plot, the surprise twist concealed by a very limp curtain; nothing too taxing, but nothing out of place in its day and time. The strongly moralistic tone of the thing was, well, honestly I found it less heavy-handed than in some entries in the series. It's pretty much confined to the expected Honour Above Crass Materialism and A Village Knows and Sees All. Middle-aged bachelor Jimmy Latter is variously depicted as being on his uppers, accepting in marriage beautiful widowed gamine Lois, who is involved in a nasty lawsuit with her dead husband's family; then Virtuously Refusing the Gelt she wins in said lawsuit after her death. Despite the fact that she used a chunk of it to renovate his shabby home. Which he resents, since he liked the shabby way it crumbled around him.

You get it...he married Lois because she was a Damsel in Distress, and now she's got agency he doesn't like it one little bit. She's painted to be such a slimeball that he's Quite Right to dislike and resent her uppity way of making things fresh and new so she can enjoy them. A Man's Home and all that. ::eyeroll::

But she goes too far when she wants his relatives to move along, get themselves a new place to droop their depressing sadnesses, and generally make room for the Lady of the Manor...the job she was seeking from the spread her wings. This seems to me to be a bit rich, since it's now her money that pays for things; presenting her as a selfish wretch for wanting to enjoy her home...well...yes, it's clear she wasn't the right wife for Jimmy, and his life was unpleasantly upended by her youthful prettiness and its attendant selfishness; but someone please tell me why he couldn't simply have said, "Darling it's marvelous that you've finally got this pile of dosh and lovely what you'd like to do with it, but I must insist that you pay attention to my not unreasonable needs." But then there wouldn't be a story. When she turns up dead, her loud strumpet of a henchwoman, a not-our-sort broad shown to be willing to Cheat. On. Her. Tedious. Husband! *shockhorror* (and not even shown to act on it, enough that she thinks about it is Shocking!) makes sure Lois's death isn't simply swept under the gentry's handy rug. Maudie arrives, Lamb and Abbott arrive, secrets are revealed, misunderstandings are rife, the couples who should be together either get there or are pushed that way.

I'm not the least bit averse to the coupling-up drive that inhabits former romance writer Wentworth's fiction. This time, however, it's simply too perfunctory, too splodged on the plot like runny buttercream frosting on a hot cake (GBBO reference), for me to feel the warm glow of sentimental pleasure as they go two-by-two into the sunset. The highly conventional, extremely judgmental nature of the author's ouevre is here a spinier presence for the thinness of the story-dressing over it.
Series mysteries lend themselves to illiberal world-views. By their nature, they uphold ma'at and the desire we have as a species to see wrongdoers who are actually wrong suffer for their actions. The killing in this book was, by its internal lights, so richly deserved that it was hard to see how Miss Silver would be able to deflect the Awful Hand of Justice from its obvious yet incorrect course. Given what the experienced reader of series mysteries, and of this author's works in particular, knows, the solution to the crime was obvious though how the puzzle was to be unraveled was not. And that "how" was simply not credible by even the most generous modern reader's standards.

Author Wentworth's 1910 debut novel, A Marriage Under the Terror, was set in the French Revolution and features a young couple falling in love against the backdrop of betrayals and misunderstandings compounded by the awfulness of the Terror. It won her a prize, which carried a substantial sum of money with it, and launched a career of some fifty years' duration. She died at 83, having completed the final Miss Silver mystery; it was not, a la Curtain, a farewell. But fifty years in the lists left us with a massive pile of reading to do. Much of it is in the public domain, and a lot of the Miss Silver mysteries are available for 99¢ which is a bargain. If you're not utterly repelled by the bygone-era conservative politics and social attitudes, the stories have their charms.

Sep 14, 2019, 12:43pm

>215 richardderus: I have a friend who loves Patricia Wentworth's stuff. I seem to always find the ones that aren't quite as compelling of reads.

Sep 14, 2019, 5:41pm

Happy birthday, Richard dear!

Sep 14, 2019, 6:13pm

Happy birthday!!!

Sep 14, 2019, 9:23pm

Happy Birthday!

Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 9:36pm

Happy Birthday RIchard! Here is a book that might appeal to you - when you are looking for lighter fare.

The Ozarks is, and has been, the vacation destination of most of the people I lived with for most of my life. It was the honeymoon destination, Senior Class sneak destination, and summer getaway for millions of people from the vast middle part of the country starting in the 1950’s and it is still going strong. It started out homespun kitschy and is now as sophisticated of a place to go as is Nashville. In fact, if you want to see or hear country music acts - this is the place most people from my home go. Nashville is too big city. Branson, Missouri is authentic country. When I saw the reviews for Bill Geists new book, Lake of the Ozarks; My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America, I had to read it.

The book turned out to be a nice nostalgic trip down memory lane for the author, and I thought it would be for me. It wasn’t. I wish he had written more about the area and why Bagnell Dam was built in the first place turning a back water area, the Ozarks, into one of the most visited tourist spots in the U.S. THe book started out that way when the author writes about the early tourist entrepreneurs of the area and what they did to try to get people to drive to an out-of-the-way area in the vast middle of the country served by poor roads, but it soon becomes another teen-boy-obsessed-with-sex book making this an average read for me.

This book has one of the best designed dust jackets I have seen in years. If the text isn’t stellar the dust jacket is, and the home photographs included add to the book.

The writing is lighthearted and at times funny, but somehow it lacks the homespun folkseyness I wanted. In short this isn’t a great work of nonfiction but it isn’t a waste of time either.

Sep 15, 2019, 12:28am

I hope you had a good birthday and a happy one, though here it is still the 14th, I believe you have gone onto the 15th.

Sep 15, 2019, 8:30am

'Morning, RichardDear! I hope that your weather is as lovely as you were saying it was going to be this weekend.

I am trying to settle into a new book - A Better Man by Louise Penny - but it's already tough going with her increasingly fragmented writing style.
She knew this agent had never been in a so-called firefight. Even using the ridiculous phrase gave him away. Anyone who'd actually raised a weapon, sighted another human, and shot. Again and again. And been shot at. Would never consider that glory, nor call it a firefight. p 5

Sep 15, 2019, 9:16am

74 The Ugly Chickens (link, not touchstone) by Howard Waldrop

Rating: 4* of five

I know someone, a published author, and an Austinite to boot!, who has read this story and found it on the low end of ~meh~. I consider it a badge of honor that I still speak to her in reasonably civil tones.

Howard Waldrop is a friggin laugh riot. He writes in deeply inflected Southern Sarcasm. He has an educated man's disdain for Academia, the career-path bits of donnish learnedness. He combines the two in this Hugo-winning story of the fate of the damndest looking birds the planet's seen in the past millennium: The perennially resurrected running (!) gag, the dodo.
With the colonists came cats, dogs, hogs, and the cunning Rattus norvegicus and the Rhesus monkey from Ceylon. What dodos the hungry sailors left were chased down (they were dumb and stupid, but they could run when they felt like it) by dogs in the open. They were killed by cats as they sat on their nests. Their eggs were stolen and eaten by monkeys, rats, and hogs. And they competed with the pigs for all the low-growing goodies of the islands.

The last Mauritius dodo was seen in 1681, less than a hundred years after man first saw them. The last white dodo walked off the history books around 1720. The solitaires of Rodriguez and Réunion, last of the genus as well as the species, may have lasted until 1790. Nobody knows.

Scientists suddenly looked around and found no more of the Didine birds alive, anywhere.

That's the sad history of Humankind's progress around the planet, isn't it. Only Doctor Lindberl (NOT Lindgergh, he's quick to correct), by one of History's jests at the expense of the erudite and overcorrect, finds a credible trail to the American branch of the dodo family.

You read that right.

