This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

Bill's Still Weird_O, Third Third 2019

This is a continuation of the topic Bill's Still Weird_O, Second Third 2019.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

Join LibraryThing to post.

Edited: Nov 5, 11:17am Top

Edited: Yesterday, 11:43am Top

  Current Reading

  Upcoming Father-Daughter Read

# 97.# 96.# 95.

# 94.# 93.# 92.# 91.

# 90.# 89.# 88.# 87.

# 86.# 85.# 84.# 83.

# 82.# 81.# 80.# 79.

Edited: Yesterday, 6:08pm Top

Books Read, Third Third, 2019

December (0 read)

November (3 read)
97. The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois (11/7/19)
96. Faust by Johann von Goethe (11/4/19)
95. The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes (11/1/19)

October (10 read)
94. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (9/29/19)
93. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (10/28/19)
92. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (10/24/19)
91.The Best Short Stories: 25 Stories From America's Foremost Humorist by Ring Lardner (10/20/19)
90. Anna Christie / The Emperor Jones / The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill (10/19/19) ROOT
89. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (10/18/19) ROOT
88. Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations by David Mamet (10/10/19) ROOT
87. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (10/7/19) ROOT
86. The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton (10/4/19) ROOT
85. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (10/1/19)

September (6 read)
84. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (9/24/19) ROOT
83. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead (9/23/19) ROOT
82. Bonk by Mary Roach (9/17/19)
81. Detective Stories, edited by Peter Washington (9/12/19)
80. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson (9/6/19) ROOT
79. The Hounds of Spring by Lucy Andrews Cummin [a.k.a. Sibyx] (9/3/19) ROOT

Edited: Sep 1, 12:11am Top

First Third Reads: 32 inches of books

First and Second Third Reads: 60 inches of books

Edited: Sep 1, 12:12am Top

Jacket Images, Second Third Reading

Edited: Oct 7, 10:22pm Top

Books Read, Second Third, 2019

August (10 read)
78. Junky by William S. Burroughs (8/31/19)
77. Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco (8/30/19)
76. My Invented Country by Isabel Allende (8/27/19)
75. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (8/23/19)
74. A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines (8/22/19) ROOT
73. Montana 1948 by Larry Watson (8/16/19) ROOT
72. Tinkers by Paul Harding (8/14/19)
71. Hotel World by Ali Smith (8/9/19) ROOT
70. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (8/6/19) ROOT
69. The Making of THE AFRICAN QUEEN by Katharine Hepburn (8/1/19)

July (11 read)
68. Common Sense by Thomas Paine (7/31/19) ROOT
67. Eyewitness: 150 Years of Photojournalism by Time/Life (7/30/19)
66. The Ransom of Russian Art by John McPhee (7/30/19)
65. Mohawk by Richard Russo (7/26/19) ROOT
64. What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren (7/23/19)
63. The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell (7/20/19)
62. Watergate: A Novel by Thomas Mallon (7/19/19)
61. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (7/13/19)
60. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (7/11/19) ROOT
59. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers (7/6/19) ROOT
58. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers (7/4/19) ROOT

June (9 read)
57. Elvis Presley by Bobbie Ann Mason (6/30/19)
56. The North American Indians: A selection of Photographs by Edward S. Curtis (6/29/19) ROOT
55. In a Sacred Manner We live by Edward S. Curtis (6/28/19)
54. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan (6/28/19) ROOT
53. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (6/23/19) ROOT
52. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (6/18/19) ROOT
51. Fer de Lance by Rex Stout (6/14/19) ROOT
50. These Truths by Jill Lepore (6/13/19)
49. All the Names by Jose Saramago (6/6/19) ROOT

May (9 read)
48. What Now? by Ann Patchett (5/31/19) ROOT
47. Elmet by Fiona Mozley (5/29/19) ROOT
46. Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout (5/25/19) ROOT
45. One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner by Jay Parini (5/24/19)
44. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers (5/20/19) ROOT
43. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (5/19/19)
42. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz (5/11/19)
41. Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer (5/7/19) ROOT
40. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (5/3/19)

Edited: Sep 1, 12:14am Top

Jacket Images, First Third Reading

Edited: Oct 3, 5:24pm Top

Books Read, First Third, 2019

April (9 read)
39. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (4/28/19)
38. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (4/25/19) ROOT
37. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (4/21/19) ROOT
36. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith (4/14/19)
35. Very Good, Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse (4/10/19)
34. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (4/10/19) ROOT
33. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (4/8/19) ROOT
32. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (4/4/19) ROOT
31. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (4/1/19)

March (10 read)
30. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut (3/28/19)
29. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler (3/27/19) ROOT
28. Slade House by David Mitchell (3/24/19)
27. Autumn by Ali Smith (3/23/19) ROOT
26. Grendel by John Gardner (3/21/19)
25. Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney (3/19/19) ROOT
24. Finn by Jon Clinch (3/17/19) ROOT
23. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (3/13/19)
22. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (3/5/19) ROOT
21. The Golden Cockerel by Alexander Pushkin (3/3/19) ROOT

February (10 read)
20. Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast (2/27/19)
19. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (2/26/19) ROOT
18. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson (2/24/19)
  Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson (3/7/19)
17. Pigs Have Wings by P. G. Wodehouse (2/21/19) ROOT
16. Educated by Tara Westover (2/15/19) ROOT
15. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (2/12/19) ROOT
14. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (2/12/19)
13. She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith and School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (2/8/19) ROOT
12. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid (2/3/19) ROOT
11. Last Friends by Jane Garam (2/3/19) ROOT

January (10 read)
10. Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper by Wallace Reyburn (1/31/19)
9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (1/30/19) ROOT
8. Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine (1/28/19) ROOT
7. The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam (1/26/19)
6. End in Tears by Ruth Rendell (1/20/19) ROOT
5. My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (1/18/19) ROOT
4. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers (1/13/19) ROOT
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (1/12/19) ROOT
2. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1/4/19) ROOT
1. Dali's Mustache by Salvador Dali & Philippe Halsman (1/1/19) ROOT

Edited: Sep 1, 12:17am Top


Edited: Sep 1, 12:33am Top

2019 Reading Stats

First and Second Thirds 2019
Books read: 78
Authors read: 72 (including 3 co-authored books)
Single-read Authors: 64
Multi-read authors: 8*
New-to-me authors: 46

* Chaim Potok 2
  Jane Gardem 2
  Oliver Goldsmith 2
  Dorothy L. Sayers 3
  P. G. Wodehouse 2
  Edward S. Curtis 2
  Ali Smith 2
  Ernest J. Gaines 2

Author gender
Male: 53
Female: 28

Author Birth Country
US: 38
UK: 17
Ireland: 3
Russia: 1
Scotland: 2
Spain: 1
Latvia: 1
Canada: 2
Antiqua: 1
France: 1
Australia: 1
India: 1
Portugal: 1
Peru: 1
Romania: 1

Dead or alive
Currently breathing: 42 (afaik)
R.I.P.: 30

First published
Before 1700s: 3
1700s: 3
1800s: 2
1900—1925: 1
1926—1950: 8
1951—1975: 9
1976—2000: 19
2001—2010: 16
2011—2018: 17

Fiction: 49
Non-fiction: 17
Graphic/Photo/Art: 9
Drama: 4

Hardcover: 34
Paperback: 40
Mass-market paperback: 4

2019 acquisition: 30
ROOT: 46
Library: 2

Books Acquired
Total: 384
New: 9
Used: 375

American Author Challenge
1/19: Chaim Potok
   The Chosen

2/19: Louisa May Alcott
   BZZZT: Wild Card: Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

3/19: Jon Clinch

4/19: Jesmyn West
   Sing, Unburied, Sing

5/19: Jay Parini
   One Matchless Time

6/19: Pearl Buck
   The Good Earth

7/19: Founding Father
   Common Sense by Thomas Paine

8/19: Ernest J. Gaines
   A Lesson Before Dying
   A Gathering of Old Men

Edited: Sep 1, 12:35am Top

Let the celebratin' begin!! (Oh, go ahead. You can post something now.)

