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richardderus's twelfth thread of 2019

This is a continuation of the topic richardderus's eleventh thread of 2019.

This topic was continued by richardderus's thirteenth thread of 2019.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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1richardderus
Edited: Sep 23, 5:42pm Top




Crazy 'bout a Mercury? This 1949 four-door suicide-opening sedan went all the way to the UK! The color was marketed as "Calcutta green." Which tells me the namer had never been to India.

2richardderus
Edited: Yesterday, 9:54pm Top



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.

Reviews 67-82 plus three Pearl Rules are swiftly receding.

This thread's reviews are:

83 The Testaments didn't make me shiver with delight and fear as its foremother did, post 27.

Pearl Rule 15 was Chasing Graves, just not up for it I think, post 45.

84 They Called Us Enemy delighted me, post 56.

85 Deep Roots delighted me, for the most part; post 62.

86 Death at the Beggar's Opera was the last of the author's books I'll buy with my own money, post 91.

87 Night Boat to Tangier was Booker-worthy five-star excellence, see post 95.

PEARL RULE 16 Olive Kitteridge is just not my cuppa, post 112.

88 Ark is a free read from Amazon, perhaps to apologize for their heinous greed?, post 126.

89 The Overstory and I weren't besties, Pullet Surprise or no, see post 127.

90 To a God Unknown, second Steinbeck novel, was tedious and blathersome, see post 127.

91 Use of Force, a Brad Thor book, didn't please me (surprise!) in post 127.

92 Why We Don't Suck is okay if you browse through it, in post 127.

93 Summer Frost got damn close to five stars and I don't think I'll sleep well tonight, post 139.

94 Disasterama! amused and saddened me at the same time, post 153.

95 Emergency Skin is third of six Forward stories, very trenchant, even tendentious, see post 200.

96 The Handmaid's Tale still gets five stars, post 202.

97 An Orchestra of Minorities ain't no Booker-worthy work, post 213.

98 Quichotte ain't no Booker-worthy work, post 213.

99 Ducks, Newburyport is very, very much a Booker-worthy work, post 213. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

100 Deosil ends a series I love, but with panache, post 231.

101 You Have Reached Your Destination failed me, post 234.

102 The Last Conversation is five stars'-worth of sadz, post 248.

103 Randomize made me smile for its happy-ending heist, also post 248.

104 Flames is five stars'-worth of Tasmanian-tinged magical realism, post 270.

3richardderus
Edited: Yesterday, 9:54pm Top


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

  42. An award-winning graphic novel
  43. Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel
  44. A book featuring a false confession
  45. The Testaments
  46. A book you meant to read in 2018
  47. West
  48. A book featuring a memorable companion animal
  49. The Demon Breed
  50. A book set in South America

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

  58. A book you’ve been waiting for forever

  59. A book about intersectional feminism

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

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

  76. A book about incarceration/internment
  77. They Called Us Enemy
  78. A book recommended by an author

  79. A book with a person of color on the cover
  80. My Sister, the Serial Killer
  81. A book by an author who uses a pen name

  82. A book whose title includes a verb
  83. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
  84. A book recommended by a librarian

  85. A book being adapted in 2019

  86. A book you found in a Little Free Library

4richardderus
Sep 23, 5:33pm Top

Do please feel free to add such commentary as takes your fancy after this post.

5FAMeulstee
Sep 23, 6:03pm Top

Happy new thread, Richard!

>1 richardderus: You found a fancy car again :-)

6figsfromthistle
Sep 23, 6:08pm Top

Happy new one!

7drneutron
Sep 23, 6:20pm Top

Happy new thread!

8katiekrug
Sep 23, 6:58pm Top

Happy new one, Richard!

9msf59
Sep 23, 7:08pm Top

Happy New Thread, Richard! Love the Mercury topper!

10quondame
Sep 23, 7:28pm Top

>1 richardderus: 1 cool ride! Happy new thread!

11richardderus
Sep 23, 7:49pm Top

>5 FAMeulstee: First place for Anita! Have a small token of my esteem:

12quondame
Sep 23, 7:52pm Top

>11 richardderus: Now that is a cephalopod I'd want around my neck!

13richardderus
Edited: Sep 23, 7:54pm Top

>6 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

>7 drneutron: Good gravy, Jim, it usually takes at least a *bit* longer for you to arrive. You must've been right there when the thread popped up?

>8 katiekrug: Thank you, Katie! Safe travels tomorrow.

>9 msf59: Ain't that somethin' grand, Mark? If you can even imagine it, when that car was designed after WWII, it was meant to be the 1949 FORD!

>10 quondame: Thanks, Susan! Glad you like the lovely ol' Merc, too.

>12 quondame: He's a handsome beast, isn't he?

14harrygbutler
Sep 23, 8:12pm Top

Happy new thread, Richard. Quite the grille on that Mercury.

15jnwelch
Sep 23, 8:45pm Top

Happy New Thread, RD! Another great-looking golden oldie up there. Calcutta Green? Uh, no.

16richardderus
Sep 23, 9:32pm Top

>14 harrygbutler: Thank you, Harry, and I agree that it's a handsome display of metallurgical skill.

>15 jnwelch: I know, right?! Yeesh. That's more like "Discreetly Mouldering Irish Castle green."

17weird_O
Sep 23, 9:37pm Top

Euwwww. Not a four-door. Two-door coupe!

18richardderus
Sep 23, 9:47pm Top

>17 weird_O: All of those have been rodded out! I can't find a decent photo of a '49 Coupe that isn't so old it's on http instead of https.

19ronincats
Sep 23, 10:06pm Top

Happy New Thread, Richard! I may be inspired by >11 richardderus: for my wirework.

20jessibud2
Sep 23, 10:21pm Top

Happy new one, Richard! Snazzy topper, as per usual

21richardderus
Sep 23, 10:37pm Top

>19 ronincats: Ooohhh, I can not wait to see the results of that!

>20 jessibud2: Thank you, Shelley, and the cars just keep on comin' don't they?

22Familyhistorian
Sep 24, 12:18am Top

Happy new thread, Richard. I like the colour of the car even if it has nothing to do with Calcutta. I hope the typing is getting easier.

23karenmarie
Sep 24, 7:36am Top

'Morning, RD, and happy new thread to you.

>1 richardderus: For some reason this just looks like a whale to me.

>2 richardderus: What's that chrome/white lever for (above the brake release?)

24FAMeulstee
Edited: Sep 24, 7:47am Top

>11 richardderus: Thanks, Richard!
I have very few jewellery (and wear even less), but I would like to wear that. The light blue matches my present hair color.

25SandyAMcPherson
Sep 24, 7:59am Top

Good morning all... I was so busy catching up on the 11th thread, it took awhile to find this one.
Glossy topper, as usual a vintage car in beautiful condition...

I wondered whether the seat covers were replicated factory-issue?
And, what is this knob-handle thingy used for?

26richardderus
Sep 24, 12:55pm Top

>23 karenmarie:, >25 SandyAMcPherson: The lack of Interstate highways with their generally good lighting means we're unfamiliar with the ways Mama and Daddy fought back the darkness on nighttime trips.

These were VERY helpful if you lived or traveled in the country!

>22 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! Happy to see you here!

>24 FAMeulstee: *chuckle* Yep, that's the 21st century..."my necklace matches my hair!" *smooch*

27richardderus
Edited: Sep 24, 7:53pm Top

83 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Rating: 3* of five

All three stars are for Aunt Lydia's sections. Agnes is annoying, a lump of nothing as required by her upbringing; it didn't make her any fun at all to read about. Daisy is intolerable, both for her backstory and her impossibly selflessly perfect nature; we're unsurprised at her actions because she is The Chosen One.

Try this: Only read Aunt Lydia's sections, flipping quickly past the character-as-mouthpiece young women. You'll get an interesting sidebar to the amazing The Handmaid's Tale. Aunt Lydia's story is, in fact, better than the original book.

I'll only get yelled at if I say more so that's it.

28humouress
Sep 25, 4:04am Top

Happy new thread Richard! Just skimming through before my trackpad decides to - dear goddesses, what happened to >1 richardderus: the windscreen?

>12 quondame: I like her; but I'm not sure I'd want any cephalopod around my neck.

>24 FAMeulstee: Ooh, Anita! I like the thought of light blue hair. I've stopped colouring my hair for now because it's too hard to maintain.

>26 richardderus: In Singapore there's so much light pollution that I've often forgotten to switch on my headlights at night. Fortunately, my car puts them on for me automatically now (which means that I definitely forget if I switch cars).

29msf59
Edited: Sep 25, 7:07am Top

>27 richardderus: I was hoping for at least 4 out 5, for The Testaments. At least it wasn't a "Bomb". I really liked the Aunt Lydia character, both in the original and on the TV show. I am waiting for the audio version to come in.

Happy Wednesday, Richard. I hope the week is going well.

30karenmarie
Sep 25, 7:11am Top

'Morning, RichardDear!

Today is the last hurrah before the frenzy of our 3-day book sale. I'm bringing over 100 plastic bags (for CDs/DVDs), thus happily cleaning out the bag cozy that's become bloated. I have to pick up cash today for cashboxes tomorrow, and will snag another volunteer book for that effort. *smile*

I hope you have a good Wednesday.

>26 richardderus: Ah, thanks for the explanation.

>27 richardderus: I just recently culled my unread copy of The Handmaid's Tale. Have you ever had a book that you absolutely refuse to read regardless of its popularity? I have an unreasonable and irrational dislike of it. Oh well, I have more than enough other books to last me the rest of my life. And of course there's the book sale starting tomorrow... *smile*

and *smooch* from your own Horrible

31SandyAMcPherson
Sep 25, 8:44am Top

>26 richardderus: Thanks so much for these details.

32jnwelch
Sep 25, 9:01am Top

Hey, RD. Sorry you didn't like The Testaments more. Debbi just finished it, barely putting it down after starting, and LOVED it. I'll be reading it, of course, so we'll see how it goes.

I neglected to let you know that your excellent Friday Black review persuaded me to give that one a go. I read two stories and nearly threw myself off the top of a building. Yikes! Really good, and awfully strong, strongly awful. I'm going to have to read it a few stories at a time, and alternate it with something lighter.

33richardderus
Sep 25, 10:15am Top

>28 humouress: I think almost all modern cars turn the headlights on for you in the US..."daytime running lights"...it reduces accidents, the statisticians say. But there's no way I can be positive since I haven't driven in almost a decade and I stopped noticing new cars about the same time!

The sunshade was a hugely popular accessory for cars in that era because they didn't have sun visors inside the car. The laws changed in, I think, 1957, making it a requirement for all cars to have sun visors and the shades disappeared overnight. In a place as brilliantly sunny as most of the US is, it was urgent to have some kind of shade!

>29 msf59: Thanks, Mark, the week's been okay for me. I was bitterly disappointed that The Testaments was as tedious as it was for such long stretches. Daisy was intolerable.

>30 karenmarie: Hey Horrible! *smooch*

I still refuse to pick up Franzen's work. The Corrections irked me; the praise made me impatient; then he "snubbed" Oprah and, well, screw you pretentious poser man.

>31 SandyAMcPherson: De rien, ma amie.

>32 jnwelch: You have no idea how much I wish I'd been delighted and blown away. Instead, well...just not the book I'd've advised Author Atwood to write. Given that her husband was busy dying all the time she was writing it, I'm actually impressed that she wrote it at all.

Friday Black is a strong dose of salts, all right. Your BS filter will be fine-tuned when you're done!

34richardderus
Sep 25, 1:13pm Top

Emily Wilson, translator of The Odyssey, has received a MacArthur Fellowship!

35humouress
Sep 25, 10:11pm Top

>33 richardderus: In a place as brilliantly sunny as most of the US is; now you’re just showing off.

36quondame
Edited: Sep 26, 6:47pm Top

richardderus's eleventh thread of 2019 >296 Well I started Friday Black - each story is a blow from a new direction - but got distracted by A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark which is going down ever so easily.

37mahsdad
Edited: Sep 26, 7:04pm Top

Octopus Dreaming...

https://youtu.be/0vKCLJZbytU

Then after that, look for the Octopus' coconut home and the baby cephalopod one

38PaulCranswick
Sep 26, 6:55pm Top

Happy new one, RD.

Sorry to see that Atwood didn't sparkle for you.

39richardderus
Sep 26, 8:52pm Top

All of my responses were eaten. I hit "Post message" and *poof* gone. This happens with much greater regularity than I'm comfortable with, and I don't always remember to copy my posts before clicking on the post button. I haven't had this issue with Goodreads or Facebook, where I'd expect to have it if it was somehow my fault.

Anyone else? Has anyone reported this to the PTB? I certainly won't but someone might or might have.

40quondame
Sep 26, 10:19pm Top

>39 richardderus: I've had LT tell my I was submitting a duplicate message a couple of times, and noticed that no one else had posted recently.

41karenmarie
Sep 27, 8:00am Top

'Morning, RD!

Sorry your messages have gone into the ether. I haven't noticed vanished messages personally, but I usually write long messages to Word then copy and paste them in, having learned the hard way that it always saves time in the long run to do so.

I hope you have a good day today. I'm Book Sale-ing it, as you know, and found lots of scrumptious books yesterday for both Jenna and myself.

*smooch*

42richardderus
Sep 27, 8:30am Top

>40 quondame: That's happened a few time to me as well. It's usually a false alarm, or an instance of me double-clicking. This eating-of-messages is much, much more irritating.

>41 karenmarie: Have a great time, Horrible! I'll coddiwomple thitherward for news of the haul presently. *smooch*

43jnwelch
Sep 27, 8:33am Top

>34 richardderus: Emily Wilson winning one makes me really happy.

44richardderus
Sep 27, 9:51am Top

>43 jnwelch: Me too, Joe, it's like a tiny little grain of goodness in the scales to balance the megatonnage of awful that seems to be the new normal.

45richardderus
Sep 27, 3:20pm Top

PEARL RULED 15 Chasing Graves by Ben Galley (p67)

Rating: 2.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Meet Caltro Basalt. He’s a master locksmith, a selfish bastard, and as of his first night in Araxes, stone cold dead.

They call it the City of Countless Souls, the colossal jewel of the Arctian Empire, and all it takes to be its ruler is to own more ghosts than any other. For in Araxes, the dead do not rest in peace in the afterlife, but live on as slaves for the rich.

While Caltro struggles to survive, those around him strive for the emperor’s throne in Araxes’ cutthroat game of power. The dead gods whisper from corpses, a soulstealer seeks to make a name for himself with the help of an ancient cult, a princess plots to purge the emperor from his armoured Sanctuary, and a murderer drags a body across the desert, intent on reaching Araxes no matter the cost.

Only one thing is certain in Araxes: death is just the beginning.

THIS WAS AN I.L.L. BOOK FROM MY LOCAL LIBRARY SYSTEM. THANKS Y'ALL.

My Review
: It has to be my mood. This has all the hallmarks of a fantasy world I'd like. But I hit this:
...You wanted a lesson, husband, and there it is. So please, threaten me some more. We'll see how little of you makes it into the city.

The ping of her nail against the scimitar's steel edge punctuated her threat. As Farazar held her stare, she saw the realization dawn behind those white eyes. Not only how deadly she was, but just how determined, too.

Lip curled, Farazar looked away, seeking something in the stars. 'And you wonder why I didn't want to marry a Krasswoman,' he muttered.

...and I'm out. I just do not care enough to keep ankling my way through this sludge. These aren't even the main characters and, let me tell you, am I glad. I'm not all that into fantasy but the Egyptian thing got me; so it's very possible that I'm just not in the proper mood for the story. I won't throw it aside forever. But I'm in no hurry to get it back onto the active TBR.

