richardderus's eighth 2021 thread

Dette er en fortsættelse af tråden richardderus's seventh 2021 thread.

Denne tråd er fortsat i richardderus's ninth 2021 thread.

Snak75 Books Challenge for 2021

Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg

richardderus's eighth 2021 thread

maj 7, 7:39pm


Redigeret: jun 2, 10:02am

I'm delighted to introduce, laddies and gentlewomen, my new spirit animal:
The Fucktopus.

In 2021, I stated a goal of posting 15 book reviews a month on my blog. This year's total of 180 (there are a lot of individual stories that don't have entries in the LT database so I didn't post them here; I need to do more to sync the data this year) reads shows it's doable, and I've done better than that in the past.

I've long Pearl Ruled books I'm not enjoying, but making notes on Goodreads & LibraryThing about why I'm abandoning the read has been less successful. I give up. I just don't care about this goal, so out it goes.

My Last Thread of 2009 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2010 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2011 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2012 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2013 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2014 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2015 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2016 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2017 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2018 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2019 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2020 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.

First five reviews? 1st 2021 thread..

Reviews 6 all the way through 25 can be viewed in the thread to which I have posted a link at left.

The 26th through 36th reviews occupy thread three.

37th through 44th reviews belong where they are.

Reviews 45 through 58 are listed here.

Reviews 59 through 65 present themselves in that spot.

Reviews 66 through 75 reside in this thread.


76 Hench made me think as well as laugh, post 10.

77 A Dead Djinn in Cairo started the whole magical al-Cairo very well, post 58.

78 The Angel of Khan el-Khalili also pleased, post 58.

79 A Master of Djinn will serve, post 68.

80 Such a Fun Age ~meh~, post 71.

81 The Impossible Resurrection of Grief confounded, post 95.

82 The Pornification of America dissatisfied, post 101.

83 A River Called Time is ungreat, post 105.

84 The Library at Mount Char befuddled me, post 142.

85 Murmur almost overwhelmed me, post 142.

86 Memorial came up slightly short, post 143.

87 Tales from the Bottom of My Sole was fairly slight though well-made, post 143.

88 Dear Mrs. Bird is on sale, post 151.

89 The Hidden Girl and Other Stories exceeded my high expectations, post 160.

90 The Color of Rock entertained, post 193.

91 David Mogo, Godhunter delighted, post 201.

92 The Bowery: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street intrigued, post 202.

93 Disasters at Sea: A Visual History of Infamous Shipwrecks fascinated, post 203.

94 Runaway entertained, post 213.

95 Nothing Personal illuminated, post 222.

96 Take the Lead: An Essay impressed, post 226.

97 Swimming in the Dark gruntled, post 260.

98 Two Rogues Make a Right misted me over, post 272.

Redigeret: maj 7, 7:55pm

2020's five-star or damn-near five-star reviews totaled 46. Almost half were short stories and/or series reads. While a lot of authors saw their book launches rescheduled, publishers canceled their tours, and everyone was hugely distracted by the nightmare of COVID-19 (I had it, you do not want it), no one can fault the astoundingly wonderful literature we got this year. My own annual six-stars-of-five read was Zaina Arafat's extraordinary debut novel YOU EXIST TOO MUCH (review lives here), a thirtysomething Palestinian woman telling me my life, my family, my very experience of relationships of all sorts. I cannot stress enough to you, this is the book you need to read in 2021. A sixtysomething man is here, in your email/feed, saying: This is the power. This is the glory. The writing I look for, the read I long to find, and all of it delivered in a young woman's debut novel. This is as good an omen for the Great Conjunction's power being bent to the positive outcomes as any I've seen.

In 2020, I posted over 180 reviews here. In 2021, my goals are: –to post 180 reviews on my blog
–to post at least 99 three-sentence Burgoines
–to complete at least 190 total reviews

Most important to me is to report on DRCs I don't care enough about to review at my usual level. I don't want to keep just leaving them unacknowledged. There are publishers who want to see a solid, positive relationship between DRCs granted and reviews posted, and I do not blame them a bit.

Ask and ye shall receive! Nathan Burgoine's Twitter account hath taught me. See >7 below.

Redigeret: maj 7, 8:03pm

I stole this from PC's thread. I like these prompts!
1. Name any book you read at any time that was published in the year you turned 18:
Faggots by Larry Kramer
2. Name a book you have on in your TBR pile that is over 500 pages long:
The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream by Michael Wood
3. What is the last book you read with a mostly blue cover?
Wasps' Nest by Agatha Christie
4. What is the last book you didn’t finish (and why didn’t you finish it?)
The Perfect Fascist by Victoria de Grazia; paper book of 512pp, can't hold it...hands too feeble now
5. What is the last book that scared the bejeebers out of you?
Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump
6. Name the book that read either this year or last year that takes place geographically closest to where you live? How close would you estimate it was?
The Trump book; set in Queens and the Hamptons, so just down the road a piece
7.What were the topics of the last two nonfiction books you read?
The last successful rebellion on US soil and caffeine
8. Name a recent book you read which could be considered a popular book?
The Only Good Indians, a horror novel that's really, really good
9. What was the last book you gave a rating of 5-stars to? And when did you read it?
Restored, a Regency-era romantic historical novel about men in their 40s seizing their second chance at luuuv
10. Name a book you read that led you to specifically to read another book (and what was the other book, and what was the connection)
Potiki, which Kerry Aluf gave me; led me to read The Uncle's Story by Witi Ihimaera
11. Name the author you have most recently become infatuated with.
P. Djeli Clark
12. What is the setting of the first novel you read this year?
Hawaii and PNW
13. What is the last book you read, fiction or nonfiction, that featured a war in some way (and what war was it)?
The Fighting Bunch; WWII
14. What was the last book you acquired or borrowed based on an LTer’s review or casual recommendation? And who was the LTer, if you care to say.
There isn't enough space for all the book-bullets y'all careless, inconsiderate-of-my-poverty fiends pepper me with
15. What the last book you read that involved the future in some way?
Mammoths of the Great Plains by Eleanor Arnason
16. Name the last book you read that featured a body of water, river, marsh, or significant rainfall?
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky by David Connerley Nahm
17. What is last book you read by an author from the Southern Hemisphere?
Red Heir by Lisa Henry
18. What is the last book you read that you thought had a terrible cover?
please don't ask me this
19. Who was the most recent dead author you read? And what year did they die?
Agatha Christie, 1976
20. What was the last children’s book (not YA) you read?
good goddesses, I don't remember...Goodnight Moon to my daughter?
21. What was the name of the detective or crime-solver in the most recent crime novel you read?
Poirot by Dame Ags
22. What was the shortest book of any kind you’ve read so far this year?
The World Well Lost, ~28pp
23. Name the last book that you struggled with (and what do you think was behind the struggle?)
Lon Chaney Speaks, because I really, really don't like comic books
24. What is the most recent book you added to your library here on LT?
see #23
25. Name a book you read this year that had a visual component (i.e. illustrations, photos, art, comics)
see #23
I liked Sandy's Bonus Question for the meme above, so I adopted it:

26. What is the title and year of the oldest book you have reviewed on LT in 2020? (modification in itals)
The Sittaford Mystery by Dame Aggie, 1931.

Redigeret: maj 7, 8:10pm

I really hadn't considered doing this until recently...tracking my Pulitzer Prize in Fiction winners read, and Booker Prize winners read might actually prove useful to me in planning my reading.

1918 HIS FAMILY - Ernest Poole **
1919 THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS - Booth Tarkington *
1921 THE AGE OF INNOCENCE - Edith Wharton *
1922 ALICE ADAMS - Booth Tarkington **
1923 ONE OF OURS - Willa Cather **
1924 THE ABLE MCLAUGHLINS - Margaret Wilson
1925 SO BIG - Edna Ferber *
1926 ARROWSMITH - Sinclair Lewis (Declined) *
1927 EARLY AUTUMN - Louis Bromfield
1928 THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY - Thornton Wilder *
1929 SCARLET SISTER MARY - Julia Peterkin
1930 LAUGHING BOY - Oliver Lafarge
1931 YEARS OF GRACE - Margaret Ayer Barnes
1932 THE GOOD EARTH - Pearl Buck *
1933 THE STORE - Thomas Sigismund Stribling
1934 LAMB IN HIS BOSOM - Caroline Miller
1935 NOW IN NOVEMBER - Josephine Winslow Johnson
1936 HONEY IN THE HORN - Harold L Davis
1937 GONE WITH THE WIND - Margaret Mitchell *
1938 THE LATE GEORGE APLEY - John Phillips Marquand
1939 THE YEARLING - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings *
1940 THE GRAPES OF WRATH - John Steinbeck *
1942 IN THIS OUR LIFE - Ellen Glasgow *
1943 DRAGON'S TEETH - Upton Sinclair
1944 JOURNEY IN THE DARK - Martin Flavin
1945 A BELL FOR ADANO - John Hersey *
1947 ALL THE KING'S MEN - Robert Penn Warren *
1948 TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC - James Michener
1949 GUARD OF HONOR - James Gould Cozzens
1950 THE WAY WEST - A.B. Guthrie
1951 THE TOWN - Conrad Richter
1952 THE CAINE MUTINY - Herman Wouk
1953 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA - Ernest Hemingway *
1955 A FABLE - William Faulkner *
1956 ANDERSONVILLE - McKinlay Kantor *
1958 A DEATH IN THE FAMILY - James Agee *
1960 ADVISE AND CONSENT - Allen Drury *
1961 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Harper Lee *
1962 THE EDGE OF SADNESS - Edwin O'Connor
1963 THE REIVERS - William Faulkner *
1965 THE KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE - Shirley Ann Grau
1967 THE FIXER - Bernard Malamud
1969 HOUSE MADE OF DAWN - N Scott Momaday
1972 ANGLE OF REPOSE - Wallace Stegner *
1973 THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER - Eudora Welty *
1975 THE KILLER ANGELS - Jeff Shaara *
1976 HUMBOLDT'S GIFT - Saul Bellow *
1978 ELBOW ROOM - James Alan McPherson
1980 THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG - Norman Mailer *
1981 A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES - John Kennedy Toole *
1982 RABBIT IS RICH - John Updike *
1983 THE COLOR PURPLE - Alice Walker *
1984 IRONWEED - William Kennedy *
1985 FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Alison Lurie
1986 LONESOME DOVE - Larry McMurtry *
1987 A SUMMONS TO MEMPHIS - Peter Taylor
1988 BELOVED - Toni Morrison *
1991 RABBIT AT REST - John Updike *
1992 A THOUSAND ACRES - Jane Smiley *
1994 THE SHIPPING NEWS - E Annie Proulx *
1995 THE STONE DIARIES - Carol Shields
1996 INDEPENDENCE DAY - Richard Ford
1997 MARTIN DRESSLER - Steven Millhauser
1998 AMERICAN PASTORAL - Philip Roth
1999 THE HOURS - Michael Cunningham
2002 EMPIRE FALLS - Richard Russo
2003 MIDDLESEX - Jeffrey Eugenides *
2004 THE KNOWN WORLD - Edward P. Jones
2005 GILEAD - Marilynne Robinson
2006 MARCH - Geraldine Brooks
2007 THE ROAD - Cormac McCarthy
2009 OLIVE KITTERIDGE - Elizabeth Strout
2010 TINKERS - Paul Harding**
2011 A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD - Jennifer Egan
2013 ORPHAN MASTER'S SON - Adam Johnson
2014 THE GOLDFINCH - Donna Tartt
2015 ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE - Anthony Doerr **
2016 THE SYMPATHIZER - Viet Thanh Nguyen **
2017 THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD - Colson Whitehead **
2018 LESS - Andrew Sean Greer
2019 THE OVERSTORY - Richard Powers
2020 THE NICKEL BOYS - Colson Whitehead

Links are to my reviews
* Read, but not reviewed
** Owned, but not read

Redigeret: maj 7, 8:11pm

Every winner of the Booker Prize since its inception in 1969

1969: P. H. Newby, Something to Answer For
1970: Bernice Rubens, The Elected Member
1970: J. G. Farrell, Troubles ** (awarded in 2010 as the Lost Man Booker Prize) -
1971: V. S. Naipaul, In a Free State
1972: John Berger, G.
1973: J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
1974: Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist ... and Stanley Middleton, Holiday
1975: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
1976: David Storey, Saville
1977: Paul Scott, Staying On
1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea *
1979: Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore
1980: William Golding, Rites of Passage
1981: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children *
1982: Thomas Keneally, Schindler's Ark
1983: J. M. Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K
1984: Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac *
1985: Keri Hulme, The Bone People **
1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger *
1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda *
1989: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day *
1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance *
1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road
1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient * ... and Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994: James Kelman, How late it was, how late
1995: Pat Barker, The Ghost Road *
1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders
1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
1998: Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin *
2001: Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang *
2002: Yann Martel, Life of Pi
2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little **
2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty *
2005: John Banville, The Sea
2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering
2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question *
2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending **
2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
2013: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings *
2016: Paul Beatty, The Sellout
2017: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
2018: Anna Burns, Milkman
2019: Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, and Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
2020: Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain

Links are to my reviews
* Read, but not reviewed
** Owned, but not read

Redigeret: maj 7, 8:11pm

Author 'Nathan Burgoine posted this simple, direct method of not getting paralyzed by the prospect of having to write reviews. The Three-Sentence Review is, as he notes, very helpful and also simple to achieve. I get completely unmanned at the idea of saying something trenchant about each book I read, when there often just isn't that much to I can use this structure to say what I think's important and not try to dig for more.

Think about using it yourselves!

maj 7, 7:41pm


maj 7, 7:42pm

Hi there! Happy new thread!

Redigeret: maj 7, 7:49pm

76 Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Rating: 4.5* of five


Several book ideas later, Author Walschots realized they all fit into one if she used a different frame...

I will make no bones about or apologies for my complete disdain for superhero crap. It's a bad social message. It's worse storytelling. The violence it does to physics and reality is incalculable.

Hey wait! I found *another* level of this book!

That this is a first novel is astonishing. That it is an assured and deft flensing of Western fascism and capitalism is a joy. That I am finding it now, nine months after William Morrow unleashed it on the US, is shocking. This should've flown at me, beating my head with its hard covers, demanding that it enter my consciousness long before now. Alas, the library wait-list was deep. I'm both glad and irked, because that means a lot more people have read it than might otherwise have been able to.

So, two reads in two weeks, and what I take away from it is: Love sucks.

Yeah, there's more, but I am leaving it at my blog: Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

maj 7, 7:56pm

Happy Friday, Richard. Happy New Thread. Still cool here in the Midwest, despite the sunshine today. We can't seem to turn that friggin' corner. I am just starting Train. Are you a fan of Dexter? This will be the third of his, I have read but it has been a long time since I read anything by him.

maj 7, 8:14pm

>9 quondame: How do, Susan! You're the first-in scout:

Wear your tiara with pride!

maj 7, 8:19pm

>12 richardderus: Sparkle, twinkle, and shine I shall! Thanks.

maj 7, 8:28pm

Happy new one, RD.

Any reason that the Fucktopus is purple going to puce?

Redigeret: maj 7, 8:30pm

>14 PaulCranswick: Hi PC! I'm assuming the potter had that slip in abundance, but I dunno.

>13 quondame: :-)

>11 msf59: Hiya Mark! I'm not a Pete Dexter reader, not because I don't like him but because I forget he exists...probably worse than not liking him....

Hoping for a warming trend!

maj 7, 9:11pm

Happy new thread, Richard! I'm glad to see Hench is such a good read - I've been eyeing the library copy for awhile and have yet to pick it up, but I'm hoping to read it, maybe sometime this year?

maj 7, 9:32pm

maj 7, 9:44pm

Happy new thread!

maj 7, 11:18pm

>12 richardderus: far out tiara for Susan!
Looks very cult, with the crescent moon and star.

I'm flitting through threads just to keep an eye on the talk-drift. I should be reading more often but I'm not, so haven't much bookish chatter.

Hope your new thread is a fun thing for you. Is >1 richardderus: going to have a theme?

maj 8, 2:52am

Happy New Thread, Richard.

maj 8, 5:57am

Happy new thread! I'm pleased to see the Fucktopus making another appearance, I admire its style.

maj 8, 6:41am

Happy new thread, Richard dear!

maj 8, 9:29am

>22 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

>21 Helenliz: The Fucktopus is too wonderful to consign to the scrap heap of memory, Helen.

>20 connie53: Thanks, Connie!

>19 SandyAMcPherson: It did, Sandy, and when I clicked "Save" my entire essay on Daphne du Maurier (born 13 May 1907) disappeared, and I just can't.

maj 8, 9:31am

Happy new one, RD!

>4 richardderus: Well, for some reason I decided to work on this meme and just spent about 30 minutes on it. I’ll be posting it on my thread.

>10 richardderus: Skipping… the book is supposed to show up on my Sunroom porch steps by10 p.m. today.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

maj 8, 9:32am

>18 drneutron: Thank you, Doc!

>17 laytonwoman3rd: Ain't he though?

>16 bell7: Thanks, a librarian, I think it's your duty to read Hench as soon as is humanly possible. Like, yesterday at the latest.

You must know many, many henches who need to know they are not alone.

maj 8, 9:52am

>24 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! I'm glad the meme caught you in the proper mood at last. I'll come check later.

Heh...can't wait to hear what you make of Hench! *smooch*

maj 8, 10:28am

>23 richardderus: Lately, I've found that "disappearing act" happening when I wrote book reviews. I tend to faff around re-writing them and re-thinking what I'm trying to say. Always on my lap top computer.