Sep 1, 1:04am Top

Happy new thread!

>1 weird_O: Good for Bill!

Sep 1, 1:40am Top

>9 weird_O: Yikes. Were these sweets or something else?!

Happy new thread: impressive shelf of read-this-year.

Edited: Sep 1, 7:43am Top

^Bill at a tender age!

Happy New Thread, Bill. LOVE the topper! A fantasy we all share!

Sep 1, 9:06am Top

Happy Sunday and happy new thread!

Sep 1, 9:59am Top

Happy new one, Bill!

Sep 1, 10:11am Top

>1 weird_O: looks almost real!! Woo!

Happy new one, Bill

Sep 1, 10:19am Top

Happy new thread, Bill!

Sep 1, 10:47am Top

Happy New Thread, Bill. Love that topper!

Sep 1, 9:10pm Top

Happy new thread!

Edited: Sep 1, 9:57pm Top

Another wierd "o".

Sep 2, 12:15am Top

Happy new thread, Bill, and congrats on reading 75! I love your topper!

Sep 2, 5:35am Top

Happy new thread, Bill!

I still love the image of the books you have read on a shelf; 60 inches in 3 quartes is a perfect 20 inches per quarter ;-)
I have no shelves that are long enough to show mine, as all the shelves here are 58 cm (22.8 inches).

Sep 2, 10:28pm Top

Happy new thread, Bill.

Sep 3, 5:38pm Top

>12 quondame: Thanks, Susan. It's a blow for all of us.

>13 charl08: I think the product is pin-on buttons with weird faces on them, Charlotte. I'd like to see all your 2019 reads lined up on one shelf. Eight feet? Ten?

>14 msf59: "Doh..."

>15 figsfromthistle: >16 katiekrug: >17 jessibud2: >18 karenmarie: >19 jnwelch: >20 drneutron: Thank yeh, thank yeh.

Sep 3, 5:44pm Top

>21 laytonwoman3rd: Weirdos are all around, Linda. :-)

>22 Familyhistorian: >24 PaulCranswick: :-)

>23 FAMeulstee: Since I'm thinking of the year as divided into thirds, that 60 inches for 8 months could stretch out to 90 inches for the full year. Not quite 8 feet. I'm going to need a longer shelf.

Sep 3, 6:06pm Top

Completed my first book of the third third: The Hounds of Spring by Sibyx, a.k.a. Lucy Andrews Cummin. Quite an accomplishment. (Noooo, not the reading, the authoring.) A lovely tale of a very full day. Highly recommended.

Also have read the first three stories in Detective Stories, a collection of...ah...detective stories by the likes of Ian Banks, Ruth Rendell, Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, Conan Doyle, Poe, Christie, and their peers. Not much chance there will be a clunker in this assortment.

Isaac's Storm is on this evening's reading agenda. Seems apropos, probably too much so for some LTers.

Sep 3, 6:28pm Top

>27 weird_O: - I thought Isaac's Storm was excellent, as are all of Larson's books, in my humble opinion. You are in for a treat if you haven't read him before.

Sep 4, 11:07am Top

>26 weird_O: Sorry, you are right, my ability to count disappeared when I was typing that message ;-)
Now for proper understanding I have to calculate from inches to meters, you have read 1.524 meter!

Sep 5, 5:48pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Bill. Hooray for Issac's Storm. My very first Larson and what a little gem. I am really enjoying Deep River. Keep this big, family, logging saga in mind. Were you a fan of Matterhorn? I am hoping this is a dumb question. Same author.

Sep 7, 10:09am Top

>29 FAMeulstee: :-)

>30 msf59: Done with Isaac's Storm. Shifting to Silko for the AAC. Have to say that I know nothing of the two books you cite, other than that the author of both is Karl Marlantes. I know that thanks to the new Hover Balloons.

My wife is reading the new Louise Penny.

Edited: Sep 7, 10:15am Top

New (to me, anyway) book for all you scrapple lovers out there. Darryl...Darryl...

Saw it on sale at the butchers'. And yes, we did get a block of scrapple, which my wife and I had for breakfast. Two days running.

Sep 7, 1:42pm Top

>32 weird_O: Yup...it's that time of year. My MIL can still get "homemade" scrapple from a small market. She usually gives us a couple pounds around Thanksgiving.

Sep 7, 3:02pm Top

Huhh. Never thought of scrapple as seasonal. The butcher we get meat from has it all the time.

Sep 7, 5:36pm Top

Well, you know...it USED to be, because it was made by processing the scrappy bits left over after butchering a hog...and butchering only happened after the weather turned cold.

Sep 7, 9:41pm Top

# 80. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson Finished 9/6/19

The Weird ReportTM

It's hurricane season, and as Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and threatened American's southern Atlantic coast (and while scientists corrected an infantile politician on the projected storm track), I spent time reading about a portentous hurricane that tiptoed noisily but without notice from the western coast of Africa across the Carribean and the Gulf of Mexico to practically obliterate Galveston, Texas. The year was 1900, and (weirdly) the landfall date was September 8 (I say weirdly because I completed my read on 9/6/19).

Looking on-line at archival photos taken following that (unnamed) storm was like looking at news photos of the Bahamas. (Isaac's Storm, sadly, has no photos and the map depicting the areas damaged by the storm is irritatingly out of sync with the narrative.) Here and there are scattered still-standing structures, some canted, most missing roofs, porches, and windows. The ground, roads, walkways all are covered layers deep with boards scattered every whichaway. Neither the text nor the photos can convey the stench of decaying corpses—not only human remains, but hundreds and hundreds of horses, family pets, livestock. The death toll can't be known. People were swept out to sea, buried beneath the rubble. The smell, the logistics, and public health concerns prompted on-the-spot burials and on-the-spot pyres

The focus of Erik Larson's narrative is just how this event happened, and most significantly, why there was no warning. The short answers: ignorance, folly, and hubris. For the long answers, do read the book. Even the most informed and thoughtful "experts" at the 19th century's close did not understand—at all— the science of hurricanes, cyclones, and tornados. But the "experts" were loath to project any uncertainty. What they didn't know killed a lot of people.

Two thumbs up.

Sep 7, 10:09pm Top

>36 weird_O: - When I read the book, Bill, it occurred to me that this was early days of what has become the science of weather prediction and no one yet had, as you say, the expertise to really understand or believe what they were just beginning to learn and figure out. I guess trail and error in this case, involved a lot of error (and tragedy). Frankly, what makes me crazy is how today, given what we have learned and do know about the science, there are still those who refuse to heed the warnings, yet expect to be rescued when disaster strikes. What is wrong with people, anyhow?

Sep 7, 10:23pm Top

Good review of Isaac's Storm. If you post it, I will Thumb it. In regards to Marlantes, do you at least have Matterhorn on shelf? If not, WTH?

Which Silko are you going with? I just finished and loved Storyteller.

Sep 8, 10:59am Top

Hi Bill!

More Isaac’s Storm love from me – excellent book. Larson is such a good writer and always seems to tackle things that are totally fascinating.

>31 weird_O: Hover Balloons. Yup. I like ‘em, too.