A chance encounter with an elderly (sixtyish! How old that seemed in Waldrop's and my 1980; now I am it) on a city bus brings Lindberl (remember!) into possession of information that leads him to the horrifying, hideous, unbelievably vile northern edge of Mississippi, near to the suppurating wound on the American continent that is Memphis. Hours of driving; a Deliverancey backwoods encounter, and voilà! Solid evidence for the survival in the New World of Didine avians! But surely his elderly interlocutor, member of a large family, has some further guidance for him:
She looked at me a moment. Then she began to smile.

"Oh, you mean the ugly chickens?" she said.

I smiled. I almost laughed. I knew what Oedipus must have gone through.

I hope he felt, whatever unsavory bargain he made, that it was worth it...I found the end of the tale pretty much a wry, bemused man's trek up the mountain to meet the guru. Lots of fun.
Read the whole story here.

Edited: Sep 15, 2019, 10:45am

Ooh, Happy Birthday! Did you treat yourself to some books?

>203 richardderus: >204 richardderus: You make radishes sound ... try-able, certainly.

>205 richardderus: :0D Made me laugh.

>204 richardderus: Oh, I see; I somehow assumed that you shared a living room but got your own personal sleeping space.

Sep 15, 2019, 2:45pm

>223 richardderus: I had to laugh because the book I'm reading at the moment had a chicken and vegetable thief that was just caught! I wonder if the chickens were ugly?

Sep 15, 2019, 8:18pm

Belated happy birthday wishes, dear Richard!

Sep 15, 2019, 9:10pm

Belated happy birthday!

Sep 15, 2019, 10:42pm

Quick drop-in to thank everyone for the birthday wishes! I'm a little shocked that I'm not more freaked out about turning 60. But hell, it's another day...and I'm in better health, the days have been lovely, the life is the beautiful. Back in a day or so.

Sep 16, 2019, 1:48am

>228 richardderus: I'm glad you're feeling better. I'd say 60 isn't so bad, but really I can't remember, that being over 10 years past.

Sep 16, 2019, 7:21am

Those pesky ending-in-0-or-5 birthdays can be extra stressful, can't they? I'm glad that you were not terribly freaked out about turning 60.


Sep 16, 2019, 9:40am

Belated - but sincere - happy birthday wishes!

Sep 17, 2019, 8:03am

Happy Tuesday, RD!

Edited: Sep 17, 2019, 8:27pm

75 The Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu

Rating: 4* of five

It's a good day indeed when a new mystery series with its attendant cast of followable characters and its quiet upholding of justice and fairness with or without the law arrives on my bookshelf. The library brought me this fun first-in-series read, and I was delightedly transported to 1930s Colonial Singapore. Chen Su Lin, the polio-crippled granddaughter of one of the island's major money lenders, has been educated far, far beyond the norm for her age and ethnicity. Chinese women haven't been educated in great numbers until the last half-century or so. Su Lin, however, has no prospects for the usual fates allotted to her comadres: the limp and the "bad luck" presented by her polio render her undesirable as a match, either in marriage or in prostitution; her grandmother, being a practical soul, used Su Lin's brains to her advantage by schooling her in languages so she could assist with the family's shady dealings by interpreting for the business.

Su Lin, tasting the merest hint of freedom, develops other ideas while enrolled in the local Mission School: She'll become a teacher, or a secretary, or an accountant! Only on her own, not for her family.

The long arm of Fate reaches out, plucks the girl from her cozy dreams, and plunks her in the middle of an unhappy household of ang mohs (white folks) with shedloads of secrets and lies to protect. A much more experienced and adult (Su Lin is sixteen when we meet her) woman would've spent a few hours in that ménage and lit out for the territories. Toxic Miss Nessa the missionary lady rules her brother's house; useless Lady Palin, recently acquired second wife of bluff ol' Colonel Blimp-esque Sir Harry, acquiesces to this arrangement gracelessly and with great umbrage at her displacement from both England and primacy; daughter of the house Dee-Dee, the fever victim who is a seven-year-old in a teenager's body; young Harry, snarky sneaky ne'er-do-well, and to Su Lin's eyes likely the lover of a murdered nanny/companion to Dee-Dee called Charity...who appeared to have none, charging handsomely for, well, it's not spelled out but really does one need to have it be so?

Then we have the local servants, the loyal family retainer-cum-cook whose existence is mandatory in one form or another for any domestic mystery set in that time, and Inspector Thomas Le Froy, Colonial policeman with shocking cultural sensitivity, sangfroid in the face of gigantic threats to him and his position, and stubborn absence of interest in marrying, or even taking a housekeeper, while he is busy solving crimes. A simple and effective smoke-screen for...what? Why does he need to be aggressively single and pointedly resistant to Miss Nessa's machinations to plant a woman of her choosing in his household? Permaybehaps to avoid having it resemble her own?

This seething cauldron of awfulness leads to murder, alleged suicide, and a truly overblown reveal. I won't go into details, but this book would have a higher rating if it had presented its (pretty obvious and inevitably violent) conclusion bedizened with fewer Shiny-Brite ornaments on its thinnest branches. Author Yu is not a tyro. This is the first in a series, but it's not her first series. I'd be impressed with her restraint if it had been a first-ever mystery.

It not being such, I found Su Lin's early avowal of respect for her uncle not selling her into slavery of one sort or another due to his wife's childlessness that the temple fortunetellers blamed on her somewhat tarnished by the sudden existence of cousins; and Inspector Le Froy's presence, at a few junctures, had to be stuffed into brief and mildly jarring third-person "asides" in the main first-person limited viewpoint of Su Lin. I wasn't entirely happy about a framing device inserted about two-thirds of the way through the book, either. I believe it is a device implicit in almost all first-person limited viewpoint mysteries, or narratives of any sort. But it's not a blot on the escutcheon that the minor inconsistencies felt to me to be. An experienced mystery novelist (Aunty Lee's Delights et alii) could and should know how urgently necessary it is to demonstrate an almost preternatural control over her material. I downgrade more harshly for the experienced versus the inexperienced writer in this regard.

But the pleasures of Author Yu's quietly lush and unobtrusively delivered lessons in the sights, sounds, tastes, and mores of Singapore make me err on the side of indulgence, and put aside these odd and unexpected moments so I can savor the delights and pleasures of the series. Su Lin, whose little-girl dreams are only the start of her ambitions, solves the problem at the heart of this book and at the center of her own life with one magnificent sweep of courageous action. No more thinking of herself as a crippled bad-luck symbol for Su Lin! And finally, with Justice served, she can take her appropriate and merited place on the world's stage.

Yep. I'll be back for more.

Sep 17, 2019, 8:16pm

I'll chime in with the belated wishes, RD.

>233 richardderus: You got me with that one - I will go and seek it out as it looks like great fun.

Sep 17, 2019, 9:05pm

I don't know how I missed your birthday Richard but I hope you'll forgive me. I do hope it was happy for you.

What a terrific review of The Frangipani Tree Mystery. How could anyone be expected to skip that one?

Sep 17, 2019, 9:18pm

from The Best American Short Stories 1962 (, Foreword by Martha Foley):
As the title and date of Tales of the Northwest indicate (Joseph Snell, 1820) , they were stories of adventure in what was then a wild and far-off place, the "frontier." Apart from its adventures and setting, {the book} pioneered in a literary sense. It was the first settler in what was to be a realm of thousands of books by thousands of authors, many of them so important they were to encircle the planet with the kind of writing Americans love best—short stories.

Martha Foley co-edited this anthology with her son David Burnett, who sadly predeceased her by six years. It is cram-jam full of stories by major writers of that time, eg Updike and McCullers, Deal and William H. Gass; it was a lovely moment in time, wasn't it.

