December 19th, 2008


Books read, early December

[brief note to 2008: Will you stop already? My friends have had enough of your bullshit. Thank you.]

[and to our grocery delivery fella: My name is not kiddo-uhhhh-ma'am. Nice attempted save, though. Sigh. (timprov: "No more of these kiddo-uhhhh-ma'ams, but lots of these here dwarves." Me: "No, they don't show up until the three o'clock hour and then only if the roads are okay." Him: "Those aren't dwarves, those are munchkins." Me: "Oh. Right.")]

Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy. Research for an odd story that might get written one of these days, or else not. Descartes amuses me, in part because he is sometimes so extremely earnest about what he thinks he's doing, and yet fails to do it.

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book. I had good fun with this. If Robin was a little older, I'd have bought it for him for Christmas. Maybe his birthday will be enough of a wait. There is a moment where Bod explains his attitude towards his family's killer and I had a moment of quiet but intense satisfaction. That was my favorite bit.

Tony Hillerman, The Blessing Way and Dance Hall of the Dead. First two in a long mystery series set around Navajo and other Southwestern Native American groups. If I had gotten these from the library, I'm not sure if I would have read on. They were entertaining enough to read, but I'm not sure I would have felt motivated from this beginning to commit to another long mystery series. But happily, I did not get them from the library, but rather from a friend who is willing to vouch for their improvement, particularly on gender issues, so I will go on, and even look forward to it because of the vouching. And the cross-cultural stuff, along more than one crossing, is pretty cool.

Bernard Lewis, The Muslim Discovery of Europe. This was not even slightly what I expected or, alas, hoped for. It was interesting enough for what it was, but what I wanted was a lot more Moorish Spain, and this was almost all after Spain was re-conquered. Ottoman relations with Europe, among other things. Also I'm not sure if Lewis's central thesis about human nature and curiosity (or rather, lack thereof) was correct, but it's depressing if it is.

Cherie Priest (cmpriest), Fathom. Discussed elsewhere.

Ruth Rendell, End in Tears and Not in the Flesh. The last two books of the Inspector Wexford series to this point. I find it fascinating that Rendell's empathy, which held up through the social shifts of hippies, punks, yuppies, and more, has finally failed with political correctness. I think Hannah Goldsmith is the worst misstep I've seen her make as a writer imagining characters, because Hannah constantly thinks, "She shouldn't say that because it's not politically correct," rather than, "She shouldn't say that because it's rude." Or disrespectful, impolite, bigoted, any of a number of other things. She reads to me as a caricature written by someone who just cannot wrap her mind around why I might prefer to be Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss. Which would be fine if Rendell had said to herself that she really didn't get this and should just do it from an external perspective, but she didn't. This was better in Not in the Flesh, I thought, so I hope it's just a blip in an otherwise extremely well-drawn series.

Karl Schroeder, Pirate Sun. Swash! Also buckle! It took me awhile to get into the rhythm of the prose of this, but I had great fun with it once I did.