>32 weird_O: I'll have to check out scrapple - don't know if we can get it here in central NC.

Edited: Sep 8, 12:04pm Top

>36 weird_O: and >37 jessibud2: I've just been reading (totally out of chrono order) a long NYer piece about the origins and development of weather forecasting -- well worth tracking down. An inexact science made up of putting together enough pieces of information to make an educated guess about what will happen in one, two, ten days . . . very cool piece.

And, I hope you don't mind -- LT has snuck in a new policy, I think, that book covers must be LT uploaded to show. The easiest way to do this is, when you put in a new book, go to the Change Cover option and see if there are any "member uploaded covers" already there, if so pick one. If not click on the cover you have and choose the Save image address then put it in the "Grab" box and Bob's your uncle. It's cumbersome but I can only hope it serves a security purpose and isn't just to madden! (I put this here because almost none of your covers showed for me.)

Edited: Sep 8, 5:07pm Top

>37 jessibud2: Willful ignorance does abound, doesn't it, Shelley. Flat earthers. Ride-out-the-storm-ers. Trickle-down economists. Good guys with guns. Thought-and-prayers antidotes to mass killings. Moscow Mitch. Every Trump supporter known.

>38 msf59: Mark, I've never ever seen a copy of Matterhorn. Guess that means it's a keeper, since copies aren't donated for library sales. :-)

I'm starting Ceremony.

P.S. I've posted my "Storm" report on the book page.

>39 karenmarie: Yes, it was pretty good, Karen. Good luck on finding scrapple. My wife's niece who remembers the scrapple her father's parents and grandparents made was able to find some in the Fort Worth area where she lives. I think it was in a blister package in a supermarket. If you really want some, our local butcher I'm sure will UPS some to you. (www.dietrichsmeats.com)

Edited: Sep 8, 1:29pm Top

Gave your review of Isaac's Storm another thumb, Bill. That one has been on my wish list for a long time, and it seems like very timely ready just now.

lauralkeet and I asked you over on Mark's thread, but if you answered I missed it----where did you come across the Penguin edition of The Philosopher's Stone? I can't seem to find any reference to it on the interwebs, except in your post. I even looked at the Penguin website...no joy.

Sep 8, 3:29pm Top

Uh oh. Tumblr strikes again and I bit. Here's the link:


When I googled the owl image just now, it comes up as the cover image for a Deftones album titled Diamond Eyes. Here's the link to the image search result:


Perhaps...or likely...someone extracted the owl image and paired it with a mockup of the nice clean Penguin cover template with the author and title in the proper typeface. Bingo! A bogus cover to seduce book lovers. If you follow the first link (to the Tumblr post), you'll see it features a lengthy synopsis of the book. That's a common format for this particular Tumblr blog. Quite often, the text is in an unfamiliar-to-me alphabet. Here's a link to a sample:


Ah well. I assume it's a fake. Makes me a dupe, or a dope, or something.

Edited: Sep 8, 5:05pm Top

Son of a b*tch! I just wrote a lengthy post about the Potter Penguin cover, complete with multiple links for your edification, and Russian hackers (or someone) gobbled it up. It vanished. I'll redo it in Docs, then copy 'n' paste it into LT. Stand by.

ETA: Please.

E again TA: Well there it is. At >43 weird_O:. I've never had such a delayed response on LT. I couldn't get a preview and it seemingly wouldn't post either. So I didn't lose it; I don't have to finish the second draft. I feel so much better.

As Emily Lutella used to say, "Oh! Never mind."

Sep 8, 4:39pm Top

How's this for weird ... You and I both made it to the "Hot Reviews" list today. https://www.librarything.com/zeitgeist/reviews

Edited: Sep 8, 4:58pm Top

>45 RBeffa: That IS weird.

ETA: I don't know if it is weird or not, exactly, but I didn't ever see that "Hot Reviews" aggregation feature. It's typical weird_o though.

Sep 8, 5:51pm Top

>45 RBeffa: >46 weird_O:

Do LT reviewers get notified when listed as "Hot?"

I wrote to Penguin Books asking about the OWL cover, but haven't heard back yet.

Sep 8, 6:09pm Top

>47 m.belljackson: There is no notification Marianne. I might be misremembering but I think in the past on LT, some years back, things like "Hot Reviews", What's popular, and maybe other things showed up on the bottom right of your profile page. Either I turned it off somehow or more likely it was redesigned away. I take a look at the Zeitgeist page (up there top right on the page header for LT is a link to it) a couple times a year. Once you go to that page you can then select subpages like popular or reviews. So today I randomly visited there and noticed Bill's review and then mine a little ways below it.

Sep 8, 8:55pm Top

You can choose and reorder what you want to appear on your Home page, including "Hot Reviews."

Sep 8, 10:23pm Top

>49 katiekrug: Thank you Katie. I don't think I've seen it on my homepage since whenever they did the redesign. I had to hunt a little but finally found the module place to add it back.

Sep 9, 11:39am Top

My Ceremony read started in some confusion but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'm quite sure I'll be liking it.

I'm alternating books, reading pages of Ceremony in between short detective stories in an Everyman's Pocket Classic anthology. Getting introduced to some esteemed writers—Jorge Luis Borges and Georges Simenon—that I haven't read as yet.

I'd like to force out a report or two on good books I've read without comment, and there are a lot of those.

Oh, and book sales comin' up.

Sep 9, 9:09pm Top

>43 weird_O: Oh. Poo. I was afraid of that. It's one of those things that certainly OUGHT to happen.

Sep 13, 2:21am Top

Finished with those Detective Stories. A terrific collection, featuring the acknowledged masters and a few under-known, under-appreciated masters. Perhaps you know Susan Glaspell or James McLevy or H. R. F. Keating, but I didn't. Glaspell's story, "A Jury of Her Peers", is especially good. Also in the collection, a Miss Marple from Agatha Christie; a Continental Op tale from Dashiell Hammett, a Maigret case by Georges Simenon. But a Marlowe-less story from Raymond Chandler and a "Leg Man" by Erle Stanley Gardner who isn't Perry Mason.

The touchstones offer a measure of how bloomin' many books are out there with the phrase "detective stories" as their root. This particular book was 48th on the list of alternative titles; had to be about 100 alternatives all together. So this isn't a story collection that got a lot of exposure. But it's a good read.

Okay now. Back to Ceremony.

Sep 13, 2:22am Top

>52 laytonwoman3rd: Your opportunity, Linda. Get after those Penguin People.

Sep 13, 11:06pm Top

Book sale tomorrow. I imagine I'll go, see if I can find anything interesting. Yaaaawn...

Sep 13, 11:18pm Top

Thought I'd make a big deal out of this collection of short stories after taking a BB in my twin granddaughters' "forensic fiction" class last year. I audited the class for one day, Grandparents' Day.

# 81. Detective Stories edited by Peter Washington Finished 9/12/19

The Weird ReportTM

Top row, center to right: Sara Paretsky, Ian Rankin. Middle row left to right: Ruth Rendell, Georges Simenon, Jorge Luis Borges, Erle Stanley Gardner. Bottom row, left to right: Susan Glaspell, G. K. Chesterton, Bret Harte, Edgar Allan Poe.

It's not a best-seller by any means. Not flashy or trending or anything like that. Detective Stories, a collection put together by Peter Washington for Everyman's Pocket Classics, is a concise history of "detecting" stories and, many, many of us readers just LOVE such stories. Great fun they are.

This collection gives us contributions from writers across the globe, from both men and women, reflecting nearly three centuries of crime fighting. Scores of well-known crime solvers have been birthed by writers throughout the years. Poe's Auguste Dupin was not the first, Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus not the last, but they define the parameters and timeline of this collection.