Sep 17, 2019, 9:57pm

Happy belated birthday! I hope it was filled with great new books :)

Sep 17, 2019, 10:06pm

I spent most of the last couple days in Brooklyn with Rob. Restaurants close on Mondays and he picked me up Sunday evening, brought me to his new place, and we...hung out. Did pretty much nothing. Canoodled, cuddled, was lovely.

Now I'm back with Old Stuff, I really miss being there!

I'll be back to my more-present self tomorrow.

Again thanks for all the birthday wishes! I don't think it's anyone's job to remember my birthday, so "belated" is a concept we can shelve. Y'all got the month right. *smooch*

Sep 17, 2019, 10:29pm

>238 richardderus: Hooray for a cozy weekend!

Edited: Sep 18, 2019, 5:56pm

>233 richardderus: Congratulations on reaching 75 reviews, Richard!

>238 richardderus: How nice that Rob took you to his place, a lovely birthday present.

Sep 18, 2019, 5:54am

Cool that you got to spend time with Rob, RD. Nice review of Frangipani Tree! I'll bethumb it.

Is it really 75? Seems low for your voracious self.

Sep 18, 2019, 7:50am

'Morning, RD!

I suppose turnabout is fair play. My review of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August sent you off to Ammie. Your review of The Frangipani Tree Mystery (which I didn't read, but only saw the first sentence of and your rating) sent me off ditto. It arrives Saturday. It'll have to wait, though, because I found a pristine copy of The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz at the thrift shop yesterday and was jazzed. I've only got 2,100+ books on my shelves TBR, but of course I'm starting it today.

Nice times with Rob - I'm happy for you.


Sep 18, 2019, 9:43am

Okay, the blanket apology to all and sundry goes as follows: I'm in quite a lot of touchy pain from the ongoing infection-control methods of bandages, wrappings, attendant skin sloughings, etc etc blahblahblah. It's rough enough to type reviews! I'm sorry I simply can't endure the physical pain of typing my appreciative responses to y'all's kind and much-valued messages. I've read them, and I appreciate the fact that anyone bothers to say kind and supportive things about my turning 60.

I really expected to be flipped out by this. After all, I'm OLD now. Yes, I am; most people born between 1950 and 1960 around the world are dead. We're fortunate to be sucking air, all of us who're older than that. I am especially grateful for the lovely community of readers here. At a dark time for me, so very many of y'all reached out and helped me not only survive but thrive in radically changed circumstances. Never have or will I ever forget that outpouring of kindness.

So yes, lovely to get birthday wishes! I don't expect them. They're a pleasant surprise. I'm happy to have them, whenever they arrive.

I'm well past the 75-reads point; I'm still looking for ways to manage my reading tracking. I will move to a Mark-esque "Lightning Round" system for a while when I've read a book but wasn't blown away by it. Since a big part of my purpose in writing reviews is improving my memory for what I've read, that could work. I've tried keeping separate threads, and that wasn't successful, so maybe this will be easier to manage.

Bless each and every one of y'all's little pink hearts for visiting and commenting. *smooches* all around.

Sep 18, 2019, 5:59pm

>243 richardderus: Sorry you are still in pain and typing is hard. You are brave to still write such long reviews!
*smooches* right back at you!

Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 12:33pm

76 Lie With Me: A Novel by Philippe Besson, tr. Molly Ringwald

Rating: 5* of five--it took all day to transcribe what I wanted to use in the review, so it'll have to be edited later. I just can't do one more keystroke.

The Publisher Says: The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald.

We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.

My Review: I've spoken in previous reviews about the power of the (mostly) French art form, the récit, an ill-defined, "you'll know it when you see it" form of literary tale-telling. And all those ambiguous layers of the latter phrase, from straightforward "telling a story" to "tattling on someone" to "inventing a lie" are each present in the récit itself. The qualities I can suss out as being sine qua non for a work to be a récit are length—brevity is the soul of wit, lingerie, and récits—and interiority. Nothing describable as a récit can take place in "real time" or include voices not mediated by the narrator and/or author through a single tightly focused lens. If you've read Camus's The Fall, you've read a peak-experience récit. If you didn't like reading it, I venture to suggest that you not pay a lot of attention to the genre.

Brevity this book has: In 148pp, Besson tells the oldest gay love story there is: Boy meets boy; boy loves boy, is loved by boy; neither one says the right "wrong" thing to his belovèd to make the "forbidden" connection happen; and they go their separate, unequal, always intertwined ways. Interiority it simply is: All the words we read are Philippe's or Philippe's reports of conversations recently or distantly past. Philippe-the-narrator tells us several times that, as a novelist, he makes stuff up; he implies that he's done that habitually; so we're left to our own devices to decide about his honesty, his accuracy, and his intentions in telling us this tale.

I'm going to let you read Philippe-the-author and Philippe-the-narrator's words unmediated by my own commentary on them. In my own way, I want to honor the form of the récit as a review. The book is beautiful for many reasons. Translator Ringwald has made a beautiful thing in this book. I haven't read the French text, but I know enough from previous Besson encounters to believe this is a deft and charming rendering of his original. As to Besson's tale told...well..."is it autobiographical" is the first line of defense against immersion into the unreliability of Memory that this, a beautiful and moving and elegiac récit, invites its readers to experience. I recommend reading it, experiencing it, absorbing its beauties and funnies and rawnesses, without any additional removes from immediacy. Don't, then, place harsh lights on it or look for factual details in it; let it become the limpid waters of Monet's water-lily pond for your inner reader's delight and refreshment.

Chapter One (1984)
I'm not beautiful, but I get attention; that I know. Not because of my appearance, but because of my {good} grades. "He is brilliant," they whisper, "much more advanced than the others, he will go far, like his brother, this family is one to be reckoned with." We are in a place, in a moment, where nearly everyone goes nowhere; it garners me equal parts sympathy and antipathy.
Upstairs, after climbing a makeshift staircase, you would enter a room full of anything and everything. There was even a mattress. It was on this mattress where I rolled around in {his first love}'s embrace for the first time. We had not gone through puberty yet, but we were curious about each other's bodies. His was the first male sex I held in my hand, other than my own. My first kiss was the one he gave me. My first embrace, skin against skin, was with him. ... Today I'm struck by our creativity because at the time, there was no internet, not even videocassettes or cable TV. We had never seen any porn, and yet we still knew how to do it. There are things one knows how to do even as a child. By puberty, we would be even more imaginative. That would come fast
A million questions flash through my mind: How did it begin for him? How and at what age did it reveal itself? How is it that no one can see it on him? Yes, how can it be so undetectable? And then: Is it about suffering? Only suffering? And again: Will I be the first? Or were there others before me? Others who were also secret? And: What does he imagine exactly? I don't ask any of these questions, of course. I follow his lead, accepting the rules of the game.

He says: I know a place.
I discover that absence has a consistency, like the dark water of a river, like oil, some kind of sticky dirty liquid that you can struggle and perhaps drown in. It has a thickness like night, an indefinite space with no landmarks, nothing to bang against, where you search for a light, some small glimmer, something to hang on to and guide you. But absence is, first and foremost, silence. A vast, enveloping silence that weighs you down and puts you in a state where any unforeseeable, unidentifiable sound can make you jump.
He says that for me things are simple, that everything will be fine, that I will get out of it, it's already written, that there's nothing to worry about, the world will greet me with open arms. Whereas for him there's a barrier, an impenetrable wall, forbidding him to deviate from what has been predetermined.