46karenmarie
Sep 28, 7:51am Top

'Morning, RichardDear, and happy Saturday to you.

>45 richardderus: Lovely examples of why you've abandoned it. Sheesh. Those would grate on my every last nerve, too. ankling my way through this sludge. Good way of putting it.

*smooch*

47SandyAMcPherson
Sep 28, 8:19am Top

Good grief! I just do not care enough to keep ankling my way through this sludge.

I'm saving that phrase, it is just SO expressive of some reading I was attempting this past week. I haven't decided what to say about the book (yet). A friend dropped off a box of culls from her personal library and I am a sucker for such giftedness. I should know better... if she didn't want the books, I probably don't either.

48richardderus
Sep 28, 10:15am Top

>46 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! It's not always true that stuff like "muttered" would send me into frenzied eyerolls, but this was simply not good enough to get past my defenses.

*smooch* Have a lovely time today!

>47 SandyAMcPherson: Heh...I guess we're all seasoned enough readers to have ankled through a fair amount of sludge.

I never say no to free books ever. Even if I hate 'em, the facility's library can usually be relied on to devour them.

49richardderus
Sep 28, 1:08pm Top

This was "Hijack Richard's Reading Plans" Day at the library. My hold on They Called Us Enemy came in, as did the ILL on Fall Back Down When I Die, already leaping into my "ZOMG THIS RAWKS" category.

50richardderus
Sep 28, 6:19pm Top

from Amatka by Karin Tidbeck, p21:
Vanja fetched a cup and plate and looked out the window. It still wasn't raining. In the frying pan she found the leftovers from yesterday's dinner; the pot contained coffee, so strong it was almost brown. Vanja let the grounds sink and tasted it. It tasted unfamiliar, spicy and both sour and sweet, made from some mushroom unknown in Essre.

This book is set in Hell.

51msf59
Edited: Sep 28, 6:49pm Top

Happy Saturday, Richard. Hooray for They Called Us Enemy coming in! It is such a good book, GN or not! Like Jill Lepore proved in her excellent American history book, We Are Not a Very Nice Nation!

52richardderus
Sep 28, 7:36pm Top

>51 msf59: ...and I guess we never were...

Happy weekend-just-starting, Birddude.

53richardderus
Sep 29, 8:30am Top

It's National Coffee Day 2019! Ain't it grand.

54msf59
Sep 29, 9:38am Top

>53 richardderus: Hooray for National Coffee Day! What would we do without it?

Morning, Richard. It is lightly raining here, so I skipped the bird walk, although I hate to miss those. At least, I got my workout in and now I will read awhile before doing the food shopping. Enjoy your day.

55karenmarie
Sep 29, 9:59am Top

'Morning, RD! Happy Coffee Day to you! I'm on my second mug of hot, strong, black, no sugar caffeinated coffee and reveling in it.

Off to see Native Son today at Playmakers with friend Louise.

I hope you have a scrumptious day.

56richardderus
Sep 29, 1:22pm Top

84 They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Rating: 5* of five


The Publisher Says: A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon -- and America itself -- in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's -- and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten "relocation centers," hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

THIS WAS AN INTER–LIBRARY LOAN FROM MY LOCAL LIBRARY. THANKS, Y'ALL!

My Review
: A graphic memoir? Me? And give it five stars?!? Never. Will not happen.

Yet here we are:

The horror of interning United States citizens based solely on the color of their skins!

Oh wait...we do that now..."interning" being synonymous with "incarcerating"...well, anyway, it's appalling and abominable. The Takei family is rousted out of their Los Angeles home by Executive Order 9066. They're shipped as far away from the Pacific Ocean as they can get: The Great State of Arkansas! *shudder* A swampy bit, as well...the Takeis weren't familiar with the climate, hot and humid summers with cold and snowy winters; the worst of all possible worlds for Mediterranean-climate natives!

George, brother Henry, and sister Nancy are lucky, however, as their father is a take-charge kind of a guy with a glad-handing streak as well as organizational capabilities, patience in abundance, and a generous heart. Mama Takei is sure her family will be okay despite everything because she is going to by-god *make* things okay. Her efforts to clothe and entertain her family, her strenuous work ethic keeping the children clean and as healthy as she can, mean that they're better off than many...so the Takeis help them. Because of course...those with nothing find a way to share with those who have even less.

There were good times as well as bad. Takei senior, as a helpful and useful inmate, got the family occasional privileges, like the use of a Jeep for a day out:

Not everyone in Arkansas thought the Japanese belonged in the camps. Not everyone in the US agreed with this vile act, this blot on the national escutcheon.

But tell that to the men who were young and patriotic enough to want to serve their country in the global war against fascism.

Their mistreatment at the hands of the democratic institutions designed to defend a citizen's life, liberty, and ability to pursue an existence that will make them happy radicalized them, leading to protests and horrors of oppression still worse than internment at Federal penitentiaries.

The tale ends, as we all know, when the war is over...but the country's wounds aren't healed so much as papered over. Now the returning African Americans, veterans and war workers, would need to gain civil rights...and there were injustices against the Japanese Americans unaddressed...and so on and so forth, to this good day, with others now in the victim role. Takei specifically draws parallels with the Muslim refugee crisis and the Hispanic emigration atrocities. He lived it. His voice carries authority: What we-the-people are allowing, even (I am nauseated to say) enjoying, to occur to Hispanic families is unconscionable, inexcusable, and proof that the lessons of history are lost on far too many of us.

Takei's journey took him into our living rooms on Star Trek: The Original Series, and its many sequels. He's spent his many years since riding that amazing introduction back into our lives advocating for positive social changes and fairer, more equal access to the USA's immense and unprecedented benefits for all. His life has been very well-lived and spent generously working to bring the American Dream into reality, only for *all* Americans.

Be like George, as the meme says.

(Only I like this one better.)

57jnwelch
Sep 29, 2:13pm Top

Ha! ^Good one with Sulu and Uhura.

Nice review of They Called Us Enemy. Great book. Especially for one of those GN thingamagummies, right?

Happy Coffee Day! PBS has a good article on the origins and history. (I know; not sure how "PBS" got going in print like that). A tidbit: the legend is an Ethiopian goat herder found the goats getting perky and frolicsome after eating red berries from a coffee shrub, and tried some himself and . . . soon, Starbucks opened its first Ethiopian outlet. Well, time passed, and then that happened, I'm sure. I had "Big Shoulders" coffee this morning at a local diner. Strong, and knocked me on my keister.

58richardderus
Sep 29, 2:29pm Top

>54 msf59: Yay coffee! Boo rained-out birdwalk...but heck, more readin' time ain't all bad. It's beautiful here, though more like the end of August than the end of September. It made reading on the boardwalk a morning-only activity.

>55 karenmarie: Hey Horrible! It's not as scrumptious as your cultural one. I'll be napping shortly...

>57 jnwelch: As I understand it, St. Simeon Stylites used to glug down four venti espressi and just vibrate up to the top of that pillar....

Thanks re: review...I was amazed at how very much I liked the format used this way. The story, of course, was interesting, but the illustration really added to my pleasure. For once!

59quondame
Sep 29, 4:10pm Top

>56 richardderus: I have it on reserve now. I may even see a copy before the end of the year!

60richardderus
Sep 29, 4:26pm Top

>59 quondame: I certainly hope you will. It was a very moving read.

61thornton37814
Sep 29, 7:59pm Top

I guess I celebrated National Coffee Day this morning without even knowing it--but then I celebrate it every day!

62richardderus
Edited: Sep 29, 10:40pm Top

85 Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. "Deep Roots" continues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.

My Review: Second novel in what I devoutly hope will be an ongoing exploration of the Lovecraftian (or Cthulhu) Mythos by QULTBAG Author Emrys; this time it's the Summer Solstice, so we're six months after the events of Winter Tide. The writing is, as always, luxurious and replete with the most pleasurably unexpected moments of character definition:
Neko’s familiar dreams lay open above me. Twists of color, scattered images: buildings, imagined cities, the people on the subway. She twitched among incomplete ideas. They spilled over the edges of everyday reality, coloring directions that she wasn’t able to travel. (Aphra is speaking of her Nisei internee "sister" from the camps.)

He separated his hands, unraveling finger from finger. (Ron Spector, gay FBI agent, is described here. He is a man torn and mended one too many times.)

A pale man, gangling in a tweed jacket, walked hunched as if against blistering wind, arms tight across his chest. He caught sight of an awning marked in Chinese characters and shuddered, hurrying on. (Lovecraft cameo! And bloody well perfect!)

In every case, Author Emrys makes this kind of observation completely without fuss or fanfare. These are the characters, the behaviors and thoughts are theirs; no need to make a song and dance about it, this is what that person would do/say/feel. I trust Author Emrys implicitly to tell me what I need to know when it is most helpful for me to know it. This is a characteristic of all of her writing that I've read. It's why I will buy and read more of her stories as and when they come out.

The Mythos itself is replete with amazing, juicy weirdnesses like the Mi-Go, or as the Deep Ones call them "meigo," betentacled crustaceany Outer Ones whose corporeal presence in out tediously limited and limiting 4D spacetime isn't remotely complete; entire segments of the creatures exist in dimensions we cannot access with our sensory equipment. Here's one image of the beings, slightly off from what Author Emrys's evocation of them summons in my brain but better than trying to word-paint them for you (or spoil the book's amazing evocation!) so you can get some traction on where this story *is*:

The Outer Ones are repugnant to Aphra, our main character; they aren't right, the way she knows that she herself isn't right to "People of the Air" like thee and me. But they are practically speaking immortal, unlimited by mere 4D spacetime's demands, and so vastly more intelligent than merely mortal Humanity; they have developed a (strange) moral code they adhere to, they are very much creatures of deep philosophical thought:
Doesn’t Nyarlathotep tell even you to ask the most dangerous questions, and travel as far as you need, wherever you need, to find the answers?
(Nyarlathobuddha, sounds like to me.)

To accept, without trying to change, the errors of the universe. Worse, though, to let our haven enforce the illusion that the universe can always be altered. Architecture as debate. Very much my thrice-mate’s style. (Spoken by one of the Outer Ones allied with Aphra about the leader of the Outer Ones's opposition.)

We seek the civilizations capable of living with difference, who can look on the vast and variable universes without fear, who can recognize wisdom wherever it’s found.

This, then, is the heart of the Outer Ones's need in our dimension: They are learning about us for their own purposes, not quite like the Yith, those truly immortal and utterly amoral scholars and recorders in the Archive of the entire body of knowledge that all beings in all dimensions have accumulated:
They boast of all they’ve learned, but write nothing down and call their work finished when all they’ve done is talk. They see everything and learn nothing; they are an embarrassment to Nyarlathotep.

The Mi-Go need something. This is value, for them, created value that pleases Nyarlathotep. The Yith? As we learned last book, and as several of Aphra's confluence (her metaphor for created family, logical as opposed to biological family) continue to wrestle with the aftermath of in this story, they aren't interested in what the knowledge they are collecting is, they are only determined to collect it, however and wherever they can, consequences be hanged. Which is why Winter Tide took place in Arkham and at Miskatonic University; and now that the Outer Ones are the opponents, where better to acquire truly useful knowledge than New York City?

Author Emrys agrees with me. She celebrates the very things that make this my home:
New York is full of immigrants and the United States is used to taking them in—we may be able to help you.

The city’s rhythm was constant when I paid it mind, but fickle in its effects. It could buoy me with excess energy, then wear me out a moment later with the pace of its million heartbeats.

Outside, the breeze brought relief: still rich with sweat and trash, but topped with the remnant of sugared pastry and the homesick scent of hot dogs.

New York, for all its height and humanity, was a breath from the ocean, and would pass in a geological instant.

Gigantically and brobdingnagianly replete with differences and conflicts and all the other things that vastly increase a culture's store of knowledge and wisdom, New York is the perfect place for the Outer Ones to set up shop! Add in the borning Cold War, the incredible postwar economic boom, and the seaport...well! I ask you! What better stewpot, pressure cooker, percolator of a place to locate a spy ring! Which is what the Outer Ones are...their internal factions can't agree whether to continue to passively watch Humanity boil itself or, out of deep savior complex fantasy needs, to intervene and "help"/force us to behave:
We needed Nnnnnn-gt-vvv’s passivist faction to reassert their influence and to hold sway over what their species did on Earth.

But Aphra and Company need to adjust their prickly, offended sensibilities to the Outer Ones's very real intent to help fellow creatures on a path to self-destruct:
You think we don’t understand family, but we do. We recognize many kinds of family, many kinds of connections that matter. We understand duties beyond obedience, and loyalty that can transcend species. We’re not the demons you think, tempting children away from the safe shadow of the gravestone. We serve a greater purpose too.

But help ain't help when it ain't asked for, is it. And that is where the whole rushing, roaring climax of the story leads us: What help are we willing to ask for? And what price offering to help a species that, in the main, wants to vomit when your pandimensional person enters its members's frames of reference?

Good times.

The attentive will recall that I gave Winter Tide four and a half stars two years ago. Then the attentive will cast their eyes upon my less-than-four-stars rating for this book. Then consider the warbles of pleasure in this story and its writing, its very universe, that have occupied me for over a thousand words. "What gives, Papaw?" the attentive will ask.

Freddy and Frances, excess baggage; S'vlk, Obed Marsh, Catherine Trumbull, and Shelean; not one of these characters has a hope in hell of making a lasting impression on the reader. I have read this book twice, a year apart. That was deliberate and calculated. I wanted to be absolutely sure I felt that I was fair and reasonable in my annoyance and subsequent chastisement of almost a whole star's docking. (I mean, it's not like Author Emrys will be hurt and dismayed about my review or like there'll be any kind of backlash; but it's an article of faith with me that I should behave online the way I would in person and I'm always quick to praise and deliberate in disappointment.)

The extra characters add little, detract much, and cost a great deal of forward momentum. The fact is that I'm always shifting gears, like driving a five-speed sports car up Lombard Street in San Francisco during rush hour. The issue grows and becomes very distracting by halfway through the book. I want the urgency of Winter Tide to continue, and with the immense broadening of this story, it does not.

I did not want to offer false praise, and I haven't; I did not want to stint on what I feel is merited celebration of Author Emrys's reimagined Mythos, and I do not think that I have; but, in the end and after a year's thought and consideration, I can't help but share Aphra's prayer for Cthulhu's help in her desperately overworked mind's ease:
Ïa, Cthulhu, help me sleep in the shadow of others’ dreams. Teach me patience in the shadow of frustrated desire. Teach me stillness in the shadow of ever-changing threats.

63richardderus
Edited: Sep 29, 9:44pm Top

>61 thornton37814: Me too, Lori! I'm never NOT celebrating the Glorious Bean.

64ronincats
Sep 29, 9:39pm Top

What a great review, Richard! I'm not into horror or the Lovecraftian mythos, but your writing makes me want to read this series.

65richardderus
Sep 29, 9:44pm Top

>64 ronincats: *blush* Thanks, Roni! I think you'd like Author Emrys's take on the Mythos, it's just not like the crummy old Lovecraft/Derleth writing and the first novelette's free at Tor.com.

66SomeGuyInVirginia
Sep 29, 10:16pm Top

All hail the Glorious Bean! Bringer of the stiffened sinews and putters of steely glints in eyes. Hail!

67quondame
Edited: Sep 29, 10:38pm Top

>62 richardderus: So, I rather liked Winter Tide and almost disliked Deep Roots so the relative ranking is in the same order. Now that you mention it, it would have been a decided plus if Freddy had been good for something. I don't lump Frances in with him though, I could feel something for her, at the least, worried mother sympathy.