Featured are acknowledged masters of the genre as well as a few under-known, under-appreciated talents. Perhaps you know Susan Glaspell or James McLevy or H. R. F. Keating, but I didn't. Glaspell's story, "A Jury of Her Peers", is especially good. Also in the collection, a Miss Marple from Agatha Christie; a Continental Op tale from Dashiell Hammett, a Maigret case by Georges Simenon. But a Marlowe-less story from Raymond Chandler and a "Leg Man" by Erle Stanley Gardner who isn't Perry Mason are also in the mix.

The touchstones offer a measure of how bloomin' many books are out there with the phrase "detective stories" as their root. This particular book was 48th on the list of alternative titles; had to be about 100 alternatives all together. So this isn't a story collection that got a lot of exposure. But it's a good read.

Stories included are:

    The Takamoku Joseki by Sara Paretsky (1947– )
Paretsky created a female protagonist, V. I. Warshawski, who has appeared in multiple novels and stories. When a man is stricken and dies during an informal GO tournament, Warshawski's help is sought by the Asian-American couple hosting the weekly event.

    Window of Opportunity by Ian Rankin (1960– )
Rankin's Scottish policeman, John Rebus, arranges the temporary release of a small-time con man to help the police nab a bigger-time crook. Clever.

    People Don't Do Such Things by Ruth Rendell (1930–2015)
An accountant tells his wife that his best friend, a philandering novelist, is hiding (at home) from his most recent girlfriend after having told her and all his friends and neighbors that he was taking a vacation trip. "...[W]hen I reached the bit about his car being in the garage," says the accountant, "she stared at me and all the colour went out of her face. She sat down, letting the bunch of knives and forks she was holding fall into her lap…
  "'How could he be so cruel? How could he do that to anyone?'
  "'Oh, my dear, Reeve's quite ruthless where women are concerned. You remember, he told us he'd done it before.'"

    Inspector Ghote and the Miracle Baby by H. R. F. Keating (1926–2011)
A young Indian woman, who vows she is still a virgin, gives birth at Christmas, and Inspector Ghote of the Bombay CID is assigned to identify the baby's father to avert civil unrest and clashes amongst religionists. An Englishman, Keating built a career upon novels featuring Inspector Ghote.

    Mademoiselle Bethe and Her Lover by Georges Simenon (1903–1989)
Extraordinarily prolific, Belgian writer Georges Simenon poured out about 500 novels and stories, many of them featuring the fictional police detective Jules Maigret. In this tale, the trusted, famous, now-retired Maigret is lured by a young woman into protecting her from...well, she never is quite specific. But she wants his protection.

    Death and the Compass by Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986)
According to the flap copy, the cerebral Argentinian writer wrote this story as "a postmodern tribute to Poe." It was only after reading both Borges and Poe that I understood the tribute.

    Leg Man by Erle Stanley Gardner (1889–1970)
Knowing a gold-digger has her hooks into Harvey Pemberton, Mrs. P. contacts her lawyer for help. He puts the firm's enterprising researcher/investigator/leg man on the job. Lots of twists and turns.

    I'll Be Waiting by Raymond Chandler (1888–1959)
They called him a hotel detective, but Tony Reseck is more a security operative than an investigator as he negotiates through the mob's threat to the hotel's tranquility.

    The Gatewood Caper by Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961)
Hammett's Continental Op is investigating the kidnapping of a blustering bully's daughter. Not the best of Hammett or this collection.

    The Blue Geranium by Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
A Miss Marple vehicle. She solves the mystery, of course.

    A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (1876–1948)
I never heard of Susan Glaspell, but I sure did like her story. Born an Iowa farm girl, she attended college before it was deemed an appropriate venture for Iowa farm girls. Just her beginning. This story she adapted from her one-act play, Trifles, written in 1916 (sometime after she and her husband founded the legendary Provincetown Playhouse on Cape Cod). The story follows the thoughts and interactions of two farm women, one married to the county sheriff, the other to the neighbor of a farmer who's apparently been strangled by his wife while he slept. The menfolk trapse back and forth through the house and farm, looking for evidence, for some sign of a motive. What the two women achieve isn't important to the men.

    The Blue Cross by G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
If you know Chesterton's Father Brown from the PBS series, you probably won't recognize him in this story. The tale begins with Valentin, "the head of the Paris police and the most famous investigator of the world," in pursuit of Flambeau, an international criminal, who is believed to be in London. Valentin's instincts prompt him to tail a mismatched pair—one very tall (like Flambeau), the other rather short—from the center of London to Hampstead Heath. At each stop on their walk, one of the pair does a juvenile prank, seemingly to attract attention without provoking arrest. Valentin does get his man. And something of a lesson as well.

    Silver Blaze by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)
A valuable racehorse disappears, his trainer murdered, and Sherlock Holmes solves both the disappearance and the murder. I was quite surprised to discover in this story the title of a novel about an autistic boy:

  "...I saw by the Inspector's face that his attention had been keenly aroused…'Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?'
  "'To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.'
  "'The dog did nothing in the night-time.'
  "'That was the curious incident,' remarked Sherlock Holmes."

    The Stolen Cigar Case by Bret Harte (1836–1902)
A wicked parody of Sherlock Holmes, created by an American writer best known for stories of prospectors and prospecting in California and Nevada, stories like "The Luck of Roaring Camp" and "The Outcasts of Poker Flat".

    Long Looked-for, Come at Last by James McLevy (1796–1875)
A police detective in Edinborough tracks a particular crook during a long career and at long last makes the collar. The author was a prominent detective in Edinburgh during the mid-19th century, and later an author of popular crime mysteries.
    The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)
Dupin's analytical intelligence finds the titular letter after the protracted, diligent, action of the Paris police's finest cannot. Of course, compare Poe's approach to Borges'.

Two thumbs up!

Sep 14, 1:29am Top

>86 That's not a book available in my libraries!

Sep 14, 7:40am Top

Good review of Detective Stories. Sounds like a good one to dip in and out of. Happy weekend, Bill!

Sep 15, 12:00pm Top

>57 quondame: Uuuuuuu, So many anthologies, so many options for the librarian spending an acquisitions dollar. Amazon will sell you a copy, and probably an independent bookseller, too.

>58 msf59: It is a break-time read all right, Mark. I started it a couple of weeks ago, and read a story whenever I needed/wanted a break from whatever book-length thing I was reading. (I got a couple of volumes of short stories yesterday—by Miss Welty and by Updike*—that I can read in the same way.)

*Yeah, yeah; I know. He's not only dead, he's despised by the literary cognoscenti. An unbounded horny guy, condescending to women and dullards. But dead.

Sep 15, 12:18pm Top

>51 weird_O: Book sales coming up! Yay. Ours is September 26-28. I'm already trying to clear LAST book sale's books off my "To Be Shelved" table in anticipation of new ones.

Sep 15, 12:19pm Top

Hit one of my favorite book-sale venues (Bethlehem Public Library) yesterday. Not too big a crowd, happily for me, but not so much to choose from either. But...I was able to get a couple or three good'ns.

Bonk by Mary Roach (pbk)
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike (pbk)
A Splintered History of Wood by Spike Carlsen (pbk)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (pbk)
Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (pbk)
The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead (pbk)
Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin (pbk)
The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (pbk)
Portraits by Helmut Newton (pbk, oversize)
The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, edited by Robert Mankoff (pbk, oversize)
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (hc) HP
Macbeth by Jo Nesbo (hc)
Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann (hc)
Trust Me: Short Stories by John Updike (hc)
A Suitable Job for a Woman (Cover Her Face/A Mind to Murder/An Unsuitable Job for a Woman) by P. D. James (hc)
How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom (hc)
Napoleon by Paul Johnson (Penguin Lives) (hc)
Selected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty (hc)
Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx (hc)
Great Maps of the Civil War by William J. Miller (hc, oversize)
Germany by Alfred Eisenstaedt (hc, oversize)

Edited: Sep 19, 9:28pm Top

I'm reading Bonk just now. Ceremony's been set aside for the moment, but expect to be back into it tomorrow.