Whenever he mentions this question of the forbidden I will try in vain to show him that he's wrong.
A few weeks later he'll take me for a ride. He'll pick me up at the edge of town, with a helmet this time. I don't know if it's as a precaution, to respect the law, or so that we won't be recognized, but I get on the back of the bike and hold on to him. We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I'm frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I'm holding on to him, that I'm holding on to him outside.
...there is often a staggering intimacy between us, a closeness beyond imagining, but the rest of the time our separateness is absolute. Such schizophrenia could bring even those with the strongest equilibrium to the edge of reason, and let's admit it, I didn't have much equilibrium to begin with.

There is the insanity of not being able to be seen together. An insanity that is aggravated in this case by the unprecedented situation of finding ourselves in the middle of a crowd and having to act like strangers. It seems crazy not to be able to show our happiness. Such an impoverished word. Others have this right, and they exercise it freely. Sharing their happiness makes them even more happy, makes them expand with joy. But we're left stunted, compromised, by the burden of having to always lie and censor ourselves.

This passion that can't be talked about, that has to be concealed, gives way to the terrible question: if it isn't talked about, how can one know that it really exists? One day, when it's over, when it finally comes to an end, no one will be able to attest to what took place.
...I hurry to get what I want before he changes his mind. I take the picture. In it, he's wearing jeans, a plaid shirt with rolled-up sleeves. He has the blade of grass between his fingers and he's smiling, a slight, complicit smile, almost tender. This smile devastated me for a long time after, whenever I happened to look at this photograph. It upsets me even now as I write these lines and contemplate the image, resting on my desk, right next to my keyboard. Because now I know. I know that {he} consented to this single picture only because he knew (had decided) that it was our last moment together. He smiled so that I could take his smile with me.

Chapter Two (2007)
I know that there are those who will object to my refusal to accept that he changed course, switched orientation, simply succumbed to a feeling that was previously unknown to him. I could be seen as upset, jealous, or even obtuse, and yet I persist in thinking that he put the same stubborn application into this as he did to his work. The same desire to forget himself, to return to the righteous path set out by his mother, the only one permissible. Does he end up believing it himself? That's the fundamental question. If the answer is yes, then moving forward in life would be possible. If the answer is no, then it is a life condemned to interminable misery.
(I correct myself because I've just been lying. Of course, it took time, a lot of time, before I admitted that everything was lost, before I decided to say goodbye forever. I kept hoping for a sign. I thought of initiating another meeting, I started letters that I never sent. Desire does not go out like a match, it extinguishes slowly as it burns into ash. In the end I gave up on all possibility of a reunion.)
...I live with a man with a man who is fifteen years younger than me and doesn't like boys but loves me. Who knows why? It's a vulnerable relationship, and I will be scared to disturb this precarious equilibrium. Calling {him}, talking to him, asking to see him again, would be anything but innocuous. I cannot say: This is only a phone call. I know it's more than that. Even if I were granted immunity, the act of calling him has the allure of betrayal (we come back to that, always we come back to it) or without going to that extreme, a gesture toward {him} would be a gesture of mistrust toward the man I live with—a decision to put distance between us, to admit to a love that is not enough.

Chapter Three (2016)
In that first moment, when he heard me say that I had seen you, he didn't move, but I swear he lost his balance. At that exact moment I was certain that he had been in love with you. That such a thing had existed—my father in love with a boy. I didn't need to ask him the question. I couldn't have found the courage anyway. Afterward, I said to myself: Maybe it was just a phase. Okay, yes, it existed, but it ended. He moved on to something else—to a life, a woman, a child...that must happen often, these things. I told myself: when he saw you on TV, it brought back the memory, but it was just nostalgia. A secret from the past...everyone has secrets; besides, it's good to have things that belong only to you. I could have stayed there. It should have stayed there. Except that two days after our conversation, my father brought us together to announce he was leaving.

Sep 18, 2019, 10:19pm

>245 richardderus: Sound powerful.

Sep 19, 2019, 1:12am

>242 karenmarie: I've only got 2,100+ books on my shelves TBR, but of course I'm starting it today.

I'm up to probably double that Karen, but it is always about the last and latest book isn't it?

>245 richardderus: Molly Ringwald translating? I am impressed; obviously better with a French/English dictionary than she is with a camera pointed at her.

Sep 19, 2019, 12:57pm

>243 richardderus: *smoochies* I've been so awol, but still thinking of you. Hope you are getting some relief. X

Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 1:25pm

I hope the pain abates soon, Richard. I'd hate to be without your reviews and remarks.

Maybe this little guy we met in the Corning Museum of Glass last week will bring you a bit of cheer:

>247 PaulCranswick: Molly Ringwald received a bilingual education at the International School of Los Angeles/Lycée International de Los Angeles. She has also written a "novel in stories" that has an average 4 star rating on LT, and a very interesting article in The New Yorker about her films and issues of sexual assault, etc. I understand she also sings, but can't comment on her talent in that area. I know she's one smart woman.

Sep 19, 2019, 4:19pm

>249 laytonwoman3rd: That Lycée abuts our lot. The woman now in charge used to be our next-door neighbor. I considered enrolling my 5 yr old daughter, but the display of uniformed children in a barren classroom bounding to their feet and speaking a robotic "Bonjour Madame" as we entered as well as the then director's relentless name dropping dissuaded me.

Happy talk like a pirate day, Richard!

Sep 19, 2019, 11:06pm

popping by to say hello. I love the Cthulu-ish glass whats-it.

Sep 19, 2019, 11:27pm

>244 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita! I'm stubborn, true, but brave might be a bit past my due. Thanks and *smooch*

>246 quondame: It was and it made me think of so many people and times gone by—in a poignant and positive way, for once!

>248 BekkaJo: Thanks, Bekka! *smooch*

Sep 19, 2019, 11:31pm

>247 PaulCranswick:, >249 laytonwoman3rd: La Ringwald's talents aren't for all to appreciate, though I'm more on the appreciative side of this scale. I'd say her performances aged gracefully while many others have not.

As to her skills as a translator, they are admirable. I can't speak to her skills at English-language writing, as I haven't read her novel-in-stories yet. I'll get there....

I ***LOVE*** the crystal octopus!

>250 quondame: How cool! Love the Tentacled Pirate-American!

Um, arrr?

>251 SandyAMcPherson: Me too! Crystal Mythos...good title for a Cthulhu-based self-help book, no?

Sep 20, 2019, 2:49am

>253 richardderus: Now there's a NaNoWriMo idea!! Well, if all other inspiration fails me this year (and it is running rather dry), Cthulhu-based self help book here I come. I think that has to come with a first person unreliable completely insane narrator?

Sep 20, 2019, 6:42am

'Morning, darling Richard.

Coffee being sipped and grogginess dissipating. Off to the salt mines for #9 on the countdown.

I hope you have a loverly day. It's actually cool here this morning, and I have high hopes that fall's just around the corner.

Sep 20, 2019, 9:42am

>254 BekkaJo: Yo ho ho, Bekka! That is a fine idea indeed! Structure it like a real self-help book and you have listicles, bullet points, and a chance to comment on Brexit! That's a sellable idea, that one.

>255 karenmarie: Howdy do, Buckaroo Bonsai, expand into that morning coolth and soak soak soak. It's on the way into the upper 70s here today. How different fall 77°/25C feels than summer sames.
I'll be visiting the doc in about an hour. Luckily he comes here, so it's just perching uncomfortably on several chairs for a couple hours without the added pleasure of a van ride on either end of that. Still don't much want to do it.


Sep 20, 2019, 1:15pm

Came across this pic and immediately thought of you... 😀

Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 10:05pm

77 The Only Son by David Helwig

Rating: 3* of five...barely

The Publisher Says: Throughout his childhood, spent on the estate of the Randall family, Walter observed the charmed life of the very rich. He overheard their secrets whispered in the servants' quarters, and he saw the control they had over his parents who were domestics. For years he dreamed of escaping the subservience of that world, and finally he did. Now he is a professor, leading a comfortable and secure life as a member of the academic community. He is safe from the past.