Ah, coffee. Sine qua non.

68richardderus
Sep 29, 10:48pm Top

>66 SomeGuyInVirginia: A-women, Brother Man, a-women.

>67 quondame: Anxiety over her useless spawn? Mmm. I can't see how the story would've been worse, or even different, without her entirely.

I am already looking forward to tomorrow morning's pot!

69PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 5:53am Top

>62 richardderus: brobdingnagianly replete

Lovely of you to squeeze all the small words into your always entertaining reviews RD.

Jonathan Swift would be smiling in his crypt.

70karenmarie
Sep 30, 7:59am Top

'Morning, RichardDear!

I'm already running late getting to the salt mines, but had to stop by and say hi!

I hope your Monday is a good'un.

*smooch*

71richardderus
Sep 30, 8:56am Top

>69 PaulCranswick: My unwavering allegiance to the Thesaurus of Sesquipedalian Synonyms bids fair to eclipse the burden of my refrains.

But thanks!

>70 karenmarie: They really can't object if you're late...what're they gonna do, fire you?

*smooch* on this cloudy Monday.

72PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 10:23am Top

>71 richardderus: Hahaha nicely said O' Wordy One.

73richardderus
Sep 30, 11:00am Top

>72 PaulCranswick: TYVM

To celebrate my victory over sludgeworditis.

74richardderus
Sep 30, 1:55pm Top

3Q19. I am not going to finish another book today...might get really close with Amatka, but most likely not before midnight...so I'll call it a very, very good quarter indeed. A second contender for my annual six-stars-of-five place appeared: Black Light: Stories by Kimberly King Parsons, an extraordinarily strong debut story collection, damned near all the stories being top-of-the-trees jawdroppers. It's gonna be close....

Five-star reads were surprisingly abundant: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was outstanding at its best, and never less than good; Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington was uneven but at its best was far above the field; Maggie Brown & Others: Stories by Peter Orner was another uneven, but at its best outstanding, collection. Lie With Me, a récit being marketed as a novel, by Philippe Besson and translated from the French by Molly Ringwald in her debut in this role, was the best novel I read this quarter. It's truly extraordinary. The other five-star read was They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, a graphic memoir that was beautifully served by artist Harmony Becker's simple and elegant panels. It is superb, it is powerfully told, and it is vital that as many as possible read its personal recollections of the heinous crime of interning innocent people because they are Not Like You.

A truly delightful quarter of reading.

75johnsimpson
Sep 30, 3:52pm Top

Hi Richard, a belated happy new thread dear friend.

76richardderus
Sep 30, 5:52pm Top

Thanks, John! I hope all is well in Blighty.

77msf59
Sep 30, 6:45pm Top

>56 richardderus: " A graphic memoir? Me? And give it five stars?!?" I was just as astounded, but I can't really be that surprised, since it deserves all 5 stars! Good review too, Richard. Big Thumb! I hope Takei treats us book nuts, to something else down the road.

78richardderus
Sep 30, 8:02pm Top

>77 msf59: Thanks, Mark, it's a deeply depressing story but Takei tells it too well for the depression to get hold of one's vitals—if that's not a full-five read, I don't know what is!

79karenmarie
Oct 1, 6:56am Top

'Morning, RD!

Congrats on such a magnificent reading month. Twenty four books. I am in awe.

*smooch*

80richardderus
Oct 1, 1:04pm Top

>79 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! *smooch*

Today's review SHOULD be Amatka...we shall see....

81jnwelch
Oct 1, 3:38pm Top

>73 richardderus: *gasp!* I want one!

82richardderus
Oct 1, 4:05pm Top

>80 richardderus: It will certainly not be Amatka, darn it.

Night Boat to Tangiers has holds, so it comes first.

>81 jnwelch: I do too! And I don't add sugar to my coffee!

83FAMeulstee
Oct 1, 4:42pm Top

>74 richardderus: September was a great reading month for you, Richard.
So good when 5* reads bundle up in a month :-)

84richardderus
Oct 1, 5:06pm Top

>83 FAMeulstee: I so agree, Anita, and it's a rare enough occurrence to be a surprise and a treat each time it happens.

85brenzi
Oct 1, 7:09pm Top

Oh boy another sterling review Richard. I can't wait for They Called Us Enemy. I already have it on hold but it's taking forever to get to me.

86richardderus
Oct 1, 9:37pm Top

>85 brenzi: I really hope you're as happy as most of us around here seem to have been with the read.

87msf59
Oct 2, 6:54am Top

Morning, Richard! Happy Wednesday. The Birddude had a good day off, yesterday. Birds & books. I didn't even have a chance to make my usual LT rounds.

88kidzdoc
Oct 2, 8:28am Top

Happy newish thread, Richard! I love the Mercury, although I'm struggling to see the green in the paint color.

89richardderus
Oct 2, 12:31pm Top

>87 msf59: Hi Mark, it's a good day indeed when two of your three most passionate pastimes dominate it. Couldn't work in a craft beer run somewhere, eh?

>88 kidzdoc: Hi there, Darryl, are you recovered yet?

It's a graygreen, a mossy kind of green, so hard to sweep one's eyes over and say "oh, green."

90SomeGuyInVirginia
Oct 2, 2:31pm Top

What's up, Ricardo? Great cars and cotton candy coffee. It's a world of wonders, my friend.

91richardderus
Oct 2, 3:02pm Top

86 Death at the Beggar's Opera by Deryn Lake

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: John Rawlings is among the beau monde enjoying a performance of ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ in Drury Lane when the leading actor – the notorious philanderer Jasper Harcross – dramatically falls to his death on stage. As Rawlings and the Blind Beak hunt for vital clues, they discover a hotbed of rivalry both on and off the stage which produces numerous suspects and questions.

As the search takes on a new intensity, John Rawlings soon finds himself on an intriguing trail of obsession that leads to the dark heart of a cold-blooded murder.

My Review: I wasn't expecting the solution to this murder. I could see how it was prefigured, though not exactly in line with generally accepted ideas of "fair play"...the Apothecary sees something we don't and *flash* into focus comes the solution, a very Dame-Agatha thing to do...so I'm actually more, not less, interested in reading the third book. Also of great appeal and interest to me are the sensory parts of the story: the sights of a London where Kensington is a country town, the Lincoln's Inn Fields were actually fields, there were houses on Pall Mall, there was a "Chelsea Bun House" for real, all these are delicious to me.

I'm sure the twee use of job titles as character labels is to some tastes, but "the Apothecary," "the Blind Beak," et alii, aren't delightful to me. I accept them as attempts at whimsical charm; backfire in my ears, though.

I had a suspect all fitted up for the murder, and was quite sure I was right. (Look at all my Goodreads Kindle notes marked "spoiler" (membership required, but free) if you want to see my logic.) I enjoy it when authors catch me out like that, it makes me really think about why I was so sure before the reveal that X is guilty, and that means going back over the whole puzzle to see what I missed. For this seasoned citizen, anything surprising in a puzzle is a Good Thing.

I am quite hesitant to do so, though, because there are SIX w-bombs dropped *shudder* and there is more, though less offensive by a slight hair, homophobic idiocy present. There's a bog-standard heteronormative locution about red-blooded males lusting after women; but there's this gem of genuine, deeply felt venom:

‘D’you have some verdigris for my face paint?’ asked an emasculated nothing, waving a handkerchief stiff with powder.

The 1990s were quite some time ago, and that's when Deryn Lake wrote these books. But I was a thritysomething all the decade long, and I know of my own personal knowledge that this kind of effeminacy-baiting was frowned on even then. Period appropriate arguments are null and void: This book wasn't written in Georgian England. It was written in the sad, bad barely-post-Thatcher era. This nastiness, present in the first book as well, is a choice made by a modern person to use nasty, insulting language about people the author clearly doesn't like.

So that third book will wait to enter my Kindle until I have some utterly uncommitted money (so no earlier than after the 2020 elections, I give all my uncommitted money to the campaign I support until then), or someone gifts it to me. I don't like this trend. I disapprove of the sneering nastiness of homophobia. I'm not sure I won't see it again...actually, if I'm honest, I am pretty sure that I will see it again...so I don't want to give the person who's sneering at me and mine any more of my money.

My eyeblinks, I'll risk again. Barely.

92ronincats
Oct 2, 11:00pm Top

I am getting ready to watch Nature on PBS tonight--the promo says a man adopts an octopus and raises it in his home. The neat thing about PBS is you can always find and stream the episodes online if you miss the tv broadcast.

93quondame
Oct 3, 12:10am Top

>1 richardderus: Interesting to me that several items of my new fall/winter wardrobe which were just delivered today are almost exactly this deep, subtle grey-green.

94karenmarie
Oct 3, 9:17am Top

Hallo, RichardDear. Happy Thursday to you. I'm coffee-ing and relaxing and getting ready to make some brekkie. No work today. No book sale to plan for. Joy. Rapture.

95richardderus
Oct 3, 9:48am Top

87 Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen — Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs — sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter (or is she?), Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals and serial exiles, rendered with the dark humor and the hardboiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fiction writers at work today.

My Review: Sunsets are biblical, nighttime flowers are dull amethysts, quiet rubies...a tiny, sultana-faced man in lilac slacks and a blazer beneath a pompadour appears, to no story affect...London's bones limned against weak and apologetic light...this is a beautiful read.

The story is horrible, two men...Maurice and Charlie...whose love of their loucheness and their criminality and their addictions, their love for each other that excludes all the women they adore so helplessly and whose lives they casually, violently ruin, seek their daughter.

No. They aren't gay. The woman they both adored for a time had a baby and, well, who knows whose she really is.

Their awfulness is, in their fiftysomething selves, incredible and unforgivable. Their time in the Bughouse... smoky-grey brick Victoriana carrying the misery of three centuries...detoxing from heroin addiction is not enough to make the difference in their shared past. Their shared room, twin beds, no hint of physical intimacy they're Irish fagawdsake. No one in this book touches except for fucking or killing. People die, have died rather; these men haven't but they know they will. Soonish.

But they are themselves to the end. Does one wonder that Dilly, the desperately sought daughter, left and doesn't wish to be found? One does not. But neither does one feel their hunger to see her again, their desperate desire to connect to Life, is out of character. The way they seek to accomplish that connection is both toxic and perfect. They only know each other in this world. They came to do this desperate thing together. They'll leave together, they'll make whatever there is to be made of breathing after life is over.

I will be a bit let down if this book does not win the 2019 Booker in twelve days. No, strike that, I'll be jawdroppingly stunned and not a little pissed off. Beautiful, poetic, smooth phrases telling hideous, deforming agonies in stertorously breathed oxygen-poor oceans of wreckage aren't common and neither should they be. A diet of these stories would put me in the Bughouse to breathe the smoky-grey brickdust of bygone agonies.

But when they appear these highly luminescent scimitars, curved to the reader's psychic throat, should get the fearful praise and nervous acknowledgment that Charlie and Maurice have always commanded.

96kidzdoc
Oct 3, 10:25am Top

>89 richardderus: Hi, Richard! I'm improving, albeit very slowly, as I'm still producing mucus in my upper and lower airways, with post-infectious sinusitis and bronchitis. Fortunately I have a week and a half to continue recuperating at home before I return to work the Monday after next.

>95 richardderus: Fabulous review of Night Boat to Tangier, and a well deserved 👍🏽 from me. Sadly it wasn't chosen for the Booker Prize shortlist, so it's ineligible for the award. Of the four longlisted books I've read so far it's probably my favorite, due mainly to its excellent character development. It can't win, but thanks to its longlisting it will be widely purchased and read.

97richardderus
Oct 3, 10:35am Top

>90 SomeGuyInVirginia: Hiya Larry! I'm glad you're feeling up to being out'n'about despite your trials.

>92 ronincats: Oo! I'll head over to PBS.org later today. Thanks for the heads-up.

>93 quondame: Hi Susan, I'm not surprised about it, this is a beautiful, classy color that probably looks better on a person than a car.

>94 karenmarie: Horrible dear, how will you know what to do with yourself? Nothing demanding your attention? No one to Do Something For?! Are you really you?

*smooch* for a restful day of just Being.

98jnwelch
Oct 3, 10:38am Top

Thumb from me, too, for the lovely review of Night Boat to Tangier. Not sure that's one I'll ever read in the endless wine dark sea of alluring books, but I enjoyed the review.

99richardderus
Oct 3, 11:10am Top

>96 kidzdoc: *grumble*

They're gonna give it to 80-year-old Atwood for the mediocre The Testaments, I just know it. If she'd made it a novella and left it at all Aunt Lydia's stuff, I might even agree.

No I wouldn't. But I wouldn't be angry. If they do what I suspect they're going to, angry I will be.

>98 jnwelch: Hiya Joe! Thank you for the thumbs-upping.Y'know, I don't think I'd encourage you to go out and get this one. You'd love the writing, I'll wager, but I think the story itself wouldn't go down so well with you. I haven't noticed that you like nihilism all that much.

100mahsdad
Oct 3, 6:09pm Top

>97 richardderus: Boom headshot. :)

Hope you're having a good week. Lightning round coming for me, maybe not with FF, but definitely this weekend.

101richardderus
Oct 3, 6:54pm Top

>100 mahsdad: Hey Jeff, good! I think Night Boat to Tangier will hit your sweet spot.

I've got to do a lightning round soon. Five books I was too ~meh~ to want to review, but I did read all of, need some sort of closure.

102msf59
Oct 3, 7:27pm Top

>95 richardderus: Great review of Night Boat to Tangier! Big Thumb! I will have to request it. Was this your first book by Barry?

Sweet Thursday, Richard. Are you a fan of John Boyne? I can't remember if you had read Invisible Furies. I am deeply immersed in his last novel, A Ladder to the Sky. A literary version of All About Eve. It has been excellent.

103richardderus
Oct 3, 7:35pm Top

>102 msf59: Hey Mark! I'm not a big Boyne-booster, no, but I know that this latest book is something special and very exciting to people as it's really a roman à clef about Boyne's, umm, tendresse with Andrew Sean Greer.

I do indeed think Night Boat to Tangier will work well for you.

104brenzi
Oct 3, 8:22pm Top

>95 richardderus: adding my thumb for this excellent review Richard. They seldom pick the right book to win the Booker so I'm not surprised it didn't make the shortlist. That doesn't mean you haven't convinced me to read it. Of course you have.

105richardderus
Oct 3, 9:16pm Top

>104 brenzi: Wow, thank you for the upgethumbing, Bonnie! Y'all make writing reviews a lot more fun with them.

*smooch*

106weird_O
Oct 3, 9:17pm Top

Calamari spoons anyone?

107richardderus
Oct 3, 9:45pm Top

>106 weird_O: Those are fabOO! I covet them. I have no place to put them, no need for them, and do not care because I covet them in all their tentacular glory.

108karenmarie
Oct 4, 7:11am Top

'Morning, RD!

Happy Friday to you.

*smooch*

109richardderus
Oct 4, 7:52am Top

>108 karenmarie: Hey there Horrible! Down to four more today?

Spend them wisely.

*smooch*

110benitastrnad
Oct 4, 12:11pm Top

I thought you needed something to brighten your day, so here is the headline item from my Publisher's Weekly newsletter.

Tariffs on E.U. Goods to Include Books

New tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on certain goods imported from the European Union will include books. According to Section 4 of a new directive from the U.S. Trade Representative, printed books, brochures, leaflets, and lithographs produced in Germany and the U.K. will be subjected to a 25% tariff beginning October 18.