The internet dropped dead early yesterday afternoon and was still not breathing late last night. Back to life this A.M., happily.

Sep 19, 9:55pm Top

Yes, I finished Bonk by Mary Roach; didn't find it as entertaining as Stiff or Gulp. I was surprised that Masters and Johnson didn't retain/archive all of their visual evidence on which their conclusions were based. It's a dicey subject.

Read some more in Ceremony and have yet to get sucked in by the story. So I'm taking another breather with Colson Whitehead. Sag Harbor.

Also located The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, a collection of 12 stories, the first being "The Blue Cross," which was in Detective Stories. Couldn't remember what special place I had stashed it in. Enjoyed re-reading the end of the story. I do believe the current PBS series with Mark Williams as Father Brown is quite a departure from Chesterton work. Anyway, I want to read the stories soon.

Edited: Sep 21, 11:41am Top

>56 weird_O: Dammit.
*trudges off to Ammy*

>60 karenmarie: Dammit!!
*fumes enviously*

>63 weird_O: *baaawww* nubbin a dognose

Ceremony was not a happy reading experience for me.

Bonk was disappointing. I am a real adorer of Mary Roach usually...but Spook and Bonk were misfires for me.

Sep 21, 7:53pm Top

Good to see you here, RD. I'm encouraged that I'm not alone in finding Ceremony something of a slog.

Spook, yeah. Another Mary Roach that disappointed.

Sep 22, 11:31am Top

Commemorating Talk Like a Pirate Day

Sep 22, 12:17pm Top

>66 weird_O: HA!! Beautiful.

Sep 22, 1:51pm Top

>66 weird_O:

Your dog is VERY funny!!!

Sep 22, 3:12pm Top

Happy Sunday, Bill. Back home and planning on catching up on some of the reading I have neglected. Sorry, Ceremony isn't grabbing you. I hope to read it, in the next few weeks.

Sep 22, 4:02pm Top

>68 m.belljackson: Fortunately, Marianne, that's not my dog. I just have the photo to remind me how fortunate we are to have the pooch we have.

>67 richardderus: :-)

>69 msf59: I'm reading here and there that I'm not alone in my reaction to Ceremony. See the comments of the Silko AAC thread. I do want to finish it. I'm close to the end of Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead; it's a lot more pleasant than Ceremony.

Think I'll tackle some Brain Candy next.

Sep 23, 6:10pm Top

>70 weird_O:
I Pearl Ruled Sag Harbor it just wasn't grabbing me.

Edited: Sep 24, 3:05pm Top

>71 benitastrnad: It isn't grabby, is it? Sag Harbor is a low-key teen-hood memoir. I quite enjoyed it. The subtle observations of a 15-year-old who is trying to sort out the endless parental admonitions, the pull of friends, the undercurrent of social chaos. Assessing and reassessing family relations and traditions. Being responsible. Transitioning. So many moments that had me thinking, "Oh yeah, oh yeah. I remember that." Interpreting the language of relationships. Nobody got arrested, no knockdown drag-out fights. A few Darwin Award escapades (having a BB gun combat, for example)

The Brain Candy is working. Started The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton just yesterday and expect to finish it off this evening. I am having some resistance from my disbelief. I tried to lock it out in the shed, but I can hear the door rattling, the ranting and appeals. "Oh, come ONNNN! You can't believe that, you're too smart to overlook this, to accept that."

Sep 24, 4:50pm Top

>72 weird_O: Our respective disbeliefs take their periodic suspensions with the good grace of goalies, I see.

Edited: Sep 28, 8:52pm Top

>72 weird_O: I love, love, love The Andromeda Strain. Both the book and the movie. Sure its VERY unbelievable, but it is a favorite guilty pleasure. Just give in and let it wash over you. :)

Sep 29, 9:40am Top

>73 richardderus: Yes, yes. :-)

>74 mahsdad: I enjoyed the read, Jeff. Not my favorite, but decent fun.

Shamed by Linda, I picked up Ceremony once again. Halfway.

Edited: Sep 29, 12:17pm Top

Happy Sunday, Bill. I hope Ceremony isn't a struggle in the second half. I am starting it next. I might even dip into it today. I read several Crichton books over the years, but I never got to The Andromeda Strain.

Sep 29, 5:20pm Top

>75 weird_O: There is no shame. A little guilt, maybe....

Edited: Oct 1, 2:24pm Top

# 84. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton Finished 9/24/19

The Weird ReportTM

This book is fifty years old. 50! Published in 1969, it was Michael Crichton's first novel. It spent a half year or more on the NY Times best-seller list. Millions of copies sold. Launched Crichton's hugely successful career. My reading of it this week is my first (even though it's been on my shelf since about 1987). Despite many reviews panning it—"average", "boring", "slow and dull", "Great until it wasn't", "Too much science, not enough action", "too much explanation and not enough story", "Really, really dull"—I thought it a good yarn, one that keeps you turning the pages. Yeah, it provided a lot of unintended laughs. But, hey, it's Brain Candy.

The Andromeda Strain is a turnabout on War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, in which space invaders attack mankind with devastating effect, only to succumb to the earth's plethora of bacteria and viruses to which they lack immunity. In Crichton's story it's mankind that lacks immunity to invading space pestilence.

In the opening pages, two soldiers searching for a downed U. S. satellite follow its tracking signal into an isolated town in northwestern Arizona. They are horrified to discover corpses littering the main street. And then they die too.

It turns out that the government has been preparing for this eventuality—lethal microbes from outer space. Jeremy Stone, Crichton's unbelievably brilliant, Nobel-winning (youngest ever!) scientist (and, by the way, lawyer), marshalls the scientific community to persuade the government to create a mammoth and, naturally, highly secret cutting edge laboratory buried deep under the desert of northwestern Nevada. When those space invaders salt the earth's atmosphere with alien bacteria to decimate mankind, a select team of scientists (5 only, men only) will be whisked to this lab, investigate the bacteria, contrive an antidote, and save our world.


In a different theater of the military-industrial complex, an ongoing operation (a secret operation) has been launching satellites specifically to troll for alien vectors that may be out there and return to earth with their catch. Several launch-and-retrieval cycles in, nothing suspect is caught. Then a satellite's orbit shifts inexplicably and is brought back to earth. The wrong people retrieve it, a misguided soul cracks it open, and quite a few people die (including those two men rightfully assigned to retrieve the satellite). The race begins!

Plot and technology and science surpass all in this yarn. The characters are from central casting, most embellished with a frightful secret or irritating (or endearing) quirk or tick. In addition to Stone, the Wildfire team includes microbiologist Peter Leavitt, an "ingrained" pessimist, "thoughtful, imaginative and not afraid to think daringly"; pathologist Charles Burton, often called " 'the Stumbler,' partly because of his tendency to trip over his untied shoelaces and baggy trouser cuffs and partly because of his talent for tumbling by error into one important discovery after another"; and surgeon Mark Hall, a compromise choice, an unmarried (essential) medico knowledgeable about "...electrolytes…&$91;b]lood chemistries, pH, acidity and alkalinity, the whole thing." A fifth member escapes service when duty calls by being hospitalized by appendicitis

I detected no evidence of the story, published in 1969, being set into the future. Was the science and technology upon which the story was built contemporary to 1969? I doubt it. My sense of disbelief was formidably challenged by the flawless operation of all the lab's gee-whiz features and equipment. Too, I just couldn't help but laugh at the lab protocols. Five levels, descending, each new level more strictly sanitized than the one above. The team members are subjected to increasingly stringent, even invasive, dipping, bathing, steaming, showering, immersing, and forced air drying. But what about the skilled and efficient lab assistants and techs awaiting the appearances of the brainiacs? Did they go through the same ream-steam-and-dry-clean protocol? Does each person go home each day? Or does each serve an extended weeks-long or months-long tour? They are simply cyphers who materialize as needed, then vanish.