I use the text file app now. Copy-paste when I'm done the thinking and edits.
So I've connected my losing a post to the longish time I've had the message window open → maybe it's not related to the losing-post problem, though.

maj 8, 11:39am

Happy New Thread!

maj 8, 11:58am

>28 SilverWolf28: Thank you, Silver!

maj 8, 12:37pm

Happy new one, RD!

Rainy and chilly here - I'll be staying inside the rest of the day :)

maj 8, 12:49pm

>30 katiekrug: Chilly, but not rainy, here today. I'm very glad for the respite, as it rained last night and if it kept it up Old Stuff wouldn't be hauling his carcass out to get drunk in a little while. The less togetherness we have, the better I like it.

>27 SandyAMcPherson: I missed you earlier, Sandy! Normally I draft headers in a document, but I forgot...and the punishment for inattention is always dire. *resentful grumble*

maj 8, 3:25pm

Hi Richard, happy new thread my dear friend. We had wonderful news on Tuesday as Amy and Andy welcomed Elliott Robert Welch into the world, he weighed in at 8lb 4oz and we are over the moon.

maj 8, 4:49pm

>4 richardderus: I must have missed Paul's posting this. When did that happen?

maj 8, 6:12pm

Happy new thread!

maj 8, 7:00pm

Happy new one, Richard!

maj 8, 7:38pm

35 is my kind of number! I'm keeping this window open so I can show my imminent guest the fucktopus.

>10 richardderus: Sold!!! Will be developing a case of mentionitis even without reading it yet.

>32 johnsimpson: Congratulations on the family addition!

maj 8, 7:46pm

>36 justchris: Oh, I hope you'll love hench, Chris! The author tweeted me a thank-you for the review, so I know I got it right.

>35 jessibud2: Thank you, Shelley!

>34 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori!

>33 quondame: Oh gosh, last year sometime, Susan. I don't remember exactly.

maj 8, 7:47pm

>32 johnsimpson: Hi John! and

maj 8, 8:16pm

Happy new one!

maj 8, 8:28pm

>39 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

maj 8, 11:55pm

I'm totally unable to say anything remotely intelligent, but I always look forward to your reading and commenting, Richard! Hooray for the new(ish) thread! (I have taken a BB for Hench, but unless it's a Romance, my local library is not going to have it except through ILL. I'll wait.)

maj 9, 8:49am

Good morning, RDear, and happy Sunday to you. May your coffee be strong, your books intriguing, and your pains small.


maj 9, 10:20am

>42 karenmarie: I made it uber-strong today since Old Stuff woke me at 4am hollering about mice. More LED lightbars, they stopped gnawing. *YAWN*

>41 LizzieD: Hiya Peggy! You're visiting, that's entirely enough for me. Too tired to deal with anyone's intelligence today. My own is still slug-a-bed so no harm no foul.

maj 9, 12:53pm

Yikes, there's a way to wake up... hope you get to fit a nap in and make up for it?

maj 9, 1:16pm

Naps often are good, and my naps tend to schedule themselves. Doesn't matter what I plan. That nap just elbows its way in and takes over. Book plunges to the floor, and sometimes the laptop does. Worst of all is the coffee in my lap.

Not raining, but this Mother's Day isn't particularly cheery. Hope the day nevertheless goes good for you, RD.

maj 9, 1:26pm

Happy Sunday, Richard. May 9th and it is a damp 45F. WTH?? We are going over to Bree's place to celebrate the day. I would love to be able to sit outside.

maj 9, 1:32pm

A somewhat belated Happy New Thread, Richard!

maj 9, 1:40pm

>47 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! Good wishes are never late. *smooch*

>46 msf59: Yeah, this weird weather instability...poor plants! They're confused as hell these days.

Have fun at Bree's, Gramps!

>45 weird_O: Hi Bill! You know the first one's going to be weird, of course, but still a surprise. I'm sad with you over your loss all over again.

>45 weird_O:, >44 bell7: Naps do indeed schedule themselves, and I have no major issue with it. Any time I don't have to talk to Old Stuff is a good time. However, I'm busily pecking away at my Tuesday review of A Master of Djinn, the latest P. Djèlí Clark Magical-Cairo book, so I'd *like* to be in better control, but am not so lost to common sense that I'll force myself into consciousness against the corpus's desires. He has ways to make me regret that....

maj 9, 5:31pm

>48 richardderus: Oh, I am looking forward to A Master of Djinn!

maj 9, 5:42pm

>49 quondame: As well you might!

maj 9, 10:27pm

Happy new thread! And yay for superhero fiction worth reading.

maj 9, 10:54pm

>51 swynn: Thanks, Steve! And no, Hench isn't superhero's supervillain fiction. Much more my speed...sociopaths are a lot easier to deal with than psychopaths. You really should give this one a spot on your list.

maj 9, 11:40pm

We have Hench in our library. I saw it on the new book shelf the other day. I will have to check it out, it sounds like fun.

maj 10, 6:24am

>1 richardderus: Anyone else see this and think 'Hammertime!'? Just me?

Redigeret: maj 10, 8:10am

Hi, Richard. I"M reading one you might like: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. A good monster-killer tale based on Native American myths. Surprisingly, it was rec'd to me by my English prof BIL; I didn't even know he read such things. i also learned he's a Becky Chambers fan. I may have mis-categrized him.

maj 10, 8:13am

'Morning, RD, and happy Monday to you.

We're off to see the wizard - Bill's getting his first cataract surgery this morning. So I'm cramming in coffee and a quick brekkie and will pack several books.

maj 10, 9:31am

>56 karenmarie: good luck on cataract surgery Karen! I've had both eyes done and it was -no pun intended - an eye opener. May it be so for Bill too

Redigeret: maj 10, 10:14am

77 A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 3.5* of five

In honor of the publication tomorrow of the first full-length novel in Author Phenderson Djèlí Clark's Majgickqal-Cairo steampunk series, as well as his publishing career, let's revisit the place it all began.

Fatma of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, and Aasim, the Cairo policeman, are two of the series' through-line characters. They, and the utterly transformed-by-magic Cairo they live in, are introduced in this little gem of a procedural tale.

This first-in-series story, nominated for a 2017 Locus Award for Best Novelette, convinced me to get as much of this Universe as I could as fast as I could; now my patience (enforced, but it still counts) is at last rewarded.

The whole review is at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

78 The Angel of Khan el-Khalili by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 3.5* of five

This meditation on the price of Truth and the unlikelihood of Honesty being its own reward is told in the second person. This is, I need not tell anyone of my acquaintance, a Literary Original Sin and usually causes me to slam covers and jab power buttons with disgust and outrage.

Author Clark, somehow, is immune to this inflexible rule being applied to him. In fact, these behaviors didn't so much as occur to me. After reading the very, very moreish A Dead Djinn in Cairo, and realizing that I would get some more background on the Angels introduced in that novelette I simply soldiered on into this short story.

The whole review is at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

ETA like a dozen times because the site twitched every time I saved this post

maj 10, 10:31am

>57 magicians_nephew: and it was -no pun intended - an eye opener

>56 karenmarie: All will go well, I'm sure, so enjoy your enforced reading time! *smooch*

>55 jnwelch: Your BiL clearly has hidden depths! Thank goodness they're good ones.

>54 BekkaJo: "Hammertime"? And what is that when it's at home?

>53 benitastrnad: Oh yes, Benita, it is enough fun that I hope you'll get to it sooner rather than later.

maj 10, 11:48am

Hench was already on The List as it was a contender for Canada Reads this year and was defended by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Appa from Kim's Convenience). That plus the blurb was enough to intrigue me and make it a want to read so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it.

maj 10, 12:08pm

>58 richardderus: I have The Haunting of Tram Car 015 to read. Having read your reviews, I'm worried I'm reading out of order (a thing never to be done).

maj 10, 12:23pm

>61 Helenliz: Start with the free online reads in >58 richardderus:. They're available worldwide at There are links at my blog, or you can search the author's name at the website. There's no need to miss out!

>60 MickyFine: Yay for Hench-reading! I really don't expect that you'll not enjoy it. So much of it is about the layers.

maj 10, 8:59pm

Re: Hench, your interaction with the author explaining w-bombs on Twitter cracked me up :) I will... potentially be able to get to it soon-ish. I'm down to 9 books out after staying steady at 15 for the last couple of weeks, so.

Oh darn it, was A Master of Djinn part of a series? I bought it for the library thinking it was a standalone.

maj 10, 9:04pm

Hey, Richard. Loved A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 so am sure I will get to A Master of Djinn soon.

maj 11, 7:39am

Hiya, RDear. Happy Tuesday. *smooch*

>57 magicians_nephew: Thank you, Jim. So far so good.

maj 11, 7:50am

Hi, Richard. Inching up to 55 today but we will have sunshine. Our average temp should be close to 70. Hey, it isn't stopping me from getting out every day. I am enjoying Train. Another dark, edgy writer but those are the ones I am drawn to.

maj 11, 9:20am

Happy Tuesday, RD!

maj 11, 10:27am

79 A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 4* of five

There are really terrific lines. There are Zack-Snyder-meets-Michael-Bay battle scenes. There is a majgicqk system that is more fun than three dozen djinn in a jar. The Ifrit Kings! What a gorgeous scene that will be in the film!

As I suspect y'all who haven't yet read the book are beginning to gather, this was a hit with me.

The best thing about blogging is I now don't have to worry about spoilers anymore, if you're still here and not heeding my recommendation to seek out the rest of the world-building bits of the story in order, it's not my problem! A magazine site would insist that I consider the spoilerphobic soul's delicate eyestalks. I won't spoil what I consider the bits that make the trip worth taking.

And that is a lot. There are so many things I absolutely felt as though I'd *combust* if I didn't have someone to talk about them to! But it really isn't fair to say what happened on the palace roof until you've been there.

So here's the stuff I want to let everyone know: at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

maj 11, 10:31am

Welp, gotta get that one!

maj 11, 11:02am

>67 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I hope yours contains some contentment as well.

>66 msf59: That is truly weirdly cold for May, Mark. Brrr! I am really glad that Pete Dexter is hitting the sweet spot for you.

>65 karenmarie: Horrible! *smooch*

>64 ronincats: It was a very good read, Bonnie, if a little bit out of control. The author's first novel...and it shows. The storytelling is just as amazing but there is a little bit much of it.

>63 bell7: Heh...she was so confused...poor lamb.

Yes, it's the #1 novel in the series. Two of the short pieces are not sold in print; the novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is in paper, though. Surely the $4 ebook could be slid into the collection...?

Redigeret: maj 11, 2:00pm

80 Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Rating: 2.5*, rounded up because Author Reid can turn a deft phrase, so 3* of five

Alix knows what she wants early in life, sets about getting it, and expects that others will follow her lead. She will teach you if you will sit and listen to her...and she has a lot to say. Emira wants a paycheck and a comfortable place to live. Publicity, as is always the case, screws things up and requires the women to really think through their choices, their wants, and their needs from each other and from their lives. It is both trendy and reductive to call this "women's fiction," when it does more than that label implies.

I did not care for the read, found Alix as irritating on the page as she is in real life, and wanted to shake Emira as she floats through a purposeless eternal present.

Some of those fun quotes:
New York was like an ex who had worked out all summer.
“You’re not better than anyone,” she said, “when you hang up your own coat and take your plate to the trash. I’ve been those girls helping out tonight. I fucking am those girls helping out tonight, and you’re not making anything easier by giving them less to do. It’s like eating everything on your plate ’cause you think someone else won’t go hungry if you don’t. You’re not helping anyone but yourself.”
The number of things she could ask her own mother were shrinking at an alarming rate.
Emira didn’t love doing anything, but she didn’t terribly mind doing anything either.

maj 11, 2:02pm

>69 drneutron: Oh, I'm sorry, Jim, I didn't see you posting before I went away. I'm *sure* you'll really like the read, it's as textured and detailed and replete as the stories you seem to like best are.

maj 11, 2:04pm

>71 richardderus: - I'm sort of surprised you even picked this one up, RD. I haven't read it but it doesn't sound like quite your thing...

maj 11, 2:26pm

>73 katiekrug: Library crack merchants had it Up Front!! IN YOUR FACE!! So I thought "gotta keep trying to find new genre-I-loathe work to appreciate" and, well...I did get some good lines for the commonplace book out of it.

maj 11, 2:30pm

Evil book-pushers! But I'm glad you found a few worthwhile pieces in it.

maj 11, 5:55pm

>71 richardderus: I agree that Alix was much more of a muchness than one could stand. Emira, though, got more slack from me. Probably because I've been an underemployed mid-twenty-something with less ambition than is socially endorsed.

maj 11, 6:03pm

>68 richardderus: Excellent review, Richard. BB for me

Hope you are having a great week!

maj 11, 7:04pm

>77 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita! I am having a fine week, and am really glad you're joining the adventurers to alt-Cairo.

>76 swynn: It wasn't her lack of Ambition and Goals, was her general all-encompassing "whatever" attitude towards her life! It was like being fogbound on a sandbar.

maj 11, 8:31pm

>70 richardderus: Well I managed to find "A Dead Djinn in Cairo" as a short story on, so at least I'll have that one under my belt. I read it this evening - very entertaining! My library has an e-book of The Haunting of Tram Car 015, so I'll check that one out in the next couple of weeks.

>71 richardderus: Emira bothered me because, for a main character, she let a lot of people around her make all the decisions for most of the book, and it was super frustrating as a reader even if it was realistic for a 25-year-old to do that. And Alix just... ugh.

maj 11, 9:11pm

>79 bell7: Yay! I think it's a fun alt-Cairo to explore, but it's not calibrate your expectations.

Alix is like so many of the awful women in modern fiction. It's depressing...she's not just unlikable, she's actively repellent!

maj 12, 7:16am

Good morning Rdear. Happy Wednesday to you.

All quiet here in central NC except for the gas shortage. Instead of going out for groceries today I'll combine it with a trip into town tomorrow for a Book Sale Team meeting.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

maj 12, 9:52am

>81 karenmarie: Hey there, Horrible, happy Humpday. I've heard about this gas shortage thing. It ain't fuel oil and this ain't January, so I'm far...

Sensible precaution, however, to combine the trips. Have a lovely! *smooch*

maj 12, 10:12am

I read a daily newsletter called Morning Brew. The City is having a hard time pulling its head out of its ass vis-a-vis the mayor's race after thirty-nine boring years of an ineffectual nithing's mayoralty and the Democrats aren't helping anyone feel confident in its future.

Andrew Yang?! Seriously?!?

But there was a Dem-candidate debate where this happened:
Quote: "It's got to be somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, if not higher."

That was NYC mayoral candidate Ray McGuire's best guess at the median sales price for a home or apartment in Brooklyn, when asked by the NYT editorial board. McGuire, a former Citi exec, was off by a factor of 10—it's more like $900,000. FWIW, fellow mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan, who was the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, guessed $100,000.

McGuire's an investment banker by trade. Probably more appalling is the former HUD Secretary...that was his portfolio faGawdsake.

maj 12, 10:17am

>83 richardderus: shaking head in bewilderment

In the early days of the Civil War people were after Lincoln to fire General McClellan.

"Who shall I appoint instead?" Lincoln asked.

"ANYBODY!" They shrieked

"Anybody will do for you", Lincoln sadly replied, "but I must have 'Somebody'".

We must have somebody for City Hall. Who? I dunno.

maj 12, 10:27am

>83 richardderus: - I saw this on Twitter yesterday. The mind boggles...

maj 12, 10:49am

>85 katiekrug:, >84 magicians_nephew: It's a puzzlement. I do not comprehend how the City of New York can have failed to develop a competent civil-service based political class sufficiently deep to provide itself with at least one mayor.

At least one decent candidate! What happened?!?

I met "Pat Bond" many years ago. His life's work got done before he died, so I know he left for a happier place.

maj 12, 12:09pm

>83 richardderus: What planet do they live on? When was $80,000 an actual price for housing? Sometime in the ‘80s?

Happy newish thread, Richard.

maj 12, 12:23pm

>72 richardderus: And it's now on my Overdrive reserve list!

maj 12, 1:04pm

>88 drneutron: Excellent! Enjoy when your number comes up.

>87 Familyhistorian: Thank you, Meg. It's been a minute since a *house* cost $80,000 in places with 5-digit populations.

maj 13, 6:17am

‘Morning, RD!

>83 richardderus: I saw that yesterday. Nothing like NOT knowing the demographics of part of your constituency.

>84 magicians_nephew: I like that, Jim.

maj 13, 6:56am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear.

So sad these politicans who have lost touch with the real world.

maj 13, 10:20am

>91 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita, and to you as well. I'm not really surprised...these are very, very wealthy people and they live in that bubble. The last time they worried about how much something cost, it was the workers' wages at the companies they bought to dismantle.

>90 karenmarie: Cluelessness starts at the top of the wage scale.


maj 13, 12:46pm

>89 richardderus: Heck I bought my little s#&%box 25 years ago and even then (at pretty much the bottom of the housing market at the time in LA) it cost almost 4 times more. :) Today its "worth" about 12 times more.

maj 13, 1:04pm

>93 mahsdad: EXACTLY

These are wealthy people who have *zero*clue* about what it takes to scrape by in Reality. I despair....

maj 14, 12:34am

81 The Impossible Resurrection of Grief by Octavia Cade

Rating: 4* of five


With the collapse of ecosystems and the extinction of species comes the Grief: an unstoppable melancholia that ends in suicide. When Ruby’s friend, mourning the loss of the Great Barrier Reef, succumbs to the Grief, the letters she leaves behind reveal the hidden world of the resurrected dead. The Tasmanian tiger, brought back from extinction in an isolated facility, is only the first... but rebirth is not always biological, and it comes with a price.