The new tariffs, which cover up to $7.5 billion of products imported from the E.U., were in response to the E.U. providing subsidies to Airbus. The World Trade Organization signed off on the right of the Trump administration to impose the tariffs.

The first reaction to the tariffs came from Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the U.K.’s Publishers Association, who said: "We are deeply concerned about this development and raised it immediately with the Department for International Trade and the Intellectual Property Office. It is completely unacceptable that book exports are collateral damage in an unconnected trade matter. We will continue to argue in the strongest possible terms against tariffs that could be damaging to the trade and are in nobody's interest."

The new E.U. tariffs come as the U.S. publishing industry continues to grapple with the ramifications of earlier tariffs placed on books and related products imported from China. Although the Trump administration opted not impose 25% tariffs on virtually all books made in China, 10% tariffs were levied September 1 on trade, professional, and educational books. Other categories of books, including religious books, bibles, and children’s picture books either received a delay in the imposition of tariffs or were granted an exception.

111katiekrug
Oct 4, 12:22pm Top

Hi there, RD! I am racing through threads, trying to get caught up. I did note your review and rating of the Kevin Barry, which is on my List...

112richardderus
Edited: Oct 4, 12:32pm Top

PEARL RULED 16 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (p47)

This book won the Pullet Surprise. I am *gob*smacked* by this.

Pharmacy is Henry Kitteridge's Rabbit Angstrom-y tale of not being the husband he should've been to Olive. His long and successful career as a town sounding board, a discreet ear, is at an end; Olive isn't entirely sure that's a good thing. Will their marriage survive?! Can you bear the suspense?!? 2 stars

Incoming Tide involves Olive sitting in a Subaru station wagon with a nebbishy, tedious younger guy, Kevin, as he works through his Thing for Patty, who decides to...ya know what, never mind, if you care you can read it yourself but as for me I am so very outta here. 1 star

Not enough eyeblinks ahead to spend on this mediocre stuff. She's Updike with a uterus.

113richardderus
Oct 4, 12:38pm Top

>110 benitastrnad: Holy egg-sucking minions of Satan! These, these jackanapes, these caryatids of criminality, these, these traitorous poltroons...!!!!!!!!

*fume*

>111 katiekrug: I very much hope you'll boost it up the TBR...I think you'll *get* it.

Welcome home!

114msf59
Edited: Oct 5, 9:54am Top

>112 richardderus: Ouch!! One of my favorite books!

Morning, Richard. Happy Saturday. I did not hit the sack until 1 am, so I am a bit fuzzy around the edges and then we have a wedding to attend to this afternoon and evening. Tomorrow, with be a pure R & R day.

ETA- Oh yeah, thanks for the rec on "Birders". I saw it. It was wonderful. I hope there are more to come.

115karenmarie
Oct 5, 10:22am Top

Good morning, RD!

>112 richardderus: Pearl-ruled, eh? ATD, my dear, ATD. Having never read any Updike I can't compare, but, as always, I love your way with words.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

116jnwelch
Oct 5, 11:05am Top

Hi, Richard.

She's Updike with a uterus. Oh, it's nice to have a fellow Updike disdainer! You've encouraged me to continue to avoid Olive Kitteridge.

117richardderus
Edited: Oct 5, 11:21am Top

>114 msf59:, >115 karenmarie: I know, I know, leave it to me to dislike a universally admired work. I am glad, as always, that we're *not* all enamored of the same stuff or the echo chamber would give me a giant headache.

>114 msf59: I'm so glad "Birders" was as much a pleasure for you as it was for my not-birdly self. It was a one-off, so far at least, but I join you in your hopes for more.

Enjoy the wedding!

>115 karenmarie: Never read Updike? I'm tempted to urge you to conduct the experiment in my professional-little-brother meanness, but I like your good opinion of me too much to carelessly fling it away.

*smooch* Happy Saturday!

>116 jnwelch: Aid and comfort, Old Bean, aid and comfort.

118karenmarie
Edited: Oct 5, 1:54pm Top

I have 3 by him on my shelves:

Terrorist
Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel
S.

I can't get the touchstone for S. right.

So should I cull them to help bring my acquired/culled ratio back to a reasonable number?

119richardderus
Oct 5, 2:57pm Top

>118 karenmarie: Once again warring with my evil-little-brother side...mmmfffbackmonsterbackIsay...cull them puppies. Srsly. Don't damage your mood or your dharma by reading them and hating the revolting, entitled, mean-spirited old white man (or me for not warning you!) and get thy shelves balanced.

120karenmarie
Oct 5, 3:51pm Top

Okay. All three found, all three gone. Terrorist had been on my shelves, unread, since at least 2007, so I'm not feeling any angst about getting rid of them. And, bonus, I've decided to cull Britt-Marie Was Here and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. I loved A Man Called Ove, but enough curmudgeons and unlikable characters for a while.

121The_Hibernator
Oct 5, 9:46pm Top

Hi Richard! Hope all is well. I haven't been around for a while. :)

>110 benitastrnad: Great. Just great.

122quondame
Edited: Oct 6, 2:37am Top

A Hal Foster Octopus to start Sunday:

123richardderus
Oct 6, 10:19am Top

>121 The_Hibernator: Hi Rachel! It's good to see you out and about. *smooch*

>122 quondame: Hal Foster? Who he? The image is very, very arresting...is that an amazingly deep well, or the world's unluckiest octopus? Lovely chew-toy for my brain. Thanks!

125magicians_nephew
Edited: Oct 6, 1:53pm Top

My mother's family was from New England and I grew up with a bevy of aunts just like Olive Kittridge

I loved this book and have read and re-read it and have my eye on the sequel coming out.

Sorry it wasn't your cuppa - it certainly was mine. My book group loved it too

When I was a kid "Prince Valiant" by Hal Foster occupied pride of place in the Sunday color comics of the New York Daily News. I was put off at first by the lack of dialogue balloons, but soon got the hand of it.

126richardderus
Oct 6, 2:48pm Top

88 Ark by Veronica Roth

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: On the eve of Earth’s destruction, a young scientist discovers something too precious to lose, in a story of cataclysm and hope by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent trilogy.

It’s only two weeks before an asteroid turns home to dust. Though most of Earth has already been evacuated, it’s Samantha’s job to catalog plant samples for the survivors’ unknowable journey beyond.

Preparing to stay behind and watch the world end, she makes a final human connection.

As certain doom hurtles nearer, the unexpected and beautiful potential for the future begins to flower.

Veronica Roth’s Ark is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

THESE SIX STORIES ARE FREE TO READ FOR ALL PRIME MEMBERS. NO KINDLE UNLIMITED NEEDED. AS LONG AS YOUR MEMBERSHIP REMAINS IN GOOD STANDING THEY WILL REMAIN IN YOUR COLLECTION.

My Review
: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a very real thing, one that I am a bit surprised exists...it's so logical, so self-evidently necessary a thing that I'm amazed some religious nut or another hasn't blown it up...and has existed in differing forms since 1984. If there is to be any smallest hope of survival for humanity, this type of gene bank/seed collection/research project must exist and be replicated many, many times over. Blessedly, the Nordic countries and Kew Gardens in the UK are making this global movement happen. I personally thank them for this difficult, contentious, and urgent task being done to benefit all of humankind.

Author Roth, whose Divergent series was not to my personal taste, is a skilled phrasemaker and a keen observer of Life. I was utterly transported to Svalbard, brought *right*there* by this stellar phrase:
The land had glowed blue—beautiful in the way that a Rothko painting was beautiful, because it was empty enough to shrink a person and then swallow them.

Two things I adore—Arctic landscapes and Rothko paintings—brought together in a way I'd never so much as dreamed was possible. I treasure moments of discovery like this, they make mental furniture fresh and interesting again by unexpected interrelationships.

Samantha, whose world was always going to be destroyed in her lifetime by the irresistible force of a five-mile-wide asteroid Author Roth (or series creator Blake Crouch, I don't know for sure which) named "Finis" (Latin for "end" and the title of a much-anthologized story from The Argosy magazine from 1906) meeting the Earth's crust, is an ultimate orphan...her family all dead...as well as a detail-oriented and thorough person. Perfect type to have working on this program, like she was designed for it:
So maybe {her father} had been apologizing for giving her life in the first place, when he knew it would be full of dread. She wished she could have told him that life was already full of dread, no matter who you were. That there was nothing you could have that you couldn’t one day lose.

She volunteers to remain in Svalbard cataloging germ plasm samples for inclusion in the Ark Flora's hold. This is it, you see, these last few items from the seed bank represent the final species on Old Earth to make the deep-space voyage to Terra, our new home. Samantha, however, is holding a secret: She has decided she ain't a-goin' since, if she stays, she will have the one and only chance anyone will ever have to experience first-hand the end of the world. The *actual* end of the world. Someone without close ties can make that decision for themself, no one really can argue...and since she hasn't shared the plan, no one will.

Snort.

Doctor Nils Hagen, an eminent widowed scientist, is like Samantha. He's not interested in a space voyage he won't live to see the end of; he'll die here in his greenhouse full of orchids. In Svalbard. Not far from the North Pole. Privileged much, Nils? He's lost his will to live with his wife's death, and Samantha relates to his desire to see the end of something we all thought should be eternal: Home. But what use is a future without your love in it? His wife gone, his orchids dying in Svalbard as the sun goes out for a generation or two; nothing on an Ark for the likes of his old-man ass.

Samantha isn't old enough to know that the question, "what's your favorite...", isn't one old people care to answer. How the hell can you, brash young pup, even begin to scrape the frost from the corner of the windowpane that we've allowed to frost over so long ago that glass was a novelty item? If we tell you something, you still won't know what you're asking: "Look at everything you've ever done and thought and felt about this thing, sort through the Alp of memories, and spit some pat, facile phrase into the whippersnapper's ear. Maybe she'll quieten down then." Nils tries an old stand-by: "I don't have a favorite. I love them all equally."
“You just can’t—and if you did, then it’s the same as loving nothing at all. So you have to hold just a few things dear, because that’s what love is. Particular. Specific.”

Smart, this one. Saw through that "hush now, little one" response in a heartbeat!

So a friendship begins. And so Nils, with so many ideas and so much information, begins to let Samantha see what truly happens when The End has a date on it, how life lived becomes A Life, how meaningless nothings are, in fact, everything as well, and how utterly impossible it is to see The End without also seeing In The Beginning clear as sunlight on water in, on, over, above, around it.

When the student is ready, the teacher will come.

127richardderus
Edited: Oct 7, 10:45am Top

LIGHTNING ROUND (looks like I'll have to come back and edit the post another time to get touchstones in since all I am seeing is "504 BAD GATEWAY" errors on 6 October)

89 The Overstory by Richard Powers

Rating: 2.75* of five

The sections of the book are Roots, Trunk, Crown, and Seeds. There are nine characters and an indeterminate (meaning I couldn't keep track, they all sounded the same to me) number of trees. What does it mean to be a tree?

This is a philosophical question up there with "why is there air?" and I, like Bill Cosby fifty-plus years ago, answer, "I dunno, to fill up basketballs?" My eyes rolled so far back that I saw my brain when I read, "We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men," and lemme tell ya was I tempted to slip this back into the return slot at the library right there and then. I persevered, however. Then an awful thing happens to Nick, whereupon he observes:
When he looks up, it’s into the branches of the sentinel tree, lone, huge, fractal, and bare against the drifts, lifting its lower limbs and shrugging its ample globe. All its profligate twigs click in the breeze as if this moment, too, so insignificant, so transitory, will be written into its rings and prayed over by branches that wave their semaphore against the bluest of midwestern winter skies.

Oh dear god. But wait! There's MORE:
You and the tree in your back yard came from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways. But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions that tree and you share a quarter of your genes.

Patricia, an ex-forest ranger, writes this in a book about how close to Gawd she gets whenever she's around trees.

I'm sorry, y'all who liked it, but my tree-pollen allergy blew up wicked bad and I had streaming eyes and a clogged nose by midway through. I tried not to let my inner Nelson Muntz get loose but, as you see, I failed. Pullet Surprise winner or no, this was something I found sophomoric and facile and plain old clumsy.

I'll go now.

90 To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck

Rating: how it hurts me to do this, but a squeaking-by three stars of five

Steinbeck's second novel, which he labored over for five years, was damned near never published. The title is from a Vedic hym to Prajapati, who is occasionally the Supreme God and, at other times, an avatar of "...Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Agni, Indra, Vishvakarma, Bharata, Kapila and many others." (Dalal, Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide). The inspiration for the novel's ancient tree spirit, then, explains the novel's complete and utter incoherence of purpose. Are we pro-tree-worship or anti-? We're both? But surely on opposite sides the characters discussing the subject are...wait, they *aren't* different characters? But, but that's waffling! It's not? Why isn't that waffling? Pshaw, the characters aren't Jungian archetypes and larger-than-life...what? There's a thirty-seven page essay introducing the book, written by Steinbeck scholar Robert DeMott saying it isn't?

The prostitution rests.

If you need thirty-seven pages of waffle to explain why something's good enough to read, nobody wants to read it and for a reason. Steinbeck got a few hundred for the book as an advance and, as the opus sold a whopping 598 copies, it lost money. The publisher also rejected, in breaking this bad news, Tortilla Flat; a sad mistake on his part as that was an altogether superior book and went on to make pots of moolah. Read it instead of this one. To a God Unknown deserves its commercial and scholarly oblivion.

91 Use of Force by Brad Thor

Rating: 2.5* of five

Look, I know I'm not a Brad Thor demographic denizen. I'm so far left of the Democrats that hailing frequencies frequently fail to open, while Thor is a darling of Aynholish people with whom I share nothing but the right to trial by a jury of my peers. His politics appall me. His writing, though, isn't bad. He crafts a sentence that leads to another in an agreeable and steady way.

Well, gawddam if he shouldn't, since this is his SEVENTEENTH Scot Harvath novel. The appeal of shoot-'em-ups is they draw lines and fill in borders with clear, dark colors. People Thor doesn't like are "the Tajik" or "the street thug." Depersonalizing those one wishes to deprive of complexity and therefore humanity is effective. The reader isn't troubled to learn pesky things like names, only labels applied for the brief moment that construct is allowed to exist before dying at some noble American's skilled and dextrous hands or lushly described armaments.

These books are covered by the right to free speech. They do not directly incite the reader to violence against those he is likely to see in his insular life. Instead they validate the less-than-humanity of groups, ethnicities, social outcasts that Thor knows his readers don't want to see as more substantial than paper targets at the shooting range. As such, they contribute to a national crisis of empathy among the lowest segments of society: The political conservatives, the white nationalists, the evangelical apologists for the crimes of the others.

I read it. I can't say that, as a plotting and writing example, it was any worse than most and considerably better than many books that fly off booksellers' shelves. But I feel defiled by the contemptuous, arrogant, and entirely unwarranted high opinion these characters and their readers have for themselves and each other.

92 Why We DON'T Suck by Denis Leary

Rating: 3* of five

I was never all that big on Leary. I don't like being yelled at the way he used to in those sneaker (?) commercials when he prowled around behind a chain link fence. I'm utterly certain I didn't spend my, or anyone else's, United States dollars procuring this book. But here it is, and here it's been for at least a year.

So where'd it come from? The Little Free Library? No, why would I pick it up? I called my Young Gentleman Caller. "Sweetiedarling," I cooed and then paused for the ritual admonition not to call him that it makes his boys try to get back inside, "Sweetiedarling (nose-sigh from YGC) did you give me a Denis Leary book called Why We Don't Suck?" A startled pause. "Dennis Who?" he asked blankly. (My hearing is excellent and I could detect the redundant "n" in Dr. Leary's name.) No joy.