Needless to say, science triumphs and most of America and the world hear not a word about.

Oct 1, 2:37pm Top

Holy Moley. Here it is, October. And I didn't get the requisite books read. Still wrestling with Ceremony. It is sooo compelling that I switched effortlessly from it to the NFL's Battle of the Beatens (0-3 Bengals vs. 0-3 Steelers). That brought me happiness because the Steelers finally got a win.

I read only six books in September. Even my acquisitions flagged.

I think I'll read this next:

Oct 1, 4:00pm Top

>78 weird_O: I've never read this...I don't think I've read this...have I read this...? Anyway. Forgot everything if I did. Never watched the movie, either.

>79 weird_O: Group read!

Oct 1, 4:36pm Top

>79 weird_O: That looks mysterious...

Oct 1, 9:49pm Top

>78 weird_O: I remember being really captivated by the movie version. And I think I did read the book later on----read most of Crichton's stuff. It probably all played better 40/50 years ago when we'd read and seen less of everything than we have now.

>79 weird_O: I had a slow September too, but then I finished Ceremony...twice. So there is that.

Oct 1, 11:07pm Top

>79 weird_O: Impure thoughts often find their way into my psyche whilst I am watching the Modern Family series on Netflix. I have done 8 seasons already in a month and whilst every red blooded male gets intoxicated by Sofia Vergara, I am enchanted by Julie Bowen!

Oct 3, 9:08pm Top

>83 PaulCranswick: I'm reading that book for the ideas, Paul. The stranger the better. Naturally, my thoughts always are pure...wait, ah...impure...hahaha...I was correct the first time...pure.

Oct 4, 6:38am Top

Happy Friday, Bill. Enjoy the cooler temps. I'll be finishing up Ceremony today. I think it got stronger in the second half, less bleak. A challenging, but very ambitious novel, with touches of Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.

Edited: Oct 4, 7:19pm Top

Are you are an Agatha Christie fan? I'm finishing up a collection of Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton (The Innocence of Father Brown). Have you read them? A recurring character called Flambeau appears in many of them. In the first story Flambeau is a master thief. In a later story, Father Brown collars him yet again and convinces him to give up his criminal life. Then in later stories, Flambeau is a private detective.

In the last story I read, Chesterton revealed his full name: Hercule Flambeau.

The collection was first published in 1911, and I do believe Dame Agatha didn't publish until the 1920s.

This illustration depicts Flambeau's vacation boating excursion with Father Brown in the story "The Sins of Prince Saradine."

Oct 5, 2:56pm Top

I like that Father Brown illustration. Thanks for the reminder about these mysteries - I added a collection of them to my WL.

Oct 8, 7:41pm Top

Having finished Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk, I've started scene one of The Emperor Jones, an early one-act play by Eugene O'Neill. I also discovered Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations hiding under documents on my desk. Also considering a mid-fifties collection, Best Television Plays, edited by Gore Vidal. Eight plays by the likes of Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, Rod Serling, and, of course, Vidal. Count it as one book.

Oct 9, 3:13pm Top

I've only ever come across Father Brown in radio dramatisations: shall have to have a look for the books. The pictures were good on the radio too.

Edited: Oct 17, 7:50am Top

Hi Bill!

>86 weird_O: I watched the BBC series and Flambeau was in it but don't recall if his first name was ever mentioned. Being a Christie fan, I think I would have noted it.

Edited: Oct 18, 10:33pm Top

Quite a miserable week has passed and I'll let it go at that. Didn't get much reading done. But I'm feeling considerably better and I did just finish number four in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, Something Rotten.

The Hairy Ape is next. I've read through the third scene, so I'll pick up from there.

Then something else. I've got a list of books, numbered A through P, that I want to read before the end of December. No, I'm not going to jinx the pooch by citing the titles. But I have finished books B and N. And I have started books A, C, G, H, I, and M. Book O is a re-read.

Oct 18, 10:34pm Top

>91 weird_O: I'm pleased to hear that you've recovered, sad you were miserable, and annoyed that you're being coy about A, C–M, O, and P.

Edited: Oct 18, 11:00pm Top

>89 charl08: I'd never seen any of the Father Brown stories in print either, Charlotte. A found an old mass-market paperback (a British edition at that) at a library sale and got it for my wife, who likes the Mark Williams BBC series still running on our local kinda down-market PBS station. Of all things, she wasn't interested. Hrumph!

>90 karenmarie: My wife tells me she's seen Flambeau in an episode or two of the MW BBC series. I was taken not simply by the two characters' first names as by the rhyme in the surnames: Flam-bŌ and Poir-Ō. I didn't think it was coincidental.

>92 richardderus: Hiya, RD. I'm okay with coy. I've found nothing that ices an anticipated read faster and colder than posting a title. So coy. Yeah.

By the bye, >90 karenmarie:, just today I saw this movie poster from the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express. Fabulous.

Oct 18, 11:52pm Top

>79 weird_O: September and October have been slow reading months. Although I have been doing okay on the acquisitions. ; )

Are we having a group read? Yes?!

Oct 19, 4:33am Top

>93 weird_O: Ooh, I like that. Very creepy.

Glad to hear the bad week is over - wishing you a better weekend (and fancy turning down a Fr Brown book - crazy stuff. I went and had a look for the ones I listen to, it's Andrew Sachs, but they are quite a different tone to the TV ones, less Sunday cosy. I think they're also on audible / audio).

Oct 19, 10:50am Top

>93 weird_O: "Like!" The graphics would make for a good book cover, too.

Edited: Oct 20, 8:00am Top

How are you doing, Bill. Everything okay at the homestead? We worry, when a friend doesn't show up for awhile. Have you received the package yet?

Oct 21, 3:08pm Top

>94 Berly: Slow reading months for me too, Kim. That reading mojo has been kind of punchless lately. But the current read, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is off to a good start.

That book there (>79 weird_O:) could be one hell of a series. Maybe it is!

>95 charl08: I pretty much liked all the dozen Father Browns in the collection, Charlotte. I got almost done with a report on it, but ran aground. Gotta get it finished and posted.

>96 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. Every little "like" helps. It is a splendid graphic, isn't it?

>97 msf59: I was doing pretty great, Mark, until the mailman dropped off this here brick. OMG, BRICK!! My neighbor with the forklift has been working overtime, so I was left to my own devices to get that there BRICK! up the driveway and down to the house. Near to kill me.

And now you expect me to actually read that there BRICK! Tell me again how it'll be a treat.

So yeah, Mark. I got the package.

We're just coasting.

Oct 21, 6:02pm Top

>98 weird_O: Glad you got the book, Bill. Yes, it is a brick but a worthy read! You will blast through it.

Edited: Oct 22, 11:00pm Top

I just finished listening to One of Our Thursdays Is Missing. I think it is book 5 in the series. I put in an Inter Library Loan request for the recorded version of the last one Woman Who Died A Lot. That will leave me only 2 Fforde books to read.