As a scientist, Ruby resists the Grief by focusing her research on resilient jellyfish, but she can’t avoid choosing which side she’s on. How can she fight against the dead and the forces behind them when doing so risks her home, her life, and the entire biosphere?


My Review
: Here's how we start this tale:
The Sea Witch lived in an abandoned salt water pool. I knew her when she was called Marjorie and had the office next to mine at the University, but when the Grief came on her she stopped coming into work and set herself up at the derelict public pool with a stack of useless journal articles and a lifetime supply of plastic.

That's a high-octane start to what turns into a careening rush between ugly and awful, ending its trip at unthinkable.

And you will not be blamed for wondering why I now say: Get this book right now. Sit down, open it, and then let Author Cade do her wicked, caustic thing for/to you.
The jellyfish migrated through the lake during the day, and snorkelers could swim with them, with thousands of jellies, with millions of them, and see in their lovely, delicate forms the histories of another life. They pulsed around me like little golden hearts, shimmering in the surface layer of waters, and it was as close as I've ever come to religious communion.

On a Palau dive a woman, Marjorie, becomes the narrator's very best friend. Marjorie's obsession is the Great Barrier Reef. The ladies, scientists both, bond over their love of and understanding for the ocean's many and wildly variable ecosystems, all under threat from Anthropogenic Climate Change (maybe you've heard about it?)—but few ecosystems are under greater threat than the Great Barrier Reef. Marjorie succumbs to a new thing, the Grief, a declining mental health state that invariably ends in suicide, that is becoming more and more prevalent among humans who, for idiosyncratic reasons, suddenly can no longer bear to exist in the changing world.

Our narrator, called Ruby as we discover about midway through the story, is apparently immune to the Grief. So is her Māori husband, George...not a scientist, an artist of science subjects, so it's really not science that saves or damns. But Marjorie retreats to behaviors so weird, so utterly foreign to her former self, and yet still sea-themed...she renames herself "the Sea Witch" from "The Little Mermaid" by H.C. Andersen, which is also what she named the expensive boat she bought herself before the Grief and burned to the water-line after it...that it's clear what the decline's end will be while remaining unclear what the hell she's going to do next. The next thing the Sea Witch does...well....

That is a thing of spoilers. The things Marjorie, I mean the Sea Witch, does or causes or abets, are...disturbing. I will leave it to you to read the under-100 page novella, instead of doing what I would love to do and relating the scary, freaky, incredible things that Ruby rips from pillar to post to attempt to make sense of, to attempt to explain to herself (and very possibly the authorities, though which ones and what she could convince them to do in a Grief-stricken world is unclear even to her) what Grief is doing to some apparent survivors.

Why I want you to get this book is really very simple: I need people to talk about it with! There are so many fascinating characters...Tasmanian Granny the Thylacine Jesus for one, addled by Grief but quite the scientist withal, and maybe the Sea Witch's relative...? Ruby goes to visit her at...well, because she gets a Message to, although George her husband isn't keen on it:
"Hurt's easy enough to live with," he said. "If there's an end to it. Break your arm and it hurts, but it heals soon enough and the hurt goes away. Even a small pain, if it never leaves...It wears you down," he said. "In the end it isn't the hurt that gets you, it's the exhaustion."

He's right; physical or psychic, it's the unending aches that cost one the most to survive. As for how that explains the Grief, and those who succumb, we don't know if it's causal or correlative, but Indigenous peoples all over are succumbing to the Grief in greater numbers than the population as a whole. Great grief is always a form of insanity, a melding of psychosis and depression, but Granny is extra no matter what yardstick we're using. The Sea Witch, if she's related, came by it honestly. Gawd...this climate-changed world of Author Cade's is one scary place! Resurrection is never a harbinger of sunshine lollipops and rainbows, anywhere, anytime.
"Some people said...{t}he coming of people like me, and what we'd done to Tasmania, the rest of Australia, and what we'd don in New Zealand...the same devouring, the same indifference to the pre-existence of other life. The same conversation, over and over, with different settings and different subjects." (Ruby speaking)
"I guess we all got better and better at killing. What a shock it must be, to find how efficiency in slaughter always takes the upward trajectory." (George speaking)

At the end of the read, Author Cade delivers a devastating truth to us, one that went straight into my commonplace book. Ruby is having the one conversation she most hoped she wouldn't have to have, and least expected to be remotely possible. In her newly cleared eyesight, she sees this: Self-knowledge was the clearest thing in the world. It was also the unkindest.

Unholy, misbegotten things always survive, don't they? Isn't that Evolution's sick little secret?

maj 14, 2:17am

>2 richardderus: The Fucktopus!! ROFLOL. Thanks, I needed that. : )

>59 richardderus: Also the angry kid is hysterical.

>95 richardderus: But I don't need to resurrect grief right now, even though you really like this novella. And way to be a downer: "Unholy, misbegotten things always survive, don't they? Isn't that Evolution's sick little secret?" Ouch.

Good thing I love you. You almost destroyed the fun in #2 and #59. Smooch.

Redigeret: maj 14, 7:53am

Good morning, RDear! Happy Friday to you.

>95 richardderus: It will probably not surprise you to have your own quote to me about The Widow of the South quoted back to you: *missed me missed me* NYAH


maj 14, 7:56am

Wow! Those prices even beat Jersey ones... Though the average price for a one bedroom flat over here has hit £290,000. And that's not for a big flat - and at that price it's unlikely to have parking.

maj 14, 10:40am

>98 BekkaJo: I'm a bit surprised, Bekka, that Jersey's so cheap. The banking industry is not known for starving all but its peons. A starter flat for that little is a good value.

>97 karenmarie: *snerk* No, not surprised in the least. I'd've been very surprised if you'd dashed out the door, scarves flying behind you, to procure one!

Happy Friday, Horrible! *smooch*

>96 Berly: Berly-boo! How's life as an empty-at-last, empty-at-last, thank goddle mitey it's empty-at-last nester?

I don't expect you'll be spraining things to get a copy of that one, either; like Horrible, it's been horrible enough for you, no sadness need apply. It's very much a meditation on loss and the emptiness that follows on a massive global scale. Can't really see you chowin' down on that meal no matter what, TBH.

*smooch* I'm glad Angry Girl and the Fucktopus made up for it.

maj 14, 11:28am

>99 richardderus: HA! Definitely not cheap. Average cost for a 3 bed house in the UK - c.£240k. Jersey c.£670k!

maj 14, 10:43pm

82 The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture Is Ruining Our Society by Bernadette Barton

Rating: 3.25* of five, rounded down for what I felt were serious issues

There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Barton is on to a very important strain (term used advisedly) in late-stage capitalism. Chanel Miller's Know My Name has opened many people's eyes to the awful consequences of "raunch culture." It's inarguable that #MeToo has blown the closet doors off way more abusers' safe havens. And let me be the first to say that Paris Hilton shakin' her moneymaker all over a Bentley to sell burgers to boys was a wake-up call for me because, well, yuck.

I am much more willing to listen to stories outside my experience than ever before in my life. It is liberating to hear trans men talking about their learn of the empowerment young women are taking from the female role models who have done so very much more than those people were led to believe that they could...should even aspire to. It is joyous to learn that women everywhere are just not listening to Old White Men in Authority with downcast eyes, that protests and awareness campaigns and lawsuits are growing apace with the dying convulsions of the old, bad days's bad law and worse policy. Our current Vice President is a woman in an administration that foregrounds women in more senior roles than ever, allowing the levers of power into better hands than they've been in in decades.

But there's another level of battle being fought against the old, bad ways: in the heads of young men raised with all the cultural reinforcement that their "natural rights" or "god-given authority" over women's bodies is being taken away from them. The culture reinforces the idea of male supremacy by using female bodies as props, set dressing, and sex toys. This is somehow twisted, in a hideous Jekyll/Hyde-ing way, into a celebration of women's empowerment and sex-positivity.

Author Barton calls out this arrant nonsense. She establishes her own credentials as a sex-positive feminist social scientist. But here is where I become less gung-ho about the book: It does feel to me like the author is not far from sex-work shaming at many points. I consider this a problem because it is a perspective that can very easily and quickly descend into controlling women's bodies, this time by women, but in the same repressive and restrictive "it's for your own good!" way. Women are the agents in charge of their bodies. No one has the right to tell an adult woman what she needs to be doing with her own self.

I have to agree very heartily with Dr. Barton that "sex education" is a pathetic shambles because religious nuts (my term, not hers) have built guilt into the minds of people as a means of social control; as a result, parents aren't willing or able to inform their children about the mechanics of the acts, or to allow schools to fill this gap. Again, this is presented in purely heteronormative terms, which is a deeply irksome thing to me. Acknowledging the harm that non-existent to catastrophically bad sex education does to gender non-conforming or sexual minority kids wouldn't have been too terribly out of the brief....

Part of what makes me wonder if that exclusion and that control isn't the way things are headed is the demographic of the author's interview subjects of both genders. They are almost all between nineteen and twenty-five or -six. I am not complaining about some perceived "lack of experience or perspective" to be clear. I fully understand that the raunch culture under discussion has reached new heights of awful in their lifetimes. And there is no absence of older feminists in the book, just that the focus isn't so much shared as sharpened on the younger women as almost all the older women are brought into the anti-porn crusading that has been a hallmark of TERF days.

(The author doesn't like the term TERF. If the shoe fits, wear it; these folks are their own worst brand ambassadors and I think they need to be called out for their very closed-minded thinking everywhere. So I'm using it here. And that was a whole half-star off my rating.)

Online porn. What should we do about porn? Why is most cishet porn violent? (This is an area I know nothing about. I don't read about, think about, or watch straight people having sex voluntarily.) Why are there clouds? There has been porn since forever (go look at some Attic pottery from the 600s BCE) and I suspect there always will be. The author does not wish this to be the case, and builds a damning argument against the continued normalization of violent porn.

I don't think for a second that it's porn spreading e-bile (such an excellent term for the horrific "social" media abuse spewed at women/minorities/gender-nonconformists!); I myownself think it's down to rampant abuse of anonymity. Disinhibition due to the facelessness of online interaction. And I am also pretty convinced online porn consumption would go down a lot if anonymity was curtailed. But there's no reasonable way to invalidate or even diminish the power of the author's data-driven analysis; I just feel it's a case of stopping too soon, ending the hunt before the prize got bigger. There went a star.

So my rating of three and a quarter stars seems, well, mingy? There can be no modern work about feminism's many battles that excludes transgender people. That is a massive oversight. There should be no work of modern feminism that does not include members of the QUILTBAG community in its entirety, because that inclusive culture feminism works to create isn't inclusive unless we're at the table, too.

Also? Hillary lost because they cheated. But that was five years ago. I myownself am outraged that Elizabeth Warren isn't in the White House. She was, and is, the best person for the job. But she wasn't the nominee and she's working with the present Administration...I'm taking my cue from a gracious loser. Let's accept that misogyny and reactionary billionaires did Hillary dirt and work on the many, many, many problems in front of us now. That little excursion into Hillary hagiography was the last quarter-star off the five the book started with.

I would recommend the read despite my deep reservations because this is a stirring, clarifying presentation of a very under-debated topic. I would encourage you to read it in the light of its presentation of part of the story, in a particularly readable way for an academic book.

Redigeret: maj 15, 2:00am

>54 BekkaJo: I didn't - but I see it now.

>68 richardderus: I have 'The Haunting of ...' somewhere.
>62 richardderus: Will do.

>98 BekkaJo: Gosh, I remember when a 3 bedroom semi-D in Croydon was a tenth that price.

maj 15, 8:37am

Happy Saturday, RD! I'm heading off to putter and fret before Miss J arrives.


maj 15, 10:23am

>103 karenmarie: Hiya Horrible! I know how excited you are when you start the putter'n'fret derby. I'm sure she'll arrive fine, and y'all'll have a lovely visit. *smooch*

>102 humouress: I'm glad you'll be catching up on the Djinnverse! I think you'll like it. The humor alone will cause the books to endear themselves to you.

...although that *does* mean I'll have to stop referring to you as "Zagros"...

>98 BekkaJo:, >102 humouress: It's only £240K if you include places like Orkney and John O'Groats. London, where everybody wants to live, has an average home price of £496,000.


maj 15, 11:17am

83 A River Called Time by Courttia Newland

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: A monumental speculative fiction story of love, loyalty, politics and conscience set in parallel Londons

The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning.
Years after the Ark was cut off from the world, a chance of survival within its confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: without warning, his spirit leaves his body, allowing him to see and experience a world far beyond his physical limitations.

Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. He is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities, and in doing so uncovers the truth about the Ark, himself and the people he thought he once knew.


My Review
: Author Newland is definitely a Writer. There is a gravitas to the ways he expresses his ideas, a fullness to the meanings of his phrases in their context. For the first third of this book, I thought I was looking at four, four and a half if he got the lead out and pushed the story along faster, stars. The idea of a man who can travel across the multiverse...African cosmology the dominant spirituality...decolonizing reality! I am down. But then the cracks appeared.

It is awful to write this: After working on this amazing, delightful idea for twenty years, Author Newland gave us half a great book.

The Ark, a domed city, isn't the amazing thought that the author appears to think it is. The image of the Insider/Outsider trope is very well-worn a path to walk. The ghettoized lower class, the generational wealth transfers that absolutely determines the lifestyle you and your descendents will have, the self-sacrificing mother who expects her child to support her when he gets inside...these aren't new. The truth is that the author's writing career has not been in the genres of sci fi, fantasy, or alternate history (is it a genre or a setting? I won't wade into that here), so what feels of itself fresh to him is bog-standard stuff to old genre hands. What *is* fresh and cool and amazing is the worlds he sends his main character to, and it is those Author Newland isn't giving us enough of.

The alternate, uncolonized world that our hero travels to is fascinating. The continent of Africa has so very many indigenous religions and spiritual wonderful to have them foregrounded for once. But the author's choices of spiritual traditions represented didn't feel in any way organic to his main character. That meant the points of divergence between his character's home timeline and the one he travels to aren't as clear to me as a reader. The astral travel factor can be blamed for part of it. Is it technological, spiritual, either, both? Why? This fuzziness kept my focus diffuse. I think it kept his focus diffuse, too. His admirable inclusiveness leads to too many faces and each with too little time to make the experience as enfolding as it could, and should, have been.

I am able to slide past most of that, getting into a four-star mindset, when sexual violence against a woman is used to motivate a man into action. And the perpetrator suffers no consequences. And the main character? All but shrugs as he moves on with his life.

Fiction reflecting the ills of society back to us should not, in my view, continue to use outdated and harmful tropes unaltered. It isn't the author's best choice, and that along with other areas of niggling dissatisfaction brought me down to three and a half stars where I'd badly wanted to give four.

It's a shame. I hope you'll take the book out of the library at some point, give it your time and attention. I'd love to know if others feel my criticisms are misplaced or too harsh.

maj 15, 11:19am

well you and Jim just talked me out of reading it

maj 15, 11:24am

>105 richardderus: Check it out of the library! It's not horrible! It's just the book equivalent of Prue Leith's damnation of a cake: "It's not worth the calories."

...I guess that's not helping you get to it...

maj 15, 11:40am

I like that simile, Cake: "It's not worth the calories."
Kind of like, Dissatisfying Books, not worth my reading time.

maj 15, 2:02pm

>104 richardderus: London, where everybody wants to live, has an average home price of £496,000 That sounded really low to me so I looked up what Zoopla says, and it’s giving average price in London of £678,323. Where we live the average is about £450,000, so London has to be more than that. And people aren’t wanting to live in London so much any more. The boom in property since the start of the pandemic is in larger detached houses, with nice gardens and a study (to allow working from home), in smaller towns with good facilities and access to the countryside. And you can’t buy a house like that in central London unless you have serious amounts of money (and you don’t get the countryside either).

>104 richardderus: if you include places like Orkney and John O'Groats But Orkney is lovely! If you told me I had to go live on Orkney tomorrow I’d be perfectly happy. Not so sure about John O’Groats though.

maj 15, 2:44pm

>109 SandDune: Orkney isn't, however, a place where one can become house prices are not huge.

I didn't make a study but the source is The Week:
London remains the most expensive region to live in the UK with house prices at an average of £496,269 in February 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

I think this includes the crummy closet-sized roomlets that are in the City.

>108 SandyAMcPherson: Heh, yes indeed Sandy, that's the ticket!

maj 15, 2:50pm

>104 richardderus: London, where everybody wants to live Don't know where you get that idea from, we really don't. I've done that and I'm not doing it again. More people work in London and commute in, than live there. I live over an hour train trip from London and it's still considered commutable, and then you have to factor in getting to the station.

maj 15, 4:16pm

>111 Helenliz: It's the demand for housing that gives me that idea...but I'm not one of the "spend what you have to so you can live cool" souls.

maj 15, 6:44pm

>109 SandDune: >110 richardderus: I'd much prefer Orkney (or Shetland) to London. I'm not a fan of huge metropolises. They are okay to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

maj 15, 6:59pm

>113 thornton37814: So long as I don't need to find a job there, completely agree with you.