Or is he? A young woman enters his life, one of his students. Spoiled, wealthy, a neighbor of the family his parents once served. Ada stirs up memories Walter would rather forget. As they become involved in a passionate yet destructive affair, another side to Walter begins to emerge. A more dangerous side.

Through the characters and situations in The Only Son, David Helwig explores the way power is exercised—socially, politically, and sexually. This is an impressive new novel from an author recognized for his dramatic, finely polished writing.

My Review: Tedious Walter, bastard son of rich, married roué-cum-rapist James Randall, does his daddy proud by raping a college girlfriend he "loves;" marries his childhood friend Eunice not long after, has a limp and dishraggy marriage to her and finds out as she lies dying of cancer that Randall raped her too; then gets it all back when he marries second wife, Wild Child Ada. She rapes him. Symbolically, anyway: she stabs him in a drug-fuelled frenzy. Then she leaves his philosophy-professor sad ass with her drug dealer, participates in the murder of a cop in Arizona (a world away in every sense from lawful, manicured Toronto), goes to jail, and Walter shrugs his harness back on to teach undergrads what he knows about Philosophy.

Fast forward one jail sentence. Ada shows back up, he lets her into his house, and they fall back into an easy friends-with benefits relationship while they figure out how to separate, better to say disentangle, their emotionless lives. Walter confronts rapist Randall's dying wife to see if she'll admit he got Walter's mom pregnant. Ada confronts her incestuous brother Michael, not to accuse or vilify him, but to get back together with him; he slings her out on her ear.

Walter gets nothing from senile Mrs. Rapist, I mean Randall. Ada gets some money from Walter so she can skedaddle. Fin.

Stodge through and through. In 1984, the year this was published, it was old hat; now it's older hat, without the lustre (see? I misspelled it like the Canadians do! I'm so cosmopolitan) of being retro. Blah, flavorless, not to be avoided but not to be hunted down, and not the way I want to remember the dead-almost-a-year Author Helwig. I think my library system has at least one more book by him, and please Kalliope (Muse of Epic Poetry, close as the Greeks came to what we call novels) let it be better than this thing was.

I like these lines, though:
I turn back into the house, and there is a moment of loneliness and loss, but if the love of wisdom means anything, it means that such moments pass, and it is what continues that counts.

That's the last thing Author Helwig says in this book. He saved the best for last...?

78 Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Rating: 3* of five

The pages turned...

On page 48, Ana Canción gets raped by Juan, the man she's already agreed to marry in order to escape Rafael Trujillo's repressive Dominican Republic for a "better life" in New York City.

They get to New York, start a tailoring business, and Ana gets pregnant. Yay. She decides to run away from Juan, but his brother César convinces her to come back, be with him. Some things happen; Juan gets a mistress; Ana's pregnancy drags on and on and on; César leaves for Boston, leaves her finally-tasting-love pregnant ass with violent Juan who is in love with another woman.

Some more pages flip...

Juan behaves himself after he comes home from a trip to the Dominican, sort of; the baby's born; Ana's Mamá comes to stay just before the baby's born, the excrement saltates into the rotary ventilation enhancement device, Ana lives to fight another day.

It's a bog-standard immigrant story. It could be told by any woman of any nationality, not one thing here is unique. The author had a very good editor, one who left in enough Dominican Spanish to make the text more engrossing, and she possesses a finely honed sense for how much story she can tell before she hits telenovela territory. I didn't dislike it but in a week I won't remember a thing about it.

79 Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield

Rating: 4* of five

Back we go to the 22nd century, the Time Wars, and Prudence Zuniga's new base of operations with 18th-century pals Alice Payne, the lover of Jane, as well as the Holy Ghost...a mixed-race highway"man", and all-around badass; Fleance Hall, where she makes her home with Jane and her American Revolution veteran father and is dear friends with Constable Wray Aubry, her father's compadre during their time fighting the rebels in South Carolina.

Of course things on the Time War front are not easy: King Arthur of England is kidnapped from Brittany before John can kill him to become the Bad King John of the history you and I know. Who does it? Take a guess...I'll wait...and, once ensconced in Fleance Hall, Arthur's not going back to *become* King because he likes the 18th century too much. Check? Checkmate? Or just another day at the office for the Time War soldiery? Actually this bit is radically underdeveloped for my taste. We don't see much, and certainly nothing substantive, of young Arthur Duke of Brittany. He's never been King in *my* memory, and I'd've liked to see some hard graft in developing some kind of purpose for him. Never really happened, sad to say. The focus in a novella needs must be tight, and he's outside the cone.

Prudence, aware of the timeline's malleability to focus change, careful to keep her memories in a book outside the time stream. She realizes that General Almo has butterflied away her older sister Grace...of whom she carries no memories or attachments...and sets herself to Get Him Back while retrieving the sister she knows she loved. Even if she can't feel it anymore, the knowledge that someone used their power over the time streams to deliberately deprive her of her family makes her so boiling mad that her love for Grace might as well still be within her.

And Alice? Alice loses her father in 1789, but takes Jane back to 1780 to find out why he returned from the American War so changed. Bad move...the ripples in the time streams from their actions taken there are what put General Almo in mind of the plot to hurt Prudence...and now he has a new, truly terrifying, terrible weapon that bids fair to deprive Prudence of her wonderfully weird made family.

Here, at last, we confront the primary problem that plagues time travel fiction: If you're fighting a Time War, you can never truly win. The enemy can always jump before your latest victory and prevent it. Bummer, right?

Prudence is not a quitter. She's a brilliant, out-of-the-box thinker. And she's HIGHLY motivated to come up with an effective solution to that problem in order to use it on General Almo.

Reader, she succeeds. One of the cleverest endings for a time-travel tale I've read!

Sep 20, 2019, 8:12pm

Ricardo--I missed your birthday?! No!!!! Happy belated wishes of happiness and joy. And smooches.

Sep 20, 2019, 8:58pm

>259 Berly: Completely all right, Kimmers, I don't expect *most* people to organize their year around my birthday.

Most people.

*quiet sniff*

Sep 20, 2019, 11:02pm

PEARL RULE 13 The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni (pp44–45)

Eleanora walks along, hugging the wall, and no one sees her.

She's clutching a crumpled ball of paper in her hand, and she's crying. Not sobbing, her face isn't twisted in a grimace, but tears roll freely down her cheeks.
Now what'll happen, Eleanora wonders. How can I tell him? And what will he say when I do? What will we do, the two of us? We're still in school, there's a long road ahead of us, I don't want to force him to change his plans, his ambitions; and I have dreams of my own. I can't throw Mamma and Papa's sacrifices to the wind.

In front of her eyes float the images of her parents. What will she say to them? Another spasm, another surge of retching.

Eleanora walks along, hugging the wall, and no one sees her.

The first and last paragraphs of Chapter 10. Two pages of nothing much, about someone we don't know in an unspelled-out troublesome situation that you'd need to be pretty naive not to recognize instantly. In fact, in 45 pages, having reached Chapter 10 should've warned me that Book'n'Me ain't gonna be besties...though I will say in my own defense that I really, really wanted to love this book the way most others seem to have done and found that I simply am not de Giovanni's perfect reader.

It's not like I'm averse to short chapters, or to emotional scenes, or to the plight of the pregnant lassies whose life changes for the worse no matter's just that I can't connect with or care about anyone in these gefilte-fished, stuffed with mashed boneless smelly glop, chapters. Trying too hard to Make Art is my diagnosis of what caused me to stop wanting to flip pages.

Dammit! I need a new Italian procedural series to be addicted to since Camilleri's dead!