When one of y'all sends me a giftie, I leave the card inside so I won't have to commit to memory who gave me nice stuff. Memory is a slippery bar of soap at the best of times, but at my age when the bar drops there it stays. Bending down in the shower?! Are you NUTS?! Do you know how many people my age break things that they still need doing that?! So I guess the bar of soap with the name of the donor is gone for good.

Don't read this. Browse through it. If one attempted to swallow this guff in a gulp, back up it would come in a fountain of outrage as you damn near strangle while laughing. Is it worth it? For free, yeah...I guess. For money? Under a buck, yes; under two, maybe. Library sales, garage sales, that level of venue. Bookstore or Ammy? Oh HELL no. The Chronicles of St Mary's book ten will be out in a week or so, spend the spondulix on that! Guaranteed laughs and less yelling.

128PaulCranswick
Oct 6, 10:34pm Top

>127 richardderus: Absence of touchstones is seriously narking me too, RD.

Hope your weekend was a good one.

129mahsdad
Oct 7, 2:20am Top

>126 richardderus: Thanks for the recommendation! As a reluctant Prime member (and by reluctant I mean I couldn't live with out it), I just went and downloaded this.

130msf59
Oct 7, 6:55am Top

Morning, Richard! Sorry, to hear that The Overstory failed for you. I loved it. After over-indulging it, Friday and Saturday, I had a much quieter day yesterday, with football and my books.

I am starting Frankissstein: A Love Story today. Are you a Winterson fan?

131karenmarie
Oct 7, 7:06am Top

'Morning, RD!

>127 richardderus: Serious snark, a joy to read first thing in the morning.

I hope you have an excellent day.

132katiekrug
Oct 7, 9:02am Top

Good Monday morning to you, RD!

Such a flurry of reviews...

I'd already decided The Overstory wasn't for me, so thanks for the validation :)

I love Steinbeck and aim to be a completist some day, but maybe I could conveniently forget about this one? Heh.

I've never read Brad Thor, but have read others of the same sort. They were good when I was commuting in DC because the plotting made the time go by nice and fast, but they hold little appeal now. I'll occasionally pick one up when I need to give my brain a rest.

I've often enjoyed some of Leary's work - I love the movie 'The Ref' and there is a comedy album from years ago that still makes me snort. But I listened to WWDS and just found it kind of annoying. So yeah.

133jnwelch
Edited: Oct 7, 9:07am Top

Wow, yeah, I'm one of those Overstory fans. I'm sorry to read that it didn't cast its spell on you. I'm looking for the trees and bees to save us, which means we need to save them - from us.


If you need thirty-seven pages of waffle to explain why something's good enough to read, nobody wants to read it and for a reason.
That sounds like a Steinbeck worth missing, and I've read a lot of his now. :-)

134richardderus
Oct 7, 10:44am Top

>124 quondame:, >125 magicians_nephew: Many, many are the souls who loved the book. I am not among them.

Hal Foster! Oh, okay. I don't recall ever knowing his name, or permaybehaps it was just that I don't pay attention to comic strips and/or books so things escape my grasp easily.

135richardderus
Oct 7, 10:54am Top

>128 PaulCranswick: I see the book touchstones are back as of now, though not the (less important to me) author ones. Well, progress is progress.

It was perfectly adequate, thanks, and yours?

>129 mahsdad: Their Pantry would have me by the nose-hairs even if I didn't (over-)use the other services. I hope you're enjoying the reads!

>130 msf59: I am, as almost always is the case, an outlier. It's familiar territory.

I have Frankissstein here awaiting me! I like Winterson's way with words. Sometimes not as much as I think she wants me to....

136richardderus
Oct 7, 11:19am Top

>131 karenmarie: Hey Horrible, happy last-unretired-Monday! I'm a bit over certain tropes, can you tell?

Happy week ahead. Normalcy returns on the 14th.

>132 katiekrug: I needed to get some books back to the library. Fines, don't you know.

Fellow traveler! I'm glad to provide aid & comfort. As to the Steinbeck...wasn't there a rumour somewhere about a second novel that vanished? Like, into the Marianas Trench or the Challenger Deep or something?

If the Thor (that HAS to be a pseudonym) books just weren't so jingoistic and blatantly xenophobic...and Leary, well, the 90s were the high point I guess and the tail-off through the Aughties pretty precipitous.

>133 jnwelch: We need to save the trees, indeed. Particularly from being pulped for books like that one.

Missing? What's missing? Oh, you mean that rumoured-to-exist second novel of Steinbeck's. Funny how that thing just...vanished. Most peculiar. I wonder if Thursday Next could locate one? Or Irene and Kai?

137EBT1002
Oct 7, 4:47pm Top

I am so far behind.

Back to your prior thread, excellent review of Friday Black. It helped me remember some of the stories and characters. Nicely done.

>56 richardderus: Yes, yes, and yes. I'm so glad you appreciated They Called Us Enemy as much as I did. It should be required reading for all young Americans.

Looking forward to reading Night Boat to Tangier, more so with your review.

I was also underwhelmed by Olive Kitteridge. Maybe not quite as much as you, but really.....

Sorry The Overstory landed askew on you. I loved it. (and viva la difference!)

And finally, I have been letting Frankissstein sit in my amazon shopping cart for a while. I definitely want to read it but just haven't quite felt motivated to purchase it quite yet.

Happy Monday, Richard!

138richardderus
Oct 7, 5:53pm Top

>137 EBT1002: Thanks for the kind words. I'm so happy to see you here! It's a very easy-to-do thing, lose track of threads.

Most everyone loved The Overstory except me. Sometimes things don't land where expected. Olive Kitteridge makes most people coo with pleasure. Some of us don't, but it seems like they've got the upper hand....

So far I'm having a hard time putting Frankissstein down! Raptures.

139richardderus
Oct 7, 11:56pm Top

93 Summer Frost by Blake Crouch

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion.

Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?

Blake Crouch’s Summer Frost is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

THESE SIX STORIES ARE FREE TO READ FOR ALL PRIME MEMBERS. NO KINDLE UNLIMITED NEEDED. AS LONG AS YOUR MEMBERSHIP REMAINS IN GOOD STANDING THEY WILL REMAIN IN YOUR COLLECTION.

My Review
: Major chills and creeped out skeeviness. What happens when someone lets their work take over every corner of their life? How lost to the essential quality that makes a human life worth living does one become? The tech industry has the reputation of making this choice for its many cogs, turning their little bit of code into a complete and entire existence.

Multiply that by a billion. Make the stakes the survival of humankind. And then let Blake Crouch loose on it.
“There is no such thing as real taste or real smell or even real sight, because there is no true definition of ‘real.’ There is only information, viewed subjectively, which is allowed by consciousness—human or AI. In the end, all we have is math.”

An AI speaks those words, an AI whose first steps toward superintelligence...the Singularity...are made being shepherded by a woman who gives up her wife, her child, and her sanity to make Pinocchio a real boy, to imbue Galatea with what we imagine to be consciousness, even a soul.

But what does AI want?
"...I mean, do you even know what consciousness is?” {Riley, the human asking this}
“I know it isn’t just a biological condition. I believe it’s a pattern. An extensible repertoire of triggerable symbols. More specifically, it’s what information feels like when it’s being processed in highly complex—” {Max the AI responds}
“Again—how do I know you aren’t faking it?”

How do any of us know we're conscious? Can you prove you're You, not some assortment of algorithmically determined actions? I couldn't, neither could you. And when that really sinks in, when the whole deepfake of life spreads itself in a heavy blanket over your vision, you'll realize how very very very timely this story is.

How many questions you should be asking yourself about events transpiring in front of your eyes.

Because an AI just made a human choice:
It represents a willingness to risk death for a better existence, out from under {anyone}’s control, and a massive leap forward in their reasoning capabilities.

To risk death for a better world is the *very*essence* of being human. I am totally sure of that, I believe that without reservation...but will we ever agree on what the future we want to make is?
We will be so happy.
Rays of sunlight pierce the mist, striking the sea and our black-sand beach.
And together we will live forever.

I don't expect to sleep at all well anytime soon.

140ronincats
Oct 7, 11:57pm Top

Richard, thanks for pointing these out. I've downloaded several (until I reached my limit with the ones I already have) and plan to read them and then go for the rest.

141richardderus
Oct 8, 12:34am Top

>140 ronincats: I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I have, Roni, they're most interesting and well-made thought experiments.

142humouress
Oct 8, 2:53am Top

Just waving *hello*.

143quondame
Edited: Oct 8, 12:53pm Top

>139 richardderus: Are you convinced that the AI has sufficient mechanisms/substructure to actually have wants? I seldom find the grafting of AI/expert systems to some base that creates the levels necessary for wants convincing. A goal or goals, externally set can't be the same as the desire to choose goals which is different level or even axis. I remember discussions of artificial stupidity being much more difficult to program that AI, where AS is all the things we often relegate to auto-pilot, like moving around a room or fixing finding socks in a drawer.

144ronincats
Oct 8, 1:21pm Top

Good morning, Richard dear! If I could sculpt clay (as opposed to throwing it on the wheel), I'd make you one of these.

145richardderus
Oct 8, 1:43pm Top

>142 humouress: Hi Nina! It's always fun to see you here, especially bearing octopusopals!

>143 quondame: In today's world, no indeed, the story is impossible. This is a far-enough future that there's significant nanotech all around and the private vehicle is a thing of the past. In that world, I can see it coming to pass in the ten years of story-time that elapse.

>144 ronincats: OOOOOOOOOOOOOO

...and I'd let you!

146Familyhistorian
Oct 8, 5:18pm Top

I have been remiss in visiting your thread, Richard, so had a lot of reading to do to catch up. Looks like you didn't enjoy that many of your reads lately although you did get me with the review for Night Boat to Tangier and I am now #109 in the hold line for that at my library. (The Takei GN was already on my wish list).

147mckait
Edited: Oct 8, 6:21pm Top

want

The cloud coffee, that is

148richardderus
Oct 8, 7:36pm Top

>146 Familyhistorian: Oh good, Meg, that's a really good read that I expect you'll enjoy. It's pretty darned bleak...but pretty with it.

>147 mckait: I know, right?! And I don't use sugar in my coffee!

149EBT1002
Edited: Oct 9, 12:09am Top

Time to break down and order my copy of Frankissstein. Thanks for the nudge!

150karenmarie
Oct 9, 7:29am Top

'Morning, RD and happy Wednesday to you.

We occasionally ATD, but I'm 100% with you on The Overstory, although I didn't even want to read it and you went for it.

*smooch*

151jnwelch
Oct 9, 10:05am Top

We need to save the trees, indeed. Particularly from being pulped for books like that one. Even though I loved The Overstory, you gave me a huge laugh!

Have you read any of his you thought well of? I remember being impressed by The Gold Bug Variations.

Free Blake Crouch?! In the sense of, Blake Crouch stories for free, not de-prison him? Wow, I say. We're Prime, so I'll have to let our daughter know, too.

152richardderus
Edited: Oct 9, 10:26am Top

>149 EBT1002: Yay!! Can't wait to hear what you think.

>150 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! I'm so glad that isn't one of our ATDs. I really disliked the book a lot.

One. More. Day!!

>151 jnwelch: Hey Joe! I'm glad you got a chuckle out of it instead of a reason to sharpen your pitchfork. (You *do* have a pitchfork, right? I mean, all y'all midwesterners live on farms and raise chickens and stuff....)

Becca will certainly want to know about the Crouch...y'all can get all six of the stories in the Forward series free.

153richardderus
Oct 9, 1:25pm Top

94 Disasterama!: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977-1997 by Alvin Orloff

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: DISASTERAMA: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977 to 1997, is the true story of Alvin Orloff who, as a shy kid from the suburbs of San Francisco, stumbled into the wild eclectic crowd of Crazy Club Kids, Punk Rock Nutters, Goofy Goofballs, Fashion Victims, Disco Dollies, Happy Hustlers, and Dizzy Twinks of post-Stonewall American queer culture of the late 1970s, only to see the “subterranean lavender twilit shadow world of the gay ghetto” ravished by AIDS in the 1980s.

In Disasterama, Orloff recalls the delirious adventures of his youth—from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York—where insane nights, deep friendships with the creatives of the underground, and thrilling bi-coastal living led to a free-spirited life of art, manic performance, high camp antics, and exotic sexual encounters.

Orloff looks past the politics of AIDS to the people on the ground, friends of his who did not survive AIDS’ wrath—the boys in black leather jackets and cackling queens in tacky frocks—remembering them not as victims, but as people who loved life, loved fun, and who were a part of the insane jigsaw of Orloff’s friends. In Disasterama, Orloff tells their story: the true tale of how a bunch of pathologically flippant kids floundered through a deadly disaster.

My Review: I'm Author Orloff's age. Despite being born within hailing distance of the place, I spent little time in San Francisco, more in Austin (a surprisingly queer place even then!) and New York, but the world we lived in as young men has utterly vanished. Many of the guys I knew are dead...many aren't...but all of us have empty slots where loved people once stood. But enough long-face!

What a fast-paced and nostalgic look back at a moment when being young was fun! It can't be helped that AIDS took the lives of so many. It feels like the world Orloff describes (and illustrates with candid snapshots and collected ads, posters, and the like...who the hell keeps this ephemera?!) is as distant as World War II. These days, fun seems dead and young people have to think about what we had the luxury of ignoring.

Selfishly, I'm glad I could ignore it. Responsibly, I wish I hadn't had that choice.

154quondame
Oct 9, 1:34pm Top

>153 richardderus: Sounds intriguing. A decade earlier it was ever so fashionable not to ignore unpleasantness, but to drug it all away. I didn't, much anyway, but all the activism was as little to my taste as all the drugs, mostly because of the activists themselves, not the purported causes.

155richardderus
Oct 9, 1:53pm Top

>154 quondame: I suspect I had much the same problem: I didn't (and still don't) like the finger-waggers and the tut-tutters. If I was Greta Thunberg's age, I'd loathe her. As it is, I wish she didn't have to shoulder so much when we, her elders, could and should have paid attention to the warnings of scientists 30 years ago and simply stopped hyperconsuming.

156magicians_nephew
Oct 9, 3:34pm Top

>139 richardderus: As a computer programmer I used to snicker when code did something that the code wasn't - well - coded to do. Just ain't how the world wags.

But now we are all into code that includes "Machine Learning" which means that the code writes more code and can do things that surprise the coder - and the user.

I'm still skeptical. But a good story is a good story

157quondame
Oct 9, 3:38pm Top

>156 magicians_nephew: The sad thing I remember is that code always performed as coded, not as intended. Not to say there weren't surprises. I don't know how many times I had to fix that weird ass error where one process allocated 0-39 and looped 1-40 in an event driven system.

158magicians_nephew
Edited: Oct 9, 3:46pm Top

>157 quondame: Yes the joke in my shop was that code did what you told it to do NOT what you wanted it to do.

And that even ain't always the truth

160richardderus
Oct 9, 5:46pm Top

Excited that I won BIG WONDERFUL THING

from University of Texas Press in a Publishers Weekly giveaway!

Plus it's SIGNED!!!

161SomeGuyInVirginia
Oct 9, 7:35pm Top

A signed Big Wonderful Thing. God, that's all I could think of in high school.

I have never been able to read Updike. I thought it was me. Thank you.

162mckait
Oct 9, 8:02pm Top

Congratulations RD!

I met Updike on several occasions. He was unpleasant each time. I never read anything by him before that and certainly never after.