Redigeret: maj 15, 9:28pm

>105 richardderus: Hmm, if SF can stand for speculative fiction or science fantasy (LASFS is the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society!) then alt history is solidly SF. Which is where it mostly gets shelved in book stores unless it's author already has a mainstream oeuvre or throws hissy fits or something. And when outsiders try to write in it all the faults you mention are foregrounded. Well, unless someone puts up a challenge Read a book with a title that includes two things that flow (river/time) I think I'll dodge that book.

>98 BekkaJo: >112 richardderus:
So I looked up average house price in Los Angeles and I get $852,648 with average in West LA $1,584,062, so I think my part of LA compares with London tough I doubt I could get a flat the size of my house for anything like what my house here would sell for. But I'm sort of a "spend what you have to so you can live cool" soul, if living cool includes having the weather and the sort of people I vastly prefer. Also the food.

maj 15, 10:03pm

>105 richardderus: Really good review! I think you nailed it, except that I’d add that after about a third of the book, I stopped caring about what happened to the characters, especially Denny. Of course, with any book, YMMV…

maj 16, 2:28am

>112 richardderus: Hmm; you suggest spend what other people have so I can live cool? I like it ...

maj 16, 5:20am

Hi Richard, Happy Sunday. Just making my Sunday morning rounds on LT. I've some trouble with the speed some of the treads have. Keeping up is almost impossible to fit into normal life. But here I'm checking yours. Nice reviews! Very elaborate.

maj 16, 9:40am

>118 connie53: Hi Connie! Happy you're coming by to see what I'm up to.

Threads move fast indeed...we're a chatty group around here. Thanks for the kind words about my reviews!

>117 humouress: Less "suggest" than "remind," m'dear.

>116 drneutron: That's a valid response based on the author's pacing...I really wish he'd spent that bloviatin' time on some more complete world-building. As good as what he's done is, I thought it needed some kind of hang-together text for the stuff that was there.

>115 quondame: I can't afford to live in the Five Boroughs and still live the style of life I'm experiencing, so why spend it all just for the Cool Factor?

maj 16, 3:04pm

>119 richardderus: I'm absolutely no judge of cool, just really into convenience, which for me is a city in a mild climate, with people who keep the peer pressure dialed down.

Back in the day, my bay area friends were living lock step social lives where every weekend seemed to be planned by committee, while down in LA it was 0-7 engagements with 0-5 different groups or subgroups and not grinding your own beans wasn't sniffed at (joke's on me, I now grind my own beans.)

maj 16, 3:14pm

>120 quondame: Yesterday's vices are now habits, to paraphrase the *real* Doobie Brothers *sniff*

maj 17, 6:58am

Hiya RD!

Jenna's getting ready to head out to Asheville. Bill's working from home today. I've got a Friends Board meeting. And I may take a nap later...

I hope you have a lovely Monday, full of coffee, and books, and all the other good things that you love.


maj 17, 11:35am

>122 karenmarie: Hey there, Horrible! Nappage sounds like the proper response to me. It's been quite a busy few days.

My Monday will get better shortly, as Old Stuff departs for an orthopedist visit in an hour. *bliss* I plan to luxuriate in my rare solitude. I know you'll be glad when tomorrow's solitude kicks in for you, too.

maj 17, 9:24pm

Hey, RD. The Warbler is back in town! I am glad you decided to stick with A River Called Time. If you remember, I DNFed it! Maybe, I should have hung in there but I was struggling.

maj 18, 8:25am

'Morning, RD!

>123 richardderus: Yay for OS being gone. I hope you luxuriated, nay, wallowed in his absence. Bill works from home on Tuesdays. Tomorrow, tomorrow will be my first day of solitude after 11 days of not having solitude. The 2 days with Jenna home don't actually count...

maj 18, 11:15am

>125 karenmarie: Hey Horrible, happy Tuesday!

I did very much enjoy my solitude. I paid for it, however, with Old Stuff's drunkenness on his return. To be scrupulously fair, he had a *very* annoying and ultimately useless six-hour $200-out-of-pocket day. I'd've been tempted to slug a few back myownself.

Dig we must, I guess.

>124 msf59: I'm not a bit sure I'm glad I stuck with the book, Birddude, but Akashic gave me one so I felt I owed them a real, solid read. I think you, absent that compelling reason, did the correct thing.

maj 18, 5:11pm

Was going to read all these posts that I have to catch up on, but then read the instructions in >1 richardderus:. So stopped.

maj 18, 5:15pm

>127 LovingLit: Heh. You didn't read "Simon says," did you? Now...go right back to post #2 and work your way down.

maj 18, 8:48pm

>128 richardderus: you have me on that one.....It seems I have been hoist on my own petard.

maj 19, 3:21am

Ah sweet solitude... I miss it so!
That said, swimming is finally back on so Will is at swimming on Sunday, and Cass is now helping out with the younger ones, so that might give me an hour or so alone! Wooop!

maj 19, 6:51am

Hiya, RichardDear! Happy Wednesday to you.

Six hours of solitude are marvelous. Sorry about the drunkenness. Blech.


maj 19, 10:20am

>131 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! Happy Humpday. Drunkenness is indeed blech.


>130 BekkaJo: Woohoo!! Thank to good ladies below that Cass is finally in a place to start riding herdon those below her in the hierarchy.

May that hour continue to expand.

>129 LovingLit: I sometimes think I should've been a lawyer.

maj 20, 3:20am

>132 richardderus: Made me chuckle, which considering my headache, is good going. She'd started before lockdown, but then... nada for a year. I could do without the extra session she's helping with at 8.30 on a Saturday morning though. Roll on moped age (actually no, don't, it's terrifying and I really don't want her to be that old).

maj 20, 3:35am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

I finally started reading I Wish, over a year since you mentioned it.

maj 20, 9:18am

>134 FAMeulstee: I hope it's a delight of a read for you, too, Anita. Happy Thursday!

>133 BekkaJo: Roll on moped age is indeed terrifying (my girl is a *horrible* driver and I still fear for the other drivers when I hear she's out on the road) but, this is the truth, inevitable. Focus on making her as well-prepared as she is able to be. Then Valium and a martini for Mama.

maj 20, 10:06am

So, after re-watching an episode of GBBO, we watched some of season two of Love, Death + Robots on Netflix. Rob and I agreed that the first two we watched are excellent. One's funny, one's *really*really*grim* but also excellent. (We did skip one that got a ~meh~ review.)

This SF anthology animated series is surprisingly satisfying, and improved over the helter-skelter first season. It's also half the size: Eight episodes instead of eighteen. There's one heckuva helpful write-up on Vulture (four free articles...not sure burning one's a great idea).

maj 20, 11:09am

>136 richardderus: - So as an anthology, I assume one could jump in at Season 2? It sounds like something TW might be interested in...

maj 20, 11:25am

>137 katiekrug: It's the perfect place to jump in! The first episode, "Automated Customer Service," is an hilariously funny adaptation of a John Scalzi short story. The animation is really good on that one.

maj 20, 11:29am

>138 richardderus: - I'll make a note. Thanks for the tip!

maj 20, 12:09pm

I'll jump on the LDR bandwagon, I haven't watched all of season 2 yet. But Scalzi's is definitely funny, He's got three in the first season as well

Ep 3 Pop Squad is by Paolo Bacigalupi and was very intense. There's also eps based on Harlen Ellison, and JG Ballard, which sound intriguing.

maj 20, 12:13pm

>140 mahsdad: Rob and I watched "Pop Squad"...what an intense ride that was. We skipped "Ice" because of its poor review and our shared apathy towards teenagers.

maj 20, 2:50pm

84 The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Rating: 3.5* of five


MAY 2021 UPDATE! It's $2.99 on Kindle

No way will you believe me if I tell you what happens in this book. I was gobsmacked from page one. I don't much like the evil-man-screws-up-little-kids trope, and if you're not down with the in medias res narrative technique, horseman, pass by (as Yeats advises you to). Fans of superhero family tales like The Umbrella Academy will lap it up, as will horror aficionados.

85 Murmur by Will Eaves

Rating: 4* of five


Winner of the 2019 WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE!

The problem with disguising or encrypting is that the original still exists. One has doubled the information, not made it less sensitive. Something has happened to it, but the semantic loaf persists behind a mask, a veil, a foreign accent, new papers, breasts etc., and really the only thing to do about that, if you’re still anxious, is to remove both bits of information - the original and the encryption- altogether.

That quote should tell you if this trip is one you wish to take. Eaves's narrative choices are all right there, as is the chosen PoV of third-person limited. From the chapter-opening quotes selected from Turing's voluminous writings to the damning if underplayed social commentary, the whole is of a piece and gleams like the gem it is.

So why only four stars? Because it's been fictionalized, and the elision and compression inherent in that act (I've typed "of vandalism" three times and erased it four) seldom sits well with me. Even when, as now, I recognize that the author is seeking (and mostly finding) a Deeper Truth, it...feels like a cheapening of this tragedy. BUT YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ IT!!

maj 20, 3:06pm

86 Memorial by Bryan Washington


First, read this:
“There's this phenomenon that you'll get sometimes - but not too often, if you're lucky - where someone you think you know says something about your gayness that you weren't expecting at all. Ben called it a tiny earthquake. I don't think he was wrong. You're destabilized, is the point. How much just depends on where the quake originated, the fault lines.”

If your memory needs refreshing, my 2019 almost-perfect review of LOT: STORIES will reinvigorate them as to my entirely positive opinion of Author Washington's story-crafting chops.

This novel is a downer to read, I'm afraid. It is very much about the pain of loving another, and discovering that it's never *just* about Love. The best, most beautiful moments in the book are also deeply sad ones. And, while that's okay, it's a bit wearing on the nerves.

Nothing should detract from your eagerness to read the story, just be sure it suits your personal mood. The fact that the men in this story are AAPI and Black, nary a white man to be found, should spur white gay men to read it: Author Washington is a Person of Color, and is drawing your attention to the universality of learning to make a life as a gay man in a world that doesn't always know it doesn't like us; then add the very real prejudices of ethnicity, body image issues, HIV's actually a damn funny book a good bit of the time, and that laundry list wouldn't make you think I thought so.

Break out of your mental ghetto and live a major moment in the family life of men like you, only different.

87 Tales from the Bottom of My Sole by David Kingston Yeh

Rating: 4* of five


My Review
: First, read this:
"{David's mother} is pretty Catholic. I think it's turn the woman's life upside-down if she ever found out one kid was gay and the other one trans." {says Daniel}

Nadia sat straight-backed, observing the sailboats slipping past, chaperoned by raucous gulls. Her thin nostrils flared.

"'I am made and remade continually,' she said. 'Different people draw different words from me.'"

When I glanced at her, she said: "Virginia Woolf."

Apposite, no? Here's a well-read and deeply cultured person responding to a friend's revelation of the crisis affecting the other side of his family...his husband's family, in other words...with a pointer to the author of Orlando: A Biography, a famously trans-affirming novel, and a person of Sapphic preferences despite a long and loving marriage to a man.

I did not know this was a sequel when I requested it; I found that it made very little difference in my pleasure of reading it. The delights of family sagas complete with infidelity, deep love, family mishegas, and blending your life with another person's are not reserved to straight people. Anyone who read and enjoyed Tales of the City or The Cazalet Chronicles will find themselves in deeply satisfying, familiar territory with an able guide.

maj 20, 4:36pm

It does seem you've had a rich reading, and viewing, life recently.

maj 20, 5:11pm

>144 quondame: Most of 'em are old reads that I had reason to write reviews for at last. Rob wanted to read Murmur and Memorial, so I had to get the reviews up and what the hell while I'm at know how that goes.

Tomorrow it'll be The Hidden Girl and Other Stories since it's Locus-Award nommed.

It's a blessing that he's still interested in spending time together! Yeah, most of it is teletime, but the thing we do best is talk real difference.

maj 20, 5:31pm

>145 richardderus: Good, but still real difference.

maj 20, 10:33pm

I could not get into The Library at Mount Char, when I tried it a few years ago. I want to read Memorial but I want to get to his story collection first. I keep forgetting about that one.

maj 21, 6:14am

>136 richardderus: My hubby LOVES this - ergo I must watch them. Or at least some of them - and I do have to admit they are rather good. Have you seen the Long Grass one? Freaky!

maj 21, 9:16am

Hiya, RD!

Daughter's visiting, so I'm pretty much off LT until later today, but did want to stop and give you a *smooch*

maj 21, 9:51am

>149 karenmarie: Hi Jenna! And thanks for dashing through...*smooch*

>148 BekkaJo: HBD, Bekka! The husbeast has good taste. "Long Grass" is still ahead of us...laat night Rob wanted to watch "Ice" because we skipped over it and that makes him *mental* and, lo and behold, it really wasn't good just like Vulture said! It wasn't awful but it really was substandard.

>147 msf59: Lot: Stories is a better, less depressing read, Mark. But Memorial is a more immersive read all around, and the best news of all is we don't have to choose!

>146 quondame: :-)

maj 21, 1:35pm

88 Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Rating: 3.5* of five

MAY 2021 UPDATE $1.99 on Kindle!

The Publisher Says: A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.


My Review
: First, read this:
My mother always said that a lot of men think that having bosoms means you’re a nitwit. She said the cleverest thing is to let them assume you’re an idiot, so you can crack on and prove them all wrong.
I tried to take a deep breath and be British and brave, but it didn't work, and instead, the tears began. Masses of them. Where did tears like that come from and how did they get there so fast? Were they always there, just waiting for something awful to happen? What a horrible job they had.
“Find out what you’re good at, Miss Lake, and then get even better. That’s the key.”

This is the general level of the book's rhetoric. It is just this side of platitudinous, saved by the adorable—if sometimes Pollyannaish—Emmy Lake herself.

This is a perfect Memorial-Day trip read. It is fairly compact, under 300pp in hardcover, and will never let you decide it's just too much work to keep on reading. I expect that, if it isn't in development at ITV yet, it is but a matter of moments before it is. Lily James needs to know about this property soonest...she's the perfect just-pretty-enough, just-soppy-enough, Heroine.

That sounded like a knock and I didn't mean for it to. Y'all millions who love these costume books about (great-)grandparents aren't wrong for enjoying these reminders that people have lived and loved and been kind and horrible to each other, often at the same time, since forever. The story here is much less a Romance than a novel of sensibility, demonstrating Emmy's and Bunty's Keep Calm and Carry On spirit.

Terrific use for your Kindle while traveling.

Redigeret: maj 21, 2:32pm

maj 21, 2:52pm

>152 magicians_nephew: Enjoy, Jim! It's a pleasant diversion.

Happy weekend's reads.

maj 21, 6:09pm

Looks like you've been reading some excellent books, Richard! I've had Dear Mrs. Bird on the ever-growing TBR list for a few years and really should read it one of these days. As any prolific reader and library goer will attest though, too many books calling my name right now...

maj 21, 7:08pm

Dear Mrs. Bird is somewhere in the stacks of books that I should be whittling down in case I have to move. As I'm doing a lot of WWII reading right now maybe I should find that book and read it.

maj 21, 7:18pm

>155 Familyhistorian: That is the perfect way to get the read done and the book out of your house! Enjoy your weekend's reads, Meg.

>154 bell7: It's only $1.99 on Kindle...g'wan g'wan what difference does $2 make....

maj 21, 9:19pm

>156 richardderus: *grumble* well, when you put it that way...

maj 22, 8:39am

Happy Saturday, RDear.

>143 richardderus: and >151 richardderus: Nyah, nyah, you missed me.


maj 22, 12:41pm

>156 richardderus: hearing the lyrics to Tom Lehrer's "The Old Drug Pusher" being whispered in my ear

maj 22, 2:57pm

89 The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Rating: 4.5* of five


Ken Liu is a busy, busy man. He is practically the sole engine behind Chinese SF being translated into English, and that's a major feat right there, especially while he was also being a lawyer and a software engineer...and also writing his own fiction. Thankfully the fact that his story "Good Hunting" was made into an episode of the first season of Love, Death + Robots for Netflix, and two seasons of a series called Pantheon is being made for AMC from these post-Singularity interconnected stories means that he's now a full-time toiler in the vineyards of literature.

There is, I suppose inevitably, quite a lot of focus on names, naming, descritpive labeling, and other methods of identifying unique points in the information flow-chart of the Universe. There are entities with graphic and mathematical-symbol augmented (or even composed) names; there are subtle jokes scattered around having to do with the sounds and definitions of the component parts of the names; it all feels playful, and is in part that. But think...a Chinese-American man, by the fact that this label is applied to him, becomes supremely sensitive to the power of names and naming. The power to create, destroy, invent, reinvent, control and rebel is in the power of naming. What better way to use that power, inherent in storytelling, than to signpost one's purpose without having to bash the reader with Messages.

A hefty proportion (possibly even all?) of the stories in this collection are set in that Uploaded (as opposed to Artificial) Intelligence/post-Singularity world. Liu takes his time exploring the inevitable losses of the end of the Anthropocene, making the coming of UI (that is, formerly human personalities freed of our slow wetware by insertion into quantum computers) "gods" inevitable. Then, as only Author Liu can, parsing out the ways humanity, freed of bodies, might optimize Life, the Universe, and Everything. These have the overarching feel of a novel that just wouldn't *quite* take shape. The key scenes are here...but there simply wasn't enough *oomph* to launch the project with a reasonable chance of success. But they're absolutely perfect cloth to shape a sixteen-episode TV series into!

See the story-by-story at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

maj 22, 3:00pm

>159 magicians_nephew: Heh...I'm glad you found the easter egg.

>158 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible, you too!

All the best book-snipers are patient in taking their final shots....