Edited: Sep 21, 2019, 12:18am

80 The Lice: Poems by W.S. Merwin

Rating: 4* of five

Merwin was born 30 September 1927, and died in March 2019. I first encountered his poetry in 2010, after seeing him in a documentary about the life of the Buddha. His even-tempered, self-deprecating way of puncturing the Deadly Seriousness of the other talking heads in the film was memorable; his poetic voice had to be as lovely, right?

Um. Rain in the Trees didn't wow me. It's from the 1980s sometime, and permaybehaps forty years of poeting had worn him down. It wasn't for me, as the polite formulation of "what the actual FUCK *is* this crapola anyway?!?" is phrased.

He died; I ran across that fact on Wikipedia; connected him with the nice old buffer in the Buddha thing and ILL'd this 1967 collection of Vietnam War-era stuff. It's a darn good thing I did. THIS poetry I like! Here is where the fortysomething poet whose professional life was contemporaneous with Ted Hughes, Robert Bly, Sylvia Plath, and Denise Levertov (all friends of his) and the Beats (not friends of his), those slashers-and-burners of whatever rules there were at that point, were working.

Merwin wasn't going to be a Beat, they were too raucous for him. He got Pulitzers (twice!) for poetry, he was the United States Poet Laureate, he translated Neruda, he translated Euripides, he translated Gawain and the Green Knight in 2002; he was a busy professional poet. His legacy will last a while longer, though I doubt he'll be as enduringly popular as Seamus Heaney or Neruda...not enough there, there...and he will find his way into anthologies for a while after that.

But this collection, second that I've read, is worthy of your eyeblinks. It says something deeply meaningful in a personal yet relatable way. Merwin wasn't a groundbreaking iconoclast, and some of his early stuff I've run across was so pretentious and self-important that I am amazed the same man wrote it as wrote these poems. His later stuff was, well, in a word it was tired. Overworked the vein, it collapsed. But this? Prime-of-life, peak-of-powers poetical punditry. Every poems means something, both on its surface and on its interior. Read a poem one way, it's pretty; read it another, it's shattering.

The thing that makes this book so lovely is that it includes a dozen or so facsimiles of Merwin's hand-written or typed manuscript pages, some on glossy photo paper and two printed inside the paper cover, that really bring the reader into Merwin's emotional orbit. Seeing the pages that he composed his thoughts on makes the typeset version of the poem that much more meaningful. His presence, albeit in mechanically reproduced form, is *there* and that causes no small amount of spiritual-connection thrums through my non-poetical soul.

Sep 21, 2019, 6:54am

Morning, Richard. Happy Saturday. A belated Happy Birthday too. Welcome to the big 6-0 Club! I just rolled with it. Last day in the Carolinas. I am going to miss this place and I sure hope to relocate here in a few years, if I convince the wife.

Sep 21, 2019, 8:49am

>263 msf59: Thank you, Mark, and best of luck with Sue. It's a really lovely place, the Smoky Mountains, in fact all of the Appalachians.

Sep 21, 2019, 9:13am

Good morning to you, RDear!

>261 richardderus: Commissario Brunetti by Donna Leon? You know about my aversion to most things Italian, which includes Camilleri and Leon, but if you haven't read these you may like them.


Sep 21, 2019, 9:37am

>265 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! Brunetti and I weren't too well aligned the time I tried a few books in the series. Elettra annoyed me. Guido wasn't my favorite either. So still searching, searching...I wish Gianrico Carofiglio worked faster.

Sep 21, 2019, 9:56am

Quite the slew of reviews, Richard. For someone who finds typing painful, you do remarkable writing. And each of your lightning round reviews is longer and more articulate that the few full reports I've done this year. And too, you're just a kid. Sixty? Pfft!

Sep 21, 2019, 11:07am

>267 weird_O: Heh, thank you for the nice compliment, Bill...a kid! Now I know how my friend Dadbod feels when I snort mightily about his anxiety regarding his not-that-impending 40th birthday.

I don't compare my reviews to others' because, with few exceptions, others haven't been doing this for more than 30 years and I have. There's almost always something more, something deeper, that I'd be glad to go for in each of these books...if only I'd liked them enough. That's what I aim to do, get into something that I think isn't obvious but is there in a story, because it's that thing the blurbs and the surfacey descriptions of books that most reviews are don't bring up.

My infected digit is a lot better than it was, so we're mostly down to the irreducible pain of chronic tophaceous gout. Fentanyl helps. I can walk! That's a plus.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:34am

Happy belated birthday wishes!!! And smooches. And octopi.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:42am

>269 Berly: Thank you, sweetiedarling. I'll be sure to post pictures of my new octopodes.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:49am

>257 drneutron: Y’know, I have that one too and also thought of you. Something about octopi, perhaps...?

Sep 21, 2019, 12:07pm

Happy Weekend, buddy. I thought I'd return your many courtesies and bring some cake this time.

Edited: Sep 21, 2019, 12:11pm

>257 drneutron: How did I miss that! Handsome Tentacled American, there, thanks Jim!

>271 humouress: I literally can not conceptualize any kind or sort of pattern in my interests that would lead you to think of me when you see an image of our molluscoid elder brethren.

>272 jnwelch: ...

Thanks for showing it to me! When I turn 65, I want that to be my birthday cake.

Sep 21, 2019, 1:09pm

Ah Richard, mom was on fentanyl. It have her her life back, along with Prednisone. I'm sorry, Buddy.

Much love, my friend.

Sep 21, 2019, 6:22pm

Pearl Rule 14 Season of Doubt by Jon Cleary (p50)

Rating: 2.25* of five

The Publisher Says: Paul Tancred, First Secretary at the American Embassy in Beirut, walks a tightrope. On either side, war is imminent. Caught between a passionate desire for peace and loyalty to an old friend and in love with an Arab girl, Paul is sucked into a whirlpool of espionage and violence.

My Response: On the first page, the author drops the w-bomb. Over the next three pages, he uses the very 1960s racist shorthand of Arabs being shifty bargainers, Western educated if intellectual and violent primitives if not, Americans being honorable if dimwitted, Welsh people being romantic and shifty....

It's got balls...the first line is "You could help us kill Nasser." That isn't exactly the least PC line in the first fifty pages, either. But balls, love them though I do, aren't anywhere near enough to compel me to wade through an American diplomat's loss of innocence told in this period-perfect voice.

I have no idea if anyone I know will want to read Season of Doubt, but believe me it's not one to go on an extended search for. Thus I bid farewell to Author Cleary, after having read Peter's Pence at the cyber-behest of Criminal Element's The Edgar Awards Revisited series of articles. (It won for 1975.) I've reviewed that book already. This one, I'm sorry to say, never overcame my distaste for its period politics with a cracking story the way Peter's Pence did.

Sep 21, 2019, 6:36pm

>274 SomeGuyInVirginia: Fentanyl has worked wonders for me, for sure. Much I couldn't do three years ago I can do again...though I suspect the dosage will need to go up a step by the end of the year. Oh well.


Sep 21, 2019, 6:55pm

>275 richardderus: You seem to be more successful in Pearl Ruling books than I am. I've only invoked it 3 times this year.

Sep 21, 2019, 9:28pm

>277 thornton37814: I am older than you are, and very protective of my remaining eyeblinks. I'll go to my grave wanting to read just a few more pages before they cart the carcass off for the medical students. Things that are, well, ~meh~-minus are not worthy of my limited time. See below for my explanation of why I don't, even given all the above, stop trying things I'm not sure I'll love or even like.