The literary puns keep rolling in Book 5. Fun reads - all of them.

Oct 23, 12:07am Top

>98 weird_O: Bill--good luck with the brick and I hope you are feeling 100% soon.

>100 benitastrnad: Love that series!!!

Oct 23, 2:18am Top

>98 weird_O: I have that very same edition of 20000 leagues sitting on my read this year shelf. It is a lovely book.

Oct 23, 8:33am Top

Hi Bill! Glad you're feeling better and thanks for >93 weird_O: that lovely Murder on the Orient Express poster.

Oct 24, 10:19pm Top

A great mask for Halloween. Smoked hog's head.

Oct 24, 10:39pm Top

>99 msf59: :-)

>100 benitastrnad: I've got the next in the series (can't think of the title), but I'm missing the one after that. You are right about the series being lots of fun. My reading needed a goose, and Thursday Next provided it.

>101 Berly: I do feel a lot better, thanks, Kim.

>102 RBeffa: It is a lovely edition. I like the illustrations. That book is one of about 125 Heritage Press editions I got for about $130 from an e-Bayer who bought them at an estate auction, then concluded he wasn't going to be able to resell them individually. So he sold 'em all at once; I had to pick them up at his place near Oyster Bay, L.I., about two hours away. Weirdly, googling for information on Heritage Press led me to LT. And the rest is weird too.

So... Are you going to get it read this year?

>103 karenmarie: Isn't that poster great? Probably could find one online to decorate the library. Except there's no wall space. :-)

Oct 24, 10:51pm Top

>104 weird_O: It's a bit of a start when the opening door jumps to your mask, it certainly is......

Oct 24, 11:04pm Top

Available from our butcher. Always makes me think of Lord of the Flies for some reason.

Oct 24, 11:25pm Top

>105 weird_O: Considering how lovely some of these Heritage Press editions are I'd say you hit the jackpot. I have about 25 or more books remaining on my read this year shelf so odds are I won't get to Jules Verne, but I'd like to. After all, Captain Nemo is calling

Oct 25, 10:00am Top

Hi Bill!

>104 weird_O: No. Just no.

>105 weird_O: What a deal on the Heritage Press editions!! And, interesting way to get to LT. The rest is … weird… as you say.

>108 RBeffa: I have 17 Heritage Press editions. They’re absolutely lovely and I’m always on the lookout for more.

Edited: Oct 26, 11:28am Top

>109 karenmarie:, Karen, I only have four Heritage Press books (I think) The Jungle Book, The Master of Ballantrae, Green Mansions and Twenty Thousand Leagues. Each one is lovely in its own way. I passed them up for years (stupid me). Only my Ballantrae has a slipcover and spyglass insert.

ETA: I started Twenty Thousand Leagues last night - read the introductory chapter about Jules Verne and then the first two chapters. This will be fun.

Oct 26, 3:51pm Top

>108 RBeffa: >109 karenmarie: Bear in mind that condition issues prompted the batch sale. Quite a few are in decent condition, but the majority would be rated in fair condition...or less. Just not suitable for resale as individual books. I was pleased. The seller was awfully startled when I told him I was buying them to read.

>109 karenmarie: re: >104 weird_O: Awwww. Come on, Karen. You know you want one.

>110 RBeffa: I'm sure you'll enjoy the book. I must put together a report on it this weekend.

Oct 28, 1:51pm Top

Done! Pachinko turned out to be just excellent. I'm glad I stuck with it.

Oct 29, 1:41pm Top

>112 weird_O:
Can I say - I told you so?
I have to admit that I had trouble with it at first as well. I wondered why it had been nominated for so many awards because it just wasn't clicking in the beginning. However, since it was for my real life book club and it was my turn to lead the discussion I pretty much had to stick with it. It turned out to be one of my top reads for the year. It was also very educational. I had no idea that there were that many Korean's living in Japan and that they essentially have few rights. Since I read this book, I have had the reference to Koreans in Japan pop up in several other books.

Oct 29, 3:10pm Top

>112 weird_O: YAY! Now you're ready for the new Apple (shudder) TV show. It's a terrific book, I hope the techbros at the Blotch of the Half-Bit Fruit don't eff it all up.

Oct 31, 8:02pm Top

Hey Bill,

Thanks for the Halloweenie wishes over on my thread. I see your dark eerie pumpkin and raise you a really creepy one.

Happy Halloween!

Edited: Oct 31, 9:30pm Top

The connections to Pachinko just keep happening. I think it is a case of once you are really aware of some kind of historical event or person it is amazing how many times it dings for you.

If you watch Henry Louis Gates, Jr show on PBS, Finding Your Roots, this last Tuesday night one of the guests on the show was a man named Fred Armisen. Turned out his grandfather was a famous Japanese classical dancer who spent the WWII years in Europe. But the really freaky part was that his grandfather wasn’t Japanese. He was Korean and because he was so talented his teachers and family went along with his “passing” as Japanese in order for him to continue to get the training he needed to advance in his career. Armisen thought he had a Japanese grandfather but he actually had a Korean grandfather. The Korean side of his family can trace their ancestry back to the year 69 B.C. It was an amazing connection to Pachinko for me and made the book even more outstanding.

Nov 5, 11:46am Top

Holy moley!! Back from the Dark Ages. Huzzah! My internet was restored this morning after four days.

Nov 5, 1:23pm Top

Whilst I was off-line, I did get reading done.

Last Friday, I took delivery of a book the twins read last year for the "forensic fiction" class they took. I got the reading list from them, and The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes was the only one I didn't have. So I got it Friday and finished it before turning out the bedside light. Short and violent.

Gotta run, but I'll be back to say more. Have to vote.

Nov 7, 8:28am Top

Hi Bill!

Glad you've got internet back. I like short and violent - although it's not quite so short, I just finished Blue Moon, the latest in the Jack Reacher series.

Nov 7, 9:14pm Top

>112 weird_O: Pachinko is slated for December--glad you approve!

>113 benitastrnad: Good to know I need to stick with it--thanks for the heads up.

>115 mahsdad: Nice one!

>117 weird_O: Congratulations!! Welcome back.

>118 weird_O: Good job voting!!

Edited: Nov 8, 7:07am Top

We missed you while you were away, Bill. Glad to have our favorite Weirdo back. Glad you got some extra reading in. Those books keep piling up.

Nov 8, 9:09pm Top

I just noticed your topper GIF, fantastic. :)

Have a good weekend!

Nov 9, 12:29am Top

Roddy Doyle...
-D’you ever have dreams?
-I do, yeah. I had one there a while back – abou’ Nigella.
-Were you asleep?
-Good man. I had a horrible one there tonigh’ - before I came ou’.
-Were you in the scratcher before you came here?
-No – no. I fell asleep in front o’ the telly.
-I hate tha’.
-Same here – but I couldn’t help it. Nationwide was on.
-Oh, for fuck sake.
-Ou’ for the fuckin’ count I was. Slept righ’ through The Kids Are Alrigh’ and Eastenders. An’ I wake up in the middle o’ the News – an’ there’s Boris fuckin’ Johnson, righ’ in front o’ me.
-Yeh poor cunt.
-The problem – the fuckin’ problem. Was. I didn’t know where I was. I thought he was one o’ me kids.
-A nightmare.
-An obsolute fuckin’ nightmare. You know the way – Johnson, like – the way he holds his fists, kind o’ punches them in front of himself?
-Well, one o’ mine did that – when he was a toddler. Whenever he wanted somethin’. A biscuit or a tractor or whatever. An’ – fuckin’ hell – I thought he’d turned into Boris Johnson.
-D’you want a small one with tha’ pint?
-I think I fuckin’ need one.