>157 bell7: Heh. I'm not all the way sorry. To put it mildly...the *dirt* you've done to my TBR over the BookPage-ing years...!!

Redigeret: maj 22, 4:10pm

>160 richardderus: Reminds me of the ARC collection of short stories by Robert Silverberg I just started: Voyagers: Twelve Journeys Through Space and Time. Sci-Fi with personalities uploaded, rebirths, time travel, etc. Really good so far. He has won four Hugo awards and six Nebullas and he is officially a Science Fiction Grand Master (2005). Just published end of April.

Happy Saturday! Smooch.

maj 22, 5:09pm

>162 Berly: Howdy do, Berly-boo! The SFnal storyverse contains a lot of takes on these themes, so no huge surprise there. Silverberg's been instrumental in shaping the early days and false starts of lots of those themes. Still whinnying with us at eighty-six! Amazing.


maj 22, 6:15pm

>160 richardderus: I probably should read this one, it sounds so up my alley. I had real issues with his translation of The Three-Body Problem apart from my issues with the book itself. I've enjoyed his other stories and a couple of his novels.

maj 22, 6:38pm

>164 quondame: I can't read or speak Chinese, so I'm in the dark as to any translation issues. I enjoyed his Englishing of Vagabonds, too.

I do think you're well advised to pick one up, however; the story-by-story will clue you in to the balance of the subjects.

maj 22, 6:41pm

>165 richardderus: Since I have maybe 1 word of Chinese, it was the texture of the English that put me off. In being suited to the strangeness of the narrative it was interesting but boy was it awkward.

maj 22, 6:55pm

>166 quondame: OIC

Well, that wasn't my experience of the read...I was more likely to snort loudly at the "science" TBH.

maj 22, 7:04pm

>167 richardderus: That was major amusing. The parts set in (really) Red China were more interesting though.

maj 22, 11:36pm

I have been struggling to read, RD, and I thought I would focus on re-cataloguing my unread books at home. It hasn't really got me reading but it is both a cathartic as well as a completely compelling activity. My poor eyes are suffering a little though.

Have a great weekend, dear fellow.

maj 23, 7:32am

‘Morning, RD! Happiest of Sundays to you.

>160 richardderus: Ken Liu is the translator on two of the three books in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy on my shelves, someone named Joel Martinson being the translator on book 2. All acquired at FoL book sales, still tbr.

maj 23, 8:02am

Happy Sunday, Richard. This GHO chick was giving me the eye last week. I also really enjoyed The Hidden Girl, but still preferred his debut collection.

maj 23, 8:17am

Denne bruger er blevet fjernet som værende spam.

maj 23, 8:21am

>172 AbbieSanders: Begone, foul fiend!

Hi Richard!! Happy Sundays to you.

maj 23, 9:12am

>171 msf59: You have the most amazing bird photos, Mark.

maj 23, 9:45am

>174 humouress: Doesn't he? That chick's face is a stitch.

>173 Helenliz: Hiya Helen! Crummy things, spammers. They piss me off.

>171 msf59: The thing I like best about the new collection is the Uploaded Intelligences Universe. It's not something I see around that much anymore, and I think he did it with great style.

Lovely Sunday to you!

maj 23, 9:49am

>170 karenmarie: Happy Sunday, Horrible dear, and get them Liu-translated goodies off the shelf soon!


>169 PaulCranswick: It's plenty enough to fondle your books and catalog them, PC. This hasn't been an easy year for you. Go with the promptings of your gut to ride it out.

>168 quondame: "Red China"...on Mars! heh.

Happy Sunday's reads, Starless.

maj 23, 3:47pm

I struggled with The Three Body Problem too

maj 23, 4:06pm

>177 magicians_nephew: It was a perfectly fine read, once I *firmly* shut down the enough-to-be-dangerous science newb.

maj 23, 5:48pm

>161 richardderus: Ha, that's fair! And I'm not sorry either. All's fair in love and book recommendations, eh? Actually, it's one of the great joys in life to share books we both enjoy. You've done damage to my TBR pile too. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories has been on it for already, but I borrowed it from the library and never got to it a few months ago. I should try again, maybe over the summer.

maj 23, 6:14pm

>179 bell7: What other way is there to enjoy someone far away's company than to read something they've loved enough to recommend to you? It's like a comfy sit-down and chat.

maj 23, 8:01pm

>174 humouress: Thanks. Every once in awhile I get lucky and this little guy cooperated.

maj 24, 1:55am

I have to say, I am loving the new bold, caps review headings.
That is all.

maj 24, 7:02am

Hiya RDear. Happy Monday to you.

I'm only two sips into my morning coffee, so don't have much more to say.


maj 24, 8:50am

I was 26 posts behind. Bad Katie.

Caught up now and can wish you a marvelous Monday!

maj 24, 10:42am

>184 katiekrug: Twenty-six! Good lord. I give up about that point and start afresh. The catch-up is just too much for my nerves.

Happy new week's reads!

>183 karenmarie: You're doing better than I am if you're able to be that coherent after only two sips. *smooch* See you when you're fully functional!

>182 LovingLit: *chuckle* It's an FCC thing...since my blog is published to the Web, I'm obliged to say that I got the item for review from the maker/manufacturer. *I* probably wouldn't get in trouble if I didn't, but I do not for a second want anyone to think I'm swayed by the gift of a book to rave-review it. Then every single thing I write forever and ever wrote would be diminished in value, if not worthless, as a reflection of the thing's worth in my eyes. And why would anyone then care to read my words?

I just started importing that from the blog itself, and decided to use it for library borrows as well because people need reminding that their library could or should be their first stop in looking for a particular book.

>181 msf59: :-)

maj 24, 10:55am

Rob and I watched the Roaring 20s week of #GBBO, then an episode of Love, Death + Robots called "Snow in the Desert" last night. It was, as always, gorgeous. It was also surprisingly touching...Rob was moved to open a discussion of what he frets over, my isolation...he feels guilty that he can't be physically present more often, and I feel relieved that I don't have to entertain him for entire days on end! It was a deeply moving experience for me. He so very much surprises me, and in good ways.

So "Snow in the Desert" gets my vote! The Vulture review says this is one of the best, and I agree.

Isn't that *stunning* artwork?! The story's a grim one, loneliness made inevitable and necessary by being so Other than one is never truly safe in company. There is a lovely surprise ending, though. It's by Neal Asher, whose book Prador Moon has sat unread on my shelves since 2006. Maybe one day....

maj 24, 2:30pm

>187 quondame: It's adorable! If I had grands the proper age, you know for sure I'd gift it to them.

maj 25, 12:00am

Welp...we watched another episode of Love, Death + Robots after #GBBO and this time it was a scream. Literally. "All Through the House" about William and Leah, naughty kids who stay up to see Santa deliver their pressies so they can, y'know, meet him and stuff.

They do.

Heh. Five well-spent minutes. But really, what the hell was this thing doing in this series?

maj 25, 3:37am

That one is so hilarious! Randomly thrown into the mix of all the other ones, but I loved it!

Also, screw you Tuesday. You already suck.

maj 25, 6:04am

'Morning, RDear. Happy Tuesday.

I just checked out Love, Death + Robots on IMDB. If you're watching the episodes in order and have watched S1 E5, I'm amazed you aren't totally traumatized. Even though we have Netflix, courtesy of Jenna, I'm thinking this one is a hard pass for us.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

maj 25, 7:36am

Hey, RD. As you can tell from my recent post, the Meet Up was a staggering success. I find it interesting that I connect with LTers on so many levels, not just books. I hope this stays part of my life, until they cart me away.

maj 25, 7:43am

90 The Color of Rock by Sandra Cavallo Miller

Rating: 3* of five


I was really starting to feel wobbly about this read...almost a third of the way through and no one's dead, the sleuth is getting seriously invaded by a man whose hair-pulling, erection-rubbing, and general encroachment on her personal space she was just horny sex in a year! that'll do it to you!...not to firmly put a stop to. He isn't quite horrible enough not to seek at least some kind of consent (after the fact of kissing her, though). She gives him no clear no, a very unclear yes, and he accepts this as his borderline.

I am well aware that this is exactly in line with romance-novel conventions that still exist. Frankly, I'm one of those supporting a sea change to conditions where a man, receiving no positive reinforcement for his aggressive behavior, stops and apologizes. But this book isn't playing by those rules. It doesn't have to; Author Cavallo Miller tells her own story her own way by right. And, major readjustment of expectations time!, this isn't a mystery at all. It's a contemporary Bildungsroman.

That truth told to myself, I sat back to soak up the fun of Grey's Anatomy: Grand Canyon Clinic edition. Abby, fresh from pain and heartbreak and also having broomed her nebbishy fiancé out of her life, is Ready For Life! Sober. Unmedicated. Ready.

She hopes.

Her new practice, with long-time family practitioner Dr. John Pepper (no jokes, please), is busy from the get-go. We're not in medias res here, but we're left to infer it's summer because the Grand Canyon National Park is keeping her in minor injuries and the company of Ranger Jake Peterson. Hot hazel-eyed gym-rat Jake. Abby's anxiety disorder is suddenly closer to the surface because Jake is one of those obnoxious touch-and-loom alpha-actin' boys and she, while this isn't "her type," is Ready just not ready yet.

Events unfold; the clinic gets some bad stuff, and irritating Jake doesn't give up but instead does some Personal Revealing. Demonstrates keen alertness to Abby's needs and moods. Learns about her, too...and when decision time comes, so does he. From the point that event happens the relationship she's been skittish about simply is and there's fairly little introspection about how that might not be a great idea. Her AA sponsor and bestie back in Phoenix does call her on some of her stuff and she's right there with the agreements...but stuff goes on goin' on.

Abby's one of those heroines who "doesn't know how amazing she is"—Jake even says that in chapter five, that it makes him even crazier with lust and longing because of it. Now, if that trope is a deal-breaker for you, then do not read further. She *is* that girl.

But the book won't let you dismiss her, or her complexities, that easily. She's knocked down by a missed diagnosis that almost kills a tourist; when it's demonstrated to her that she didn't miss the diagnosis, the issue in question is 1) rare and 2) fast-moving, plus her Spidey-senses were tingling because she required the guy to come back later the same day on an excuse but really so she could look at him again. She's barely able to acknowledge how good she is at differential diagnosis when the stakes are incredibly high, and her action is swift, decisive, and life-saving. So that's Abby. She's got confidence issues, possesses strengths she doesn't know she has, and is a hawttie but blissfully unaware of it.

Then there's tragedy-soaked Dr. Pepper. He won't talk about it, has sad eyes, refuses to lighten up because...well, reasons, and he runs the clinic with a hands-off kindliness that spills over onto the patients. There's Ginger the receptionist, who takes people's squirrel-bite histories (actually histrionics) and there's Dolores the Mother Hen...and Priscilla. Priscilla is as attractive as a sodden Kleenex in a teenage boy's bedroom trash. But in all her wicked, man-trap glory, there she is.

This is the team...these are the players. The way they all interact is the fun of this ride; the camaraderie and pettiness, the sad, the bad, the catastrophic issues are all there, all handled in the space they share. Especially the worst, the vilest cowardly act that could've been quite sensationalized, just isn't. That felt like a giant rock slipping off my neck. The issues I have with the surfaces being telegraphs for the interiors are real. But when the time came to do something truly game-changing, Author Cavallo Miller did it. Changed the game. Didn't go for the lurid, cheap solution, but gave us this story's path: Inwards.

We travel inwards indeed, as the characters gavotte for our entertainment...condors and tents and fucking selfish smokers and Harry Potter jokes that work as intended...until, inevitably and without undue and unpleasant Theatrics, the right configurations are etched on the screen. It's not all that often that I want to read something that explores a setting as quotidian as a medical office. After reading this, Author Cavallo Miller's first novel, I'll go back to the clinic with her in her next book.

maj 25, 8:07am

>192 msf59: Happy Tuesday, Birddude! I'm always happy to know meet-ups are successful. It gives me hope for our collective future, us readers.

>191 karenmarie: Oh no, Horrible, we skipped over some challenging episodes to stay light-hearted. We'll get to That One. Just not right now. *smooch*

>190 BekkaJo: Ha! Out of nowhere indeed, Bekka. Sorry about Tuesday stinking already...I hope it's begun behaving itself.

maj 25, 11:31am

Good morning, Richard, and a rare one it is in that I am here and not being or pretending to be useful. And I'm being rewarded with *Mrs. Bird* comfortably on my Kindle for another time. Many thanks and the rest of the day to you!

maj 25, 12:05pm

>195 LizzieD: Hiya Peggy! Glad to see you here. And please cast a glance at The Color of Rock,'s rare for me to want to finish a story that fails to connect with me for so long, but I really did *need* to know what happened.

Spend a splendid week, my dear lady.

maj 25, 5:09pm

>191 karenmarie: >194 richardderus: I just watched Ep 5 (The Long Grass), it wasn't that bad, a little jump scary. Ep 6 (All Thru the House), however could be very traumatizing for the less sick and twisted among us. On the technical side, it is a very well done stop-motion episode.

maj 25, 5:11pm

I will say, the quality of this animation is incredible over all. The photo-real stuff has touches of the uncanny valley, but its getting better and better.

maj 25, 6:34pm

>197 mahsdad:, >198 mahsdad: The quality of the animation is really why I keep watching the show. Anime, for so long the dominant style, never particularly appealed to me. Ever since computing costs started falling precipitously in the 90s animation has had much more room to experiment and grow. I like this trend.

I don't feel up to either of those eps just yet...and Rob is still fragile after our first run at The Underground Railroad.

maj 25, 7:37pm

Haven't pulled that trigger yet (UR). I know Laura won't want to watch it, and I feel its something I'll want to devote some attention to, instead of having Netflix on in the background while I "work" ;)

maj 26, 6:46am

91 David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa


My Review
: ...and then I ran out and bought one so I could dip in and out, savoring my time with David Mogo the demigod with family problems, money problems, and a new job...freelance godhunters can't be all that choosy!...that he just *knows* is very, very bad luck and news.

I'd like to see the "controversy" about the Lagos setting and the use of Naijá dialect sometimes, plain Colonial English others, all sent to the bin for incineration, please. Most of the folk doing that whining are also guilty of whining about human beings in the US *daring* to speak Spanish or Vietnamese or whatever isn't familiar to them. Yes, dear, we know that when you're Privileged others having parity feels like an attack. You'll get used to it in time, and discover how enthralling it is to be inside somene else's world for once.

And it isn't like you've spent time whinging about learning what orcs are, or how to pronounce "Boba Fett", or that Han understands Jabba een though we don' let's just cut through the padding and call this what it is: Racism. Face it so you can start to fix it. And that is something you badly need to do.

The godpunk elements of the story...the facts of David's existence, the rain of gods that's seriously plaguing Lagos...are the real draw to this Continental-Op-in-Urban-Fantasy tale. We've got beaucoup examples of urban fantasy with old-fashioned loner/fixer PIs in them. Chicagoland has Harry Dresden, San Francisco has Toby Daye, New York City has Charlie Parker, Kaaro in a different Lagos, and the list goes on. I hope we can add David Mogo to this list permanently, with more adventures to come.

The novella length is tailor-made for use in lines, on planes, in trains and cabs. You can take your time with the read, of course, but you can also read novellas in quick hits. It's the most brilliant thing to happen in technology's long, ugly slide into surveillance, the presence of a reading app on every device you drag with you everywhere you go.

I was always amused, as I read the book on the town's boardwalk outside my building, at the responses of young Black people to my elderly white-beareded face shoved into the book. Several asked me why I was reading it, and after a few minutes of my gushing description of David hunting the godling in the cistern and how absolutely wonderful that scene would be on film, made polite noises and skedaddled.

Heh. *Still* scarin' the straight folk at sixty*ahem*!

As the Memorial Day travel weekend is here, with our new freedom from Plague restrictions I expect lots of y'all will travel. Take Doctor Suyi's David with you for the ride. Best $6 I've spent...on a book I've already read!

maj 26, 6:52am

92 THE BOWERY: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street by Stephen Paul Devillo

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: It was the street your mother warned you about—even if you lived in San Francisco. Long associated with skid row, saloons, freak shows, violence, and vice, the Bowery often showed the worst New York City had to offer. Yet there were times when it showed its best as well.

The Bowery is New York's oldest street and Manhattan's broadest boulevard. Like the city itself, it has continually reinvented itself over the centuries. Named for the Dutch farms, or bouweries, of the area, the path's lurid character was established early when it became the site of New Amsterdam's first murder. A natural spring near the Five Points neighborhood led to breweries and taverns that became home to the gangs of New York—the "Bowery B'hoys," "Plug Uglies," and "Dead Rabbits."

In the Gaslight Era, teenaged streetwalkers swallowed poison in McGurk's Suicide Hall. A brighter side to the street was reflected in places of amusement and culture over the years. A young P.T. Barnum got his start there, and Harry Houdini learned showmanship playing the music halls and dime museums. Poets, singers, hobos, gangsters, soldiers, travelers, preachers, storytellers, con-men, and reformers all gathered there. Its colorful cast of characters include Peter Stuyvesant, Steve Brodie, Carrie Nation, Stephen Foster, Stephen Crane, Carrie Joy Lovett, and even Abraham Lincoln.

The Bowery: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street traces the full story of this once notorious thoroughfare from its pre-colonial origins to the present day.


My Review
: I've lived in or near New York City for twenty-five of my sixty-*cough* years. I'm not surprised that I'm still learning stuff about my home town. And considering the astounding difference between the 1980s New York I moved to and the gentrified, sanitized Newyorkland it's become, I have no trouble relating to Author DeVillo's interesting browsing-book's premise of the many streets that Manhattan has called "The Bowery" over the centuries.