Sep 21, 2019, 9:44pm

81 With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Rating: 4.5* of five

Emoni Santiago, motherless teen mom and dearly beloved granddaughter, has to figure out a lot. She needs to figure out how to forgive, how to relate to, her babydaddy, Tyrone, the mostly useless sperm donor; her own father, Julio, whose absence rips her six ways from Sunday; her world, the world that sees her as a single mother who should've had an abortion so she could Make Something of Herself.

Her response? Preheat the oven, get out the flour, see what's in the fridge and make some dinner. Lunch. Bread (the recipe for which is now in my "ZOMG YUM" file). Emoni wants to feed people, all people, any people. Her career and her passion will always make sure she reaches for the spice rack whenever the world gets her down.

The antique wisdom that there is power in decision, boldness creates its own rewards, is made manifest in Emoni's ultimate choices as her high-school graduation nears. Her new squeeze, Malachi, has waved her off to a culinary adventure in Spain, been there when she returns, and been the kind of friend a girl can only dream pressure to put out...but lots of hugs. (I myownself think the author does girls a disservice here, because if he's not asking you for it he's getting it somewhere.) Anyway, cynical aside notwithstanding, Malachi does give Emoni the most perfect prom memory I've ever read, one that made me sniff loudly and smile for hours afterward.

I love Emoni unreservedly. I will make Poet Acevedo's bread soon; I owe her that! Plus I am enamoured of her Spanish/Spanglish beautiful, beautiful sentences. I wish for your sake that you will meet Emoni and 'Buela and Babygirl, Angelica and Pretty Leslie and Mr. Jagoda, Julio and Ms. Fuentes as soon as you can. I dock a half-star for unrealistic expectations being raised, and for the w-bombs dropped, and for a the story's tidy convergence on happiness. But these are tiny, tiny matter compared to the fact that I *read*a*YA*novel* and, moreover, LIKED IT.

Boldness does indeed create its own rewards.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:11pm

>279 richardderus: I'm glad you liked it, it is a fun read. Unrealistic for sure though, if you've ever had the care of a baby - those critters are ruthless.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:14pm

>280 quondame: Yawning unfillable voids of need who grow up to hate you. The only consolation is that you get to pick what for.

Edited: Sep 21, 2019, 11:20pm

Way back up there at >173 richardderus: -- just ouch.

I've been scanning through and chuckling at the little spate of Pearl Ruled books, along with a few that you enjoyed (thank heavens for that). I bailed on a book I started last night, didn't even Pearl Rule it, but not because I don't think it would be worthwhile. I just wasn't in the mood. It was The Girl With All the Gifts. I might give it a try at another time.

Sep 21, 2019, 11:31pm

>282 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! Yeah...ouch. As to The Girl with All the Gifts, I encourage a revisit in a different mood. I liked it!
from Friday Black, "The Hospital Where" (p69):
Soon I was staring at a small entryway sign that read RADIOLOGY I. In the hall there was an extremely old man in a wheelchair. He groaned steadily. His white skin looked stretched and spotty. It seemed someone had forgotten him or maybe was using him to prop open the door. There were so many tubes going in and coming out of him that I couldn't imagine where they began or ended. I walked past quickly. Farther down the same hall, a black guy in a wheelchair stared in my direction with eyes so empty I thought they might suck something out of me.

This is one amazing writer.

Sep 22, 2019, 2:15am

>283 richardderus: Good to know, Richard. I'll keep it on my radar. And I'm glad you're enjoying Friday Black. I thought it was pretty darn good.

Sep 22, 2019, 10:45am

>284 EBT1002: It is indeed pretty darn good. I'm very taken with his happy, shiny people in their happy, shiny worlds.

Sep 22, 2019, 2:11pm

Molly Ringwald??? Who'd a thunk? The things I learn on This thread are just incredible Richard.

Sep 22, 2019, 4:22pm

>286 brenzi: I know, right?! And a darn good job of it she made.

>287 quondame: *preens*

Sep 22, 2019, 7:16pm

>279 richardderus: Yay! I loved Emoni and With the Fire on High, too.

Sep 22, 2019, 7:17pm

>289 jnwelch: Your confounded warbling is what pushed me over the edge on it, I shall have you to know. And I made the bread recipe this afternoon. I did something wrong....

Sep 22, 2019, 10:30pm

Congrats on surpassing 75 books read!

Edited: Sep 23, 2019, 7:49am

^Tufted Titmouse, (Seen in South Carolina)

Morning, Richard. One more off day, before returning to the grind. Low 70s, low humidity. My kind of weather. Bird stroll or two planned and then hitting the books. I am really enjoying Stories of Your Life and Others. He is one deep guy and a bit too smart for this mild-minded Old Warbler.

Glad you are enjoying Friday Black. I loved that collection.

Sep 23, 2019, 1:55pm

82 Friday Black: Stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god.

Adjei-Brenyah's writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage, and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world.


My Review
: A young African American man writes speculative fiction about the alt-present/near-term future from the point of view of the deeply disadvantaged, the ones whose American Dream is a nightmare. An editor sees it, is probably appalled but is certainly moved, and for a minor miracle of a wonder, buys this amazingly assured debut collection of stories by first-generation American Author Adjei-Brenyah. Wherever he saw an odd, he beat it, did the young author. Syracuse University MFA? Now, with this man's debut, that means something to me, where before I'd never have so much as fluttered an eyelid as the words crossed my field of vision.

And speaking of vision, this cover is something special, isn't it? (He's no slouch in the handsome derby either!)

A statement of the powerful reading contained within. This detail image is so pretty I can't resist sharing it:

Author Adjei-Brenyah says, "I do bad at school because sometimes I think when I should be learning." (p29) I nod. I totally understand this kid who's speaking. As the school day unfolds over the next four pages, the Long Big War and HowItWas class, and not only am I clear on how we got here, I'm pretty darn sure that somehow he's come back from the future to warn us what's coming. And man is he pissed off. You won't blame him when you read the collection. Note absence of conditional in previous sentence. Not if, when. These are stories you need.

As is my habit, I'll offer some impressions of each story a la my quondam pal Bryce in his inimitable Method. (He did it better than I do, I'm only aping the form.)

The Finkelstein 5 made me want to vomit. I had to google it to be sure it wasn't reportage. Emmanuel's chant of "Fela St. John, Fela St. John" will haunt my nightmares. How we can look at ourselves as we shave and titivate in our sparkly mirrors is beyond my emotional comprehension. There is a slow-motion genocide against African Americans and this story shouts, "they released the brakes! and the hounds!" at the top of its paper lungs. 4 stars

Things My Mother Said is, in 500 or so words, a complete and compelling worldbuilding sketch. This man has the chops. 3 stars

The Era is an updated Brave New World/This Perfect Day tale about industrial mood management; its effects on high schoolers, families, hierarchies; it packs one helluva wallop as deeply undesirable "shoelookers" claim another "dumb/slow" clear-born, someone whose parents didn't use OptiLife™. Chilled me more than a martini in a shaker. Haunting for its deep anger. No one should ever think for a second that the Millennials' kids are safe.
She steps to me. I stretch my neck out for her and close my eyes. She puts one hand on one side of my neck. Her hand is warm plus strong. She stabs the injector needle in. My head feels the way an orange tastes. I open my eyes and look at her. She waits. I look at her more. She frowns, then gives me another shot. And then I feel the Good.