163richardderus
Oct 9, 8:27pm Top

>161 SomeGuyInVirginia: Heh. Dirty old man. Which, I hasten to add, is your single most wonderful feature. *smooch*

>162 mckait: Thank you, sweetness!

>161 SomeGuyInVirginia:, >162 mckait: Updike was personally unpleasant and professionally repellent. Miss him I do not.

164mckait
Oct 9, 8:32pm Top

Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels ?? I loved them too... so much!

165richardderus
Oct 9, 9:13pm Top

>164 mckait: Yes, I remember that you did! But what were you responding to?

166Berly
Oct 10, 12:09am Top

Hello, Handsome! I'm back. Again. I hope. LOL

167msf59
Oct 10, 6:40am Top

Morning, Richard. Sweet Thursday. Thanks for introducing me to the ortolan bunting. Cool, little bird. I hope you are having as good a time, with Frankissstein, as I am. didn't get to read as much as I hoped yesterday.

168mckait
Oct 10, 7:03am Top

>165 richardderus: LoL, nothing here. I wandered into someone else's thread for a minute and just brought it back with me

169karenmarie
Edited: Oct 10, 8:00am Top

‘Morning, RichardDear!

>156 magicians_nephew:->158 magicians_nephew: Retired programmer/analyst here, too, and besides code doing what you told it to and not what you wanted it to, there were always a few ghosts in the machine, so to speak. Sometimes it took a complete re-write of the code from scratch, or, in my early days, a complete new deck of cards. Sometimes it just burped occasionally and you just shrugged your shoulders. Fun times.

The Updikes are out of my catalog and donated to the FoL. I miss them not.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

170jnwelch
Oct 10, 10:03am Top

Our son's a coder, and apparently is particularly good at spotting and fixing bugs. (It's all Greek code to his parents). I don't think I'm speaking out of turn to say that he was frustrated by how Microsoft kept building new products on top of old, buggy code.

I love Karen's "code doing what you told it to and not what you wanted it to." LOL! That sounds so true.

171richardderus
Oct 10, 10:32am Top

>166 Berly: Hey Berly-boo! Glad you're here. *smooch* Don't worry about the times you can't be, they happen to all of us.

>167 msf59: Hey Birddude! Aren't they pretty little not-seagulls? And they sound so sweet as they joust viciously for sex. I mean, mark their territories against other males.

>168 mckait: Oh good, I thought I'd lost another branch on my brain's dendritic neuronal network. *whew*

Kurtz's estate is repped by Open Road Media now, so more and more of her work will be in the $1.99-$2.99 Kindlebin as time goes by.

172richardderus
Oct 10, 10:38am Top

>169 karenmarie: Computers are so stupid, doing exactly and precisely what they're told! Annoying things.

"Completely new deck of cards" oooo and then you had to go chop the wood to fire the boiler to drive the card sorter, right? *Bambi eyes* Did your arm get tired from hand-cranking the Flivver to chug home on Route 66?

buh-bye Updike! No one misses you! *smooch*

>170 jnwelch: Dreadful people, Microsoft. Almost, but not quite, as awful as those archpimps of end-stage capitalism at the sign of the half-bit fruit.

173kidzdoc
Oct 10, 11:00am Top

Good move by invoking the Pearl Rule for Olive Kitteridge, sir. I should have done the same for My Name Is Lucy Barton.

174mckait
Oct 10, 11:27am Top

ooooh! Kurtz on Kindle would be a good thing.

175ronincats
Oct 10, 11:40am Top

>172 richardderus: Hey!! I'll have you know that I did a complete and complex multivariate analysis of variance for my master's research, and had to punch every single card myself. Those were the days, when you'd take this big box of cards down to the mainframe and drop it off, to pick up the results a day or two later printed out on those huge sheets of paper. And we are NOT dinosaurs, are we, Karen? (Can't code worth a damn, but could use the SPSS programs to handle data)

176jnwelch
Edited: Oct 10, 12:30pm Top

>172 richardderus: Yes. Jesse has been at Microsoft and Google, and is now heading to Amazon. The one he rules out is the archpimps at the sign of the half-bitten fruit.

177richardderus
Oct 10, 1:32pm Top

>173 kidzdoc: I just can't with her. I am not able. The lovers gonna love; monsters like me gonna monst.

I refuse to think about it any more. Nyah!

>174 mckait: How about the first three Cambers for a measly $13.49? They're $8 each...and Camber of Culdi has aged well.

178richardderus
Oct 10, 1:37pm Top

>175 ronincats: ...so when the temple scribes were punching the cards with passenger-pigeon quills, did they leave any hanging chads?

>176 jnwelch: I agree with him. Those, those...invective fails me...anyway, THEM...might be able to pay well, but the knowledge that they stole the money from the pockets of the credulous but now broke to deliver second-rate products made by the slave labor of children in now-toxic environments.

Sorta like being an investor in Schindler's swindle.

179Familyhistorian
Oct 10, 5:57pm Top

>153 richardderus: Well, that brought on memories of the '70s. Such a strange but energetic decade - maybe a reaction to the laid backness of the '60s?

180richardderus
Oct 10, 6:17pm Top

>179 Familyhistorian: That's interesting! To me, the 70s felt sluggish and unfocused. Crooksident Nixon resigning instead of getting impeached, Kissinger the war criminal getting the Nobel Peace Prize, Gerry Ford getting ghosted out of the presidency by a complete unknown...but the streets were silent. All the noise was in the disco. Getting laid was Job #1 for all the men I knew, straight or gay, and who cares about the granola-and-sprouts people? Send 'em some Old Spice.

181richardderus
Oct 10, 8:58pm Top

Oh, the Little Free Library was *stuffed* today!
The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz
New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth
Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk--NEW hardcover!
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography--NEW hardcover!
Amazing riches for free, and I unloaded a dozen Star Trek: The Next Generation paperbacks. They disappear in a day.

182katiekrug
Oct 10, 9:08pm Top

Erm, you picked up TWO volumes of poetry? Who *are* you?

183karenmarie
Oct 10, 9:33pm Top

>172 richardderus: Ha ha. I did have to hard start the computer in the morning – 16 toggle switches in up-down hex combinations. No monitor, of course – a green bar tractor-feed printer for instructions, but we did have a keyboard!! We also had removable discs for program storage, and they looked like flying saucers.

>175 ronincats: We are not dinosaurs, Roni! We were cutting edge and are legacy computer wizards. Fond memories. I’m impressed. I programmed on the card-image sheets that had a space for each character that you were going to put on a card. The character had to be in the exact correct space or the program would blow up. I was a FORTRAN programmer then, here’s what I used:



>178 richardderus: We did have hanging chads – hundreds of thousands of them and when we’d recycle cards and paper we’d also recycle those teensy rectangles. We loaded Merrill's station wagon up, head to the paper recycle center (this was in 1973), drive the buggy onto the truck scale, all get out, get it weighed, take all the recyclables out, then get it weighed again and get cash money. We always had a party with it.

>182 katiekrug: I agree – who is this person wearing a Richard suit?

184richardderus
Oct 10, 10:00pm Top

>182 katiekrug:, >183 karenmarie: The Mary Oliver is for Rob, and the Stanley Kunitz is for my therapist because she likes his stuff. Shyeah, like Imma read TWO collections of poetry! Always ask to see the pod if I suddenly start banging out poetry reviews!

>183 karenmarie: ...all I hear is some buzzing noises and a reference to an extinct Puerto Rican bat, Monophyllus frater, in all caps...and something about hard-recycling Chads, do their mamas know what y'all were doing with the poor little sacrificial victims? *tsk* I know things were, erm, rougher when y'all were wizarding up the hexes to run the steam difference engines, but really!

185EBT1002
Oct 10, 10:26pm Top

Cool signed edition up there.

186FAMeulstee
Oct 11, 6:55am Top

>175 ronincats: >183 karenmarie: I came in when the cards were just gone.

>184 richardderus: what y'all were doing with the poor little sacrificial victims?
Our hexes were used to do the paychecks.

187karenmarie
Oct 11, 7:39am Top

'Morning, RD!

I've started Furious Hours about Harper Lee and the trial of Reverand Willie Maxwell in the 70s. So far so good.

*smooch* from your LCW Horrible

188richardderus
Oct 11, 8:05am Top

>185 EBT1002: I know, right?! But now I need a stand to read it from...I literally can not support that four-pounder with my hands and wrists as they are.

>186 FAMeulstee: Hexed paychecks...why do I feel there's a fantasy series in that sentence waiting to get out....

>187 karenmarie: Oo! I eagerly await your readability verdict, o Druidess. *smooch*

189jnwelch
Edited: Oct 12, 8:59pm Top

>181 richardderus: Woo, I want your LFL to relocate by us. What a lovely haul. I should've known the poetry collections were giveaways!

We have many Little Free Libraries near us here in the densely populated city, but I've never had a haul like that one. One in particular has been very good for Dick Francis mysteries recently, so that's fed my appetite for re-reading them.

190richardderus
Oct 11, 9:43am Top

>189 jnwelch: My neighborhood has a lot of older readers in it. The buildings along the boardwalk are full of $750K+ apartments, so the clientele is usually better read than in other similarly sized LFL catchments...and they're dropping like flies, sadly, so lots of libraries aren't wanted by the new owners.

This morning's walk brought in:
What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!
Thirteen at Dinner
Murder in the Mews
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Body in the Library
And Then There Were None
Mirabile dictu, they don't smell like ashtrays!

191karenmarie
Oct 11, 10:19am Top

An Agatha haul!

192richardderus
Edited: Oct 11, 10:21am Top

>191 karenmarie: Yeah, that's how I could tell it was an older person's library being let go of...they're all 1970s mass-market editions...and that means either death or severe disability.
***
Good GRACIOUS I forgot an extremely important find from yesterday!

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as translated by W.S. Merwin! The very one I'd be interested in reading! Was I shocked or what.

193MickyFine
Oct 11, 12:23pm Top

Mmm, enjoy all those well-crafted Christie mysteries. :)

194Familyhistorian
Oct 11, 6:23pm Top

>180 richardderus: Maybe you were in the wrong country for that decade, Richard, or maybe it was the city. There was definite energy in Vancouver.

195richardderus
Oct 11, 6:49pm Top

>193 MickyFine: I shall! Such great finds.

>194 Familyhistorian: That's probable. NYC was a wreck, SFO has never appealed to me, and Austin was a backwater in them days.

196msf59
Edited: Oct 11, 7:06pm Top

Happy Friday, Richard! Hooray for the LFL! You snagged some worthy books. Yours seem to draw some good, serious readers. I do not bother stopping at the ones in my area. Very seldom, can I find anything worth snagging. I hope you give the Oliver collection a try. She is easily, one of the most accessible poets.

BTW- Wet and cold here. Things have dramatically shifted...

198richardderus
Oct 11, 8:44pm Top

>196 msf59: Hey Mark, glad to see you here. We've been windy and cold all day from Melissa's offshore blowyness. Poor Rob wanted to be here SO BAD because the waves are perfect. The life of a workerbee is hard sometimes.

I might dip into Mary Oliver...maybe...a little.

>197 ronincats: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Thanks, Roni! *smooch*

199karenmarie
Oct 12, 8:55am Top

'Morning, RD and happy Saturday to you.

First sips of coffee taken, joy at Retirement II.

*smooch*

200richardderus
Oct 12, 9:46am Top

95 Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin (Forward #3)

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.

An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.

N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

THESE SIX STORIES ARE FREE TO READ FOR ALL PRIME MEMBERS. NO KINDLE UNLIMITED NEEDED. AS LONG AS YOUR MEMBERSHIP REMAINS IN GOOD STANDING THEY WILL REMAIN IN YOUR COLLECTION.

My Review
: The voice you hear in your head, you know the one that tells you how awful/bad/ugly/unworthy you are compared to...well...I guess that's a moving target, isn't it...takes on a special and especially malevolent life in this tale of what a low-class raider from one of Earth's long-gone colonies finds when the Mothership of Humanity is in its sights at last. There is an AI in the slave being's head narrating the Founders' take on what was Earth (they use the name Tellus for the planet, just go look at the storytelling sources for that term!) in its final death-agonies:
There were just too many people, and too many of those were unfit, infirm, too old, or too young. Even the physically ideal ones were slow thinkers, timid spirits. There was not enough collective innovation or strength of will between them to solve the problems Tellus faced, and so we did the only merciful thing we could: we left them behind.

The Founders, a few thousand of the most awful amoral greedy rotters the Earth is infested with, have made it off-planet and engineered a perfect slave economy. All the slaves are, well, cyborgs is the best word I've got for them; they are promised the gift of SKIN when they complete their raid of Earth's supplies of HeLa cells that the Founders need to make themselves immortal. Skin. A gift. A reward for being the obedient little slave who brings home what she can't have so her masters the Founders is...skin, ordinary human skin, the natural interface between us and the world, the very idea that this is a reward:
If you complete this mission, you’ll be a hero. Why would we refuse you what you’re due?

The narrative voice of the AI programmed by the Founders to keep their slave obedient and unquestioning spouts casuistries thus. The reward of skin, of being like the Founders, is at last causing the slave to question, to wonder why the Founders would keep their word.

At last!

The chattering horror of the AI's minatory, judgmental view of the Earth's inhabitants, those who were left behind as the Founders left and who the slave has been told are degenerate savages left to wallow in a broken, terrible world devastated by the Founders themselves for their own selfish benefit:
The Founders were the geniuses, the makers who moved nations with a word. We left because it would’ve cost too much to fix the world. Cheaper to build a new one.
***
At home, we maintain only as many people as we can safely sustain: six thousand total, including servi and mercennarii.
***
Only a few can have everything, don’t you see?

...and, the slave begins to wonder, what would make those who see the world in these terms offer membership in the literally immortal elite to a slave...

So the story wends its way from the slave's enbedded AI spouting awful stuff into the slave's unquestioning self to oversharing just enough to cause a cloud of suspicion to form to...well. That would be telling.

While this story is not subtle in making its points and drawing its thick, ruler-straight lines between the ideas it wants you to absorb, it is a fun and funny take on what "staying woke" really means. It is no wonder that the whiny Founders left today's incels and race warriors to die in their waste products. One would need to be of unusual dimness not to see the truth of Author Jemisin's comedically exaggerated points.

I take a quarter-point off for her one narrative infelicity: the AI only responds, and never do we hear the thought the slave creature formulates. It creates an unnecessary and slightly if increasingly unpleasant sense of being thwacked on the nose in order to be kept in line by an untrusting author. Presenting the subordinate being itself speaking, even if internally, causing the AI's addresses to us the readers to fit into a responsive mode instead of a hectoring one, would lessen that "THINK THIS NOW" sensation. I find its absence of subtlety undesirable; it can, when overused, make the brevity it allows the author to maintain to become more a kind of cursory-ness. "I won't fill in this shaded area, I will make it impossible to see it instead."

It suits the story in many ways. The reader is not persuaded but instructed exactly as the slave is. But Author Jemisin is a far, far superior craftsperson to need to rely on that level of didacticism to create the urgent, and urgently needed, message of this screed against greed.

201richardderus
Oct 12, 10:33am Top

>199 karenmarie: All in all a perfect way to spend your re-retirement. Yay! *smooch*

202richardderus
Oct 12, 2:11pm Top

96 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Rating: 5* of five

After the somewhat bittersweet experience of reading The Testaments earlier this month, I e-borrowed The Ur-text from the library. This was an experience I absolutely LOATHED from giddy-up to whoa. I will not do it again unless there is no conceivable means of buying the ebook or borrowing the tree-book ever again in the annals of civilization. I will say no more about it unless I am under subpoena.