Exhaustively researched...the Bibliography and Endnotes will swell your TBRs, fellow New Yorkophiles!...and anecdotally presented, this is a perfect holiday-weekend-travel book. I call them "browsing books" because you can set it down at any point, pick it back up and take right up from where you left off. More than trivia lists, less than in-depth formal Histories, this is exactly what a beach bag or backpack needs loaded on your Kindle to stave off wait-time boredom.

maj 26, 6:59am

93 DISASTERS AT SEA: A Visual History of Infamous Shipwrecks by Liz Mechem


My Review
: It felt a bit odd to recommend a book of shipwrecks on a travel holiday blog post. I'll tell y'all what, though, it's nowhere near as odd as recommending a reader go spend yet more money than they already are on a holiday travel weekend...and thus this free-to-read recommendation.

This is eye-candy, pure and simple. Of course there is a bibliography, de rigueur in modern publishing, and it also has a very nice Index with hyperlinks to the subjects! It's really designed to be a picture book though, a lovely ornamental thing; those fare notoriously poorly on the Kindle. The small screen, the limited graphics capability, the inevitable awfulness of publishers' preferred Satanic nightmare, the PDF, playing badly with Amazon's technology so no one will be able to enjoy them. UNLESS you've sprung for a Fire tablet.

Now we're cookin' with gas.

Skyhorse, this book's publisher, has landed in the news here lately for their determinedly contrarian actions. What I think of that isn't meant for this occasion. What I think of their willingness and apparent ability to make illustrated history and nature and such-like ebooks available inexpensively and in formats that play well with Amazon's tech is entirely laudable.

As there are embedded images in the rest of the review, it can be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

maj 26, 8:37am

'Morning, RDear! I wish you a lovely day. Jenna's been visiting since Monday, just headed off to Asheville to work 4 days. She'll be back Sunday.

I keep forgetting about Prime's Reading Library. As if I don't have enough books to read already here at the house.

maj 26, 9:51am

Remember being warned about "Bowery Bums" as a kid and discovering that "the Bowery" meant a place of shade trees and peace and beauty back in the day.

Nowadays its yuppies and restaurants and theatre and dance - good for us. But the poor who lived there have been pushed out - bad for them.

I'll be adding this book to my WL

maj 26, 10:05am

>205 magicians_nephew: Gentrification is a double-edged sword. After all, what appealed to the yuppies about the Village is what they priced out of existence with their million-dollar walk-ups and so on.

>204 karenmarie: Prime Reading isn't my first thought, either, Horrible. The limit of ten books at a time is seductive....

Happy Hump Day! Jenna will be back in only four days!

>200 mahsdad: Absolutely! Besides it would get confusing with Netflix on as well as Prime Video. The din...!

maj 26, 10:59am

Well, you got me with both of those... Especially the Bowery. I love seedy...

maj 26, 1:39pm

>207 drneutron: You'd've loved The Bowery in the 80s! Now, not so much. The book's a pleasure to read, though, so get your nostalgia on.

maj 26, 2:15pm

>201 richardderus: That's a direct hit. Cistern it is.

maj 26, 3:57pm

>209 quondame: I hope the godling in it is nicer than the one David Mogo has to evict.

Dr. Okungbowa is also releasing Son of the Storm and launches a new trilogy therewith.

maj 27, 6:17am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

maj 27, 6:54am

'Morning, RDear. Happy Thursday to you. When I woke up this morning I had to get logical to figure out what day it is. It took a few convolutions to confirm that yes, indeed, it is Thursday.

Redigeret: maj 27, 8:31am

94 Runaway by Peter May

Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: "Five of us had run away that fateful night just over a month before. Only three of us would be going home. And nothing, nothing would ever be the same again."

Glasgow, 1965. Headstrong teenager Jack Mackay has just one destination on his mind--London--and successfully convinces his four friends, and fellow bandmates, to join him in abandoning their homes to pursue a goal of musical stardom.

Glasgow, 2015. Jack Mackay, heavy-hearted sixty-seven-year-old is still haunted by what might have been. His recollections of the terrible events that befell him and his friends some fifty years earlier, and how he did not act when it mattered most is a memory he has tried to escape his entire adult life.

London, 2015. A man lies dead in a one-room flat. His killer looks on, remorseless.

What started with five teenagers following a dream five decades before has been transformed over the intervening decades into a waking nightmare that might just consume them all.


My Review
: Aging. Yuck. No one really likes it...prostate pees for men, hot flashes for women, a general sense of "oh why bother" when confronted with la crise du jour...suddenly all those Godard films you watched to impress that cute guy make sense, ennui is one's default state.

But there are a few who, for whatever (usually external) reason, decide that this just Will Not Do. They put on their velcro-close "running shoes" (ha! like they're ever gonna run absent a fire alarm or a closing buffet) and say, "fuck this I'm outta here." In fact there's quite a little subgenre of books about old folk running away: those Swedish ones by that boring man, what was his name, anyway you know the ones I mean; long ago, Paul Gallico wrote one, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, and then M from the Bond movies was in that English one set in India...Marigold Something.

We are decidedly not, however, in any of those cute-old-folk entertainments here.

There are secrets in all our pasts. We don't tell others because they're too personal, or too painful, or too embarrassing...rare is the secret, though, that has cost lives in two centuries. Jack Mackay has one of those.

In 1965, Jack and four friends were about to defy the odds and Be Someone. Rise to their personal heights! They had to get the hell away from the dank chains of family, of course, and the mildewy environs of Glasgow. London! Music was happenin' in 1965 London! And they had what it takes, they were going there to build better than their small-time successes.

Tragedy. Humiliation. Homegoing, for some anyway. Jack spends fifty years being, well, nobody and everybody. Mediocre, an almost-was whose life has dragged on and on. Now more changes are being forced on Jack, his awful absence of success is revisiting him with its wet shroudlike envelopment. And suddenly, from the depths of 1965, the Jack of 2015 takes off back to London, his grandson at the wheel, because the siren call of unfinished business is LOUD.

The awful part is that finishing up that business could get people killed. Jack wouldn't be arsed if it was him whose "life" was the only one in danger, but the threat includes his old friends. And his grandson.

I must say that the indentity of the perpetrator of the coercive and criminal scenarios made all the sense in the world to me, and the nature of the disaster in the past was very deeply sad if not terribly unusual. The pure-D unadulterated Peter-May-ness of the resolution to the disasters past and present stems from his utter, abject inability to leave a thread to dangle. Every last end is tightly bound up.

Since Author May is a veteran of the TV mills and decades of thriller- and mystery-writing, he's developed that habit of story-telling and be damned if you, reviewer, wish for something a bit more textured, true to life. As this particular novel is a standalone and is based in part on some of the author's own lived experience, well...maybe it's all down to that specialty of the old, the tidying-up of the past.

I *do* know that, in spite of taking a thoroughly humiliating six years to write this review, I approve of the story, polished and tidied into fiction though it may be.

maj 27, 8:43am

"Sold!" on Dear Mrs. Bird.

maj 27, 9:44am

>214 jnwelch: Oh yay, Joe! I expect you'll love it.

>212 karenmarie: Thursday! That's it. I wondered why I wasn't getting grilled cheese for lunch...that's usually Friday. Thanks, Horrible. *smooch*

>211 FAMeulstee: Oh good, Anita, you reinforce Horrible's informative post. I really wasn't quite sure what the heck day it was. I guess because, in my world, it's a low-stakes infobit.

Happy Thing back!

maj 27, 7:08pm

Learned a new word for TERFs today: "vulvasaurs." Am inordinately delighted.

maj 27, 10:17pm

All the way back to season 6 on #GBBO, the cake-week extravaganza with Liam's lovely banana pancake illusion cake! Then "Life Hutch" in our trip through Love, Death + Robots. It was okay...again, stellar animation but the story was ~meh~ as so many Harlan Ellison stories are.

I asked where my pancake-illusion cake was...Rob grumbled, "you don't eat the fondant just pick it off and pile it up."

As that's exactly what I do, I couldn't exactly complain. Does anyone eat that stuff? do you eat it? I asked him. Guilty look, shifty eyes, and no more need be said.

I'm hoping next time we meet up he'll have one for me.

maj 28, 4:13am

The new series of Bake Off: The Professionals has started over here. Love it! Plus watching hubby's face when they carry the giant sugar work/chocolate work centre pieces to the display table, well, that always makes me laugh. He generally ends up screaming at the TV, 'Why don't you build it on the other table!!!'.

maj 28, 7:05am

>217 richardderus: Harlan was a writing machine anything that came into his head went down on his typewriter and since it had his name on it, it usually sold.

A lot of it shouldn't have

maj 28, 7:24am

‘Morning, RD! Happy grilled-cheese-for-lunch day to you.

>217 richardderus: Fondant. Yuck. No. I do not eat the stuff.

maj 28, 9:42am

Good sunshine-y morning to you!

maj 28, 12:05pm

95 Nothing Personal by James Baldwin


My Review
: It is hard for me to believe that this essay was, for a long time, relegated to text around Richard Avedon's amazing photos. The fact that Avedon and Baldwin knew each other, and since high school, hadn't made my radar screens either. This is the first time I've ever seen the essay, and how I wish it wasn't.
Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

Author Baldwin was a man whose vision was clearer than most people's sight.

Possibly the best proof you can have that Baldwin, a skinny gay Black kid, was a man out of time is this:
We have all heard the bit about what a pity it was that Plymouth Rock didn't land on the Pilgrims instead of the other way around. I have never found this remark very funny. It seems wistful and vindictive to me, containing, furthermore, a very bitter truth. The inertness of that rock meant death for the Indians, enslavement for the {B}lacks, and spiritual disaster for those homeless Europeans who now call themselves Americans...

He already foresaw the gigantic changes in humor that our generation is undergoing; they were underway even then. The Smothers Brothers on their three-season comedy show sparked a revolution in what could and should be grounds for humor. It makes my eyes water to remember how much guff the "comedy" of my parents' generation desensitized them to. They were both alive before the last vestiges of vaudeville were destroyed by radio. Blackface and minstrel songs were things they heard and saw. Racism was in the air, was utterly was the time of Jim Crow laws, it was the time when lynchings were happening with regularity, and a flag was hung out in front of the NAACP Building in New York:

Baldwin, Harlem native that he was, would've seen that flag time and time again, would've associated it with his own Black body, his own maleness.
The violence was being perpetrated mainly against {B}lack men...the strangers; and so it didn't count. But, if a society permits one portion of its citizenry to be menaced or destroyed, no one in that society is safe.

This is something I understand viscerally. The police do not, as a rule, like faggots; if one is found in any place or at any time being faggoty in pubic, they will harass you and intimidate you to the maximum extent they can get away with; if reported, their defense is "that's a lie" and I promise you your word against their words amounts to less than nothing. This is my lived experience, so arguments are not welcome.

Imani Perry, author of the Foreword to this edition of Nothing Personal, says this of our deeply American inability to believe others' experiences are real:
Then, and now: we have acquired an endless habit of the most superficial forms of self-correction, makeup to make up for our perceived inadequacy as it were, nipping, tucking, coloring, all as a displacement for the possibilities of deeper self-reflection and self-creation.

It is functionally impossible to believe, believe in, trust another when you don't believe in your own value to the point that you feel compelled to ask your body to endure surgeries, toxic chemicals, and endless damaging stress in order to feel you're even acceptable to look at.

James Baldwin is a writer of great and unendingly valuable insight and moral authority. He was clear-sighted, his vision of what could be was articulated from a high moral base as a former believer in Christianity, and he never once backed down from his conviction that we could reach the City upon a Hill. He was a realist, however, schooled in the rejections of his gayness and effeminacy and Blackness by even those whose job it was to love him. He didn't believe we would reach that paradisical state; he never let go of the unshakeable assurance that we should never, ever cease to strive after it.

Happen I agree. Happy Memorial Day long weekend.

maj 28, 12:34pm

>221 katiekrug: Thank you! Back at'cha.

>220 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! I enjoyed it...gooey, tomatoey, just crisp enough...all very yum.


>219 magicians_nephew: Awomen.

>218 BekkaJo: Mere Colonials don't get the SU2C and Professionals shows, Bekka, because y'all's celebrities ain't famous here. For the most part. If one has access to a VPN, now...the playing field changes....

Redigeret: maj 28, 11:37pm

Enjoy your weekend, Richard, now that you've figured out what day it is. It's a long weekend for you too, I believe.

Speaking of statutory holidays north of the border we have a new one proposed for September - Truth and Reconciliation Day which kind of goes with your post up above.

maj 29, 10:32am

Happy weekend, Richard! I need to read some more books by Baldwin. I ordered a couple for the library as we had materials money to use for the end of the fiscal year, and I'm hoping to snag one to read soon.

maj 29, 11:01am

96 Take the Lead: An Essay by Jessica Simpson and Kevin Carr O'Leary

Real Rating: 3.5* of five, rounded up because Author Simpson deserves all the plaudits in the world for wanting to help the people who used and abused her in spite of everything


My Review
: Four short chapters, all in all a half-hour's read, that bid fair to do more good for people stuck in Plague Year Mode than all the well-intentioned and hamfisted punditry on the TV and internet.

Facing fear; parenting; breaking free of obsessive cyclic behavior. In short, letting go and letting yourself actually be free. These are excellent messages. Simpson is a poster girl for all of them. She's never been out of the public eye since her pop-star days, and her awful reality TV show with her abusive first husband is one of the primary reasons I don't watch the stupid things. (Except #GBBO.) The toll this took on her is well-documented if twisted into criticisms of her even then.

Author Simpson is to be celebrated for telling her side of things without rancor or self-pity...excessive rancor or unwarranted self-pity, I suppose...and this free-with-Prime read builds on that mature image.

I don't know if most people who read my reviews feel the need of this kind of cheerleading, encouragement, to make change and get inspired to seek their own best methods to accomplish this (that is the main take-away of this essay), but please...don't turn up your nose or look down it at a woman whose personal power, her control over her body, was utterly voided and who is now redressing that life-long wrong.

And for goodness' sake, stop voting for old white men whose purpose it is to make that heinous crime a legally protected abuse.

maj 29, 11:08am

>225 bell7: Thanks, Mary! Oh excellent...I hope this one was one of them, or can be...very worthwhile to add to the collection. It's so short that people scared of long books but curious about Baldwin couldn't possibly have a better introduction.

>224 Familyhistorian: A great idea for the September holiday to end Summer in the public's mind. Our Labor Day *snort* does that for us.

Yep, long weekend it is. Memorial Day used to be May 30th, and my poor mama had to endure her family's lamentations for the Confederate dead every birthday. Great-uncles she never knew were brought reverently to life *at*her*birthday*parties! No wonder she was so screwed up.

maj 29, 2:12pm

Just reporting in that I started - and finished - The Haunting of Tram Car 015 this afternoon. That's quite fantastic. I can cope with the magical setup, because it doesn't break rules at will and from convenience - fuss pot that I am. I'm certainly looking out for a sequel to that.

We have a long weekend, Spring Bank Holiday on Monday. So while the weather was nice today, I'm expecting dire things to happen to the weather by Monday - 'tis traditional.

maj 29, 2:32pm

Hiya Richard. I suspect I'm just sneaking in before you start a new thread. Noting Dear Mrs. Bird and Runaway as books worth watching out for. I have read a few things by Peter May and enjoyed them. Just as you say, he does thrillers and as a reader (or reviewer), that is exactly what one should expect.

I hope your weekend is off to a good start. xo

maj 29, 4:20pm

Happy Saturday, Ricahrd. Great review of Nothing Personal. Terrific quotes. It is a Baldwin title I was not familiar with. Thanks for the enlightenment.

maj 29, 6:12pm

>202 richardderus: Most of my knowledge of the Bowery comes from reading fictional works such as Victoria Thompson's Gaslight series. I'm glad to see that one was fairly good. I'd seen it once and thought it might be interesting if I ever have time to read it.

maj 29, 8:34pm

Wow. Just finished Swimming in the Dark. What a beauty! Go read it, everyone!
>231 thornton37814: I think you'd enjoy it, Lori. But it's not a read-straight-through kind of a book. More of a chapter-at-a-time browser's experience, if you ask me. So maybe use it to pick up between other reads?

>230 msf59: Birddude! Oh, I hope you'll get hold of it one day soon. Lovely read indeed. Glad you liked my review!

>229 EBT1002: Hi Ellen, thanks for the kind words. I'm a good way away from the 300 mark, though, considering how few of my friends come to visit me. *chinwobble*


Heck, Dear Mrs. Bird's only $2.99 on Kindle...Joe bought it, we should hear from him shortly about his opinion and maybe you can splash out a wee tiny bit before retirement?

>228 Helenliz: Hello wonderful you liked Tram Car 015! I appreciated those qualities as well. Nothing irks me more than a magjiqck system that's either whimsically inconsistent or sloppily thought out. Now that I'm seeing fantasy novels not set in pseudo-England or OtherFrance, I'm enjoying the genre a lot more than I once did.

Happy long weekend!

maj 29, 9:36pm

>222 richardderus: Wowzer, RD. The Touchstone for the book you reviewed, Nothing Personal, took me to the original Baldwin-Avedon work, which amazon prices at $600+. But I scrolled an inch or so and found the book sans Avedon photos. I don't know how the gd touchstones work. I got it to take you to the correct book, but it displays Avedon's name and not Baldwin's. And when you hover on the title in the touchstone, the dialog box shows info on the original book.