Yesterday, 11:55am Top

>121 msf59: Excellent message, Mark. "At least they are mine now."

>122 mahsdad: I replaced that gif for Halloween, but now it is back.

>120 Berly: Thanks for stopping by, Kim. I voted, yes I did. And the Democratic votes of my wife and me tipped the scales. Our county went Blue for the first time in decades, joining all four counties surrounding Philly.

Yesterday, 12:03pm Top

I finished Goethe's Faust; only so-so to me. The Souls of Black Folk, read for November's AAC, was excellent in my estimation. I learned quite a bit about slavery, about the post-war "reconstruction". I'm now about halfway through Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which is going reasonably well. Started Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita last night, and it has drawn me in.

Yesterday, 1:37pm Top

# 95. The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes Finished 11/1/19

The Weird ReportTM

I discovered this Chester Himes novel during my grandaughters' 12th-grade lit class, which I attended as a part of Grandparent's Day activities last year. The teacher handed out copies and had a student start reading it. (Meanwhile, I'm reading a squib from a reviewer that the publisher highlighted on the book cover: "The action is slapstick, preposterously violent." Hmmm.)

On page one, the black patrons of Harlem's Dew Drop Inn are hoppin' and dancin', laughing and singing, to raucous jukebox music. A tall white man stands near the bar, scanning the crowd, when a loud voice says, "Ah feels like cutting me some white mother-raper's throat." The scrawny man voicing the thought wields a switch-blade knife and—zzzpp—like that, slashes off the white man's blood-red necktie right through the knot. Missed his throat. The bartender takes exception to this conduct, and as the slasher slices open his forearm in reply, he's able to swing the hatchet he keeps behind the bar and lops off slasher's knife-wielding arm just below the elbow. The slasher drops to the floor, sweeping with his remaining arm, hopeful of finding the disembodied arm so he can retrieve the knife and further the mayhem.

By page five, the white man's on the sidewalk outside the bar. There he's accosted by yet another black man, this one with a revolver. " 'You there!' this one shouts. 'You the man what's been messing around with my wife.'...Orange flame lanced toward the big white man's chest. Sound shattered the night." The white man takes off, running as fast as he can, the gunman and two henchmen in pursuit.

This ruckus naturally brings the police, and in particular officers Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. Coffin Ed and Grave Digger are protagonists in all of Himes' Harlem Detectives novels. The police hierarchy turns a blind eye to the methods of the pair, so long as they get results.

As the lit class wrapped up everyone was at the end of the seven-page first chapter. Well, except for the guy who had tuned out the discussion to focus on reading; he was on page 40. It's that kind of book. If you like it, you just read straight through to the last page. I liked it.

Yesterday, 1:53pm Top

Happy Sunday, Bill. Ooh, I also have The Souls of Black Folks lined up on audio. Glad you enjoyed it. Hooray for the AAC.

Yesterday, 2:41pm Top

At >91 weird_O:, I posted this:

I've got a list of books, numbered A through P, that I want to read before the end of December. No, I'm not going to jinx the pooch by citing the titles. But I have finished books B and N. And I have started books A, C, G, H, I, and M. Book O is a re-read.

RD was put out that I wasn't revealing the book titles. So here are the titles from the list that I've read so far.

AThe Emperor Jones / Anna Christie / The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill (October AAC)
BSexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations by David Mamet (October AAC)
CFaust by Johann von Goethe (Classics Challenge) (Faust Legend)
ETwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Classics Challenge)
HThe Best Short Stories by Ring Lardner (started...)
IPachinko by Min Jin Lee (started...)
KThe Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois (November AAC)
NSomething Rotten (Thursday Next # 4) by Jasper Fforde (Brain Candy)
PThe Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes (Forensic Fiction)

Below are the two titles I am currently reading. The remaining five titles (F, G, L, M, O) will remain unnamed for now.

D...Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne (Classics Challenge)
JThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Faust Legend)

For what it's worth department:

"Classics Challenge" refers to Fuzzi's thread Classics-I-Have-Not-Read - A Challenge Continued.

"Faust Legend" refers to my own challenge to myself to read various works based on on Faust. I read Christopher Marlowe's play and then realized how many other plays and novels have been inspired by the legend. I've now read Goethe's version and am reading Bulgakov's. I have Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus but won't get to it this year.

"started..." simply denotes a book I stalled out on, but—Damn!—really want to finish.

"Forensic Fiction" was the course my granddaughters took last year in high school. I got the book list from them and have read the books. One to go (a re-read).

"Brain Candy" is self-evident, isn't it?

Yesterday, 6:07pm Top

# 92. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne Finished 10/24/19

The Weird ReportTM

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a classic adventure story from the 19th century, centered on a mysterious sea captain, Nemo, in control of a wondrous (and terrible) undersea boat. The story's author, Jules Verne, didn't give Nemo any more than a sentence or two of backstory, so the reader has no idea what drives him. And in the end, the reader has no idea of his fate.

Briefly, the story is that the maritime world is threatened by a hostile vessel or maybe creature that attacks and sinks ships at the cost of every life on board. Several naval powers collaborate to build, equip, and staff a special ship to search for and detain/destroy this creature/vessel. When the hostile attacks and sinks the special ship, three survivors are taken aboard the hostile vessel, with the dire warning that they'll never be freed from it.

Then begins a fantastic travelogue under the sea. Twenty thousand leagues is the distance traveled by the vessel, known as the Nautilus, as it wends its way beneath the seas of the entire globe. The story's narrator, one of the three survivors, is an oceanographer, one of the best, and he catalogs all the marine life he sees. Exhaustively. Endlessly. Chapter after chapter. Occasional excitement bubbles up, but on the whole, the cruise isn't entertaining.

Example excitement. A squid tangles with the submerged Nautilus, arresting its movement. The vessel surfaces, Nemo emerges topside and slashes ineffectively at the creature's tentacles, is seized, then is rescued by deft harpooning by one of the three captives. Verne covers the event in a page or two. Walt Disney made a highlight of his film version of the story. I kept waiting and waiting for the damn squid's Big Moment, then almost didn't recognize it when it appeared (under an assumed name; my edition of the book called it a poulp. What!?)

What drives Nemo's seemingly aimless course is any reader's guess. Nemo is brilliant but, of course, moody and taciturn. He's not claustrophobic, and certainly not a sun-worshipper. Moreover, he's surrounded by silent, obedient, competent, selfless worker-creatures. Where did they come from? Why are they loyal to Nemo? What do they expect from the tour? (I know, don't ask. It can't be explained because the author can't come up with an explanation. No one could. But they are essential for getting the ship built and provisioned, the meals prepared, the toilets cleaned. Ok?)

Read at your own peril.

Yesterday, 6:39pm Top

>129 weird_O: It is a weird book, certainly. I suspect I enjoyed it a tad more than you but I have already commented on how tiring the endless documentation of sea life was. Poulps had me also. I'm pretty sure I liked the movie better.

Today, 3:03pm Top

Hi, Bill.

Good review of Real Cool Killers. I want to read more Chester Himes. I liked A Rage in Harlem a lot, and I'm pretty sure he's the one who wrote Cotton Comes to Harlem (yup, touchstone confirms) that was made into a very good movie.

As I told Ron, when I was a kid I read every Jules Verne I could get my hands on. Twenty-Thousand Leagues would be at the bottom for me, although it had its moments. I thought the movie was better, too. My favorite was Mysterious Island. Journey to the Center of the Earth was pretty cool, too.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

339 members

103,636 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.




About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 139,478,924 books! | Top bar: Always visible