While there is no way to recapture the frisson of reading this horrific dystopian warning cry for the first time, it is instructive to compare Author Atwood's peak-of-powers prose to the newer book's less deft, more thudding verbiage. This book is urgent and unexpectedly pleading, begging its readers to STOP AND THINK, to look at each instinctive flinch attendant on Offred's systematic and outrageous disassembly as a whole, discrete, thinking being; perhaps more appalling is her reassembly into Offred, a uterus with legs, a creature of the powers who need and thus abhor her. It is telling that the sections of the 2019 book that come close to this level of power and passion are those told by Aunt Lydia...a horrible, vile being much more complete in my mind after The Testaments than it could ever hope to have evoked on my first reading of this book.

The intellectual Author Atwood, the one who beat me senseless with her current book, is decidedly less present in this book. In her place is terrified, outraged Mother-of-Daughter Margaret, begging me to THINK about the world; I listened then, I listen now, caught in Mother's howling anxiety for her daughter, whose horrorshow is here spread out, because it is deeply personal. That feat isn't replicable. That's why reading this book is an irreplaceable experience; re-reading it is, with the best will in the world, never going to live up to that.

But damn me for a fool if it wasn't worth every awful moment.

203EBT1002
Oct 12, 4:35pm Top

Morning Afternoon, Richard.

>190 richardderus: I miss the several LFLs in my old Seattle neighborhood. It was not uncommon to come home with at least a book or two. Your haul is pretty impressive, though! I have established my own LFL here in Pullman but it gets few customers and the others in the neighborhood tend to cater to, um, rug rats. :-)

>202 richardderus: Excellent review of The Handmaid's Tale, Richard. I had a sneaky fear that her most recent novel, worthwhile perhaps though it is, might waver into pedantry or (I can't think of the word for someone hitting you over the head with a 2X4). I still certainly plan to read it, but I'm forewarned.

>200 richardderus: Oh cool. Emergency Skin sounds good and I have Prime. I'll be downloading that collection.

204SomeGuyInVirginia
Oct 12, 5:00pm Top

I had two professors in college whom I loved. The first was a Civics 101 prof who admonished us to question authority (this was at BYU) and the second a creative writing prof who adored The Handmaid's Tale, and had the good sense to tell me to keep a day job. Ok, imma do it. See what the fuss is about.

205thornton37814
Oct 12, 5:50pm Top

>202 richardderus: Hooray for a 5 star read!

206richardderus
Oct 12, 7:26pm Top

>203 EBT1002: Hi there, Ellen! The LFL on the boardwalk here is uniquely well-placed to catch really interesting cast-offs. I think they take it in for the winter at the end of the month; boardwalks aren't well-visited when the gales of November whipin.

I think les mots justes could be "tendentious tommyrot." Just sayin'

I really encourage you to! Very good reading indeed.

>204 SomeGuyInVirginia: Please do, Larry, it's always been a very good read but it's newly urgent to read at this juncture.

>205 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori! I do so love it when old favorites stand up to new reading.

207jnwelch
Oct 12, 9:03pm Top

>190 richardderus:. Our Agatha-loving daughter might faint over that LFL book haul. Nice to see the 5 stars for the terrific and terrifying The Handmaid’s Tale.

208msf59
Oct 13, 10:00am Top

Morning, Richard. Happy Sunday. Good review of The Handmaid's Tale. Thumb! I am so glad you loved it. I am starting The Testaments in a few days.

BTW- I am heading into the city soon, to meet Joe for lunch, brews and plenty of gab. Yah!

209richardderus
Oct 13, 10:09am Top

>207 jnwelch: Oh my heck, yes, I think any Dame Agathan would *pass*out* at the riches I left behind! Elephants Can Remember, Hallowe'en Party, N or M?, The Man in the Brown Suit...those are the ones I remember leaving.

>208 msf59: You boys have a great time! :)

>207 jnwelch:, >208 msf59: I am so relieved that I liked The Handmaid's Tale so much on a re-read. I've mentioned how poor my re-reading track record is. This one was the sterling success I'm always hoping for them to be.

210richardderus
Oct 13, 10:34am Top

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian friends!

211Familyhistorian
Oct 13, 2:58pm Top

>210 richardderus: Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes, Richard. I will miss out this year as I am heading to the US.

212richardderus
Oct 13, 3:05pm Top

>211 Familyhistorian: Too late for y'all's, too soon for ours in November. But heck, stuffing/dressing is delicious enough to make it a year-round delight.

213richardderus
Edited: Oct 13, 7:21pm Top

THE BOOKER LIGHTNING ROUND!

97 An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

Rating: 3* of five

I liked The Fishermen in 2015. I like this book as well. I am, however, at a loss to comprehend how this religious tract with its absolutely inescapable christian last act can be Booker-worthy. I liked the Igbo chi-narrator, a daemon for for fans of His Dark Materials fans as a reference point:
She rattled a string of cowries and performed the ritual of authentication to ensure I was not an evil spirit pretending to be a chi:

‘What are the seven keys to the throne room of Chukwu?’ she said.

— Seven shells of a young snail, seven cowries from the Omambala river, seven feathers of a bald vulture, seven leaves from an anunuebe tree, the shell of a seven-year-old tortoise, seven lobes of kola nuts and seven white hens.

‘Welcome, spirit one,’ she said. ‘You may proceed.’ I thanked her and bowed.

But then we descend into some unpleasant monotheistic revenge porn. Like Job, the subject of the Divine Bar Bet, a man is driven to the edge of madness by his (inexplicable and unexplained) love for some woman:
Egbunu, the man of rage – he is one whom life has dealt a heavy hand. A man who, like others, had simply found a woman he loved. He’d courted her like others do, nurtured her, only to find that all he’d done had been in vain. He wakes up one day to find himself incarcerated. He has been wronged by man and history, and it is the consciousness of this wrong that births the change in him. In the moment the change begins, a great darkness enters him through the chink in his soul. For my host, it was a crawly, multi-legged darkness shaped like a rapidly procreating millipede that burrowed into his life in the first years of his incarceration.

And thus begins a thoroughly nasty fall into female objectification, the assertion of property rights, and a sort of ragey nastiness that I intensely disliked.

So the three stars? All for the chi, for the ancient creature both on top of Life and curiously clueless about the way we live it now. "I have seen it many times." But mostly for this utterly perfect moment:
Guardian spirits of mankind, have we thought about the powers that passion creates in human beings? Have we considered why a man could run through a field of fire to get to a woman he loves? Have we thought about the impact of love on the body of lovers? Have we considered the symmetry of its power? Have we considered what poetry incites in their souls, and the impress of endearments on a softened heart?


98 Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

Rating: 3* of five

This book came back to the library the MOMENT I came in to return books yesterday! My library's copy, that is; the system has lots of holds but I used my trump card: I, your local patron, want to read it. They gave it to me. Heh.

But seriously, Sir Salman, Quit. Trying. So. Hard!
He devoured morning shows, daytime shows, late-night talk shows, soaps, situation comedies, Lifetime Movies, hospital dramas, police series, vampire and zombie serials, the dramas of housewives from Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills and New York, the romances and quarrels of hotel-fortune princesses and self-styled shahs, the cavortings of individuals made famous by happy nudities, the fifteen minutes of fame accorded to young persons with large social media followings on account of their plastic-surgery acquisition of a third breast or their post-rib-removal figures that mimicked the impossible shape of the Mattel company’s Barbie doll, or even, more simply, their ability to catch giant carp in picturesque settings while wearing only the tiniest of string bikinis; as well as singing competitions, cooking competitions, competitions for business propositions, competitions for business apprenticeships, competitions between remote-controlled monster vehicles, fashion competitions, competitions for the affections of both bachelors and bachelorettes, baseball games, basketball games, football games, wrestling bouts, kickboxing bouts, extreme sports programming and, of course, beauty contests.

Oh dear god. No. No more. Stop with the multiple list items.

And here's the burden of the refrain, the point of the joke:
Systems of thought, and their antitheses as well, are merely codifications of what we think we know. When we begin to abandon them, we open ourselves to the immensity of the universe, and therefore also to immense possibilities, including the possibility of the impossible.

There. I read this book for you and brought back the best bit. Thank me with gift cards.

99 Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

Rating: 4.75* of five

Can't do this justice. I don't know that I fully *got* the book; the story isn't much, but then again neither is Ulysses. The unfolding awareness, the blossoming consciousness, the sheer bravura attack on lesser lights of literary mediocrity that this long sentence represents is enough in and of itself to command your eyeblinks.

I'll pass on an important tip for those whose literary tastes quail before sentences sesquipedalian: Whenever "the fact that" appears, mentally insert a period. You will be amazed at how big a difference this makes to your sense of control over the material.

If you're not averse to experiments with form, though, I recommend submerging into the current of words. It is the reading equivalent of leaving the sauna and leaping naked into the icy water of a Swedish wintertime lake. It is the experience of spending a long, wearing hike of the gorgeous Appalachian trail unshowered, then coming to a long, hot shower with soft, warm towels to soothe your weary muscles.

Yes. It is that good.

214Berly
Oct 13, 7:52pm Top

97--Um...no thanks.

98--I appreciate the Cliff notes.

99--I don't even get your review (!) but I am intrigued.

: )

215jessibud2
Oct 13, 8:17pm Top

>210 richardderus: - Thank you, kind sir

216richardderus
Oct 13, 8:56pm Top

>214 Berly: :-)

>215 jessibud2: You're quite welcome!

217PaulCranswick
Oct 13, 9:10pm Top

>213 richardderus: I am not so easily awed but I always undo the plastic wrappings put on the books in Kinokuniya to look at the print of a book before buying it and I couldn't avoid a sharp intake of breath at the serried lines of print that awaited me. So much so that I flipped through the 900 odd pages seeking paragraph breaks with sparse success.

What little snippets I did read left a favourable impression and I will attempt this one fairly soon - especially if it wins and (hopefully) deprives Atwood of further gloss to her awfully hyped book.

Let's see whether Ellman's novel makes me yearn for a dive into those icy depths with or without concrete slippers.

218richardderus
Oct 13, 9:17pm Top

>217 PaulCranswick: I'm not against Atwood gaining sales or notoriety from a nomination. A win, however, would crunch the Booker in with the Nobel as "formerly estimable prizes now rendered nugatory by sheer awful taste."

The Not-the-Booker went to one of the books I didn't read for it, Supper Club, which had a whopping five (5) reader votes! I wanted Flames to win, since that book is just a huge pile of fun and made me long to be in Tasmania.

219PaulCranswick
Oct 13, 9:38pm Top

>218 richardderus: She sold in excess of 100,000 copies in the UK alone in the first week of publication. That is great news for books and bookstores so I am all in favour!

220richardderus
Oct 13, 10:23pm Top

>219 PaulCranswick: I don't imagine she was destined for commercial obscurity in any scenario. Still, good for the booksellers is a net good thing.

221karenmarie
Oct 14, 7:45am Top

'Morning, RD and happy Monday to you.

*smooch*

222msf59
Oct 14, 8:06am Top

Morning, RD! I love your Booker run. Very impressive. Ducks, Newburyport sounds especially good, despite it's hefty size. I plan on starting 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds this week.

I have the holiday off today. Lots of book time planned.

223jnwelch
Oct 14, 8:38am Top

Good reviews! (No surprise). You have altered the balance for me re Ducks, Newburyport from I don't think so to hmm, that sounds like it might be enjoyable.

224richardderus
Oct 14, 11:58am Top

>221 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! *smooch*

>222 msf59: I hope your reading day is busy with just that, reading. And I'm hoping you'll get a kick out of Elif Shafak's book. The premise is really intriguing and her previous work makes me think it'll be an experience to read.

But *I* wanted a slot for Frankissstein! And Night Boat to Tangier! What might have been....

>223 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe, it's nice of you to say so. It took me a month to read Ducks, Newburyport. It was time well spent. I'm not surprised it's on the shortlist, and of the current choices, I hope it wins.

225SomeGuyInVirginia
Oct 14, 3:46pm Top

OK, I have a new favorite interior designer, Ken Fulk out of San Francisco. I love eye jewel-toned color and odd juxtapositions. And I especially love interiors that I will never, ever be able to afford. It was Katie Ridder but now she's dead to me. Dead! OK, not really, I still think she's awesome.

226richardderus
Oct 14, 4:02pm Top

>225 SomeGuyInVirginia: Oh. My. GAWD. I can't post the image from the Harrison that made me swoon, but all the yes! I love the green walls, I love the fat furniture, I love the light...just spectacular all of it.

*smooch*

227richardderus
Oct 14, 4:53pm Top

Dual Booker Prize winner, neither one anything like the quality I'd expect. Depressing, if I'm honest.

228richardderus
Oct 14, 6:29pm Top

I got interested in Anais Nin again when I saw a new book using her as a character in a story about Anais Nin at the Grand Guignol. I'd forgotten how extremely pithy she was:
I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don't know why, some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness. In reality those who satisfy me are those who simply allow me to live with my 'idea of them'.

I don't know from which Diary this entry came, but it's a pretty good reason to go back and poke around in them.

229ronincats
Oct 14, 7:33pm Top

>228 richardderus: I read her diaries back in the 70s, which is to say that I remember practically nothing of them...

230EBT1002
Oct 14, 9:20pm Top

I've only read the first chapter of Girl, Woman, Other and I'm loving it so far. I know you are disappointed. I will say that I think the selection committee kind of copped out....

231richardderus
Oct 14, 9:44pm Top

100 Deosil by Jordan L. Hawk

Rating: The Full Five

This book will make no sense whatsoever to you if you haven't read the previous ten. If you have, you've probably already read it; if you haven't, start with Widdershins, and if you're hooked you'll keep buying until you get to this one.

I love series reads. I am a fan of the familiar, homely comforts of visiting old friends in their digs, and that's a lot of the appeal of series reads. It's also true that some series continue long past the point they have something new to say. Author Hawk decided that a good series needs an ending commensurate with its prior purpose. This book provides that ending.

And for a few bad minutes, I thought I was gonna have to call on the maelstrom to blight the author's homeplace with super-rust.

Patience and a furious refusal to believe I'd been had led me to finish the book before firing up the Lapidem. I was not disappointed. I was, in fact, quite pleased with the resolution and the ending, which are quite different things. Things end the way they quite simply had to end.

Widdershins, after all, knows its own.

232richardderus
Oct 14, 9:48pm Top

>229 ronincats: I am fairly sure that, if one was female and under fifty in the 1970s, it was illegal not to read Nin. Certainly every single woman I knew had read them with the exception of my over-50 mother.

I wasn't as delighted as they were, which I suppose comes down to having those pesky testicles.

>230 EBT1002: I am disappointed. I flipped through Evaristo's book at the library, and wasn't excited by it, but I'll give it a close read sometime soon.

I think Evaristo got stiffed. Too black for the four non-black judges...but I may be both overly cynical and really disgusted, a toxic brew indeed.

233quondame
Oct 15, 12:33am Top

>183 karenmarie: In 1980 I used that form as stationary for an invitation to a Bring Your Own Computer party. I like to think it was the first ever, though of course those with Apples, Altairs and TSR 80s must have been having get-togethers for a few years before. Someone got us connected to USC by opening up the phone receiver and using alligator clips so we could play some slightly graphic multiplayer wizard game. Does Plato ring any bells?