Anyway, it's in my cart.

maj 30, 6:53am

'Morning, RD!

Friends visit over, a fun time was had by all, and Jenna comes back through today, spending the night, on her way back to Wilmington to do some more packing, heading back this way on Wednesday. Fortunately she’s young, energetic, and excited about moving.

>222 richardderus: A ricochet BB, I've added James Baldwin : Collected Essays : Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds Work / Other Essays to my wish list.

>232 richardderus: how few of my friends come to visit me. *chinwobble* Poor puppy!


maj 30, 10:57am

>234 karenmarie: G'mornin, Horrible! It sounds like a lovely few days in your slice of heaven. I'm amazed at my own book-marksmanship, that ricochet was *epic*!

Yes, poor pathetic neglected sad widdle me. Nobody wuvs me ever'body hates me I'm gonna go eat worms. *snort*

Lovely week-ahead's reads!

>233 weird_O: Hi Bill! Oh, heck, what's $600 for a book of Avedon's photos and Baldwin's words?


I do not know what possesses people! No matter what, an industrial product like a book is not scarce enough a resource to command such absurd prices. easy it is to get people apart from their money.

maj 30, 11:38am

Today is the old-fashioned Memorial Day. It is also my mother's 101st birthday...I dreamed about her last night, for the first time in years. It was a bit poignant...her father died at 83 due to a twenty-year battle with cancer in 1980...her mother had an aneurysm at 81 in 1975...she died at 79 after smoking for 62 years.

We're tough people in my family. This is my 40th year of dealing with gout's miseries. And unlike the grim prognostications of medical experts, I'm still floatin' along on my own two feet. Sometimes it's harder than others, but sittin' down in a chair is just not on.
I'm not going to finish another book before the end of tomorrow. (It will be The Dictionary of Lost Words, which I am loving but not moving hurriedly through.) So here is:

I read twenty-three books. I posted twenty-two reviews on my blog. That means I'll only *have* to publish thirteen reviews a month to meet my goal of 190 for 2021! That is a LOT of pressure off me.

I was ecstatic to read the new Andy Weir novel, Project Hail Mary, because it was a return to form after what seemed to me a wrong turn taken with Artemis. The most fun I had this May was Hench, which I expected would be a fun and frothy little bagatelle but which turned out to be very sharp, very trenchant, very much an on-point criticism of the end-stage capitalist world of the 21 century. And it's a debut! I am beside myself...many more to come from Author Walschots. (I hope.)

June being Pride Month in most of the USA, I reserved my review of the utterly gorgeous Swimming in the Dark to be the first one I publish that month.

maj 30, 2:46pm

I about passed out laughing

maj 30, 10:22pm

The pudding episode (s8e5) of #GBBO was just as drool-inducing this time as the others..."The Drowned Giant" episode of Love, Death + Robots was beautifully surreal and very very odd. What the hell was J.G. Ballard on about!

But I know why they chose to make this one.

maj 31, 4:11am

>236 richardderus: Good morning, Richard dear!

I am looking forward to your Swimming in the Dark review. Most of your recently reviewed books are not (yet) available in Dutch translation, but this one is.

Happy reading week ahead!

Redigeret: maj 31, 9:02am

>222 richardderus: in the 1970's you could still pick up a copy of "Central Casting" the Big book for actors seeking work and see big sections for "Comic Irishmen", "Comic Italians" and of course "Comic Jews" and "Comic Drunks"

Playing "The Nance" was a thing too.

Times do change. They change slowly but they do change

maj 31, 9:20am

>226 richardderus: - I am unlikely to read it, but I love your comments.

>237 richardderus: - Snork.

maj 31, 9:23am

>237 richardderus: well, that caused a coffee spew… 😀

maj 31, 9:55am

>242 drneutron: It did for me as well, Jim! Heh.

>241 katiekrug: You probably wouldn't get a whole lot of mileage out of meditations on motherhood, I don't think....

Yeah, that is a good 'un, eh?

>240 magicians_nephew: It feels really isn't. In my lifetime, in yours, in that of everyone old enough to be on this site, the culture has changed SO VERY MUCH that people ending their lives the year we were born wouldn't recognize this world as theirs at all.

A century ago, that was not yet true.

>239 FAMeulstee: Tomorrow morning at 6.30 New York time! (On my blog, that is; I'll post it here some time after I wake up.)

maj 31, 10:04am

...and in other late November/early December I will be a great-grandfather.

Holy. Cats.

Quentin and his girlfriend whose name I've forgotten and he never uses are twelve weeks pregnant.

Things *do* run in families. He's 19.

maj 31, 10:31am

‘Morning, RDear, and happy Old-Fashioned Memorial Day.

Forty years of dealing with gout sucks. You’re tough for sure.

I’m 1/3 of the way into your most-fun-of-May book, Hench. I was thinking the other day that I don’t have muscle memory with science fiction and fantasy like I do with mystery/thriller/suspense. It always takes me much longer to grok words and concepts, but I’m persevering and really love the voice of Anna Tromedlov.

>244 richardderus: Wow. Amazing and happy news. I love the picture – thanks for posting.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

maj 31, 10:49am

Congratulations to them and all the family. You can adopt a new moniker, GGDD.
Although with two sorts of creation going on in this thread, I'm hoping that >244 richardderus: and >237 richardderus: don't get muddled up...

Redigeret: maj 31, 10:53am

>246 Helenliz: Thank you, Helen! It's really amazing to me there's no Frankensteining involved, TBH

Hmm...I doubt my son-in-law will want to be Papaw, so I'm guessing that name will continue to be mine.

>245 karenmarie: really love the voice of Anna Tromedlov mean The Auditor, surely...


Isn't that just astounding?! I'm not at all pleased that young-parenthood is the promary inheritance I seem to have passed down. But there we are, babies are real, live people who need love so let's love 'em from the get-go.

...and now I know why I dreamed about my mother the other night...

Happy short-week's reads, Horrible. *smooch*

maj 31, 3:47pm

All good wishes to the young couple and congrats to you, as weird as it must feel to say "great-grand"! They look so happy, it's great to see :)

maj 31, 4:09pm

Congrats to the couple! Of course you’re a *great* grandfather! 😀

maj 31, 4:12pm

>249 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! They're so sweet and so young looking!

>248 bell7: Thank you,'s a lot weirder than adding "grandfather" to my psychic resume, for no logical reason.

Redigeret: maj 31, 4:37pm

>244 richardderus: Wow! Congratulations to all.

maj 31, 5:26pm

>244 richardderus: Wow. Congratulations.

maj 31, 6:25pm

>252 quondame: Thank you, Susan. My sense of self is, um, in flux.

>251 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

maj 31, 6:34pm

>237 richardderus: LOL.

>244 richardderus: Great-grandfather? Wow. Congrats, my friend.

maj 31, 6:48pm

Wow, wow, wow! My mother married at 19 and had me a week after she turned 20. I can't even imagine.... That trend stopped there, though. ;-)

Enjoy. Enjoy and celebrate that you are indeed young enough to experience this miracle.

maj 31, 7:02pm

>255 jessibud2: Thank goodness, Shelley. I'd hoped...clearly in vain...that he'd skip it, too. *sigh*

>254 msf59: Thanks, Birddude! You're joining the grandpa group soon...think about what that'll mean next generation.


maj 31, 10:02pm

I don't guess you'll be called upon to babysit, Grampy.

jun 1, 9:37am

>257 weird_O: Heh...doubtful, as it's a 3000-mile round trip!

jun 1, 9:44am

Hiya Richard.
Thanks for dropping by and keeping my thread 'visited'. It was nice to read about your happenings.

June the oneth and I am expecting this month to be an improvement over the previous. The weather has turned from frosty to stinkin' hot in just a blink of an eye. We got the sunshade resurrected for the back patio and I hope the weather does stay warm overnights now that the hubs planted out all our tomato seedlings. Short growin season here, about 60 days!

Sorry the grandson is spawning so young... I send best wishes that the new small person arrives into a welcoming, loving family unit. I didn't know you had a daughter...

jun 1, 10:06am

97 Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide—a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of Andre Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.

When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this handsome, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are fulfilled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks camping in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. Inhabiting a beautiful natural world removed from society and its constraints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.

Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly-coveted position in the ministry. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.

Shifting from the intoxication of first love to the quiet melancholy of growing up and growing apart, Swimming in the Dark is a potent blend of romance, post-war politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski has crafted an indelible and thought-provoking literary debut that explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.


My Review
: Happy Pride Month, US QUILTBAGgers! Let's celebrate what our fellows in Poland can't: A safe, sane Pride Month of more freedoms than were even conceivable even in my own youth of this lifetime.

Ludwik is a normal child: he knows he knows nothing, is interested in the things the people around him tell him to ignore, and most of all is just discovering, like all kids, that he's Weird. Trouble is his weird isn't going to be so easy to live with in Communist Poland: he's fallen in love, at nine years old, with Beniek. A boy. But also a Jewish boy. In the 1960s, World War II was very much alive and deeply scarringly real to Poles. Somehow the Jews, despite their vanishing into German ovens, are to blame for everything...and here's little faggot Ludwik falling for a Jewboy. Oh boy.

Then one day, Ludwik stops seeing Beniek around the way he always has been. Nothing...absence...awful heartbreak to a child whose loves are so fierce because they are so new. There is nothing like a disaster to make one aware of the freight we bring from our pasts, all the way out to our death.
I was transported into a vision of my life that made me so dizzy my head began to spin. Shame, heavy and alive, had materialized, built from buried fears and desires.

He's fallen; the only one who could catch him is now in Israel. (The Six-Day War happened, the Jews were expelled from Poland yet again.) Poor little guy, dropped into an ugly reality that connects to nothing, not any thing, in his loving heart. What the world will do to him....

Among the first things it does to him is grow him up: mother and grandmother lock themselves into her bedroom, doing something deeply mysterious together. He pesters and nags, and finally Granny tells his mother it's time to come clean: they bring their Ludzio into her bedroom and listen to Radio Free Europe. For the first time, they allow him to be One of Them. Sadly.
I thought of Mother, of her pointless life, her passivity. Of the years she’d spent listening to the radio, explaining her truths to me, and all of it for what? She’d died a submissive employee at the Electricity Office and had never dared to speak up or live out any of her ideas.

The sadness of a dead parent, a father whose entire life was spent far away from them by his choice, never spoken of still less to, results in an unmoored adolescent. Luckily for him, he is at least aware that he is gay...that he can not be like the boys he tres to emulate for mother and for grandmother to see, walking with a girl hand in hand along their street. One post-loss night, an older man in a park where THEY go takes his innocence. (As a side note, if not for one of those same older men I'd've never experienced a positive sexual encounter possibly at all, so no tutting about ephebeophiles or the like.) It is, from that moment on, a necessity that his bitter angry self, unable to fake an identity he despises the same way he despises the lying system he's entrapped by, leave Wroclaw and get to university in Warsaw.

Yay. That happens, there he is in his glory, but all courses end. At the end of his schooling, he is required to spend a summer harvesting beets, and there... eyes fell on you. I had never seen you before—not consciously, anyway. Yet my mind felt strangely relieved, as if it had recognized someone.
“Pleased to meet you,” you said. “I’m Janusz.”

Janusz. Two syllables that rise and fall and follow each other logically, almost inevitably, and whose sound together is so familiar, so natural, that the meaning of its parts remained hidden to me until years later: Ja, meaning “I” in our language, and nusz, sounding just like our word for “knife.”
You smiled, dissolving the tension, your teeth flashing in the light of the fire. We sat there for a while, in our private silence, worlds shifting in me.

The dawning of first love! "Worlds shifting in me" utterly perfect and how very poignant to one so far from it as I am.

It seems bizarre to me, that I'm the same age as Ludwik. I look into this mirror, lightly distorted, and think...yes, that was it, these thoughts are familiar though I was doing this before Ludzio in age. But yes. I'm right there, I'm fully immersed, this is the way it felt, that's almost exactly what I thought.

It's unsurprising, then, that the rest of the course of first love is pretty particularly followed. Fear of rejection, fear of acceptance! Fear of the future. Wild, surging riptides of Jealousy! Swimming fearless and free in a moonlit pool, filling the darkness with your love for him, his for you, while every beat of the world's heart pushes pushes pushes...before you know its direction.
I don’t know how many days we stayed at the lake, because each one was like a whole world, every moment new and unrepeatable.
You listened, really listened, gentle eyes taking me in without judgment, making me feel more heard than I knew I could be.

So universal, the course of that first true love. There are minor variations, specific things to a time or a place. The course, however, is steady and unvarying: delight, disillusionment, dénouement. Then, if one is amazingly lucky, a new relationship grows into place over the old one.

The time of Solidarność, "Solidarity" in English, was the beginning of the end of Soviet Communism. Ludzio feels it in his bones, it causes him to rear back and resist and to refuse the whole idea of collaboration that his Janusz is making into a future...sadly we know how that will turn out for him.
The queues for the shops swelled like bloody lips—deliveries had become so few and far between that the only way to get anything was to wait. The lines had started to occupy whole streets.

And now Ludzio's frustrations are personal, his belovèd landlady/substitute grandmother, is very very ill and the system simply...doesn't care.
“There must be something else you can do.” I felt the moment slipping through my fingers. “Please, can’t you make an exception?”

She raised her eyes toward me again, this time without a trace of empathy. “I told you what to do. Now stop blocking the line for your fellow citizens.”

Why I did not give this book its seemingly merited perfect score is simple: Threads are raised but not snipped or woven, merely left dangling. The doctorate Ludzio spends so much time and effort on doesn't go anywhere...there is simply no mention of it ever again. Similarly the absolutely divine Pani Kolecka, his Warsaw grandma-quivalent and landlady...from dying to recovering to vanished. Um...not really acceptable. How he gets to New York instead of Chicago, where he applied for a passport to go, is never discussed. What does he do in New York, in Midtown no less? What business would need him? Has he gone to work for the UN as a translator? The Polish Government would have some stern words to say about that.... Yes, it's a book told in second person (blech) addressing a man the narrator's left behind forever and will never see again, but some sense of how that came to be *possible* was missing and missed.

In the end, though: It is exquisite pain to let go, to release the weight of the truth into a pool—deep, dark, and desalinated of all hints, innuendos, just lies—and save yourself, your future, your actual physical body without harming anyone else's life at all.
“I adored this book more than you knew,” it read there in your stocky, right-leaning script. “I wanted to keep it . . . but it’s yours. Bring it back one day if you can. I’ll be here. J.”

Fuck honesty. The price is too high, the interest Life charges is usurious, the carnage of Being Truthful lasts generations. Bravo Ludzio.

jun 1, 10:26am

'Morning, RDear. A very happy First of June to you.


jun 1, 10:40am

>260 richardderus: Great review, Richard dear, adding to mount TBR.

jun 1, 10:58am

>260 richardderus: - Great review!

jun 1, 11:57am

>263 katiekrug:, >262 FAMeulstee: Thank you so much, Katie and Anita!

>261 karenmarie: Hiya Horrible! Happy June. *smooch*

>259 SandyAMcPherson: I stopped talking so much about my family after a dreadful series of events in 2014. Yep...daughter, 41, and son (deceased since 1981).

Grandson carrying the redheadedness forward!

jun 1, 3:57pm

>260 richardderus: Intense. I've had it on hold for a few days, but maybe it's a bit heavier than I'm up to just now.

jun 1, 6:32pm

>265 quondame: It's very beautifully written, Susan, but it is intense and sometimes hits the alarm buttons...maybe not while you're feeling at all fragile.

jun 1, 6:51pm

>238 richardderus: Drowned Giant ep of LD+R. Boy you ain't kidding, that one was definitely odd. I got to read more of JG Ballard. I was a little disappointed that that's all there was. I guess I was spoiled with 18 from season 1

If your interested, Netflix's YT channel as been putting out some behind the scenes vignettes. Here's what's come out so far - Inside the Animation v2 - BTS of Life Hutch

jun 1, 8:05pm

>267 mahsdad: We're not alone...that story's caused *oceans* of ink to be spilled trying to parse its meaning. Meanings. Purposes. Y'know.

I'll go look at them soon! Thanks for sharing.

Redigeret: jun 1, 10:53pm

>267 mahsdad: Rabbit hole. No. Rabbit warren.

Oh, I just ran across this
I guess if you know a knitter they could accessorize it to your fancy.

jun 2, 2:34am

>238 richardderus:, >267 mahsdad: Morgan and I watched only the Drowned Giant episode because we both love Ballard. That was ... very Ballard! If you haven't already read it, The Drowned World is probably a good entry to his books.

jun 2, 8:01am

Hi RDear, and happy Wednesday to you.

>264 richardderus: We’re redheads, too, although my hair’s faded and Bill’s is pretty much lost to baldness…


jun 2, 10:00am

98 Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?


My Review
: First, read this:
“Which poor man?” Will asked carefully.

“The man who—he lives in the Alps and has an overbearing father.”

Will closed the book. “I think we’ll leave the rest of this novel for when you’re more lucid,” he said, his mouth twitching in a badly suppressed smile, “but I will always cherish the description of Victor Frankenstein as an overbearing parent.”
He knew Will liked women, but that didn’t mean he only liked women. Martin was fairly sure he himself liked women as much as he liked men, which was to say not particularly much. He supposed he was capable of being attracted to anybody, as long as they were Will Sedgwick.
“If you can be stupid for me, then I can be stupid for you.”