Soma, anyone? Extra treatments? Yes, Author Ira Levin, I see your vision refuses to die as it steadily approaches. 5 stars

Lark Street is one fucked-up fever dream of guilt, loneliness, bad decisions, the crushing weight of morality grinding a boy into his mortality's disease vector.
An impossible hand punched my earlobe. An unborn fetus, aborted the day before, was standing at my bedside. His name was Jackie Gunner.
"So, I guess you didn't have the balls?" Jackie Gunner said. His voice was a stern squeak. My eyelids rolled open. He was a tiny silhouette on the end of my pillow. Smaller than a field mouse.
"Well, say something, Dad." He said Dad the way some people say cunt. "Do you even feel bad?"
"Yeah," I said. "I feel real bad."
"I feel real bad," Jackie Gunner repeated. "Is real bad a hole big enough to fit our lives in?"
"Our?" I said.
"It's a metaphor, Daddy," said a new voice, this one shy, charming even. A second tiny fetus climbed up my comforter onto my bed. Her name, I knew, was Jamie Lou.

There is no hiding from consequences in Author Adjei-Brenyah's world. 4.5 stars for some frankly unworthy-of-him gender stereotyping.

The Hospital Where brings us on a w-verb-filled journey through a young writer's bargaining with the Twelve-Tongued God (I love this concept!), who promises him Everything in return for his abject servitude to Story. It's gloriously weird; it contains multitudes (of winks); it resonates with the agonized scream of an abandoned boy demanding his daddy not leave. What, indeed, have you done.
Soon I was staring at a small entryway sign that read RADIOLOGY I. In the hall there was an extremely old man in a wheelchair. He groaned steadily. His white skin looked stretched and spotty. It seemed someone had forgotten him or maybe was using him to prop open the door. There were so many tubes going in and coming out of him that I couldn't imagine where they began or ended. I walked past quickly. Farther down the same hall, a black guy in a wheelchair stared in my direction with eyes so empty I thought they might suck something out of me.

Shivery horripilatingly pure prose telling of a son's psychotic break...or possibly his father succumbs by degrees to cancer in an uncaring, unfeeling system with classist assumptions informing its death-care. 5 stars

Zimmer Land felt so real to me that, again, I had to google it to be sure it wasn't. It's what I feel about the oddly innocuous-sounding "first-person shooter" games that scare me, disgusting visceral violence as the perp sees it, made more revoltingly real. Living, breathing black men get shot (but not harmed...physically) for a living. In a world where George Zimmer is free but Trayvon Martin is dead, it's almost pornographic. No, it isn't. Scratch the "almost."

The first day of Zay's new job in Zimmer Land's Creative department, a job his ex landed for him thus dragging him up from a mere black body in a safe place for a white "patron" to enact his violent racist fantasies on, is moved an hour earlier; his boss "forgot" to tell him, one senses because his boss was nudged that way by the company founder...a Zardoz-like holographic head whose body is in Cabo schmoozing the banksters for R&D money...since the founder is dating Zay's ex. Corporate politics, racism, end-stage capitalism (the park is about to allow minors in to experience the thrill of murdering a black man). What a piece of work is Man, man. 5 stars

Friday Black reminds me of why I don't do shopping during the xmas rush. I'm not all the way sure it's fiction. The insane stuff-lust that I've seen on news broadcasts as hordes violently rush displays of useless brummagem objects in a desperate race to Buy to Have to Possess the Latest...! Deaths are still rare on Black Friday...for now.... 3 stars

The Lion & The Spider interweaves the Trickster Anansi outwitting the boastful Lion with a son's fear, rage, betrayal as he learns his father is a human being without losing his need to be a son. A well-made story, if not precisely to my taste. 3.5 stars

Light Spitter takes us inside the void created when the world shovels its shit into a kid who has no way to say "no, NO, it hurts, NO" so the weight piles in-on-up until a gun answers the taunts. Horrible, horrible cruelty answered by the sneer of ballistic ammunition. Added bonus: Author uses homophobic slur! Lovely. 4 stars

How to Sell A Jacket As Told by IceKing is the continuation of "Friday Black" told by the same narrator a few years down the line. IceKing's still at the top of his game pushing crap onto people who probably don't need it, but time's ticktickticking. No one wants to be trapped in retail forever. It's not my favorite setting or PoV plus it's got a w-bomb in it, that. 3 stars

In Retail is the other side of the rivalry from IceKing...not gonna lie, even six pages of it was no fun, I don't think this is the place Author Adjei-Brenyah needs to be setting his focus. Maybe it's all out of his system now? I for one sure hope so. 3 stars because it's not like it's poorly written, I just don't like it

Through the Flash is the hell of Eternity, the unceasing wretched quotidian repetition of one then another then another cycle of waking, eating, without end. A future bleaker than any dystopia you've ever read, packed into 27 pages full of the bile of human cruelty, the scalding freeze of knowledge without wisdom, the immutability of lives meant to be impermanent frozen into a rictus of deathlife.

So now we come to the hardest thing for Humanity to bear: Boredom. Not hunger, not violence, not anger. Boredom is the thing that will kill a human being from the inside out. A human will resort to violence and will court anger to escape from the misery, the unending loss, lack, void that is Boredom:
It's very hard at first for some people. But then if you figure that you are infinite, you are supreme and therefore the master of all things, and it's silly to be sad about things like how much your hip is always going to hurt or how you're so old that the flu means a life in bed or how gone forever your mother is.

The film Groundhog Day always seemed to me to be a singularly vicious and cruel torture-porn exercise. But hey, I never thought Don Rickles was funny even as a kid. If I laugh at someone's misfortunes or disabilities, it's because I hate 'em personally. In general it's just not fun or funny to watch someone suffer, especially of boredom.

How did the world come to be so small? How does Ama, our narrator, come to be the sole possessor of life and death in her eternally renewed Inferno? Ama tells us the Water Wars wrought some awful changes on the world we thoughtlessly squandered:
I don't know much about other grids in our state block, because way before the Flash came, the soldier-police—the state-sponsored war-coordination authorities—took away everyone's cars. Their slogan—"For us to serve and protect, you must conserve and respect"—is emblazoned on posters in the school, on the windows of some people's homes. ... Back before the Flash ever came, a lot of people actually loved the SPs. They thought they were keeping us safe. People believe lies, believe anything when they are afraid. That's another thing. Aren't we lucky that before the Flash all the soldier-police were deployed elsewhere?

So the Flash comes, the anomalous great horror of eternal and changeless repetition, and there is absolutely no one to stop the predators from consuming their fill of the prey's agonies.

Author Adjei-Brenyah understands cruelty and despair and the viciousness of the indifferent physics of the Universe far too well for someone who hasn't hit middle age. I'm sad for him. I'm grateful he chose to make his horror into art. I want to read more of his unnervingly precise images and his unpretentious prose before I shuffle off to, well, whatever it is that's next.

Sep 23, 2019, 3:50pm

>293 richardderus: I think I'll come back for your story reviews after at least attempting Friday Black. 4 in I was almost intimidated out of starting it!

Sep 23, 2019, 4:06pm

Tops! Maybe I should read read those stories. Taken a BB.

Sep 23, 2019, 5:20pm

>294 quondame: Heh, sorry about that Susan. YES read it, like right now!, and then see if you agree with my take.

>295 weird_O: Oh boy! Oh joy! I suspect you'll be juuust fine with 'em, Bill. Author Adjei-Brenyah has some skills that can best be appreciated directly.

Sep 23, 2019, 7:07pm

^Did you miss me up there? Great review of Friday Black, RD. Big Thumb! Excellent collection.

Sep 23, 2019, 8:00pm

I missed both you AND Anita! That review absorbed all my bandwidth, I guess, I'm sorry y'all.

It really is an excellent collection, and I think I'd have to put in contention for my annual six-stars-of-five read...except the homophobic slur, which did not seem to me to be used ironically or as a contemptuous snort of derision. It was just there because it was the right thing in the author's mind to make his point. Yuck.

Then pair that with the not-small sexist strain in a couple places, assumptions about women and their ways and means, and it just can't get over the fence into my ultimate only-one winner's circle.
This topic was continued by richardderus's twelfth thread of 2019.