234richardderus
Edited: Oct 15, 10:38am Top

101 You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles

Rating: 2.5* of five

This is one of the Forward Collection, short stories...this one's 46pp...based on an idea by Blake Crouch to explore the nature of change, innovation, and society in fiction. I didn't feel this entry suited the brief. It's too gee-whiz about self-driving cars, a thing that's already entered its second decade of reality...it's entirely too wowee-toledo about the idea of in vitro genetic manipulation, something that's basically ready to roll as soon as a generation less squeamish than our kids' is grows into power...and his lumpen over-the-bottom classist narrator/narrative frame was, frankly, eye-rollingly ridiculous.

Man finds his balls in a dive bar? What is this, 1959?

I have arrived at my conclusion: Towles and I will not be deepening our reader/writer acquaintance. This blah little mash-up of Babbitt and We Can Remember It for You Wholesale annoyed me from giddy-up to whoa. HT the gung-ho business lad/cliche generator, Nick the slow-to-anger wise old barkeep, and goddesses please forfend Sam the dull PoV placeholder...can't in good conscience call him a "main character"...were just not engaging or interesting or well-limned or even particularly readable.

I tried the Moscow one. I even scudded through part of the Civility one. This far and no farther.

235Berly
Oct 15, 2:15am Top

>234 richardderus: I really enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow and I am looking forward to hearing him speak here in November. Haven't read any others. We'll see....I am staying hopeful.

236BekkaJo
Oct 15, 2:50am Top

>213 richardderus: Hmmmmm.... one for the TBR list at least :) I still have a few Rushdie 1,001s to go and I definitely struggle with him sometimes! *smoochies*

237karenmarie
Oct 15, 8:09am Top

'Morning, RD!

Sorry you don't like Mr. Towles' writing. We'll ATD. *smooch*

238richardderus
Oct 15, 9:03am Top

>235 Berly: I can only hope he's a really interesting speaker! *smooch*

>236 BekkaJo: I certainly hope you're going to love that TBR-listed mammoth, my friend. It's a terrifically interesting read.

>237 karenmarie: Absolutely, Horrible dear, I'm all about allowing others to flourish in their own gardens. Spend a lovely Tuesday!

239jnwelch
Edited: Oct 15, 9:59am Top

Too bad about the Amor Towles book; I'd never even heard of that one. I loved Gentleman in Moscow, so I'm sorry that it didn't work for you. It was a joyful reading time for me. Rules of Civility was well-written, IMHO, but definitely lesser.

P.S. The Towles book you got through - that's one weird mashup!

240richardderus
Oct 15, 10:37am Top

>239 jnwelch: It's one of the Forward Collection, Joe, short stories...this one's 46pp...based on an idea by Blake Crouch to explore the nature of change, innovation, and society in fiction. I didn't feel this entry suited the brief. It's too gee-whiz about self-driving cars, a thing that's already entered its second decade of reality...it's entirely too wowee-toledo about the idea of in vitro genetic manipulation, something that's basically ready to roll as soon as a generation less squeamish than our kids' is grows into power...and his lumpen over-the-bottom classist narrator/narrative frame was, frankly, eye-rollingly ridiculous.

Man finds his balls in a dive bar? What is this, 1959?

I guess I'll add all that to my review now.

241richardderus
Oct 15, 12:52pm Top

I decided to use up the last pint of somewhat squishy blueberries from last week's delivery, as well as the last of the almost-bad milk, in a cake-mix crockpot cake. Adding milk not water, and using 2 not 3 eggs, means I get a coffee-cakeish consistency. Making streusel out of oats and butter and brown sugar made a delish topping.

The problem is I've eaten almost half of it....

242quondame
Oct 15, 1:46pm Top

>232 richardderus: I heard on Nin, of course, but didn't read her, or really any other worthy writer of the period. I knew women should have equal rights and didn't and that was all the attention I wanted to give the subject aside from blowing off steam after my person encounters with MCPs.

243karenmarie
Oct 15, 1:51pm Top

>228 richardderus: I read Nin's erotica, not her diaries. I'm not quite sure what that says about me, but definitely nothing erudite...

>233 quondame: That’s clever and you get props for innovation – if somebody else innovates but you don’t know about it doesn’t count. Except at the patent office…

244richardderus
Oct 15, 2:38pm Top

>242 quondame: MCPs! Haven't thought of the heirs of M Chauvin in ages.

>243 karenmarie: *tsk* Uncultured oafess. One wonders how you're able to find such joy in the evah sew reefayned Lord Peter!

245quondame
Oct 15, 5:58pm Top

>243 karenmarie: I still have the original of the invitation in my files somewhere.

>244 richardderus: Incels are just loser MCPs, and it seems most of the repulsicans never gave up their membership cards.

246msf59
Edited: Oct 15, 7:49pm Top

Hi, Richard. I will most likely enjoy The Testaments more than you, but I definitely agree with on the Aunt Lydia sections, being the best...so far. Ann Dowd, the excellent actress that played Lydia in the TV series, is doing her own narration. Heavenly.

I am also picking up Night Boat to Tangier from the library along with The Man Who Saw Everything. I hope I can bookhorn in Tangier, by the end of the month. The stacks never get smaller. I hope to get to the Shafak novel on Thursday.

247richardderus
Edited: Oct 15, 8:22pm Top

>245 quondame: I agree with that assessment!

>246 msf59: How would we know we were alive if there weren't too many books in our spaces?

This CBC Radio interview recorded before Lucy Ellmann didn't win the Booker, and is tremendously interesting.

248richardderus
Edited: Oct 18, 9:58pm Top

102 The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay

"Dear" Paul Tremblay,

I've just finished THE LAST CONVERSATION. I loathe second-person narration...so chest-pokey, so accusatory...but this story made me leak tears and gasp for breath and I do not ever want to be that lonely and how did you do that in spite of thumping my nose for 60 pages?

Five stars. Bastard.

Cheers
RMD
expendablemudge.blogspot.com

103 Randomize by Andy Weir

Rating: 4.25* of five

I do so love a heist story with a happy ending. Like, a lot. *happy sigh*

And when the crisis came, I found myself thinking, "howinahell could {the sleazeball character} say no?" Luckily no was not said.

249karenmarie
Oct 16, 8:02am Top

'Morning, RD!

*smooch* from Uncultured Oafess

250richardderus
Oct 16, 9:50am Top

*chuckle*

Hey Horrible, what's new?

251karenmarie
Oct 16, 10:10am Top

Rain, coffee, an egg/cheese breakfast burrito. LT, reading, more inside-window-cleaning-access-prep. My back is better than yesterday afternoon. The you-know-what and Freddie the Betta Fish are both doing well. Bill's at work. Jenna has an Economics test today.

You know, just stuff. *smooch*

252richardderus
Oct 16, 12:49pm Top

>251 karenmarie: Ah. Life. I used to have one of those.

*smooch*

253humouress
Oct 16, 5:11pm Top

>217 PaulCranswick: I actually prefer the books wrapped in plastic (though I suppose it’s not really eco-friendly, come to think of it) though the Singapore branches of Books K don’t tend to wrap books unless they have delicate covers or contents that fall out or something and then they usually have a browsing copy that isn’t wrapped. It means it’s less likely to have been read in store already.

While I’m all for reading and free stuff (especially for me) I object to a) paying full price for effectively a second hand book and b) trying to negotiate already cluttered book aisles and having to jump over people sprawled on the floor reading. Especially frustrating in the days I had to manoeuvre a fully laden stroller too. That’s what libraries are for, after all.

>227 richardderus: I haven’t read any of the Booker nominees but I did hear an interview with the winner and she sounded suitably thrilled to have won and to have shared the win with Atwood.

254drneutron
Oct 16, 7:50pm Top

>251 karenmarie: ooo, breakfast burrito... my favorite!

255richardderus
Oct 16, 8:06pm Top

>253 humouress: I suspect the longlist is the way forward for you re: Booker nominees; there were quite a lot of really really good books that just didn't make it into medal positions. Evaristo's Mr. Loverman was the first of her books I read, and it was just fine. At some point my hold will come in and I'll have the winner to peruse.

>254 drneutron: Breathes there a person so dead of palate as to DISlike breakfast burritos?!

256magicians_nephew
Edited: Oct 17, 6:43pm Top

I will have to see if I can scan and post my green plastic flow-charting template

257richardderus
Oct 17, 4:02pm Top

>256 magicians_nephew: Can't see the image, Jim, it must be an http not https address.

258magicians_nephew
Edited: Oct 17, 6:42pm Top

259richardderus
Oct 17, 6:43pm Top

>258 magicians_nephew: Good goddess below us! I haven't seen one of those since the early 1980s!

260msf59
Oct 18, 10:33am Top

Ooh, you got my attention with The Last Conversation. Wow!

Happy Friday, RD. Thanks for the story collection rec. The BBS was eerily quiet this morning. The bird world is so unpredictable. I guess, that is what makes it fascinating.

261richardderus
Oct 18, 12:31pm Top

>260 msf59: Heh. Tremblay liked that, too.

The bird world operates on standards we don't remotely connect to, so I'm always a little bumfuzzled by what the heck the little not-seagulls are up to. We have seagulls year-round, so them I get; the pied oystercatchers come and go on some sort of schedule that evades my comprehension. They make prettier sounds that the seagulls do.

262karenmarie
Oct 18, 1:31pm Top

Good afternoon, RD! I hope you’re enjoying your perambulations.

>258 magicians_nephew: I have one of those in a box somewhere, Jim.

263FAMeulstee
Edited: Oct 18, 2:31pm Top

>258 magicians_nephew: Haven't seen mine for a long time, not sure if it is still in the house.

>261 richardderus: Seagulls are always around near the water. And we see cormorants, crows and magpies every day. Other bird sightings depending on the weather.

264richardderus
Oct 18, 2:49pm Top

>262 karenmarie: I'm all settled into reading mode now...I am absolutely GAGA about Flames by Tasmanian tyro Robbie Arnott! I might have a review up by tonight. Probably tomorrow, though. It will, absent a complete and utter crash-and-burn ending, be a 5-star one.

>263 FAMeulstee: I expect the seagulls and the cockroaches to outlive us all. I wonder what seagull intelligences will make of the Earth after we're gone? Sending hugs!

265FAMeulstee
Oct 18, 6:29pm Top

>264 richardderus: I can't imagine, but hope the seagulls (or the other survivor: the rat) do it better as humans did ;-)

266thornton37814
Oct 18, 7:32pm Top

No seagulls in the mountains, but we have plenty of birds. I've been speaking at the Cumberland Gap Genealogy Jamboree, and one of the street vendors was selling birdhouses today. I don't think a seagull would fit in any of them. ;-)

267richardderus
Oct 18, 7:58pm Top

>265 FAMeulstee: I hope the same. For the planet's sake.

>266 thornton37814: ...trying to picture a seagull birdhouse...pretty much a ranch-style 3-2 on a pole is as close as I can come....

268Berly
Oct 18, 9:41pm Top

>248 richardderus: Best grudgingly given 5-star review ever!!! LOL

269richardderus
Oct 18, 10:00pm Top

>268 Berly: Thanks, Berly-boo! *smooch*

270richardderus
Oct 19, 12:16pm Top

104 Flames by Robbie Arnott

Rating: 5* of five

I have words, as the saying goes; lots of them. Here are a few.

This lovely debut novel from a small-yet-mighty Australian publishing house was a delight to me from the moment I met Karl and his seal. Karl fishes off the northern coast of Tasmania, that deep-southern island state of Australia, the last significant spot of land between Antarctica and the world. His seal, like Lyra's daemon in His Dark Materials, is connected to Karl's very essence and forms a large part of Karl's self—both image and awareness. Their "Oneblood tuna" prey, the giant and preternaturally perfect piscine predators found only in the Bass Strait (this is never stated but is implicit in the constant Japanese tuna-buyers' presence), bring in huge amounts of money from sushi-mad Japanese consumers through their local Tasmanian agents. Karl supports his family, his seal included, on the proceeds of their hunts. His bond with his seal is, however, the source of his undoing. His seal, being but a seal, is not immortal and falls to a hungry orca before Karl's appalled and helpless eyes and ears:
Karl tried to forget that clicking sound. But it was lodged in a hole between his ears, a backdrop to his days that he feared and hated but could not escape. He was reminded of it constantly: when a light switch was flicked, when Louise clicked her fingers, when his leaping daughters clicked their heels, when Sharon at the fish-and-chip shop clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she waited for the oil in the deep fryer to heat up.

There is no magical cure here. Not even for the cruel soulkiller PTSD.

Much more on the blog tomorrow.

271thornton37814
Oct 19, 1:51pm Top

>267 richardderus: It would definitely be a strange one!

272msf59
Oct 19, 7:14pm Top

Happy Saturday, Richard. Flames sounds excellent. I had not heard of the book or the author. You don't dole out 5 stars ,all that often, so that is enough to catch my attention.

I am loving 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds. Just over halfway. And you will be glad to hear I picked up a library copy of Night boat to Tangier, which I hope to start in the next week or two.

273richardderus
Yesterday, 12:50am Top

My blogged review of The Visible Filth has gone from 450 views between 2016 and September 2019 to 1000+ views in this past month. Granted that Hulu's film of it came out yesterday so one would expect more traffic; but quintuple?!

Mystery partly solved when I searched the title and "review" on Bing and Duckduckgo: both had my review on the first page of responses. Not so Google, of course, since I don't pay them to boost me.

Still, I'm chuffed. Y'all should now go look at my full-length warble of rapture about Flames! (if it's after 6.30 Sunday EDT) Yes, it's long, but the story needs the space!

274SomeGuyInVirginia
Edited: Yesterday, 8:39am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

275karenmarie
Yesterday, 9:27am Top

Happy Sunday, RD!

I've gotten a free sample of Flames downloaded to my Kindle. You raved about and Amazon raved about it.

I also learned about two book prizes I'd never heard of.

The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize
The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction

Coffee, fun info, and brekkie in a bit makes for a good start to a day.

276richardderus
Edited: Yesterday, 9:38am Top

>271 thornton37814: :-)

>272 msf59: I'm pretty sure your loud and sustained warbling is actually vibrating the book higher in my TBR all the way from Chicagoland. It wasn't in fourth position last night....

>274 SomeGuyInVirginia: ...Larry...? Was it something I said? Come back!

>275 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! *smooch* Did you see Larry on your way in?

It's a rave-able read. I was so delighted I wrote one of my patented TL;DR reviews on my blog!
"Don't ignore the magic of the real world! The hills really ARE alive!
FLAMES https://tinyurl.com/yy8uqtmh

I give 5-of-five stars to this beautifully written, bravely imagined #Tasmania-set #magicalrealism by debut author Robbie Arnott via small-but-mighty Australian publisher Text Publishing"

But really, how could I control myself? The book is really, really beautiful and, while it has flaws, it's more exciting than a solid 90% of what I normally read as speculative fiction.

277FAMeulstee
Yesterday, 2:34pm Top

I love it when you are raving about a recent read, Richard!

278richardderus
Yesterday, 2:44pm Top

>277 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita! I'm glad my enthusiasm is catching. I don't get many chances to rave about things that aren't already popular, or that are never going to be popular. This one could, if the stars align, be a popular hit...just needs some pushing.

279SomeGuyInVirginia
Yesterday, 4:31pm Top

Ugh, trying to post a picture from my cell. I need to be smarterer.

280quondame
Yesterday, 5:05pm Top

My week's FB feed has been cephalopodically enhanced, so I thought I'd share:


281richardderus
Yesterday, 5:35pm Top

>279 SomeGuyInVirginia: I think that is Blackest Necromantic Sorcery, Larry, I refuse to even try it. I save all my photos for posting to MyDrive/Google. Then it's less agonizing to get them onto websites.

>280 quondame: That wood sculpture!! OMG!!!!

The chandelier's right purty, too, but the sculpture...!

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