“You’re stupid no matter what you do,” Will said, trying very hard to sound like he wasn’t about to cry.

There's no escaping it: Will Sedgwick has *terrible* taste in men. He is in love, and really always has been, with Sir Martin Easterbrook. "Sir" Martin (a busted-flat baronet), on the other hand, is mean, grouchy, anti-social, and equally in love with Will. Tell me those quotes don't feel deeply familiar from one or another of your bygone youth's loves!

But they've both been through the mills...they've each got a family secret...and neither one will drop his guard. Because, y'know, reasons. Like Martin is dying of consumption, the Regency equivalent of AIDS in the 1980s: Invariably fatal, of unknown cause, and really really bad news.

People been people forever, don't you know. The two could sort everything out by simply opening up their respective yaps. Will they? Why would they? Neither has any slightest belief that the other could possibly be interested in him that way.

That tension, familiar as it is to most all of us, does wear thin. The subject of "do you/don't you—will you/won't you" loses a certain amount of urgency once one learns that rejection and embarrassment aren't fatal. They are unpleasant, and never stop being so. But Will and Martin are still feeling as though the stakes are too damned high and so they're too scared to get the job done...until they're not, and what a relief it is! (To all of us, I mean, not just them.)

What's most poignant to me, what moves me very deeply, is that above-mentioned similarity to AIDS. I lost two loves and a lot of friends to that plague. And these lines:
On a good day Will barely felt competent to manage his own life, and being responsible for another person’s—the most precious person’s—was daunting at best. He was not in the habit of eating regular meals or keeping predictable hours, but now he had to keep track of Martin’s medicines and make sure he drank and ate a few times a day. And Martin fought him every step of the way, as if Will’s ministrations were an annoyance, as if he wished Will had left him to rot in London.
Will stared hard at his friend, saw how his profile was caught in the setting sun, and was struck by how fleeting this all could be. A chill, a cough, and Martin could be gone. He was filled with a wave of—not sorrow, because the time for that had come and gone—but the urge to make this count. If their time was finite, then he ought to—he didn’t know what. He ought to take these tiny incandescent moments and figure out a way to hold them in his heart.

Well, they just couldn't have been more perfectly tuned to twang my sentimental old fools of heartstrings. Yes indeed, Author Cat, you caused a barely-sublethal crying jag, you did you did. And isn't that what the word "catharsis" was coined to describe.

This is a category romance, so we know the ending will include the men being together. It isn't kind of me to take you on the whole cruise, so I'll just note that once The Deed is done, there is no magical sunshine lollipops and rainbows effect...they still don't possess an ounce of sense between them. "Just SAY IT!!!" I came close to screaming at the silly buffoons. But they aren't, buffoons that is, and they aren't any different from many, many abused men I've known. They simply can't articulate the feeling of wanting something without choking on it. Very common, I'm afraid. But...and this is important...hang tight. The ending...well, house martins and sweet williams will always have a bit of extra luster in my eyes.

And, while another story won the 33rd Lammy Award for Gay Romance, this one is always going to win in my heart.

jun 2, 10:20am

>271 karenmarie: How do, Horrible. It is indeed Humpday...and all that that entails. My YGC and I watched more #GBBO at about 3am, when he was off, and am I ever tired today!

Our familial redness darkens to chestnut starting in the late 20s, and mine slowly marched back from the front lines starting in the 30s. As I'm his maternal line's hair-determiner, that is his most likely course as well....


>270 ursula: I have read the story, Ursula, but not the whole collection. It will take a while for it to float to the top of my TBRs. Thanks for the reminder of its existence, though, since I'd literally forgotten its existence!

>269 quondame: What a natty cephalopod! Ha! Thanks for that, Susan.

I agree re: YouTube linkage.

Redigeret: jun 2, 11:35am

don't know if this image has crossed your path, Richard

before and after

jun 2, 12:02pm

Trotting through and picking up a few gems to go on the list as I pass. Great congratulations on the expected new arrival! Wishing you many good things with some fun thrown in!

jun 2, 12:26pm

>275 LizzieD: Thank you, Peggy! It's quite an adjustment...I wasn't expecting it since he only refers to the mama as "my girlfriend." Somehow I expected she'd have a name before being introduced to my gene pool.

Still, it should be fun to watch from 1500 miles away. No diaper duty.

>274 magicians_nephew: WOW!! That's gorgeous Jim, thanks for sharing.

jun 2, 12:27pm

>269 quondame: >273 richardderus: Glad I can get you to follow me into the endlessness that is YT. Watch a video, ooo, that next one looks fun, oh that one too. Don't like to admit it, but I've opened YT up on multiple tabs so I don't lose the original recommendation page, cause all these apps (I'm talking to you too FB and Instagram), like to refresh your feed on a whim and you'll never see the original post again. :)

>270 ursula: Thanks for the recommendation. On the list it goes.

jun 2, 1:17pm

>277 mahsdad: It's true that YT is a deep, possibly endless, time-suck. But I can always find something I'm actually interested in watching right then and there, which isn't true of any other streamer.

Ballard is a favorite writer of one of my Twitter pals and I am constantly reminded that I "need" to get to one or another of the books he's sent me.

jun 2, 3:49pm

>279 quondame: >278 richardderus: J. G. Ballard has a page in The Modern Library, though not for his SF, which book I'm currently dipping into in short bursts and recording said short bursts in Excel, which I really really don't grok.

jun 2, 4:18pm

>279 quondame: He was a prolific and eclectic writer, and I'm not surprised he's got listings in many places for his work as exemplary. I hope he isn't one of those whose reputation dwindles after death.

jun 2, 9:28pm

You've been busy! I'm trying to get caught up on threads. I'm terribly behind because of the computer crash, but I'm loving the new one!

jun 2, 9:49pm

>281 thornton37814: I am so with you on the tech frustrations. I'm finally in possession of a decent tablet, so will be better able to rest my laptop. I worry about it giving up the ghost....

Glad to see you here, and have fun stormin' the castle!

jun 2, 11:36pm

>277 mahsdad:, >278 richardderus: Ballard is amazing, but I essentially never recommend his books. They can be ... a lot. I've enjoyed everything I've read immensely, but I really have to know quite a bit about a person to even think of suggesting most of them. Trying to think of questions I could ask someone to determine if they'd like them leads to some pretty bizarre possible questions. I think I'd probably just stick to "how do you feel about transgressive fiction?"

The Drowned World is one of the few that doesn't require that sort of questioning!

jun 3, 4:28am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

The weather has turned here, after two cool/cold months summer has arrived. We try to keep the house as cool as possible, with help from the A/C. The good part is that I mostly stay inside, and have lots of reading time.

jun 3, 5:54am

>101 richardderus: Great review. I have not read the book, and based on your review I will give it a miss, but the subject itself is important. As you say, however, pornography is not exactly something new!

"I myownself think it's down to rampant abuse of anonymity. Disinhibition due to the facelessness of online interaction."

I was not sure whether that referred to e-bile or just to porn consumption, but I think you are right in either case.

"There can be no modern work about feminism's many battles that excludes transgender people."

When I was reading Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race the author makes excellent points about how feminism has often ignored race, and she is quite right. Powerfully right. Another author might also wonder if the reverse was true, I don't know. But the point is that sometimes people become so focused on their own fight that they become exclusionary of others. It happens a lot, and I think you hit the nail on the head when you caution about just another kind of authoritarianism in your review.

But, on the other hand, I would also worry that we expect people's views to conform on every subject. I will avoid giving any examples for fear of kicking off an out of control debate in your thread, but I am unsure now if I agree with that statement or not! I *do* agree that no exclusion is right and the issue of transgenderism cannot be quietly ignored. I don't think there is only one way to approach the subject though. But then I have to add that anyone ignoring what medical professionals and scientists are telling us about the science of transgenderism are speaking from ignorance and ignorance must always be challenged... okay I will stop rambling!

"Also? Hillary lost because they cheated. But that was five years ago. I myownself am outraged that Elizabeth Warren isn't in the White House. She was, and is, the best person for the job. But she wasn't the nominee and she's working with the present Administration...I'm taking my cue from a gracious loser. Let's accept that misogyny and reactionary billionaires did Hillary dirt and work on the many, many, many problems in front of us now. That little excursion into Hillary hagiography was the last quarter-star off the five the book started with."

Well I don't know what the book said on this subject, but I can imagine, and I think you are bang on here. That the Democratic party establishment anointed Hillary as their candidate tells you everything you need to know as to what went wrong here. I remember early on in the process, before Trump lobbed his orange painted blubber into the ring, that people were talking about Bush v Clinton, and all I could think was "what is wrong with you people?"

Trump did not really win first time round. The Democrats lost it. Democrats staying home in key states gave Trump his victory*. I know someone who voted Trump, and despite that, he is a nice person. I asked him why he would do that, and he said: "I hate Trump, but I hate Hillary more".

So yeah, Elizabeth Warren could certainly have been the first female president of the US.

*Also I have to add that it remains very odd to me to see a first past the post political system with a choice of two candidates, where the candidate with substantially fewer votes wins. But that is a wider issue, of course.

jun 3, 8:10am

Sweet Thursday, Richard. My Explorer broke down yesterday, so not the birding adventure I was looking forward to. A new alternator and 400 bucks later (nearly 500 with the tow), sighs... I should be back on the road tomorrow. I think I will stick with the books today.

jun 3, 10:36am

>286 msf59: Oh yuck, Mark! I'm so sorry. I'm actually impressed it only (only!) cost $500, actually. More and better birding this weekend.

>285 sirfurboy: Hi Stephen! How lovely to have you visit.

"I hate Trump, but I hate Hillary more". I can not condone what your friend, the vile scum, did; I know how he felt was a ***huge*** problem for the Dems. It sank their boat, rightly so, as this was not a mystery to anyone. They were apparently resigned to old white men rejecting her, but didn't count on how many old white women felt the same.

It happens a lot, and I think you hit the nail on the head when you caution about just another kind of authoritarianism in your review....But, on the other hand, I would also worry that we expect people's views to conform on every subject.

I myownself don't worry too much about this. The fact is that I can disagree with some parts of what a platform or position says/endorses/advocates without rejecting the platform. There are deal-breakers, of course. TERFs do not have my support no matter how much I believe in the rest of their message. Rejecting people based on sex reassignment reinforces a rejecting and othering message I know from the inside (outside? this gets confusing): "I don't like you because you're you" is the most revoltingly cruel thing someone can say, and the unkindest use of words imaginable.

I know there are cases where it's simply inescapable...lines that can not be transgressed. (Like this one is for me.) But let's work hard to minimize and avoid damage done to others, shall we? Like good ol'fashin' MYOB.

Not gettin' into the politics thing. Too tuckered out.

Thanks for the interesting post!

jun 3, 10:44am

>284 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita! It's a gloomy one, with cold breezes, but I only need to go outside for a short while today. Sumer is icumen in, sing cockoo...but not today.

Read well!

>283 ursula: "Transgressive" is pretty good as a sum-up of his literary ethos...Crash is as transgressive as anything needs to get. Brian Evenson, a lovely man, scares the livin' daylights outta me because of his novella Last Days that takes body horror into a very, very scary landscape. Even moreso than The People's Act of Love...*convuslsive shudder*

Well that was a scary paragraph. I'm off to rest my nerves. Thanks for stopping in, Ursula.

jun 3, 10:56am

'Morning RDear! Jenna's on the road, nothing on the agenda.

>287 richardderus: "I don't like you because you're you" Jenna and I had a discussion about this this morning as we have a truly vile little cousin (early 20s) who condones burning "new age" books and celebrating people who are 'cured'. She posted new nastiness on FB because of Pride month, of course. We're probably going to have to stop seeing the family at Christmas. The rest of the family is just ridiculously evangelical, but this one is dangerous.

jun 3, 11:07am

>287 richardderus: I am firmly in the live and let live camp and I don't hold with people being judged because of who they are, where they came from, what class, gender, sexuality, race or creed they are. I am proud to have friends from all walks of life and belief they enrich my existence by their goodness and diversity.

Sorry that the day is a gloomy one weather wise, dear fellow, but at least you are allowed out which we are not other than for specific purposes. Work is closed (small hurrah but I do have to "work" from home), the shops are closed and worst of all the Bookstore is closed. At least my TBR can be reduced in the meantime.

I will need to escape the home soon as Hani is busy baking up a storm and I cannot afford to pile on too many more pounds. Difficult to resist though.

jun 3, 11:15am

See what I mean........baked cheesecake SWMBO style:

I wish I could share a slice with you, RD.

jun 3, 4:50pm

>291 PaulCranswick:, 290 I agree with everything you're saying, PC, and I know there are many who are like us in these feelings. Sadly there are *plenty* of those like >289 karenmarie:'s's just so pointless, such a waste, and also a damned tragedy for them, as well as for the rest of the society.

I'll have just a big piece, please. Tell Hani that when she offs you for the money, I'll be waiting with knife, fork, and appetite at the altar.

>289 karenmarie: Hey Horrible! *smooch*

Y'all need not to be in with those folk. They will turn on you, "family" be damned, and make life uncomfortable at best, and dangerous at worst. Those sorts have networks we don't know about, like all terrorists.


Redigeret: jun 4, 3:18am

>218 BekkaJo: Is Liam still on BO:TP?
I imagine that they have to transport those pieces across. I almost can’t watch, either, but I don’t think I’ve seen any not make it. At that point.

Hey, RD. I came by to congratulate you on your impending great-grand-hood. The young couple look very happy.

I also wanted to check that you’re not encroaching further on my supervillainess territory. And now I will return to reading Hench, which some unnamed person pushed on me ...

jun 4, 3:40am

>292 richardderus: Ha! I won't pass on your message RD as I do not believe she would need so much encouragement to put at least part of your plan into action.

jun 4, 5:38am

Well I go away for a few days and get thoroughly left behind!

>222 richardderus: BB. If I ever locate a copy. Definitely on the radar.

Papaw! Congrats/Eeep. But as you say, it's really all about love. I was only 24 when I had Cass so I'm not really one to talk either.

>293 humouress: Yup! I haven't watched last nights yet, but there was a "cracking on transfer" incident in the first episode of the season. Not sufficient to destroy it, but heart in the mouth nonetheless!

jun 4, 8:37am

'Morning, RDear. Happy Friday to you.

>292 richardderus: Y'all need not to be in with those folk. They will turn on you, "family" be damned, and make life uncomfortable at best, and dangerous at worst. Those sorts have networks we don't know about, like all terrorists. You're right, of course. I guess I'm happy to say that in this case, being step-family is a blessing - no rot in the family gene pool.

jun 4, 9:12am

Excellent reviews, RD. I need to read more James Baldwin.

I enjoyed Dear mrs. Bird. Emmy and Bunty were good company, particularly funny, irrepressible Emmy. Poor beaten-up London! The more I read about the Blitz, the more I appreciate the cost, and the resilience in remaining unyielding.

jun 4, 12:14pm

>297 jnwelch: Oh yay! I'm so pleased that Dear Mrs. Bird worked for you. It's a friendly little read, isn't it.

I'm glad you enjoyed the reviews, too. Reading more Baldwin is always a worthy goal. There is a gracious plenty to choose from, and not much of it worse than very, very good.

Happy weekend's reads.

>296 karenmarie: Hiya Horrible. A very happy Friday to you, too. I'm pleased to say that it's been a positive one by me.

Step-family! Well then. Time to prune the branch they're on.

Have a great weekend's reading! *smooch*

jun 4, 12:19pm

>295 BekkaJo: The thread's moved fast, hasn't it. Still and all, you're here so that's a net positive in my world.

Here's Beacon Press's UK distribution info:
Publishers Group UK
63-66 Hatton Garden
London EC1N 8LE
Tel: 011-44-0207-405-1105
Fax: 011-044-0207-242-3725
So, a call, an can procure at your leisure.

>294 PaulCranswick: :-)

Duly noted....

>293 humouress: Heh

My villainy doesn't rise to the "super" level, even with hooking you on to Hench. You are, and remain, LT's resident supervillainess!

Redigeret: jun 4, 1:08pm

Mmm, okay. *mollified*

ETA: you know, I have done some auditing in my time ...

jun 5, 7:59am

Hiya, RD. Happy Saturday.

I abandoned Hench. Not my normal genre, and although sometimes I get ensorcelled, this wasn't one of those times.


jun 5, 8:06am

Happy Saturday, Richard. We had a nice bird jaunt yesterday morning, seeing about 40 species but no plans for today. Things are heating up here and will be hovering around 90F for the next several days, which will curb my birding, unless I get out early.

jun 5, 9:54am

What a lovely way to wake up! After a long, soulful (and very late) conversation with Rob, I opened the blinds on sunshine for the first time in days. *aaahhh*

Then getting my digital world set up...opened email, S&S sent me a free Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe for no discernible reason; opened Twitter, Nancy Pearl left me a message praising my review of A Novel Bookstore *SQUEE* and Catherynne Valente retweeted...RETWEETED! review of her book Deathless!

AND a gift box from someone arrived at the front desk, which I haven't slithered out to collect yet.

jun 5, 10:07am

>302 msf59: Ugh, 90°...yay good birdwalk! More time to read, though, since the Man Cave is air conditioned.

Stay cool, Birddude!

>301 karenmarie: Hi Horrible, happy Weekend to you.

Oh that's too bad about Hench. It isn't exactly typical of the genre, but I guess SF is really just not too different in its roots that its branches don't bear similar fruits.


>300 humouress: *quakes before The Auditrix*
Denne tråd er fortsat i richardderus's ninth 2021 thread.